Zero to Maker: At Least I’m Not Alone

Zero to Maker: At Least I’m Not Alone

David Lang, something of a reluctant maker, is on a journey, intensively immersing himself in maker culture and learning as many DIY skills as he can, through a generous arrangement with our pals at TechShop. He’s regularly chronicling his efforts in this column — what he’s learning, who he’s meeting, and what hurdles he’s clearing (um… or not). –Gareth

Yesterday, I arrived at TechShop at 9:30AM, a half hour after they open. I love getting to the shop in the morning, mainly because it’s quiet. There are only a few people there, usually those working under a deadline who need every open hour to finish their project, and the regulars. Most of the machines and vents haven’t been fired up yet. The relative calm among the machines, the possibilities that hang in the air — it’s an inspiring place to enjoy a cup of coffee and plan out a day.

David Lang and Travis Good, two "Zero to Makers," at TechShop

Yesterday was especially enjoyable. In addition to the regulars, there was a gentlemen set up on one of the worktables, reading intently. It was Travis Good. Travis and I had met the day before and spent the afternoon together taking the TechShop basic woodshop class. As it turns out, Travis is on a similar “Zero to Maker” journey. He’s dedicated the months of January and February to taking all of the classes that he can at TechShop, exploring hackerspaces and making-related Meetups, and immersing himself in maker culture. Sound familiar?

Admittedly, our meeting at TechShop wasn’t accidental. Travis had emailed me in December to tell me about his plans and ask for any advice I might offer. We also made plans to meet for coffee once he got into town. On Tuesday, that coffee turned into an opportunity for me to take the woodshop class with Travis and to share in his experience.

Turns out, a woodshop class isn’t the best place to chat – noisy saws and vents, coupled with a constant vigilance over not losing a thumb. I was glad to see Travis again on Wednesday morning, with a window of relative quiet in the shop, and to hear more about how his journey was going.

He was enthralled with his reading material, and didn’t notice me until I was a few feet from the work table. We exchanged good mornings, and I noticed the table was full of all sorts of materials – different types of wood, metal, and adhesives. I immediately inquired about the materials, and Travis excitedly launched into plans for this and that: using the wood to create dice, trying to weld the metal, maybe slicing the wood four ways, adding a layer of clear acrylic, and making a type of symmetrical coaster. As he talked, it was impossible to ignore his excitement, and impossible not to be excited myself. Even though he had only taken a few classes, he told me he was starting to see so many more possibilities and was anxious to explore.

Explore. I repeated it in my head and then to Travis. As I thought about it, I realized that was the crux of everything I had learned and found on my journey: the courage to explore.

That conversation with Travis helped put things in perspective. I was able to reflect on how far I’ve come over the past few months, as well as to get excited about where to go next. More importantly, it was great to remember that I’m not alone – that a lot of folks are taking the same steps as Travis and I. People are excited about making for all the right reasons: connection, creativity, and community.

If you have a moment and have a similar “Zero to Maker: story (or New Year’s resolution about making), I’d love to hear about it!

Follow David’s Zero to Maker journey

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Co-Founder of OpenROV, a community of DIY ocean explorers and makers of low-cost underwater robots. Author of Zero to Maker. And on Twitter!

View more articles by David Lang


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.