The Woodworker’s Gym

Woodworker's Gym

There’s a new space in town… The Woodworker’s Gym, a workshop full of tools that can be used by anyone willing to pay (and take the required safety classes.) Their web site describes it like so: We are like a health club for woodworkers… But instead of treadmills, we have table saws. This is close to the description I heard for Bucketworks back in 2006. It’s also applied to makerspaces on occasion.

The prices at The Woodworker’s Gym are pretty high compared to a place like Milwaukee Makerspace, which may not have as much space for wood working, or tools quite as nice and new, but offers many other things. I’m sure there’s an audience of people who only want to do wood working, in the traditional ways, and have no interest in laser cutting or CNC routers or things completely unrelated to wood working like welding and 3D printing and forging and ceramics, etc.

I’m wondering if more spaces like this will start to appear. Niche-spaces that only deal in one specific technology. Maybe they already do, but I’ve met so many makers/hackers who suffer from a form of ADD which causes them to want to learn ALL THE THINGS, and can’t contain their desire to learn to one single subject.

Perhaps that’s part of the appeal to a niche-space like The Woodworker’s Gym. You’re going there to work with wood. You’re not going to get distracted and accidentally build a tiny electric race car or an army of Daleks. Hmmm, maybe they’re on to something!

The thing is, that crazy cross-pollination is part of what makes a makerspace a great thing. You go in wanting to make paper rolls for a player piano and you end up teaching people how to make jewelry and resin casting while you learn how to work with fiberglass and build a robot dog.

A recent JSOnline article has more info on the place. (Right now the hours seem pretty limited, but I look forward to seeing how it grows over time. Hopefully I can get a tour at some point.)


Squeegee Making

Squeegee (in progress)

So two years ago I managed to acquire this long piece of rubber that would be perfect to make screen printing squeegees out of, but, you know, I’ve been busy making buttons and drawing on eggs, so I never got around to making the squeegees.

OK, the real reason I didn’t make the squeegees is because I couldn’t figure out a way to do it and actually have them look good and function well. That’s where Milwaukee Makerspace comes in…

I first started by asking some questions about cutting grooves into wood. That led to learning about dado blades (which are quite expensive!) and eventually about routers, and router tables, and how to use them (properly!) to cut grooves.

So last night I cut my first groove, slid the piece of rubber into it, and I’m this much closer to my first squeegee.

Squeegee (in progress)

I still need to drill some holes and get some t-bolts in place, but I’m on my way to having a collection of different sized squeegees.

When I worked at a screen printing shop, we had about 30 of them in various sizes. We’d pick one that matched the size of the artwork. It’s also handy to have a bunch of squeegees around, since there’s a 4-color screen printing machine at the Makerspace, and you’re gonna need one for each color.

(Oh, I also posted about this over at the newly launched Milwaukee Makerspace web site. I may post there from time to time as raster.)

Also worth noting, I celebrated this small victory by riding Mr. Overbeck’s scooter around the parking lot at high speeds, and then listening to the craziest noisebox I’ve ever heard courtesy of Mr. Bastyr.