May 2020 Newsletter

Clay McGovernNews

Message from the president…

George Carlson

April was a tough month. Not being able to open The MakerBarn has been a disappointment. Of course, this is nothing compared to what many of our families are experiencing. Not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from is far more serious. Currently, as of Saturday April 25th, the number of active Covid-19 cases is increasing daily in Montgomery County. This means more people are being diagnosed than recovering. So, we are still on the upward side of the curve.

On Thursday, April 30th, the Executive Committee met on Zoom to analyze the situation and plan for the reopening of The MakerBarn. We want to make sure the environment is safe, and that our Barn Managers do not feel compelled to show up for duty. Hopefully, we can post an update later in the newsletter.

On the brighter side, some of our members have been helping at home with the production of masks and face shields. More about that later. The closing has also given many of us the opportunity to spend some time catching up and learning new skills on the Internet. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the MakerBarn as soon as we can get things going again.

George Carlson, acting President

* Please see additional note latest news on this subject below*

Helping the Medical Community

3D Printers in action

Among several MakerBarn members doing what they can to help provide PPE (personal protection equipment), two of our own have led the charge in mask making. Matt Folsom has had our 3D printers running 24/7 for days on end in an effort to supply tight-fitting filtered masks to the medical community our irreplaceable, front-line Super Stars! Member Jody Cochran has helped to make hundreds of masks and delivered them to those in need throughout this ordeal, as well.

It’s great to see fellow makers making an impact. Great job guys and to all of you makers out there contributing your resources in this fight to save lives.

See more information on MakerBarn activity in this area below.

Amazon Smile!

The MakerBarn is now a registered 501c3 organization and officially on the
Amazon Smile donation list!

You can donate to the MakerBarn by making an Amazon purchase through and look for “The MakerBarn”.

Any purchases made through this site result in Amazon giving back a small percentage of your purchase to The MakerBarn and THAT makes us Smile!

Thanks for your support!

Virtual Classes

We’ve all had to adjust the way we function as we shelter in place and keep social interactions to a minimum. Thanks to technology we can still work, catch up with loved ones, and learn new things!

The MakerBarn recently offered virtual classes on Adobe’s Lightroom software. It’s a great tool for organizing and editing photos. Member, Mark Barbieri, hosted two successful tutorials, one for the “Library” module, and one for the “Develop” module.

If you missed the live tutorial, you can see both videos on The MakerBarn YouTube channel.

More on MakerBarn response to Pandemic – from Matt Folsom

Makers all around the world have stepped up to help out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Italy, 3-D printers were geared up to make ventilator parts when supplies dried up. Some makers went so far as to build simple ventilators, there are a surprising number of viable designs online. Thankfully here in Texas, we were able to flatten out the curve and not reach the critical point where doctors are faced with deciding who gets the last ventilator.

Locally there have been several coordinated efforts to provide PPE to people on the front line of the battle against the Corona virus. 3D printers and sewing machines have been called to action, printing face shield frames and respirator masks, and sewing machines are cranking out cloth masks as fast as the stores can restock fabric. If you see someone wearing a mask made from fabric reminiscent of grandma’s curtains, don’t judge. Elastic has become a commodity, I recently bought 200 yards and was offered ten times what I paid for it by another maker.

My wife Catherine’s craft business exploded with orders for masks, current estimate is around 600 masks ordered, and about 200 made so far. Every waking hour is at least partially spent in support of this flood of orders, and like any manufacturing process we had to take steps to keep up. I made wood templates to use with the rotary cutter and mat, since the paper ones didn’t last long. Assembly was divided into stages so that like tasks are grouped for efficiency. We have borrowed additional sewing machines and have an army of friends scouring stores for fabric.

I don’t know exactly when it turned from a hobby to a business, but it has become challenging to keep up. Sourcing materials, manufacturing, packaging, sales, marketing, delivery and accounting are all being handled by one person. I sometimes question it is all worth it for her. I am happy to help, I love to make stuff, but is it too much? Between all the stresses of running a small business, when she comes up with another “super cute” design, the smiles generated say it all. You can enjoy what you make, and make a little money too. Finding the balance can be tricky, but in the end well worth it.

