PORTSMOUTH — From welding and woodworking to sewing and bike maintenance, a new community-based work shop expected to soon open on Bartlett Street will allow Seacoast residents access to all the tools they need to succeed.
Port City Makerspace, a cooperative workshop space founded by a trio of former college buddies turned tradesmen, will soon open its doors to the community, offering up tools of all types for its members to use.
The business, founded by Zak Robinson, Clint Crosbie and Ross Bean, is only days away from going live. Once open, customers will have the opportunity to use the 2,200-square-feet of workspace at 124 Bartlett St. to work on a variety of projects using the shop’s welding equipment, pottery kiln, industrial sewing machines, bike shop, full wood shop and much more.
At first, the shop will open with a strong emphasis on four disciplines: metal, wood, electronics and bicycles, said Crosbie. In the near future, plans call for expanding the shop into another 8,000-square feet of space, including a two-bay garage to be used for an automotive work station.
“The space we provide will be the ultimate playground for those who tinker, design, build, fabricate, prototype, make and machine,” he said.
Robinson said the shop will be open to the public to use for projects ranging from something as simple as building a birdhouse to fine woodworking, metal cutting, welding and electronic soldering.
“Any metal you can think of, we will have the capability for it,” he said. “We want to be able to do it all and we want everyone else to be able to do it all.”
The business idea began back in 2004, when the trio was in school together at Green Mountain College in Vermont, said Crosbie.
“We were talking about trying to get a shop together so we could do all these different things and consolidate all of the things we had,” he said.
Because some tools don’t make sense to own, and others take up too much space, Crosbie said the idea to create a place that allows someone access to a little bit of everything in order to get the job done seemed to make perfect sense.
“When trying to complete a project, you don’t realize the exact tool for the job until you need it right away,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t realize how easy a project can be until you have the tools in hand. By creating a space based around the collective need for tools in our lives, we are creating a space useful to everybody”
The dream became a reality for the trio his past winter, when it was decided to get the ball rolling on bringing the new shop to the Seacoast, said Robinson.
“This past January we really got serious about it and decided now is the time for us to do this,” he said.
The way the business plan works, according to Crosbie, is that customers will have several levels of membership to choose from depending upon what they want to do. Memberships will range from day passes, to weekend passes, to monthly passes and even lifetime memberships.
Once customers select a membership, they will then fill out a quick questionnaire that allows the business owners to assess their skill levels and assist in any way they can to make sure the experience is not only worthwhile for the customer, but also comfortable and safe.
“The point is that we want this to be an environment where it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t really know how to use a table saw,'” he said. “If you can create that environment where people feel it’s OK to admit that they don’t know how to do something, then you’re reducing any danger and making people feel more comfortable while they work on their individual projects.”
For those wanting to learn more about the different trades, Robinson said classes will be available to gain proficiency in all of the various tools. Those classes are expected to feature expert artisans in the community, he said.
“We’ll be offering a lot of beginner’s courses,” Robinson said.
Once the shop is up and running, and after the investment is made into the basic shop tools needed to start, Robinson said budgets will be kept by each respective shop discipline in order to reinvest in tools at a natural rate of growth and allow popular demand to shape the nature of the space.
Members will also be encouraged to lease their personal tools to the business at a rate based on the tools’ current value and to be paid off in monthly credits to their membership fee. In this way, users who contribute tools to the space have free or discounted access until the lease is paid off, at which point the tools are owned by the business.
In addition to the use of tools on the premises, members will one day have access to a tool library that will allow them to take certain tools home. The tool library will have online reservation, and card holders will be able to pick up tools during normal operating hours when a staff person is present. Due dates will be tool-specific, and late fees will apply if tools are not returned in time.