You’ve probably seen the founder of Luke In The Garage on your social feed. Maker Luke Gelman experienced his first challenge at Madison-Make48. By day, Luke is a commercial real estate broker, but by night he’s a creator. Luke moved into content creating during the pandemic and hasn’t looked back since. The newest Tool Tech assisted the teams with their prototypes, helped build the trophies and a special project at the FabLab Stoughton. Get to know Luke beyond the 48 hours.
M48: How long have you been a maker?
I've been a maker in one way or another my whole life. I've always tinkered and built stuff. My first real steps into making were with ceramics. Within the last two and a half years, I’ve been getting into woodworking, epoxy, digital design, 3D printing and CNC.
M48: Luke in the Garage began a couple of years ago?
Correct. Commercial real estate is my 9-5 job. When the pandemic started and we had to work from home, I thought it was only for a couple of months and we’d be back to normal by July 4th. I started tinkering in the garage. Then July became August, then September. The garage stuff was a lot of fun, so I just kept doing it. And now it’s a real thing.
M48: Why did you decide to come to this Make48 event?
I heard about it last year, but didn’t know what it was. I decided that I would pass on doing it last year and see what would happen with it. A few of my friends are pretty heavily involved with it and this year came around and Make48 had two events in Wisconsin. I live 2 hours away and I wanted to get out, have fun and be with more makers and creative types. I'm always looking for new inspiration and this is an event filled with creative people and excitement. Now that I'm here and seeing it with my eyes, I just want to do more. It has been really exciting to see and I can't wait to see the ideas that everyone's coming up with.
The hardest part about being at this event is not sitting down at a table and giving them my two cents on what I think they should be doing. But my role here is to listen to what they're making and offer my assistance in trying to help them build it and/or see if they can incorporate Epoxy into their projects.
M48: What was your first impression of the FabLab Stoughton?
Blown away. First thing I saw was that ShopBot CNC machine. Then I saw those little rotary CNCs they have, that I dream of owning one day. And they've got two of them! They have 6 Ultimakers, and I take a few more steps and there's the laser machines. Then I checked out the wood shop, the metal shop, the auto shop and so on. My high school did not have anything like this.
M48: How did you get involved with TotalBoat?
One of the things that I don't like about woodworking is that wood is all different shades of brown and I like colorful, bright, exciting eye-catching things. I thought, hey, I could use Epoxy to accomplish what I want. I could add color into the wood, right?
I used my CNC to carve projects and I tried to fill it with Epoxy. It just went so bad in the beginning, and I screwed it up, and kept screwing up. I kept reaching out to TotalBoat, asking what am I doing wrong? They gave me advice, help and tips. One day it clicked and I figured it out. I spoke to their team so much, they asked me where I was heading with my making. Then they told me they were going to send me some Epoxy, and we just continued working together. I got the opportunity to work with them as an Ambassador. They've been so supportive of me and my journey. I've been very fortunate.
M48: In a Make48 competition with makers, who would be on your team?
First, I would say Jimmy DiResta because Jimmy knows everything. Building on a team with us would be like the whole cast of his show, Making Fun. Yeah, that would be my team. I've been pretty fortunate where I've met a lot of makers that are really incredible people. I would find it hard narrowing that list down to a few people. But I could scrape together four people right now and we could get going.
M48: What project has meant the most to you?
It’s been the Luke in the Garage project. I'm excited about building it into a business that I could do full time. In the beginning, it was just me sharing that one thing that I was excited about, and now it’s not just about any one thing. I'm making it using different materials and tools.
When I'm not working my 9-5, that's where my focus is. I've been excited about a lot of things, but I'm just proud of myself for what I've learned and knowing that I have so much more to learn and want to do. I’m pushing myself and overcoming challenges.
M48: What’s it mean to you being in the Maker community?
I love that people appreciate me when I'm being as weird as I possibly can be. Everybody who's a maker is just so creative, and everybody is into their own weird little things and their own little weird twists on things. People ask me that all the time, how the hell did you come up with these ideas? I'm like, my brain is just all over the place all the time anyways. There’s just so much inspiration. Everybody is so supportive of it, and everybody wants to see everybody succeed. It’s been a place where I’ve made a lot of friends.
My wife has been very supportive of me and encourages this. Wherever we travel she understands I’m probably going to say hi to somebody that she doesn’t know, but I've been talking to them for a couple years. For example I have a podcast with a buddy of mine from California, who I’ve only known online. We're going to go hang out for a day with him and his family and my family. Next day, we’re going to a Maker Meetup that I got sponsored for. We just go with it and it's a lot of fun. And I think that's where my role is in the Maker community, I love to do wild stuff. I love to push my skills all the time and get in over my head in projects, but I just want to see how far we can take it and where it could go.
M48: How do your kids feel about Luke In The Garage?
They think they're famous. First of all, because I feature them a lot in my videos. Sometimes they get excited about it and sometimes they're annoyed because they spend so much time in the garage. It's only when they want something out of me, but I always make time for them. I'll stop a project. I don't need to get this done before we hang out.
Other times they want to be involved in what I'm doing, and that's really exciting to me. I hope to teach them how to follow their passion. I don't care if they're ever in the shop. I don't want them to be professional woodworkers. Whatever they want to do is fine with me, as long as they're chasing their passion. And if I could show them how to do that and get what they want in life, I think I did okay.