Teams have 48 hours to develop a working prototype, but they're not alone in the process. Throughout the competitions Tool Techs have been the ‘secret sauce’ of Make48 events. Technicians are a crew of makers from the community makerspaces, sponsors, influencers, and from past events. This group of talented professionals volunteer their time to help teams prototype their ideas using a variety of fabrication tools such as 3d printing, laser cutting, cnc machining, textiles, welding/metalwork and many more.
Meet one of our tool techs from the GoCreate-Make48 ‘22 event. Tyler Isaacs hails from Florida, is an engineer at Blue Origin and a talented woodworker. Tyler has been a tool tech at three separate events with Make48, with his most recent stint in Wichita this past month. We first connected with him last year at our Hartford competition and he has a number of specializations including cnc fabrication, woodworking, and product/mechanical design. Tyler is also the owner of Wooden Whiskers Trading Company where he creates custom woodworking home furnishings, cabinet build-ins and more.
How long have you been woodworking? Wooden Whiskers Trading Co.?
I started my Wooden Whiskers business formally in December of 2020. Previously it was more commission-based, side-hustle affair until Wooden Whiskers was a recognized entity. It’s something I've been wanting to do for a while. I had already been doing for-hire work for a while and wanted something that could eventually become a profit generating model and break the mold of having to be in that corporate environment. It’s been a jump in the deep end.
I took the plunge into social media and realized that that the Making scene is really where I feel most whole and comfortable. There’s a natural relationship there that I found there, and just started diving into it.
Being in this community of Makers, what's been the most rewarding and what do you love the most about?
So I think my favorite thing is that the community is so open and honest and transparent. I think you can easily approach a maker and ask them how they do something or the technique without fear of proprietary protection. The community is very open, very positive and it allows you to get and be involved. Whereas some other industries can be very competitive and cut throat where they’re unwilling to provide their thoughts and ideas. In the maker scene you can have groups do the same thing 20 different ways, and there's still more people wanting to try it and make it their new thing.
What inspires you?
For me I think the inspiration was wanting to take Wooden Whiskers to the next level, from an idea and hobby to an actual profession. I’ve moved from a maker for hire to an actual full-time fabricator and entrepreneur.
Also think it's important to note the relationships you build along the way. That’s inspiring. Learning and getting to experience all types of different people and their passions in all walks of life. I’ve come to think of those experiences as a ToolBank. It can be all the different makers you meet or the companies you’ve worked with and now you have that ToolBank you can always tap into. And so you have these diverse skill sets that you don’t personally have, but now you know people that have that skill or experience. It’s something very special about the maker community.
Who are some of your favorite Makers?
I can be fanboy-esque. I look to Jimmy Diresa and Jay Bates, but I also like local makers. There is a local maker near me as well as a war veteran. He lost his leg in battle and to see him embrace the dynamic of still building and being positive about it and not letting his handicap affect him is really cool. He embodies having that passion for making and building.
This is your third competition where you’ve been a Tool Tech with Make48. What has been your favorite part of these events?
My favorite part for me is I genuinely love watching the creative juices throughout the space. We often take for granted the exposure of a project where you have to have such a short duration, and you have to own it from what I call “Tomb to Womb.” Creating in such a small amount of time, you have to let go of the emotional attachments and you have to be willing to fail to succeed and seeing the whole process of watching the teams going from fails (or errors) to succeed and bringing their idea to fruition. I think that is my most rewarding thing to see and and my favorite part.
What’s your impression of GoCreate?
Oh, this space is outstanding. I mean, the makerspace here is so well designed. You have the high-end professional tools, so many members and mentors who can teach anyone how to use the tools. Also the workstations, separating metal and wood, gives everyone the appreciation for them being two separate areas of focus.
They really have all the utilities you need here to be effective. I think world-class is what comes to mind when I first see this place. First class, well thought out, designed for longevity and very well established.
Since it's a 48 hours competition, I like to ask, how long have you been up to? Like, work on a project?
I would say in terms of staying awake, I've pulled all nighters. Into that second day, you definitely get that crash mode. I haven't done 48 hours, but probably a 36-hour project meeting the deadline for customers.
What's one tool you cannot do without?
Believe it or not for me, it's pencils. I'm very particular about my marking pencils, and I like Pica pencils and GraphGear pencils by Pentel. I can get very OCD when I don't have my pencils. This is a weird thing.
What's been your favorite project so far that you've made?
Oh, that's a tough one. So from a making perspective, I think probably one of my favorite projects is something I'm currently working on for Blue Origin. We are making what's called “Post Boxes.” They're very rudimentary prototypes made out of foam and other materials. These post boxes were designed by K-12 students, and it's designed to send postcards to space. The concept is just so radical and it’s a really cool project.
Other interesting projects I’ve done have been more commission-based such as walnut fireplaces and more complex woodworking carvings and such.
And lastly, if you were on a team, who would you be on a team with?
This is hard! Naturally I would want to design the Dream Team, but I think for me there would have to be diversity. I’d string together a metal worker, woodworker, a seamstress, and be able to have some diversity to bring unique ideas to the team.
Speaking from my experience as an engineer, when you get too many engineers you naturally only have a smaller window of ideas. So bringing together diverse, unique backgrounds would be the way I would set my team up.