Category: Projects

Mauricio’s Big Build

Overview

Mauricio Salmerón has been working on a project recently. What started as a joke request to a friend has now spanned into a multi-month project that is now nearing completion. I got a chance to speak with Mauricio over a weekend and he shed some light on what other workshop members saw as two large pieces of wood glued together.

Mauricio has been an off-and-on member of the Ace Makerspace for a few years now. He used to own a furniture-making shop called “The Furniture Space,” where he did woodworking to create all kinds of custom furniture such as tables and sideboards. After that, Mauricio found Ace to be the best place to continue honing his craft.

A while back, Mauricio was talking with June, a friend of his. The conversation eventually drifted to June’s need for a new bed. After discussing how June’s search hadn’t been successful, Mauricio jokingly offered to build her a bed frame. The two laughed, and the conversation moved on. However, a month or two later June took Mauricio up on his half-serious request.

A half completed bed frame
The bed frame, later in its construction phase

Mauricio worked on the project on and off, but many months later it’s nearly complete. Throughout his build process, Mauricio used many workshop tools to complete the project. The table saw, chop saw, router, drill, and planer to name a few. He estimates “another 10 hours of work and headboard assembly” and the new frame will be ready to send to June. The entire assembly consists of 5 main parts that can be put together to complete the full platform-style bed. June, of course, will have to provide the mattress, but it seems that the bulk of the work has been completed.

Process

  • Early pieces
    • Oak boards were surfaced through the joiner and planer, then dimensioned with the table saw
    • The boards were clamped together and glued to make the large sides of the bed, the tops to the sides with pocket screws
    • The three main pieces were completed by now, each with its own plywood support frame
  • Later pieces
    • The surfaced boards were put together with pocket screws and clamps to create the headboard
    • The last piece, the middle mattress support, was made with plywood, glue, and pocket screws
  • Final assembly
    • The three large oak pieces were attached with latches, the headboard had cleats and bolts to attach to the side pieces, and the middle mattress support piece

Tools and materials

  • Tools
    • Table saw
    • Chop saw
    • Router
    • Circular saw
    • Drill
    • Planer
    • Joiner
  • Materials
    • Titebond III wood glue
    • Pocket screws
    • Plywood and Oakwood
    • Cleats
    • Bolts
    • Latches

Making an Alder Shoe Rack/Side Table

My 23 year old son told me he’d love a shoe rack in his new home that doubled as a side table for his sofa.  He’d been unable to find anything to buy that fit the dimensions, so I decided to build him one.

There were a few specifics that needed to be accounted for — the dimensions of the space, the color of wood that would complement his room, and the fact that they hang coats against the wall that the rack/table would abut…

He loves mid-century modern furniture — so I found and modified a style online to be able to hold 5 pairs of shoes, be the right height for the sofa table, and allow for the coats to co-exist.

I recently made a different shoe rack with mitered corners on the plywood sides — and was pretty unhappy with the results.  Solid wood is so much more forgiving for the occasional minor gap in the joint — because you can sand it down to make the flaw less visible.  I found plywood, however, having such a thin veneer, too easy to oversand and ended up with areas where the veneer was gone and the underlying ply exposed.

But I knew a plain butt joint wouldn’t provide enough stability.  I decided instead to do two things to strengthen the joints in the plywood pieces:  I created a hidden spline joint, and I added a 2″ back strip to each shelf to support the entire structure.

 

That left all the plywood edges exposed, which I’d planned to cover with iron-on edge veneer.  In my cabinet-making days (decades ago!) I’d regularly made plywood shelves with edge veneer without problem.  But in this project, this is where the headaches got the worst!

I ironed the edge veneer on each board before assembling the piece.  The edge tape is 7/8″ wide, so there’s a good amount to remove till it’s the proper width for the plywood.  I sanded each piece down, only to discover that I’d inadvertently sanded through the plywood veneer in places.

Additionally, once I put the pieces together, additional sanding went through parts of the edge veneer AND the plywood veneer!  I cannot even count how many re-dos I did of the edge veneer — which was far more challenging now that the piece was assembled and everything had to fit exactly.

I finished the piece in oil based varathane to warm up the color a bit.   In the end it came out okay.  Most of the flaws were in the back, which won’t show being against the sofa. (My son was pleased, most importantly)

I’ve thought about how I’d do it differently next time.  I don’t know how easily I could find a thicker veneered plywood, but I’d swear the veneer was thicker in the old days…!

I’d definitely invest in an edge veneer trimmer to lessen the sanding I was doing.

And I’ll likely lean more towards using solid wood vs plywood in future projects!

laser etched rubber stamps

Adventure in Rubber Stamp Making

So Ace is working on a holiday card and we need rubber stamps for some of the art. This is the tale of making rubbers stamps including all the mistakes on our 100w CO2 Laser.

