A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project | Pittsburgh City Paper

A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project

click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Courtesy of Children’s Museum
Exploring woodworking with hand tools in MAKESHOP is a perennial activity.

The last thing you want is to accidentally chop off a finger. Whether you are a skilled craftsman or just starting out, learning to use tools safely is paramount. Maker spaces are great resources for anyone with a project, whether it's for home improvement, an artistic venture, or simply learning to craft and use power tools safely. These spaces share appliances and educational classes, many with memberships that foster a community of people who love to make things. Here’s our list of the best maker spaces in Pittsburgh.


click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Courtesy of Protohaven
Lyla Nelson, Shop Tech, and Jessica Gaynelle Moss, resident artist in Protohaven’s BLK ART LAB residency

Most tools: Protohaven

214 N Trenton Ave, Point Breeze. protohaven.org

Protohaven offers a host of tools and classes from woodworking to blacksmithing. They are the largest maker space in Pittsburgh for design and fabrication, with all the tools you can possibly imagine. Members get access to the space from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with shop techs available to assist in using the equipment. Have a project but don’t have the time or skill to do it alone? Protohaven shop techs can teach you to use the tools, or will share your project in their Discord community and see if anyone is available to work as a contractor.

Tools: Woodshop (power and hand tools), 3D printers, Laser cutters, Metalworking (blacksmithing forge, welder, grinder, drill press, sheet metal tools, sandblaster, etc.), Jewelry (cleaner, polisher, pickle, tumbler, torch, etc.), Plastic working tools, CNC mill, Electronics (hardware, soldering), Fabric Arts (sewing machines, embroidery, etc.), Graphics (printers, vinyl cutter, heat press), and more

click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Christian McCann

Best maker community: Hack PGH

1936 Fifth Ave, Uptown. hackpgh.org

Hack has many of the tools that most people may need from fabrication tools to spare electronic parts, but it’s also a great place to make friends, if that’s your thing. Hack builds community through bi-monthly member meetups and game nights where folks can hang out and play board or card games. Additionally, members get 24/7 access to the space and equipment, discounts on Hack classes, and field trips with other members to events like maker fairs. Their classes range from electronic hardware to soft fabric arts to welding.

Tools: Woodshop (power and hand tools), 3D printers, Laser cutters, Metalworking (welder, manual drill mill, and metal lathe), CNC Mill, Electronic (hardware, soldering iron, desoldering iron, etc.), Fabric Arts (sewing machines), Graphics (vinyl cutter, laminator)

click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Courtesy of Prototype PGH
Prototype provides a space for meetings, events, and workshops

Best for starting your business: Prototype PGH

460 Melwood #208, North Oakland. prototypepgh.org

Makers aren’t always in it for the hobby. Some have career aspirations, and if that’s you, Prototype PGH might be your spot. Not only is it a great, smaller space with a variety of hand tools, printers, and cutters, Prototype PGH also has an incubator program where selected participants have free access to the space, workshops, and other support systems helping people to start new businesses. Members of Prototype PGH have 24/7 access to the space and equipment. Additionally, the space often hosts workshops and events including training on the tools, programming help, and even writing workshops.

Tools: Hand tools, Laser Cutter, Electronic (soldering irons, Arduino boards), Fabric Arts (sewing machine, screen printing, hat press and t-shirt heat press), Graphics (printer, vinyl cutter, button maker)


Best for kids starting out: Fab Lab

Carnegie Science Center. One Allegheny Ave. North Side. carnegiesciencecenter.org/stem-center/fablab/

Start ‘em young, they say, and in Pittsburgh, you can. Fab Lab has both introductory classes for kids and Free-Flow Fridays, where the Fab Lab is open to ages 8 and up for those trained on their tools. Free-Flow Fridays are free but advance registration is necessary and materials are an additional cost.

Tools: 3D printers and 3D pens, Laser cutters, Electronics (computers, software, VR, robotics, etc.), CNC mill, Fabric Arts (sewing and embroidery machines), Graphics (vinyl cutter)

click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Courtesy of Children’s Museum
Children and families can explore building electrical circuits in MAKESHOP.

Best STEAM kids programs: Children’s Museum (Makeshop, MuseumLab)

6 Allegheny Sq. East, North Side. museumlab.org

The Children’s Museum has a few different types of maker areas, all STEAM-focused and included with museum admission. They also offer workshops, afterschool programs, and camps for kids of all ages.

MAKESHOP Tools: Woodshop (hand tools), 3D printers, Laser cutter, Electronic (circuitry, soldering, small appliances), Fabric Arts (sewing machine, loom weaving), Graphics (vinyl cutter)

Museum Lab (for middle school ages, comprised of MakeLab and TechLab): Woodshop (table saw), Laser cutter, Metalworking Studio (metal stamp, enameling, soldering, pewter casting), Fabric Arts (rug tufting machine, embroidery machine), Art and craft supplies


click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Courtesy of Assemble

Best DEI kids programs: Assemble

4824 Penn Ave, Garfield. assemblepgh.org

While Assemble has something for all ages — from grades k-12 to adults 21+ — their most extensive programming lies in their afterschool and summer day camps. From Girls Maker Nights to Afrofuturism Learning Parties, Assemble seeks to make an inclusive space for kids. Day camps at Assemble are free for Garfield residents, and all afterschool programming is free.

Tools: Hand tools, 3D printers, Laser cutter, Electronics (computers and basic electrical kits), Art and craft supplies


For 3D printing: Creation Lab

Inside the Galleria Mt. Lebanon. 1500 Washington Rd Suite 2401, Mt. Lebanon. creationlabs.us

This dedicated 3D printing lab will assist you with every aspect of a 3D printing project, from learning the software to buying printing filament of every color in the rainbow. If you have a 3D file ready to print, stop by this shop inside the Galleria at Mt. Lebanon or send it ahead online.

Tools: 3D printers, Laser cutter

click to enlarge A guide to Pittsburgh maker spaces for your next big project
Photo: Courtesy of Cut and Sew Studio

For sewing: Cut and Sew Studio / Firecracker Fabrics

1747 Chislett Street, Morningside. cutandsewstudio.com

Cut and Sew Studio and Firecracker Fabrics share a space where you can find various fabrics, sewing materials, patterns, and tools that will inspire your next project. Their sewing machines are available during open studio hours, and they have classes for both adults and kids who wish to learn sewing techniques. Classes provide a range of new skills from quilting to serging basics and even how to follow patterns.

Tools: Fabric Arts (sewing machines)

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