Owner opens her workshop to the public

Beth Dellow, owner of Beth’s DIY Workshop in Baltimore, does what many woodworkers might not be comfortable doing: opening her shop to members of the public for use at an hourly fee.

“The purpose of the shop is to provide machinery and woodworking tools to the community. I live in the city of Baltimore and not everybody has a garage or basement that’s useable. There’s plenty of interest in woodworking and not everybody can afford to own shop-quality tools. So it was a way of providing just that, along with some guidance,” says Dellow.

She currently charges patrons $8 an hour to use the shop, which is available as an open shop on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On other days she works on her own commissions and furniture restoration, and also teaches home improvement classes in plumbing, electrical, drywall and window repair, as well as a basic woodworking class.

Patrons are mainly hobbyist woodworkers, but a few aspiring pros in need of machinery have stepped through the doors. About 50 patrons used her shop in 2011, a significant increase from the previous year.

Dellow understands why other pros would be hesitant to let the public use their tools and machinery, which includes a table saw, panel saw, planer and drill press.

“It would be great if people could share their tools, but I think it’s really hard for a professional woodworker to allow other people to put their hands on their tools because they wouldn’t be able to do what they need to do while other people are in their shop. The difference here is that I’m a full-time handyperson; I have volunteers that stay at the shop and oversee the operation.”

Dellow says safety is always a big concern to her and she is in the process of creating a waiver. The wear and tear on machinery is also an issue.

“It’s pretty expensive to replace blades. For now, it’s worth doing it, though. I’m getting to the point where I can see what the wear and tear is and what it will cost me. It may mean I have to raise my fees a bit.”

In the next year, she plans to open a tool bank where neighbors in the community can borrow hand tools for use at their homes. She also plans to purchase a ShopBot CNC router, which will be available to the public.

Contact: Beth’s DIY Workshop, 4315 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214. Tel: 410-400-0565. www.bethsdiyworkshop.com

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue.