One benefit of owning a home is having a garage in which to park the car for protection from the fierce sun and sudden hailstorms.
Not so at Justin Bishop’s Keller home.
The garage “was full of tools,” Bishop says. “My wife was like, ‘When are you going to clean your tools up and get them out of here?’ So I started thinking, ‘Man, it would be cool if there was a place I could go and work on stuff that had the space and the tools.’”
And thus, an idea was born, one that brings to mind the adage, “If you build it, they will come.”
Build, in fact, is the name of the community woodshop that Bishop started in Southlake. It’s an 8,500-square-foot paradise for woodworkers — male and female — of all levels, from hobbyists to professionals. There’s plenty of space, good lighting, sturdy workbenches and every hand and machine tool a woodworker could require.
Panel saw? Check. Chop saw? Check. Drill press? Check.
Of course, you’ll also find routers, planers, lathes, table saws and band saws. And Build offers a sawmill for cutting logs into lumber, plus a CNC router — a computerized machine that produces carvings, sign boards or musical instruments.
Woodworkers and hobbyists age 18 and older can join Build with one-month, three-month or 12-month memberships, which offer unlimited access to the shop and its professional-grade machines for up to 12 hours a day. Or they can simply explore the craft by enrolling in one of Build’s classes.
The only prerequisite to a Build membership is an on-site safety course that offers a primer on how to properly operate the machines. As a bonus, class members get to go home with a walnut, cherry and maple cutting board made in the process.
Bishop says one of Build’s goals is to foster a community of woodworkers. “There’s lots of people out there who have different outlets where they have community after work — social groups,” he says. “But a lot of people don’t have that. They have a hobby in woodworking. This is a place where they can come and socialize.”
A full-time market analyst for Pier 1 Imports, Bishop also is a skilled woodworker who has constructed kitchen tables, built-in entertainment centers and wine racks fashioned from wine barrels.
It was on a lake vacation with family that Bishop pitched his idea for Build to his brother-in-law, Ryan Yocham. After some creative brainstorming, Yocham decided to leave his career at UPS in Denver to share in Bishop’s vision.
A visit to Philadelphia Woodworks, a similar operation in Philadelphia, provided further inspiration and instruction for the entrepreneurs. A year-and-a-half later, the duo had chosen a savvy location for their business, secured a lease, raised the capital and purchased materials. Build opened its doors in March.
Yocham, a student of the craft who honed many of his skills as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity — and who once crafted an oak bed for his vintage truck — now runs the business full time. Shop manager David Godfrey brings 30 years of woodworking experience to the venture, along with the ability to build and repair machines and to offer patrons expertise and insights about the design and construction of their projects. He also teaches Build’s mandatory safety course while Yocham’s wife, Shelly, handles front-desk duties plus marketing, advertising and social media.
Already, the patrons who make up the woodworking community at Build are diverse. There’s a retired Navy man with a background in fine arts, a hobbyist who joined to make favors for his son’s wedding, and a professional with a goal of building furniture full time.
One of the most interesting stories belongs to Charlie Walter, who built a chicken coop copied from a picture torn from a catalog. “I literally knew nothing about woodworking before I came here,” Walter says. “David [Godfrey] taught me everything I know. So the fact that I built that is pretty incredible.”
The fancy hen condo in the catalog retails for about $1,500, while Walter finished his handmade reproduction for about $300. As an entrepreneur himself, Walter is starting a business in urban farming and has used Build’s facilities to make raised garden beds for clients. Next up: compost tumblers made from vintage wooden cable reels.
Another member, David McElhany, is a full-time sales rep with a woodworking hobby. “My office is close to Build so I sometimes come at lunch. Build allows me to have a space to work in that I don’t have at home. It seems when I work on a project in my garage, I spend more time getting out all the tools, putting them back up and cleaning up the mess than I do working on the project,” he says. “Plus, there is always someone there to help if I have a question.”
McElhany’s list of recent projects includes several rustic cedar ice chests and an Adirondack chair. His hobby may morph into an avocation, he says, as admirers of his work are urging him to offer his chests on Craigslist or Etsy.
Building a Better Mousetrap
Build has big plans to evolve as organically as the wood it uses. Currently offering five classes — the safety course, box making, working with veneers, making nesting trays and constructing an iPad dock — the owners plan to add courses in joinery, tool sharpening, wood turning, computer design and other topics that future members may request.
“We want to offer classes to people who may not necessarily want a membership but want to go out and do something,” Bishop says.
Godfrey, meanwhile, has an interest in bringing the public schools to Build, offering kids an avenue for earning credits toward a trade. A couple of DIYers have approached him, too, about holding an event geared toward women that would teach them how to create a farmhouse table.
Ultimately, Bishop says, he would love to see the business grow into multiple locations, and even support related construction fields like metal-working and stained glass.
For now, hobbyists, wannabes, and artists alike can create in Build’s clean, spacious environment that includes tables of glue, racks of clamps and a drum sander — plus free advice from veteran woodworkers. The team at Build will help patrons source wood, or they can bring their own. They can make a project from a photo or a plan, be it a cutting board or an armoire. And best of all, they can store all their materials on-site — and not in their garages.
“We want people to have fun,” Ryan says.
Build Member’s Workshop
2845 Exchange Blvd., Suite 180
Prices start at $49 for a day pass. Memberships start at $140. Gift certificates are available.