Let’s say you want to build a radio-controlled polystyrene airplane or mess around with fabrication robots.  It can be messy, noisy, and even a bit dangerous to explore new technologies.  The kitchen table is not an option.

AMT at last year's East Bay Mini Maker Faire

 Ace Monster Toys is a hackspace in North Oakland.  While they have advanced tools and organized classes, they are primarily a place where people come together to share a passion for making things. Members are provided with a workbench and unlimited access to the shop.  Rather than being project or class based, the group encourages collaboration, experimentation, and community.

Board member Christian Fernandez, puts it this way. “We have cool stuff, but really it’s about having these interesting, creative people, have them all in the same place at the same time, and see what comes out of that.”

Fernandez recently completed a decidedly low tech project, an Aleut baidarka, or skin boat.  Of course he replaced the traditional seal skins with an advanced material.  “It’s cool, you can see the waterline from inside the boat.”  Other members are hard at work figuring out cool things to do with their new cutting laser.

Visit the Ace Monster Toys booth at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire for more information.  If you decide you need more making in your life, they have a bench for you!

Jillian Northrup and Jeffrey McGrew are Because We Can, a full service design studio in Oakland that specializes in architecture, interiors and “fantastical things”.  Even though they are a very small team, they are able to do digital design all the way through fabrication because they are leveraging a new class of affordable yet advanced tools like the ShopBot, a computer-controlled router for fabricating with wood, plastic, aluminum & more.

If you’re someone who loves visual design, but has never ventured into physical making because power tools are a tad bit intimidating, come to Jillian and Jeffrey’s workshop presentation at East Bay Mini Maker Faire, “Using Digital Fabrication to Change the World: Empowerment Through Automated Tools.”   Jillian herself comes from a graphic design background, but found her way to making physical structures through output of digital files to these computer-controlled tools.  Jillian and Jeffrey (the other half of Because We Can, an architect) will explain  how this new class of mills, routers, lasercutters, and even 3D printers can empower you to change the world for the better, turn a hobby into a business, and make the world a more interesting place.

A good example of Because We Can’s process is this tail for The Serpent Twins, a 2011 Burning Man electric art car/sculpture.  Jillian is holding a prototype she fabbed using their ShopBot in the first picture below; scroll down to see how it translated to full-scale in sheet metal.

Because We Can actually has a great post documenting in detail the process they went through for the Serpent Twins—check it out.

Keep watching ebmakerfaire.com for the full schedule of workshops and talks.  Come to their presentation, and look for Because We Can’s “Big Trike” at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 16th.