Under different circumstances, or in some earlier America, Yair Silbermintz might have spent his weekday evenings tinkering with a soldering iron alone in the basement of a suburban ranch house. But Mr. Silbermintz, 27, lives with his wife in a one-bedroom apartment in Fair Lawn, N.J. And though he works as a Web developer for a Manhattan publisher, in this uncertain economy he is unlikely to increase his square-footage anytime soon to indulge his interest in electronics. So on a recent night he could be found at MakerBar, a hacker space in an old factory in Hoboken, N.J.
Mr. Silbermintz has been coming to MakerBar for months on dedicated nights when the club opens to the public. Still, as he stood in the raw, loft-like space, he seemed in awe of the workbenches bustling with people, the metal shelves crammed with supplies, the cool (and costly) tools available for use, like a drill press and a 3-D printer.