From grandpa's lathe to 3D printers: Saskatoon Makerspace offers tools, collaboration in new workshop

Members of Makerspace have access to everything from a wood lathe to a 3D printer in new workshop.

Collaborative workspace celebrates grand opening in new, larger location this Saturday

Devon Plett, owner of Makerspace, stands in front of his grandfather's lathe. (Ashleigh Mattern/CBC)

Devon Plett remembers sitting in his grandfather's woodworking shop as he smoothed out his latest project on his lathe.

Decades later, that same lathe is sitting, alongside newer equipment such as a 3D printer and a laser cutter, in Plett's Saskatoon business.

"He taught me everything I know," Plett told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "It's really cool to be able to have his lathe and his workbench to let other people use it."

Plett is the owner of Saskatoon Makerspace. Like other "makerspaces" across the country, it's a collaborative workspace that charges a monthly fee for access to the workshop.

The idea for Saskatoon Makerspace — which recently moved into a new location on Avenue D S. and will celebrate its grand opening there on Saturday — goes back to Plett's high school years.

He and his friends started their own skateboard company, using the school's equipment. 

"When I left, I didn't have access to that stuff anymore," Plett said.

Shanelle Plett's company makes all of her company's goods at Makerspace. (Ashleigh Mattern/CBC)

Eventually, he heard about makerspaces located across the country.

"I thought, 'This is just like my idea. Let's make this happen,'" he said. 

While the use of the materials is the main draw, users also like the sense of community that comes from the workshop.

"We have so many different people in here, with so many stories and skills," said user Jonah Friesen. "Every day is so much different than the others."

Other members of the workshop have started businesses of their own. Plett's sister-in-law, Shanelle, is part of a company that creates home goods such as bowls and clocks out of concrete.

A laser cutter is one of the many tools available at Makerspace. (Ashleigh Mattern/CBC)

They make all of their merchandise at Makerspace.

"We do a lot of 3D printing and create our products that way," she said. "We can go from the ground up and make whatever we want."

Ultimately, Plett said Makerspace is an economical way for people to start building things.

"You would have to work in a wood shop 20-plus years before you bought the basic tools at $50 a month," he said. "That's not even maintaining them or anything like that."

With files from Ashleigh Mattern

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