Materials used

  • Scrap wood
  • Gorilla Spray Glue
  • Craft Foam
  • Art Ink pads
  • Laser Engravable Rubber Polymer, low odor, from rubber-stamp.com

The artwork

The artwork… that is the first place things went wonky but I didn’t realize it until I cut. I had forgotten that engraving needed an outer boundary in order to drop out the right stuff. Check out these screenshots. Everything black in these images will be burned away.

The thing to remember with vector laser files, LaserSoft, and rubber stamps is:

  • Mirror the art
  • Set an outer boundary for the etching
  • The outer boundary is the same as the cut line so you will need one object to be the boundary and one object on another layer to be the cut line.
laser art
In this file, I forgot to put an outer boundary for the vector etching and that means all the white bits between the pink cut line and the inner art is what will print when I stamp it. Not ideal.
Laser art
In this one most of the art is correct and all the inner graphics that are white will print. The only thing that is wonk is the white gap between the pink cut line and the etching. That is easily solved though post-laser with a pair of scissors.
bad rubber stamp
Opps… etched away the thing I wanted to stamp.
laser etched rubber stamps
The actual art I wanted to stamp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the results from the two files. As you can see the art in the first file didn’t match the intention.

Testing and getting the right settings down

The laser polymer comes with some settings but they are for much lower wattage lasers than ours.

settings from laser package

It took a bunch of test etching to get to settings that worked. I used a focus range for etching. These are the settings we finally settled on:

  • Cutting: 15/90/87
  • Etching: 150/80/78 (make sure to turn on grade engrave)

Putting it together and what I learned about glue

So I cut the outlines out of some scrap wood and used e6000 glue to attach the rubber bit. The results were… bad.

rubber-bad-glue
Hard curled up crumbling stamps.

The final product did work out well with a layer of craft foam and using gorilla spray glue.

The post-laser etching finishing and clean up

Laser etching rubber polymer is dirty. Really dirty. When the stamps come off the laser they should be soaked in the water right away for about 10 – 15 min. then scrubbed with a soft brush.

This is what a brand new filter looked like after 8.1min. of cutting and etching laser.

Dirt filter after cutting laser polymer next to new filter material.
festival mask

Hack your mask with valves

The “dirt-bike” or sports dust masks are really popular. A lot of folks know them from using them at events like Burning Man and Coachella. The issue with a lot of “dirt bike” style masks is the exhalation valves which are totally unfiltered. This makes these masks pretty useless for COVID-19 safety. You can read more about what the CDC says about masks with valves.

Everything I used for this 2-min hack:

  • CLUX Mesh Black Face Mask with Black Carbon Filter by Continental Luxury (amazon)
  • small (not tiny) rubber bands – one for each valve
  • Scissors
  • Non-Woven Polypropylene Fabric (woven fabric will work too)

I assembled the mask according to manufacturers’ directions. I cut the filter fabric to go over the valve with a very generous overlap – you can always cut off the excess. Then I slipped the rubber band over 2 layers of filter fabric to secure it to the Valve. This covers the valve and any leaky spots around the opening.

sport mask disassembled
Sport mask as it comes all disassembled. Most of these require assembly.
value hole on mesh part of the mask
The valve hole in the mask without the “hardware”
fabric, mask, and rubber band
Assembled mask with quick filter materials
filtered valve
the filter “value-cover” takes about 3 seconds to put on.
filtered valve close up
the “valve-cover” close up
respirator and tools

Respirator Hack for Covid

So the issue with a lot of respirators and dust masks is the exhalation valve which is totally unfiltered. This makes them pretty useless for COVID-19 safety. You can read more about what the CDC says about masks with valves.

Everything I used for this 5-min hack:

  • 3M Rugged Comfort Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6502QL (Medium)
  • Electrical tape
  • Scissors
  • Non-Woven Polypropylene Fabric (woven fabric will work too)

Check out the gallery below to see how I added a filter to my valve. I specifically added it to the outside so it would last longer before getting moist and so others could see it. I used two layers of material for the filter.

Made at AMT-June 2019

NOMCOM Fob All The Things dashboard | AMT Software • Bodie/Crafty
Hand Built Speaker | Workshop • David
Recycling Game | Workshop/Laser • Bernard M.
Solid wood credenza | Workshop | Raj J.
Tiny electronic brass jewelry | Electronics | Ray A.
RFID Mint Dispensing Box | Laser+Electronics | Crafty
Wood Signage | CNC Router | James L.
Fabric Kraken stuffed with 720 LEDs | Textiles + Electronics | Crafty

AMT’s Adventures at Maker Faire 2018

The Art Printing Photobooth aka The Edgy Printacular

At the Bay Area Maker Faire 2018, a team of Ace Monster Toys members created a photobooth where participants could take selfies which were then transformed into line art versions and printed, all initiated by pressing one ‘too-big-to-believe’ red button.

