posts tagged with the keyword ‘design’



I tend to make objects. Things. Pieces. Sometimes I think I can apply the word “sculpture” to them, mainly because sometimes there isn’t a better word to describe them (especially if they are to be considered “art”.)

Many of the things I make are “functional” in that they do a thing. But what is that thing? What does it mean to do a thing? They might make something happen, or move, or light up. The might be kinetic or reactive or interactive. They may solve a problem. They may make the world a better place. They might look pleasing.

And then there’s jewelry…

I’ve had a strange relationship with jewelry. I never really cared for jewelry. Beyond the relationship humans have with jewelry, and how it fits into society, I just never really cared about making jewelry. I think that some art instructors use jewelry making as a way to teach process and making, and maybe use it because many (most?) people like it and would like to have jewelry, or maybe because it’s such a personal thing. I mean, it’s work on the body. That’s personal, right?


I even ended up making a piece of jewelry for a class titled “Machines that Make”. I designed a hammer ring. I learned a bit more about Rhino, and I got a print made by Shapeways, which was a good experience, but as far as a piece of jewelry, I didn’t care about it. (I mean, It’s an interesting object, but I’m not going to wear it. Like many of the things I make, there’s humor somewhere deep inside of it. Or maybe on the surface. I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out.)

Much of my art & design background involved 2D work, which, let’s be honest, often hangs on a wall, or is just seen and doesn’t do a thing. But doesn’t it do a thing? Does it provoke thought or emotions? Does it instruct or inform? Does it make you feel something? Does it make you happy? Things do things.

I remember back in a high school art class we had to make a ring. I had zero interest in wearing a ring or making a ring, and I really dragged on the project. I think I eventually finished it (late) and I don’t even know what happened to it. It was a piece I just didn’t care about. I probably could have learned about etching metal, and creating different kinds of resists, but I just wasn’t invested. (I know, this is all a person thing.)

My daughter has started to make jewelry. I’m excited about it. Not because I like jewelry, but because she likes jewelry. Or, maybe she just likes making things. It seems therapeutic. She’s mostly doing wire wrapped jewelry. I use wire for electronics and for securing things. Making jewelry with it? I guess some people do that.


She also learned how to do metal casting, which is awesome. I know a little about metal casting, and it’s something I wish I knew more about (but there are only so many hours in the day.) I’m glad she has the opportunity to learn it.

Also, Daleks…

What? Daleks? Yeah, well, Jon H. at Milwaukee Makerspace is the Jewelry Area Champion, and besides helping people make Daleks, helps people make jewelry. Or, learn how to make jewelry. Jon is an interesting guy. I’ve heard him called a “Retired Magician” though maybe he still is a magician! He’s got a lot of skills and is willing to share them. So yeah, sometimes you see Dalek parts being made in the jewelry area, because, the process is similar, sort of. Right? I don’t know…

Where is all this going? I’m really not sure. As I said, I’ve had a complicated relationship with jewelry. I don’t wear it, I’m not a big fan. It’s a personal thing. I don’t really like drawing attention to myself. I mean, my self. My physical being. I don’t mind using words to make myself known, or sharing my work, but I don’t want the focus on my physical body. That’s just how I am. I’m weird. Maybe. I don’t know.


Well that turned into a rambling mess about art and objects and jewelry that I wasn’t fully expecting. Writing can be like that sometimes… What do you think?



I recently had to design a simple cabinet to serve as a stand for a mill/lathe. I thought about pulling out some rulers and triangles (yes, I used to actually do drafting with pencils and paper) but instead I decided to try using OpenSCAD.


I used specific colors in my design, of course when you actually render a thing in OpenSCAD the color goes away, but you can export the different views just fine without rendering. Here are the various view of the thing. Oh, since OpenSCAD is a “unit-less” thing which mostly outputs in millimeters (at least for STL files) I just assumed the units were inches.


I used the OpenSCAD “scale” feature to scale up the thing by 25.4 times in each direction, which means my 1 millimeter became 1 inch.


