Open Shop Student Profiles


Shelf with inlay detail


Bedside tables under construction

I had absolutely no woodworking experience when I took my first class four years ago. After taking Fine Woodworking Level 1 & 2, I realized I can actually build high-quality furniture for my home. My first project after finishing Level 2 was to make matching bedside tables from a simple plan I bought on the internet. After the bedside tables, I took an inlay class, so my next project was a hanging wall shelf with some basic inlay. My current project is a coffee table from a design in Fine Woodworking magazine, and I’m working on a design of my own for a stereo cabinet that will match the coffee table.

The real value of Open Shop is the people. Instructor Brian Mulcahy is both deeply knowledgeable and a very creative thinker. When I was building my hanging wall shelf, he suggested I include a secret compartment; on my current coffee table project, he suggested a couple of small modifications to the plan that have made it a more interesting piece. It’s also great to have the other Open Shop folks around to share ideas and inspiration. There’s a real sense of community, and everyone is quick to pitch in for a complicated glue-up or other business where an extra pair of hands is useful.

I recommend Open Shop for anyone who wants to get right to work on a project instead of spending time and money acquiring major pieces of equipment. Why struggle to break down sheet goods with a circular saw when there’s a professional panel saw available? Access to the equipment is great, but it also comes with instruction and advice from people passionate about woodworking.

Open Shop

We are no longer accepting new students for Open Shop, as we are winding down the program. Current students should use the Purchase Hours button to buy more hours.