Uncommon Skills

Woodworking, Blacksmithing, & Home Brewing

Inspired by a customer’s recent trip to a blacksmithing course in St. Charles, we decided to pull together some resources around Chicago for picking up uncommon skills — designed to get your hands dirty, get back to basics, and so on. Why? Well, imagine cutting into a steak with a knife you forged. On a solid, oak table that you built. While sipping a beer that you brewed.

BLACKSMITHING

Fine Line | 6N158 Crane Road | St. Charles, IL | Facebook

Yes, St. Charles is a bit of a hike. And, sure, you’ll be giving up a whole Saturday. But, you must admit — there is something inherently cool about blacksmithing. The heat, the vigorous manual labor, the hiss and clang of a forge. There’s a chance we’re romanticizing it a bit, but there’s only one way to find out. For any of their classes (i.e., welding, knife forging, etc.), you’re required to begin with their Basic Iron Forging and Blacksmithing class, a one-day workshop where you’ll learn the fine art of forge welding and techniques of blacksmithing, as well as some advanced processes and materials. You’ll leave with a completed project like an S hook, door knocker, or animal head letter opener.

You’ll want to wear pants (something that can get dirty) and some good leather work boots, bring a pair of safety goggles, leather work gloves, and a leather apron (if you have one), along with something to take notes on, water, and a lunch.

WOODWORKING

WoodSmyths Chicago | 1835 W. School St. | Chicago, IL

Located in Roscoe Village, WoodSmyths is a self-proclaimed one-stop for all things woodworking, including finished products, services, and—best of all—woodworking classes. This is perfect for guys looking to upgrade from their “Some Assembly Required” furnishings and embrace the warmth and versatility of some beautiful, hand-crafted wood furniture. It doesn’t get much more “local” than building it yourself. Students are trained and supervised by a professional woodworker with a strong emphasis on personal attention and safely operating power tools.

WoodSmyths Founder Neal Sher on The Craftsman Experience

The fruits of your labor during this ten-week course include an end table, a shelving unit and a retro toolbox, not to mention a whole new skill set and adeptness with routers, table saws, drills and sanders. If the intro class leaves you wanting more, they also offer personalized projects like sideboards, credenzas, dining tables, headboards, and more.

BREW YOUR OWN BEER

Brew Camp | 2039 West Belle Plaine Ave. | Chicago, IL | Facebook

Is there something inherently more delicious about a beer you’ve made with your own two hands? The folks at Brew Camp think so, and we know a lot of Chicago men would agree. Located in North Center, they offer classes for every level and carry everything you need to get your at-home brewing off the ground (equipment, ingredients, etc.) We’d recommend starting with their Making Beer at Home class ($20), where they’ll walk you through all the steps for home brewing, show you the equipment, the ingredients, and techniques for brewing your first batch.

So, why bother with all this home brewing when the corner store is so much easier? We couldn’t put it any better than they did in their blog post, Why Brew?. But, to sum it up: brewing is cheap (hear them out on this one), it’s fun, and it makes for better tasting, more unique beer.

One of Brew Camp’s cofounders, Jared Saunders, as seen in Be Your Own Brewmaster: Brew Camp Opens Today in North Center, Chicago Magazine

GEAR @ HABERDASH

And, of course, a few essentials for getting down to business. Winter Session’s Billie Roll-Up is perfect for small tools, pencils, etc., as is the spacious pocket on their apron. As for work-ready boots (because what’s more stylish than safety), the Red Wing six-inch Moc Toe boots are perfect. Throw in a good pair of jeans, Baldwin 77s, and you’re ready to go.

Billie Roll-up by Winter Session

The 77 by Baldwin Denim

Moc Toe by Red Wing

Denim Apron by Winter Session

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