Improve Yourself: Master Machinery

Columbus Monthly staff
Franklinton Cycleworks employee Bryan Lane works on a donated bike.

Fixing Flats on the Fly

Bike School, Franklinton Cycle Works, 897 W. Broad St., Franklinton, $25 suggested donation per class,

Riding a bike is easy. Fixing a flat? Not so simple. Franklinton Cycle Works offers a four-session class—Tires, Tubes and Hub Overhaul (Jan. 29)—that will teach local cyclists that skill, as well as how to adjust brakes, balance their wheels and more. “These classes are part of our educational outreach to help people use bikes as a reliable and regular means of transportation,” says Jonathan Youngman, executive director of the nonprofit bike shop, which is also offering three other classes in January: Drive Train Maintenance and Derailleur Adjustment (Jan. 15); Brake Maintenance and Adjustment (Jan. 22) and Wheel Truing and Hub Overhaul (Jan. 29). Attendees are encouraged to bring their bikes, but the shop can supply one for those who can't. “We'll have all the tools people will need,” Youngman says. “Wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty.”

Women Wielding Wrenches

Girls' Night at the Garage, AAA Ohio, multiple Car Care Plus facilities, free,

A look under the hood doesn't have to be a mystery or intimidating. “Women are the decision-makers in the majority of households, and this class is designed to make them feel empowered,” says Kimberly Schwind of the AAA Ohio Auto Club. “We see a lot of breakdowns because drivers don't properly understand how to maintain their cars.” The class includes a PowerPoint presentation on oil changes, air and cabin filters, wiper blades, the cooling system and battery, tire and wheel alignment, and distracted driving. And then it's hands-on learning in small groups, led by a certified mechanic. Schwind says there are about 30 slots per class, and they fill up fast.

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The Power of Print

3D Printing Workshop, Columbus College of Art & Design, 60 Cleveland Ave., Downtown, $395,

This class isn't cheap, but it does offer participants the chance to learn from an Oscar-winning visual effects artist. The Columbus College of Art & Design's 3D Printing Workshop—a five-week continuing education program in May and June—is taught by CCAD associate professor Steve Hubbard, who's worked on such films as “Life of Pi” and “Peter Rabbit” and now serves as a visual effects supervisor for the Ohio Film Group, a post-production facility in Columbus. Students will use modeling software to design desktop planters and then use a 3D printer to manufacture the planters by depositing molten plastic in layers. “It has gotten incredibly easy over the last couple of years,” says Hubbard, adding that you can purchase a decent 3D printer for $250 to $300 now. “It's not much more involved than just printing from a color printer.”

Bring the Heat

Welding classes, Idea Foundry, 421 W. State St., Franklinton, $125 to $150,

There's something elemental about welding, one of the most popular classes at the Idea Foundry. Multiple classes are offered each month, and in three hours students create something, perhaps a fire poker, mini grill or shadow lantern. “In my class, we make a metal bookend with a planter, and we supply a mini cactus for it,” says Luke Howard, an Idea Foundry welding instructor. The classes are small, with four to six would-be welders, and fill up quickly. “We get people with some welding experience, maybe 15 years ago, and people who have never touched a welder,” Howard says. The key to welding is learning how to work in the dark. “You can't look at a weld without wearing a welding mask, and this turns the room pitch black,” Howard says. “You can see the arc from the weld and the molten-hot metal, but that's about it. It's essentially like someone striking a match in a pitch-black room.”

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Improve Yourself: Commune with Nature

Improve Yourself: Get Artsy (and Crafty)

Improve Yourself: Take Center Stage

Improve Yourself: Excel in the Kitchen

Improve Yourself: The Idea Foundry’s Maker Mix

Read the Improve Yourself series