It was while I was visiting Buffalo Bottle Craft at The Foundry that I came across an interesting cooperative of sorts, of an entirely different artisan flavor. The Foundry has a set up a woodshop, where woodworkers can lease space to work on projects.
Just think of the number of skilled people out there who don’t have access to the machines and tools necessary to build. “To start a decently equipped woodshop we are talking tens of thousands of dollars, which is not an easy sum for most people,” said Megan McNally of The Foundry. “That’s why we think it is so important to provide rentable spaces like the shared woodworking shop for folks who are not quite ready mentally to invest in their own tools and/or are simply not at a point in their lives where they could financially commit to such an amount. Because we already had the woodshop up and running from my business, Rusted Grain, naturally the woodshop became the first phase in The Foundry’s vision of affordable tool access.”
As with all of the other elements within the Foundry, the woodshop is much more than it appears. There are general principles that are inherent throughout, including voluntary and open membership, education, training, information, etc.
I’m talking about the type of workspace where members help each other out when it comes to learning skills and the trade. “At the heart of what we do is skills sharing and education,” Megan told me. “So if someone were to feel incapable of making a bench, we would work with them on the project until they had sufficiently completed it. In addition to the safety training we provide, we feel this bench-building requirement is the second level of training where we can really work with someone one-on-one to make them “shop ready”.
Here is the rest of the drill, according to Megan:
The rates definitely vary, but generally…
$75/mo if shop is used less than 10 hours a week
$150/mo for maximum shop time of 20 hours per week
Hours for The Foundry if you are renting space is generally…24/7. We strongly recommend that woodshop members do not work late at night, but if they insist on working at 2am…that they bring a buddy to make sure they do not injure themselves.
Right now there are 3 members plus the Rusted Grain employees that use the space
There are a ton of resources available to people should they become members:
-a library of woodworking plans, magazines, books, etc
-other members’ expertise and knowledge of the craft
-exposure to different mediums from other artisans renting space that they can combine with wood (metal, glass, etc)
-endless supply of reclaimed goods
*Materials are extra (though reasonable), but there are some reclaimed materials that would otherwise not be accessible to members on a daily basis.
Lead image – In order to become a member of the woodshop, an applicant is asked to build a workbench in order to show that he or she has the skills necessary to work at the shop.