Our Makerspace here in Coventry is just under a year old, and funds - and space - are tight. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our Makerspace for as little money as possible.
At the back of the community building that houses the Makerspace was a patch of waste ground. There were a few remains there that suggest that, years back, it was an outbuilding of some kind. But for as long as anyone can remember, it has just been that funny little corner out the back that is overgrown by weeds.
Step 1: Clearing the Ground
First, we had to clear the ground of weeds and debris. We don't have any complete 'before' photos, probably because we were sobbing into our spades and hoes at the time. We had to remove three trees, two of which had wrapped their roots around a submerged waste pipe. We also had to clear the ground of rocks, masonry and several decades of debris.
Step 2: Laying Hardcore
We might have thought that the hard graft was over when we'd successfully cleared the ground of weeds and debris. It was not to be - the next stage was even harder! We had to lay two tons of MOT1 hardcore by hand. Because of the layout of the area, even a wheelbarrow was no use to us, so all of the work was done with shovels and spades. Once we had it laid, we raked it out and flattened it the best we could. Ideally at this point we would have hired a whacker plate to compact it down properly, but because our budget could not stretch to it, we had to make do and compact it the best we were able without one.
Step 3: The Roof
Our next step was to put a roof in place, to keep us (and our work) nice and dry and to allow the area to be used for storage. While we were able to reuse a lot of scrap timber for this project, we did have to buy new timber for some of the roof frame. Once we had bolted the frame in place we bolted sheets of OSB down on it and covered with roof felt. The roof does not extend the full length of the woodworking area, as it is only intended to create shelter rather than an enclosed room. This also ensures good ventilation, this is something we are very conscious of as our existing Makerspace does not have good enough ventilation for many activities.
Step 4: The Entrance
To create a 'room' we utilised the existing threshold - there is a concrete foundation with a step at the entrance to the area, which we think was from some kind of outbuilding sited there many decades ago. We built a frame from scrap timber and used OSB to construct 'walls' either side of the entrance. The OSB was painted with waterproof exterior paint to protect it from the elements. Our paint was donated to us by Community RePaint, an organisation that takes unused paint from businesses and redistributes it to community organisations. This meant that the colour was not one that we would have chosen! We figured that it would do until we could aquire a nicer colour, and one did come up pretty quickly, so luckily the obnoxious avocado colour was not with us too long!
Step 5: Painting and Filling
We needed to paint the masonry, mainly to reflect light back into the area but also to protect the masonry. Community RePaint helped us out once again with some almost white masonry paint, and we started painting in earnest! Whilst painting, we realised that some of the brickwork was in even worse condition than we thought, leading to some emergency filling and repointing.
Step 6: Adding a Workbench
We needed a workbench for our woodworking area. We built brackets from scrap timber and bolted them to the walls. We then fitted a length of reclaimed kitchen worktop to create a workbench. A back was added using a cutoff of OSB. The bench will give us a place to work until we are able to obtain a proper woodworking bench.
Step 7: Adding a Door
The final part of structural work was to add a door. We once again built a frame from scrap timber then added a panel of USB. Once that was done we attached the door with gate hinges and added a padlock for security. The door will shortly be painted with waterproof outdoor paint to protect the OSB from the elements.
Step 8: The (almost) Completed Workspace
All we need to do now is to add lighting - although it is surprisingly bright in the room, we hope to add LED strip lighting running off 12v to create good working light. We are very proud of our woodworking room, although it is a little 'rough and ready' it has been a real team effort. The small budget we had for hardcore and OSB has been raised by members, and all of us has worked together to achieve something. Our makerspace ethos is one of teamwork, making the most of what we have, and finding alternative means to reach our goals - so in this way our woodworking space represents us perfectly! The transformation from waste land to woodwork area has been so successful that new members find it hard to believe that all that was there a few weeks ago was some brambles and a couple of trees! I hope you liked seeing our process, we have entered this into the 'before and after' contest so if you like it, please vote for it! Thanks!