Author: Jacqueline Rossiter

Image of pink text announcing the "Town Hall" with event details next to a microphone

Juicy Takeaways from the June Ace Town Hall

Our community conversation was a blast at the June 2022 Ace Town Hall! Our members and leaders met for an in-depth conversation about all of the awesome things happening at Ace this summer, including:

  • Our mutual aid initiatives
  • Working towards sustainability
  • Finding the leaders we need
  • The New Dirty Fab (roll-up of metal, workshop, and laser)
  • Our brand-spankin’ new CNC machine.

Here are some take-aways from our conversation.

This summer in Mutual Aid…

Image of 6 volunteers, in wearing black with mask stand in front of an apx. 6ft stack of blue DIY Filter Kits
Two thumbs up for our 500 Filters Work Party Volunteers!

We chatted about our two major mutual aid projects this summer: 500 Filters and Book Bags for Kids. (see the calendar for the August Event!)

Q: Is there a slack channel to learn about these projects?
A: Yes! #Greater-Community

Sustainability and Finding the Leaders We Need

“Are you leader curious? Are you team curious?”

Ace treasurer and treasure, Steven, kicked off our conversation with a report on “how we survived the Pando.” We also took a deep dive into how to find and recruit new leaders for our board of directors so that we can continue to survive, grow sustainably and thrive.

Q: Can we visit the board meeting?
A: Yes, members can audit any board meeting

Q: Does it (board member) have to be an Ace Member?
A: No, though in the course of onboarding and being an effective board member, a person becomes an Ace Member.

Q: Is there a financial commitment?
A: Yes. It is not a set amount. It is what feels right for you and what you can afford.

Q: Can I grow into a leadership role?
A: Yes! We (existing leadership) are down to collaborate and co-create a pathway to leadership that works for you.

Q: What training is offered for inclusive leadership?
A: We offer a series of workshops every year that are designed to develop soft skills like Micro-inclusion for Leaders, Boundaries for Better Living, and Taking Care of the New Folks…When they are not like you.

We finished up talking about leadership with a discussion about what Ace members can do to get involved and/or support creating an “attractive leadership pathway.”

  • Bring up the topic on #general
  • Start a small group discussion (platform of your choice)
  • Book time with officers and leaders to discuss more in-depth
  • Ask for questions to be added to the next board meeting and attend!
  • Recruit directly

Dirty Fab (Roll-up of Laser, Metal, and Shop)

Image of a critter cartoon holding tools stamped in black ink on a beige surface.
Tools ready for Dirty Fab?

The major thrust of our Dirty Fab conversation centered on the need for more instructors!

Q: What does Dirty Fab need?
A: Dirty Fab needs people to teach!

Now that the Laser, Metal, and Shop programs fall under “Dirty Fab” we need folks to teach:

  • Metal Shop Basics
  • Metal lathe
  • Wood Lathe Basics
  • Any Metal Class Subject

The Brand New Ace CNC

Blue Plushie with Red Mask sitting on the tracks of a CNC Router
Saying goodbye to our old CNC machine!

Ace is getting a new, higher-quality, CNC machine and will be donating our old one to either another organization or a local maker running a business.

Q: Why are we getting a higher quality CNC?
A: The Ace CNC Router is the only public access CNC Router in the East Bay and it falls short of meeting the community’s needs. It is also a pain in the ass (P.I.T.A.) to maintain and our new one will help attract and maintain stewards and teams.

Q: Will people need to re-certify?
A: Yes. When the new machine rolls out it will be a two-track approach. One for folks who are certified on the existing machine and another for folks starting from scratch.

To Be Continued…

We touched on many topics at the town hall, and there is so much to look forward to at Ace this summer, but there is always more to talk about. The conversation will, of course, continue.

The Story of Frank’s Marvelous Table

As usual it was way more work than anticipated, but I’m quite pleased with the final result. I had a to build a ridiculous number of jigs and templates for this thing. –Frank

After 4 months of hard work, Frank, a new member, and carpenter completed an absolutely show-stopping dining table in the workshop and posted images of the final piece on the Ace Community Discussion Board.  

Prompted by the Ace Community, Frank also provided insight into his process and the many tools he used to design, sketch, render, and build his dream dynamic, curvy table.

I’ve only been woodworking earnest for about the past year. I dabbled with it in college as well but just a bit. Most of what I know has been from the school of YouTube or from talking with people around Ace, and being a mechanical engineer has helped with some aspects.–Frank

Check out some highlights from his build:

Frank built a “ridiculous” number of custom jigs for shaping the unique curves of his design. See how he takes his idea, renders it, builds it, and tests it below:

Image of rendered white and gray jig on a dark brown curved wooden table top
Rendered Jig
Image of a light wood jig, metal router holding a curved piece of dark brown wood on a large work table.
Testing the Jig


He also put together a super neat glue-up for the top of the table:

Image of several long pieces of wood held in 6 horizontal clamps on a yellow folding table
Super neat and tidy glue up

He even converted his living room into a stylish workshop and all that between his 10-month-old’s naps!

