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View Full Version : millenniasl are moving back to the city. How will they work wood?



Roger Feeley
03-12-2014, 12:18 PM
We are planning a move and I've made it clear that I want a shop. That pretty much rules out a condo, an apartment, a loft, a brownstone or any other form of multi-family housing. In short, I need to be either in the country or the burbs.

I read that millennials are starting to give up cars and moving back into the urban cores. While I applaud that, I have to wonder how they will make things. Sure, you can set up a little pen turning operation or carve in a small space. But if you want to build period furniture, you need square feet.

I can't reconcile this trend with the ascendance of the maker movement where our youngsters are starting to become interested in the physical world again.

Comments?

Art Mann
03-12-2014, 12:29 PM
There are millions of people who live their whole lives inside the radius covered by a mass transit systems. They have no knowledge of how others live and no desire to see or do anything else. This phenomenon has produced something of a cultural war in the country. The lack of an opportunity to do woodworking is just a tiny part of that situation.

Brian Tymchak
03-12-2014, 12:31 PM
I can't reconcile this trend with the ascendance of the maker movement where our youngsters are starting to become interested in the physical world again.


I figure that not all millenials are moving to the city core and the millenials that are moving back to the city core likely do not have the interest. Or they are putting off woodworking as a hobby (as some boomers such as I did) until later in life.

mike holden
03-12-2014, 12:36 PM
Here in SE Michigan we have a number of professional inner city woodworkers. They set up shops in Ex-manufacturing facilities. 3-phase power, high ceilings, little concern for noise or dirt; in short a perfect setup for a small shop. What is different, is that their shop is NOT where they live. Making that adjustment allows for urban woodworking.
Mike

Eric DeSilva
03-12-2014, 12:41 PM
I can't reconcile this trend with the ascendance of the maker movement where our youngsters are starting to become interested in the physical world again.

To the extent that involves a laser engraver or a 3D printer.

Rick Potter
03-12-2014, 1:42 PM
Here and there, you will find 'Art Colonies', which, in my area, are older storefronts repurposed as workshop/galleries, with living quarters upstairs. All kinds of artisans can be found, from painters to metal sculpture.

Rick Potter

Steve Peterson
03-12-2014, 2:22 PM
Here and there, you will find 'Art Colonies', which, in my area, are older storefronts repurposed as workshop/galleries, with living quarters upstairs. All kinds of artisans can be found, from painters to metal sculpture.

Rick Potter

There is a company called TechShop that includes access to around $1 million worth of equipment including many items that would not normally be in a home shop (CNC routers, wide belt sanders, etc.). The cost looks like it is around $175 per month for unlimited access or other payment plans like $7500 for a lifetime membership. They are currently in about a dozen cities. Maybe shops like this will become more common in the future.

Steve

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
03-12-2014, 6:50 PM
Iin my experience, having your shop and home separate is the only financially viable way to make it work in a city-type situation, I know at least a few folks going this route in my town, a north-east college town were the avg. price for a single family home is 400,000, and that doesn't get you much. If your idea of urban living is a little less Manhattan, however, I hear there's still affordable single-family homes within city limits or on public transit lines or close enough to it in midwest cities, particularly in areas hard hit by the downturn like Detroit.

Like others said, co-op type groups are also quite helpful. Dealing with living in a large group also helps - I built a lot of large art projects, and electronic studio and guitar gear and amplifier cabinets and stuff (nothing fancy or fine, in the furniture aspect because my tastes hadn't really developed yet) while living in a large victorian house with twelve roommates.

The other thing to consider is that what folks who've had constant access to a "real" shop consider essential is quite different from what some folks deal with. If you can borrow time on a bandsaw to help rip and resaw, or get a tracksaw (or get good with an old rip saw) for long rips, and work with handtools for a lot of other operations, you can do a lot in a small space. Built (admittedly simple) furniture and 8 or so electric guitars and basses on my porch and a table/bench in my living room while living in a tiny apartment. I lived over a bar and a coffee shop that had live music late at night - in general, I was allowed to get away with a fair amount of noise, but had to deal with noise in return. My whole shop tucked away into a closet when not in use, and my working area wouldn't even fit most non-portable table saws had I even wanted. The only thing I didn't do there was a bit of curve cutting (I used bandsaw at my father's house a half hour away.)

I don't make anything amazing (or really even good) but I make enough in shop space carved out of a spare room that's probably 10x10 if I'm lucky, using hand tools.

