MONTREAL -- A shared space workshop in Little Italy is helping Montrealers build and repair their own things. The only rule is that customers have to do it with their own two hands.

Les Affutés’ concept is simple: a shared workshop where creative and curious minds can explore and expand their woodworking, building, and repairing abilities, all while under the supervision of trained professionals.

Participants can enroll in specific classes (build your own toboggan, make your own soap, repair your broken household items, among others), or drop in and make their own personal projects using the shared space and tools.

“A lot of adults love to learn and would like to learn how to do [things], but there aren't many places to learn,” said Michael Schwartz, founder of Les Affutés.

As an entrepreneur with experience in the coworking world in Europe, Schwartz knows how to build community spaces, and in Montreal, has blended his experience with his love for woodworking.

“I began woodworking four years ago, learning with a retired woodworker. Doing it every Friday afternoon, I really loved to learn and the confidence it gave me, and so the idea was to mix the coworking world with woodworking, and to create a space where everyone can come,” says Schwartz.

Whether clients want to bring in and repair a broken household item, like a toaster or hairdryer to keep it from ending up in the dumpster or build a bookshelf from scratch, Schwartz says it’s important for his business to make smart environmental choices. Their wood comes mostly from a non-profit in Montreal that is already cut and sick, but can be used to build projects in the workshop.

“We’re from a generation that tries to have a small as possible impact on the environment. We try to be an example. [...] We really try to avoid having leftovers, especially because a lot of these types of workshops have a lot of wasted wood leftovers” says Schwartz.

Schwartz explains that the workshops put a big focus on beginner and intermediate skill-levels, and sees a blend of different people and ages walking through the doors, all curious to learn something new.

“What we are proud of is that we wanted to create something that is not intimidating, and proof of that is that in today’s schedule, 70 to 80 per cent of people attending workshops are women," said Schwartz. "It’s a great achievement for us because a lot of traditional woodworking spaces or make-a-spaces are quite filled with men.”

Schwartz says he hopes everyone will feel inspired and will choose to challenge themselves by trying something new at Les Affûtés.

“I didn’t know how to do anything in the past, and people can just come and learn and begin to feel confident with their hands, too,” he said.