At TechShops, Do-It-Yourselfers Get to Use Expensive Tools

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Some nice ink for the TechShop crew in the NY Times

MARK HATCH sees the revolution going something like this: Wealthy, love-handled Americans will turn off their televisions, put down their golf clubs and step away from their Starbucks coffees. Then they will direct their disposable income and free time toward making things — stuff like chairs, toys and, say, synthetic diamonds. They will do this because the tools needed to make really cool things have become cheaper and because humans feel good when they make really cool things.

Should this revolution take place as planned by Mr. Hatch, much of it will happen at TechShop, a chain of do-it-yourself workshops. Mr. Hatch is chief executive of the company, which has three locations and plans to set up about 10 more over the next 20 months.

“Making things is core to who we are as Americans,” Mr. Hatch says. “We are inventors. We are creators. Once you give people access to the tools, there will be a resurgence of creativity and innovation.”

TechShop represents an inevitable, corporatized version of the “hacker spaces” that have risen in popularity over the past couple of years to cater to people who like to hack things open and see how they work.

The typical hacker space consists of a few dozen people who share the costs of renting a work area and buying tools. There are spaces that lean toward robotics, some that specialize in software and others that generally encourage the melding of metal, electronics and plastic in artful forms.

10 thoughts on “At TechShops, Do-It-Yourselfers Get to Use Expensive Tools

  1. These places are great ideas if you are a dabbler. I was spoiled, my friends dad has a machine shop, and so I have access to most of the tools. That said, the one issue I take with these kinds of places is that you are at the mercy of those that used the tools before you. Invariably there is a person that has damaged it and “Forgot” to tell someone. Makes getting things done tough. There is almost no greater pleasure than using a good tool in proper working condition. Part of the reason for the tool collection I have is doing battle with others poorly serviced and maintained tools. Another concern is the safety of my self and others in these places. Some people just do not belong in a shop.

  2. I would use a TechShop if I lived near one. The websites suggest that they have an immense collection of awesome tools (and cool classes).

    But since I live at least 7 hours from the closest TechShop, I use what disposable income Uncle Sam provides me with to stock my own lab/workshop :)

  3. My problem was the sticker shock. I went to an opening of one TechShop and found the monthly price so high I could have bought all the tools myself. This was a little while back so maybe things have changed.

    1. I registered just to agree with this point. I followed the opening of TechShop Durham for months…until I found out how much it would cost to join.

      …And in going back to check, I see that it’s RDU TechShop now *and* it’s only 100 a month. Not only that, but membership is not required to take classes!

      Good job TechShop!

  4. $125.00 a month is not to bad for the access to a the machine tools and the plasma. Then again a bit of social engineering and a case of beer now and then can get allot done for you at your local machine shop. There are allot of really cool shop owners out there that are willing to help you out if you are willing to ask.

    The thing for me is that I have allot of the tools at this point. A plasma is coming and a 5 axis is in the design stages. No waiting for others. No reservations. I just get done what I want to do.

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