Sometimes it starts with an idea for custom kitchen cabinets, a table, or something as simple as a birdhouse. You’ve got the woodworking itch, but you’re not sure where to start. Many of the word’s greatest wood craftspeople began as hobbyists and refined their skills over time, so it’s never too late to start learning – and now, community woodworking shops are making the process easier than it has ever been. These shops are popping up all over America, offering shared equipment, classes and camaraderie.
These do-it-yourself, membership-based woodworking shops offer the opportunity to learn and gain access to state-of-the-art equipment that may be expensive to procure on your own. Many sell woodworking supplies. The Sawdust Shop in California’s Silicon Valley has a complete retail store with tools, accessories and a large selection of lumber, with a schedule of classes ranging from beginner to expert level.
In Cleveland, Soulcraft Woodshop allows locals to rent shop space either on a monthly basis or pay-as-you-go, per-project pass. Owners Peter Debelak and Jim McNaughton initially rented out a space for their own use, and continues to run his business while mentoring budding woodworkers. “I still make and sell my own furniture out of this shop,” he told Woodshop News. “The community shop covers all the bills here and it’s created a great environment. I love being in a space where there’s constantly creative energy with people trying to bring their ideas to fruition. It’s not purely about just tool access. I walk around the shop a lot and help people move to the next stage of their projects.”
Find a woodworking club in your area using the interactive map at Woodcraft Magazine, or search online for local community woodworking shops. Don’t have access to one just yet? Try contacting your local community college for information about woodworking classes.
Photo: Sawdust Shop