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Woodwork is women’s work too

Woodwork women
For almost three years Sonya Atkin has been a valued member of the Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild.

Peering into the shed of Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild the heavy equipment, loud noise and dusty layout isn’t made for only men, as more woodworking women take up the hobby.

In a craft once monopolised by men, women have been adapting their skills for decades to become some of the finest woodworkers in the region.

For almost three years Sonya Atkin has been a valued member of the Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild. She's one of many women in the Bundaberg Region who aren’t afraid to get their hands a little dusty.

As a little girl, Sonya said she never thought there would be a day when she was covered in sawdust, immersed in the smell of freshly cut timber as a member of a woodworking group, but that day is here.

Then as a younger woman she said she’d always thought of the organisation, and the craft, as something suited to only men but she's glad it's not.

“I had always played with wood I have a real passion for it,” she said.

“I had wood projects as home, but I always thought of this as a men’s group, a bit like a men’s shed, and I didn’t think there were women here as well.

“But when I got here and I saw what all the women were doing, I was blown away.

“Some of the best woodturners in the world are women, and we have quite a few of them here in Australia too.”

Now the event coordinator and first-aid officer, Sonya is encouraging other females to be bold enough to try their hand at the woodworking craft.

“I’m a fairly shy person as a rule, but within a couple of weeks I felt right at home,” she said.

“There will always be somebody here to take you under their wing.

“The group is fantastic, everyone is helpful and you learn so much.

“One thing I like is that no one gets annoyed ever when you ask the same question over and over,which is important because you don’t always learn straight away.

“You can learn woodturning, you can do scrolling, you can make boxes and you can make tables. There is no set thing, it's whatever you want to do.

“And you don’t have to do an apprenticeship to get onto a sander, that is the best bit!”

Woodwork women
Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild's event coordinator Sonya Atkin with some of her crafted earrings and a serving plate that is for sale to raise money for the guild.

Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild president Stephen Faulkner said, now the association had reopened after the Christmas break, he encouraged more community members to pop in to see what they had to offer.

“We are back to full swing now and definitely taking new members,” he said.

“Woodworking isn’t just for men. We definitely encourage woodworking women and young people can also join as we are open on Saturdays for those who may work or go to school.

“If they have an interest in wood, they should come down and have a look.”

Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild at 95c Walker Street, Bundaberg, also sell handcrafted wooden pieces made by their members to help raise funds for the organisation. The shop is open to the public when the guild is open.

Opening hours

Monday closed; Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30am to 12 noon and 12.30pm to 3.30pm; Thursday, Friday and Sunday closed; Saturday 8.30am to 12 noon.

  • Earlier news: New lathe shapes inclusive culture for woodworkers