Woodworking

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At our last 3D Printer Club meeting, the kids on the team started cutting threaded rods. We were clamping the rods to a table with a standard bar clamp to keep them in place. The problem was that they were slipping a lot. One of the adults had to sit on the end of the rod to keep it still. That didn’t seem very safe to me, and so I figured there must a better and safer way to hold them still while they’re being cut. The classroom doesn’t have an appropriate vise to use, so this seemed like a great project for a custom 3d printed object!

I used OpenSCAD, which is a free and open source CAD software tool, to design a simple attachment. The attachment has a v-groove on the bottom to hold a rod in place. (The v-groove is useful because it allows us to use it for different diameters of rods.) It also has a lip around the top to hold it in place on the clamp jaw.

This clamping attachment is going to need to take a lot of pressure, so I printed it with ABS plastic, three perimeters, three top and bottom layers, and 25% honeycomb infill. You can find it on thingiverse here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:44588

Bar Clamp Rod Adapter

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It’s not easy to find concrete examples of shipping costs for McMaster-Carr online, and they don’t tell you what an order is going to cost to ship until after it’s already shipped — and that can be a little scary especially if you’re ordering odd sized parts, even if they only charge their shipping cost. So here’s a real example of shipping costs for a small order with some long parts to NC, USA. The order was placed online and shipped the same day from their Atlanta, GA, USA location. It was ordered on December 29, and received in North Carolina on January 3.

For a reprap build, I ordered these items, which include three 3-foot steel rods, 200 nuts, 292 washers, and 200 machine screws. Shipping was only $6.52 for everything. That’s not bad at all…

Description Ordered Unit Price Total
95462A030 Zinc-Plated Grade 5 Steel Hex Nut, 5/16″-18 Thread Size, 1/2″ Width, 17/64″ Height, Packs of 100 1

Pack
4.56

Per Pack
4.56
90126A509 Zinc-Plated Steel Type A SAE Flat Washer, No. 6 Screw Size, 3/8″ OD, .03″-.07″ Thick, Packs of 100 1

Pack
1.27

Per Pack
1.27
90272A153 Zinc-Plated Steel Pan Head Phillips Machine Screw, 6-32 Thread, 1″ Length, Packs of 100 1

Pack
3.16

Per Pack
3.16
90631A007 Zinc-Plated Grade 2 Steel Nylon-Insert Hex Locknut, 6-32 Thread Size, 5/16″ Width, 11/64″ Height, Packs of 100 1

Pack
2.48

Per Pack
2.48
92005A120 Metric Pan Head Phillips Machine Screw, Zinc-Plated Steel, M3 Size, 10MM Length, .5MM Pitch, Packs of 100 1

Pack
2.30

Per Pack
2.30
8890K41 W1 Tool Steel Rod, .3125″ Diameter, Trade Size 5/16″, 3′ Length 3

Each
4.24

Each
12.72
90126A030 Zinc-Plated Steel Type A SAE Flat Washer, 5/16″ Screw Size, 11/16″ OD, .05″-.08″ Thick, Packs of 192 1

Pack
4.50

Per Pack
4.50
Merchandise 30.99
Shipping 6.52
Total $37.51
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He we’re test-driving the our latest robot creation for the first time. It’s the boy’s design and made mostly of wood. The tires are o-rings, and there’s a 12V AA batter pack sandwiched between the two pieces of plywood. The system right now consists of a drive controller using a Modern Device‘s RBBB (small Arduino-compatible) and the Pololu TB6612FNG Dual Motor Driver Carrier, a robot controller, which is a standard Arduino Uno (which doesn’t do a whole lot right now expect forward messages from the remote), and a remote controller, which is another RBBB, joystick and display.

Right now there are two driving modes. The first is a tank drive, where, for example, if the joystick is moved far left, the right wheel moves forward at full speed and the left week backward at full speed. The second mode is what I call “target drive,” in which you set the target speed and direction of each wheel. Soft starting and stopping is built in to the controller, and the jerkiness you see sometimes is a bug in the keep-alive timer — if the robot stops getting messages in target drive mode, then it will stop.

Music is “Don’t you” by stefsax (CC BY 2.5).

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Math Monday came early this week, and we had some fun exploring Reuleaux triangles. Next to a circle, they’re the simplest curve of constant width you can make — that basically means you can roll a plank on top of them as smoothly as on wheels. The kids didn’t expect that one! (They also would make great manhole covers!)

Although they roll very smoothly, they do tend to wobble around a bit, so I built a little gutter on the plank to make it easier for the kids to experiment with. It was a quick project, and lots of fun for the kids. You don’t have to use a band saw or even the sander; all you really need is a jigsaw or coping saw, some scrap wood, and some nails.

Music credits: “260809 Funky Nurykabe” by spinningmerkaba (CC-BY 3.0)
http://ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/29186

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I’m still not fully convinced of the wisdom of a wooden soldering station clamp/vise, but it’s been serving me well nonetheless. It’s my DIY PanaVise! Why buy something if you can make it yourself, right? :)

The frame is made from some scrap 3/4 maple, with a steel rod from an old printer’s carriage mechanism and a $3 threaded rod from Home Depot. The legs come off for storage, and they’re scraps from a Dell server shipping pallet. The jaws were originally maple wainscot from a nearby remodeled clubhouse.