But in a real drawing you plan to hand to someone you need dimensions for things. While there’s been some experimentation in adding them, there just doesn’t seem to be an easy way to show dimensions of things in OpenSCAD. I resorted to printing out paper and marking it up… with a pencil.


I probably need to learn how to use FreeCAD for this sort of thing. I’m sure I can easily add dimensions with it. One of the really interesting things about FreeCAD is that it has an OpenSCAD Module. You can import a CSG file which you’ve exported from OpenSCAD, and you can just open .scad files as well.

Much more to explore here… stay tuned!


Adjustable Rectangular Mount v1

I finally got around to creating a parametric version of the 3D printed mount I’ve been using for the past few years. Typically I’d just open a previously designed thing in OpenSCAD, make some adjustments, and export an STL to print. Eventually I realized that I should just create a bunch of variables so I can easily just make minor adjustments each time and not have to do a bunch of find & replace operations.

The result is Adjustable Rectangular Mount v1 which you can find on Thingiverse and Youmagine.

It’s a work in progress, and it still needs some tweaking, but I figured it was worth releasing to the world. (Hey, make it better if you can!) It doesn’t work for all sizes and configurations, but for most of my needs, it’s good enough.

Adjustable Rectangular Mount v1

I should probably do more research on how to improve things by reading through other OpenSCAD code, but as mentioned, you’ve gotta start somewhere. I’ll probably be using this one quite a bit in the future, and I’ll update it as I can.

This mount specifically expects that you can use screws (or bolts) to mount it to a surface you can screw into or drill through. I also often add some double-sided foam tape to the inside of the mount and stick it directly to the object being mounted.


Borrowing a bit from our friends at Bolt Depot, their chart showing US Machine Screw Diameters is helpful, but often I’m designing with Metric units (or a unit-less system that outputs in millimeters) and I need to convert Imperial units to mm. (I tend to do a lot of work using OpenSCAD and Inkscape for 3D printing.)

The chart below allows me to specify screws and bolts and then design holes that will work. For instance, I used a lot of #4 screws, and the chart tells me I need a hole diameter of approximately 2.794mm. Handy!

Size Thread Diameter
Decimal Nearest Fractional Metric
#0 0.06″ 1/16″ 1.524mm
#1 0.07″ 5/64″ 1.778mm
#2 0.08″ 3/32″ 2.032mm
#3 0.09″ 7/64″ 2.286mm
#4 0.11″ 7/64″ 2.794mm
#5 0.12″ 1/8″ 3.048mm
#6 0.13″ 9/64″ 3.302mm
#8 0.16″ 5/32″ 4.046mm
#10 0.19″ 3/16″ 4.826mm
#12 0.21″ 7/32″ 5.334mm
#14 0.24″ 1/4″ 6.096mm

See Also: Millimeters, Inches, Fraction, Decimals


USB Mount

I designed a small part to hold a panel mount USB cable. I started with the Phoenix Connector Mount I briefly mentioned before, and did some quick modifications to make it work with the USB cable.

USB Mount

I designed this thing in OpenSCAD though I did borrow a few elements from another recent model so that I could use 5/8″ #4 screws. The bottom where the screws go in is set to a height that allows the screws to go in just under 1/4″ which is enough to hold, but not enough to go through the material they’ll be screwed into. This is one of the things I love about making custom mounts and brackets, you can configure them to match the hardware you have available.

USB Mount

With many of the things that need (semi) precise placement of things, it takes two to three revisions to get it right. I actually used the second revision because I was in a hurry, but I’ve modified the file so version 3 will be just right next time. (I had the panel mount screw holes just a little too close together. Things flex enough that it works, but it could be better, and will be… next time.)

USB Mount

The first version actually warped quite a bit in printing. It’s a problem we seem to have occasionally with the old MakerBot. It’s always the front left corner of the print. I find that by shifting the print on the bed to the right just a bit often fixes the problem (at least for small prints.)

USB Mount

You can find this design on YouMagine and Thingiverse.

« Older Entries |

buy the button:

Buy The Button