Craig Colvin opened the Sawdust Shop in 2005. This unique woodworking center, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, combines a do-it-yourself woodshop, woodworking store and woodworking courses, all under one roof.
The 4,000 square foot facility offers state-of-the-art equipment and is open 75+ hours per week, giving users near unlimited shop access.
Boasting a complete retail store on the premises, the Sawdust Shop sells a variety of woodworking tools, accessories, supplies and has a large selection of hardwood lumber and plywood.
For the beginning woodworker, or even professionals wanting to learn new techniques, the Sawdust Shop offers a broad range of classes covering all aspects of woodworking, such as carving, wood turning, cabinet making, and many more.
The shop features a wide variety of tools and machines for members to work on including: table saws, band saws, planers, a jointer, drill presses, a drum sander, a scroll saw, sanders, a miter saw, router tables, lathes, a vacuum press and more. Hand tools are readily available as well and include routers, saws, planes, chisels, dovetail jigs, biscuit cutters and nail guns.
The facility offers many different membership options ranging from unlimited usage to a six-month membership to hourly session purchases. Membership prices range from $85 per month to $30 per hour, depending on the package. Currently the shop has more than 200 members of varying skill levels.
Additionally, the Sawdust Shop rents storage lockers, space in the facility’s storage room and “cages,” which are essentially a locked area containing a member’s project so that he or she doesn’t have to put the project away each day. It’s like a personal workshop within the workshop.
The Challenge: Selecting laser engraving equipment that best suits customer needs.
Craig tells us that several of the facility’s members had expressed interest in laser engraving equipment. To accommodate customer needs and offer equipment that wasn’t common to the home woodworker, Craig began searching for a laser engraving provider.
While Craig was aware of laser engraving and equipment, he started his research with an open mind.
“We knew we needed equipment powerful enough to cut through at least a quarter inch of wood,” Craig said. “We also wanted something easy-to-use, with a robust design that would endure heavy use. We have over 200 members of all different skill levels who would be using the machine, so we were looking for something easy to train them on, and that could withstand all the activity from such a diverse user base.”
Craig researched both Epilog and another leading laser provider prior to making his purchase.
“Epilog consistently got rave reviews on the online message boards, and a few of our own customers recommended them as well,” Craig said. “We also liked the local representative and the level of support he could provide.”
Epilog’s Helix 24 was the perfect machine to fit all the needs of The Sawdust Shop’s members.
Designed with a combination of affordability and high quality, the Helix 24 features a generous 24-inch by 18-inch engraving area and offers the highest engraving and cutting quality in the industry.
Members are required to take an orientation course prior to using the laser, which ensures they’re comfortable and confident working with the machine. After becoming familiar with the system, they can sign up for work-time on the machine.
“Our customers are very excited about the Epilog laser and the weekly orientation classes are always full,” Craig said. “There has been little apprehension about learning to use the machine, most jump right in. In fact, during the orientation classes I often get comments on how easy it is to use!”
Sawdust Shop members continually create innovative products with the laser.
“We have one member doing amazing inlay work with the laser, and several people use it to make accurate router templates they can then use in the construction of their projects,” Craig said. “We even had one member make parts for his CNC lathe - cutting out acrylic gears and wooden indexing plates using the laser.”
With members continually learning to use the machine and discovering different applications, Craig tells us he anticipates needing to purchase additional lasers in the future. “The laser is currently used every day for at least a few hours. As more of our customers get trained on the laser, we anticipate it being booked solid each day, and that’s when we’ll go to Epilog to acquire a new machine.”
Click here to learn more about The Sawdust Shop!