General Wood Shop Information

**Before entering any of our wood shop locations students should read the following information.**
Shop Technicians are here to maintain a clean, safe work environment and guide you in the learning process. Students must adhere to the rules and requests of the VPA Shop’s staff, as those rules are in place to ensure the safety of everyone using the shops. If you are at all unclear about any policies or how to safely and properly use a tool, please ask a shop technician first.  We strive to be an inclusive, intimidation-free shop. There are no dumb questions, especially when it comes to your safety!
**A technician will be available during all open hours**

Appropriate Dress for Wood Shops

  • Proper eye protection must be worn when using any hand tool, power tool, or within close proximity to anyone else working with the same.
  • Closed-toed shoes must be worn at all times when in the shop, closed-toed sandals or flimsy footwear do not count. Boots are preferred. 
  • Heels over 1” in height are not safe to wear while working in the shop.
  • Long hair must be tied back.
  • No loose-fitting clothing.
  • Jewelry and other accessories, including rings necklaces bracelets and watches, must be removed.
  • Hearing protection is not required, but strongly suggested.
  • You may not wear headphones for music while in the shops.
  • Personal Electronics may not be accessed in the shop unless the user is photo-documenting their work and safely removed from tools and others working.
  • Loud music is prohibited.
  • A limited number of eye and hearing protection is available for use while in the shop.  These are not available for check-out.
  • If working with the wood lathe, a face shield bust me warn in addition to standard eye protection.

VPA shops are here to support academic research and inquiry. It is important that everyone respects each other, their right to work and the space. Inappropriate or unsafe behavior will not be tolerated.


  • First Aid kits can be found throughout shops on walls, columns, inside the tool cage and in the office.  Consult a shop technician for the location of the nearest first aid kit.
  • Report any injuries immediately to a Shop Technician.
  • If a serious injury occurs, immediately hit one of the emergency stop switches to shut off power to the shop.
  • If someone is injured and requires medical assistance, 711 will be called and an ambulance sent.
  • Emergency contact information is posted in the shops.

Material Usage

  • All material deliveries must be vetted through a shop technician.  You will be responsible for unloading your materials when they are delivered or make alternate arrangements.  Any deliveries that arrive without prior knowledge may be sent back.
  • Any outside material or substance must be approved by a technician before it may be used in the shop.
  • Students must provide a Safety Data Sheet for any material or chemical brought into the shop that is not included in the provided SDS book.  Once approved by a technician it needs to be appended to the materials SDS book.  Consult with a technician.
  • Material restrictions are based on the shop space. Generally, materials should not be finished or coated, such as pressure-treated wood.
  • The only exception to this is water-based finish.  Material that is treated with a water-based finish may be used on cutting tools only.  Material that is treated with a water-based finish may not be shaped on any abrasive tool.
  • Other material restrictions may develop or apply.  Consult a Shop technician before beginning work with any new materials.           
  • All hardware must be removed from material and checked by a Shop Technician.
  • Small hardware, wood glue, welding rod/spools, cutting/grinding disks, and finishes are free to use within reason.  Large quantities of these should not leave the shop.  For in-shop use only.  If a student needs large quantities for their studio, they should purchase their own.  “Within Reason” will be defined on a case-by-case basis by the Shop technician.
    • We will provide Tung Oil, Danish Oil PolyWhey and Polyurethane finishes
    • All finishes must be used in a spray booth and stored in a flammable storage cabinet
  • Some shop areas may have consumables for purchase.
  • Eye and ear protection, sandpaper, and other consumables may be purchased with Papercut.
  • Hardwood, basswood, plywood, MDF, Masonite, acrylic, steel, etc. may also be purchased with Papercut.  
  • Material in scrap bins are for everyone’s use.  Do not put unusable or unsafe material in these bins.
  • Waste material with hardware, paint or finish should be placed in the waste can or dumpster.
  • All shop rags with solvents or flammable chemicals must be disposed of in the red fire-proof bin.


Storage space within the shop is extremely limited.  Before bringing large materials into the shop, you should have a plan on how to quickly and efficiently break it down in to smaller pieces and be able to remove it when necessary. Users who wish to store a project in the shop while they are working must have express consent from a Shop Technician. Even with this consent, projects should have a scheduled date of completion and must be removed promptly upon request.  When leaving approved projects in the shops you must include a note with your name and contact information.  Storage space is on a first-come basis.

Check Out

You may check out most small shop tools during the day or overnight. 
Follow these steps to check a tool out during open hours:

  1. First get the permission of a Shop Technician
  2. Sign out the tool in the logbook outside of the shop office
  3. Leave your SU ID with the Shop Technician.                        

The tool must be returned within the last 30 minutes before the shop closes for the day or you will be charged a late fee.
Students who wish to sign out a tool overnight must have at least $20 (Purchased Funds) in their Papercut account. Overnight tools may only be signed out within the last 30 minutes of shop hours and must be returned within 30 minutes of the shop opening on the following business day.  If the tool is not returned within this window, a late fee will be charged to your account.  Talk with a technician to make alternate arraignments if you are unable to meet the deadline to return tools.  There are a limited amount of tools and this policy is in place to ensure that all tools are back for everyone to use when the shop opens.
Students are responsible for the cost of tool replacement for lost or stolen tools.  The fee must be paid before students can check out other tools or resume working in shop areas.
Not all tools are available for check-out, particularly during peak times or when classes are scheduled to work. Please ask a Shop Technician before signing out any tool.
*There are a fixed number of tools available for the VPA community.  Not returning a tool on time could negatively impact a class or another student’s ability to work.  Please return tools in accordance with the checkout policy.
**Anyone accessing the shops after hours must complete all tool check-out requests with a technician before the shops close for the day.  No tool checkout after hours.
Late Fees

  • Hand Tool (Non-powered) = $1 late fee charged at 10 a.m.
  • Hand Tool (Powered) = $3 late fee charged after 10 a.m.

ComArt, Warehouse & Smith Wood Shops

Comstock Arts Building houses one of the VPA’s largest fabrication spaces on campus staffed full time by knowledgeable shop technicians. All students and faculty who have received the appropriate shop authorization are welcome to utilize this space during shop hours. Being one of the largest shops on campus, Comstock Woodshop is ideal for students who want to work on larger-scale projects. This shop offers access to all tools covered in both the first and second tiers of the VPA’s wood shop training.

The Nancy cantor warehouse woodshop offers a diverse range of woodworking equipment. The most defining features include, two wood lathes, the university's largest planer/joiner, and two Sawstop table saws. Knowledgeable shop technicians staff this shop full time. All students and faculty who have received the appropriate shop authorization are welcome to utilize this space during shop hours. Housing a wide range of woodworking equipment, The Nancy Cantor Warehouse is perfect for students looking to make more detail-oriented work. This shop has access to all tools covered in both the first and second tiers of the VPA’s woodshop training.

Smith Hall Wood Shop is a space operated by graduate students for graduate students. All other students seeking shop access should report to either Comstock Arts Building or The Nancy Cantor Warehouse. Smith Hall has a wide variety of woodworking equipment ranging from; planer, joiner, table saw, miter saw, and most other general power tools needed to get the job done. However, if you find yourself needing more advanced tools such as a wood lathe you will need to visit one of the other two prior mentioned shops on campus. Smith hall only has access to tools covered in tier one training.