posts tagged with the keyword ‘tools’

2016.07.11

Tiny Drill Press

I rambled on a bit about Dremel-compatible drill presses back when I was working on my Learn to Solder Kit and I came close to building my own last month. I had some smooth rods that I considered cutting down and I took a bunch of scrap wood and cut it into pieces to form the body of the press. Fortunately I got too busy and I never cut the smooth rods, and then I found some nice drawer slides on the Hack Rack at Milwaukee Makerspace.

I’ve been sick the past few days but finally started to feel better on Sunday. I had planned to start doing a shop clean up and organization but I figured what better way to procrastinate than by building a tiny drill press!

Tiny Drill Press

This really was slapped together in a matter of hours. I did try to get things straight and aligned, but I didn’t obsess over it. I’m pretty sloppy at traditional woodworking and building in this fashion and that might be part of the reason I tend to like using CNC machines and software, as they change how things are measured and cut (or extruded, etc.)

(And yes, the photos are terrible because I never got around to clearing off the photo table. Because procrastination.)

Tiny Drill Press

The most difficult part was determining how to hold the round Dremel tool in place. I ended up using some 3D printed nut knobs from my CAMS system to hold the Dremel into a channel with precisely placed blocks of wood and some 1/4″ bolts. I’m able to turn on and control the speed as well as change out the bit while the Dremel is mounted. It works. This is fine.

Tiny Drill Press

I tested it with the tiniest bit I had and it worked. No bit snapping occurred, the drawer slides worked well, and I used a rubber band to hold up the Dremel. What? Yes, I don’t yet have a proper spring mechanism or counterweight, and there is currently no handle for moving the Dremel down, but it can make holes in things, so that’s something.

I’ll revisit the drill lifting mechanism another time, and I’ll figure out some sort of handle mechanism as well… at some point. For now, I can make tiny holes, and I call that progress.

Enjoy this wonderful video of Tiny Drill Press in action. I tend to post in-progress things on Instagram, in case you are interested.

One Day Tiny Drill Press is done enough for one day…

A video posted by Pete Prodoehl (@raster) on

Z Axis…

A video posted by Pete Prodoehl (@raster) on

2016.02.28

Screwdriver vinyl

My pal John McGeen posted a challenge for February. The challenge was to design a screwdriver. He also said we should “Push the boundaries of what is possible”, and while I’m normally a hammer guy, I figured I’d try a screwdriver.

While John was busy making a real screwdriver I thought about the challenge, and at first I thought about designing a 3D model of a screwdriver, and then I thought about making a nice screwdriver shaped sign using a large piece of wood, and ultimately being overloaded with projects in February I ended up doing something different.

Craftsman Screwdrivers

I started this project by thinking about screwdrivers. The first screwdrivers I ever used when I was a kid belonged to my dad. He had nice Craftsman tools. I remember him telling me that Craftsman had a lifetime warranty on their tools, and if you ever broke one, they would replace it. I still have a few Craftsman screwdrivers, but over the years I seem to have collected many other brands. None of them are probably the same quality of the old Craftsman tools, and none of them hold a memory for me like the Craftsman do.

I found a photo of some Craftsman screwdrivers and used them as a basis for tracing the outline I wanted for my silhouette.

Screwdriver with text

Once I had my screwdriver shape drawn out in Inkscape I added the word CRAFT using the typeface Adobe Naskh Medium. I wanted a contrast from the original CRAFTSMAN type which was a simple sans-serif typeface. I also flipped the screwdriver horizontally so the handle was on the left.

CRAFT

Detail of the handle and the CRAFT text. I also colored my illustration green because I planned to use green vinyl, again as a contrast to the red and blue of the original Craftsman screwdrivers.

Screwdriver

After the text was added I changed it to outlines and then exported it as a DXF file to load into the Silhouette Studio software to be cut.

Screwdriver Silhouette

In Silhouette Studio I scaled it to an appropriate size for my laptop screen, which ended up being 242mm long (or 9.5″ for you non-Metric folks.)

Screwdriver vinyl

The vinyl was then cut and weeded. I also cut a small piece of transfer paper to attach to the vinyl to hold the islands from the text in place.

Screwdriver vinyl

Yes, it’s finally time to replace the Imperator Furiosa skeleton arm. It had a good run of more than six months before the change. (It took a Simple Green scrubbing to get the lid clean before I applied the screwdriver vinyl.)

Screwdriver vinyl

Here’s the 13″ MacBook Pro with the screwdriver vinyl applied. Overall I’m pleased with how it turned out and it feels good to have some new artwork on the old laptop.

I hope this is enough of a screwdriver for John’s new site GrindstoneMKE. I’m expecting that a bunch of different screwdrivers are going to show up there in the coming days. (I’m not sure if anyone besides me will have a vinyl screwdriver though!)

Screwdriver vinyl

Screwdriver vinyl

2013.01.07

Lake Effect

Remember last year when the Chipstone Foundation issued the Tool at Hand Challenge and I created a piece called Plastic Sun? Well, during the event I was interviewed by WUWM and the story aired on Lake Effect this past weekend.

You can check out the archive and if you want to hear my segment, here’s an MP3.

Enjoy!

2012.12.17

3D Printing Accessories

So you’ve got a 3D Printer on your Xmas list, or somehow you’ve convinced your company that they need to get one before the end of 2012 because it’s a tool you’ll definitely need in 2013. (And yeah, it probably is!)

So the big question is… what else do you need?