 

DIY Wooden PCB Clamp

DIY Wooden PCB Clamp

I didn’t have the right size metric drill bit for the steel rod, so the clamp isn’t perfect — it’s a little loose and as a result grabs better at the back. I’ll remake those at some point (when I get the right drill bit), and probably make them a bit wider as well. Also it’s just clamped with a little hex nut right now, which is a bit annoying, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

The bit held on with a C-clamp allows me to flip the work up and hold it here if necessary. It’s pretty easy to work with.

Wooden PCB Clamp, Lifted

Wooden PCB Clamp, Lifted

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We ran across a picture of a little pig online and my little girl fell in love with it, so we grabbed a sheet of paper and tried to make it. Here’s how it turned out.

Below the photo is the template we drew up to cut out the pieces; it should be pretty obvious what to cut and how many. Enjoy!

Wooden Pig Craft

Wooden Pig Craft

Wooden Pig Template

Wooden Pig Template

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Here’s a hot wire foam cutter that I made from scraps, following a general design I saw in Make magazine a couple years ago. I picked up 20 feet of 30-gauge nichrome (nickel chromium) wire on ebay for $2.09, shipping included, and the rest of the stuff I happened to have on hand. Aside from the wire, I used a 12V power supply [see power details below] that I got from Radio Shack decades ago, a bit of peg board, some scraps of pine, a few nails, a foot or so of standard household electrical wire, and a steel rod.

Hot Wire Cutter

Hot Wire Cutter

I used the ground wire to fasten the cable tightly against the rail.

Hot Wire Cutter, Side View

Hot Wire Cutter, Side View

From the bottom, you can see how the ground wire loops around, and how the nichrome wire is attached.

Hot Wire Cutter, Bottom View

Hot Wire Cutter, Bottom View

Here’s a name that I carved out of foam. I tried using carbon paper to transfer a printout to the styrofoam, but that wasn’t very effective. Instead I mostly followed the little dent made by the pencil as I tried to trace.

A Name Cut out of Styrofoam

A Name Cut out of Styrofoam

Power Details

I originally used a 12V power supply because that’s what I had on hand, and it didn’t look like it would pull enough current to melt the wire. At about 2 amps, though, it made the wire glow, and I knew that was more than enough heat for the styrofoam. So I decided to reuse an old camcorder power supply that was rated at 7.5V/1.6A. With this power supply, the contraption ended up drawing 1.1A and the wire was at a more “Goldilocks” temperature — not to hot and not too cold. It slows down the cutting a bit, but I think it also makes it more controllable.

Resources

Here are some great resources I found. I wish I’d found these before I started!

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Here’s a 20-minute video of the entire pen-making process — everything from selecting the wood to preparing the blanks, through to turning the pen on the lathe, finishing it to a shine, and assembling it. Virtually none of the process has been left out of this video, so it should give you a good idea of what’s involved in the process.

There’s a scene index after the video on this page.

Handmade pen featured in video

Handmade pen featured in video

In the video I’m working on three different pens, but I’ve edited out the work I did on the other two pens. Here’s a picture of the pen featured in the video. I traded with a friend for some custom artwork. :)

  • 00:03 Setup and preparing the blanks
  • 00:57 Power on!
  • 01:05 Drilling the blanks
  • 02:35 Sanding and inserting brass tubes
  • 03:36 Trimming the blanks
  • 04:42 Mounting the blanks onto the lathe
  • 05:15 Rough turning
  • 07:25 Detail turning
  • 08:28 Sanding and finish coat #1
  • 10:41 Sanding and finish coat #2
  • 11:56 Sanding and finish coat #3
  • 13:24 Final sanding and coarse polish
  • 15:30 Final polish
  • 16:24 Removing the work from the lathe
  • 16:57 Getting ready to assemble
  • 17:30 Assembly
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Okay, let’s get some parenting concerns out of the way first: I believe that a rubber band gun is probably one of the safest ways to teach a kid a bit about gun safety, partly because it actually shoots something that can sting. It’s a good excuse to explain that bringing a weapon (even a toy one) to school will likely get him kicked out, and it’s also a good way to learn how to be conscious of where it’s pointing — loaded or not. Plus it’s fun for target practice.

That said, here’s a single-shooter rubber band gun that we threw together today using scrap wood. The rubber band is loaded from the front onto the top of the trigger lever, which is also the rear sight. It’s alarmingly accurate; I can hit a quarter-sized bull’s eye from across the room.

(Click on the pictures to view larger versions.)

Rubber Band Gun

Rubber Band Gun

It started off as a bamboo flooring plank cut-off, but it wasn’t very accurate or attractive. It was also very difficult to hold and aim.

Rubber Band Gun Loaded

Rubber Band Gun Loaded

The blue rubber band provides enough tension to hold the trigger in place when loaded. The trigger lever pivots on a brad nail inside of the groove. It took some chisel work to get the slot just right.

Rubber Band Gun Trigger Mechanism

Rubber Band Gun Trigger Mechanism

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