Woodworking on Campus

Where can we do woodworking at CMU?

IDEATE Woodshop

  • Located in Hunt A30
  • Has power tools, band saw, belt sander, drill press, and other woodworking tools
  • Ways to get access: take an IDeATe class! The woodshop is only open at certain hours, and students must have supervision from IDeATe staff to work on projects.

School of Architecture Woodshop

  • Located in the CFA A-level
  • Equipped with a drill press, wood lathe, and other hand tools and woodworking equipment
  • Ways to get access: be an architecture student, or take an introductory architecture class that trains you on their tools and allows you access to their space. Alternatively, have a friend in Architecture who can help you get access– this space is rarely if ever open to non-majors.

School of Drama Woodshop

  • Located in Purnell
  • Equipped with band saws, circular saws, table saws, miter saws, radial arm saws, a drill press, a band sander, a palm sander, CNC router, drills, and other hand tools and assorted woodworking equipment.
  • Ways to get access: be a drama major or minor, or take classes in the School of Drama that train you on their tools and allow you access to their shop.

School of Art Woodshop

  • Located in the C Level of Doherty Hall
  • Equipment includes a drill press, CNC router, drills and hand tools, as well as several types of saws, including a miter saw, table saw, band saw, and scroll saw.
  • Ways to get access: be an art student and/or be trained by the shop’s facilitator.  It is unclear whether this space is open to non-majors.

Scotch ‘n’ Soda Woodshop

  • Located in the basement of the University Center
  • Tools include drills, impact drivers, a drill press, a table saw, a miter saw, a jigsaw, and other hand tools
  • Ways to get access: join Scotch ‘n’ Soda, or ask someone who has access to the space (people with organization leadership positions).

There are other shops on campus, but they have been left off of this list due to the fact that they are mostly equipped for metalworking. These shops include the MechE, CivE, ECE, and ChemE machine shops, as well as the School of Art metal shop. These shops all contain tools like drill presses, mills, and lathes, which can be used for wood but are in these spaces mostly used for metal.

WhAt are the tools that i Can use for Woodworking?


  • Band Saw – The band saw is a somewhat large stationary tool. It is a large station with a thin blade that extends from the top part, through the machine, and into the bottom portion of the machine. It is called a band saw because the saw piece itself is a continuous band of metal. It’s main use is for cutting irregular shapes, and it is known for its ability to give smooth cuts.
  • Scroll Saw – Scroll saws are very much like band saws, but scroll saws are much smaller. Scroll saws are used for making small, precise, and generally curved cuts in thin pieces of wood. Scroll saws are limited to cutting thin pieces of wood because the blade is so small and thin that attempts to cut thicker wood break the saw blade.
  • Jig Saw – Jig saws are essentially the handheld versions of scroll saws, except with larger blades. Jig saws are the most portable saw capable of making curved cuts. They work through the saw blade that rapidly moves back and forth through the material.
  • Circular Saw – Circular saws are handheld “power saws” used for cutting wood. They employ a rapidly spinning circular blade to cut material.
  • Miter Saw – Miter saws are very similar to circular saws, because they too employ a rapidly spinning circular blade. Unlike the circular saw, the miter saw is has a base attached, and is generally used for making quick cuts at specific angles. Miter saws are used for cutting small materials like boards or wood trim, making it somewhat less versatile than the circular saw, but it has a higher level of precision in its cuts.
  • Table Saw – Table saws are another saw similar to circular and miter saws. The table saw is the larges of the three because it is a large table with a circular saw blade that protrudes from the table surface. It is generally used to make precise cuts similar to the miter saw, while the table portion gives this tool the ability to support larger pieces of wood while they are cut.
  • Belt/Band Sander – These sanders use loops of sand paper, rotated at high speeds, to grind away parts of wood in order to make the wood smoother. The sandpaper belts have different levels of grit, which change how smooth the wood gets. Low grit number is meant for removing larger amounts of material, leaving a rougher surface, while high grit is removes small amounts of material and leaves a smooth surface.
  • Palm Sander – These sanders are the same as belt and band sanders, but they are smaller and employ a different technique for holding the sandpaper and moving the sand paper about. Usually the sandpaper attaches via clamps on the sides and when the machine is activated the sandpaper’s holder moves back and forth rapidly.
  • Drill Press – Drill presses are similar to band saws in the sense that they are large, stationary tools. The main use of the drill press is making precise holes in wood, but it can also make square holes or be used as a sander with the proper drill attachments.
  • Wood Lathe – Lathes, in general, are essentially reverse drills. Rather than spinning and plunging a metal bit into your material, lathes spin the material about an axis and then tools are move in and remove material. Lathes are typically used for creating symmetrical forms, but are also capable of smoothing a project, like a sander.
  • CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) Router – CNC routers are like other routers, except they employ computer software to guide the router, ensuring more precision than using a router by hand. A router is a machine with a rapidly spinning bit and is generally used for carving the surface of wood.
  • Impact Driver – Impact drivers look very similar to other cordless drills and drivers, but serve a different function. Drills and drivers both use drill bits to sink screws and drill holes while impact drivers are meant only for screws and use bits that look like ratchet heads. Impact drivers are meant for screws that may be too large or too difficult for drills and drivers to move.