The Rent-a-Bench Program
UPDATE: We are slowly re-opening the Rent-a-Bench program with one-at-time (or family/household groups.)
We will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9 – 5 for one-at-a-time use, and by appointment on any other day.
You can reserve your spot online (for Wednesdays and Thursdays) or if you’d like to make an appointment, please contact us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling our office at 207-625-3396.
We’re happy to make an appointment on other days of the week — it just helps us plan the week out a little better.
Masks are required in the Community Woodworking Shop; please don’t come if you don’t feel well, or if you’ve traveled outside of New England in the last two weeks. Our community’s safety is our top concern.
How it Works, Adjusted for One-at-a-Time Use
Please call or email us to make an appointment to use the shop on an hourly or daily basis. You provide the wood (or you can buy it from us) and supplies for your project, and we provide the tools and some instruction to help you along. If the lack of a certain tool or the right space has ever stopped you from completing a woodworking project, the Rent-a-Bench program is now here to help!
We currently have 1 spot available at any given time. (Or 2 if folks are in the same household.)
Reduced rates for low or fixed incomes are available upon request. We never turn anyone away for lack of funds.
If you would like a private lesson, please contact us with any questions. If it’s something we can do, we’re happy to schedule a special session. The suggested rate for private lessons is $20 an hour.
Note that it’s possible to schedule a private lesson for an hour or two, and then switch to Rent-a-Bench time once you get the hang of it. If you think you’re going to need a lot of help with a project, or you’ve never used the tool you’d like to, please reach out to schedule a lesson. This way, we’ll be ready for you and able to give you the full attention you need to stay safe and successfully complete your woodworking project.
Our goal is to provide the community with affordable, creative, and safe access to a fully equipped woodworking shop — but we also need to keep the lights on, the insurance paid for, and the tools sharp. By asking everyone to pay in a fair share to use the facility, we can keep this community space well maintained and affordable for all.
Please email us at email@example.com or call 207-625-3396 with any questions or concerns.
A HUGE thank you to the Maine Community Foundation and the Virginia Hodgkins Somers Foundation for their initial support of this program! And many thanks to the Horizon Foundation and the Fisher Charitable Foundation for their support in continuing the program.
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Community Woodworking Shop Rules:
- Safety. If you don’t know how to use a tool, please ask for help. If you need an extra hand or some advice with your project, please ask! We’re here to keep you safe and succeed with your project. Hearing and eye protection is available for all shop participants. The goal is to leave with the same number of fingers and eyeballs that you came in with.
- Be respectful and kind to those around you, the space, the tools, and yourself. Working in a shared space requires a little extra communication and care — but together we can make this a phenomenal and inspiring place to work.
- If you carelessly damage a tool, you are responsible for replacing it.
- Please leave your pets at home; service dogs are welcome.
- No smoking anywhere on Tear Cap Workshops property.
- Some varieties of exotic wood are highly toxic and cannot be used in the Community Woodworking Shop. The shop staff will assist you in determining whether the exotic wood product is safe for the community space. In general, we encourage folks to use local wood whenever possible.
- Other consumable products, such as sandpaper, glue, screws, and nails, are available for purchase. If you bring your own, please be sure to label them with your name.
- We do not allow painting inside the shop because of fumes and fire danger. (Also, if other people are working, the dust will probably ruin your paint job.) We ask folks to paint at home, or by special request, we can help you set up something outside, completely at our discretion. We remind everyone that oily rags and flammable liquids need to be handled with extreme caution.
- Stay safe, think before you act, be kind, have fun and get inspired! We’re here to help you succeed with your project. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
If you reserve the time, please be punctual! If you’re more than 10 minutes late, your reserved time will be forfeit if someone else is waiting for the space. If you can’t make it, please let us know as soon as you can.
- Rent-a-bench Availability: We will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays 9 – 5, and by appointment on other days. You can use the shop for as long as you need during those times. (2 hours, 4.5 hours, 7 hours, etc.) We currently have 1 spot available at this time to ensure proper social distancing.
- 4 Benches: 2’ 6” x 6’ pine top bench
- One half of the Megabench: 3’ 6” x 8’ pine top bench
- The other half of the Megabench
- Presto Bench: 5’ x 9’ pine top lift table
In addition to the bench rental, there are shared use tools throughout the shop. These include: a bandsaw, 2 chopsaws, a drill press, 2 tablesaws, 2 planers, along with a variety of hand tools.
2. Skill Level: At this time, we are asking all Rent-a-Bench participants to self-evaluate their own skill level. The Rent-a-Bench program is geared for those with at least basic woodworking skills to ensure the safety of everyone in working in the shop. Our Shop Steward will be on hand to answer questions, provide some instruction, and make sure everyone is staying safe. In general, each participant can have about 10 – 15 minutes of assistance every hour. If you know you’ll need more than that, please contact us to schedule a private lesson. If you’re at the beginner level, we can still help with your project! If you need to learn the basics, or brush up on your woodworking skills, please contact us to schedule a private lesson. With a private lesson, we can give you the individualized, full attention you need to succeed and stay safe with your project, so you can move on to enjoying the rent-a-bench program in future. We are also working on offering some beginner-level classes, and will have more information on that soon.
3. Materials: Rent-a-bench participants are responsible for providing their own wood and consumable materials. (Sandpaper, glue, screws, nails, etc.) We will have these items available for purchase if needed. We also have some local wood available for purchase:
Tear Cap pine, grown and sawn on site, is available in a variety of thicknesses for $1 a board foot.
We also have some hardwoods available — maple, birch, and oak. Please inquire for information about quantity and pricing.
Our friends at the Local Wood Initiative also have a full list of Maine-sourced wood:
Participants are welcome to bring their own wood, but there are restrictions on the type of wood allowed on machines. Exotic woods can be extremely toxic, and certain types are not allowed in the community space for everyone’s safety and well-being. Ask us if you have any questions!
Reclaimed lumber can also be incredibly problematic because of nails and accumulated grit. Using reclaimed wood on expensive machines is always a risk —so participants who use reclaimed wood need to understand that they are responsible for any broken or damaged blades or equipment.
Please ask us if you have any questions or concerns. Our goal is to keep everyone safe and the machines in good working order.