How to Start Your Own Makerspace

If you wish to start your own makerspace or collaborative workspace, you will need to make decisions about space, location, budget, and purpose.


An important consideration is what your visitors or members wish to do or get involved in. Every makerspace is different and unique and can be used for different purposes. There are different types of collaborative spaces such as maker fairies, digital media labs, fabrication laboratories, co-working spaces, and hackerspaces. Co-working spaces, for example, can be used for project development and teamwork and are usually equipped with televisions, projectors, white boards, tables, and other equipment. Fabrication laboratories or fab labs have computer projects and technologies as their main focus. Other types of makerspaces include mobile vans and portable carts with machines, materials, and tools that can be brought to different venues.


The type of equipment and purpose also depend on how much space you have available. Rent can be a major expense when starting a business. To this, you may contact your municipality and ask if they have unused spaces. They sometimes have such spaces they cannot use or sell and may be willing to lease for less.


The financial commitment can be an issue when starting a makerspace but there are ways to cut expenses. Encouraging members to upcycle or recycle is one example. Items that can be upcycled include peg boards, shelving, filing cabinets, and desks. Looking for deals is another way to save money. Visit your local hardware store to buy lights, batteries, toolkits, and other items that you need. Some stores also offer weekly coupons.


The equipment required for your makerspace depends on its purpose /type/. For example, if you are offering 3D printing and laser cutting, you may need to purchase the following equipment and supplies: refurbished computers, silk screen, traditional tools, makeblock robotics kits, vinyl cutter, 3D printer, Raspberry Pi’s, etc.


There are different ways to secure financing for your makerspace – one is to self-finance and another is to borrow from a bank or another funding entity. Banks offer personal loans and secured credit cards to finance the purchase of equipment, renovation, refurbishment, and so on. Another option is to start a campaign on a crowdfunding platform to raise funds for your project. Alternatively, you can apply for grants that are available through local funders or apply for sponsorship. If you choose to apply for a grant, the main focus should be on the competencies and skills that members will learn. It is not a good idea to focus on just buying toys, gadgets, or electronics as the main purpose of the grant as it will be passed over. What you can do instead is explain how your project will result in improved learning opportunities and outcomes. Some companies offer sponsorships for innovative projects while others offer scholarships. If you are a teacher and plan to start a makerspace in your school, one idea is to create a donation wish list and send it to parents in summer. This is when they buy items such as art supplies, cardboard, craft sticks, yarn, glue sticks, and so on. You may also add phones, phone chargers, and other electronics that you need for your project.

Maker Spaces in Canada

Maker spaces in private facilities, libraries, schools, and other locations offer opportunities for intellectual work, project development, and learning. In essence, any facility that allows people to gather and practice their hobby or work on a common project can be considered a maker space. Such collaborative workspaces are Hacklab To, Steamlabs, and Maker Bean where people enjoy a host of activities, from making keychains and coasters to leatherwork and pattern drafting.

Maker Bean

The Maker Bean Café is a collaborative workspace café in the Ontario Science Centre that offers plenty of activities. The spot features 3D printing and laser cutting activities, kids camps, and adult workshops. Visitors are welcome to laser cut different designs such as cake topper, luggage tag, nameplate, pin, and coaster designs. Maker Bean also offers adult workshops with a focus on laser cutting and kids tech camps. Camps have been temporarily cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Found in the Centre of Social Innovation in Toronto, Steamlabs is also a collaborative workspace that houses a teen tech incubator and offers a diverse array of activities. The teen tech incubator offers young people the opportunity to learn HTML/CSS coding, robotics, and digital fabrication. They also develop business skills such as marketing, budgeting, and project planning. Participants master technology and design skills such as user experience, user interface, industrial design, and simple circuits. The maker space also offers a variety of youth programs, including workshops, winter and March break programs, and summer camps. There are also activities for educators such as the Maker Educator Boot Camp, educator workshops, and technology training. Workshops incorporate a variety of activities such as laser cutter training, digital fabrication, programming, robotics, and others. Steamlabs also offers consulting services to libraries, schools, and science centres as well as tested programs that can be offered in other maker spaces.

Vancouver Hack Space

A workshop space in Vancouver, VHS offers a membership program that comes with a monthly fee ($60) and no signup fee. Probationary members have access to a woodshop, laser cutter, and other member-only areas as well as access to the workshop space. Members are allowed to vote at society meetings in three months time. Equipment includes programming, machining, and crafting tools and electronics. There is also a coffee machine and coffee shop.

Edmonton New Technology Society

ENTS is a collaborative community that organizes workshops with a focus on repairing, building, designing, and more. The society features different studios such as sewing, 3D printing, pottery, electronics, metal working, and woodworking. ENTS also offers classes and organizes events, including weekly open houses, monthly general meetings, and pottery Mondays. All events have been temporarily cancelled.

Hacklab To

A hacker collective in Toronto, Hacklab To is a collaborative space for hardware hackers, web designers, computer programmers, and artists. The maker space hosts a variety of events such as open houses, solar power workshops, members meetings, accelerator mentor meetings, wine and cheese nights, and others.

Makerspace Brampton

This is a joint project of the Brampton Library, Sheridan College, and the City of Brampton that is free to join. The goal is to create a learning environment that is safe and easy to access. Visitors are offered the opportunity to use digital creation and maker tools, including equipment such as an electronic cutting machine, 2 +3D printer, mini 3D printer, and video capture device. The drawing tablet can be used for sketching, painting, and digital drawing while the scanner has features for digitizing slides and photo negatives. The maker space also runs a variety of programs and offers learning opportunities with a focus on robotics, web design, coding, modelling, and 3D printing. Repair cafes, tech talks, meetups, and special events are also organized. The maker spaces are found in three library branches – Springdale, Chinguacousy, and Four Corners.

Other maker spaces in Canada that are worth visiting are the Toronto Tool Library, Maker Kids (Toronto), Victoria Maker Space, and Protospace (Calgary).