Group Workshops

I have a small home workshop. I'm always needing a tool I don't have, or running out of space. One possible solution that has occured to me is, for lack of a better term, a "Group Workshop". This would be a rather large workshop owned by a group of woodworkers (or an entrepeneur renting to woodworkers), equipped with the most comonly needed power and hand tools. Each member would have a storage space for his/her wood and personal tools
Has anyone seen this concept in action? How well did it work? How were the users charged (by the hour of usage?, a monthly usage fee?, both?, other?). How much of a problem was liability? How was tool maintenance/re-furbishment handled? How about security?
The concept seems workable, but does it actually work in practice, or has it even been tried?
JKM
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Hell, I'd be happy to find a space I could rent/share cheaply just to do my woodworking. Since I live in an apartment *and* use a wheelchair, I have compounded difficulty in finding some place to build my projects. I already have or would be willing to buy any needed tools if I could just find the space somewhere. Fact is, I've been looking for a location for over fifteen years.
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FWIW .. .. I'm just finishing up construction on a brand-new 28'X44'shop in SE Tennessee .. .. just North of Chattanooga. I'd be glad to share the space with other guys on an informal basis. Not much interested in starting a business venture, but some kind of co-op relationship would be welcome.
Upscale wrote:

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Upscale wrote:
| Hell, I'd be happy to find a space I could rent/share cheaply just | to do my woodworking. Since I live in an apartment *and* use a | wheelchair, I have compounded difficulty in finding some place to | build my projects. I already have or would be willing to buy any | needed tools if I could just find the space somewhere. Fact is, | I've been looking for a location for over fifteen years.
How far are you willing to commute? :-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto /
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Here is one in my area. Have not seen it personally. http://www.thesawdustshop.com /
California Phil

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jkm911 wrote:

What you are looking for is a Tool Lending Library. They have been around for a while with varying degrees of success. I would tend to believe that the people using it that determines the success or failure of any given endeavor.
You may look into the current ones for pointers about how they operate.
http://www.northportlandtoollibrary.org /
Here is a list:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tool-lending_libraries
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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jkm911 wrote:

Google "woodworking club"
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My community center has a woodshop that is open a few days a week and has a per day charge for it's use. (7$ I think) Fairly well equiped with most tools you could want including a router (no bits) and sanders (no sandpaper).
And they encourage you bring your oun tools as well. One fellow came with his brand new router table from Lee Valley - I think to show off his new toy. Another sets up some semi finished stuff for display while he cuts more stuff - probably to demonstrate his vast skills.
Their shop tools have seen a lot of use and abuse. Remember that it's used by some people who don't know enuff not to open paint cans with a chisel. It's amazing there isn't more blood stains on the floor especially from the man who used the palm of his hand over the endgrain to push the face of a board through a jointer. I stopped this guy and showed him the push block.
You could spend a lot of time sharpening or adjusting tools before you use them. For the big stuff like planer/jointer/large table saw, this place is where I go. It sure could use some full time supervisors for the sharp tool challenged.
Pete
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I visited a very well appointed woodworking shop in a retirement community in Phoenix which was set up as a club type shop for which members were charged an initial membership fee and then were billed by the hour of use. it seemed to work well for the 20 or so members but insurance rates were high and the initial investment for power tools was significant. Anyone wishing to join had to demonstrate proficiency in the use of the tools and a volunteer proctor was always on hand to ensure appropriate safety measures were always used (a la Marc Adams woodworking school). All monies collected were used for maintenence, rent, new equipment, etc.
JKR
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jkm911 wrote:

One other option that may or may not help you is the various woodworking clubs around the country. We have one here in Central TX called (coincidentally) The Central Texas Woodworkers Association. They meet at the Woodcraft store and then they go visit various peoples' shops, etc.
I know quite a few people with shops due to my association with them. I haven't had the need to "borrow" a shop, since I have my own, but I know that other people in the club often use others facilities on a one to one basis.
If nothing else, you may learn something from them. I know I did.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Robert Allison wrote:

Here is a link to the offshoot of the original club around here:
http://www.finewoodworkersofaustin.org /
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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woodcraft had some, don't know if they still do,my local one does not. A few years ago I thought this was a money making idea and looked into it and found that the insurance would be prohibitively expensive. there are some senior centers that have them thought.
len
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Leonard Shapiro wrote:

