News From The Shop

Creating a Space to Create

I’ve always enjoyed creating things – and now for the past year and a half I’ve been focused on making a great space to build things and hang out with fun people.  It’s been amazing to see the workshop grow to being at capacity in under a year, and we are about to move into the next iteration of MPLS MAKE with a larger better space where we will be able to accommodate twice the number of members.  This new space will be the third building that we’ve been in since the workshop started in a 400 sqft studio in the Northrup King Building.  The new shop will be more than twelve times the size of the original space and we will be building it into a dream workshop – all the bells and whistles.  I can hardly wait to get started on renovating the new space with the help of several members who are going to be investing in the workshop and helping to grow MPLS MAKE.  The eventual plan is to have more workshops like this one in St. Paul and other cities.  But for now the focus is on making the best possible community workshop here in Minneapolis.


I am so grateful for the shop.  It’s been feeling more and more like a community where we’re all learning and creating together.  I’m grateful for your willingness to buy into this crazy idea, and believing me when I’ve said that we are going to keep making it better.  Many of you started back in March when we had only the most basic equipment, no heat, and no way of knowing if we would be able to get enough folks involved to actually pay rent on our building and make this work. Even more of you have joined since then, and we have been making it work.  We could not have made the shop what it is without all of you.  Thank you for believing in this vision of a community workshop and helping to create this great space that we all benefit from.  Let’s keep making it better, let’s keep making cool stuff, and let’s keep making friends at the shop.


Learing the “rule of thumb . . . and four fingers”

img_20161012_212013img_20161012_212757138_hdrLast night was Andrew’s circular blade class.   I learned that a “trunnion” is the part of the saw that allows the blade to be adjusted in two planes, what a “kerf” is, and that we have at least one “carousal” in the shop.  But the class did more than just expand my vocabulary.  I now feel much more comfortable using the table saw.  It’s definitely a machine that deserves respect, but if you know how to use it properly it shouldn’t be scary.  Also, crazy fact that I didn’t know: only one third of the table saw’s power is devoted to cutting.  Yeah, what the eff is right!  The other two thirds? Removing saw dust.  So if you look at a rip blade you’ll see these groves beneath the teeth that are shaped to channel the dust away from the cutting surface.  Insanely cool.  I learned a lot.  This is a class that we’ll do again, so don’t worry you haven’t missed your chance.



1500 Pounds 15+ Hours – One Epic Sander

This photo was taken at midnight after a day of driving that started at eight in the morning.  Dad came along for the drive, and we had a fun time, first heading to Pine City to pick up a tilt trailer from Best Rental, then North West to Bagley MN which is way up past Cass Lake (almost in Canada) we got the sander from a guy named John who was retiring from his woodworking business and selling all his tools.  I would have bought more equipment, but didn’t have the money.  When we got there I was amazed by what great condition the sander was in.  The photos I’d seen on Craigslist did not do it justice.  It was clear that John took good care of this tool.  He even had the manual there for us and an extra sanding belt.  We loaded it on to the tilt trailer using a come-along and a big piece of ash to lever it up the ramp.  Then headed back to the cities listening to a recording of Carl Hiaasen’s book “Skinny Dip”.  It was a great roadtrip.

Now the 37″ Jet Wide Belt Sander is in place at the shop and waiting for the electrician to hook it up on Monday.  This will be the first machine that will be open to use by non-members.  As Andy said, “it really brings the shop to the next level”.  I’m super excited to have this new machine in the space.  Come on by and check out this piece of “next level” equipment!

Work Tables and Lights!

Yesterday I spent the day with Jake putting the tops on these tables and hanging lights!  The shop is really coming together.  The more time I spend there the more convinced I become that this is going to work and going to be a great thing.  It’s incredible to see how much our capabilities are extended by using tools.  I know it’s obvious, but just the fact that I can come up with a design for a new table in the morning, head to the shop, and by mid-afternoon create this same imagined table in the real world . . . it’s magic. Really.  And the other magic of the shop is sharing – yeah, we learned about it in preschool, but sharing is what allows us all to have access to these tools.  I certainly couldn’t afford to keep a shop with the incredible equipment that we have on my own. But when we all share the expense, we can have access to awesome space and equipment for a tiny fraction of what it would normally cost.  So cheers! It’s great!



Working on the New Shop


Been doing work! Frances and Taylor have been a great help! We hung a bunch of lights yesterday, and today Frances and I took out the old toilet. My aunt loaned us a bunch of painting equipment and I got started on the walls. Tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday we’ll continue painting, so if any one wants to help feel free to stop by. Speaking of stopping by, John dropped in this evening and took the cool panorama of the shop. Still a lot of work to do, but we are going to make this new place awesome!

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