Arts and Crafts Area partially operational

As FCW works to get all areas rebuilt after the fire, some areas are further along than others.   One of the expanded areas is Arts & Crafts.  Spawned from the Stagecraft shop and light Fabrication labs at the old space before the fire,  A&C, when completed, will have all of stagecraft (sets, props, costumes, efx, lighting, sound), 3d printing, lasercutting, and contain a model shop (metal, wood and plastic working), glass shop, art, photography/videography,  and VR.

A significant portion of the model shop and fabrication is now operational.  The model shop is for reasonably small items, large items should be built in the wood shop and metal shop.

Hutch welder MIG/Stick with spool gun

Bolton metal lathe

For metal working, A&C has a welder, bandsaw, small metal lathe, chop saw, and drill press. These will soon be joined by a desktop CNC mill and some sheet metal tools.

For woodworking,  A&C has a table saw, small jointer, and drill press, which will soon be joined by a sander, bandsaw, and miter saw.

For fabrication, the shop just got in a Lasersaur laser cutter

Lasersaur 2’x4′, The cheesy grin belongs to Robert

(courtesy of Dallas Makerspace) to join two small laser cutters previously donated.  These will be set up over the next few weeks as exhaust ducts are installed.


There is also a vinyl cutter and 3d printer operational in A&C.  Other items being currently set up are sewing machines, an overlock machine, an industrial sewing machine, a vacu-former, and a powdercoat/curing oven.  This area is adjacent to the electronics shop (partially operational)and science center (under construction), both of which add additional capabilities.


Robotics Club Meeting at FCW

Alex instructs the Catawba Valley Robotics group

Alex is meeting with the Catawba Valley Robotics Club at FCW on Wednesday evenings from 5PM until around 8PM.  This group is composed of children of Elementary and Middle School age and uses the Lego robotics components.  The group competes in contests involving tasks for autonomous (self controlled) robots.

Any kids in the age range, and their parents are welcome to attend.

Ribbon Cutting at the Open House

The Open House on December 15, 2017 was preceded by a Ribbon Cutting from the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce.  Several from the Chamber as well as the Mayor of Granite Falls,  a City  Councilwoman, a representative from the County Commissioners, a representative from the N

Open House and Ribbon Cutting Dec. 15, 2017

ation of Makers,

and other local VIPs.

The Ribbon Cutting was to celebrate the acquisition of the new building.  Even though construction was still in progress, there was many congratulations and fellowship.

In the picture behind the poster are FCW members, from left to right, Mitch (holding the ribbon), Michelle, Bruce, Colin, Brandon, Rich, Derek,  and Kay.

The remainder of the Open House on the 15th and 16th saw a steady flow of visitors and friends checking out the new facility.  The rebuild continues.

FCW Open House

FCW will be having an Open House at the new facility on Friday, December 15 from 5-9PM and Saturday, December 16 from 10AM-6PM.  Even though visitors are welcome anytime someone is at FCW, at the Open Houses, we make a special effort to show of the advantages of FCW,  This Open House is special in that is the first one since the fire destroyed nearly everything at the Shuford facility.

At the open house, we will have:

  • Food – mainly burgers and hotdogs on Friday, a more traditional meal on Saturday.
  • Demos  of replacement equipment.
  • Tours of the new facility and future plans.
  • Activities

The Open House is at the new facility at 141 N. Main St., Granite Falls, NC 28630  (directly on 321-A).  Note that parking is at the rear of the building.   This activity is free and open to the public.

We Have A New Building!!

New FCW at 141 N. Main St.

As of Monday, October 31, 2017.  FCW has a new location.  Since the fire on July 21, we have been obtaining equipment and looking for a new home.  Many of our members spent extra time, money and effort to help FCW get started again.

The new location is at 141 N. Main St. Granite Falls, NC.  We have to do some work but can start up several operations soon.  This location is 11000 sq. ft which is slightly over twice the previous space.   Due to scrounging and donations, we have roughly 60% of our equipment back and plan to start up the areas as soon as possible.  This is a two story building and has large external doors accessing both floors.  This building is air-conditioned and has 5 restrooms.

