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Tracy Frank, Published April 25 2012

Local women build woodworking skills

If you go

What: DIY Wood Studio’s Woodworking for Women class

When: 6-9 p.m. May 14 and 21

Where: 3231 4th Ave. S., Studio A., Fargo

Info: Fee is $80; class teaches women the basics of woodworking while they make a cedar tray. (701) 293-1310. www.diywoodstudio.com

FARGO - There’s a little place off the beaten path in Fargo where some metro-area women have been getting together for community, creativity and the chance to work with power tools.

Anna Baird of Fargo developed a love of woodworking when she helped build theater sets in high school.

She even tried building her own tabletop loom for weaving medieval-style belts, but without the right tools, the loom was kind of crooked and the proper tools would have been expensive to buy.

Then Baird discovered the DIY Wood Studio in Fargo. It’s a new business where people can work on wood projects with state-of-the-art power and hand tools and the help of studio technicians.

“It makes a world of difference to have the right tools and instruction,” she said.

The business, which charges its fees based on the amount of time someone spends in the studio, also offers classes.

Baird took a carving class as well as a class geared specifically toward women interested in woodworking.

“Everybody was rather uncertain about the table saw,” she said. “It’s very intimidating because it’s very big and the pieces you’re working with are very big, but it’s actually pretty easy to use.”

Now, she looks comfortable as she navigates the various saws and sanders.

“It’s really fun to make the stuff yourself and to be able to use the tray and say, ‘I made this,’ ” Baird said of the project she made in the Woodworking for Women class.

Woodworking may seem like more of a man’s activity, but the studio, which opened in January, has been popular among women, too, said Jim Clapper, the studio director who owns DIY Wood Studio with his wife, Ann Trousdale Clapper.

While men tend to build projects based on function, women often create things to give away as gifts, Clapper said.

“We’ve been appealing to the artist, as well,” he said.

There are also classes where parents and kids can work on projects together.

Elizabeth Holen, of Fargo, has always loved working with wood, she said.

“I think wood is beautiful. It smells great. It feels good to touch. I like making things where you can see your progress,” she said. “You can see where you started with this dumb old plank and at the end of the day it’s a useable item or some beautiful item.”

In addition to accessing high quality tools, Holen said the DIY Wood Studio is also a good place to find help, encouragement and ideas.

The other day, she helped Chrissy Kesselring of Fargo find the right saw for cutting an art deco design into what will become a keyboard stand.

“There’s always somebody around who has some ideas for you,” Kesslering said.

Kesselring is a graphic designer who has always wanted to make furniture, she said.

“I found out about this place and it’s magical,” she said. “All the tools are laid out to do what you need to do.”

Erin Mayer, of Fargo, is a mother of two young children and said working in the shop gives her some time to herself.

“I love putting a project together from start to finish and watching that and working with the wood as a natural product and just really respecting the wood,” she said. “It’s just a way to be creative. I like seeing tangible results of my work, so that’s really important to me.”