Good Times at the Market

We went out to the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market again today and had a great time!

Our new project this week was the Boo-gly eyes made from LEDs and ping pong balls (thanks to Everyday with Rachael Ray for the inspiration). 

scary halloween eyes made from ping pong balls and LEDs
Make these scary eyeballs from ping pong balls and LEDs

The stomp rockets were once again a big hit with the kids, but it seems we need to find a convenient bellows-action hook-up for re-inflating the launch pod (pop bottle).

The tool drive continued with a few more donations coming in. If you are interested in donating any hand tools to the tool drive contact us. 

Despite the early-morning rain the sun came out and the market enjoyed a glorious fall morning. 

We plan on being at the last few markets of the season, which is until the end of October. 

We hope to see you there!

Fire and Rockets at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market

Well, despite the rain and autumnal-bluster of last Saturday we had a great time at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market.

New Toronto Makeshore booth at Sam Smith Farmers' Market
New Toronto Makeshore at Sam Smith Farmers’ Market

The late addition of the wood gas can/hobo stove was a happy surprise in the cool, rainy morning weather. It is truly amazing how many people are attracted by the smell of wood smoke. And, tending the wee fire-in-a-can was a happy chore for many of the kids who were at the market for the morning. Nothing quite as freeing as open flame and sharp tools to get kids engaged. Thanks to everyone for taking care no one got cut; the booth was warm and inviting all through the misty, moisty morning.

The stomp rocket kits also turned out to be a too-engaging-to-leave-alone toy. The kids played with it until the 2L pop bottle finally bust its under-carriage out; next time we’ll have a few more bottles on-hand.

Making the stomp rocket kit is actually really easy, and the parts can all be acquired for a minimal amount of money. This model uses a 1/2″ diameter hose secured to a hose end-fitting, which was bought at a garden supply store. The hose then fits into a conduit elbow and then into a housing for electrical connectors. Finally, a 1/2″ diameter pipe serves as the launch base; the file folder rockets just slide over the end and are shot off in whichever direction the pipe is pointed.

If you want an easy way how-to-build-a-file-folder-rocket, just grab an old file folder and make a tube that is only slightly larger than the 1/2″ pipe diameter. Tape along the seam to secure the body of the rocket. Add some tape criss-cross fashion over one end to create a top. This is important because this part is what gives the rocket lift-off; if the top is not secure the rocket won’t rise.

This is a super-fun activity for kids because the launch base is cheap and easy to assemble–duct tape over the launcher’s joint fittings will dramatically improve velocity–and the rockets are super-easy to make in less than five minutes. We used some old file folders (what better way to jettison the carapace of tax files than with the stomp of a youngster?!?) and duct tape to make a sturdy and mostly-rain-proof rocket. A firm stomp from a 6 year old child on a 2L bottle sent the rockets 20-30′ in the air. Many shrieks of excitement were heard; much running-about and shenanigans were witnessed.

The can stove was the real surprise hit. This particular get-up has been used for about five years and although it looks like a real tetanus magnet, when handled carefully it is a sturdy and dependable source of cheery heat.

wood gas stove, rusted
Several years old this little stove still pumps out an impressive volume of heat.

 

This model has been locally dubbed the 3-minute stove because it needs some fuel every three minutes or so. However with a steady diet of twigs or small pieces of wood (e.g., a split-up 2×4 piece no longer than 2-3″ [ ~10 cm]) the stove can pump out a ferocious little fire for hours. Once we got it going the stove lasted the entire market long and it gave some of the market kids a chance to practice their camp-craft skills by keeping it going through the rain and the wind. Saws, axes, and fire–what more could kids in the rain want?

Drills.

We also made a cell phone microscope kit, which was right easy when you know what part of the laser pointer to MacGyver. [N.B. Neither duct tape nor bubble gum were needed in this activity.]

These kits are easy to set up with a drill, drill bits, some bolts and nuts (wing nuts and washers are a double-big-plus) and the scavenged lens from the laser pointer. Even the younger kids used the drill to make the pilot holes (with proper parental approval, of course).

cell phone microscope made from wood, acrylic, nuts and bolts, and a laser pointer lens.
This simple cell phone microscope is easy to build and super fun to use.

The tool kits were also popular–both with patrons and with kids interested in using rasp files. Although we didn’t bring in too many tools, some of the kits went out the door and the kit we built on-site was made better by some sweat equity from one of the Market youth to even out a few of the corners.

We’re Going to the Market…

We’re planning on being at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market this weekend to launch the Tool Drive idea and get out with our neighbours!

The Sam Smith Farmers’ Market is on the skate trail in Colonel Samuel Smith Park, just south of Humber College’s Lakeshore campus in south Etobicoke (what we locals like to call New Toronto).

