New Member Guide

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Welcome to membership at Artisan’s Asylum.

Founded in 2010, this community’s purpose is to provide the tools and the inspiration makers need. Since the beginning, we’ve been a member-run organization that places strong value on inclusion and transparency. As a not-for-profit, at any one time we have only maintain a staff of three or four, none of whom, as it turns out, is a janitor. Read more about our history here.

Members keep Artisan’s Asylum running. We staff the front desk, service the machines, hold the free workshops, build the workbenches, vote in the board and bylaw elections, and march under the banner in parades. Your responsibility: joyfully participate! Start by keeping the shops, social area, multipurpose rooms, and kitchenette cleaner than you found them.

For more, see Our History

About this Guide

This guide is meant to help you get acclimated to our space and our community. Members made this guide to help you find the resources and information you need to make the most of the opportunities in our community. It is not a rulebook or policy document, nor does it cover everything. For example, there are still specific shop safety rules you must learn before working in the community shops, and situations you may find yourself in not covered by this guide. We hope that reading this will be the first in many steps for you to participate as fully as possible at Artisan’s Asylum.

The Artisan’s Asylum Code

Respect the Equipment

  • A lot is at stake in the shops. Wake up! Use methodical care around tools
  • Use only tools you are trained and tested on
  • If you don’t remember how to do something, ask someone!
  • Return tools to their starting position when done

Respect your Fellow Inmates

  • Be kind
  • When a class is in session in the shops, give them the right of way
  • Classes in the multipurpose rooms need silence
  • Individual studio spaces are private and tools within them are private property

Respect the Shared Space

  • Plan your storage needs in advance. If you need storage space and fill out this form
  • Put your trash in the dumpster
  • Only put leftover material in the scrap bin if you know it to be truly useful
  • Whether you’re finished for the day or just finished for now, clean up completely. Then clean up 10% more!

Access and Security

For Monthly Members:

  • A huge part of both safety and security here at the Asylum is knowing who is in the building. For this reason, please badge in at Front Desk every time you walk past it.
  • When Artisan's Asylum is locked your RFID card will let you in the front door
  • Never let in anyone whose RFID card does not open the front door.
  • If you see someone wandering the building without a name tag, ask kindly if you can help them. If they somehow got through a door, politely show them out.

Visitors and Guests

Non-member guests are permitted in the Asylum so long as they do not use Asylum equipment or shared areas or interfere with other members. Guests and their actions are the sole responsibility of the host member. - From the Policies and Procedures in the Membership Agreement

  • You’ll need to arrange to meet your visitors at the front desk. They must be accompanied by their member host at all times.
  • Guests cannot be in any of the shop areas, cannot use any equipment including hand tools, or Asylum computers
  • A daypass or membership for your guest must be purchased if they want to help you in the shops (on tools for which they must be trained and tested)
  • If you have a food delivery coming, be available to receive it.

General Safety

  • If there is an emergency call 911
  • Be familiar with the Safety Map. Know where the the nearest exits, first aid kits, eyewash stations and fire extinguishers are at all times.
  • Flammables: No liquid fuel is permitted in the building. If you have solvents, paints or other volatile liquids you need to store them in the flammables cabinet outside the paint room.

The Shops

Before you can work independently in our shops, you must be certified to use that tool. For up to date information about testing see here:

We also ask that you:

Safety In the Shops

This is a basic overview of general safety principles that are important working in a shared community shop. The Shop Safety and Etiquette page will provide you with more specific details for reference. This is a basic overview of general safety principles. Tool Certification is required before shop use which covers shop specific safety in detail.

  • Closed-toed shoes must be worn throughout the Asylum, steel toes and metatarsal protection are suggested.
  • Safety glasses must be worn in all the shops. Bring your own for the best experience!
  • Wear any additional safety gear for the tools you are using
  • You must pass the certification test before you use a tool, even if you are already experienced in using that tool.
  • Use the right tool for the job. Misusing a tool because it’s handy can damage it and your project.
  • Always ask for help if you need it. If you see someone being unsafe, talk to them, or report the incident to the Facilities Manager at facilities[at]artisansasylum[dot]com. One of our eight Policies and Procedures shop users agree to is to be tolerant of feedback.

