General Metal Shop Information

**Before entering any of our metal shop locations students should read the following information.**
Shop Technicians are here to maintain a clean, safe work environment and guide you in the learning process. Students must adhere to the rules and requests of the VPA Shop’s staff, as those rules are in place to ensure the safety of everyone using the shops. If you are at all unclear about any policies or how to safely and properly use a tool, please ask a shop technician first.  We strive to be an inclusive, intimidation-free shop. There are no dumb questions, especially when it comes to your safety!
**A technician will be available during all open hours**

 Appropriate Dress for Metal Shops:

  • Proper eye protection must be worn when using any hand tool, power tool, or with in close proximity to anyone else working with the same.
  • If using an angle grinder wearing a face shield in addition to safety glasses is recommended.
  • Closed-toed shoes must be worn at all times when in the shop, closed-toed sandals or flimsy foot wear do not count. Boots are preferred. 
  • 100% Natural fiber/leather based clothing materials are mandatory if cutting and welding metals. It is possible for clothing to melt from metal sparks.
  • Heels over 1” in height are not safe to wear while working in the shop.
  • Long hair must be tied back.
  • No loose fitting clothing.
  • Jewelry and other accessories, including rings necklaces bracelets and watches, must be removed.
  • Hearing protection is not required, but strongly suggested.
  • You may not wear headphones for music while in the shops.
  • Personal Electronics may not be accessed in the shop unless the user is photo-documenting their work and safely removed from tools and others working.
  • Loud music is prohibited.
  • A limited number of eye and hearing protection is available for use while in the shop.  These are not available for check-out.

 VPA shops are here to support academic research and inquiry. It is important that everyone respects each other, their right to work and the space. Inappropriate or unsafe behavior will not be tolerated.


First Aid kits can be found throughout shops on walls, columns, inside the tool cage and in the office.  Consult a shop technician for the location of the nearest first aid kit.
Report any injuries immediately to a Shop Technician.
If a serious injury occurs, immediately hit one of the Emergency Stop switches to shut off power to the shop.
If someone is injured and requires medical assistance, 711 will be called and an ambulance sent.
Emergency contact information is posted in the shops.

Material Usage

All material deliveries must be vetted through a shop technician.  You will be responsible for unloading your materials when they are delivered or make alternate arrangements.  Any deliveries that arrive without prior knowledge may be sent back.
Any outside material or substance must be approved by a technician before it may be used in the shop.
Students must provide a Safety Data Sheet for any material or chemical brought into the shop that is not included in the provided SDS book.  Once approved by a technician it needs to be appended to the materials SDS book.  Consult with a technician.
Material restrictions are based on the shop space. Generally, materials should not be finished or coated, such as galvanized/stainless steel.
The only exception to this is water-based finish. Material that is treated with a water-based finish may be used on cutting tools only. Material that is treated with a water-based finish may not be shaped on any abrasive tool.          
Other material restrictions may develop or apply. Consult a shop technician before beginning work with any new materials. 
All hardware must be removed from material and checked by a Shop Technician. 
Small hardware, wood glue, welding rod/spools, cutting/grinding disks, and finishes are free to use within reason.  Large quantities of these should not leave the shop.  For in shop use only.  If a student needs large quantities for their studio, they should purchase their own.  “Within Reason” will be defined on a case-by-case basis by the Shop technician.
All finishes must be used in a spray booth and stored in a flammable storage cabinet
Some shop areas may have consumables for purchase.
Eye and ear protection, sandpaper, and other consumables may be purchased with Papercut.
Hardwood, basswood, plywood, MDF, Masonite, acrylic, steel, etc. may also be purchased with Papercut.  
Material in scrap bins are for everyone’s use.  Do not put unusable or unsafe material in these bins.
Waste material with hardware, paint or finish should be placed in the waste can or dumpster.
All shop rags with solvents or flammable chemicals must be disposed of in the red fire-proof bin.


Storage space within the shop is extremely limited.  Before bringing large materials in to the shop, you should have a plan on how to quickly and efficiently break it down in to smaller pieces and be able to remove it when necessary. Users who wish to store a project in the shop while they are working must have express consent from a Shop Technician. Even with this consent, projects should have a scheduled date of completion and must be removed promptly upon request.  When leaving approved projects in the shops you must include a note with your name and contact information.  Storage space is on a first-come basis.

Tool Check-Out

**No Metal Shop Tooling is allowed for checking out. All metal shop tools are site-specific and should only be used within the metal shop location. This is to ensure a level of safety for both the students and the environment they are working in.  

ComArt & Warehouse Metal Shops

Comstock Arts Building houses one of the VPA’s largest fabrication spaces on campus staffed full time by knowledgeable shop technicians. All students and faculty who have received the appropriate training are welcome to utilize this space during shop hours. Being one of the largest shops on campus, ComArt Metal shop is ideal for students who want to work on larger-scale projects. In addition to a more open fabrication space, this shop has a fully operation forge and metal casting pit for students looking to work with more advanced methods of metal fabrication. This shop offers access to all tools covered in the first and second tear metals training except the Vertical Mill and Metal Lathe.

The Nancy Cantor Warehouse Metal shop is the VPA’s more precision-based metal shops on campus staffed full time by knowledgeable shop technicians. All students and Faculty who have received the appropriate training are welcome to utilize this space during shop hours. Being one of the VPA’s more precise metal shops, The Nancy Cantor Warehouse is perfect for students looking to make more detail-oriented work. In addition to precision tool access, the space also houses a state-of-the-art Metal Lathe and Vertical Mill for cutting metal with extreme precision. This shop has access to all tools covered in both the first and second tears of the VPA’s metal shop training except for oxy-fuel cutting tools and forge/metal casting.