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We All Start Somewhere

Where it all began; one workbench in my basement.

It's April 2017 and I had just gotten my first 3D printer. I was learning quickly that 3D printing often requires finishing, painting, gluing, etc., and doing it at my office desk was not working out. I talked it over with my super-understanding wife and she agreed that since our basement was largely unused (and by largely I mean nearly completely) I should turn a corner of it into my own makerspace. I bought a workbench (didn't have woodworking tools at the time, so I had to buy one) and set up shop. From that workbench I churned out dozens of Harry Potter wands. I was making money as a maker. It wasn't a ton, but it was money and I was enjoying the work.

That was where I started. No tools to speak of, just a stool, a carpet, and a cheap workbench in the corner of the basement.

Today if you walked into my basement you'd realize that I've expanded (again, thanks to my incredibly understanding wife) to one half of the basement plus a small area on the other side for my Glowforge laser (and inevitably, when I finish putting it together, my Xcarve CNC). My office upstairs now has 2 3D printers and a Cricut vinyl cutter and various tools related to those machines. I've expanded from a corner to nearly the footprint of a small apartment and little by little client orders are on an uptick! This is not a rah-rah speech, but here's the point; whatever you want to do, start doing it. You're never going to walk into doing something with everything you need immediately and you're never going to start if you wait until you have everything you need so what do you do? Start smart. The catalyst for making, for me, was my first 3D printer. I knew how they worked, but I basically knew nothing. My printer was mostly automatic so I didn't need to know much. As I got better at understanding how it worked, I bought better ones. As far as tools? I slowly, one tool at a time, made sure I had enough tools to actually do work. The biggest tool purchase was my table saw, and I bought that for my course in woodworking. I later added a bandsaw, various sanders, and other fun stuff, but my first two purchases were a drill press and a miter saw, both under $100, and a benchtop belt sander, well under $75. My shop now is amazing and I'm so happy with it, and so many amazing things big and small have been turned out from it. One thing I never get tired of is that moment when a project is done and I get to put all my tools back in their rightful places. I always stop and look at my shop and reflect at that moment on just how far I've come from the one corner I had before. It's hard not to smile when you see that much growth, but it didn't start that way, and that's the part you need to keep in mind as you being your journey on your hobby or your side hustle, whatever it is. Just start. Even if it's a humble beginning, it's better than not beginning.

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