Open Lab Hours (Delayed Opening)


The SouthWorks MakerLab – Park Forest will open at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 16, 2020. We will remain open until our normal closing time of 8:30 p.m. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Bookbinding and a Beautiful Lasered Cover

Hand-bound book with wooden cover using laser kerf for spine

Jackie is a gifted self-taught bookbinder who has been coming in to use the laser. The picture above is one of her creations- a roughly 3 inch by 5 inch book of thick card stock that could be used for autographs, notes from guests at a special occasion, and more. See the video of the entire book.

She cut and laser etched the cover on our laser and added the beautiful medallion and elastic. The intricate design of the spine allows the solid wood to bend enough to serve as a cover. We have several designs for the spines that are both beautiful and have different amounts of bend.

We’re hoping to have Jackie in to demo her bookbinding techniques. Let us know if you’re interested in that. Plus, if you already have a book, phone, laptop, etc. that could use a cover, stop in and discuss how to make a personalized cover out of wood, plastic, leather, and more.


Model Railroading and Miniature Builders

Al’s outhouse

If you’re into model railroading, you’ve probably purchased kits to build extremely authentic replicas of buildings, scenery, vehicles, and other objects that make your layout come to life.

Why not easily create your own one-of-a-kind pieces? Al quickly designed and laser cut the sample outhouse above. He added the amazing details of the weathered paint and vent stack, and it makes it realistic enough to use!

You can also start with a kit/design you have, and we can show you how to modify it to make it uniquely yours.

You can also use the CNC router in the lab to “carve” your own logs, create non-linear/non-flat details on your creation, and create other details. 3D designs are out there (free and paid) to 3D print layout pieces. Those design files can also be used to CNC your item out of wood, plastic, Corian, soft metals, foam, cork, etc.


Special Electronics Workshop – February 9th


Only 4 spots are left.

Our most popular workshop is back! Attend while Robin is still available!

Learn the basics for micro-controller coding and project design in our workshop hosted by Robin Mosely, Great Lakes IT, Inc., CEO and a former Bell Labs board designer. Robin has lots of examples- from robots to music synthesizers to motion detectors and machine controllers- to get you interested in your next project.

The workshop provides basics for creating and programming your own projects using Arduino. And Robin can answer ANY question you have about electronics!

Lunch is included.

WHEN: February 9, 2019 from 10am to 2pm

WHERE: SouthWorks MakerLab, 208 Forest Blvd., Park Forest, IL 60466

Cost: $40 at the door. We accept credit cards.

Since we only have 4 open spots, you must RSVP to in order to attend.


Laser Cut Cards



Lately, we’ve had a lot of interest in laser cut cards- from birthday cards and wedding invitations to pop-ups of scenes and even people.




Working with paper, primarily card stock and heavier coated papers, is a lot of fun. Such papers come in a multitude of colors, but also textures and patterns. Faux leather, wood, and metal coatings provide many ways to express yourself with paper.

Because of the thickness of the paper, you can also etch designs and text onto the pages. See the white designs and text on the examples above.





Or, you can print something on the paper first and then create cutouts later using the laser cutter as we did with the Chicago skyline cutout.


Etsy and pinterest are full of examples of laser cut cards, especially wedding invitations. You’ll see how expensive they can be to purchase, but with a little time and effort at the makerlab you can make your own unique versions for a fraction  of the cost. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Because the papers vary so much, laser cutting the paper is a bit trial and error, so bring a few pieces to experiment with.


Attendees Have Fun At Arduino/Electronics Workshop


This past Saturday, workshop attendees had fun learning circuit design and micro-controller programming using Arduinos. Students programmed flashing LEDs in various sequences, sounds using a piezo speaker, and more.

Flashbacks to the ’80s and 90’s occurred as the theme songs of PacMan and Star Wars came from the Arduino boards.







Our instructor, Robin Moseley,  a former Bell Labs scientist who designed microcontrollers and other hardware and software, explained what a microcontroller is, circuit design, and the many uses of Arduinos and  similar boards. He brought in many of the projects he has built with Arduinos, including drones, robots light displays, sound synthesizers, music samplers and connected devices (Nest, Alexa, etc.) sorts of things that can be easy DIY projects.
















Students left with a full development kit including the Arduino, breadboard for wiring circuits prior to soldering permanent connections, sensors and resources to find and make more projects.



Homemade Fossil


Laser etching into sandstone

A recent trip to the beach on a blazing hot, end-of-September weekend turned up several relatively flat, smooth sandstone rocks. The only thing missing was a fossil, so Phil fired up the laser and with a few tweaks to the settings produced our own fossil. He has etched into granite and marble before, but this turned out even better. The bluish tint of the etching really adds to the effect.



From Prototype to Production








Nuha Nazy and Emilia Rogawska,  Co-founders, Z-Axis Factory

  • Hear Nuha’s and Emilia’s advice on developing prototypes and navigating the intricacies of moving into initial production.
  • Learn how Z-Axis also can help you increase your Etsy or craft business production and success.

Z-Axis is a shared manufacturing space with production services dedicated to helping artists, makers, Etsy artisans and small businesses increase the velocity of production through access to prototyping and short-run manufacturing services that were once only available for a steep price and with long lead times, and usually not locally. Z-Axis offers self-serve and production from textiles to advanced printing to laser cutting and CNC milling.  Plus, advanced equipment to photograph your creations. More at

DATE: Wednesday, May 31, 2017

TIME: 6:30pm to 8:30pm; Networking afterward

LOCATION:  South Suburban College Oak Forest Center

16333 S. Kilbourn Avenue

Oak Forest, IL  60452
Free Registration at :

Download Flyer


The Coleman Foundation  South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium  


Made in Chicago Museum



Through another maker, I just found out about this amazing museum on the South Side. Its Made in Chicago collection is on display starting this month through April, 2018. The website by itself is a great compilation of all the things invented and/or made in Chicagoland and makes for great reading. Look up Scwhinn and Radio Flyer or even Rock-Ola juke boxes and Zenith Radios and, of course, Motorola.