Tell me a VHS story


I’m wanting to attach a couple of “stories” about VHS to the funding applications. Eveyone likes stories, especially funders, especially with a picture / quote.

I am framing a funding ask around Open House nights, and our workshops, as they provide value to the larger community. I want to show the community impact VHS has.

For example, one story I’m including is how VHS has supported my work at Makers Making Change in creating access technologies, repairing AT, and bringing in various community members to give back to people that need help with accommodations. Social impact.

I would love other stories or tidbits. Things around social impact, developing small businesses, environment, skill development, helping people repair their things, art projects, etc etc.

Anyone please share, some thoughts that come to mind:

@Gibbtall - have a one pager about Rocketman props? How long have you been hosting cosplay nights? How does VHS allow you to connect to others in the community?

@mike - how many (ballpark) woodturning classes and woodscrap challenges have you done? What does VHS mean to you to drive so much programming?

@Janet @Andrew_Hendriks - what sort of things have been repaired on an open night that kept something out of landfills ? What other open night people and projects that I should be shining a light on?

@Majicj and others, dont you have some community art projects that you have worked on at VHS? Any art projects has VHS members as part of their origins?

Any small business using VHS as a part of making a go?

Enlighten me of some of the greatness VHS has made.


Hi Chad:

Not sure if you can pull this in but there’s a nice article by the Tyee about the community

@jon @iMakeRobots and @toptekkie were all mentioned in the above article and may be able to add their VHS Stories or at least allow their stories from the above article to be used.



Hey Chad! Here’s a quick n’ dirty paragraph on Roombas. Hope this helps. Thanks also for putting in this grant application time. I know that is a lot of work. You are a wizard!

VHS members are committed to keeping broken electronic devices out of landfills by repairing them. For example, Roomba robot vacuums can easily break down and are thrown away sending metals and plastics to landfills. Often a simple fix makes the vacuum as good as new. VHS actively encourage anyone with a broken vacuum to come to the hack space for a repair. There we directly involve the vacuum owner in the process and help to diagnose, disassemble, fix, and reassemble the device. As a result the vacuum is repaired, garbage is reduced, and perhaps most importantly the vacuum owner learns how to troubleshoot and fix an electrical device. Those are skills they can use repeatedly to reduce waste. The process is very satisfying and empowering for everyone, VHS members and visitors alike. VHS has also helped people with no prior electronics experience to repair televisions, phones, tablets, keyboards, shavers, laptops, sewing machines, blenders, and many other household and electronic devices.



And…a quote from someone who fixed their Roomba with us.

A big shout out to the excellent humans of VHS! I contacted them to see if they knew anyone who could fix my Roomba. They didn’t, but Janet encouraged me to come down on open house night, saying someone would help me fix it. So I did, and Steve kindly helped me cannibalize parts from a dead Roomba to make mine go again. Everyone was friendly and helpful. I made a donation to encourage this awesomeness –,-123.1108572,17z/data=!3m1!4b1


Other cool projects I can think of.

@lukecyca designing and building a labelling and bottling machines for Dominon Cider at the hackspace.

@Rob_MacKenzie designing and making a sump pump controller for his boat.

@mike building a steamer to steam wood while he teaches himself to build a ukulele at the space, then teaching everyone else how to steam wood.

@emerson working on cell membrane type technology and machining parts for the precise machines he is building at VHS.

@TyIsI building light controllers for complex art projects

@baptiste and @Majicj building art projects accepted into shows/culture crawl/etc.

@Gibbtall and @davonna building cosplay projects


Also lots of pics of sewing machine repair Sewing Machine Maintenance Day

Some good first visit stories about VHS.

VHS Homework Assignment #1 - Your first visit to VHS including my own.


A couple years ago, I took a class with the Vancouver Tool Library on a subject I’ve wanted to learn about but never had an in-road: woodturning.

I took the class and immediately loved it. I bought myself some tools and scoured craigslist for a lathe. I made coin trays bowls and lidded boxes and decided to start building a community of woodturners at the hackspace. How better to build a community of people than to teach them the basics?

I wrote up a curriculum and started teaching intro classes. I started out charging for materials, but soon after I started, a generous member of the woodworking community, Westcoast Woodslabs donated a whole slew of their offcuts. This has allowed me to offer this class for free.

I’ve taught about 10 sessions this way, with between 2 and 3 students each time, as well as a few additional 1 on 1 sessions. Additionally, I’ve been able to give back to the Vancouver Tool Library, the organization that bootstrapped my own learning by facilitating workshop space for their own wood turning classes when they didn’t have suitable space.

A few members have even shown up to the Greater Vancouver Woodturning guild.

Recently we were able to get up to 3 lathes (2 owned by the space, and my own lathe) so regular classes are up to 3 people. Everyone leaves the class knowing how to turn, and most leave the class having made a functional item.

VHS is a place where I’ve learned things I’ve seeked out, as well as been exposed to things I would have never tried. I hope my woodturning students are a mixture of both; people who are trying it because it is available, and some that have wanted to try it out but had no intro.

I love that VHS is not just a place of learning and teaching, but shared discovery. When I started these classes, I only knew the basics. The more I teach, the more we all learn.


About 3 years ago, I thought to myself, through a long series of events, ‘how could I possibly make something as complicated as this little Ukulele in my hands’.

I had been a fairly inactive member for a couple years when this thought occurred to me. I always believed in VHS for what it stood for and meant to me, but beyond paying my dues, that was rather academic.

I was delighted to see that with a larger space than when I had been active, VHS had amassed a few woodworking tools. Despite this, the woodworking shop didn’t have many things I would need to accomplish my goal of making a ukulele (by hand; as I wanted to use this as an opportunity to re-learn woodworking).

The ukulele became a project of other projects.

  1. I needed to bend wood, so I build a wood steaming box; it was made mostly from recycled materials and Craigslist repurposed items.
  2. I learned how to steam and bend wood, so I taught a class on it which was well-attended and much fun was had as we tried things I had never attempted (we kinda managed to make a circle, but later learnings would show me why it didn’t work).
  3. I needed to thickness wood to very specific and even thicknesses, so I built a thickness sander (a powertool that uses a sanding drum and a moveable table). This became a new tool for the hackspace and several people benefitted from this. It was made mostly from recycled materials.
  4. I needed to make a bending form, so I built a bending jig out of recycled plywood scraps.
  5. I needed to make a specifically placed sound hole, so I built a sound hole jig by designing in CAD and 3d printing the jig
  6. I have fostered a pretty strong habit of consuming lots of YouTube learning in-between woodworking sessions, this has directly improved my knowledge of how to handle various woodworking problem solving.

Through this process, we upgraded our woodshop, we got people involved in other projects (such as a french cleat wall hanging system for our clamps) and I became much more confident in my woodworking skills. I have now completed another instrument and am planning two more. I’m building furniture, and continuing to share my knowledge when people ask.

Also, of course, I ended up with an instrument that I play and travel with.