What is VHS? Community garage or career hobby?


#1

I really haven’t gotten a clear indication anywhere on the site as to the answer to this question, though there seem to be subtle insinuations, so I want to get a clear, concise answer before I decide to sign up.

To explain, the question is: is VHS a space for people in the community who don’t have access to professional or commercial grade machine shop equipment to create things for their hobbies, either occasionally or frequently; or, is VHS a club for people who are interested in making the VHS itself their primary hobby, attending events etc on a monthly or weekly basis for the foreseeable future, committing themselves to contributing to VHS?

As an example, at makerlabs, one can get training to use the metal shop and then either get a monthly membership or pay a drop-in rate for a single day, then never use the space again. Or one can use the shop perhaps once or twice a year.

I am such a person (once/twice a year). I have virtually all the equipment I need to work on fabric, electronics, wood, plastic, etc. I have even created my own equipment when there exists none available in any local maker spaces. However, I need, on rare occasion, heavy duty equipment to work on small metal projects that is frankly unfathomably difficult or impossible to do with just a dremel and power drill. I could try and find a metal shop in the area that is willing to make a few tiny cuts and threads in a single small one-off piece, but it’s far less satisfying and much less cost efficient than learning how to do it myself. Also, makerlabs has no metal lathe or mill, which closes a lot of doors in the metal fabrication area.

Is VHS the space for me or not?


#2

Hi Vivid,

I am merely one member, but this is my own personal take. You are likely to hear from other members as well.

Personally, I see VHS as a community first. We aren’t a commercial entity, and we aren’t in it for the profit. Everything that is done by VHS is done by its members, there’s no professional shop keeper, nobody to clean up after you, or maintain the tools. We all do that.

Most of us have found our way here in a similar fashion that you have. Looking to complete something specific, and we stay for other things we find. I encourage you to swing by our Tuesday open nights to fully understand what we are all about. There have certainly been some members that sign up for a month and never come back, and that’s OK; whether it was that they didn’t want to be a part of our community or that they simply got what they needed, we are happy that they found something at our space.

Some of the tools you mention, however, need training (specifically the metal lathe/mill require training). Those tools are certainly available, but scheduling-wise for training will be a bit more difficult for the one-month sort of behavior. I recommend you sign up for those now so that you can be ready when the instructors have an opening:

Check out the following threads that cover training on the Lathe and the CNC Mill.


So while I haven’t yet directly answered your question:

If you’d be more satisfied by a pay-by-the-hour location, then VHS is probably not for you, but there’s nothing stopping you from signing up for the training now, becoming a member when the instructors can train you (there’s a bit of a waiting list), and remaining member when you wish to use the space. We are more set up for continual usage, and I genuinely hope that you find the inspiration, quirky place, access to tons of cool things/parts/tools, community enough to stay and contribute more than your membership.

Regardless, I urge you to set aside a little time on a Tuesday night to drop by and say “hi” and check us out.


#3

Also, since you mention building tools when you didn’t have access to them, one of my personal interests is to build tools (both digital and physical, I’ve made a career out of the former). VHS is a cool place to not only build tools, but to see them used by others.

Check out my build log where I ended up making a thickness sander so that I could build my Ukulele. I figured that might resonate with you.

That thickness sander was used for awhile by several members, but we tore it down and recently got a professional one donated.

Beyond your initial request, I figured I’d show you how your inner tool maker is echoed here.