By: Aaron Green, Program Coordinator
During the early Spring of 2019, the Education Team met for a few brainstorming sessions to address gaps in efficient usage of the shop, as well as what we all wanted to see the shop do for our current and future students. It was new, it was challenging, and it was exciting.
But let’s back up a bit. To date, the Education shop has never really not been in flux. “Ever-changing” seems to be the most preferred adjective of returning students and staff. Before there was Education, the space was basically used as a storage closet for tools and hardware, and before that it was a full-fledged furniture-making shop. A space fit for instruction and for learning, we believed, would require different resources and planning. It would require a whole new look and feel.
Since we started the Education program in August of 2016, on-going efforts by staff and volunteers to clear the ancient and under-utilized tools has resulted in cart after cart brimming with all sorts of goodies headed for the retail floor: dozens of wood files, hand planes, saw blades, and drawers brimming with drill bits alongside moving boxes heaping with old, crinkled sandpaper.
By this Spring, however, after collectively assessing our inventory, we decided we’d cleared out enough to begin the real process of re-imagining the space. We began by looking at our large “items” (tables, industrial-sized machinery, racking systems, etc.) and made decisions about how we could modify, better store, or outright sell them to the public. In April we said our goodbyes to our Powermatic Tablesaw and Belt Sander, and in May we bid farewell to our industrial-size “Cyclone” dust collection system.
Next, we looked at the walls. How might we better utilize our walls for tool storage, and which walls (if any) could simply be moved or come down entirely? This step resulted in a thorough deconstructing of our shop “office” and the creation of a brand-new entryway directly into the store.
We then thought about how to divide the room into one-part lecture space and one-part tool and work area. This required re-routing many of our drop-outlets and creating two new “bays” (a “table saw bay” and a “planer/jointer bay”) to go along with our bandsaw and scrollsaw bay.
Most recently, our staff and volunteers have been hard at work giving the space a face-lift. We’ve created a new “french cleat” storage wall, fit with unique cabinet doors as part of the backdrop. We’ve touched up paint and will be installing new lighting. We’ve clad two walls with interesting off-cut wood to give a reclaimed mural effect. (All of this, I proudly add, has taken zero staff time and has been accomplished completely by volunteers and interns!). We’ve also built new electrical class training stations, and we’ve just broken ground on student storage lockers.
Plenty still to come in the Education Shop. We figure we haven’t quite lost our “ever-changing” reputation just yet. And we’re fine with that! With “Open Shop” due to become a fixture by mid-September, and the promise of new “Homeowner Suite” classes by the Fall, I’d expect to see plenty more exciting additions to the space. Until then, drop by and see all the changes! We’ll see you in the shop!
To learn more about our Education Program and sign up for a class, go here!