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A volunteer makes a repair on Fix-It Friday

Fix-It Friday

Friendly, expert repairs for free

by Anita LeBlanc

From the February, 2015 issue

What if there were an enchanted place where you could meet magical people, the Wizard of Wood among them, who would expertly and enthusiastically repair your household goods, small appliances, and clothing for free? Fix-It Friday is that charmed place, where for two hours on the third Friday of each month, the friendly members of Maker Works volunteer to "reverse the disposable mindset of people and have some fun," says Tom Root, one of its owners.

While I knew that there was no guarantee they'd be able to repair my broken lamp and two Chippendale chairs, the price was certainly right. Root tells me chairs and lamps are their most-requested fixes.

His enthusiasm and that of Bob Stack, a member, is heartening as they circle my William Morris-paneled, translucent porcelain lamp like hungry wolves. A few other members congregate around us. "That's very nice lithophane work," says Stack, who, by happy circumstance, is an expert in lithophane fabrication. I immediately feel better about paying $110 for my lamp and am delighted when a simple wire splice fixes the problem.

My new pals agree that my broken chairs call for the Wizard of Wood. Al McWaters (also sometimes called the Wood Whisperer) has a furniture design degree and twenty-two years' experience in exhibit space and furniture design. He appears and takes my chairs to the woodshop.

Root notes there are usually at least twelve to fifteen attendees and six to twelve members volunteering. Michele Leshan arrives with a CD player, and in appliance voodoo, it begins to work when Je'Tone Alexander, Maker Works' events coordinator, turns it on. Alexander speculates that dust may have been the culprit, removes the casing, dusts the innards, and then replaces it. Leshan leaves with it, hoping for the best.

Janet Osborne brings in a dehydrator that has fallen down on the job and a blow-dryer that revs its engine as if prepping for the Indy 500. The experts jump on their new prey. Osborne is disappointed

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to learn the motor in her dehydrator can't be fixed but shrugs cheerfully--she bought it for $5 at the Kiwanis Thrift Sale, and it gave her five years of service. We huddle around her blow-dryer as she turns it on, and it begins to crescendo. "That's it!" she squeals above the racket, and then turns it off. Root patiently dismantles it and removes hair and dust. Osborne is thrilled that's all it takes to restore her dryer to proper volume and safe use.

The Wood Whisperer returns and lets me know that while one of my chairs was glued and ready to go, the other is beyond repair. He makes me feel better as he lets me know that my chairs aren't as valuable as I'd thought. I donate the decimated chair for use in other projects.

If you're in need of appliance alchemy, household goods hocus-pocus, or sewing sorcery, you can't go wrong at Fix-It Friday on February 20. My premonition suggests you get there early.     (end of article)

[Originally published in February, 2015.]


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