From rLab

Things to check before inducting a new member[edit]

  • Check everyone has photo-id on them. If someone doesn't they can still receive the induction but will have to return later with ID to join and get an access card
  • Check everyone is over 18 and a legal adult, for under-18s or those with issues that mean they require a carer, a parent, guardian or carer can join instead, but will have accompany the individual at all times in the space
  • Check that everyone knows how to, and would feel comfortable that they're able to, summon emergency services and/or give first aid in the event of an incident.
  • If during induction the person doing the induction has any doubts about whether the inductee can operate safely in the space, alone or with others, then membership should be refused. Objections to this decision should be referred to the next directors meeting.
  • Ask if anyone has been a member of another hackspace. If everyone says yes then the induction can be faster than usual as there should be no need to explain what a hackspace is
  • Ask if anyone has previously been a member of rLab, if yes check the membership database for their record and ensure they're eligible to re-join.
    • If there are notes indicating a problem then DO NOT DISCUSS this with them publicly, just explain there's an issue and offer to talk about it later
    • If the note indicates not to reactivate without discussion then refer to next directors meeting for decision

Our history[edit]

  • The Hackspace started as two guys sitting in a shed around 2010
  • Tom and Ryan had seen other hackspaces in London and other countries and were keen to start their own
  • They found some like-minded people, and initially the group met in a range of temporary venues, such as the Rising Sun arts centre, before taking a couple of rooms at a storage company in Woodley
  • Ultimately that did not work out, and the group took the bold step of moving here to Weldale Street
  • The building is owned by one of members – Tom – who is not just understanding about our needs, but positively incites us to ‘hack the space’
  • Nonetheless, Tom has a mortgage to pay and the monthly rent on the building is £1200
  • With only ~30 members when we first moved in, we were not covering the rent, and some members were dipping into their own pockets to make ends meet so we own a big debt of thanks to those early members
  • Fortunately, with over 200 members we are now in a much stronger position – we can fully cover our costs
  • We do not receive any grants, and although we do accept no-strings-attached donations sometimes we are not a charity, and therefore we are masters of our own destiny – we can do what we want


  • We are light on governance and have a level structure. There are no committees, no officers, and fundamentally no member is any more important than any other.
  • Four of our members are directors of a limited company - Reading Makerspace Ltd - that has been set up solely to provide us with sufficient legal identity to pay the rates, energy bills (which you can imagine are quite large), and buy things such as insurance
  • Our current directors are Peter, Stuart, and Philip [point out on touchscreen once we have it]
  • Members often describe our governance arrangements as a ‘do-ocracy’ – things get done by people on the basis of consensus
  • This is important – we are obviously happy to be financially self-sufficient, but we only achieved this position though the hard work of members
  • Put simply – this place would not exist without the effort invested by members over the years

Playing your part[edit]

This place is run by volunteers

  • We do not employ anybody. The directors do not take any money out of the business.
  • Everything that happens here is as a result of effort on the part of volunteers - people who do what they do for the love of making and seeing other members achieve their goals
  • As such you need to be reasonable in your expectations of what you can expect. Inductions happen, and tools get fixed, in the time that people can spare


  • We do not, for instance, employ cleaners.
  • It is important that you clean up after yourself, ideally leaving your workspace in a better condition than you found it
  • If you do not clean up after yourself, other members will call you out on it – and you should do the same
  • Cleanliness is a Health and Safety issue. If we have a build-up of dust, or rubbish on the floor, it creates a hazard – a fire hazard and a slip hazard
  • Please be conscious of the fact that some of our members have hidden disabilities eg.. partial sightedness, and therefore if you leave things on the floor they might trip. Similarly, if you drop screws and nails on the floor downstairs, please try and find them and pick them up because we also have members who are wheelchair users.
  • Please play your part in keeping the place clean
  • This is a non-smoking site, you are not allowed to smoke anywhere inside the building or immediately outside the entrance. For the moment we allow vaping so long as it doesn't trigger the fire alarms, but we're keeping that under review in case it becomes annoying to other members.