Part of top floor as equipment is moved in

There is a lot of internal construction and wiring to be done for full operation. The current plan is as follows:


Top Floor:

  • Common Area/Lounge
  • StM  vintage computer museum
  • Classroom
  • Galley (expanded from before)
  • Science Center, containing:
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Supporting subjects
  • Electrical,  containing:
    • Electronics
    • K4FCW -Ham radio station
    • Robotics
    • Mechatronics
    • Motors and Controls
    • PLCs
    • Computer repair
  • Arts & Crafts, containing:
    • Stagecraft
    • Costumes/sewing
    • Sets
    • Props
    • Lighting/sound
    • Animatronics
    • Special effects and CGI
    • Art/Sculpture
    • Glass shop
    • Jewelry
    • Videography
    • VR
    • Model shop
    • 3d Printing
    • Laser cutting
  • Railroad

The Science Center and Railroad will take additional time before they can be used.

The lower floor contains:

  • Office
  • Woodworking
  • Metalworking, containing:
    • Machine shop
    • Sheet metal shop
    • Welding
  • Canteen
  • Exercise room (new)

The metal shop will take some time to build.  The wood shop is missing a few items which should be replaced soon.

The crew is working to make the space usable as soon as possible.  Spread the word — FCW is back!!


Classes Resume: Ham Radio Technician Class

FCW will conduct a condensed Ham Radio Technician License class on Saturday, September 9, from 9AM to 3PM at the Caldwell County Public Library, Room 5 in Lenoir.  This class will cover the more difficult aspects of the entry level Technician exam.  Topics covered will include:

  • Electromagnetic waves
  • Electrical Fundamentals
  • Electronics components and circuits
  • Station setup and operation
  • Antennas and propagation
  • Modes of operation
  • Units and the metric system
  • Safety
  • Some rules and regulations

Since this is a condensed class, participants will be expected to view some videos and do practice exams on-line.  A schedule for the test will be determined at the class.

This class is free and open to the public.  Contact Michelle, ( or 828-754-5002 for more information.


FCW is just beyond the fire truck on the lower floor.

On July 21 at around 7PM, the building containing FCW was totally destroyed by fire.  Apparently it started in a rear corner, then spread up the back side before spreading forward and destroying FCW.  In addition to us, there were several businesses, a couple of warehouses, a few residential apartments, and over two hundred storage units in the building.  Fortunately, at this time, it appears that nobody was injured.

However, FCW is down for a while.  The early consensus of the board is that we will rebuild and like the Phoenix “rise from the ashes”.  Exact details will be worked out over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, donations of money and equipment will be accepted (Remember that FCW is a 501(c)( 3) non-profit organization.

All classes and workshops are canceled for the near future as we clean up, salvage anything possible and look for a new home.

UPDATE:  It appears that at least one piece of equipment survived.  Our R5 Ham Radio Antenna remains proudly perched on its beam.  Now if we only still had a radio….

The current estimate is that we will be able to survey the damage on Tuesday.

UPDATE 2017-07-23

A Members Meeting discussed the rebuilding of FCW today.  Here are a few key points.

  • FCW will rebuild – eventually having more interest areas than before.
  • Top priority is finding a new space – this one should require little renovation for us to start using.
  • Scheduled events (hamfest, makerfaires. etc.) will be attended as planned, but with a smaller display focused toward the rebuild.
  • Classes will be delayed for about a month, then start being scheduled again, depending on resources.
  • The Common area (lounge), Woodworking, Electronics, and the Ham Station will come on line first.
  • The Railroad will be rebuilt (HO gage) but will be used also for classes to instill interest in trains and making.
  • Equipment priorities after a space is found are the computers and laser cutter.  Woodworking, electronics, science, and stagecraft (art) will be built up as resources permit.
  • Everyone should be in “scrounge mode”, look out for possible locations, watch for possible deals or donations, and spread the word that FCW is far from dead.
  • There is a slight chance that some of the equipment can be salvaged/repaired.  Ben will bring a drone down this week to see if we can get a better look.
  • A Slack group is being set up for those who would like to be involved, have ideas, or just want information.  Members will be invited automatically. Others should email
  • I’ll try to get some pictures specific to our damage on Tuesday.

