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.

Working in the shops

Before you can work independently in our shops

User responsibilities

This is not limited to members, but day pass users as well!

  • Know the current operation procedures for the equipment. This includes reading the manual on new equipment you may not have used IE (You trained on the Powermatic 15hh but want to now use the Powermatic 22” planer) This information can be found on the wiki. Ignorance is not an excuse.
  • Know the current operation procedures for any related equipment. This includes dust collection, ventilation, feed tables, etc.
  • Don’t leave projects out in the shop. Especially don’t leave projects out without labels on it. See our Tidy Space Policy for how to tag your in progress projects to avoid them being discarded.
  • If you are going to consume things, bring things to consume. Saw blades, drill bits, sand paper etc all have a service life. Bring your own if you are going to be doing a bunch of volume.
  • Bring your own PPE. You should have your own Safety glasses, hearing protection, welding gloves, etc when you come to work. If your PPE is not comfortable you will not wear it. Don’t buy the cheapest possible when it comes to keeping your eyes intact. can do prescription safety glasses. for hearing protection is a popular choice. Having your own PPE will be more comfortable for you and encourage you to use safety equipment.

Ready to use

  • Know what the “Ready to Use” state should be. This includes a clean tool that can be used as expected by the next user. This is a Pay it forward type of environment. There is a saying “Leave this world a little better than you found it” This should apply to the shops. The majority of users do their best to leave equipment ready for the next member.
  • The space is cleaned and maintained by you (the members of the space). It is the responsibility of each member to clean up after themselves. You should always leave the space in better shape than you found it.
  • Plan time accordingly. You know you need to clean up. A project is going to take 1.5x what you think it will. Clean up will take 20% of your time. You should also be spending time giving back to the asylum volunteering based on the time you use the shop. This can be a completely self-serving task. If you spend 20 hours in the wood shop a week, you should be giving back two hours in some way. Cleaning and taking out the trash is easiest choice. Organizing, updating documentation, testing others are also great ways to accomplish this. If you are an employee of a member company and are in the shop 40 hours a week, this is not just a service you are using. This is a community and you have a responsibility to give back to make this work. This means on top of doing the expected clean up after yourself you should also be improving the space. If you as a member bring contractors in, you are responsible for this. You should either put in the time yourself, or have your contractor take care of it.
  • If you are going to take off after a big project and travel, pay someone to clean up after you.
    • If someone is leaving a mess and breaking tools, they may not fit with our model and should go elsewhere.

Cleaning up after yourself looks like:

  • sweep the area you're working in when you're done
  • leave all tools, equipment and surfaces in ready to use condition
  • wipe down and clean surfaces (don't leave food, glue residue, shavings or fluids on surfaces)
  • throw out trash and empty full trash cans to the dumpster
  • put tools and supplies away

When something breaks…

  • If you break equipment or find something broken report it to the Maintenance Team, a group of members interested in maintaining tools at maintenance[at]artisansasylum[dot]com. The faster it’s reported the quicker it’ll be fixed.
    • Send as many details as you can including observations, a diagnosis and links to replacement parts when available
  • If you break a tool doing something you know to be wrong best practice is to pay for the repair parts and help with the repair. You may not know how to do the repair, but hanging out with someone more experienced is a great way to learn! The more you know about the inner workings of the tool, the better your projects will become.
  • 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.

Shared Space Stuff

Tidy Space Policy

  • Our Tidy Space Policy helps us make sure our shared space stays fire code and ADA compliant, clean and safe. This policy covers etiquette and procedure when it comes to all of your stuff- incoming, in shared space and rental and storage space.

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

Janitorial Closet

  • Need soap, paper goods, trash liners, cleaning supplies, a mop? Find this all in the janitorial closet inside Multipurpose Room 1
  • Pro-tip: Try Inmates friend - mix of Borax, sawdust and water. Already mixed in a bin - great for sweeping up the concrete floors! Really shines them up. Please re-fill when empty.

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.

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 list of tasks that will only take you 15 minutes that are very helpful!
  • Check our website for the most up to date info on volunteer programs.

Participate on the Mailing Lists

  • Got a question and not sure who/where/how/what to ask? Looking to meet some existing members? Email, a list of existing members willing to help you get started!
  • Sign up for our Member Newsletter
  • Our community uses several mailing lists:
    • discuss@ is a list open to anyone reaching a wide variety of people in our extended community.
    • inmates@ is a members only list where upcoming events, day to day happenings and a variety of opportunities are posted

On these lists our members get how-to questions answered, find jobs, and buy and sell tools.

  • Each shop area has a mailing list and you should be subscribed to all the lists for the shops you work in
  • If you want custom paid design and fabrication work there’s a members’ only list, Have-it-Made where the public sends requests.

For details see:

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 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.

Studio and Storage Space Rentals

As a member, you might be interested in dedicated work or storage space at Artisan's. 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.

Access, Changing Membership, Billing and Cancellations

  • FAQ for specific billing and cancellation questions

Reference documents for information on billing and cancellation terms you agreed to when you enrolled as a member:


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

Personal tools
Wiki Maintenance