The garage you’ve always wanted: TechShop Portland

techshop_logoA few years back I started to get more nerdy than I had ever been. By more nerdy, I mean that I began to take an interest in a wide variety of things that leaned on the technical and electronic side. I became interested in making, modeling, and very much the “DIY” (Do-It-Yourself) mentality about things. If you haven’t heard of this phenomenon, it’s more of less born out of the desire to be creative and productive. The availability of materials and the lowering of costs has enabled individuals to create things that weren’t practically possible ever before. It’s gained the name “Making”.

I’ve wanted to make lots of things. A Dalek, An Electric Car, Robots, Animatronic Dinosaurs, Etched Glass, the list goes on and on. The trouble is, to make a lot of these things you need equipment. On the basic side, it’s things like a drill press, or a circular saw. On the complex and heavy side, it’s a Laser Cutter or a CNC Router. Either way, I don’t have any of these things. The drill press or the Circular saw I could see making an appearance in my Garage (when I have one), I’m doubtful however, that I will ever own a laser cutter (save it were a business asset).

So I don’t have these tools, but I want them. I don’t want just the product though, I want to do the work. I know. It sounds crazy, but part of what makes DIY so enticing is the opportunity to actually do it yourself. It’s not hard to find a shop to cut something with a laser, or shape something with a CNC router, but you have to drop off the plans and come back the next week and pick it up. Where’s the fun in that?

Enter TechShop. A guy down in the Bay Area (Menlo Park specifically) named Jim Newton decided that there needed to be a place where Makers (the funny name we use to describe ourselves) could get together and make stuff. Not just a shop to work, but a place to hang out too. So he did it. He put together a big shop full of all these tools we all want to use, and made it membership-driven. Pay your monthly fee, take a basic use class, and schedule some time on whatever tool you need. What you do with it after that is up to you.

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Jim Newton, Founder of TechShop

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Through those doors is the front entrance to the building. Behind me is all the shop equipment.

When will I get a membership to TechShop: Portland ? I’m not sure. At $125/month, it’s a steep price for tools I would probably only use occasionally. One benefit of Techshop is that you don’t need to be a member to take classes. For a smaller fee, you can take a 1-4 session class that will provide you with skills ranging from equipment use to Micro-controller programming. Definitely something I’m interested in.

An Epilog laser Cutter

An Epilog laser Cutter

Yes Virginia, there is a home for nerds

Yes Virginia, there is a home for nerds

I don't really know what this is, but I'd like to.

I don't really know what this is, my guess is a computer controlled lathe of some sort. Ignore the Nike Pro sticker down there. The desks are donated.

In a lot of ways, I’d like to just hang out there. Be around other people doing cool things. For the moment, I’ll just need to wait to earn some extra dough, and/or find a project that I need heavier equipment. If you have an opportunity, check out the website: TechShop: Portland and their community website: Portland Techshop

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