Sharing your skills and experience

  • Fundamentally we are a community. We share not just this building and the tools inside, but also our knowledge and skills
  • This place is at its buzziest when people are sharing what they know whether that's informally or by running inductions or workshops
  • As you walked in this evening you came in with your own unique set of life experiences and knowledge - please share that with other members. Show an interest in what they are doing - you will find other members will quickly show an interest in what you are doing.
  • As a member you will learn a lot, please play your part in sharing what you learn with other members


  • A lot of the communication between the group happens on our Google Groups mailing list
  • Please be aware that it is an open mailing list that can be read by anyone on the internet (strangely, whilst we have only ~180 members, there are nearly a 1000 people who follow the group)
  • As you will find with any 1000-strong cross-section of society, there are a couple of contributors who can come across as a bit 'troll'-like. Please try not to take offence, and give people the benefit of any doubt you have about their intent when reading their messages. More often than not, people are not setting out to be rude or disrespectful.
  • Throughout the induction I'm going to mention things that can be found on the mailing list or the wiki, I'll be sending you a one-off email with a set of useful links including those when we're done here.

The mailing list

  • It is generally a well-mannered group, though we occasionally have our disagreements. They tend to calm down as quickly as they flare up. Please think about how your message might come across before posting and despite it's sometimes contentious debates you'll miss out on a lot of the more interesting stuff that happens at the lab if you're not on there.
  • Your first post will be moderated by one of the directors – after which you will be able to post freely.

Outreach activities

  • We also encourage people to become involved in outreach activities such as the Reading Repair Cafe, which is held here every two months


  • We are a diverse group
  • If you look around you will see our membership is drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, different races, religions, genders, sexual orientation, and gender identities
  • We consider our diversity to be a great source of creativity within the group and we do not tolerate prejudice. Full stop.
  • If you have a problem with any of those groups, it is your problem not theirs.
  • If you feel you have been subject to prejudice whilst you are here, please talk to us about it
  • There is a safeguarding policy on our wiki.

Your possessions[edit]

  • We cannot take responsibility for things that you bring with you into the space
  • To date we have been very fortunate – we have had almost two hundred people as members, and so far have not had any thieves within the group, but one day it may happen
  • We have CCTV, with footage stored securely
  • Please take care of your possessions while you are here
  • There are some guidelines on bringing things into the space on the wiki – please read them and I'll go into more detail when we're in the store room

Our possessions[edit]

  • Everything you see around you here was bought and paid for by our members, if it gets broken then it has to be repaired or replaced out of funds supplied by our members
  • So please treat the tools and equipment carefully like it's your own, because in a very real sense, it is! So clean things up properly when you're done with them and put them back where they belong so the next person can find them
  • That said, sooner or later you are going to wind up damaging something by accident, everyone does it eventually
    • We're not professionals so we understand that in this environment some accidental damage is bound to occur, it's not a big deal
    • What matters is that you make sure that no-one (including yourself) is hurt, and nothing is left in a dangerous state where it could hurt others
    • If it's just a minor consumable that's gotten broken, then throw it out, buy a new one if we've run out and give us the receipt and we'll reimburse you
    • If it's a tool or a major part of a tool that's been broken, you should post on the mailing list to let people know what's happened and we'll decide if we want to attempt to repair it or to replace it
    • You won't get in trouble for a genuine mistake that leads to something getting broken so long as you weren't being reckless or ignoring safety rules, just learn from it so that you (and perhaps other too) can avoid making the same mistake again.
    • We only really get upset if people hide that something got broken, because that means that the next person who tries to use it won't be able to and might even be hurt if they don't see the damage and because it prevents us using it to learn how to avoid that happening again in future.

Health and Safety[edit]

