Laser Cut Cocktail Recipe Coasters!

Years back, I used to throw a lot of cocktail parties.  Between myself and two good friends, we owned five cocktail shakers and 35+ martini glasses.  During the parties, we’d typically be the only three people shaking martinis for all the guests.  Though that’s awesome, it also means we missed out on much of the socializing and mingling during each party.
blog21In preparation for a recent birthday party, the solution came to me: Use Lasers!  So, I laser cut ten coaster-sized pieces of basswood and then laser engraved my twelve favorite Martini and Champagne cocktail recipes on them.  I also cut stands for them that had a laser engraved “best practices” guide for shaking Martinis – you know, the things that bartenders are typically too busy to do for you: Chill your glass before pouring your drink into it, shaking your drink until it is sufficiently cold, etc.  The drinks have recipes that taste better than what most bartenders will make for you, because they include things like an amount of lemon or lime that they’re too busy to squeeze into your drink.
blog22The party was an even more awesome experience for me, because I wasn’t only shaking drinks all night.   It was also even more awesome for the guests, as they found that great cocktails are super easy to make!  And who doesn’t like to make things? blog26 Also, the carbonated Gin & No tonic is real crowd pleaser!  See my previous post about home carbonation for more info, and note that all types of inappropriate things can be carbonated:  Gin, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, grapes, etc!

Building Patio Furniture for Fun and Profit

If you’ve ever looked to purchase patio furniture its either cheap and crappy …or expensive and still crappy.

So I decided to make my own. Because I wanted to drink beers on my porch and tell kids to get off my lawn.

With no further ado:

Before During After

Figure 1: My Porch Before, During, After

Step 1: Find Plans.

I’ve never used any Ana-White plans before, but I found these that seemed reasonable. After some review though, I found the cutlist sucks so any of the pieces with angled cuts are listed at final dimensions rather than initial rough cut dimensions. Namely the angled stretchers need to be cut long (34″ish) and then angled. Same goes for the back legs (~22″) and the 2×2 arm supports (~28″). So do your own due dilligence before slicing all your lumber up.

Step 2: Cut All the Lumber

Pine sucks and I hate paint. So I went with Cedar.

Rough Cedar

Figure 2: Rough Cedar from Menards

Cut Lumber

Figure 3: Cut to Size and Length

Rough Sand Cuts

Figure 4: Apply Belt Sander

I recommend using a belt/drum sander on any of the rough cuts to give it a cleaner finished look.

Step 3: Follow Directions (Assembly)

Aside from the cutlist, the plans are straightforward and easy to follow. I built the sides and back as assemblies because I couldn’t transport a completely assembled chair in my car.

Follow Directions part 1

Figure 5: Side Assembly

Following directions somewhat p1

Figure 6: Chair Back Assembly

I deviated from the design a bit as I didn’t feel like using a jig saw, so I just set the miter saw for 45deg and lopped off each corner of the back (which you’ll see in the final assembly pictures)

Starting Assembly

Figure 7: Starting Assembly

I transported the large pieces back to my apartment so I could put it together on-site. I don’t have any pictures of the middle steps, so it kind of jumps from here to completely assembled. Read the directions, you’ll know what to do.

Testing p1

Figure 8: Assembly Done (Structural Testing)

Ta da. A chair.

The beer made up for the sunburn.

Step 4: Finishing

Like I mentioned above, I don’t like paint. So I winged this phase of the project.

I like oil based finished to bring out natural color, so I grabbed a can of Danish Oil. Cedar is naturally rot and insect resistant, but since I had some spray Spar Urethane lying around I figured a coat of that couldn’t hurt either. Lastly, because I like the texture of wax finishes I applied Paste Wax to any of the upright surfaces where you’d touch the chair in normal operation.

Finishing

Figure 9: Done!

I applied the Danish Oil  by hand, which was a pain, but worked out well enough in the end it seems.

Step 5: Build a Second Chair

This second one is a little better finished based on some in-process learnings from the first chair. I picked up a countersink bit to help clean up the exposed screw holes and tried a little harder to be symmetric and even with the holes as well.

I need to either build a table, or figure out a way to add a cupholder feature. (But so far the porch itself works fine)

Step 6: Fin

Before During After

Each chair was something like $41 for material not including screws, glue, and finishes and took approximately 4 hours to cut, assemble, and finish.

