Open Shop

Woodworking shop

Have you ever dreamed of having a community shop full of hand and power tools where you can pursue your own project? The Folk School shares this dream and invites you to become a member of our community.

Open Shop gives you the opportunity to work on your own in the school shop, during hours when the shop is not in use for regular Folk School activities. This option is made available to students who have:

  • completed at least two 5-session units of Principles of Woodworking or equivalent,
  • undergone a complete operation and safety check for all equipment and,
  • have the approval of the instructor.

Open Shop carries a heavier burden of responsibility for the facility and the privilege can be revoked by The Folk School at any time, for any reason.

The rate for this privilege is $12 per hour, which you can purchase in blocks of 8 hours. (Click on the “Registration” tab above.)

Our shop provides a safe environment with benches, hand tools, and power tools in a number of configurations. We have vises, shaving horses, chopping blocks, work tables, and an ever-growing selection of hand tools. We also have specialized tools for working bark and leather, as well as other cool treasures you can rummage around for. Although it is usually best to bring in your own materials, we do have a selection of supplies such as fasteners, adhesives, abrasives, bone, antler, bark, leather, wire, cord, and thread that can be purchased.  

We have developed Guidelines for use of the Shop during Open Shop time that must be agreed to and followed by all participants. Click on that tab on this page to view the guidelines. When you have qualified for the program and are ready to proceed, see the four-step process described on the Registration tab on this page.

You must be 18 years old or older to qualify for and participate in Open Shop.




Open Shop Guidelines


Hours available for Open Shop: Seven days per week from 8 AM to 9 PM when the shop is not otherwise scheduled. Check the Folk School calendar before you plan to use the shop.

1.  Be safe: Pay attention, stay alert, do not become distracted (take out your ear buds and ignore your cell phone). If you feel uncomfortable in a situation then you shouldn’t be doing it. Wear eye and ear protection. If you’re tired, quit for the day.

2.  Take responsibility: Our shop and everything in it are wonderful and valuable assets for all of us. To have use of these assets is a privilege. When working in the shop alone you are responsible for all of it. If you notice something amiss – trouble shoot, fix it if you feel qualified, and notify the school.

3.  Treat tools with the utmost care. If you dull or ding a cutting edge and feel qualified, then sharpen it. If not, put a dollar in the ding can.

4.  Fix or replace what you break.

5. Replace supplies you have used such as glue, sand paper, biscuits, dowels, and fasteners when you feel you have impacted the inventory. If you see that supplies are running low, buy some more.

6.  Considerations for noise: Most power tools make a lot of noise and that noise impacts everyone. Be considerate of not only fellow shop users but even the neighbors. Stay aware of other Folk School activities nearby.

7.  Considerations for sanding: Hand sanding creates a fair amount of fine dust but little of it becomes airborne. Sanding with a power sander without a dust pickup produces a tremendous amount of fine airborne dust. This dust is not only harmful to breath but settles on everything and is later stirred up when retrieving a tool from a shelf or a board from a stack. This dust becomes everyone’s problem from then on. Efficient dust pick up sanders are fairly expensive and the school does not have one at this time. For now, sanding inside the shop should be minimized and subsequent cleaning should be maximized.

8.  Considerations for finishing (oiling or painting): Oil based products are generally toxic and leave a strong smell in the shop. Plan your finishing schedule so it will not impact others or better yet finish your project at home. Oily rags can spontaneously combust: know how to treat them, double check, and then check again. Plan ahead for the drying time so you can remove your project before the next scheduled shop activity and consider other “open shop” users.

9.  Keep your projects small enough that they will not be a burden to others. The Folk School has little room to store ongoing projects. If you have to leave something in clamps while glue is drying be sure to get back to unclamp before the next scheduled shop activity.

10.  Share the space with others – be considerate. Projects cannot be so large that they preclude others from using the space.

11.  Clean up thoroughly and put things away. Do not leave a full shaving/sawdust container. Leave the shop better than you found it.

There are two trash cans, two wood scrap cans, one shaving/sawdust can, and one paper recycling can.

    • Wood scraps are just that, solid wood and plywood. Maximum length: 16″.
    • Wood shavings and sawdust go in the big black trash bahs for re-use, not in trash.
    • Trash includes plywood and particle board. Make sure pieces are small enough that the bag can be tied shut.

12.  When you leave, turn heat down to 55, all lights off, lock up, and make sure that the back door and shed are locked.

13. Keep current. It takes practice and constant honing of skills to be an effective woodworker and to stay safe. So if you stop using the workshop for three months, before you can exercise Open Shop privileges again you’ll need a workshop refresher. This may mean participation in another Principles of Woodworking block of sessions or other arrangements. Talk to one of the Principles of Woodworking instructors to figure out how best to accomplish this.


open shop


Open Shop Registration

Here is the process to gain the privilege of open shop time:

  1. Gain the necessary skill and knowledge, to the satisfaction of our woodworking instructor. See the information under the Description tab. 
  2. The instructor will let the Operations Director know that you have qualified, and the O.D. will contact you to get the agreements signed. There are two agreements:
    • Open Shop Liability Policy, where you agree to the assumption of risk of using The Folk School’s tools and equipment, and will use it responsibly.
    • Open Shop Agreement, where you agree to follow The Folk School’s rules for use of the workshop. 
  3. Once you have signed the agreements, you can register for and purchase time using the Register button below. Doing this step out of order may result in your losing whatever time you might pay for.
  4. The Operations Director will then get you set up for access.

The first step may take some time for you to take classes and meet the requirements. The remaining steps generally can happen within a day or two.

To Register: After planning Open Shop time with your instructor and signing off on the shop guidelines, please click on the REGISTER button below to purchase Open Shop time in blocks of 8 hours. 



Woodworking shop