Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
Castle Building & Remodeling, one of Remodeling magazine’s Big 50 of 2011, hosts a team of professional designers and builders who overhaul interiors with historically inspired concepts. Two design-selection studios display the custom craftsmanship, showcasing a 1940s–style kitchen with cherry cabinets and a 1910s–style bathroom with hex tile flooring and a sink full of Teddy Roosevelt's mustache trimmings.
The remodelers create a mockup of each project using 3-D CAD software, noting any desired changes before installation. They realize projects with the help of artisanal manufacturers such as Clay Squared, whose artists craft custom ceramic tiles using time-honored methods.
The founders of American Workshop describe their public workspace as a ?health club for woodworkers." Much like a gym, the shop is a place where members gain access to specialized equipment that would otherwise take over their entire garage or spouse?s side of the bedroom closet. American Workshop?s experts also assume similar roles as fitness coaches as they lead classes, workshops, and one-on-one training sessions that help participants achieve personal goals.
American Workshop?s array of classes strengthens students? grasp on woodworking essentials through hands-on practice drafting out ideas, measuring out board stock, and exploring the structural and aesthetic qualities of various projects. Students can also learn decorative techniques, such as applying an even finish with stains, dyes, and embarrassing stories that make wood blush. Safety-oriented courses, such as Woodworking 101 for beginners or Intro to Furniture and Cabinetry Design, are designed to boost confidence in using woodworking equipment, and private one-on-one sessions match students up with an expert to clarify lessons covered in classes.
Metro Area Builders turns honey-do lists into honey-done lists. Painting is a specialty of theirs. They refresh rooms with coats of paint or tackle exteriors to disguise houses in the witness protection program. For homes that just need a little TLC, the handy-folks at Metro Area Builders trot out power-washers to eradicate dirt and mildew.
Drive A Tank teaches civilians how to handle tanks by placing them at the controls of an FV433 Abbot tank. Comprehensive tank experiences include lessons on the history of its use, from World War I up to its present function as the vehicle of choice for the most aggressive holiday shoppers. During certain packages, tanksters complete their militaristic forays by test firing WWII-era weaponry or crushing cars beneath behemoth treads.