 

 

 

Weekend Project: End Table

This weekend I made an end table for my living room.  Its in the style of two night stands I made, this one for the tool at hand contest, and this second one! The legs of this series of small tables are getting increasingly eccentric.  To build it, I started with three pieces of 2×12 lumber, and a 1/2″ diameter dowel rod.  I avoided using metal fasteners, and instead used only wood glue and 8 3″ long dowel pegs to attach the legs to ensure that sculpting the table with my chainsaw-blade-equipped angle grinder would be safe(r).  To save some labor with the grinder, I actually cut some of the zig-zag legs with a band saw first.  Even with the pre-cutting, I ended up making 1.5 cubic feet of wood chips and saw dust.

EndTable

Argyle Pattern Cutting Board

My latest cutting board is a based on a design I saw online.  It’s built around an argyle pattern that is often found on sweaters.

The first step is to glue a 1.5″ x 1.5″ pieces of poplar and red oak together in a 2 x 2 grid pattern. Additionally, one(1) red oak and two(2) poplar pieces are glues in a “L” shape. Each assembly is about 10″ long. Then, each assembly is sliced into 3/4″ pieces on the table saw or the chop saw. We need eight(8) of the 2×2 pieces and ten “L” shaped ones. The picture below shows the final intended layout.

11333941746_c7f285dcf9

In the next step, the hard maple borders are added. The following picture shows some of the earliest glue-ups.

11333924056_aa42343066

Then, the edges are trimmed and walnut is added to the outside. I chose to use a CNC router to flatten the cutting board surface.

11520122183_4211243a3a

I soaked the  board in mineral oil for 24 hours and finished with some butcher block conditioner and voila!

11520002395_08f7b29f08_b

Robbie is safely enclosed!

Finished room!

Whew.  This project was a D-O-O-O-ZY!  We needed to enclose our giant industrial arm so he can’t run away and join the robot circus…

Well…maybe not for THAT reason, but when we start cutting stuff with this robot, we need to keep spectators out of his reach and make sure that if a cutting bit does break, it doesn’t go flying out into the shop and maim someone.

This entire project was the work of several people and really shows why the Milwaukee Makerspace is a great place to build stuff/hang out with friends/play with power tools, etc…

———————————————————————————

Step 1: Design it!  I used Solidworks and modeled each and every piece of wood that went into this project.

SW screen capture

Step 2: get the wood!  We made multiple trips to Home Depot, which thankfully is only 5 minutes away and we had great weather during the whole building process.  I love having a truck!  Fortune also shined upon me, as we had a new member join up right before I started this project, Jake R., and his help in building the wall was immeasurable.

Get the wood!

Step 3: Bolt the wood to the floor so we know where to put the wall, and then build some framing!

  4 - put in windows

Step 4: Put in the windows, drywall paneling and metal wainscoting.  We were very lucky to get seven pieces of slightly-smoked Lexan from one of our members, Jason H.  We also cut small holes in the ceiling tiles and ran 4 braces up to the metal ceiling trusses above.  This enclosure is ROCK-solid stable!  Thanks to Tony W. and Jim R. for helping with that!

When I went to Home Depot, I thought my truck could handle a 48″x 120″ sheet of drywall.  Not so much… one of their employees helped me split 10 sheets of drywall in half, in the parking lot…so I would later find out that I did not have drywall tall enough for the wall corner.  Hence the need for more “framing” so I could use smaller pieces.

10 - outer framing

The large cabinet that powers the robot arm is right next to the enclosure; I placed it outside to keep it away from foam & wood shavings.  However, we will need to have the programming pendant next to the machine every now and then….hence the need for 2 small pass-thru doors next to the cabinet.

6 - hole for mini-door

11 - outer door installed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used doweling to help hold the door frame components together…..probably not needed, but it ensures a STRONG door!

16 - drilling door frames  15 - door framing 1

Again, hooooray for the Makerspace and all its tools! We have several LONG pipe clamps that came in VERY handy for gluing the door frame pieces together.

17 - frame glued up - 1

Here’s the outside of the enclosure.  The big metal control cabinet will go right here, hence the framed “mouse hole” in the lower right corner so we can pass the cables through from the cabinet to the robot arm.

13 - outer door and mouse hole

The same area viewed from inside the enclosure.

14 - inner door and mouse hole

Here’s the ginormous sliding door.  It’s mounted on a barn-door track-rail and supported on the bottom by two custom-made wheel brackets.

23 - finished door on track

Here’s how I made the wheel brackets.  I got two lawnmower-style wheels and bearings from Tom G., then Tom K. enlarged the center holes on the wheels on his Bridgeport mill so I could use bearings for smoother action.

