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Resources for Makerspaces (March 2019): Tools

by Janet Ochs, Richard Powell, and Lisa Czirr


Tools offer users more opportunities to create. Tools in a makerspace can include anything from traditional hand and power tools to computer-automated machines. Users can develop skills with a wide variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal. As many of the resources in this section indicate, makerspace projects using tools can range from beginner to advanced, depending on the community using the space.

Determining the tools to include in a makerspace could be a daunting task without guidance. As with any makerspace decision, it is important to consider the needs and interests of the space’s users. Charles Platt’s Make: Tools is an essential resource that provides project ideas using metal and wood alongside fact sheets that detail specific classifications of tools. This book encourages readers to “learn by discovery” while working on their creations; making mistakes is just another way to learn. The projects detailed in the book range in level, and are intended to be accessible even for those with limited space. For makerspaces with a stronger interest in tools, more advanced resources may be necessary. Randy Johnson’s Great Book of Woodworking Tips is written with the experienced woodworker in mind, providing unique hints and tips regarding tool use and storage. This book would be an excellent resource to have on hand for experienced crafters looking to enhance their skills, and for those in charge of makerspaces who need additional woodworking tips.

Wood and plastic aren’t the only materials to consider for tool-based projects. Jewelry-making combines artistry and tool skills to create wearable products out of metals, stones, and more. The Complete Jewelry Making Course, by Jinks McGrath, provides an accessible introduction for beginners. Readers are encouraged to seek inspiration from their environment, evaluating and testing ideas to bring them to reality. Extensive lessons on techniques are paired alongside details about tools and materials. To take jewelry-making a step further, readers will want to consult Carles Codina’s The Complete Book of Jewelry Making, which includes advanced projects alongside historical background about this artform.

Hand and power tools aren’t the only means to creating unique products, and many makerspaces have embraced the use of CNC. Computer numerical control (CNC) machines use specific software in order to control a machine for cutting, milling, or carving. Make: Getting Started with CNC, by Edward Ford, is an entry-level book for those without prior CNC experience, discussing how to use CNC machines from both the software and hardware end. To develop further, readers should look into James Harvey’s CNC Trade Secrets. Written from a machinist’s perspective, it offers further guidance on using and troubleshooting these machines. Finally, to gain an in-depth understanding of the technical aspects of CNC, makers should have as a reference the CNC Handbook, by Hans Kief and Helmut Roschiwal. These experts in the field provide an extensive discussion of CNC, from its history to its mathematical workings.

Works Cited