Mike from Uptownmaker has complied a list of “18 Essential skills for a Maker” – inspired by Geekdad’s “100 Essential Skills for Geeks“. Uptownmaker’s list is geared towards electronics projects – good stuff. Here are some of my favorites…

2. Spot valuable salvage- Not only knowing where to get it, but knowing it when you see it. Finding it isn’t too hard- curbs, alleys, and the classic dumpster dive. Deciding whether to keep it is the real trick: can it be broken down? Are there useful things inside (gears, motors, electronics, hardware, salvageable wood, springs, etc.)? Is trying to salvage parts of it a wise thing to do (upholstered items left outside are a great way to get bedbugs into your home)?

7. Know which glue to use, when- Elmer’s white, spray mount, Uhu glue sticks, JB Weld, cyanoacrylate, and two-part epoxy all have their uses.

13. Strip, splice, and terminate wire- Trickier than it sounds. You should be able to splice wire using a crimp splice, a wire nut, and heat shrink + solder (note: electrical tape is NOT on that list). You should know how to use a wire stripper to strip stranded wire without cutting more than one or two strands. You should be able to attach a wire to your project in such a way that it will still be attached in two weeks, two months, or two years.

18. Program a microcontroller- nothing fancy, just something along the lines of the Arduino. Just enough to make it spin a motor on a trigger or light an LED or sound an alarm.

A good follow up would be links and resources for each of the items on the list, books, sites, pages in MAKE… post up your “Essential skills for a Maker” in the comments!

This could become an interesting list that we could expand on MAKE if there’s enough interest.

10 thoughts on “18 Essential skills for a maker

  1. You should be able to strip wires with only wire cutters. You just squeeze the right amount to get the blades through the insulation, but not the wire, and then pull This may sound hard, but if you try it a few times you’ll find easier to avoid nicking the wire than when using regular strippers. You can do it by “feel”. It’s also a lot faster when trimming a lot of wires.

    1. Depending on the size of the wire, wire cutter may be way too big and not have enough “feel” in them to strip the wires. I find that Victorinox swiss army knife scissors work well for the smaller stuff (but not Wenger, those scissors are serated and make it much harder).

  2. Some wire-nut related projects really should have electrical tape involved. That is S.O.P. for most electricians I know working on household wiring…

  3. Makers (like engineers, which are often one and the same) like standards. So lets keep standards when it comes to naming things. Like glue. Elmers white? Outside the US, no-one knows wtf you’re talking about. How about Poly-Vinyl Acetate, or PVA, and everyone can look at the fine-print on whatever brand they’re after? UHU? JB-Weld? C’mon…

    You got the right idea with Cyanoacrylate and two-part epoxy, build on that!

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