Name: Joseph Sam

Location: Boise, Idaho

Day job: Project Engineer at Guerdon Modular Construction


How did you get started making?

Both my father, and step-father had a huge influence on my path to becoming a maker. At a very young age, I can remember helping my dad repair things, like sound equipment and boat engines. We would also construct props out of various household items, including the classic cardboard and hot glue.

At one point during my pre-teenage years, we constructed a play fort from an old wooden shipping box and an old radio antenna dish shield, which resembled what I understood to be a flying saucer. Eventually, I started down the path of “back engineering” my old toys, while finding more interesting ways for them to be put back together, often with added lights, motors or speakers.

From my step-father, I learned the limitlessness of fabrication. Throughout my junior and high school years, I watched as my step-dad bent and welded sheets of metal into river boats, designed and constructed custom aquatic holding tanks, and built custom attachments for our small tractor. These are some of the earliest moments I can think of that inspired me to pursue the path of become an engineer. They gave me the opportunity and ability to be a life long maker.

What type of maker would you classify yourself as?

I find this question difficult, as I don’t really have one “thing” or genre of “things” I make. Often my desire to create something is based on the fact it’s something I haven’t tried before, or it’s something simple I know I can fabricate. I always hold more value to the things I can point to and say, “That, that was an idea I had in my head. Now everyone else can see it or use it.” Even if it’s just a pair of pants or a custom 3D printed part. Activities that can be classified as “tinkering” help maintain a sharp mind and keep one tuned to the technological climate of the times. So maybe I could say I’m something of a Swiss Army Maker. Yeah, that sounds good.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?

Currently, I would have to say my house. About a year ago, I began construction of, what has commonly become known around the world as, a tiny house. Although not complete, I am living in it now while I finish it during my free time, usually on weekends. It’s been a great learning experience, and it has provided opportunities to put some of my engineering education into practice. But the coolest part is that I’m being sheltered within a structure I designed and put together out of an idea I had two years ago. I am looking forward to picking up some more sewing projects once the house is done though.

What’s something you’d like to make next?

Aside from the numerous things I hope to custom design for the interior of my house, I’m planning on helping a friend of mine who is buying my pirate boat. The plan is to scrap out the flotation system and turn it into a pirate ship shaped tiny house, oddly enough. I’ll be helping with the massive structural overhaul part, but I hope to also help with some of the interior finish design as well.

Any advice for people reading this?

If you’re pretty sure something is broken, start taking it apart until a likely cause of failure is found, or until your knowledge or tools prevent you from further dismantling. It would be a good idea to not take this advice in any instances of warranty preservation or explosives though.


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