I know folks who do blacksmithing in the end of driveway with a portable, gas powered rig that folds up in the back of their station wagons when they aren't working, and folks who make a living selling guitars from shop space rented out in the old industrial part of town in shared space with custom bicycle maker.

Just my thoughts on how folks make it work.

Shawn Pixley
03-12-2014, 11:16 PM
There are millions of people who live their whole lives inside the radius covered by a mass transit systems. They have no knowledge of how others live and no desire to see or do anything else. This phenomenon has produced something of a cultural war in the country. The lack of an opportunity to do woodworking is just a tiny part of that situation.

I need to rather passionately disagree with your assessment here. I have lived most of my life within the radius of mass transit. I didn't own a car for years. You can do woodworking in a loft, apartment, urban house, leased space, shared shop, club, etc... I know because I've done it. I built furniture for 30K S.F. of office space without having my own shop in my 20's in downtown.

There is not a lack of ability to do something in a urban environment. You may have to think and act differently than one who lives in suburbia or a rural environment, but it isn't a limitation.

My "Shop" now is a 2 car garage in a house on a 3500 square foot loft. The house next door is 10 feet away. The garage holds two cars almost nightly. I can set up tools and tear down / put away my shop quite quickly. I wordwork when I want to but don't run powertools before 8 am or after 5 pm. I get along with my neighbors fine. I don't see limits to creativity, the act of creation, or the desire to build things in an urban environment. I have a friend who builds furniture in Tokyo in an implausibly small place. It can and is done.

It is true that I and others don't want to live in suburbia or a rural environment. But that does not necessarily denote that we cannot be creative, accomplish and take pleasure in the act of building things.

Roger Feeley
03-12-2014, 11:56 PM
There is a company called TechShop that includes access to around $1 million worth of equipment including many items that would not normally be in a home shop (CNC routers, wide belt sanders, etc.). The cost looks like it is around $175 per month for unlimited access or other payment plans like $7500 for a lifetime membership. They are currently in about a dozen cities. Maybe shops like this will become more common in the future.

Steve

That TechShop looks neat. My upcoming move will be to the DC area. It's good to know.

Steve Rozmiarek
03-13-2014, 1:09 AM
Isn't it safe to assume that woodworkers are inherently creative, and that mindset would make them very adaptable to many environments?

BTW, what age range are millennials?

William Adams
03-13-2014, 7:35 AM
To the extent that involves a laser engraver or a 3D printer.

You'd be surprised. The ShapeOko hobby CNC mill/router is the best selling subtractive machine according to Inventables (I have serial # 3005 and it's sold hundreds of units since I got my SO2 last year (ob. discl. my SO2 was free so that I could write the assembly instructions)).

There's been a bit of work done on making a sound enclosure for it and one member just made a post showing some amazing reduction (looking forward to his writing up the plans and materials for it).

Apparently there's going to be a full page in Popular Mechanics in the April issue, which I'm a bit concerned about traffic-wise, and also fully-up-dating the site for the ``new'' version 2.

Jim Matthews
03-13-2014, 8:15 AM
I can't reconcile this trend with the ascendance of the maker movement where our youngsters are starting to become interested in the physical world again.

Comments?

If you don't own a car, cash can flow to other things.
If you don't own a car, the burden of car insurance doesn't weigh on your budget.

If you're talking about owning detached housing; you have little in common with this demographic.

Co-operative shops are resurgent, and fallow industrial buildings commonplace.

I think you are asking the wrong crowd about people that aren't regulars, in the Creek.

http://makezine.com/

http://www.instructables.com/

The only thing genuinely in common about the "millenials" is their batch date.
They're as varied and widely distributed in talent and drive as any other group of
people born within the same defined range of dates.

How many people born in the same ten years were as successful as WA Mozart?
How many were living better, and longer - with more progeny than he?

I get a whiff of militant nostalgia in this post.
That's a search for confirmation - not illumination.

Be prepared to be surprised by this "batch" of young people -
they're inventive, less inclined to expect help yet more willing to offer it.

I have great hope for this clean up crew, they've got the tools and aren't afraid to use them.

* rant off *

David Weaver
03-13-2014, 9:05 AM
There are a lot of, as described above, low rent old industrial areas where someone will gladly rent you a whole lot of space for a couple of hundred bucks a month. They're usually mixed use here, like a sheet metal artist in one spot, someone who makes recycled material sculpture in another and then you, but we have a lot of old buildings that are multi floor and that have all the power hobbyists will ever use.

