Small businesses have resurrected new life for the hangers at the now retired Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of government cutbacks, there is a winery adjoining a restaurant with a stunning view looking across the bay at the skyline of San Francisco. One is an auction house, another a small engineering business, and many more, utilizing the buildings left vacant by the US Navy.
One building once used to rebuild aircraft engines is now the Alameda Point Studios, a communal workshop shared by woodworkers and artists to build their projects. With a large 8000 Sq Ft shop at the center, tenants rent a bench area to set up as they need but also have the use of heavy-duty machines as part of their rent.
There are off-shoot rooms formally used to test the engine rebuilds that are more private spaces for individual businesses. One of these quiet rooms occupied by Seth Janofsky, who has now gravitated to guitar building, although also still builds commissioned furniture pieces with his signature inlays. Seth was also a contributor to Fine Woodworking Magazine.
It seemed to me a perfect climate for woodworking, but that would be too simple with the bay of the ocean mere yards away. “It gets to about 52 degrees and constantly damp air in the winter time,” Nathan Klark told me as he wheeled his project into the drying room, which allow the projects to dry at a humidity controlled 70 degrees.
Nathan, along with his wife, are the owners of Sawn Custom Woodworking, where they design and build custom commissioned pieces that end up with clients around the San Francisco bay area and as far as New York. Check out their work at www.sawnwoodwork.com
JP Frary was busy finishing some table tops for one of the many wineries in Northern California, while also working on a new design for a chair with a design student that will be a “Modular Custom Chair”; in other words, the design would be modular, but the client can chose the wood, finish and upholstery. I can’t wait to see the finished pieces! JP is also a wood turner and turns unique pieces along with giving individual instruction to new turners while also managing the facility. JP’s work can be seen at www.jpfrary.com.
Originally from rural Virginia, James Mawyer was finishing up a custom kitchen island in white oak for one of his clients. He told me he attended the College of the Redwoods, a school founded by James Krenov. In fact, a few of the woodworkers at the Alameda Point Studios seem to have attended this West Coast School.
If you are ever out on the West Coast and have an afternoon to kill. Take a trip out to Alameda Point Studios and check out the Artists, woodworkers and luthiers who have helped bring back to life an old Navy engine shop. Their website is www.alamedapointstudios.com.