Tool Testing

Only use tools you are certified on. Tool Testing is offered by appointment with members and is a one-on-one session to test your competency and safe use of tools and introduce you to procedures, rules and etiquette specific to the community shops at Artisan's Asylum.

When something breaks…

  • We have a ticket tracking system that will update our wiki in real time if you tag the tool as broken using the QR code on the tool.
  • If you break equipment or find something broken report it to the Maintenance Team, a group of members, at maintenance[at]artisansasylum[dot]com. The faster it’s reported the quicker it’ll be fixed.

General Shared Space Stuff

The Kitchenette

  • Tea, coffee and related beverages and accessories are member-stocked in MPR1.
  • Anything you leave out in the kitchen area will be considered common, including your dishes.
  • Treat this space like a shared kitchen with lots of roommates: it is expected that you clean your dishes immediately.

Fridge Etiquette

We have two refrigerators in the Multipurpose Room 1. It is up to you to put your name and the date on your food (including frozen food).

  • Unlabeled, super old or stinky food will be thrown away without abandon or possibly turned into artwork.
  • If it’s unlabeled and looks delicious it might be considered fair game.

Trash and Recycling

  • With over 500 members, 150 spaces, and 168 hours a week we generate a lot of waste. In order for the system to work, all members need to be involved!
  • The Waste_disposal page has detailed information
  • Trash Map

Get Involved

We are a member-run not-for-profit organization that places strong value on inclusive community and transparency. There are tons of ways you can help out.


  • Check the Volunteer Calendar for upcoming Volunteer events. We have a monthly volunteer night as well as shop and task specific work-days
  • Subscribe to volunteers@ mailing list to find out about additional ad hoc volunteer projects (about 1-2 emails per month). Send a blank email to to subscribe to the list.
  • There are a number of volunteer committees you can join to get involved in specific long term projects at the Asylum, and a list of tasks that will only take you 15 minutes that are very helpful!
  • Check our wiki page on Volunteering for the most up to date information.

Participate on the Mailing Lists

Attend an Event

Our incredible community of members and friends enjoy regular events including design challenges, social nights, speakers, product demos, field trips and more. All the info for member events is posted here:

Throw an Event

We’ve hosted a science fair, built a velodrome in our common area, and, on Independence Day, floated down the Charles River on giant, yellow, inflatable ducks. We’ve held Noise Nights where members jam out on their unique instruments and Fiber Arts meetings where the innards of electric knitting machines are exposed and explored, and yarn is braided, woven, and crocheted.

If you have an idea for an event, please suggest it! Here is the Google Form that will help you get started figuring it out a schedule and what resources you need.

Make Your Space Known

  • Post a business card on the map of the Asylum to the right of the front door
  • Create an entry for yourself on our Wiki’s opt-in member directory
  • Leave your contact info, like business cards, in your space


On the Web

  • Our website is the primary source of general information for students, members, and the public
  • The public wiki serves as a supplement to our website. This should be your primary source for information about the Asylum. What our policies are, how the space is maintained, what tools are available—all of these questions are answered in the public wiki. It is constantly updated to reflect our growing and changing organization. Anyone can read this wiki, but to edit a page you need to create an account.
  • Our private wiki is a members-only wiki used primarily by staffers and the members who work the Front Desk as an administrative resource.

Organizational Information

Mail and Deliveries

  • As a member, you can receive mail, packages and freight shipments to our address.
  • See the Mail and Deliveries page for rules and instructions.

Billing and Cancellations

Please see the following documents for information on billing and cancellation terms you agreed to when you enrolled as a member:


As a member, you might be interested in dedicated work or storage space at the Asylum. Here are some links to our waiting lists and renter information. Certain rules and restrictions apply to space rentals. Get in touch with space[at]artisansasylum[dot]com with questions.

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