Why access to a hackspace is important…

I’ve not done a blog post for a while – there has not been quite enough time to write up projects – but loads has been going on.

I wanted to write quick piece about having access to computer controlled tools and the benefits of a hackspace….


I was building a prototype which was going to generate heat. I needed to allow the heat to escape. I could have bought a small grill and used a drill  and large hole cutter to cut out a hole, then bolt the grill in place. This would have required buying a grill, waiting for it to arrive, having some small nuts/bolts in stock, having the correct hole cutter etc etc.

Instead, I decided to drill a number of small holes into the prototype box. I could have done this by hand, but if anyone has tried this they will know that it is very difficult (impossible for me) to get all the holes in the correct place and one hole out of place would look terrible. This prototype was for a customer, hence it needed to look great.

I know – drill the holes with a CNC  (computer numerically controller) machine! Luckily I have access to a small CNC machine, but not many people do. This is where your local hackspace or fab lab or shared workshop comes in. I am heavily involved with Nottingham hackspace and we have 2 CNC machines and laser cutter. You could easily just head there and do the same thing.

I sorted out a grid of holes and created the code to drill all the holes (all using open-source software). I drilled a scrap piece of plastic with 3mm holes. This gave me the template to use to then drill a grid of holes. The grill drill template took me less than half an hour to make and is now something I can use again and again.

Without access to a CNC machine this would have been very difficult to achieve. While not everyone can afford a CNC machine for 30mins work, everyone can afford access to a hackspace (Nottingham hackspace is ‘pay what you feel its worth’).  With access to the correct tools the process is easy and the results are awesome.

Check out my next post for a laser cut box which was created at the hackspace.

Drill a grid of holes on a scrap piece of plastic.

Drill two pilot holes. Bolt the template to the box. then drill away.

A perfect grid of holes. Try doing that without a template.

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