Leonard Street Workshop #1: The very beginning

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Blog entry by tyskkvinna posted 12-31-2010 02:39 AM 2906 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Leonard Street Workshop series Part 2: Just a little wood »

Hey everybody. Did you miss me?

I disappeared because my life got woefully busy and I had no way of doing any woodworking. As I mentioned earlier in the year, we decided to move our business from a relatively small city to a much bigger one (Grand Rapids, MI) and spent the summer and autumn looking for a new facility. It’s a difficult progress, because we have extremely unique needs.

But, we found a new home. A former YMCA, our new building (currently called the “Leonard Street Lab”, because it is on Leonard Street and so far nobody has a better name) is 43,000 square feet over three storeys. There will be room for a high voltage lab, a small vehicular lab, an electronics workshop, a computer lab, some general arts-crafts-science work spaces, and studios for video, audio, photography, and dance.

And of course, a wood shop. Which is what we’re going to talk about. If you happen to be interested in general progress, you can read the Geek Blog.

This is the main space. It was previously a locker room. I’m not sure of the dimensions offhand, but it is pretty spacious.

This also was lockers, and will be retooled into workbenches of various types.

On the other side of the right wall is this

The few remaining lockers will be removed very soon, and more benches will be installed.

Unsurprisingly, the locker room comes with showers. This will be used for painting/varnishing. The room has amazing ventilation and the stalls lend themselves to working on a few small projects simultaneously. No major spraying, but it should be absolutely beautiful for wipe-on and brush-on work.

Now as you may recall, I also have a fairly impressive collection of CNC equipment.

Those will go in here. (The far right corner, from the perspective of this photo) This is also where I will eventually be setting up stock storage (wood, as well as plastic and metals) and there will be some space reserved for future use. For example, I want a panel saw. I don’t want to put my hypothetical panel saw in the smaller room. :)

This room used to be a gym, back when it was the YMCA. Between when they closed (2005) and today, two different organisations have had the facility and they did…. a very poor job of managing it.

This is the floor. Under the carpet. (Who carpets that BEAUTIFUL FLOOR?)

We can’t keep the floor as it is, unfortunately. Because of the CNC gear, and other things happening in this room, we have to be able to drive a forklift on this floor. Under the wood is a poured concrete floor. So it will be torn up.

Now, before all of you start crying because I’m getting rid of that much beautiful wood (it’s all maple, installed by Brunswick in 1957. A fair amount of normal maple, a whole lot of curly and/or birdseye) you will be happy to know that the floor is going to be very, very carefully dismantled and then sold. It’s the perfect size to be made into pen blanks (4/4×2” x whatever-you-want) which I plan on doing for a lot, but I will be getting rid of a lot of it as just plain ol’ lumber. so if you’re interested in some small pieces of maple please do let me know… I literally have more than I know what to do with. And all proceeds go to support the Geek Group, because we have to pay off this beautiful building eventually. I will listen to all reasonable offers..

Also—if you happen to be a woodworker and are in the greater Grand Rapids area please let me know. I’d love to meet you. I’m looking for some turners, specifically, to help out with the pen project. (I’ve never tried turning but I’m sure I will be tackling this pretty soon)

I won’t have updates daily, I’m sure, but I will keep everybody in the loop on the progress. And of course, if any of you have any suggestions as to how to set up the shop or where to sell the wood or anything else, let me know!! I love the feedback from all of you here.

It is a little different than most shop setups you see around here, because it is not for my personal, private use. this is a facility for sharing. But man, I love sharing anything about woodworking and getting more people excited about it. It’s one of the best parts of my job.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

19 comments so far

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 2823 days

#1 posted 12-31-2010 02:43 AM

wow nice new shop I am in grand blanc mi. Do you have any tools you would like to sell


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2916 days

#2 posted 12-31-2010 02:48 AM

Welcome back, Lis! You have been missed! I have enjoyed seeing your beautiful photographs though.

It looks like you are going to be really busy working on that awesome place. It will be amazing to watch the progress and I am sure it will be quite inspirational for you to have such an incredible place. Thank you for posting and I will be looking forward to following your progress.

Take care, Sheila :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3014 days

#3 posted 12-31-2010 03:32 AM

Welcome back, and yes I have been wondering where you have been but figured you were busy. Glad to know someone is doing alright! Hope you are and will be doing great in your new place. It looks plenty spacious. I do not envy you all the work you will have to do to get it the way you want.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18268 posts in 3672 days

#4 posted 12-31-2010 03:51 AM

Just a few days ago i was wondering about your projects and up pops the answer :-) Looks like your work is cut out for you!! Happy New Year!!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lew's profile


12056 posts in 3751 days

#5 posted 12-31-2010 04:09 AM

There will be room for a high voltage lab, a small vehicular lab, an electronics workshop, a computer lab, some general arts-crafts-science work spaces, and studios for video, audio, photography, and dance.

Now I am totally intrigued!! What a diverse collection of vocations. May I ask what your business manufactures?!?

Looking at the blog you linked, I couldn’t help but notice the Tesla Coil. I should send you pictures of the one our students built in the Electronics Tech class at my school. It is awesome!!!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3046 days

#6 posted 12-31-2010 04:18 AM

Funny I was only just thinking I haven’t seen you around for a while.
it looks like a nice place and you will propably even fill the corners in no time at all!

-- Theresa,

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2982 days

#7 posted 12-31-2010 04:25 AM

Now I am totally intrigued!! What a diverse collection of vocations. May I ask what your business manufactures?!?

We do not manufacture things. We are a community centre of sorts. A cross between a vocational school and a science museum.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2993 days

#8 posted 12-31-2010 05:08 AM

Welcome back. Missed your blogs .

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2877 days

#9 posted 12-31-2010 05:46 AM

Lis, I was wondering what happened to you and your wonderful doll house!

Missed your postings too.

That will be one heck of a shop!

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3592 days

#10 posted 12-31-2010 06:31 AM

I am in G.R. I know the general area you are in Maybe we could meet up sometime with our other half’s in tow of course send me a P.M. Would love t see some of your work

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Bureaucrat's profile


18339 posts in 3648 days

#11 posted 12-31-2010 06:55 AM

Been following Geek Group on Facebook. Looking like things are taking off. BTW thanks to your group for the instructional videos, I have learned a lot. Glad to see you posting here again.
Take care.

-- Gary D. Stoughton, WI

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3111 days

#12 posted 12-31-2010 08:43 AM

congrat´s with the new place Lis :-)
yes one here wuold like to follow the progress

happy new-year to the Geek Group

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3330 days

#13 posted 12-31-2010 10:56 PM

STOP!!! Your killing me with envy, LOL. Congrats on the new facilities. Looks really great. Can’t wait to see it after you get the tools installed.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3581 days

#14 posted 12-31-2010 11:18 PM

Very best of luck with your new adventure.Oh to be young again and full of such ambition.I couldn’t be bothered to start all over again.I have been there many times so I know what your taking on best wishes in any case Kindest regards my young friend.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3878 days

#15 posted 01-01-2011 03:09 AM

Hey Lis, welcome back. That looks like an incredibly cool project. I hope the best.

And like Don mentioned, any news on your dollhouse?


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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