New workshop - new direction? Advice welcome

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djellworth

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Hi All

I run a small fine woodworking school north of Leeds and I have to move out of my lovely workshop as the landlord has sold up to property developers; it’s a shame but that’s life I guess. I may have the chance of a new workshop which would be between Halifax and Keighley, just west of Bradford. The potential new place is quite a bit more expensive (almost triple when I take into account business rates, insurance, utilities etc) than my current place but to be fair the rent here hasn’t gone up here for years. My current digs are about 1000 sq ft and the new place is 5000sqft+

I am seriously considering taking the space. – it’s got a nice feel and locale and having looked extensively for 3 months within a 45 min travel radius there really is not much about that is suitable. (I have faced many of the same challenges that a fellow forumer has) I would plan to spread out a bit and also maybe expand the business a little – but I certainly won't need more than 2000 sq ft max. I could afford to cover the rent as is but longer term could handle sharing costs for obvious reasons.

This is where I could do with some UKW collective wisdom: I am considering things such as offering a “bench rental” where designer/makers could rent space and (probably) the use of my larger woodworking machines plus a couple of hundred sq ft. (I even wondered about also offering a 6 month scholarship or prize to one newly qualified designer/makers to help them get going with either zero or very low “rent”.) I want to keep any partnerships small and fine woodwork, hand tool/bespoke furniture orientated. I don’t want someone churning out large numbers of mdf boxes, for example.

I’d really appreciate any thoughts/advice as to 1) pluses and minuses of this “bench rental” idea 2) whether you think there would be a demand for this kind of thing in the Leeds/Bradford/Halifax area 3) how much would/could I charge per month - £300/£400/£500 inclusive? 4) maybe art space instead – would this be less hassle!

I am used to managing multiple users on my machines with appropriate training etc. The new landlord is happy for me to go down this route. There would be a deposit /up-front rent to protect me/ the landlord.

I really like the idea of facilitating other people’s growth and bringing together like minded people… I know – a bit hippyish - but after 25 years in a corporate environment I am very much enjoying doing something different!
 

baldkev

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The art idea sounds the most appealing.
If you are running a course, you wont want to be sharing machines. If the other user isnt careful or runs used scaffold planks through the thicknesser you'll be a bit stressed!
You could ( if the space works well ) divide off half the workshop with studwork and a seperate locked door to each space.
There was a drum maker looking for a workshop up north, will look to see where he was
 

baldkev

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Let me tell you that you don't want to let artists use your machines.

Offer them a cutting/machining service, but don't let them touch anything sharp or anything with buttons or dials.

I got the impression he meant to let out the excess space to to artist for art work instead of an artist using the machines. I might have got the wrong end of the stick though
 

Spectric

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The other benefits I can see are extra knowledge, two brains are often better than one and an extra pair of hands for those occasional set backs where you cannot do it on your own. Also with the right person you have company, often nicer than lone working. Downside is getting the right person with whom you can get along with and who will respect your tools and property.
 

Jameshow

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What luck!!!

@giantbeaIs in wakefield and needs some space. It might work?
About a good hours drive away!

I think bench rental might work although the location - denholme?

Another start up?

Might be an opportunity for a mens shed?

Andy R is your man I can put you in touch.
 

baldkev

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About a good hours drive away!

I think bench rental might work although the location - denholme?

Another start up?

Might be an opportunity for a mens shed?

Andy R is your man I can put you in touch.
Is it? 😆 it looked close on google maps
Sorry 🙈
 

pe2dave

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Knowing the roads round there, might accessibility be an issue for students? Worth considering.
As others, I'd be concerned about letting space to another woodworker, perhaps looking for some
artisan work with a proven track record (focus on income stream, not what they're doing?)
 

Andy

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I think bench rental would work well - there used to be a place in Leeds called Factory4 which had a lot of users but it closed down due to the premises no longer being available. However I don't think it would work on a full-time monthly fee - Factory 4 used to charge by the hour and I think that is what suits most people best who don't have full workshop facilities. Anyone who can afford £300+ per month would just pay for their own workshop.
 

