Woodworking, Craft and Maker Centers

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I am doing research on craft centers and what is available out there.   Here in Brooklyn there a few places woodworking centers or Maker centers that you can go take classes in any number of crafts from woodworking, metal work, crafts, etc. Makeville,  Mokuchi, and a now defunct place called 3rd Ward come to mind.     Some are member driven with bench, tool and space rentals, some are more class oriented.   Are you a member of a center like this or have one near you?

I've been reading more and more about such centers popping up.  I am putting together a list of similar center around the country (and planet) and would love to hear about a place like this in your neck of the woods.  Links and feed back about them would be awesome.  


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There is a place not to far from me in the city of Santa Clara, CA.  Its called The Sawdust Shop.  It is a monthly subscription shop, or you can buy time blocks if you need to just go in an use one or two of their tools to complete a project.  They have all the power tool stuff including a laser engraver and storage for you work so you don't have to keep hauling it home.  They have classes, special events and a small, pretty useless retail floor.  Added nice feature is one of the best hardwood suppliers in the area is right around the corner, its on of David Marks suppliers.  You could walk there in less then a minute.


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In addition to Chet's note on Sawdust shop ( www.sawdustshop.com) which I've used in the past, I've also used or taken classes at:

  • TechShop (several Bay Area locations and others around US)  www.techshop.ws
  • Crucible in Oakland  thecrucible.org
  • And while not as much maker space as those, pretty much all woodworking stores around here have classes you can take and so do some of the local schools.

I love the idea of these maker spaces - shared tools, a community, etc, but for me they didn't really work out in the end.  They are not cheap and each had its issues which made the cost not worth it.  For me it was as follows:

  • Generally nice equipment, but there was often something off in the set up or the blades just incredibly dull, etc. These machines take a real beating. One example - l was using the bandsaw @ Techshop one day and it was doing way more burning than cutting - I went to front desk to ask if they could change it out (the guy looked at my wood and actually thought I was burning it on purpose like a project feature! It was that bad - not just a little burning). They came over to the saw with me, touched the blade with his finger and said it still feels sharp and should be good... ok then. This was definitely not the case with the Crucible - they take care of their machines.
  • Every maker shop was over 20 miles away for me (around here that means 30-60 mins drive)
  • Above wouldn't be that big a deal, but more often than not, I'd load up my car to bring my stuff down only to find the tool I was hoping to use was either already in use by someone else or not working right. Sometimes that meant just waiting 20 mins or so, other times over an hour and I'd give up. You really have to plan for multiple things in the hope that at least one is available when you're there.
  • Some let you "reserve" a few select machines in advance, but this was always a hassle - I'd reserve a table saw @ Techshop, show up and they couldn't find the key (you needed to check out the key to turn on the saw) - someone else had checked it out and not returned it etc.  So I'd walk around the place trying to find the person with the key - total pain. They had some customer service issues to say the least.
  • Crucible was definitely my favorite spot - I've taken a few great classes there and thought about their maker program which gives you access to the woodshop. However, it is the most expensive in the area and you can't use it when they run classes, which is very often and mostly after 5 pm, so if you have a job it is a challenge to get time there. For someone who could go in the morning or middle of day this place might be perfect.

In the end I decided to take the money I would spend at these places and start buying my own tools. Don't get the in-person community this way, but I can get more done and it is a more enjoyable experience for me.

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I used to be a member of the woodworkers club www.woodworkersclub.com in Rockville Maryland.  They offer a monthly subscription to use their space and also have classes for specific skill sets and occasionally visiting celebrities. It is in the back of a woodcraft store.  It's been my experience that woodcraft stores might have shop space like this around.  The Delaware Woodcraft had a shop space setup but I am not sure how folks gained access to it.

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