by Scott Grove
firstname.lastname@example.org SMALL SHOP
Makers on the move
Professional woodworkers should pay attention to the maker movement.
When I first heard about the “maker move- ment,” frankly, I thought they were just a bunch of weekend warriors. I’ve been a full time professional woodworker for 45 years
with more than my 10,000 hours in on a number of techniques, and I thought for sure there was nothing I could learn
from these hobbiers. Boy, was I wrong.
A few years ago I was asked to demo at our local Maker
Faire in Rochester, New York, and I declined because it didn’t
sound very professional, a bunch of DI Yers doing what?
But I decided to walk the show just to see, and I still didn’t
understand what it was all about. There were all sorts of fun
and creative people demonstrating a variety of gizmos and
homemade inventions, but I wondered, why were these people
here? How were they making money? My world was exhibiting
at upscale shows and trade expositions, selling off the show
floor, and making a living. The maker business model just
didn’t make any sense to me.
Learning about makers
Recently, as I started to expand my part-time teaching career
into the You Tube realm, I noticed more and more of these
makers who had a significant online presence and lots of followers. I also saw a growing presence at national trade shows
where I’ve presented over the years. Last year while demonstrating at AWSF in Vegas I had the opportunity to meet some
of these makers in person, to socialize, and talk shop.
I found I was really mistaken about this crowd and the
maker movement in general.
The first Maker Faire was launched in the San Francisco
Bay Area in 2006 by Dale Dougherty and Ariane Conrad.
Now 190 independently-produced and licensed “Mini Maker
Faires,” plus over 30 larger-scale featured Maker Faires have
taken place around the world, including in Tokyo, Rome,
Shenzhen, Taipei, Seoul, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Detroit,
San Diego, Milwaukee, and Kansas City.
Founder and CEO Dale Dougherty said, “What you see
in the Maker Movement is a wide range of people, young
and old, who are developing their talents and discovering
new ways to solve interesting, everyday problems by working
together on projects. Making is a meaningful form of per-
sonal expression that fosters creativity, builds community and
encourages the collaborative practice of innovation. What we
once called hobbyists, tinkerers, artists, inventors, engineers,
crafters---all of them are makers.”
Many of these makers seem to have “real” day jobs as they tinker
in the evening and on weekends; making is a true hobby in the
purest sense: simply creating for the love of it. These Maker Faire
events give them a chance to show off their creations, to stand in
the spotlight, and show off a bit. They openly share their methods and techniques, suppliers, successes, and mistakes.
This passion is real and in some respects, untainted. They
are not afraid to experiment, take risks, and fail because
many of them are not distracted by making a living: they
do not have to sell their products, deal with clients, payroll,
overhead, and profit margins. Basically they’re not running a
business. This freedom lets them be more creative and experiment because the outcome is not tied to a deadline or satisfying any sort of contract.
For me this is very refreshing; I’m sure every professional
craftsman would love to simply make something for the pure
love of it. It would be heaven not to worry about time, money,
or clients, and only work with my hands and make something
I enjoy. Okay, I’ll admit it—I’m a little jealous.
Makers making a living
There is a movement for sure that is growing and has taken a
solid hold within the woodworking community; many of the
major trade shows like IWF, AWFS and The Woodworking
Shows now bring in and feature maker personalities. Other
hybrid maker events are emerging, like Makers Central in
England, which is creating quite a buzz with a large focus on
woodworking. Tool manufacturers are now sponsoring shows
and individual makers, too, which is helping subsidize this