Back in March, AMT folks began prepping for Maker Faire 2018, and had an idea: what if you made a machine that could take a selfie and then generate a line art version of the said selfie, that could then be printed out for participants like you and me?! Thus, the Art Printing Photobooth was born! This project was based on the Edgy Cam project by Ray Alderman. AMT created a special slack channel just for Bay Area Maker Faire 2018 #maker-faire-2018. Then members set about figuring out how exactly to make this art-generating-automaton and Rachel (Crafty) campaigned for having a ‘too-big-to-believe’ push button. They would need many maker skills: CNC routing and file design, woodworking, electronics wiring, and someone to art it all up on the physical piece itself. Bob (Damp Rabbit) quickly volunteered to take on the design and CNC cutting, while Ray (whamodyne) started to chip away at the code that would be used to convert photos to line art.


Then the trouble began. By mid-April, our intrepid troubleshooters were running into all sorts of snags – so much so that the original code needed to be thrown out and rewritten from the ground up! To add additional difficulty (and awesomeness!) the team decided to use a Print on Demand(POD) service to allow participants to have their generated art uploaded and available to be printed on mugs, t-shirts, posters, etc. Soon after, Ray wrote up a new digispark code for the big-red-button to actuate the script and convert and print the line art (code given below) using Python3, opencv library, printer library from https://github.com/python-escpos/python-escpos.


Meanwhile, Crafty Rachel and Bernard were configuring the TV mount that would be the selfie-display of the photobooth and Damp Rabbit was busy CNCing and painting up a storm to create the beautiful finished product – The Edgy Printacular! The EP was a hit and won three blue ribbons at Maker Faire 2018. Another happy ending that speaks to what a few creative makers can do when they put their heads together in a place with all the right equipment, Ace Monster Toys <3

Stirling Engine

Once upon a time, I bought some plans and materials for a small Walking Beam Stirling Engine. I have seen lots of small home built steam, heat, and even internal combustion engines over the years and thought it would be fun to make one.

Here’s a picture of what it should look like when it is finished

Well, the box with the plans and materials has sat in my garage for 5 years now, and I think it is time to finally get started. So I have made a deal with myself to make a part each week until it is done.It would be an opportunity to really get to know our lathe and milling machine at AMT. I have mostly used bigger, more powerful, and more rigid machine tools at The Crucible, and Techshop. Working with the smaller, lighter machines we have at AMT and how to deal with their limitations will be a learning experience.

This week I was able to make 2 parts.

First I made the bracket which supports the crank arm and flywheel shaft. It started out as a 3mm thick brass plate. It needed to be cut to size and shape, and have some precisely positioned holes drilled. It also needed to be bent with a 90 degree angle. It took a bit of thinking about what order to do the operations. The holes need to be a precise height above the platform it all mounts on, and I know that the bend was going to use some of the material up in the curve, but I didn’t know how much. So I decided to “square up” the plate, then bend it, then cut it to shape, and finally drill the holes in the right spots. I used the milling machine to shape, the vise and a hammer to bend, and finally the drill press to do these operations. Here’s a picture of the finished part.

The other part I made was the fuel tank, which is basically a little aluminum cup with a lid and a wick to burn alcohol. This started out as a round bar. On the lathe I “faced” or flattened one end, turned it around, hollowed out the inside of the cup, and finally turned the outside to the final dimensions. Here’s a before and after picture.

So far I am pleased with the results. In hollowing out the inside of the cup I learned that those carbide boring bars that came with our lathe are just too flexible to be useful. But a good sharp HSS tool was able to make clean cuts.

Next I think I will try to make the cylinders. The deep cuts to make the cooling fins look like they may be a challenge to get right.

Hoover Elementary School Edible Garden Project

AMT is thrilled to be partnering with Hoover Elementary School in Oakland for a community benefit project. With the help of a team of engineering students from UC Berkeley, AMT will provide the community, space, tools, minor funding and mentorship to help create a truly edible community garden at the school. Our partnership will focus on signage, other usability aspects and will include developing classroom content to engage students in the design and build process.

We will be starting to meet weekly for design co-working in the space during the last week of November. We are part of a larger team doing a complete garden build out lead by the Hoover Elementary garden steward Wanda Stewart. We are actively seeking mentors, educators, and makers who are excited to get involved and contribute to this project.

All kinds of support are welcomed: whether you are interested in documenting, building, developing classroom content or designing builds in the garden.

Contact @crafty on Slack to get involved! Or email [email protected]