Dear PoP – Wood shop in the District? + Recommend a Carpenter

“Dear PoP,

Before I moved to the District, I lived somewhere with a great adult school which had woodworking classes for cheap (I’m talking $80 for 10 weeks) at the local high school wood shop. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve been looking for a shop where I can develop my furniture making skills and, in general, use power tools. I’ve looked for adult schools, informal shop/tool co-ops, etc., but come up short. (On a related note, the adult school opportunities in DC suck. Would it kill a city of 600,000 to have a decent community college?) Anyway, I’m curious as to whether your readers know of anything along these lines that I can check out.”

The Community College of the District of Columbia just got a new home at 801 North Capitol Street NE:

“The new CCDC Center includes a nine-story, 88,000-square-foot space with new classrooms, computer and science labs, Student Success Center, a one-stop student services center, bookstore, college faculty and administrative offices, and fitness center.”

But to the original question – anyone know of a place where you can take woodworking classes?

Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

And while we’re on the topic – a reader has a related question:

“My husband and I live in Mt. Pleasant and a few years ago we broke our wooden banister. We are desperately trying to find a carpenter that will work in DC, and take on small projects. We have found that the job is either too small to entice people or they don’t want to come into the district. We were hoping perhaps you or one of your readers might have a few recommendations for us.”

Anyone know of a good carpenter who takes jobs like this?

19 Comment

  • For classes there is this place in Rockville:

    Seems a bit pricey though, certainly not $80!

  • Arlington County Parks & Rec offers woodworking courses at their Thomas Jefferson Center, which I think is not to far from the Rt 50/27 intersection.

    It’s a nice facility. I’ve taken pottery and silversmithing classes there in the past.

  • It’s not in the district, but the Woodworkers Club in Rockville is great ( They offer a wide range of classes, from introductory woodworking to cabinet-making. The classes are small, the instructors very knowledgeable and helpful, and the take-home projects are nice quality. If you don’t have your own woodshop, you can purchase a membership to use theirs.

    As for finding a carpenter, you could also ask around at the Woodworkers Club or a similar place–there are plenty of skilled hobbyists who might be willing to do it for some extra cash.

  • Arlington has a good adult education program

    that offers woodworking classes, and other homeowner maintenance/repair classes, under “Trades and Industry” category. I couldn’t find the woodworking class when I checked this courses listing just now, so I called them up:

    – The “Introduction to Woodworking and Cabinet-Making” class is filled up for this quarter, and is offered 3 times a year, in May, September, and January. Registration opens a month ahead, and it fills up fast.

    – the “Furniture Repair and Refinishing” class didn’t get enough students, so was canceled for this quarter. Is offered at the same frequency as the woodworking class.

  • I heard great things about carpenter known as Jesus. Apparently he can work miracles.

  • +1 for Arlington.

  • There’s a handyman who lives on the 1600 block of Hobart (South side)–I can’t remember his name but ask around, he might be able to help you.

  • So what is it with these small-time contractors who refuse to come into the District? Does it have something to do with licensing requirements or liability issues?

    • Nope – it usually has to do with traffic and parking issues. If you work by an hourly wage, and spend alot of time trying to get to a job, it doesn’t make sense financially.

  • I’ve been in a similar boat. I’m doing my own interior window trim and at some point will be replacing multiple balusters. Fortunately, I’ve cobbled together most of the tools I need to get the job done.

    What I can tell you is that the HS shop class disappeared decades ago and the woodworkers shop in rockville is the only serious game in town. However, it is priced accordingly. If it’s just balusters or a section of a handrail, you might be able to find replacements at Brass Knob. I don’t know what their current status is, though (they were closing the warehouse).

    There’s a group of carpenters in DC:
    Probably pricey, but they look like they know what they’re doing.

    What exactly broke on the banister?

  • I asked an almost identical question on a couple neighborhood lists last week and several people suggested Warren Nott at (202) 368-3213. He came by yesterday to hang a chair rail for me and did a good job, was finished quickly, and charged very reasonable rates ($60/hour).

  • I thought this would be a good place to mention this progam – something positive.

    Off the Block Artisans
    This challenging vocational job training program in woodworking prepares 18-24 year olds for entry level jobs in the skilled craft trades.

  • We’ve used Mike Holmes for smaller jobs and been pleased with his work. His website includes a photo of a banister, so it sounds like he has fixed one before.

  • The Corcoran’s Art School offers classes in woodworking, FWIW

  • Thank you all for your recommendations.

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