Decades ago, my city turned an old school into an activities center. I recently found out they have a woodshop in there open to the public, after you take an orientation class (and for $5 every visit). (My woodshop is in my unheated garage). The class is once a month, so I went last night to see what is was like (there are a few tools I do not have). There were nine other people. There was a college age boy and his mother, 3 men and 4 women, probably in their 50’s and 60’s.
It is a former classroom, so not massive, certainly not shop class size. The instructor showed us how to use a power tool, then each person took a turn. He really wasn’t saying much about the ins & outs of the tools, so after a few minutes of not speaking, I started to interject. Most of the people had never used any of these tools, so just flipping the switch and making a cut with a saw doesn’t really teach you anything.
They do have a good variety of tools, but some of them were not working well. The compound sliding mitre saw worked fine. But the table saw was another story. After a few people rip cut a half inch board, it started to shut off on people. The board had a little “cup” in it, but that shouldn’t have stopped the saw. They would get half way and it would stop. We reset and tried again and it stopped again. Eventually we gave up. One difficulty of a shop is the power that some of the power tools need, They really cannot share breakers with another tool. I do not know how this room is wired, but the dust collection system breaker kept popping.
We moved over to the jointer, which is the one tool I do not have and really need. We used it, but I do not think it is working well. The instructor later said he thinks the adjustment gauge is broken. So that is not very helpful if the cut depth is not working correctly. I am a little wary about the sharpness of the blades also. Next was the 12” planar. The feed rollers were not working and I think those blades are dull also, it didn’t sound good and was leaving marks in the wood.
The rest of the tools worked fine. There was a router table, a 14” band saw, a scroll saw, belt/disc sander, spindle sander, drill press. There were a few hand tools (sander, drill, jig saw, air compressor, brad nailer) that we did not use.
It is great that the City has this available all day. But I am worried about the maintenance and care of the equipment. The jointer is the main thing I am in need of, so I am not sure about going to use one that is not working properly. Though I would like to find some fellow woodworkers to work with.