The Woodshop

The Woodshop

We’ve already seen the Library, so here’s a shot of the Woodshop.

On the left you’ll see Ron and Brant working on the CNC Router, and in the middle you might notice the “Old Milwaukee Makerspace” graphic from last year’s Beer Can Parade Float and the giant Arduinos from our other parade float.

Oh yeah! There’s also a lot of woodworking equipment! Someone said “Hey, those seem to be really close to each other!” and we said “No worries! They’re all on wheels!” So what you see here are the various pieces of woodworking equipment in their resting state. When it use, they will probably be a lot more haphazardly arranged in the space.

If you’ve seen this area of the Makerspace before, you’ll know this is a big improvement. The next step should include building a number of workbenches so we have some solid spots to work on things. We were just using tables, but we’re a makerspace… we can do better!

But is it Art?

My Completed Art Deco Wall HangingI sketch quite a bit and I’ve been doodling things like this for years without realizing that, technically, they fall under the “Art Deco” category.  If I were content with that, I’d paint it blue, pink, and silver.  However, because cerulean blue belongs in the sky and not on your wall, pink belongs in distant sunsets and not on your wall, and why the hell would you paint wood silver?  I decided that to bring this piece into the 21st century I’d need to radically rethink the colors.

At first, I had intended to only paint 3 elements of the composition.  After picturing it in my mind, I decided on the single yellow piece that you see here.  I’m quite pleased with the end result.  Unfortunately, the spray-acrylic sealer that I used was very old and I suspect that it was this that led to the strange patina you see on the main circle here.  No matter what I tried, I kept getting glossy parts and flat parts.

The primary material is MDF, some of which was cut with our very own CNC router, with hardboard being used for the yellow part, and split pine dowels (thanks to my own rig, clamped to our band-saw) for the 3 extending pieces.

*Note: When cutting a perfectly cylindrical piece length-wise on a band-saw, the piece will have a tendency to rotate as you’re cutting.  I’d have done a better job had I thought to clamp the piece to the jig that I set up.

The preliminary sketch of the art deco wall-hanging.This is the rough sketch of what I had planned on making.  Things change in a wonderfully organic way when you go from sketch to completed project.

The wall-hanging before painting and glueing.The piece before painting and assembly.

I laid the pieces out separately and hit them with flat-black spray paint.  This took very well to the MDF.  After painting and clear-coating everything, I waffled about how to assemble the many into the whole.  I first toyed with the notion of pre-drilling, then screwing everything in from the backside of the piece; I also realized what a pain it would be to try to locate each hole without being able to see the front first.

Next, I thought I’d use a brad-nailer and just pop everything in, but ours doesn’t take anything shorter than 5/8″ and this entire project is just under 1/2″ in depth and I didn’t want to bother cutting the ends of the brads flush with the back, plus, they could scratch the wall that it hangs on.

I finally decided on some epoxy that one of our makers had brought in.  It’s proven very workable and durable, as I found out when I used it to make the spools for our Makerbot ABS plastic filament.  I put several pieces on at a time, weighting them down with some paving bricks (covered in cloth, as I didn’t wish to scratch the paint).  After letting it cure for 24 hours, the project was more-or-less done.

All that’s left is to figure out how to mount it to a wall.  I think I might use a plunge router and hollow out a portion of the back for that.  Another idea has been brewing in the back of my mind, but it’s too cool to mention unless I actually do it.  Rest assured, if I use that idea, I’ll be posting about it here and on Instructables.

UPDATE: I found that it’s about the same weight as a moderately sized picture, so I picked up some picture-wire and attached it via two screws in the back.  It is now hanging on my bedroom wall.

First DIY CNC Club Meeting

Today marked the first monthly meeting of The DIY CNC Club at Milwaukee Makerspace.  Ron Bean and Tom Gondek, the creators of the router, guided members and guests through the use of CamBam CAD software to generate G-code and Mach3 software to operate and control the router.  The day before, Tom and Mike tested the machine’s ability to cut aluminum.  On Sunday, Rich created a decorative wooden sign and Brant began making plastic shapes for a project enclosure. As Ron pointed out, in less than 24 hours we had worked in three different materials: wood, metal, and plastic.

