Designing your own wood product

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In a region as large as the Delaware Valley, there's hardly anything you can't walk into a store and buy. But one thing you can't buy is the pride of making something yourself.

Located just off the Schuylkill Expressway in Manayunk, Philadelphia Woodworks offers everyone from world-class experts to rank beginners the opportunity to design, build and finish just about anything made of wood.

Founder and president Michael Vogel equipped the shop with state-of-the-art tools and machines. Everything is maintained on a regular basis. And safety is the best it can be.

His table saw is designed to cut wood with ease, but will stop in a fraction of a second it the blade comes in contact with anything soft.

Even more basic, no one is allowed to work on a piece of equipment before taking a mandatory safety class. Only when you're certified on a piece of equipment may you work with it. And then, if you'd rather not, the staff is there to make the cuts for you, or will supervise you while you do the work.

Mass-market retailers generally offer you a choice of pine or plywood, but Philadelphia Woodworks has a vast selection of wood right on the premises...even exotic hardwoods.

There's a library available for help with techniques and design. Again, the staff can answer any questions you might have. And after all the pieces are cut, there's everything you need to assemble your project, and then to finish it professionally.

Woodworking enthusiasts may purchase a monthly membership which allows unlimited use of all resources. That's $129.00 per month. You can buy a punch card for $199, entitling you to work in the shop for up to ten hours, 30 minutes at a time.

One-time day and evening passes are also available, as are skill demonstrations most nights. These are free to members and $14.99 per session for non-members.

These are always listed on Philadelphia Woodworks.

The company is also on Facebook, where they post a roster of upcoming demonstrations and let you know if the place is crowded or not. One in four members is female.

You may also phone the center at 267-331-5880. Despite all the woodworking activity, you'll find the premises as clean as possible. Most machines vacuum up sawdust as they work.

The shop is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00am to 10:00pm, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Mondays, its closed for maintenance

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