new community woodshop to serve 'growing maker movement'

Peter Debelak was a frustrated lawyer with a passion for woodworking when he stumbled on a soon-to-be-available woodshop space in a former meat processing plant on Cleveland's near west side.

"There was a woodworker who had been in there for 30 years, and his space opened up," says Debelak, who fell in love with the medium of wood 12 years ago and has worked with it ever since. "The opportunity was hard to pass up."

Still, starting the woodshop was a leap of faith. "I realized it was now or never," he adds. "I could get into the inertia of my next job and it would stay an idea, or I could just do it."

This past July, Debelak opened Soulcraft Woodshop, an artistic space for his own furniture making and a hub for woodworking lessons and workshops. He partnered on the project with fellow woodworkers Jim Doyle and Jim McNaughton.

"There's definitely an existing and growing 'maker' movement among people in their 20s and 30s and retirees," says Debelak. "It's about going back and working with your hands, making your own things and having a connection to objects."

Unless you have a woodworking shop in your basement, there is a dearth of spaces to explore this field, he adds. "Shop class has been eliminated in just about every curriculum in public and private schools. There's a hole in terms of market need."

Soulcraft Woodshop currently offers classes on an ad hoc basis based on inquiries. However, the owners will soon roll out regular classes such as "Introduction to Furniture Making" or "How to Build an Adirondack Chair in a Weekend."

Budding woodworkers can also purchase a monthly membership pass for $120 or a pay-as-you-go pass to complete an individual project for as little as $50 to $80.

Soulcraft Woodshop is located in the Hildebrandt Building at 3610 Walton Avenue.

Source: Peter Debelak
Writer: Lee Chilcote