As Artisan’s Asylum grew exponentially over the years, we quickly realized that we needed a standardized way of ensuring that every member used equipment in a safe manner. This was incredibly important for both ensuring that novices coming in off the street were trained to our standards, and to make sure that users claiming prior experience had a way to prove that to us as an institution. While we were at 13 Joy Street, we had our existing members check out new members informally, but when we moved to 10 Tyler Street we immediately became too large for an informal system.
One of the first projects I took on in the new 10 Tyler Street location was the creation of a standardized set of training and testing syllabi for most of the tools in our shops. I drew inspiration from the procedures I saw in action at the Olin College machine shop, and combined this with personal experience, information in tool manuals, and the experience of professional operators. These syllabi covered the basic, safe functionality of each machine, including what personal protective equipment is required for operation, what safe operations are required, what common maintenance procedures need to be followed, and what materials are allowed on each machine. We then split up the training and testing sessions into groups of related tools, and offered both 2-hour training session and testing sessions for new users. The training sessions were designed to get people using tools safely; if they wanted to use tools well, they were encouraged to take long-form classes.
In my position as administrator, I didn’t get too teach very many of these sessions before I needed to focus on other things. The tool training and testing program has expanded and changed with the help of more than a dozen committed trainers and volunteers at the Asylum, and will likely be revised significantly given the year of experience we have working with it. In particular, the tests need to be revised, and students need more specific training with each tool; one great idea that’s been floated is to have every student build a cohesive thing using the tool groupings that they’ve been trained on.