Article by: Kate Jayroe

Photos by: Buck Kahler

Inside the Knox Makers’ building one can practically hear the thrum of buzzing ideas. Members consult each other or work independently below the partially constructed canoe hanging from the rafters. An impressively weird array of knick-knacks, vintage posters, and projects are scattered throughout the room. Knox Makers’ President Doug Laney describes this community workshop space as “an inclusive gym membership for nerds.”


(far left): Sam McClanahan (seated), Jondale Stratton, Chris McCulley, James Broyles, Kacie Phillips, Justin, Childress (plaid shirt), Issac Merkle, and Doug Laney work on projects.

Monthly dues range from $75 for a family, $50 for an individual, and $20 for full-time students. Children are welcome to work on a project with parental supervision.

Members enjoy 24 hour access to the studio space and use of a variety of resources and equipment, including a 2x Lasercutter, a RepRap MendelMax 3D printer, a silhouette portrait machine, and a full size electronic workbench with more than enough tools to complete most any project.

Knox Makers is a non-profit organization and most of its events are free and open to the general public. It is truly a paradise for both the creative and the technically minded.


Joe Pardue works on a solo electronics project.


Laney says the maker movement grew from the 1990’s landmark DIY (do-ityourself) movement, but Knox Makers goes a step beyond being only instruction – al. At its core, Laney says Knox Makers “brings together people with common interests, who in turn share in exploring uncommon subjects.”

Make Me

Everyone at Knox Makers is delighted when members can make their creative dreams a reality. James Broyles, Knox Makers’ Communications Director, says three members have created an independent business. Justin Childress, Kelly Chang, and Tobby Ryan created a 3D body scanner called Make Me.


Tobby Ryan scans Kelly Chang.

Broyles says an individual partakes in a full body scan for the purpose of creating a 3D printed figurine. The scan is e-mailed to a company called Shapeways. They can make the figurines out of materials like multicol – or sandstone, acrylic, and various metals.


Kelly Chang says a scan costs “$30 dollars and the figurines can run anywhere from $20 to $200, depending on the size and materials chosen. Tobby Ryan says Make Me was very busy scanning cosplayers at the Marble City Comicon.

Completed Kelly Chang as Lara Croft figurine.

Completed Kelly Chang as Lara Croft figurine.

Other Projects

Some members are working on projects like an automated DIY smokehouse, innovative arts and crafts, robotics, and more. Broyles and Sam McClanahan are “working with library professionals to explore new library programs from educational outreach events to technology carts.” Broyles says, “Becca Baker at Blount County Library has been creating unique mak – er programming for children and young adults.” Every Tuesday, members can participate in a Show & Share about their projects. The audience can ask questions, offer polite criticism, or simply sit back and absorb the information. Knox Makers also hosts seminars on top – ics like open Internet capabilities.

On The Move

Knox Makers is presently located in Commerce Park in Oak Ridge, but they are hoping to move to Knoxville Center. Broyles says, “While we have seen unexpected delays, this has been for the purpose of erring on the side of caution and safety while the kinks are worked out. Mayor Rogero’s office, the City of Knoxville, and Knox County Code Administration and Enforcement have all teamed up and worked very hard to help us get past these hurdles. We do not have a [move] date yet. Hopefully, we can be in our new location with resumed public programs before the summer is over. Once we are established in our new place closer to downtown, we hope to organize our own maker festivals and larger maker events.” Knox Makers and Make Me will be attending Pellissippi State’s Makerpalooza, a celebration of the National Day of Making. This event will be held on June 18 at the Harden Valley campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the general public. For more information about Knox Makers, please visit To learn more about Make Me, visit

Cover photo: Issac Merkle and Doug Laney discuss 3D printers.

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© Knoxzine, 2015.

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