Name: Chris Seidel
Home: Kansas City, Missouri
Makerspace: HammerSpace Workshop in Kansas City
Day Job: Genomics Scientist at a Research Institute
When I was 14 my uncle gave me a summer job for his 1-man microwave electronics business in Campbell, California, where I made parts on a Unimat hobby lathe, learned to solder, and bonded microchips under a microscope. There was a machine shop across the way with loads of scrap aluminum and steel sitting out front. As the business grew, we got a larger lathe and a milling machine, and I began to make all kinds of personal projects, from a rig for making chain mail, to a centrifugal casting machine like one I had seen at a local jewelers supply shop. That experience taught me that everything around us is designed and made, and that if I set my mind to it, I could make just about anything.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as?
I would classify myself as a hobbyist maker. I like to make things involving wood, electronics, metal, usually with some kind of artistic angle. Making for the sake of making.
What’s your favorite thing you have made?
My favorite thing I’ve made recently is a dual Apple Watch charger. The induction charging disk from Apple doesn’t easily sit flat on a table. And between the watchband getting in the way and any cord tension for the disk wanting to flip the disk over, the simple act of charging my watch was a small exercise in frustration every day.
I figured a simple device to perform cord management, and hold the disk up so I could simply drape my watch on it would solve both problems, be aesthetically pleasing, and be easy to build. My wife also has an Apple watch, giving me a chance to incorporate symmetry into the design. The design is the hardest part. I wanted it to have a few curves, yet be simple and functional. With a small piece of Ash, and some bits of wood from the scrap barrel at my local makerspace Hammerspace Workshop (one of my favorite things), I was able to create a simple stand that holds the charging disks, hides the cords, and is held together by tension in the wood pieces. If I need to take the disks to travel, I can simply slide the pieces apart and disassemble it.
Any advice for people reading this?
When I was young in the machine shop, I made things because I didn’t know that I couldn’t. As a result I gained not only skill, but a feeling of accomplishment and self-determination. Now that I’m older, I find it’s easy to shy away from making things because of the discomfort of not knowing how to do things. My advice is to just make things anyway. I don’t know anything about design, but I really like my watch stand. It’s given me much more joy than anything I could have ordered off Amazon. When you forge a path down an unknown road, it seems hard at first, but you pick up ideas and skill as you go, and the investment is like planting seeds that take time to grow into a reward. Come harvest time, you’ll find the ability to turn your ideas into reality provides a bounty of joy that lasts a long time.