Maker spaces are becoming a popular alternative for DIY enthusiasts who don’t have the space to set up their own shop or studio at home. They can be a way to get projects done in a more well-designed space than an individual maker could afford, and they often have some group-funded materials as well. In addition to being convenient and cost-effective, maker spaces can sometimes help create community for the people using them. Here are all the great reasons to go join your local maker space if you love DIY.
Not all maker spaces are the same
To start with, not all maker spaces are created equal. Some are geared toward electronics repair, while others might be more textile-based. Some larger maker spaces will have multiple crafts and project types represented, while others will be more narrowly focused. You should also check out the schedule to ensure the hours will work for you. Do your research and take a tour before making a decision about what space you’d like to join so you get the most bang for your buck.
More space and more tools
A maker space not only has more room, but in general, they offer access to tools you might not own, even if you have your own shop or studio. Some tools are too big or too expensive to be practical for a home set-up. In addition, there are tools you might only use once or twice while you’re working on one particular project, and aren’t worth buying to keep. In a maker space, you pay for shop time or a membership fee for a certain number of hours of access, so you can use all the tools without paying as much. Practically, even though you’re paying a membership fee, these things will likely make it cheaper in the long run than keeping a fully stocked shop at home.
Access to storage
In addition to tools and space, having a place to keep your project while the glue is drying, or while you’re finishing it up is often on offer at a maker space. While shop time is typically sold by the hour, you can usually get access to some storage space with the cost of membership if you join a maker space. Having a convenient place to store projects in progress or materials you plan to use is a good way to keep your DIY impulses well nurtured.
Access to materials
In many maker spaces, shared materials will also be on hand for members. That doesn’t mean they will always have everything you need, but there will likely be a rack or two to pick from. If you need some screws for a wood project or some wire for a lamp you’re fixing, you can probably find what you need without having to make an extra trip to the hardware store. Many maker spaces will also have some room for unused or extra materials from past projects that can be helpful if you’re just getting started.
Classes and workshops
Maker space isn’t just about tangible resources like space and tools. Many maker spaces offer classes and workshops too. You can sign up to learn new skills, or to get a safety tutorial about how to use a particular piece of equipment. In many cases, local craftspeople will give lessons and lectures, so it’s a great way to expand your DIY horizons whether you’re an experienced or beginner DIYer.
A maker space is also a great place to make connections with other craftspeople. If you really like to weld and are hoping to meet a good woodworker to trade project parts with, a maker space is a good place to find that. If you have DIY kids who want to meet other kids who are into DIY, a maker space is great for that too. The community a maker space can help foster is one of the most important aspects of membership. The intangible part of building and making in a community with other people (that fosters creativity and productivity in a way that solo DIY can’t do) is the most often overlooked aspect to DIY culture.
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