  • The most important point that I’ll make during this whole induction is this – you are responsible for your own health and safety whilst you are here at the space
  • We have some insurance, which fortunately has not been tested, and we hope it never will
  • However, if there was a serious incident here, it is likely that we would have to close the space down, and all of the effort that has been put into making this happen so far would be lost
  • Taking responsibility for your Health and Safety while you are here means the following
  • Do not use a tool unless you are confident that you know, not just how to turn it on and off, but also how it might fail.
    • The example that I normally use is an angle-grinder – anyone can pick up an angle grinder and turn it on, but is the guard in the right place? Is the disk fitted correctly? (remember these are shared tools) What would happen if it broke? Are you standing safely? If you are cutting metal, where are you spraying sparks? Onto wood-dust? Onto another member?
    • Best advice is to stay mindful – ‘in the moment’ – when you are using power tools
    • If you are at all uncertain, stop
  • Do not use a tool that could hospitalize you whilst you are here on your own
    • We have a wide range of tools, including some that could seriously harm you
    • Make sure there is someone in the building to hear your screams and call an ambulance if necessary
    • ambulance station is nearby, maybe mention Andrew incident
    • The same thing applies to working with mains electricity
  • Be aware of the impact that your work may be having on other members
    • If you think you might be endangering them – stop.
    • If you feel endangered by someone else’s work, ask them to stop and have a discussion about how you might adjust your work to remove the danger
    • Be civil and find a compromise, but if anyone present says "No, this is dangerous" then it has to stop until that concern can be resolved
    • We tell this to everyone, there are no arseholes in the group, so don't be afraid to raise concerns
  • Wear PPE
    • We have plenty of PPE downstairs and there is absolutely no excuse for not using it
    • We have gloves, aprons, glasses, masks, ear defenders – all there for your use
    • Bring your own if you prefer, but wear appropriate safety equipment for your activity
    • If you see another member not using PPE, feel free to interrupt them (safely) and urge them to wear the appropriate gear
    • If you think that we need more or different PPE then start a discussion with the group about it, it's normally very easy to get the purchase of new PPE agreed
  • Do not tamper with safety equipment
    • Some tools have build in safety systems to try to avoid you being hurt DO NOT TAMPER WITH THESE
    • If you're in a situation where you think you need to disable a safety system, consider if there is another way to do it or another tool you could use
    • If you still think you need to disable a safety system then you MUST talk to the maintainers of that tools to determine if there's a way to proceed safely
    • Tampering with safety equipment can result in immediate expulsion from rLab

Health and Safety tour[edit]

  • I will now take you on a brief tour of the space and point out some of the hazards and highlight how some of the more important things work around here.
  • As we walk around you may find that there is a cumulative effect of us pointing our all the different ways that you could hurt yourself while you are here. Our intention is not to scare you but to ensure that you feel safe, by being aware of hazards, from the moment you join so that you can be safe when working around other people using the tools here.
  • The thing to remember is that we have members who can show you how to use our equipment safely. Nothing here is especially hazardous if you know what you are doing.


  • This is the main social area for the Hackspace
  • It needs to be kept clean, you'll find cleaning materials under the sink and in the cupboards, if we've run out of any cleaning materials then just go buy more and give your receipt to one of the directors for reimbursement.
  • Tea and coffee are kept in the drawer here, they're free but make sure you check the date on the milk!
  • Cans and sometimes chocolate are kept in the fridge, they're 50p each and you put the money in the honesty box on the wall
  • The tuck shop is run separately from rLab's main finances and all the money is recycled, so if people don't pay for their drinks, soon there won't be any!

At front door[edit]

  • The principle fire escape route from upstairs is down these stairs and out through the front door and it must not be obstructed
  • This is the sound of the fire alarm (DEMONSTRATE by turning key in control box) - if you hear this sound, please leave by the nearest fire exit.
  • If you have accidentally triggered the alarm, turn the key to "enable controls" and use the 2 reset buttons, then let people know it was a false alarm

Store room[edit]

  • We have two gender-neutral toilets. Please maintain a high standard of hygiene - a level that would satisfy all of our members.
  • In here you can store project materials that you're actively working on if you can't easily transport them back and forth
    • Please consider if you need to store projects here or not, people on foot or on bicycles have a much harder time transporting projects than people who drive
    • You get a suitable box that can fit safely on the shelf, put your stuff in it, label it with your name, contact details and the last date you worked on it
    • Do not store anything in a project box that might endanger someone who moves it
    • You can update the date every time you do something on it, we're fine with things staying here for longer periods so long as they're being actively worked on
    • If a month goes by with no update to the date, we may throw out your project box to make room for others
    • There's a storage policy on the wiki, please check it out before storing stuff here.
  • How to use fire extinguishers
    • Check if people already know, skip if they do
    • Raise the alarm! - Do not try to fight the fire if no-one knows you're here, if you get trapped no-one will know to look for you
    • Don't try to fight large fires, if it's more than about 1 cu.mtr. of material burning, forget it, get out!
    • Don't get trapped by the fire, don't get into a situation where it'll block your only exit route if it spreads. If you can't get safe access to the seat of the fire then don't try, get out.
    • Don't endanger yourself, smoke is lethal in seconds
    • You can use all types on paper/cloth/wood fires
    • You can use all types except water on electrical fires
    • You can use all types except water and CO2 on oil/grease/solvent fires
    • CO2 are especially effective on electrical fires
    • Fire extinguishers typically have a range of 3-5m, use it, you don't need to get too close
    • Get down on one knee to avoid the fireball that might be produced when the extinguisher first hits the fire
    • Pull the pin, it'll be harder than you think, really yank it out
    • Hold only by the marked hard-grips, some parts will get dangerously cold during use
    • Aim at base of fire, squeeze handle, wave it around a bit
    • If the fire isn't dying within seconds, give up fighting the fire, get out.

