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A local man has decided to turn his hobby into a business that he now shares with folks from all over the Milwaukee area.

Dan Meissner's The Woodworker's Gym in the city of Brookfield had its grand opening last month after having been available to clients on a limited basis since January.

The idea first arose for Meissner because of his own interest in having a place to go to work on his own projects.

'I've thought about this for a few years because of my own personal need,' Meissner said. 'I started seeing some of these popping up in other parts of the country, San Francisco, L.A., Dallas, Philadelphia. There's some really good ones.'

Meissner said that a group-space for people to come and work on woodworking projects is a logical community resource for those in the area who might want to do the work but do not have the necessary space or equipment.

'Members or customers can come in and use our shop, work on their project and then go home and let us worry about fixing tools and making sure they're in shape,' Meissner said. 'It's a really good opportunity for people who have always wanted to woodwork but never wanted to invest in a shop or go buy the equipment.'

Meissner said that the Woodworker's Gym has $80,000 worth of professional-grade equpiment from respected manufacturers such as Milwaukee Electric Tool, SawStop, Powermatic, JET, Grizzly and Kreg.

'The Woodworker's Gym is fully-equipped to serve both the hobbyist and professional woodworker,' Meissner said.

The owner has been impressed with some of the projects that he has seen his members working on in recent weeks, including Sarah Lawless-Gunn.

'I have been a member of the gym for about six weeks now. The gym is a wonderful place,' Lawless-Gunn said. 'I started with the idea to build new patio furniture for my deck. I had no experience working with tools and now I'm one chair away from having a nine-piece furniture set for the deck.'

Lawless-Gunn said that she is particularly pleased with the shop's cleanliness and the large work spaces for all members.

'The space is exactly what the Milwaukee-area needs. For a person that is new to working with tools, woodworking can be expensive,' Lawless-Gunn said. 'Without knowing what to do and where to start, woodworking can be challenging and frustrating.'

Lawless-Gunn is one of the approximately 40 regulars already who come in through monthly memberships, or purchasing time in the workshop by the hour, or attending classes.

'There's a lot of traffic coming through. I am pleased,' Meissner said. 'You always want things to go bigger and faster, but I'm pleased. I'm encouraged about the smiles on the faces of the people who come into my shop and the number of people who have passed it on with word of mouth.'

Meissner said that he has been surprised by how far some of his clientele cometo use his facility.

'We have six people out of the 40 who come from Shorewood. We've got a couple guys who come from Racine,' Meissner said.

A calendar of classes offered at The Woodworker's Gym is available on the business' website, www.thewoodworkersgym.com.

Meissner has lived in Brookfield for 16 years. He grew up in Waukesha before spending 12 years working as an engineer for General Motors in Detroit. He worked in analytics in Madison after his time at GM until opening the gym at 3220 N. 126th St. this year.

'It's nice to work close to home, but it was also logical. My past three years I was a director of analytics for a firm and one of the things that we did was help place retail stores, so I had access to a lot of good data,' Meissner said. 'I had a very good feel for where I could capture the most attention of woodworkers within the shortest amount of drive time. Brookfield's got a lot of advantages from that standpoint.'

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