As mentioned in an earlier post (Toolbox Workshop – Update) we want to collect spare, gently used hand tools. If you have any extra pliers, hammers, etc (see the linked post for more details) then please bring them by.

We will focus on three projects this weekend:

There will be kits for sale if you want to make your own project at home, so bring some cash (no credit or debit). We will also have some tools and a bit or workspace on-hand for a few makers who just can’t wait to get building.

We are looking for the following new, gently used, or in good working order tools, for example:

  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Screw drivers
  • Level
  • Square
  • Pliers
  • Snips
  • Hand drill
  • Drill bits
  • Tape measures
  • Clamps

We have already started things off by building and filling one toolbox with some new and reasonably-used (i.e., still in good working condition) hand tools.

Hand-made small wooden toolbox filled with  hand tools
This toolbox is all ready to be donated to a needy family.

Hope to see you there! With tool donations!

Tool Drive and Tool Box Workshop

As just about everyone knows there are a lot of families leaving Syria and coming to Toronto. Recently we reached out to Lakeshore Syrian Connection, a local group who will be helping a family come to the New Toronto community with an idea about how we could help out. One of the things that could make coming to a new city a bit easier is having some hand tools. Buying new tools can be expensive, but many people have some tools lying around that they might be able to easily pass on to hands that need them.

So, we’re going to run a tool drive and see if we can gather enough tools to gift newcomer refugee families with a small kit to help fix little things around the house.

Chances are, most families coming to Toronto will be settling in apartments or shared living spaces, so we aren’t looking for large items like table saws, lathes, or drill presses – despite those being very exciting tools to have donated.

Maybe you have some extra tools lying around the house – or have a relative with too many to use. Of course, new tools are also welcome if you want to bring those in as well.

We are partnering with the 1st Lakeshore Scouts to get things underway. The Scout group will be running their annual Dirt Drive to fundraise and it’s a chance for some symbiotic community giving-back.

We are looking for the following new, gently used, or in good working order tools, for example:

  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Screw drivers
  • Level
  • Square
  • Pliers
  • Snips
  • Hand drill
  • Drill bits
  • Tape measures
  • Clamps

We are also going to be building some simple tool boxes to hold the tool donation and will be running a make-a-toolbox workshop: you, too, can make your very own toolbox!

We’ll have a number of pre-cut templates that can be bought on-site (for a small fee) and assembled with tools we’ll have there. The toolboxes can be made in an hour or two depending on how much you will be able to do on your own. Of course, we’ll be around and able to lend a hand or give some advice.

Here’s a sample toolbox that we whipped together one Sunday afternoon. This is the same model we’ll be using for the make-your-own project.

toolbox
A toolbox that you can make too!

We haven’t finalized all the details yet, but will be coming in the next few weeks; check back here for updates.

MakerFestivalTO — What We Learned

Well, phew! MakerFestival Toronto has come and gone and we had a great time at the splendid Toronto Reference Library for 2015’s Extravaganza event.

The New Toronto Booth was busy non-stop with heaps and heaps of visitors who poked, prodded, dialed, peered, printed, and made. The most engaging activities were the 3D pens, the cellphone microscopes, the penny batteries, and the analogue synth hooked up to the anvil-box amp. A lot of people asked about the 3D printing examples we had and many asked about the types of material that could be used.

We also conducted an entirely non-scientific poll—no r’s were chi-squared and there were only 36 respondents—but we still collected some useful feedback about the potential for getting a makerspace going in New Toronto. The biggest outcome we found suggested that adults wanted classes for themselves and their kids on 3D printing, soldering and electronics, and a place to work on projects with power tools and other action. Unfortunately, very few respondents said they’d be willing to pay for a membership. Fortunately, just as many respondents would pay for something. So, that’s a start.

There was less interest in the little free libraries that were all ready to sell. Could’ve been that they were a bit cost-prohibitive, but it doesn’t seem like the festival audience was generally that-much into spending money. The skateboard made using the Roarockit thin air press kit, the papercraft and cards, and the keychains lovingly made by one of the youngest members all generated less interest than expected.

The festival was billed (so to speak) as a free event, so it’s no surprise that people were less inclined to spend money. Perhaps next year the organizers would consider adding some advertising to the effect that exhibitors will have stuff to sell. And on more than one occasion I heard someone bemoan the fact that they had no bag in which to carry said schwag. Perhaps branded totes could be available for a small fee to attendees.

But, it was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to talk to all sorts of makers who came out to the Extravaganza event. Anecdotally we found that there were a good number of people who wanted a place to work, and were interested in participating. In fact, within days some follow up-up emails have started to trickle in.

Looks like we might just start to get something rolling, here…