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Thread: Community woodworking shop considerations

  1. #1
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    Default Community woodworking shop considerations

    Our local community has been going great guns establishing a vital community center (primarily for seniors) over the past few years. It offers space and classes for things like cribbage, low-level computer training, memoir writing and exercise classes for seniors. It's associated with a health center and a program for enabling (often) single seniors to live at home as long as possible. The center is in a small shopping center.

    Now they are contemplating creating a woodworking shop. Anyone have any experience with such an undertaking? Things to do/not do? Tools/materials/projects and 'rules/guidelines' to offer, allow and propose, etc.? It will likely NOT be a large enough space suitable for building any boats and mostly be created with donated labor and 'parts'.
    "And so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass." Thoreau, "Walden"

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Will be following this thread closely; have often thought a plywood ("instant") small boat class would be a reasonable way to get around my not having a suitable space at home for building my own CLC kit boat.

    My father, a lifelong journalist reporting and editing daily newspapers, taught a very successful class in writing one's memoirs at a community center in South Bend called Forever Learning.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    There is just such an organization in our community. It's called BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network). This is a collection of various artisan groups that came together to create one facility that serves all. The local woodworkers group was, and is, an early participant. The wood workers had tried to do a facility on their own but couldn't quite fund it. As a collective, the BARN has succeeded in building a very complete and inclusive facility. They have both classes and individual studio times on an ongoing basis. Here is a link: http://bainbridgebarn.org

    I don't have the name of any one in particular that would be a good contact. I suggest you inquire through the site. I'm only marginally acquainted with them since I have my own shop that is fairly complete. However, I am familiar enough with them to know that someone knowledgeable at BARN will help you out. Their facility has been in operation for only about a year. So excitement remains high over there.

    Jeff

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    The Cape Cod Maratime Museum has a good small building program. Get hold of Hunky Dory for some info that can shed light on both boat building programs and issues in community work shops.

    For a senior center, I'd simply not have powerful stationary tools like table saws, radial arm saws, planers. Maybe even avoid band saws with their accident rate that belies their superficial appearance of easy use and safety. And probably nix even nice little power tools - jig and saber saws, circular saws, drills, sanders. Besides safety, the cost of proper dust extraction should put a halt to all that.

    Nice quiet hand tools.

    What you might have is a deal with a good cabinet maker who can do some heavy cutting and shaping of parts . . . maybe with the help of whoever's project it is.

    Most older people who were in the trades learned right and are safe workers, having adjusted work habits to the realities of age. But some really are not.

    And all too many are the homehandyman sort who forgot anything they learned in junior high school shop and the only reason they've not sliced off something significant is they have made that many cuts anyway.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    What a great organization and set up BARN has created. I applaud those who have obviously put in the effort necessary to get a grassroots organization like this up and running. What a great community asset and a model for others around the country.

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    There is just such an organization in our community. It's called BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network). This is a collection of various artisan groups that came together to create one facility that serves all. The local woodworkers group was, and is, an early participant. The wood workers had tried to do a facility on their own but couldn't quite fund it. As a collective, the BARN has succeeded in building a very complete and inclusive facility. They have both classes and individual studio times on an ongoing basis. Here is a link: http://bainbridgebarn.org

    I don't have the name of any one in particular that would be a good contact. I suggest you inquire through the site. I'm only marginally acquainted with them since I have my own shop that is fairly complete. However, I am familiar enough with them to know that someone knowledgeable at BARN will help you out. Their facility has been in operation for only about a year. So excitement remains high over there.

    Jeff

  6. #6
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    Jan 2000
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    Portland, Maine
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Maybe you could get the organizers of your group to come down to Portland to see how the Open Bench Project is doing it.

    https://obportland.org/

  7. #7
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    Oct 2005
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    The Netherlands
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Think about the St. Ayels Skiff. A kit boat that is reasonably quick to build with hand tools and a great rowing boat. Possibly there are more in the region. Rowing is for many people a more pleasant way to stay fit then lifting.

  8. #8
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    Bradford, VT
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    A friend of mine wanted to do a "Shop in a Box". for youth projects. Put all the equipment and lumber in a 40' container.
    Spacious, lockable, scaleable.
    Good luck

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    One issue is sorting goals and markets.

    The Cape Cod Maratime Museum did a sort of community boatbuilding program - good master boat wright guiding a small group through complete building of each person's nice sailing skiff. Great boats and good for the folk but how many want that boat? The original group all made nice little boats that are in family use a couple of decades on, but there was never a second group.

    The Museum now has a superb youth program. Our own Hunky Dory is a light in this and well worth a PM to pick his brain.

    In Falmouth there's a museum that's shelter for a gang of old guys doing restorations. And they have participants under sixty. And even of the distaff persuasion.

