- Associated Press - Saturday, September 30, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Ask anyone who has a workshop and a fine set of tools: Sooner or later someone will ask to borrow something.

James Krause said he had become weary of people asking to borrow tools, so he and his business partners Chance Cunningham and Michael Billars built a business around not only renting tools, but also the space to use them, the Rapid City Journal reported .

Starting with machine shop equipment from their regular business, Black Hills Metal Fabricators, the trio just opened The Shop, a workshop collective where paid members have access to myriad wood and metal shop tools to work on their own projects.

The Shop also offers classes on different topics and techniques, or just the chance to “talk shop” with those of similar interests.

“We’re really trying to make a community space where you can connect with other people and learn stuff,” Krause said. “It’s all part of what’s on our sign: learn, create, connect.”

The Shop opened with a wood shop, machine shop and an electronics room, with more areas of emphasis coming soon, Krause said.

The Shop falls into the category of what is known as a “makerspace,” a concept offering would-be crafters access to otherwise pricey tools and a rentable work space to use them.

Krause is joined by Cunningham and Billars as investors in The Shop, located at 2380 Deadwood Ave., Unit B in the Summit Industrial Park.

Krause, Cunningham and Billars began talking about a collective for those who not only need access to tools and workspace, but also instruction in how to use them safely.

“I made a phone call to a buddy in Minneapolis and he said, ‘Oh, you mean like a makerspace?’” Krause said.

Krause had no idea what a makerspace was, but a Google search revealed the answer. A makerspace was exactly what they wanted to open, he said.

“It just kind of took off from there,” Cunningham said.

They rented adjacent space earlier this summer for the wood shop and electronics room next to their existing fabrication shop in the Summit Industrial Park on Deadwood Avenue.

The wood shop includes a variety of power tools, including a planer, drill press, several types of appliance-level saws and sanders router tables, a lathe and various hand tools.

The machine shop includes several types of welding equipment and saws, a CNC plasma cutter and bending brakes.

An electronics room features a 3-D scanner and printers, an etcher for circuit boards and a soldering station.

The Shop sells monthly session memberships, ranging from $39 student memberships that may be used once a week, to a $300 professional membership allowing the user to schedule daily sessions.

A punch-card membership is available for those with varying schedules “like me,” Krause said.

The sessions are based on dividing days into morning and afternoon segments, to keep the shop busy throughout the week.

We want to make it so everybody can use the equipment that’s available, so we don’t have people lined up,” he said.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They’re looking at opening for six hours on Sunday, but haven’t set specific hours.

Their first classes, scheduled through the Career Learning Center, have proven to be popular. Registration for a welding class opened on Sept. 1 and all six available openings were reserved within four days.

“That’s a pretty good sign,” Cunningham said. “We want to keep the classes small, more hands-on.”


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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