Want to get your kids away from their electronic screens? Heck, want to get yourself away from your electronic screens?
Maplewoodshop may be just the ticket.
Local master craftsman Mike Schloff launched Maplewoodshop in 2016, providing woodworking classes for 3rd graders to adults, using the Work and Play space on Prospect Street in South Orange but also working on site at community events and in local schools. Maplewoodshop is Essex County’s only woodworking school for kids and adults, offering hands-on learning in woodworking projects from tiny toys to furniture.
“Our motto is ‘Handcrafting confidence, building community,'” said Schloff. “Our goals are to expand our class offerings and reintroduce woodworking in the school system in a way that bridges art, math, and science using project-based, experiential learning.”
Schloff knows what he’s talking about. He’s an experienced educator and local woodworker who has taught woodworking to kids at Maker Fairs and at a collective school in Montclair — and he’s a member of the North Jersey Woodworkers Association.
Schloff also has an “amazing team” helping to teach and organize Maplewoodshop: Jonathan Sidhu, Erin Doppes, Jessica Goodman and Schloff’s wife Elizabeth Hochberg. “Their combined energy is what is making this a success,” said Schloff.
Regarding community, Maplewoodshop has worked with the Maker Madness event at Columbia High School, has helped Seth Boyden students make a pine slab bench, worked with Columbia High School to create scrims for the marching band, and provided hands-on activities at community events such as Maplewoodstock.
“We noticed that there were not ways for adults and kids to work with their hands in safe, supervised classes that use hand tools,” said Schloff. “The nearest programs are 90 minutes away. We wanted to offer an antidote to screen time that provided learning by doing. When we create, we take pride in what we have made, we break down complex ideas, we collaborate with others, and learn skills that can save or earn us money.”
Another cool thing about Maplewoodshop: Although the wood used for classes is not locally sourced, Maplewoodshop otherwise uses wood from “07040” for special projects.
“We live among many old trees that fall and are added to landfill each year,” said Schloff. “We have an opportunity to turn majestic, old growth trees into valuable and lasting objects. This is why we are saving wood and making objects such as cheese boards, menorahs, candle holders, kids toys and more, from local maple, oak, beech, cherry, ash and other native species.”
Regarding Maplewoodshop’s in-school program, Schloff said, “Our goal is to make woodworking accessible to every student by introducing woodworking units in the school system. We are currently looking for pilot partner schools.”
For classes, Schloff partnered with Work and Play (www.workandplaynj.com) to use their basement space. “Each day when we set up, we do a magic trick,” said Schloff. “We convert the toddler tables we made into full woodworking workbenches to provide the right ergonomic height for different people to saw, plane, chisel, and shape their work. We pull a handmade tool chest with many antique, reconditioned tools out of a closet for people to use. We chose projects that are accessible to beginners and can also be made more complex for more advanced students.”
Current classes include:
- 3rd-5th grade class at 4-5 p.m. building a tool tote and bird house
- 6th-8th at 5:30-6:30 p.m. building a cherry serving tray, and
- adult/high schoolers classes at 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays where you can choose from making shop fixtures or a cherry serving tray
Winter classes began January 11 but another round of classes will begin in April after spring break. Classes cost $300 (price includes all materials and use of our tools and safety gear).
Class videos and registration at https://maplewoodshop.com/winter-classes/
Follow Maplewoodshop on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MaplewoodshopNJ/
Contact Maplewoodshop at [email protected] or 973-762-1529
Click on photos to enlarge: