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New woodworking school opens in Illinois

Outfitted with an impressive collection of professional-grade machinery, the new CU Woodshop School of Woodworking in Champaign, Ill., held its grand opening in September. School founder Dennis Coleman says classes are running smoothly and he’s already working on next year’s schedule.

The new CU Woodshop School of Woodworking in Champaign, Ill., is aimed at hobbyists, but also offers advanced technical classes for pros.

The school is part of CU Woodshop Supply, a business Coleman started in 2009. It’s comprised of a retail store and what’s known as the Dream Shop, a woodshop used by the owners of the store.

In 2010, Coleman started offering classes in the Dream Shop to store patrons and students at nearby Parkland Community College. “Those classes were very successful and there was generally a waiting list, but we found that we really couldn’t meet the need because it became a conflict with use of the shop by the owners. The owners couldn’t turn a planer on right next to where someone was trying to lecture students. So we really had to restrict our classes to times when the shop was not being used by the owners, which meant mostly evenings,” says Coleman.

About a year ago, a building across the street became available. Coleman acquired it for the school and installed an 8,000-sq.-ft. shop. Class sizes are limited to eight students, who have a work area that features a 4’ x 8’ assembly table, bench, clamps and hand tools. Students share the machinery.

The school’s website at lists its current course offerings.

Coleman is excited about the school’s future despite the current economic conditions. “We started CU Woodshop Supply when the economy was right at its bottom and we are still holding in there three years later. So our hope is that if we can just keep ourselves going until the economy turns around, we’ll then be in a position to expand.”

Contact: CU Woodshop School of Woodworking, 1302 Parkland Court, Champaign, IL 61820. Tel: 217-355-1244. 

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue.

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