First aid kit and PPE[edit]

  • Here is out best equipped first aid kit.
  • At the top there is an eye-wash station if you get something in your eye.
  • There is a basic first aid kit containing plasters, bandages dressings.
  • We also have a Bleeding Control Kit containing tourniquets and other equipment for dealing with more serious injuries.
  • If you use any of the first aid equipment then tell us so it can be replenished.
  • No high-heels, sandals or open-toed shoes in the workshop; trainers are OK, sturdy boots are better
  • PPE
    • The main store for protective equipment is here
    • We have ear protection, eye protection, disposable gloves, heatproof gloves, disposable dust masks, aprons, paint-suits, overalls
    • There's always a ready supply of PPE, USE IT! NO EXCUSES - NO MATTER HOW SHORT YOUR JOB IS!
    • Check your PPE before use, this is a shared space and sometimes things get broken so always check
      • Especially check the heat-proof gloves for holes or tears, it happens quite often
    • If find broken or unserviceable PPE, throw it away and post on the mailing list, we'll get more
    • If we're out of the right PPE for the job you want to do, then you don't do that job! Post on the list reporting the lack and we'll get it sorted
    • If you think we should have additional/different PPE available, post on the mailing list, speak to the room leaders or speak to the directors. We're very open to expanding the range of protection gear we have and it's normally quite easy to get funding for it.

In workshop, by chemical store[edit]

  • Welders, we have 2 welders, one for MIG and one for TIG welding
    • They can create a lot of sparks so there's a fire risk there
    • There's actually much less electrical hazard than you might think, the welders use less than 50 volts in normal operation
    • But they produce a light that's literally blinding, you mustn't look at welding in progress without special eye protection. Someone welding is supposed to shout "eyes" right before they start to warn you, but don't rely on that.
    • Recently welded metal won't glow but it may still be several hundred degrees, so don't just pick things up without checking first.
  • Here is the chemical store; It is split across 2 cupboards
    • The Flammable materials store is under the sink here, it contains strong alcohols (not for drinking), solvents, flammable resins etc.
    • The flammables cupboard is not locked, but must be kept closed whenever you're not actually taking something out of it.
    • The corrosive materials store is over there under the bench, it contains strong acids, caustic alkalies and other corrosive materials
    • The corrosives cupboard is kept locked and you'll have to ask a director for the key if you need access
  • Everything in the cupboards is (a) labelled, and (b) recorded on a register
  • This is so that if there was ever a fire, we would be able to tell the fire brigade exactly what is in the cupboard so that they could take precautions
  • If you want to bring some chemicals in, please ensure that they are cleared with the people looking after then chemicals and added to the register
  • If you are unsure how to use a chemical, read the label and research on the internet – it will tell you what precautions you need to take
  • We are not licensed to store explosives, toxins, pharmaceuticals or pre-cursors. Please do not bring such chemicals into the space
  • Top tip – when you open the cupboard, step back for a moment to let the fumes escape, else you will get a face full of fumes
  • Above the chemical cupboard is the fume hood
  • Anything that makes hazardous or especially stinky fumes should go in here while you're work on it
  • The fan is controlled by this remote [point it out]
  • The sink here is the designated "dirty" sink, it's suitable for greasy, dirty, corrosive, smelly or otherwise nasty things, and it's the only sink that is.
  • Don't clean workshop items in the toilet sink or upstairs sink.

Router table[edit]

  • Many of our tools are marked with these orange hexagonal 'Induction required' stickers
  • What we are asking here is that you seek a basic induction, or demonstrate your competence, before diving in and using it
  • These may seem strange on, say, a bandsaw as you may have one of these at home. However, please bear in mind that there might be something unusual about his model, or this particular machine, that you should be aware of before you use it.
  • Inductions can take anywhere from 15 minutes up to several hours depending on the complexity of the tool, somewhere just under an hour is normal
  • Many of our tools are fitted with a common dust extraction fitting that matches to one on the large blue vacuum cleaners (point it out and the scheppachs)
  • The hazard associated with the table router is fairly obvious - there is a cutting tip that protrudes from the top of the table.
  • Don't touch the sharp spinning thing.... This is something of a recurring theme downstairs
  • There is actually more to using a table router than immediately meets the eye - you need to think carefully about how to feed the wood if you are to use it safely. It is quite capable of throwing the wood to the left or the right of the operator with considerable force if not fed correctly, so it might be wise not to stand in the way while it's in use.
  • The router is very loud, if someone is using it you'll probably want hearing protection