Late news: MakerBarn to open for limited access starting weekend of May 9-10

Good news is, we are planning to open the barn. Bad news is that it will not be right away. Part of the problem is defining where we fall in the current Texas Covid-19 order and guidelines. The other complication is staffing the barn with Barn Managers.

Here is the plan for the near future: We plan to open the barn for limited access starting with the weekend of May 9th and 10th. Kathy is going to put together a system where work areas can be reserved on-line. Only one person may be in a work area at any time. Reserved slots will be one hour each. This will allow as many members as possible to use the barn. We will be announcing more information on how to sign up for a slot mid next week.
George Carlson, acting President

A Thank You from Freedom House

Clay McGovernMaking, News

A video Thank You from Freedom House to the MakerBarn for the work our members did on the project to build beds for their residents.

MakerMade Market and Repair Cafe

Clay McGovernEvents, Making, News

Join us for the upcoming MakerMade Market and Repair Cafe. It will be held on the MakerBarn property, Saturday, October 12th from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

It’s a chance for makers to sell their products – right before the holiday season, too! Do you make something special like wood or metal products, leather goods, toys, cake toppers, food items, knitting or embroidery articles, 3D printed objects, wearable technology, or something else entirely? A vendor space is $25 per table. You bring your table/chairs/and shade structure. The event is FREE to the public!

What is a Repair Cafe? “It is a meeting in which people repair household electrical and mechanical devices, computers, bicycles, clothing, etc. They are organised by and for local residents. Repair Cafés are held at a fixed location where tools are available and where they can fix their broken goods with the help of volunteers. Its objectives are to reduce waste, to maintain repair skills and to strengthen social bonds.”

Interested in being a vendor or helping out with the Repair Cafe? Let us know at

MajerMade Market and Repair Cafe

Notes from Jody Cochran’s 3D Printing Class

Clay McGovernEvents, Making, News, Tools

Notes from the class in PDF format


Source for downloading models:

Site for designing parts in the browser:

Channel for learning Fusion 360:

Software we use for slicing at the barn:

Free utility for slicing:

Wood Lathe Tool Grinding

Clay McGovernMakerBarn Video, Tools

This video by George Carlson shows the method of grinding lathe tools at The MakerBarn. Uniform grinding techniques are important for tool longevity of shared tools.

CHOP Bench Build Project

Clay McGovernBuild Log, Events, MakerBarn Video, Making, News

We had about 20 MakerBarn members volunteer their time and effort to take simple 2×4’s and make them useful pieces of furniture for the Conroe House of Prayer, a church for the homeless. It was a fun and productive morning!

Bench building at the MakerBarn
Benches at CHOP and a Thank You

January 2019 MakerBarn Newsletter

Clay McGovernEvents, Making, News, Tools

The Maker’s Mark

Ever since people have been making things, they’ve been placing their mark on the item. From the stones in giant buildings to tiny pieces of jewelry. Why? Because they were proud of their work and were willing to show it and they wanted people in the future to know where it came from. The mark was generally hidden, and quite often could only be found by someone else skilled in the trade. If you look at the silicon die inside an Intel 8080 microprocessor chip, you will see the stylized initials “HF”. Hal Feeney was one of the designers of the 8080, and the person who designed the physical layout of the chip. Rumor has it that the Soviets cloned the 8080 by doing a straight copy of the chip’s artwork, including Hal’s maker mark.

The maker’s mark is usually not in plain sight. On a chest of drawers, the traditional place is on the inside left side of the top drawer. Leather workers usually have an oval stamp on the backside of the belt or holster.

Painters and photographers usually sign their work on the lower right corner. Ceramic and glass vases are marked on the bottom. (Ever watch “Antiques Road Show”?) The mark will usually have the maker’s name or initials and the date.

Today the world seems to move so fast. We spend much of our lives at work creating designs, proposals, budgets, and closing sales. The truth is, even some of the most important projects soon disappear and are forgotten. But not everything, toys and furniture I built for our kids are now being used by our grand-kids and will probably be used by their kids. The maker mark is still there, it is like a tiny time machine showing when and who made the piece. The grand-kids may not know what VHS tape is, but they know Grandpa made that chair. So don’t forget to mark your work, someone in the future will appreciate it.