18 - wheels in slot - 1

I figured on four carriage bolts for a super-strong connection to the door frame.

19 - wheel assembly done

This is the track and wheel bogies that hold the sliding door to the wall.

22 - wheels and track

Bolting the brackets onto the door was “fun”…I forgot that the very bottom of the door framing is two horizontal pieces, so the very bottom bolt had to go.  ‘DOH!

21 - inside door frame 1

Here’s the final, assembled view.  You can see the robot’s control cabinet in the lower right corner.

Now that the fabrication is complete, we’re working on decorative ideas for all that blank-looking drywall.

24 - finished room!

Whenever I look at this finished project it feels like to took several months to get it up, even though construction only lasted about 2-1/2 weeks.

Thanks to Jake R., Tom G., Tom K., Tony W., Jim R., and Bill W. for their assistance with this project!

Robbie is nearly weaponized….


router clamp in foam 2I am nearly done with a custom bracket for my Hitachi router that I will mount onto the end of our Kuka industrial robot arm.  I cut everything out in foam first to check  out the whole scheme and save wear and tear on the cutting bit.

flange for RobbieThe software chain I used to accomplish this was lengthy.  I designed all of these pieces in 3D in Solidworks, created a Solidworks 2D drawing, saved that as an AutoCAD drawing, brought that drawing into Vectric’s Aspire, then created machine code that the Makerspace CNC router used to cut the pieces from a sheet of foam.

finished clamp

Finally, once I was satisfied that everything would cut correctly, I switched to 3/4″ thick Baltic Birch plywood.  This is a “nicer” grade of plywood than the stuff that is used in day-to-day building construction work.  This wood is stronger by virtue of a greater number of plies, and it also looks nicer.  I happened to have a sheet left-over from a previous project, so it was all good!

plywood sheet

Weekend Project: Planter Boxes!

Last weekend I made three huge, turquoise planter boxes for my rooftop deck – check out the quarter for scale.  Naturally, help from other Makerspace members was key, as I relied on JackD and his JAMbulence for help transporting two sheets of plywood (Thanks!).  I safely sliced ‘em up on the panel saw, and then glued, screwed and nailed them together.  After applying numerous coats of outdoor latex paint and a bit of sanding, they’re already in use in downtown Milwaukee!

Planter_Box

Weekend Project: Kitchen Shelf

I’ve recently heard that the Milwaukee Makerspace has a reputation for only having members who are electronics enthusiasts. Well, in addition to the metal, wood, beerwater, whisky, fire, arduino, weldingoddaudiocasting, and numerous acoustic projects that I’ve worked on at the Makerspace, I’ve finished a few electronics projects here. My latest Makerspace weekend project is a shelf for my kitchen, pictured here with the Sad Bananaand three legged pig®.

Kitchen Shelf

Preschool playset remodel.

1

My youngest son and nephews pre-school is tiny. Literally it’s two classrooms, but it’s a great environment for them both which includes identical playsets in each class.

Hundreds if not thousands of kids have played on them. Being built in the 80’s when building codes weren’t as strict, they were no longer compliant.

While the wood is still good, had been sanded well and sealed well there were a few problems.  The banister rails been deemed to be too short and the handrails needed to have another one put on the bottom under the other two on either side.

The choices were to surround the play sets with a 6 foot giant landing mat around the sides, or to raise the banister rails and add another handrail. A landing pad would have taken up far too much room in the class so I volunteered to rebuild some of the rails so they met code.

Because construction was going to take a little while (actually it turned out to be a long while, started before Christmas it was finished in early April), the rail cutting / routing / sanding was going to take place off site and then assembled onsite during a weekend afternoon

First thing was to take lots of pictures, and lots of measurements.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8

 

I did up some high-level sketches just showing how the rails would be raised.

 

9 10

 

The next step was to cut up a whole pile of 2”x2” rails to the desired height with a 45 angel cut on the ends to match what was originally there. The rails also had been rounded off with a quarter round router bit, so I did that as well.

 

11

 

I knew there was no way I could match the old finish that was on the original wood so I decided to go with something a bit brighter and engaging for the kids mixing blue, red, green and white paints that I had my son pick out. Then it was just a matter of cutting and routing. Here are some shots of the wood after cutting but being painted. The coats ranged from 4-5 to get a deep coverage and then 3 coats of a clear poly to brighten it up.

 

12 13 14 15

By some miracle the measurements all turned out perfect, which is nearly a first for me. We still have the bottom hand rail to make but that will be easy to do.