January Newsletter

January Newsletter

We finished the move, just in time for a plethora of new donations!

From the January 2023 Newsletter:

Welcome to 2023!


Wow, December was a busy month! In November we cleaned out suites 201 and 202 in preparation for our move. Then, in December just before the move, we rented a truck and moved in a big load of furniture and equipment that was donated to us by Tenaris. The furniture is in like-new condition and really brightens up the lab. Then the move from suite 101 in the old building to suites 201 and 202 in the new building. We had a tremendous showing of members volunteering to help.

If you remember from the last newsletter, we were looking for some equipment to start a ceramics program at the lab. Well, we found it, or it found us. There was a man who needed to clear out his father’s house in Sour Lake, Texas. He had placed an ad on Craigslist offering the collection of molds and equipment for sale. There were quite a few molds, that was obvious in the ad photo. I contacted him and told him about The MakerBarn. I mentioned that if he wanted to donate some on all of the stuff we would gladly accept it. He thought the was a great idea and said we can have it all. We knew there would be quite a lot of molds, so Kathy rented a 26’ truck and about ten volunteers went to Sour Lake to pick up the material. It was a good thing we got the big truck. It took the ten of us four hours to load the truck. We didn’t count the number of molds, but my guess would be about 600, a few more than we need. So, now we will be going through the collection selecting molds we would like to keep and molds that we can give to other maker spaces. We did get three kilns; one has a very nice digital controller.

Tenaris made some wonderful donations to us. Part of the donations were some measurement devices used in the metalworking industry. One of the instruments is a Profile Projector. It operates like a large screen microscope. The object to be inspected is placed in front of a light source and its shadow is projected on a screen. Using the attached computer, complex measurements can be made with a resolution of 1/10,000 of an inch.

We also received two Automatic Rockwell Hardness Testers. These devices measure the hardness and strength of metals. Hardness testers can be used to determine the type of metal that is being worked with or for determining the hardness after heat treating. This will be a great help to those who want to do toolmaking or knife making. We will have a class on heat treating tool steels in the near future.

And now for a rather sensitive topic: The MakerBarn was setup as a learning, exploring, and fun place to work on projects. Part of this is entrepreneurship which involves inventing, producing, and learning about starting a business. We have never made policy regarding using The MakerBarn as a production facility for an operating business, but lately I’ve been getting some questions about this. I think that using The MakerBarn for making various things to sell at craft fairs and such is a fine thing. This is because what is being sold is not so much the physical item, but the work and thought that went into making it. Having a customer pay you for something that you invented and made with your own hands is a very satisfying experience. But, if The MakerBarn is being used as a cheap place to cover manufacturing costs, that’s crossing a line.

Many makerspaces have onerous rules and fees for those who use the makerspace for business activity. I don’t want to see this at The MakerBarn, it takes away from the freedom we have to make whatever we want. I just hope that members consider what they are doing. They should consider the expense of purchasing, maintaining, and housing that equipment as well as the volunteer members who keep it all going. The $40 we pay each month does not go very far toward the purchase of a $4,000 planer or a $5,000 laser engraver. But when we all work together, it is not a problem at all.

Happy New Year!
George Carlson
President, MakerBarn

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