Ever wondered where local establishments like Red Emma’s Cafe, and Cosima Restaurant got their beautiful table tops? Would it surprise you to find out Baltimore residents with little to no prior woodworking skills crafted them using reclaimed wood?Station North Tool Library opened in 2013 as a public access woodworking facility that has a sliding-scale, membership-based tool library. Anyone in Baltimore can join the library and borrow tools. The inventory ranges from a hammer to a chainsaw, a ladder to a trowel. Two years into their instant and booming success as a cherished city resource, the library expanded its programming (they also teach workshops) with a grant to fund a unique program called Surface Project.
Here’s the library’s own description of the program:
A creative approach to Workforce Development, Surface Project is an apprenticeship program that works with individuals with high barriers to employment and shows them the skills to take locally sourced reclaimed materials and create value-added products, like table surfaces. Apprentices learn the business from start to finish, while sales of these products go towards creating full time jobs for graduates who successfully complete the program.
Graduates leave with advanced skills in woodworking, able to apply for full or part-time jobs in the field with a load of woodworking experience (and customer interactions) under their belts. The program, housed under the Station North Tool Library website, offers an online catalog to customize the wood and finish for projects, and their Instagram account provides inspiring examples of finished and in-progress pieces.
The finished products are no shop-class-quality trinkets. The program takes on legitimate clients, including large businesses and nonprofits right in the city, as well as custom work for individuals across the country. The resulting countertops, bookshelves and tables are breathtaking. What an outstanding way for this small grassroots organization to offer positive and significant opportunities to neighbors in their community.
Need to furnish your new office space, renovated home or business? Consider this excellent Baltimore organization.
More info about Surface Project can be found here.
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