    So right there three different goals and markets: Middle aged adults wanting to build a day boat; youth, more or less an extension of high school activities; and retired people finding recreation and community under the happy guise of restoring museum artifacts. None is quite on the OP's target but they show that matching the clarity of mission with community need must be combined with what might be called replacement possibility - how new people fold themselves in over the years.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    Our local community has been going great guns establishing a vital community center (primarily for seniors) over the past few years. It offers space and classes for things like cribbage, low-level computer training, memoir writing and exercise classes for seniors. It's associated with a health center and a program for enabling (often) single seniors to live at home as long as possible. The center is in a small shopping center.

    Now they are contemplating creating a woodworking shop. Anyone have any experience with such an undertaking? Things to do/not do? Tools/materials/projects and 'rules/guidelines' to offer, allow and propose, etc.? It will likely NOT be a large enough space suitable for building any boats and mostly be created with donated labor and 'parts'.
    Layout, layout, layout. If the flow of work in the shop is poor, it makes the place difficult to use. Alternatively, make the place very, very flexible by being able to move the tools around the shop.

    Provide good lighting and ventilation. Have good dust collection for those tools that create lots of chips - preferably in another room so that the noise from the dust collection isn't overwhelming. Have shop-vacs, brooms, dustpans...

    Have some bins for scrap - designate some for "kindling" and some for "scrap" - i.e. pieces that meet a certain criteria for size that is practical for re-use.

    Labels - everywhere. Make instructions for equipment and use of the space clear and simple.

    Tool organization - if you're going to have hand tools or small power tools available, have clearly defined locations for these items - shadow boards for hand tools so you can see quickly what is missing. Have pigeon holes for small hand tools - drills, jigsaws, routers, etc.

    Stock organization - if there will be materials stored there, they should be clearly labelled and there should be a policy about what the stock costs or if you are required to provide you own.

    Have appropriate safety equipment available. Always.

    Start with small projects - stuff that can be built in a few sessions. Boxes, nice cutting boards - (Cribbage boards?) small shelves. Being that this is a space for seniors, think about those things that will make living in a senior community more practical - think of things like key-holders, stuff to keep things at a useful height for seniors.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  11. #11
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Been involved in a local 'makerspace'. Considerations are instructor qualification and conduct, safety training, qualification and equipment, monitoring of activities including safety compliance, logging tool usage if billed individually, storage/security of member and community stock, member projects-in-progress, storage vs. work-in-progress, member vs. community small tools, charging/ordering/replacing comsumables, booking/reserving equipment or areas, after-hours access control and permissions, and the ever-present financial, legal and insurance matters. Other than those, it's pretty easy. Google up the rise, fall, and apparent rise again of TechShop. Many other successful 'makerspaces' out there, too.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Thank you, Canoez and others who recommended similar programs that have started up. Note that the proposed program WILL NOT be spacious enough for ANY kind of boat building beyond small projects either personal or model building, so that's out. There simply won't be enough room for it.
    "And so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass." Thoreau, "Walden"

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Worth looking at the "Mens Shed" concept, started in australia & is now taking off in the UK. Self help workshops, I recently donated a load of my late dads old tools to our local one.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    Our local community has been going great guns establishing a vital community center (primarily for seniors) over the past few years. It offers space and classes for things like cribbage, low-level computer training, memoir writing and exercise classes for seniors. It's associated with a health center and a program for enabling (often) single seniors to live at home as long as possible. The center is in a small shopping center.

    Now they are contemplating creating a woodworking shop. Anyone have any experience with such an undertaking? Things to do/not do? Tools/materials/projects and 'rules/guidelines' to offer, allow and propose, etc.? It will likely NOT be a large enough space suitable for building any boats and mostly be created with donated labor and 'parts'.
    There are at least three of these woodworking shop setups close to where we live.
    They all started with elderly people, both men and women, making their own caskets.
    They do a beautiful job, with most being personally decorated as the end user wishes.
    When finished, they are often dismantled and stored on a shelf until the builder needs to move in.
    I once thought I was wrong, but I was wrong, I wasn't wrong.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    Thank you, Canoez and others who recommended similar programs that have started up. Note that the proposed program WILL NOT be spacious enough for ANY kind of boat building beyond small projects either personal or model building, so that's out. There simply won't be enough room for it.
    The other thought that has occurred to me is that it would be wise to pick Hugh's brain a bit. Having taught some hand-tool only classes, I'm sure that he'd have some perspective on things that would be entirely useful.

    Just an FYI - I'm the outlier in teaching boat building in my spare time at the school where I teach. It is the only boat building class in our area. Most of the classes in the wood shop are in regard to small furniture and I teach two of those as well. If you run across some questions, please let me know. I've been teaching there for about 12 years now, so have seen quite a bit.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  16. #16
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    Default Re: Community woodworking shop considerations

    As Keith66 said, research Men's Sheds in Australia. Very, very successful.

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