Hardest part of making anything

Hardest part of making anything is definitely not the actual making part. No, putting something together is where all the fun happens. The mistakes, learning, and growing from doing it is the most fun. Hardest part of making anything is sourcing. Finding supplies. Happens all the time. There are two routes when you are a maker: scavenging and saving stuff for potential future uses, or scavenging and buying for desired current use.

Saving things for the future is obviously the most cost-effective route, but it can take up a lot of space depending upon what exactly you are trying to do. I have a bunch of old, wooden windows I want to make into either a cold frame or a greenhouse if I can find more. I’ve had them for five years now. I even moved them with me when I moved back to Waterloo. Seems silly to keep them for so long, but I tell myself “We’ll, if you’ve kept them this long…”. Following this route, you have to be comfortable being a bit of a pack rat. Some projects are easier to be a pack rat with than others. Electronics, due to the small size of components, is an easy area to be a pack rat in. They can fit in such a small space, it really isn’t that big a deal whether you save something or not. Building your own greenhouse requires more room and a more tolerant wife.

The other route, buying things, is not cost effective, but it does have immediate benefits. Less room is used storing components, and there is a quicker turnaround time creating new things. At the same time, it seems to go against what I feel to be a key ethos of being a maker; recycling. Finding new purposes for old things is better than finding new purposes for new things. Keeping things out of landfill and breathing new life into them is something that inspires pride in your work. Just going out and buying components makes you another consumer. The other side, having a quick turnaround time, is sometimes key to getting something done. Some projects will never get done unless you strike while the iron is hot. My wife and I were looking for a desk for my son, but nothing out there met our needs or came close to my standards, so I made one for him. From the moment we decided that I would make it, I worked on it six nights in a row until it was completed. If I hadn’t we probably would have kept looking at desks in stores and in used ads online until we found something we would settle on.

I realize there are exceptions to both philosophies, but I have to admit, it is a hard balance to strike. Being a pack rat, you have to learn when to let go of something. Being a consumer, you need to be able to realize when there is a reasonable free alternative. Just don’t ask me to get rid of my windows just yet…

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