Several items were also crossed off our wish list.  Two emergency stop buttons were added to the front of the machine and wired together in series.  Hitting either one stops all motion in the X, Y, and Z planes and pauses the program.  We also built a relay-controlled receptacle box that when wired into the CNC computer, will be able to stop the spindle so hitting the E-stop will kill all motion in all axes and the router.  For some reason the pins we’re using on the parallel port are only producing 1.6 volts instead of the 3 or 5 we expected and the relays won’t turn on.  All in all, a very productive weekend.

Screeching Cat Railing

CNC Cutout of screeching cat inserted into porch railing

Recently we completely re-built our aging 2nd story porch. During the process I took the opportunity to add a little flair courtesy of the makerspace’s CNC Router. The idea was to place an emblem into the railing of the porch as decoration. After thinking about the emblem I’d want I decided that I’d never be happy with just one, so I incorporated spring hinges (look carefully below the cat in the photo) that allow me to pull back and replace the emblem at will with ease. With that done the only thing to do was decide on the first emblem. I decided on seasonal/occasion emblems.

Rich showed me a great site with free CNC artwork, some of which was Halloween themed. I downloaded that artwork, selected the screeching cat and had the CNC router cut the cat out of a 2’x2′ plywood. I installed the cat as part of the porch railing as you can see in the photo.  I’m now looking to round up a turkey for Thanksgiving, a snow man for winter, etc.

During the design process TomG had the bright idea to shine a light through the cutout. So I took a high brightness LED out of a malfunctioning flashlight and attached it to some sheet metal on a malleable aluminium boom. The result is that I now have a screeching cat projected down onto the sidewalk below. (It’s too dim for me to capture on camera)

I’m really looking forward to cutting out more shapes on the CNC Router!

Squeegee Update

Squeegee

I’m making progress on my DIY squeegee project. For a little background, I have this 6 foot long piece of rubber, which is the same material used in squeegees for screen printing, but I need wooden handles to put the rubber into. So with the help of of some other members, I’m figuring out how to do it.

Brant helped me determine that the band-saw is a good machine for cutting the rubber. I had previously tried a utility knife, but that didn’t work. Ron and Rich filled me in on how to use a router table, and I was able to cut a groove into a piece of wood I picked up this week. The rubber fits perfectly, so the next step is to drill some holes and put in some t-bolts to hold it all together.

I’d also like to do a bit of sanding and maybe varnish the wood. I figure they might as well look good, right?

I think this project really shows the strength of the Makerspace. I’ve had this rubber for two years, but never got around to making any squeegees. I came up with a few really hacky ideas on how to do it, but now at the space, with the right tools, and the right people, it’s all coming together.

Mechanized Cylindrical Sign Build for Parade Joy (Update 1)

The Milwaukee Makerspace has agreed to participate in one of Milwaukee’s finest traditions, the “South Shore Frolics Parade”.

The “South Shore Frolics” formerly known as the “South Shore Water Frolics” is a Bay View institution. The current celebration of summer & joy starts on Saturday July 16th at 11:00 in the morning with a parade leading to South Shore Park, after which there is a festival and a variety of activities including fireworks for the remainder of the weekend. The Frolics is an event that I have participated in as long as I have been alive, and it is a very integral part of my summer. Of course I was thrilled when the Makerspace agreed that this was a worthwhile use of our time and talents.

Our goal for Milwaukee Makerspace’s representation in the parade is to produce some electric vehicles, ride some previously produced power wheels racers, as well as present a unique parade float. 

Thus far the main work was completed by Tom Gralewicz who re-powered the Makerspace’s “pots of gold” (two electric vehciles that have a parade heritage) with new motor controllers. Now that we have two functioning platforms, we of course wanted to turn one of them into an 8′ mechanized cylindrical sign. (that will resemble a beverage container) 

The build on that commenced last evening. Here are some photographs from the madness & joy:

 

 

 

 

 

Matt N. always measures twice and cuts once. 

 

I don’t know how many times these guys measured, but they always made the right cut!

 

Here the team cuts the circular bases that will anchor the piece. In the background, there is a serious discussion about logicstics…or something. 

 

Matt G. shows us the pride that comes with making.

 

Kevin B. tests out the fit and finish of the first circular support on the vehicle platform.

So far so good! I can’t wait to see how this comes together!

Come and see us at the South Shore Frolics Parade!
Saturday July 16th, 2011
Parade starts at KK & Lincoln at 11:00am
Joy will be had by all!
If you consider yourself a Milwaukee Maker, you are welcome to walk the parade rout with us & represent making in Milwaukee!