How to find someone to share a workshop space with?
May 18, 2015 5:37 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I have tracked down a workshop space to rent out. It's bit bigger than we need for the two of us (we're just hobbyists) and our tools (we don't have loads yet, but some). Ideally we'd like to setup a small scale makers' lab for woodworking. Share the rent, share ideas, share tools.

But how do we go about advertising for and finding like-minded individuals?

Ideally we're after disciples of Matthias Wandel and/or The Wood Whisperer and/or his holiness Steve Ramsey or, crucially, disciples in utero.

We're not interested in sharing with joiners (contractors in US speak!) or professional cabinet makers - we want to share with people who are making toy chests for their children or shutters for their windows or a new knife block for the kitchen.

It's a crucial distinction - and we don't know how to come into contact with or find these people. We need to be able to trust them and get on with them.

Any tips appreciated.
posted by dance to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know of people in my social circles who rent spaces like these, and when a space opens up in their workshop/studio/etc they make an event on Facebook and then interview people who apply. Word can spread around quite well if you make it clear that it's okay for your friends to invite others.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2015

If you have one business that you get much of your materials from, talk to the manager about hosting a how-to event in your new space. The store would be a sponsor. Their fee would cover the event insurance and the materials needed, as well as some advertising. On every bit of advertising, mention that studio space is available for rent.
posted by myselfasme at 5:58 AM on May 18, 2015

Highly dependent on the city and culture, but in a lot of urban cities there are neighborhood listserves/websites that are easy to advertise with. If there's a strong sense of community in your neighborhood, that's an easy go to. I just started a neighborhood tool sharing program and already have 70 sign-ups, entirely through advertising with a neighborhood list serve and also setting up a table at a community event.

You can also set up a free website (say on blogspot) talking about the neighborhood you're in and describing the space that will show up for anyone searching for such a space.

You'll quickly find like minded individuals who are also in need of such spaces.
posted by Karaage at 6:29 AM on May 18, 2015

I think you may want the Men's Sheds movement. Link is to the UK website - see also Wikipedia. Despite the name, some branches do have women members. You could contact the UK group for their advice, or if you want to MeMail me I can put you in touch with someone who started a Shed.
posted by paduasoy at 7:52 AM on May 18, 2015

I own a small workshop that I rent out, with tools, to friends and friends of friends. It is hard going to get this off the ground but restricting access from the general public is worth it to me and might be to you as well.

A couple of things to think about:
*If you hire out space to the general public you need public liability insurance - or whatever the equivalent is called where you are. This, for woodwork specifically, can be ferociously expensive.
*They are your tools. I choose to only let people I know or people who have been vouched for by someone I know touch my tools. I'm not interested in finding a nail studded fence post has been put through my thicknesser by some idiot off the street.
*Security. I can't be there all the time. If you can't either (or have someone there), you basically can't rent to the public.
*If you are renting to people very new to woodworking you are going to have a lot of overhead in terms of inducting them and at least making sure they don't take fingers off. That's a lot of time where you aren't building anything. And coupled to the first point you must be competent in both woodwork and OH&S to do that or you can run into legal problems should something go wrong.

That's my experience, bear in mind I'm in Australia, which is legally restrictive, and YMMV as always.
posted by deadwax at 4:10 AM on May 19, 2015

I think this is a lot more complicated than you are envisioning, and possibly a lot more work.

If these people are your friends, then you find them the same way you find other friends, through networking--you don't advertise for friends, you ask around in the places where people with interests like yours gather. You trust them with your tools and space because you know them very well and can personally vouch for their skills and reliability.

If they are not your friends, but something more formal, you need more formal methods of preventing theft, injury, and the like. There are a lot of makerspaces that have very strict policies in place to prevent those problems--see for example Artisan's Asylum in Boston, which requires everyone who uses the tools to either take a class or prove they know how to use them safely (among other requirements--they have their policies up on the website). Most big maker organizations have those kinds of policies but smaller spaces often do too. You might look at some of the places listed on to get a broader range of policy examples.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:36 AM on May 19, 2015

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