There have been a couple of spots on artists around here who have worked out spots in those places, one being an old beer factory, that they've set up living quarters and are living in them with families so that they are right where their work is.

If you want to do it (woodworking), there's a lot of ways to get it done other than having a 3 stall garage with $50,000 worth of tools.

I sold my TS to an industrial designer who was far better at anything craftsman-like than me, and he had a shop setup like that.

Rod Sheridan
03-13-2014, 11:19 AM
There are a lot of ways to do woodworking in a city setting.

When I lived in an apartment, the second bedroom was the woodshop.

I made furniture there, with hand tools.

If I needed to do something really noisy we had a small work space in the basement that had a couple of workbenches and a couple of saw horses, open for use by anyone.

I now live in a townhouse with the basement as a shop.

As others have said, Co-op arrangements are great and give you access to machinery you wouldn't have at home, plus help lifting something heavy.

Millemials will do everything we did, just a little differently..............Rod.

Erik Loza
03-13-2014, 11:36 AM
Isn't it safe to assume that woodworkers are inherently creative, and that mindset would make them very adaptable to many environments?

This ^^^

Could actually be said about any artist or craftsman. I have several friends who live in urban environments but have their shops either in a remote studio or in a co-op space. You just "go to the shop" when you want to work. Many of us (myself, included) get spoiled by being able to walk right into your garage and do whatever you like but I'm sure folks who don't have that luxury, find a way. Just my 2-cents as always.

Erik Loza
Minimax USA

Pat Barry
03-13-2014, 2:39 PM
I have no idea what a millenial is, nor do I care what they are, what they believe in, where they live, what they do for a living, etc etc etc. If I was of such a group though, I would be doing everything in my power to find a better name than millenial. Why not millinaires

Brian W Smith
03-14-2014, 5:12 AM
Our kids are Gen X's/Millennials.........they,just like every other "generation" is going to have to figure it out for themselves.But concerning the work enviro,how do you think builders and contractors work in urban areas?Other than parking,it's pretty much just like the country.

Christopher Collins
03-14-2014, 10:00 PM
I'm 34, one year too old to be a millennial, but close enough to give a little perspective.

I think a main difference with the new generation of "woodworkers" is that we don't think of woodworking as it's own, separate, discipline. We don't draw an arbitrary line between woodworking, electronics, gardening, engineering, sculpting, painting, and all the other creative hobbies they have. I make my own cheese, bread, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents, pens, clothes, kitchen knives, I refinish furniture, I fix electronics. It's all the same thing to me. It's all just "making", and we consider ourselves "makers".

Makers are our own subculture, but we aren't necessarily the norm within our generation. We value quality over quantity, and that includes our homes, which explains why so many prefer to live in smaller spaces. Many millennials (and others) are rejecting the big house with a big yard (and a big mortgage from a big bank), in favor of a much much smaller living space, but no mortgage, less debt (except for student loans, which nowadays are about as much as a mortgage), cheaper utilities, and plenty of time and freedom. We do more with less. Recycling, reusing, and reclaiming materials is considered an integral part of being a maker. In a way, it's an act of rebellion against a materialistic and wasteful culture. In many ways makers are just as nostalgic as their parents and grandparents for "the good old days" when things were hand made.

Check out the woodworking section of Instructables, the unofficial home of the maker movement.
http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/category-workshop/channel-woodworking/
Most of the people on that site are millennials, or maybe a few years older, and they are making amazing, creative projects.
Notice in the pictures that many of these people are making things in their kitchens, driveways, living rooms, and any place they can find. If they don't have their own space, they find space in a friends house, or join a Techshop or some other "Maker-space".
My city has a maker space where you can join for a family membership of $40/month. For that price you get access to a warehouse full of professional quality tools for woodworking, sewing, electronics, metal working, stained glass, 3d printing, drawing and painting, basket weaving, you name it!. They have a community of fellow makers, expert advice, safety training, classes on every kind of skill you can imagine. Thursdays are open house when anyone can use the tools (with safety training). It's run as a non-profit, run democratically by the members. So for the price of Cable TV you can make pretty much anything you can imagine.

Jon Nuckles
03-15-2014, 10:17 PM
I'm way too old to be a millennial, but I am a happy city dweller with a 2 bedroom condo and a big woodworking shop in an old industrial building about 3 miles away. I have had my shop in the basement of 3 former homes, and I much prefer the commute to working with limited natural light and living with wood dust. If it ever gets warm again in Chicago, the walk to the shop will even be pleasant!