Hands-On Fun: Craftsman MAKEcation 2015

On a surprisingly quiet street tucked away in Brooklyn, Craftsman brought to life a weekend of projects, workshops, and comradery that reinvigorated a small group of guests to think outside the box, and of course, look to Craftsman Tools when they jump into their next project. Craftsman MAKEcation is a fun weekend full of hands-on lessons and surprises that built off of last year’s inaugural event.

This isn’t an event that is open to the public, but is rather a combination of people chosen from the Craftsman Club, through contests, and the media. This made for an eclectic group of people from all walks of life, and all DIY experience levels, but was small enough that everyone could really feel like a cohesive group.

Craftsman MAKEcation group

MAKEcation took place from September 24 to 27 and lined up with the World Maker Faire taking place in the same city. While the first day was mainly for settling in to the hotel and meeting the other DIYers we’d be working with, dinner gave the group their first dip into the do-it-yourself mindset with a tour of the local Brooklyn Brewery where we were taught the ins and outs of one of America’s favorite drinks.

Friday is when the real work started, bright and early, as we were transported to our customized workshop at Villain. The space was large and contained two main rooms with a second floor in one. We were split up into three groups, one for each workshop offered that day, and immediately went to work.

The workshops covered a wide variety of disciplines and, combined with Saturday’s line up, there were five total: automotive, leather, Man-O-Vation, DIY, and woodworking.

Craftsman MAKEcation auto workshop

Craftsman MAKEcation carburetor

The automotive workshop focused on taking apart and reassembling a 2-cycle carburetor while understanding how each element worked together. Lead by Sean Brayton and Max Herman from the Oilers Club in Rhode Island, the duo did a great job giving personalized attention to everyone as we worked our way through. We tried some of Craftsman’s new Extreme Grip screwdrivers that utilized diamond tips for a more secure fit when working with difficult fasteners. While not one to look for variances between something as common as a screwdriver, we could really feel a difference as we blasted through the myriad of screws found in the carburetor.

Craftsman MAKEcation leather belt

The leather workshop took place in a small loft in the second room and was taught by Will Lisak, a professional in the field who specializes in traditional and detailed leather bags. He taught us how to make a leather belt and cuff, which was surprisingly easy. Of course, our project was kept simple and straightforward, but this was an interesting look at a trade not many find that accessible, when in fact it’s easy for a beginner to jump right in. A lot of freedom was given to the group on how to treat the leather, what sizes they wanted, and even the option to stamp their finished project with “Made in the USA” or the Craftsman MAKEcation logo. If you want to learn how to make your own leather belt or cuff, be sure to check out our step-by-step guides.

Craftsman MAKEcation hammer being sawed

Craftsman MAKEcation sawed hammer hangers

Man-O-Vation was definitely the most energetic workshop, led by the ever-enthusiastic Rob North. Rob works closely with the Craftsman Club with the titular Man-O-Vation video and guides. His projects are always outside-the-box with fun and funny twists on quick projects. For MAKEcation, we learned how to make his popular hammer coat rack. The work was challenging and precise, but we all left with an interesting conversation piece to take home, and some hands-on experience with some new power tools.

Craftsman MAKEcation Maker Faire Horse

Before the next day’s workshops began, the group drove out to the World Maker Faire taking place at the New York Hall of Science. The Faire is known as the world’s largest show and tell, and they weren’t kidding. Makers from all over came to take part, showing off everything from a pen filled with conductive silver for drawing circuits to a life-sized build of the game Mouse Trap. We were able to check out a lot of amazing things in our short time there, so be sure to check out our in-depth look.

The amount of knowledge and innovation that each make showed was astounding and whether you’re there for new ideas or to admire the creativity, this is a place where anyone can find something to get lost in. Maker Faires pop up all over the nation every year, so be sure to look up your home state to find something nearby!

Craftsman MAKEcation toolbox

Saturday’s workshops started with a DIY toolbox, taught by builder and TV personality Karl Champley. The host of shows like DIY to the Rescue and Wasted Spaces, he most recently wont Ellen’s Design Challenge on HGTV and was all set to help us give our tools a home in a classic-looking wooden toolbox. This was a great opportunity for many of the beginners to get even more comfortable with the power tools they learned on yesterday and gave time for others to customize and polish off theirs. At the end we were all given bottle openers to secure on our toolbox, complete with a bin to catch caps underneath, so we could all celebrate after finishing our own DIY projects at home.

Craftsman MAKEcation woodworking workshop

The last workshop fell to woodworking with Rob Johnstone and Dan Cary who work on Woodworker’s Journal and HANDY Magazine. We were introduced to woodturning on a lathe and got to work making handles for another bottle opener and a pizza cutter. This lesson was very quick, learn the ins and outs, and then work at your own pace to make something unique. Both Rob and Dan checked in on everyone to give one-on-one advice and help to those who needed it. The whole process was very zen and did a great job at showing off a skill not many had ever considered.

Craftsman MAKEcation motorcycle stunt show

Of course, the workshops were only a part of the overall weekend, and throughout the event guests were treated to a performance by country singer Eric Paslay, a surprise motorcycle stunt show by the IllConduct Motorcycle Stunt Team, a thrilling sideshow performance by Coney Island’s Adam Realman, and a mini-workshop in graffiti art with Mike Baca and Fernando Romero.

If you want to join in on the fun and learning at next year’s Craftsman MAKEcation, sign up with Craftsman Club for news and announcements on all their events and keep an eye out for their next contest to fly you out to experience it yourself.