This mess below is the beginnings of the shop orientation

It is under construction and will be awhile

ARC Shop Orientation

     Before using the wood/metal shop for the first time you must do two things. The first is read this webpage top to bottom. The second is you must go through an orientation with the shop foreman, Mario. This is even more important for experienced shop users because they think they know how a shop like this should run. The truth is they are right... their shop. But few understand how a community shop of this nature runs even if you think you do. What you think you know and what 20 years of experiencing this shop tells me is often miles apart.

The Hardest Thing To Grasp About The ARC Shop....

    The reason most people have a hard time understanding the ARC shop is because they never really understood what The ARC itself was originally all about. You see the whole reason for the ARC in the first place was NOT so starving artists could have trendy designer lofts like in Yale Town. The ARC was designed and built to give artists a safe place to work and live all in the same studio. A great sound proof, fireproof and secure work-shop. One the city would allow you to also live in. This is why you are allowed to weld, grind, saw, heat, melt or mold etc anything you want artistically in your own space. It is a work-shop and not a trendy loft.

     VERY few buildings in Vancouver have these options. This is the definition of what Class "B" live work studios are. It is also the spirit of what the ARC is all about. In fact there are some incredible examples of this here. Things that you could never do anywhere else. This is one reason why there are so many people wanting to move here. You can be trendy and stylish anywhere but you can't weld or run a kiln in your studio anywhere.


      Now because it is hard to find 79 tenants who all want to build or make things,... and for the sake of having a balanced community... we also allowed other types of artists in like actors, musicians, dancers etc. After all they are real people too... Now even though these art forms are also tough gigs they don't need to have a studio full of tools. This means they have more space to look trendy and cool. Which of course is Great. What has often happened here is "makers" often wanted both a Yale Town loft and access to a well equipped work shop. Thus they set up their studios to look great and then try to work out of the ARC shop. In my twenty years of watching the incredible evolution of the shop this has pretty well always been the source of all frustration and problems down there.


     You see the ARC shop was put in to temporarily supplement the tools you were missing in your own studio's shop. It was not set up so that two or maybe three tenants could run their businesses out of there. First off the shop is only big enough to comfortably handle two or maybe three full time users at best. Which of course would leave no room for all the part time users. Some months that can be as high as ten or twelve.

     If you did not have a table saw in your studio you would use the ARC Shop's table saw to cut the pieces and then go back to your studio shop to finish the project. Eventually when you got your own table saw you would no longer need the ARC's table saw. In fact one rule that was set up about ten years back was the "cut only" rule. Assembly of your project was to take place in your own "work-shop" back in your studio.


     Now if you were say a painter you would use the shop every three months or so to cut up some stretcher frames. Or if the leg broke off your chair you could go down and weld it back on, or maybe you just want to build something for your studio that you can't afford to buy  then you could build it your self in the shop. Again it was originally designed set up for only VERY part time use by as many users as possible. In fact the mig welder was set up to be signed out by anyone who had their studio set up for welding and metal work. That way they could try the welder before actually buying their own. Or if you rarely needed or did not have room for a huge step shear you could just use the ARC shop one the odd time you did need it.

      Now even though I have my own incredibly well equipped shop in my studio I still use the table saw every three to six months or so for odd projects. I make the cuts and then because of my ocd come back to my studio to finish the project here. For the amount I actually need it, having one here in my studio does not make sense. That's how the ARC shop is supposed to be used. If you are a maker at the ARC you need to be doing the same. Set up a shop in your studio and then, when needed, use the ARC shop the odd time to fill in some of your own shops shortcomings. Trying to run your business out of the ARC shop always causes problems. Something I have seen after twenty years of ARC Shop experience.


       Again, like explained above, the whole spirit behind the ARC is that it is a collection of 79 work-shops that you are allowed to live in. It is not a trendy Yale Town loft... unless of course you are a dancer or painter then yes you could make it look trendy. Generally though these are spaces where you can live and work without fear of city inspectors and other undesirables coming by to shut you down and fine you. The freedoms we have here are incredible. This is especially true if you are a maker and want to weld in your living room. To try that in an apartment would end you up in jail.

     Building this place to handle this type of "dangerous"activity was very expensive. At the same time it did get artist's out of the illegal rat infested warehouses.  Before the ARC and other work live buildings you had no choice!!! The ARC has some pretty incredible examples of what can be done as far as livable work shops and some in even small spaces!!! 

     If you are able to actually grasp this concept then all the "WEIRD" or "Dumb" shop rules start to make a lot more sense. This is not your typical work shop. 

     Twenty years ago this shop had a broken table saw that barely worked and a metal chopsaw. You could barely get in the door of the place due to stored junk. There was no paint room either. Believe me it was a huge journey to get it this far!!! After 20 years of observation, experimentation and refinement the shop has never been even near this good. Literally thousands of man hours have went into the shop just analyzing every aspect of it top to bottom. Not to mention the time to actually unfold and test the ideas. Not an inch of that room has not been crawled over mentally ten times. None of which was paid time for myself or all the others that helped in that process.

Now The List of Dumb Shop Rules...

Who Can Use The Shop?

     To use the shop you have to actually be living in the building. In fact any one outside the building can't even help you carry something into the shop. Now I know this may seem a little harsh but if you thought a little more about the "lawsuit lottery" and how popular that is today it would make more sense. A lawsuit could shut down the shop down for ARC tenants. That would suck big time. Now even though the odds may be low if your friend goes in there and doesn't get hurt there's no prize for the shop!!! If he does get hurt then we could loose it all. I call that "No Prize Gambling" where the winner loses all. It is the path of fools.

What Does It Cost?