  • Here is a planer/thicknesser. Depending on what hole you feed your wood into, it will come out either smoother or thinner.
  • This tool requires induction. Under the lid there is a drum with spinning blades - do not put you hands inside the machine when it is turned on.
  • Under certain rare circumstances it can fire work out, and people using it may need quite a lot of clear space around them.


  • This is a powerful tool and will cut through logs or sheet metal with ease.
  • This tool has electronic access control, which means that you have to put your membership card into the box in order to operate it. It will check that you have been inducted before supplying power to the motor. These controls are being rolled out to other tools at the moment
  • There are two levels of induction for this and some of our other tools - one in basic use, the other in advanced use and maintenance. If you make heavy use of this tool, we would be grateful if you did the second maintenance induction as well so you can help maintain it, it's only fair that the more advanced users take part in keeping tools running well
  • Obviously don't touch the blade
  • Don't distract people using it, and remember they may need considerable space around them to use it safely

In workshop, in loading bay & Table saw[edit]

  • The loading bay light switch is next to the e-stop next to the bandsaw
  • Here is the tablesaw – another powerful and high precision piece of equipment.
  • The hazard here is pretty clear – it has a large spinning blade in the top.
  • Under certain malfunction conditions it can throw work out quite hard, standing directly in front of or behind the saw while it's in use isn't wise
  • It has dust extraction fitted, which will collect much of the dust that it creates, but if you're near it for a long period then a dust mask is wise
  • It's very loud, hearing protection is recommended if you're nearby while it's in use
  • The distribution units are here on the wall. Around the workshop you may have noticed the red emergency stop buttons on the walls, if pressed they shut off all power downstairs except for the metal Lathe; Don't hesitate to use them if you see and accident about to happen or in progress. If you do use them or something else trips the power, you will have to reset with the key [point to key], but make sure that all tools have been made safe before resetting it.
  • Also here is the master power shutoff for the entire Lab, it's a last resort if there's a major emergency.
  • How to operate the main roller door
    • Using the locking bolt and chain bracket
    • Don't pull the chain sideways or it jumps off the roller
    • Don't leave the door open unattended.
  • How the spare materials pile works

** Unlabeled items are free to take, but if taking large amounts then please consider a donation

    • Items labeled with someone's name are safe from hacking for 1 week, after that they're fair game
    • Items labeled with a price cost that much if you use them, money in the honesty pot please

Wood lathe / reductive work working[edit]

  • Wood turning is incredibly popular. It is also a very quick way of generating a vast amount of debris and dust - including very fine dust that will hang in the air. Please make sure that you leave time at the end of your work to thoroughly clean the are if you do any wood turning.
  • All of these tools make quite a lot of dust and that does tend to be an issue down here so
    • The air cleaner should be running all the time when you're doing anything dusty.
    • Please always clean up your sawdust when you're done, we have a number of brushes and pans around here
    • Sawdust goes in the regular bins, if they're full then please empty them into the bins outside, one is regular waste, one is recycling, they're clearly marked
    • Dust is a safety issue for us because as well as woodwork, metal grinding sometimes happens in this area, and hot metal sparks plus sawdust is a fire risk
    • It's a good idea to leave 15 minutes of time at the end of work to get everything cleaned up and put away

** It's OK to leave the air cleaner running on a timer when you leave, it uses hardly any power and helps keep the dust down

In workshop, by stairs[edit]

  • Please keep the space at the bottom of the stairs clear of objects as it's a fire escape route
  • Here is the the forge, the compressor and the blasting cabinet, along with a bottles of gas
  • If you are unfamiliar of the risks associated with using them, then again, we can provide training, the forge requires it.
  • The Forge
    • There should always be a trained operator near the forge while it's in use to deal with any problems, but just in case you need to know the following
    • The forge gets to 1350ºC it can burn pretty much anything that burns and melt most things that melt

** It uses bottled gas, so there's a fire risk and a carbon monoxide risk from that, the gas shutoff is at the back

    • If water is splashed into a hot forge then it causes a steam explosion, so if it does catch fire, conventional fire extinguishers can't be used