New Additions!

Something that will be arriving at the shop, in the near future, is a Laguna Revo 18/36 wood lathe. As part of our program to replace loaned equipment it was decided we were long overdue for a new wood lathe. The Revo is a hulk, weighing about 500 pounds. It can turn everything; bowls and platters up to 18” in diameter to tiny objects like pens and doll house furniture. Turning wood can be great fun. Many projects can be done almost entirely on the lathe, even finishing. To complement the big lathe, and to assist in training, we have purchased two mini-lathes. The mini lathes can do almost anything the full-size machine can do, except much smaller.

The two small lathes will be located upstairs and will be used primarily for teaching and demonstration, but members may also use them for projects. (make sure you clean up your mess). Greg Radliff came up with a neat idea of replacing the black pulley covers with ones made of clear acrylic. This makes it easy to see the speed that has been selected. The covers are held with magnets to make it easy to change speeds.

Upcoming event

Monday, January 7th, 7:00PM The Metalworking SIG will be meeting once again. This time the subject will be “Welding”. We’ll have a group discussion on welding methods, equipment, and materials. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Upcoming Class

Saturday, January 19th, 6:00PM to 10:00PM A Basic Woodworking Class will be held. Everyone will learn to safely and confidently operate around 10 different power tools! These will include the jointer, planer, table saw, and band saw. In the process, you’ll learn how to square up a board and design and cut your very own cheeseboard! You will also learn about sanding and food safe finishes. The cost is $42. If interested, please contact instructor Lacey Porter.

Volunteer Opportunity for Members Only

The Conroe House of Prayer (CHOP) is a “street church” for the homeless and others in Conroe ( Last year the MakerBarn made a beautiful table that is now used everyday for food service at the church. This year the church needs some simple bench furniture to go with what they already have. We are looking for a team of folks to get together and measure the existing benches in Conroe and then buy lumber and assemble benches at the Barn. We also need folks with trucks to deliver the benches to Conroe from the Barn. CHOP is very grateful for last year’s table – let’s do more to help them this year! Contact John Buckley at to volunteer


When doing welding operations, it is always a good idea to have a Spotter. The Spotter is a person who makes sure the weldor (the person doing the welding) is being safe and not catching things on fire that shouldn’t be (like pants cuffs). We have gone though a lot of trouble to keep the welding area free of flammable materials, but there always seems to be something that will burn. Wearing a welding helmet prevents the weldor from seeing flames or smoke until it’s too late.

~~ Reminder ~~
East Bay Clean-Out

Starting January 15th we will be cleaning out the East Bay of the Barn. That means everything except the Roll-In saw and Air Compressor will be removed from the area. This includes all of the wood storage bins and the horizontal metal storage cabinet (near the air compressor). You must have your material removed from this area before January 15th. Sorry, but we must free up this space for additional machinery and work-space. Please contact Raul Garcia to reserve space in the new store container. Spaces are rented on a semi-annual or annual contract on a first-come-first-serve basis, so don’t delay. Details are below:

You may rent a storage bin in our new storage container located on the North end of the Barn. Storage must be bought in a 6 month or 12 month block. Rentals are on a first come/first served basis. Raul Garcia is the Storage Rental Manager. Please direct all questions and concerns to him.

Here are your options:

$5/mo for 1/2 of a tall sized bin:

  • Vertical fit is 2 ft deep, 1 ft wide, and 8.5 ft tall
  • Horizontal fit is 2 ft deep, 2 ft wide, and 4.25 ft tall

$3/mo for a quarter sized bin:

  • Your storage tub must be within 28” with 4” allowed to overhang, 2 ft wide, and 2 ft tall

All members [individual or family memberships] may only rent one tall and one quarter sized bin at once; one tall and one quarter size bin per family. If you teach an EE semester-long class in the Barn, you may rent one tall and one quarter sized space for that purpose, as well.

