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BEND MAGAZINE ARTICLE : Making It: Workspaces for Creativity in Bend

Jan 29, 2023

The DIYcave is the brainchild of a group of Bendites who came together with the idea of creating the city’s first maker space in late 2014.

Aaron Leis and his wife Charah Leis had leased a space on southwest Ninth Street with plans to open a workshop called Maker Station. Through word-of-mouth, they connected with Tim Willis and Dave Danek, who were brewing up a similar business idea, and had another name in mind—DIYcave—and the group joined forces as business partners. The first building of the DIYcave opened to curious passersby later that year, and officially opened to the public in early 2015, with the group slowly adding new buildings and expanding the creative offerings of the space over the next eight years.

Today, the DIYcave is operated by Aaron Leis and Willis, and is home to spaces equipped with tools for woodworking, welding, blacksmithing, laser cutting, 3D printing, glass projects, jewelry making and other creative explorations.

On a weeknight this January, the DIYcave campus was abuzz with a couple of female woodworkers operating saws, a family working together on a live-edge table with an epoxy river down the middle, an open session for jewelry makers and a builder working on the finishes for a tiny home, parked outside the woodshop. “It’s very inspirational to walk through here,” said Leis, who explained the goal of the DIYcave was to create a space that felt accessible and welcoming to anyone, from a college student to a single parent. “We wanted there to be no barrier to entry.” Interested do-it-yourselfers can join the DIYcave community by signing up for a class or paying an hourly rate for shop time to work on a project independently. Frequent users pay for memberships and some artists and builders rent out studio spaces, where they can store supplies and projects. 

While the DIYcave owners themselves are operating the business, Leis also acknowledges the role the space plays in launching the businesses of others, from a glassworker who rents out studio space to an artist who went from experimenting on the laser cutter one day to launching a company to sell topographic trail maps the next. Leis estimated about seventy percent of DIYcave users are creating items for themselves, while thirty percent are working on projects with monetary motivations.

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