“Let’s Make …” Instructables.com – Fostering Creativity

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Do visions of creating something brand-new for the world occupy your mind more than you care to admit? Do ideas for new projects pop up when you are watching TV, cleaning house or driving to work? If so, chances are you are well acquainted with Instructables.com, the ultimate website for creators – or you should be!

I first learned about this super creative website when Woodcraft began partnering with Instructables to sponsor some of its ongoing contests on Instructables.com. I work in the Marketing Department, and our department is responsible for writing press releases. I just finished writing about winners of the most recent Woodcraft-sponsored contest, who are listed later in this blog, along with some examples of the winning entries. 

When I was assigned to write the first release about contest winners, I spent some time on Instructables.com and on Google researching its roots. A spinoff of Squid Labs, based in Alameda, California, Instructables.com is considered the World’s Biggest Show and Tell. Instructables.com attracts 30 million plus viewers each month to its web-based documentation platform that allows passionate creators to share what they do and how they do it, as well as learn from and collaborate with others.

“Let’s Make …” 

Visitors to Instructables.com first see this invitation on the homepage: “Let’s Make”, followed by a rotating list of categories:  fire, dinner, and circuit boards on one day. A menu of “making” categories appears on the right side of the homepage: Everything, Technology, Workshop, Craft, Home, Food, Play, Outside and Costumes

Creators can share what they make with the world, and tap into an ever-growing community of creative experts by logging into the “Publish” section on the website. The “Explore” section invites visitors to explore the projects posted on the website.

This 3-D Scanning class is one of many offered on Instructables.com in categories ranging from Cooking to Circuit Board Design.

In the “Let’s Learn” section, you can sign up for classes that range from traditional topics like Cooking, Gardening and Hand Sewing to the less familiar Circuit Board Design, Wearable Electronics and Internet of Things.

A “For Teachers” section offers a free program for teachers to access Instructables material for their classes and includes the message: Instructables is committed to providing free education.

Besides offering a place to showcase and store new projects and classes, Instructables also sponsors ongoing competitions.

“Woodworking Contest”

The “Woodworking Contest” is the most recent Woodcraft-sponsored contest. The 470 entries crafted from wood appeared on Instructables.com from February 27 through April 24, and members could vote for any entry. After the contest closed, a panel of judges, including Instructables staff members and members of the Instructables community, rated the finalists.The averages of the ratings determined the winners. This process is standard for all contests.

Finding virtually no non-laminated canoe paddle projects on Instructables.com, Grand Prize winner Jared R. decided that building a canoe paddle from a single piece of wood (non-laminated) would be a good use for his seven sassafras boards and a good entry in the Instructables contest. “Laminated paddles,” he explained, “are made from several strips glued together, while single piece paddles require less tools and can even be carved with nothing but a knife.”  

His lack of experience and having less than the best tools for the job posed a challenge, but as Jared stated in his online instructions for the project: “I am no expert, so if you are looking for a master you won’t find him here. But if you are looking for proof that anyone can do this with a little time and a few tools, look no further.”

As Grand Prize winner, Jared will receive a Nova 1624 II Lathe from Woodcraft and an Instructables prize pack that includes a robot T-shirt.

A project engineer at a mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering firm in his home state of Missouri, Jared said he could probably be considered an amateur woodworker, but not a woodturner. “I have never used a wood lathe before, but have always wanted to, so I was really excited to win this prize,” he said. 

Jared is not a stranger to the Instructables competitions; he won a runner-up prize in the Design Now: 3D Printing contest in 2016. Although he owns a canoe, Jared is seriously considering a handmade cedar strip canoe as a future project – and maybe another Instructables contest entry?                               

This hardworking Miter Saw Station Build by Moises P. of California, one of the First Prize winners, features lots of drawer storage space, as well as space for his miter saw and other benchtop tools, with a special sliding/locking fence system, and a dust port.

Other winners

The other winners created a varied selection of wood projects. To view and learn more about all 34 winning projects, click here.

First Prize winners 

Moises P., California; David G., Maryland; and Anja H., Poland, each won a DeWalt Heavy-Duty 6-1/2" Corded TrackSaw Kit from Woodcraft and an Instructables prize pack that includes a robot T-shirt.      

Pam H. from the United Kingdom, made this Colour Pencil Lamp for a friend, using wood resin and color pencils. It won a Second Prize. Finding and restoring broken pencil leads was a challenge in this mostly turning project.

Second Prize winners 

Mario C., Australia; Pam H., United Kingdom; Andy S., Wisconsin; Johnny B., North Carolina; and a fifth winner whose contact information is not available each won a 16" Rockwell Variable Speed Scroll Saw  and a Groz Pen Press Vise from Woodcraft and an Instructables prize pack that includes a robot T-shirt.

Jeff S. from Canada built this queen-sized GroundFX “floating” bed that “glows” to be used with a box spring. The bed actually rests on a platform, and LED lights provide the glow. It won a Third Prize.

Third Prize winners 

Vasileios P., Greece; Miguel P., Spain; Jeff S., Canada; Sean D., Virginia; James W., Illinois; Robbe C., Belgium; Jordan M., California; Jenna K., Michigan; Dustin L., Kansas; and Paul J., Rhode Island, will each receive a WoodRiver Woodthreading Kit, 1" x 6 TPI, from Woodcraft and an Instructables prize pack that includes a robot T-shirt.

Josh C. from Pennsylvania designed this Ski Sled upgrade of a classic snow sled in SketchUp with four main design objectives: use an aluminum frame for durability and low weight, make it turn better than the previous sled, make it easy to build and add suspension for bumpy roads.

Runner-Up Prize winners 

Josh C. from Pennsylvania, Clint S. from California, Katarina E. from the United Kingdom, Jadon M. from Indiana, Annie A from The Netherlands, Stephanie K. from Florida, Bob S. from Canada, Philip B. from the United Kingdom, Brandon S. from New Jersey, Bruce P. from California, Nigel R. from The United Kingdom, Ayesha U. from Srilanka, Art M. from Canada, and two winners whose information is not yet available will each receive an Instructables prize pack that includes a robot T-shirt.

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