In workshop, at fire exit[edit]

  • Here is the fire exit - please keep the space in front of it clear

[demonstrate opening and encourage them to step outside to look at the escape route]

  • The fire escape route is along the back of the building, and round the side, which will bring you out by the front door
  • Don't flee in the wrong direction - you can't escape that way.
  • Please keep the escape route clear of objects
  • Behind the sign there is barbed wire. If the sign is missing, there is a risk that you might get caught on it, so take a sharp left if you have to flee the building

In workshop, by lathe[edit]

  • This is the metal lathe. It has three-phase power, and is a powerful high-precision machine
  • There is an emergency stop button, and the floor peddle
  • The button shuts off the power, the peddle also puts a mechanical brake on the lathe and stops it dead. It does not harm the machine to do this so don't hesitate to use it if needed
  • We ask members not to use it unless they have had a familiarisation session and demonstrated their competence
  • We can provide training, but we cannot certify you as trained – it is still incumbent on you to satisfy yourself that you are fit to use any machine
  • Opposite the Lathe is the pedestal grinder that we use for sharpening lathe tools
  • It has 2 grinding wheels that when spinning have the energy of small bomb and can explode if abused, we ask members not to use it unless they're thoroughly familiar with grinding wheel safety
  • By the side of the lathe here [points it out] is the store for metal off-cuts. Wood offcuts are kept in the bin by the grinder. If you have off-cuts big enough to be useful to people please put them here, if you want to use something here they're free, take whatever you need.

Chop saws & Polishing wheels[edit]

  • We have two chopsaws here
  • This one [points to left one] is for metal, the other one is for wood
  • They throw sparks or chips around the workshop, if mis-used they can throw your entire work piece at you so consider others nearby
  • They are VERY loud, hearing protection for everyone in the area is strongly recommended
  • The polishing wheels here are for putting a nice shine on metals
  • They can easily pull you in if you're careless using them and can cause serious injuries if you wear rings or watches.
  • Point out the nuts,bolts&screws boxes, remind about a contribution only if using large amounts (taking a dozen in fine, taking a hundred you should be paying)
  • Point out hand tools rack
  • Please put batteries on charge when done

Second chemical store & Casting Set[edit]

  • Here we keep the second chemical store
  • It holds oxidising, corrosive or toxic materials such as strong acids, resin catalysts, and aggressive dyes.
  • We separate the chemical stores so that chemicals which are incompatible with each other can be kept apart (e.g. flammable solvents and strong oxidisers)
  • Some of the chemicals in here are as innocuous as vinegar; others can burn, blind and kill. If you need access you'll have to ask a director for the key and let them know what you need and what you're going to do. This isn't intended to prevent you from doing interesting things, this is so that there's someone else who knows what's in use if something happens to you while using them.
  • This is also where we keep the casting equipment, we can cast aluminium and copper!
  • The casting must always be done outdoors to let the fumes dissipate harmlessly so you may see it in use in the carpark.
  • Molten metal and water do not mix nicely! So don't come anywhere near the kit with drinks if it's in use, if a cup of coffee was spilled into the crucible there'd be a steam explosion and molten metal would be sprayed for several meters in all directions
  • There should always be an experienced operator near the casting set while it's in use. If you're not trained then please don't approach within 5 meters

By big metal table[edit]

  • in the table here we have a wide variety of tools, typically things that you might have at home or be able to buy at a DIY store
  • They are smaller than some of the other tools, yet still pose a hazard
  • They are heavily used, and also often abused, so please make sure that they are in safe condition before using them
    • Check for cracked casings, loose parts or general damage
    • Check the electrical cords are not damaged

CNC mills, Drill Press and Oven[edit]

  • Here we have the drill press, it's a high powered 3-phase machine and the main hazards with this are getting caught in the chuck, or having your work caught on the drill
  • If it does catch, it will not stop, it will whip your workpeice around violently, you may want to wear gloves if you have to hold your work, but it's better to use a vice if you can.
  • This is the Boxford CNC Mill, it's a complicated and expensive tool, and we ask that you attend a familiarization session before trying to use it. To be honest you're probably more of a threat to it than it is to you, but it's still possible to get hurt if you use it wrong enough.
  • The machine does not have interlocks on the doors, so the spindle will continue turning even if you open them.
  • To state the obvious, please do not put any part of your body inside the cabinet whilst the spindle is turning.
  • You should also ensure that you are wearing safety glasses if you are working near it whilst it is operating, as it can throw chips when it is milling and there's a gap in the safety shield.
  • In the corner here we have out materials processing oven. The temperature range this covers is very similar to a domestic oven so you should use similar precautions, it's just a lot more accurate in maintaining a set temperature.
  • It should not be left running un-attended
  • Because it's had a variety of chemicals in it at various times, no food must ever be heated in this oven!

