As I mentioned yesterday morning; it feels as though time is ticking on the remaining duration I have left in this workshop. Just browsing the internet a little while ago, I found myself searching for a ‘woodworking club’ in the Bristol area… It’s actually a dream I have; to be able to create and host a large workshop where anyone can come along to make something, to make use of the tools and equipment and to learn about working with wood. I’m not suggesting an idea where I would run my own college and courses. It would ideally be a ‘community workshop‘, where people might pay a membership fee, with the freedom to come along on their weekends and evenings.

If only there was an easy way to make it pay… Realistically, I dread to think how much of an investment it would require on tools and equipment alone. You’ve then got to factor in the maintenance (not forgetting the building and premises itself) and I’m sure there would need to be a HUGE emphasis on Health & Safety and meeting all the regular requirements and expectations… Sadly, I don’t think it’s a dream I’ll ever achieve while earning less than £7 an hour! 😛

It’s another one for the ‘Lottery Winnings’ list, along with buying my own home and having a reasonably-sized workshop in my back garden (of course, I would need to start playing the National Lottery first!!).

One result I did come across, at the top of the list, was for the Avon & Bristol Woodturners (ABW). It’s an organisation I’ve come across before and they run a similar setup to my dream but focused entirely within the field of woodturning. If I am fortunate enough to end up in a place with a small garage (if, even, smaller than what I have now), I’d be quite happy with a lathe in one corner and a bandsaw for roughing out blanks (I think I will hang on to my turning tools anyway). But the AWGB are only a twenty-five minute drive from where I live and, even if I end up with nothing more than a few stacks of power tools in my next home, I could always join them for my woodworking fix.

I have always been curious about woodturning but, if you’ve seen images of my workshop then, the positioning of my lathe alone should give you an idea of how I approach it… Buried beneath my disc sander as a place on to which I can rest my saw horses!! It would always be warming the bench while my mitre saw and routers are making all the headlines…

It certainly won’t be the end! Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “Hope

  1. Hi Olly,

    I really like the idea of community workshops and wish there was one near me.

    I suppose the key is that you need to make it pay for itself during the working week days as a workshop in its own right, then allow the weekend warriors like me in at the weekends and weekday afternoons.

    As you say, insurance and H&S are likely to be the biggest sticking points.

    It’s worth at least looking into it and finding out what the costs other than rent and power would be.

    Might there be some funding available for such an enterprise?


  2. Maybe if it was an Olympic sport you could get some funding. It’s a nice idea though, a community space with knowledge added.


  3. Out here where I live in California, we have a couple of commercial operations that rent shop time for woodworkers (you can buy a membership for $100 USD per month for unlimited access to the shop) and a couple that also have metal, welding and CNC operations. It is possible to make some money running a set up like that but as has been mentioned insurance, taxes, local regulations complicate the problem. The one shop I’ve used from time to time, The Sawdust Shop, supplements their income on shop rental with woodworking classes. We have a lot of folks out here willing to pay to attend classes in various wooding subjects.

    I have one friend who make custom furniture. He belongs to a shop coopertive. 5 professional woodworkers (most furniture makers) got together, rented a shop space and purchased the big tools (table saw, band saw, dust collection, etc). Each pays a month fee for rent, new tool fund, repairs, upkeep, etc. He’s been doing it for years.

    The idea has merit so I’d say keep asking around. You might find enough like minded folks to create something.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      There is a co-operative of furniture makers operating a couple of miles up the road from me. I’ve been aware of them for several years and I even met one or two of them during exhibitions n 2010.

  4. Community workshop sounds great. Could provide to schools, care homes – elderly, socially excluded in day time as social enterprise and paying community members and courses in
    eves and weekends.
    On this basis council might provide premises at peppercorn rent and wave business rates.

    It’s a dream worth persuing in my opinion, esp. in quirky bristol.

      1. Maybe contact Linkage Bristol, an active charity providing avtivities for people over 55. I’m sure they would love to be able to offer woodwork.

        They have project management skills, you have passion, enthusiasm and woodworking skills.

        Out of tiny acorns mighty oaks are born 😉

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