Concord Makerspace prepares for a grand reopening in Boscawen

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 07-31-2023 7:03 PM

As Concord’s makerspace reopens in a smaller space after leaving its previous home in Penacook, it is making a virtue out of necessity by specializing.

“Woodworking equipment was far and away the most used,” said Sandra May, a member of Concord Makerspace board of directors, talking about what the group saw during its two years in the former Beede Electric building.

So the group’s new home in rented industrial space in Boscawen is dominated by woodworking machinery, including a CNC router, bandsaw, chop saw and lathe, all connected to a commercial dust collection system.

It also offers makerspace standards such as a laser cutter and 3-D printers. But space constraints and the fact that makerspaces have grown more common – New Hampshire has a dozen, some dating back a decade – is altering how they need to operate.

Makerspaces are often described as membership gyms for do-it-yourselfers. They feature tools and workspaces to be used by dues-paying members and sometimes by the public on a per-shift basis, as well as classes, training and a sense of community. They can be a place for people to learn about working in the trades, a prototyping shop for small businesses, housing for a hobbyist club or a way for a homeowner to expand their basement shop without buying more tools.

In its new home Concord Makerspace won’t have sewing machines because many members have them at home, but does offer a serger, which allows multiple threads to be sewn at once and is valuable for certain specialty fabrics and designs.

“We want to offer what people don’t have,” said May.

Similarly, since its launch in 2019 Concord Makerspace has always had 3-D printers but these days with standard printers more common it emphasizes specialty versions: a Creality that allows mass printing of 3-D objects and of long objects, and which drew some frenzied attention when it was part of the group’s booth at Concord Market Days this summer, and a Form 3 resin printer that creates objects without the striations of layer-by-layer printing.

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Perhaps the most important change is that using a grant from the state Community Development Finance Authority, it has hired Paul Beaudet, formerly associated with Manchester’s makerspace and others in the state, as its first operations manager.

“I like them as a good opportunity for people to learn outside the context of traditional education,” said Beaudet, who was drawn to them by the ability to do projects in electronics and computer programming, but has grown to appreciate this approach in areas from textiles to machine shops to bicycle repair.

Originally called Making Matters, Concord’s space launched just as the pandemic hit. Despite that, it did relatively well in Penacook but problems with the old Beede building forced it to shut, moving north to industrial rented space at 197 N. Main St. in Boscawen. It has settled into the new space and is seeking more volunteers and members. The group is looking to expand its offerings, perhaps including day passes for people who want to use a particular piece of equipment without paying monthly dues.

Concord Makerspace will be holding a grand opening Sept. 9. Check the website, concordmakerspace.org, for details.

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