Bullet-Proof Coffee Table

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This weekend, I built a bullet-proof coffee table.

For years, I’ve had a three-foot by four-foot piece of bullet-proof glass that I removed from a bank while working construction there. I saved the glass, thinking that it would make an AWESOME table. Well, I finally got around to building it.

I cut pallet-racking cross-pieces to build a frame that would wrap around the glass. Pallet racks already have a 1.5″ indent in them to hold lumber, which was perfect for a supporting lip for the glass.

The legs were two-inch steel square tube, cut to 18″ long. After cutting the pieces, I tack welded the whole frame together, checked for square, and tested it against the glass. I then did all the welds, capped off the ends of the legs, and ground round the top corners.

After that, it was a coat of primer, a coat of 1980’s bank industrial beige paint, and laying the glass into the frame.

I still wanted to test how bullet-proof it was, but simply, and safer than with a gun. I did have a bowling ball handy! Check out the video for how I made an interesting pattern in the glass!

After I marked the glass, I thought it would look really cool backlit! Once it was dark, I put a temporary light behind the glass, and was very pleased with the results. The cracks light up great! I’ll now have to permanently wire up some lighting under it.

I have a full DIY build write-up on it at Instructables. In fact, it’s in the INDESTRUCTIBLE contest there, and I’d love to get your vote!

Oh, and can anyone stop over and help me move this table? It weighs a TON!

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Makerspace rocks Sustainability Summit


Members of the Milwaukee Makerspace built and manned a booth at Milwaukee’s Sustainability Summit this week.

Josh Z. and Ben N. talked with the crowds, showcasing member’s projects ranging from an electric motorcycle to 3D-printing, aluminum casting, CNC woodworking, lasers, and more! Several of the event organizers told us that we were the busiest booth there, which was pretty obvious, because my throat is still sore from speaking with attendees for two days straight!

The 3D printer was especially eye-catching to the crowds and there was a strong interest in 3D printing and laser-cutting.

We did NOT have electricity at the booth, so in true DIY-style, we MADE our own with a real-world “Vehicle-to-Grid” Display, powering a laptop, 2 computer monitors and the 3D printer directly from the electric motorcycle. Our display featured a slideshow of Maker projects on the double monitors, the hands-on Laser Kalidescope, and even conductive Play-doh!

One of my favorite moments was speaking with the owner of the “Cow Sailboat” out in Madison about converting its diesel system over to an electric drive. We also briefly saw Ed Begley, Jr. and Will Allen. (Thanks to Growing Power for the sprouts!)

All in all, it was a great event! The organizers donate the booth space to us because they love the real-world, hands-on teaching and excitement that we bring!

If you were at the Summit, and are swinging over here to the web-page after learning about us, WELCOME! Stop on by, meet some members, and take a tour, we’d love to have you!

Thanks to Josh, Ben, Shane, Pete, and others that loaned projects for us to display!


Iron Hooks from old Nails

Recently, I’ve started playing around a bit with metal-working. Pretty low-tech stuff – heat it and beat it.

My DIY coal forge isn’t much to look at, just a couple pieces of steel pipe with the shop-vac on a dimmer switch, and an old brake disc welded on top, but it’s enough to do some basic blacksmithing.

Last night after work, I fired up the mini-forge and worked on a pair of old iron nails. I heated them, and then applied a blacksmith twist, a bend to make a hook, and even hot-punched (NOT drilled) mounting holes.

Once done, I hit them with a wire wheel to give it that shiny silver-and-black finish I like.

The result is a pair of decorative, yet very functional, iron hooks for hanging decorations, photos, and the like. Maybe I can make a few more to mount next to my wood stove to hold my fire poker and kindling hatchet.

Snow-Globe Video

Just a minor update here from my recent Snow-Globe blog entry ( http://milwaukeemakerspace.org/2012/12/custom-snow-globe/ )

I made two VIDEOS about the snow-globe. The first is just a brief video showing the finished project. The second video is a longer “How-To” which includes some video, but is mostly a photo slide-show of all the steps I took to create the project.

For an in-depth step-by-step of how I built the project, check out the info I posted on Instructables. http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-Singing-Snow-Globe/


Custom Snow Globe


Well, I’ve been slaving away on creating a unique X-mas gift for my wife and two-year old daughter, and I think I got it right. They loved it!

I’m talking about a Custom Snow Globe!

A while back, I was working in the driveway on a styrofoam project. Of course, that white stryrofoam dust gets static-charged and STICKS TO EVERYTHING. I also found that the best tool for cutting it was my wife’s kitchen electric carving knife. When I headed inside to take a break and warm up, I was COVERED with styrofoam. My two-year-old girl looked up at me and squeeled “Daddy a Snowman!”.

Indeed I was. I imagined myself inside a snow-globe with styrofoam swirling around me like a snowstorm. But could I actually BUILD a snowglobe that would match my imagination?

I started looking at every snow globe I could find and set to work building one. I looked around and found a glass dome, used for light fixtures. I got two of them, and gave one to my brother-in-law, who is a clay artist, among other things, and commissioned him to make a caricature of me. Since he had one globe, and I had the other, he could make a figure that would fit inside the globe, and I could do the woodworking on the base, and insure that the globe fit that.

I headed to the local cabinet shop and talked to old high-school class-mate Steve about what wood to use for a base. He gave me a maple block, and I grabbed some scrap maple from the bin to practice cuts and routering on. At my Dad’s back-of-the-garage shop, I experimented with routing, until I could get it right, and routed a circle for the base of the glass globe, cut the wood base to length and cut a 45-degree bevel on the top edge, and routed a pocket in the bottom for the electronics.

I wanted to make a “singing” snow-globe, so I bought a singing greeting card at the Hallmark store, and then dissected it for parts. The electronics were then mounted on the bottom of the  wood base, along with a custom switch.

I headed to the Milwaukee Makerspace to use the laser-cutter.

Using the vector graphics program on the laser’s computer, I laid out an inscription for both the top and bottom of the snow globe base. I practiced on a piece of paper, and then when I actually focused the laser properly and had everything else figured out, I wood-burned the maple block, front and back.

I also used a solder station to add the momentary on switch to the greeting card electronics, so that the song would play whenever the globe was picked up to shake up the snow.

Next, was clear-coating the figure and the wood base. I used “Parks Super-Glaze”, a two-part epoxy clear coat used for bars, to completely seal and waterproof both the figure and the base, as well as to permanently attach the figure to the base.

Then, it was a matter to holding the globe upside down, filling it with water, filling the routed circular grove of the base with silicon glue, and flipping the figure and base, upside-down, into the dome of water. Once it was cured, the snow-globe can be flipped right-side-up, gift-wrapped, and put under the tree!

I’m glad to say that the project turned out just great! It was a bit of a stretch to my skill-set, so THANK YOU to the people who gave me a hand with it. Nothing quite like a project that runs the gamut from sculpture to wood-working, electronics, glass, water, laser-engraving, and more! But that’s how we grow… by stretching a little bit more every time!

Merry X-mas

From Ben the Snowman.