OAKLAND, Calif. – A new organization is turning a shipping container in East Oakland into a place that welcomes more women and people of color into woodworking.

Jolie Karno is a woodworking instructor at The Crucible in Oakland and Techshop in San Francisco, but she noticed a lack of diversity in her classes. ”I want to see more women and people of color trying new skills and feeling that awesome sense of accomplishment that comes when you make something real and beautiful from a chunk of wood.”

Karno decided to do something about it.

She got a 48x10 shipping container and started converting it into a home for the Lower 48 – a nonprofit woodshop. In it, she hopes to teach more people who are less likely to have easy access to makerspaces, equipment, or teachers.

With help from volunteers, Karno has made a lot happen on a shoestring budget. The shop features some donated equipment, but is still missing some essentials to start teaching classes for real.

“We will get there,” says Karno. “We’re out to change the world one pile of sawdust at a time.”

“Turning a chunk of wood into something useful, beautiful, or new feels amazing,” Karno continued. “We think everyone should have a chance to feel that, but classes or equipment can be out of reach.


The Lower 48 is the brainchild of Jolie Karno, a skilled woodturner and accomplished instructor at Techshop in San Francisco and The Crucible in Oakland. She loves teaching, and has introduced scores of people to fine woodworking.