BONUS: Renters may use the plywood storage area at no additional charge for sheet/panels only. Only 4 sheets per person at a time AND they may be stored for up to 2 months. After two months, those sheets may be removed and discarded.

  • Space is intended for project material storage, not long-term storage.
  • Center aisle must be kept clear at all times.
  • Any material left in Barn will be considered abandoned and may be discarded.
  • Sorry, there is no storage for material over 8’6″ in length.
  • Space must be evacuated at time membership is terminated. No refunds for space rental.
  • By renting a space, you agree to the Waiver and Release Agreement (given upon payment)

Absolutely no flammable liquids may be stored.

All material must be removed from the Barn (including the East storage bay) by January 15, 2019


November 2018 MakerBarn Newsletter

Clay McGovernEvents, Making, News

“Man is a tool-using animal. Weak in himself and of small stature, he stands on a basis of some half square foot, has to straddle out his legs lest the very winds supplant him. Nevertheless, he can use tools, can devise tools; with these the granite mountain melts into light dust before him; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without tools. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.”

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

I thought the quote above was well related to what The MakerBarn is all about. Availability of the proper tools can greatly expand the capabilities of any person.

The shop has been very busy at The MakerBarn.

Today, some of our most valuable tools are not hardware, but instead, software.

The Maker Barn Fusion Class

Autodesk Fusion 360 is a 3D modeling software that comes with a fairly steep learning curve, but fifteen members of The MakerBarn are tackling learning this software in a ten week class designed to teach fundamentals first and gradually build up to working 3D models that can be output and made on our CNC, Laser Cutting and 3D printing equipment at the barn.   Several members have commented that they would never have learned so much in a short time without the support of fellow students and the weekly videos that accompany each class.  The combination of classroom instruction that follows a strict one-at-time instruction in the most basic modeling techniques and the interaction with other students who are learning together, seems to be a very good combination.

The MakerBarn is considering offering a more advanced version of this class early next year and repeating this basic course for any interested members of The MakerBarn.  Contact John Buckley if you are interested.

Ladies Woodworking Class
From Lacey Porter

October 27, we had our first Woodworking for Women class and it was a blast! We had five participants attend, two of which were our very own Makerbarn members. We had lots of fun getting to know each other while learning how to square up a board from rough cut lumber and shaping it into an artisan cheeseboard. Participants learned how to use the jointer, planer, table saw, band saw, drill press, and multiple sanders. Let’s just say those 4 hours were action packed! At the end of the class there were lots of smiles and oohs and aahs as they finished their boards with a color popping finish. We had several requests for more classes, particularly for a coed class – so I hope to see you all next time!!

Christmas Ornament/Gift Making Workshop

We are considering having a workshop/build-a-thon for Christmas gifts and ornaments. It will probably be in the first week of December. If you have any ideas, or want to participate, let someone on the executive committee know. The next executive committee meeting will be November 8 at 6:00pm. Everyone is invited to attend.

A Special Gift

Pam Carlson (no relation, but a good friend of George) gifted The MakerBarn with $2500 in memory of her late husband Harold Carlson (Bear). Bear was a retired architect with a vivid imagination and many skills. After Bear retired, he built their house in Tomball almost single handedly. As you can imagine, the house is very special. It is designed to appear as two log cabins joined together with a newer center section. It is crescent shaped to take advantage of the view over Spring Creek from the bluff above. Bear was a wonderful person and an incredible designer. We all miss him. If you have any ideas how The MakerBarn can make special use of these funds, the executive committee would love to hear them.

Did You Know?

From January through August of 2018, Barn Managers have donated 1802 man hours keeping the barn open for members. If you would like to become a Barn Manager, contact John Buckley.

Metalworking Special Interest Group

The first meeting of the Metalworking SIG will be Monday, November 12 at 7:00pm. The subject will be metals and where to find them. Come join the discussion and share experiences.

This Month’s Safety Note

Remember to watch for safety issues around the shop. If you think another member is doing something that is potentially unsafe, let them know. We all get distracted from time to tiime and make mistakes. If we all watch out for one another these hazards can be greatly reduced.