If there are actual attorneys here, maybe they can chime in if I'm wrong. I've been wrong before. <G>
I was under the impression that if a shop were set up as a club, where only members are allowed to use the "shared" property, liability was greatly reduced. In essence, you'd be suing yourself.
I could be all wet, but I've heard of motocross and snowmobile courses set up the same way.
If you were to provide access on a "paid admission" basis, the liability goes way up. The schools seem to have stringent rules and much supervision that an "open shop" wouldn't have.
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Adult Education programs around here are the place to make that sort of thing work. It covers insurance and teaching challenges, and gets the real estate part of the problem worked on. There are a lot of folks involved in ours, and I've taken 6 or 8 classes there. It's housed in the former high school from which I graduated [mumble grumble] years ago.
More useful to me is the associated woodworkers' group, but that may just be me.
Patriarch
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Contact your local high schools and votechs to see if they already have such a program. Ours in Oakdale Mn used to do exactly this. For many years, a local college where I now live had a similar program for machinist wannabees like me. They ran it in semesters, one night a week for 3 hours, 8 or 10 weeks at a time. It was managed by one of their daytime instructors who would actually teach from scratch any newbies who signed up. Gone now, (sigh).
But I have heard that in other areas of our state (Wisconsin) they still do it.
As others have mentioned, look around for a local woodworking club. There must be several hundred around the USA. They will already have addressed this issue for you.
Pete Stanaitis
jkm911 wrote:

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There is one I know for sure in southern Ontario ( Oshawa) Canada called The Carpenters Square. It's a pay as you go shop with most of the tools you would want to do most all projects. The only thing I think it is missing is a spray booth area. It's charged by the hour or you can buy blocks of time or be a yearly member . Not sure of the cost for the blocks or membership but it was around 10 bucks an hour when I used the place in the late 90's. Can't tell you about the insurance end of it but the owner did say to have a spray booth made the insurance go through the roof. You can try looking on the web for them not sure if he has a site or not but you may have to add a . ca at the end of it. Jim
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<snip>
My town has an outstanding workshop at the senior center. The whole operation (the center) is run by the city and all activities are free of charge. The woodshop is perhaps 2,000 sq ft and is well stocked with serious tools, inc. large and small planers, drum sander, perhaps six jigsaws, two cabinet saws, and a separate room with three large lathes and a couple of smaller ones for pens. It's all ducted to a big outdoor commercial cyclone. Use is free, but there's a "kitty" into which people drop money for supplies and such. A large local cabinet manufacturer donates all its cutoffs and blems, so there's also a big outdoor shed full of nice hardwood, including some glued panels, though nothing exotic.
Now I'm 25 years plus away from being a "senior" but the guys that run the shop seemed happy to see me the few times I've dropped in. They encouraged me to bring my projects in when I needed a 20" bandsaw, or huge drum sander, 10" jointer, etc. and said I was welcome to do so if I threw a fiver into the kitty now and then. The shop is open seven days a week and always supervised by one of 3-4 shop managers, all of whom are retired cabinet makers. The last time I was in they were contemplating knocking out a wall and adding another 500 sq ft for a new lathe room, since so many people were interested in turning they had to set a limit of one large piece per day to keep people from waiting too long. Local companies donate new machinery every so often too, so they actually have equipment that there isn't room for, i.e. extra cabinet saws just waiting for space.
So it clearly can be done, at least if you have a good space and a dedicated group of volunteers to make it work. Oh-- and tax dollars to keep it going. My guess is that part of the reason this one works is that it's almost exclusively seniors that use it...people with some experience and likely more patience than you'd see from a bunch of 30- somethings trying to get something planed before the kids came home. In fact, the shop manager told me lots of stories about stupid things people had done, i.e. breaking machines through ignorance, trying to plane varnished threshold plates, etc. All of those stories seemed to be about young guys, but they didn't hold my relative youth and inexperience against me. In fact, I have the sense that should I want it I could get some pretty valuable pointers from some of the guys who hang out there.
-Kiwanda
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Kiwanda wrote:
| My town has an outstanding workshop at the senior center.
<snip>
This is really impressive! Where is it?
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto /
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Kiwanda wrote:

sounds like a really good thing. if you don't mind, i would be interested in hearing the history of how this came about!
chuck b:-)
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JKM,

There are such places that are NOT in senior centers. Here in the Bay Area, there is a club with it's own shop, and two commerical schools that allow for classes and "shop" time. In addition, the local Woodcraft also has rental time.
I'd check with an insurance agent and see what kind of rate you would have to pay. The biggest impediment, I see, is lining up the 10 or so people you'll need to get started. Space, tools, etc. could easily eat up about $100k, I'd think.
I like the suggestions of looking around at the various Adult Ed. schools and also check out the local community colleges. There also might be a voch tech school nearby as well.
Good luck!
Michael
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