Remote controls & Honesty Box[edit]

  • By the door is the honesty box [point it out], most tools are free to use but usage fees for those downstairs tools that have them go in there, money for materials purchased also go in here.
  • If you're using a lot of nuts, bolts, sandpaper, scrap materials, other small consumables then consider donating a few pence (or a few pounds) but it's not compulsory unless you're using a lot
  • Here's where we also keep a couple of remote controls
    • This one controls the air conditioner, It's got a lot of modes but "Heat" and "Cool" are the only ones you really need to worry about and you can set the temperature with these 2 controls. If you turn on the air-conditioner then please also turn it on to time mode by pressing this button for how many hours you want it to run, so that if you forget to turn it off before leaving it won't run all day/night
    • A lot of tools here make dust so above the benches there's an air cleaner, please turn it on whenever you're working down here using this remote. It uses next to no power so it's OK to leave it running on the timer when you leave. If the indicator on the side shows a clogged filter then contact Steve to learn how to clean/change it
  • If you are the last to leave, please ensure that the tools are powered down, and the doors and windows are locked before leaving.
    • The roller door should be bolted with the chain secured to the hook
    • The fire exit should be closed
    • The only lights that you should see are the LEDs on the power tool battery chargers on the back wall, and the access control units
    • It is your responsibility to check ALL areas of the hackspace before you leave, regardless of if you've been in that area or not.

In small machine room[edit]

Sewing Machine[edit]

  • We have a heavy duty sewing machine.
  • It is capable of sewing canvas, leather, and also your hand!
  • Please take an induction before use, and don't distract other people using it as their fingers will be near the needle

Laser cutter[edit]

  • You will need to take training on the laser cutter before you can use it. This is in part to protect what is an expensive piece of equipment, but also because it is a fire hazard – it burns through things with a laser-beam
  • The operator should never leave it unattended when it's running.
  • We have had few fires in the laser cutter now. Fortunately we have the skills required to repair it, but you will not make yourself popular with other members if you do set it alight.
  • If there is a fire
    • Try just turning it off with the E-stop
    • If that doesn't work, and you can do so safely, pull the burning material out and use the fire blanket
    • If that doesn't work or you can't do it safely, use the CO2 fire extinguisher
    • As a last resort, if all else has failed, use the powder extinguisher, it will probably write-off the laser but that's better than burning the hackspace down!
  • The perspex lid absorbs any scattered laser light but please be aware that there is a gap at the front - please resist the temptation, and prevent others, from peering through the gap

Main room upstairs[edit]

  • Finally, here is the main room. In here we have soldering irons and reflow stations, they get hot. Please make sure that you pick the soldering irons and heat guns by the right end. Be aware that knocking the heat gun off its cradle may cause to to start blowing very hot air
  • Reflow oven - Please turn on the wall fan, don't sniff the fumes, and certainly don't use it to cook pizza.
  • Hotplate, can get to 350C, and shouldn't be left unattended when turned on but be aware of how hot it can get and don't touch without checking first.
  • The 3D printer and hot-glue guns are also kept in this room, neither is likely to cause a fire but they could injure you if you're not careful with them. Hot glue is obviously hot and can burn skin. The 3D printer has parts that get up to 260C as well as numerous pinch points where a finger could get caught.

* Nobody should ever be leaving live circuits unattended, and should give clear warning if they're working with mains power

  • That said... Never touch a circuit or project unless you've checked it's completely de-energized and
  • Don't plug anything in unless you've checked it's safe to do so.  
  • If you're the last person to leave the lab then it's your responsibility to make sure that all the hot-work tools are turned off and the heat pump has been shut down.