Image of a makeshift workshop with plastic sheets draped around a metal rack holding woodworking tools and a curved wooden table top.
Frank’s living room converted into a workshop

The project may have been “way more work” than Frank thought it would be but, wow! Hopefully, he’s sending out dinner invites soon!

Image of modern dark wood table set with two golden candlesticks and a white vase with a pink flower
Frank’s table is set and ready to enjoy

It’s Alive! Highlights from our Big Laser Maintenance Day

In March, intrepid makers David P., Goldie, Miriam, and Crafty came together to nerd-out over laser maintenance. Guided by expert Light Object Tech, Joel, they gave our hardworking Barracuda Laser a head-to-toe check-up and learned tips and advanced methods for how to continue to keep our laser in tip-top shape.

10:29:20 AM: Dag, nabit. Frosted window!

Crafty discovers folks using 409 and isopropyl alcohol on the acrylic windows of the laser making them all frosty and icky. Goldie springs into action and finds and orders an acrylic cleaner on Amazon.

10:30:57AM: Oooh! Maybe we’re promoting a new life form in there? – David

Image close-up view of red algae growing in the water lines
Red algae growing inside the water lines around the Barracuda Laser

The maintenance adventure got off to a rockin’ start when Crafty announced the discovery of an unexpected life form fluttering in the water lines around the tubes of our laser.

As it turns out, what looked like scorch marks in the laser tubes were actually algae!  Because red and blue laser beams are truly monochromatic and super powerful, plant life like algae are able to super efficiently convert the rays into food during photosynthesis. Very cool from a scientific perspective but not so cool from a laser cutting perspective. Algae can impede water flow as well as create “hot” spots that may end up with arching.

Joel recommended checking the water lines every three months for signs of life and showed team laser how to properly flush the tubes with a bleach/water solution.

10:43:52 AM: Alignment!

The alignment was off but not bad. Joel gets everything ship-shape!

11:05:52 AM: Lotsa chunks raining down. – Goldie

Next, the team scrubbed the busted, dirty honeycomb and laser bed. The honeycomb creates a flat medium for cutting and protects the laser bed from smoke damage. Over time, the surface has warped and the build-up began to transfer to the surface of the items being cut.

Goldie posted a super dirty image below of our old honeycomb (left) versus a brand new honeycomb (right). Unfortunately, the new one didn’t fit our laser and Ace is going to have to special order one.

Image shows the difference between a dirty, used honeycomb and a brand new clean one
Old honeycomb (left) vs. a new honeycomb (right)

11:38:22 AM: Omg. that is so gross. Post it. – Crafty/Goldie

Crafty and Goldie also scrubbed the support rails before re-inserting the old honeycomb.

Image of yellow and silver laser bed and hands holding a scrubber
Crafty cleaning the laser bed

12:01:37 PM: Joel is currently optimizing our Parameter Settings… exciting!

There was an adjustment to the Z!

Default factory settings screenshot
Default Factory Settings for us in LaserSoft

12:37:20 PM: The result is… A clean cut with more speed.–Goldie

The top is lower speed, and you can see flashback on the back. In the photo below, bottom is higher speed, same power, and a super clean cut!

(Note – the black soot is from us flipping the honeycomb – it’s not fire marks)

Laser cut wood name tags
Comparing settings
Laser cut wood pieces with hand written settings
Settings used for comparison

12:56:54 PM: We are starting the Rotary installation!!!! – Crafty

Our rotary setup is using the Y-axis to drive it instead of a separate driver. in order to compensate for the distortion, many parameters must be switched and then switch back again at the end of the rotary session. Rotary training is done! 120mm max diameter. Uses a chuck-style attachment with two options so very friendly for irregular objects.

2:59:53 PM: Replacing the main vent hose now.

Discovered hole in it so it wasn’t nearly so efficient. Def. time to do a tear down on the fan as well!! Miriam lending a helping hand. Yay new hoses!

fan and filter box with hoses on the floor
Filter box and fan assembly

2:59:53 PM: Annnnnnnd done! –Crafty

We found the bearing on the Y asses was loose and we need to tighen it. We guess it is a 2.1 or 2 mm allen key. At the end of the day everyone was dirty and tired, but after running some successful test-cuts, extremely satisfied. We also got a complement of replacement parts including the damaged valve and cone. Working on documenting things now.

Now, the Barracuda laser is back to peak efficiency and better than ever for clean and speedy cutting!