Gearbox Buildout Update

While our blog has been rather quiet over the last few weeks, our space certainly hasn’t. We’ve had our heads down in the construction process at Gearbox Lite for a while now, but we thought it high time we shared a glimpse of all the hard work the team has been up to. The last time we checked in, our walls had just gone up and we had a new concrete floor laid. Since then, we’ve installed wiring – 3-phase power in the fabrication shop for the big machines, along with plenty of outlets and high-speed internet throughout the rest of the space. We’ve painted the walls and floors, installed windows, and sealed every nook and cranny for the best possible soundproofing.

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We’ve also been building furniture. The gorgeous table tops in the picture above were made by the folks at Unity Makers -- http://www.unitymakers.co.ke -- entirely from recycled scrap wood. We had some legs cut on the water jet at Kens Metal in Industrial Area, and we’re quite proud of the finished look.

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These tables are meant to be used by members doing deskwork – designing, coding, testing, working on a laptop. Most of the fabrication in the space will be done on the counters we’ve built.

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The frames are made from angle iron and square steel pipe, finished with a clear epoxy. This is where we encountered some of the difficulties inherent in making things in Nairobi. We cut the steel using our 26-inch portable band saw, arguably the perfect tool for the job. Unfortunately, we found ourselves going through blades like candy. No matter which blades we bought, no matter how slow (or fast) we cut, no matter the pressure we applied, our blades would either go blunt or break after only a handful of cuts.

They say a true craftsman never blames the tool, but I have to say, I haven’t broken a band saw blade in 10 years, and these blades bested everyone on our team. We couldn’t verify the true origin of where our blades were made, but we’ll try importing some Lenox blades next time we’re in the US and seriously speed things up. If anyone has leads on where to get the best blades in Nairobi, leave a tip in the comments!

The tops are being made with a double layer of 18mm blockboard. The finished look is polished but utilitarian, and we can quickly and easily remake and reconfigure the space as our needs change over the coming years.

One of the fun parts of doing construction is seeing everyone get involved. Most of the frames have been cut by Peter (who also designed the gear-shaped table legs above), while the welding was mostly done by William, our workshop lead at Gearbox Lite. Even Faith, our admin coordinator, got her hands dirty.

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These photos are just a few glimpses of the work that’s being done. We’ve got quite a few more updates to share, especially regarding some exciting new equipment that’s come in and will soon be available to use. Keep following this page for more updates – when we set our official launch date, it will be announced here.

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Alongside all of the work that remains to be done, we’re still engaging with our community. We’ve held several meetups and events in Gearbox Lite, and will continue to hold more before our official launch. Follow our page on Meetup.com -- http://www.meetup.com/Gearbox-Hardware-Innovators-Meetup/ -- to learn when you can come check out the space for yourself.

And now, it’s time for me to get back to the band saw!