  • Over here on the wall, there are our bank details.
  • Payments should be made by standing order
  • Please make sure that you put YOUR name – repeat YOUR name – in the reference field, else we will not know who has paid us
  • You can set up the payment to leave your account on a day that suits you – you don’t have to pay us immediately. If you want to set it up to come out of your account on the day after you get paid, that’s fine, Just make sure that you are making regular, monthly payments else we will cancel your card
  • The majority of our members pay £25 per month
    • However we work on the principle that you pay what it is worth to you. If for instance, you are away for part of the year, you might want to pro-rate your payment to reflect this
    • If you are out of work, on benefits, and are less able to pay, we are open to you making a smaller contribution
    • Similarly, if you hit hard times, talk to us about it
    • Conversely if you're spectacularly rich or likely to make heavy or commercial use of the space, it might be nice if you donated a little more
    • We would rather have the member than the money – but you will have to make a payment, even if only a nominal amount
    • It's your responsibility to make sure payments are made correctly, we do not send out reminders


  • I will now ask you to enter some basic contact details into our database in order to sign-you up
  • If you are concerned about data protection - we collect the vast majority of this data (everything except gender] on the legal basis that we consider it to be in our legitimate interest. We have a privacy impact assessment if you would like to read it. We collect gender with your consent. We use the data for diversity monitoring
  • Your details will be encrypted and stored securely by the directors.
  • Please ensure that you put the right details in the right fields
  • [Tap card on reader with focus in right field]
  • [Photo ID]
  • [If they volunteer that they have previously had a different name, ask if content to store as a secure note, and if yes, add as a note afterwards]
  • [Take their picture and upload afterwards]
  • [Head outside] While we're out here I'll just mention the parking situation. Officially we have one space in front the main roller door there, and 2 more by the fence here. We've come to an arrangement with the garage over there that during the day when they need the space more than us they can use our parking spaces and in the evening when they don't need them we can use theirs.
  • If you do need access to more parking during the day then check if the cars in our spaces belong to people in the space (if they do you're out of luck) and if not then you can ask the garage to move one of theirs to make room for you. They have additional offsite parking just around the corner so it's no big deal for them to move one and they're normally very good about doing it quickly when needed.
  • [Take member to front door. In very quick (<2 seconds) succession, place your card, their card, and then your card against the reading zone. Test their card has been activated by putting it in zone again]
  • [If successful, close door, give card to member and invite them to open it with their card. If unsuccessful, repeat from step 1 and email directors with details of faulty card]
  • Congratulations, and welcome to Reading Hackspace. Your card will give you 24/7 access to the space. Please treat as you would your keys – so don't write rLab or our address on it! Keep it safe, and since cards do sometimes get left inside the space by mistake, maybe write your initials on it so we can get it back to you.

Text of post-induction email[edit]

Hi and Welcome to rLab, We're glad you've decided to sign up and as I promised during your induction here's a few links you may find helpful. We know that the induction process can be a bit of a fire-hose of information and can be hard to take in, so the full text of the hackspace induction is available at https://wiki.rlab.org.uk/wiki/Hackspaceinduction. This is a one-off email and you won't get spammed because of us. You may sometimes be sent a "director's email newsletter" when something very important happens or there's big decisions to make but that's usually only 5 or 6 times per year. Other than that you won't hear from us directly unless there's a problem. There's a list of tool inductions that are available at https://wiki.rlab.org.uk/wiki/Induction , we normally recommend only one induction per person per day so it's a good idea to prioritise which tools you think you'll need soonest. There's some workshops we run that you might be interested in at https://wiki.rlab.org.uk/wiki/Workshops and if you'd like to join the mailing list (recommended) then you can send a message to reading-hackspace+subscribe@googlegroups.com (it's possible to join via the google app or website, but posting from mobile doesn't work properly, it's a google issue, nothing we can do about it)

Useful links

Our Website https://rlab.org.uk/

Our Mailing List https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/reading-hackspace

Our Twitter https://twitter.com/rdghack

Our Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/readinghackspace/

Our YouTube https://www.youtube.com/ReadingHackspace

Our Wiki https://wiki.rlab.org.uk/wiki/Main_Page

Payment information

Our bank account is

Sort code : 23-05-80

Account : 44019094

Account name : Reading Maker Space Ltd

Please use your own name as the reference for the payment. We prefer you set up a standing order to make regular payments at the same time each month as it makes it easier for us to match up payments to people and helps avoid mistakes. The normal donation is £25 per month but if you're on low-income/benefits/retired/unemployed/general-hardship or don't think you'll be able to make it to the lab very often then please talk to any of the directors as discounted rates are possible. Conversely if you're expecting to make especially heavy or commercial use of the space then a larger donation would be appreciated. You can schedule the payment to happen any day of the month that's convenient for you; it doesn't need to be right away, just so long as it's regular each month that's fine.

Thanks for joining and we hope to see you in the space again soon!