Woodworkers know the hobby is a time-consuming labor of love, one which can also chip away at your pockets. One cost-effective way to create hand crafted wooden items without breaking the bank is taking a class or becoming a member at Philadelphia Woodworking Members Workshop. Here, a professional staff offers comprehensive classes or one-on-one instruction for those who have the desire to create things with their own two hands.
Founded by Michael Vogel in 2011, the idea of Philadelphia Woodworking Members Workshop started out as an answer to his post-graduate frustrations. After completing architecture school, Michael could not find accessible woodworking shops. With that, he purchased an 8,000 square foot workspace in Manayunk, and the seeds of Philadelphia Woodworking Members Workshop had been planted.
“Everything here is privately funded,” said Emily Duncan, the shop’s business manager. “Mike, the owner, this is his baby. He did all the funding up front. We are currently just about sustainable, but we are always looking for more members, to grow and expand.”
‘The shop,’ as its affectionately known by staff, boasts its collection of high quality, professional grade equipment. People must go through two safety certifications before able to use the machines, said Nicole Miller, a staff member.
“We have the safety certifications, and we walk everybody through that,” Miller said. “Or they’re always right next to an employee.”
There is also a smaller workshop, complete with work tables, benches and more equipment. This is the classroom shop. Miller explained they keep classes in a completely separate room from their members’ workshop, as to not interfere with one another.
“For folks that aren’t ready to make the commitment to any kind of membership, that’s what the classes are for,” Duncan said. “It’s our way of letting people dip their feet in the water, and see what they like doing, kind of open their eyes to new skills.”
Many of the classes offered at the shop gravitate towards novice woodworkers, or individuals looking to hand make a gift for someone they know. Although it is primarily a school and workshop, their mission is more focused on the experience, and for people to enjoy what they are doing.
-Photos and text by La’Rene Cassells and Matt Snider