That’s it. The whole plan. I’m opening a woodworking school and art gallery.
For the past few years I’ve been inkling to open up a mobile woodworking school. Something to do during the summer and winter teaching breaks. The idea was to buy a large used school bus. Strip out all the seats. Install full length workbenches along the sides, with enough ‘stations’ to be able to teach 6-8 students. Transplant a generator, AC and rest room from an RV to keep students comfortable and perhaps a bunk for me. Then I could travel to county fairs, retirement/community centers, woodworking clubs, etc… to teach and have fun.
But before I could pull the trigger the recession hit, education funding got nix’d, technology courses became unfunded electives and NASA laid off a good portion of my schools population.
So I was left with a choice to make.
I like teaching too much to change careers. I like making stuff. I enjoy the idea of a simpler life.
So I’m just going all in and opening a permanent school. I’ve cashed in my retirement, paid off all my debt and with what little is left I’m pursuing the dream of living out of the back office of my very own woodworking school and art gallery.
Most woodworking schools in this country really are set up to promote tool sales. They are either part of a franchised/ independent retail store or in conjunction with a production company (tools and merchandise). ‘wortheffort’s’ biggest difference is that education is first and foremost. I want people to be inspired to learn, to realize their capabilities and to strive to get better. Hence I’m placing the school in the middle of a revolving art gallery dedicated to woodworking. This will serve as a means for expert instructors to merchandise themselves, promoting their courses, and inspire students to learn.
Monday thru Thursday I’ll develop weekly evening courses that either I or another local artisan will teach on a revolving month by month basis. That way I can give the local population a flexible means of an inexpensive education and some social motivation for continued growth in the hobby. Friday, Saturday and Sunday I’ll have a facility ready and equipped for visiting celebrities to inform, inspire and educate over a long weekend. Clubs and organizations will have access Friday and Saturday evenings for meetings and demonstrations. Perhaps if they’re really nice (and a little generous) they could persuade whomever is the visiting instructor that weekend to give a talk or demonstration?
This is an exceptionally low budget enterprise, so I’m going to have to occur in stages. What you have in this website is part of stage one, marketing. At the same time I’m developing this site I’m also building tools, making school furniture/equipment, developing courses, selling artwork and doing hand tool demonstrations at the local markets as a means of shilling the upcoming school. All of which will be documented as content for the website.
- I’m looking for a facility:
- approximately 1200 sq. ft.
- close to other galleries and or craft schools
- close to resources such as hardwood dealer
- within target demographics
- adequate parking
- adequate foot/vehicle traffic
- quality advertising resources
- Lining up interest from local and celebrity instructors
- Taking the finished business plan to the SBA.
My goal is to survive a few years. This will never be a big money maker but I believe it’ll be an enjoyable way to make an almost comfortable living. By year 5 I’ll start looking to move into my own building, designed specifically to serve the needs of a larger art gallery and school. I dream of a small two story place on a square with the art gallery downstairs and the school/residency up.
With a lot of work, a lot of help, and a little luck maybe… just maybe… I can prove that it is always worth the effort to learn, create and share knowledge and passion.