Here are some additional pictures

The Old Shuford Mills Building Fire (07-21-2017)…

Posted by Caldwell Journal on Friday, July 21, 2017


And a drone flyover.

Drone flyover aftermath

More recent drone flyover:  Zooming up, you can see both laser cutters, the shelving supports in the fab lab and StM (computer museum), the mill and lathe in the machine shop, part of the large bandsaw in the woodshop, both fume hoods, the large oven, the autoclave and a metal cart in the science lab, and a light in the stagecraft area.    

Update 7/30/2017

Additional drone footage (I can’t post it yet)  allowed us to id   a cabinet, computer rack, and A/C compressor in the fab lab; the welder, 18″ planer, suction, and a tool box in the cave;, the transformer and instructors desk the classroom; and a power supply and the Pace rework station in the common area.  Nothing can be salvaged.

Meetings have resumed  on Saturdays and Wednesdays.  We have a lead on a temporary space until we can find a building, and multiple leads on replacement equipment.

At the 2017 Field Day, a brief tour was done of FCW.  This is the last known video before the fire.  The mics being used failed during the interview portion so there is voice over description.  This video was done by Gary Pearce of Ham Radio Now on Youtube.  Do realize that we had be up over 24 hours for Field Day at the time.

Here is the current picture of the FCW entrance.

FCW entrance after the fire

Ham Radio Field Day – 2017

Once again, FCW via Amateur Radio station K4FCW will participate in Field Day from Saturday,  June 24 at 2 PM thru Sunday, June 25 at 2 PM.  Field Day was created by the ARRL and encourages Hams in North America to:

  • Set up under emergency conditions
  • Test equipment
  • Promote Amateur Radio
  • Socialize
  • Practice contest techniques

Even though FCW is not a “portable” setup, it is not a normal station location.  For 24 hours, participants will be contacting hams across North America (and a few other countries) to accumulate points in the contest.

If you are a ham, interested in ham radio, or just curious, this is a good opportunity to get on the air and see why many people still enjoy ham radio as a hobby or a public service.

The event starts at 2PM on Saturday.  Drop by for a while and check out the activity.  This event is free and open to the public.

Wood turning Classes

Rick will be conducting classes in Wood Turning on the 3rd Saturday of each month  from 10AM – 2PM.   Beginners are welcome at any session.  Besides the basics, each session will concentrate on methods to create specific items, such as bowls, plates, goblets, table legs, etc.  Advanced topics will also be covered.

Space is limited.  For more information or to reserve a slot, contact

This class is Free and Open to the Public.

Open House, June 2, 5-9PM and June 3, 10AM-6PM

FCW will have a Spring Open House on Friday, June 2, 5-9PM and Saturday, June 3,  10AM-6PM.   Though visitors are welcome at any time, at the open houses an extra effort is made to present what FCW has to offer.

At the Open House:

  • There will be food – burgers and hotdogs on Fri, regular meal on Sat.
  • The Railroad will be operating.
  • Demos will be in the Electronics and Science areas.
  • The laser cutter will be operating.
  • The Ham station will be operating.
  • There will be tours and activities.
  • There will be special membership offers.

Areas available for use at FCW include:

  • A machine shop with CNC mill
  • A wood shop with 2 CNC routers and traditional tools.
  • An electronics shop.
  • A Ham Radio station (K4FCW)
  • A Science Lab for Chemistry, Physics, and Biology and support.
  • A Stagecraft shop for props, sets, costumes, SFX, lights, sound.
  • A HO scale model railroad
  • A technical library
  • A Fabrication lab with laser cutter and 3d printer.
  • A vintage computer museum.
  • A classroom.

Things are always changing at FCW.  The woodshop has been overhauled, the Science Lab and Stagecraft shops are close to starting up, new machines have been added to the computer museum, and the electronics area has expanded.  There is also new equipment provided by grants and some exciting plans for the near future.

For more information contact info@foothillscommuntiyworkshop or call (828) 351-2551.

FCW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

A Hackerspace/Makerspace for the NC Foothills