Jacob

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Sounds like a good idea BUT I did something similar some years back and my 800sq ft workshop became a hive of activity with big turnover of interesting work but very little profit for me, with no respite from rent or rates
I might have been better off carrying on the way I started; on the kitchen table and then expanded into the coal shed, both rent and business rate free!
If you can afford the rent on 5000ft sq how about a mortgage on a big old house with a shed? When work is a bit slack there's no rent or business rate and you can while away your time improving the house itself, or build a bigger shed - quite likely to be more profitable than work itself and might enable a bigger purchase some years on.
PS I admit to being rubbish at business!
 
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clogs

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Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
Andy, if u could find a place for £300 per month it would be almost gift let alone for a woodwork shop….
I had a close friend in Stockport who subleted his place….everyone paid the agreed sum the first Monday of the month…no money they had to wait til next month to get in….The owner was the only person with the keys and set hours, 8am while 6pm
plus Saturdays….the rent included sharpening or replacement blades……but any damage was paid for in cash by the guilty..
all four of five joiners were really happy there…they also subbed out work to each other…
the owner made stairs n fancy windows for listed buildings and the like….he was there every hour of the day…
the lads were paid to fit em….
gotta say it worked really well….my friend was able to continue working till he was well over 70…
He then sold everything to the lads, lock stock n barrel
ps everything was Wadkin….all in great condition…
 

Andy

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Andy, if u could find a place for £300 per month it would be almost gift let alone for a woodwork shop….
I pay £300 month for my workshop - granted it's not big at 30 square meters, but it just about suits what I need
 

Sean33

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Hi All

I run a small fine woodworking school north of Leeds and I have to move out of my lovely workshop as the landlord has sold up to property developers; it’s a shame but that’s life I guess. I may have the chance of a new workshop which would be between Halifax and Keighley, just west of Bradford. The potential new place is quite a bit more expensive (almost triple when I take into account business rates, insurance, utilities etc) than my current place but to be fair the rent here hasn’t gone up here for years. My current digs are about 1000 sq ft and the new place is 5000sqft+

I am seriously considering taking the space. – it’s got a nice feel and locale and having looked extensively for 3 months within a 45 min travel radius there really is not much about that is suitable. (I have faced many of the same challenges that a fellow forumer has) I would plan to spread out a bit and also maybe expand the business a little – but I certainly won't need more than 2000 sq ft max. I could afford to cover the rent as is but longer term could handle sharing costs for obvious reasons.

This is where I could do with some UKW collective wisdom: I am considering things such as offering a “bench rental” where designer/makers could rent space and (probably) the use of my larger woodworking machines plus a couple of hundred sq ft. (I even wondered about also offering a 6 month scholarship or prize to one newly qualified designer/makers to help them get going with either zero or very low “rent”.) I want to keep any partnerships small and fine woodwork, hand tool/bespoke furniture orientated. I don’t want someone churning out large numbers of mdf boxes, for example.

I’d really appreciate any thoughts/advice as to 1) pluses and minuses of this “bench rental” idea 2) whether you think there would be a demand for this kind of thing in the Leeds/Bradford/Halifax area 3) how much would/could I charge per month - £300/£400/£500 inclusive? 4) maybe art space instead – would this be less hassle!

I am used to managing multiple users on my machines with appropriate training etc. The new landlord is happy for me to go down this route. There would be a deposit /up-front rent to protect me/ the landlord.

I really like the idea of facilitating other people’s growth and bringing together like minded people… I know – a bit hippyish - but after 25 years in a corporate environment I am very much enjoying doing something different!
I remember one of the 1st courses I went on John Lloyd did a similar thing in offering a bench and use of machines, I spoke to a couple of the makers that were renting space and they loved it, experience to hand of other like makers and also the fact that they could use the wisdom of there teacher too.
 

Freddyjersey2016

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1. Take a look at the Open Workshop Network - which appears currently to be just in London - but they may be worth talking to, to find out how they manage the issues. I dont understand why there are not more outside London Open Workshop Network — Open Workshop Network is a network of the open-access workshops across London.
2. Is there a Hackspace / Makerspace in the area - if not perhaps there might demand for one
3. Ditto Men's Shed (or Hackspace + Men's Shed + Library of Things...)
I am heavily involved in Men's Sheds so DM me if you want more info.
 

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