     To use the shop you have to have paid your dues for that month. The dues are per person and not per studio. Everyone using it has to pay. Once you pay me the dues then I activate your fob and you have access. As of now the dues are fifty dollars a month from when you pay until the end of the month. I am going to be starting a pro rated rate which will make it cheaper for the part time users. More on that in a while. 

Where Do The Dues Go?

     Now it is important to note here that the dues do not head off to the coffers at Reliance. No I bank them up and once we have enough dues then I go out and buy some new tools, fix old tools, buy new blades, sand paper etc. Thus the more careful you are with the tools the less damage. The less damage the more dues we have to put towards improvements. Which in turn benefits you! It is a win win situation. 

When Can You Work In The Shop?

     You can work in the shop 24/7 making all the noise you want except when it comes to the thickness planer. You can't run that screaming sucker past nine am. Now there may be some case where if you are making too much noise then you might have to adjust that but up until now we have had no problems with noise down there.

Can You Leave Stuff In The Shop?

     No.... you can't leave anything in the shop! When you leave you and all your junk has to leave with you. The only exception is if you have painted something in the paint room and it is drying. This rule really sucks! Anything left behind will be disposed of or moved out into the hallway. Ok if you are running out to hit the can then fine but to check farcebook no way!!!!

Can You Repair Shop Tools?

     NO!!!..... ABSOLUTELY NOT.... Anyone doing so will immediately lose access to the shop. There are reasons for this beyond explaining here. The only exception is if you have an email from me saying that it is ok and you have double checked with me on the actual day you are going to do it. There are a lot of factors at risk one of them is potential damage to the tool.... The other is liability... Yes I know you know all about that tool but it is not about you. If I let you do repairs then the next guy will think he can also and he doesn't know how. If I talk to you and feel like you do know and thus give you permission then the rest is on me. I will check it afterwards if needed. I have seen shop users trying to do the simplest tool repairs and do nothing but create the most damage. 

     Now you are free, so far, to change the blade on the table saw to your own blade if you are sure you know what you are doing. You can also do the same on the band saw and chop saw. Anyone who has to "figure it out" to do it then they can't for sure!!! "Figuring it out" has cost the shop far too much money as it is. Do that with your own tools but not the shops.

The One Exception...

     Longtime ARC tenant Mario is the one exception to the above rule as he is our shop tech.  This not only allows him to work on projects down there he can also stuff down there. 

     His responsibilities are giving all new users shop orientations, replacing consumables, and keeping the shop safe and the tools in running order.

     What he doesn't do.... He does not make the shop rules or clean up after you.

     What he does do.... He is there to facilitate the sharing of resources in the ARC Shop. He oversees what goes on down there and makes sure people follow the rules I the manager have established.

     If you are planning a project and not totally sure about something involving one of the tools or how to do it you can always ask him.


     With the shop you just have to remember what Mario says is rule. Not his rule... but mine. Anyone not listening to what he tells them will lose shop access. The shop is run by dictatorship with me being the dictator. Kind a socialist type situation where everyone has to just shut up and follow the rules. Not much different than any socialist run country. Except here you actually get a lot of benefits. The shop actually works extremely well and is constantly getting better than it has ever been. Now if you don't like this then you are free to do what you really should be doing anyway. That of course is setting a shop up in your own studio like I discussed above. After all that is what these studios were specifically built for.

     An even better idea is talking Reliance into firing my sorry ass and then talking them into hiring  you!!! I can even give you some great tips on how to go about that. Then you can be the dictator. In the meantime you have to live with my.... dictation.

What The Shop Isn't

     The ARC shop was designed to fill in where your own shop in your studio was lacking. It was not designed to be your own full time shop. If you did not have a table saw then you could use the ARC's until you could afford your own. Or maybe you want to try out welding then the metal shop is great for that. It was not designed or built for full time every day use. This is an important distinction. You see the shop could handle about three full time users at best. Some days you will go down there to get that piece done for your customer who wanted it last month and someone will have the welder or whatever tool you need tied up for the day. The other intention for it was so that painters could go down there once a month and build some stretcher frames etc. Short term one off projects here and there. It is not intended for full time every day use. Right now we have around three to ten users a month. They come and go depending on the project they are doing. Everyone has to often work around each other. This is important to note when moving to the ARC.

The Dust System

     This dust system is made in the USA and was very expensive. The last filter I replaced was barely under $1000 dollars.

Things To Take Note Of!!!!

The Red Warning Light. This light is right above the paint room door. If it is flashing you must shut the dust system off immediately!!! This means the bin is full and if left running will ruin that new thousand dollar filter!!!

No Changing The Dust Drum. When the dust drum is full you need to contact me or Mario to get it changed. Shop users cannot change this drum!!! I know it seems simple but there are complications which again can lead to destroying the thousand dollar filter.

Shut Off The Dust System When Leaving Shop. If you are the last person leaving the shop it is your responsibility to shut off the dust system!!!

The Dust System Should Not Be Turned On and Off More Than Six Times an Hour. There are technical reasons for this according to the manufacturer. Doing this more than six times an hour can heat up the motor excessively potentially causing motor failure. 

The Paint Room Rules

  • Absolutely no using the room if someone else is in there using it or has left something in there to dry. This is the most important rule!!!
  • No using the paint room until you fully understand the ventilation to that room! If you are not sure then that means you don't know!!! Ask me or Mario to tell you. Otherwise you risk blowing up the joint.
  • No running an air sander or blow gun etc off the filtered air hose. See the pic below. This regulator/filter is for making the air very clean. Thus only use your paint gun with this hose. That way you don't waste expensive filtering materials for uses that don't need it like sanding.

This is the filtered air hose to be used for your paint guns only!

No air sanders to be used with this hose.