You may not need any of these things, but these are the things I’ve found useful to have around during the past year of 3D printing. Now, keep in mind, I make a lot of functional parts. Some people just make pretty things, and the amount of extra stuff you need for “pretty” things versus “functional” things may vary. (And yes, I focused mainly on tools/items you need for prints, not the actual printer.)

Drill, Drill Bits, Drill Press
I often make parts with holes, or need to make holes in parts. Sometimes you’ll print a part with a hole that needs something inserted into it, either a bolt, or a rod, or a dowel, or screw, or something else round. Running a drill bit through the hole can help smooth things out and get the hole the right size. Sometimes you don’t even need a drill, but just the bit with a pair of pliers, or a vise-grip, or even a vise. Running the bit back and forth (without it turning) can clean up those edges in a hole.

On occasion I need to make the holes after I print something. In this case the drill press often comes in very handy. Sometimes you don’t know you need the holes, or you want more precise (or smaller) holes than you can get from printing. There’s no shame in drilling holes in a piece you printed. It’s just another tool in the process of making.

There’s also reamers and tappers, but I don’t use those, don’t have those, and won’t get into those.

Files, Sandpaper, X-ACTO Knives (and blades!)
Sometimes part just don’t fit right, or sometimes it’s better to make something a little too large and take of the extra. A set of files (flat and rounded) can do the job. The round ones can also come in handy like the drill bits mentioned above. Sandpaper also has its uses, though any of the abrasive tools will leave the surface looking a bit ugly. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder of course, and if it’s a part you don’t see, it probably doesn’t matter. As for the X-ACTO knife (and blades) they can be used to cut away edges, excess plastic, support material, etc. A good knife always comes in useful. I’ve also used a pair of diagonal cutters on occasion. A bit less precise than an X-ACTO knife, but sometimes it’s the right tool.

Acetone and/or Glue
Sometimes you just gotta stick one part to another part. I’ve heard people mention JB Weld, or Super Glue, but for sticking one piece of ABS plastic to another, I just use acetone. It’s messy, stinky, and tricky to work with, but it does a heck of a job. (For PLA I supposed I’d go with Super Glue, YMMV.)

Rubber Bands, Zip Ties, Tape
The rubber bands are often used in conjunction with the acetone, to hold parts together until dry. There are of course other uses for rubber bands. As for zip ties, if you built a Prusa, you’ve already got a bunch of them! Sometimes they’re the right tool for holding things together… and sometimes it’s tape. I prefer gaff tape myself, but masking tape can come in pretty handy.

What Else!?
I’m sure there’s plenty of other bits and pieces and tools and whatnot that I’ve forgotten (a Dremel tool perhaps?) but I figured this was a good list to get started.

2012.05.25

Maker Business - The Real Costs

You know me, I’ve always got more to say… I just wanted to touch on the real costs of making a thing.

In the olden days, when I primarily worked with software, there was an old saying “Linux is only free if your time has no value” and while it’s a slightly amusing phrase, there maybe some truth to it. Maybe. If you’re a Linux fan, the saying may come across as an insult. Sure, sometimes working with Linux feels a lot like yak shaving. When you need to install this library to install that library to install some other library to install the software you really wanted to install… you get the idea. (Linux has gotten much better at this in the last few years though, so much of these issues have gone away.)

With software, it’s (almost) all about the time you spend on it. If you’ve got a computer, you can develop software. Most of the tools are free, or low-cost (depending on the platform) and if you got access to the Internet, or a library, you can learn, learn, learn and become a software developer. (I’ll answer the question of if you should in another post!)

So you’ve got a computer, you’ve got time, you’ve got a desire to learn… those can be the basic building blocks to make software. Go for it. Now, keep in mind that many developers (especially in the open source world) are doing what they do because they want to solve their own problems. I really wanted DokuWiki to be able to present a random page, and when I found a plugin that didn’t work, it was worth a few hours to fix it. I didn’t go as far as adopting the plugin, since it appears to have been orphaned, but I did drop it on GitHub so if someone really wants my work, they can have it. The sharing and collaboration is part of what I love about open source.

So let’s talk about hardware…

Hardware consists of real bits, not just zeros and ones, but actual physical things that are created. When I turned one of my projects into a product I did my best to make sure the final price was such that I would actually make money. Making money is important. Note that I didn’t say making LOTS and LOTS of money is important. I mean, it is to some people, but… whatever.

So you’ve got your maker business, and you want to treat customers (and potential customers) right, and this will cause you to make certain decisions. I remember talking to someone 9 months ago who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, and he pointed out to me that the first thing you need to do once you think you determine your costs, is to pad it. Remember that Kickstarter and Amazon each take a cut. The campaigner also said that he got one backer who had some terrible thing happen in his personal life, and asked if he could be refunded his pledge. If you do refund someone’s pledge, do you do the full amount or do you withhold what Kickstarter and Amazon take out of it?

Once you’re shipping actual products, if you’re not charging enough, how many returns does it take to make you start losing money? Things break during shipping, or get lost, or stolen, or just plain don’t work. It’s your job to determine how far you’ll go (and how much you’ll spend) to have satisfied customers.

And yeah, as I mentioned, physical things cost money, and when you are not big (as in, a small company, or someone just starting out) you probably have zero leverage to get any sort of discounts. This is where a lot of Kickstarter campaigns come in, as they involve raising enough money to do bulk purchases to drive down costs. It’s a good idea in some cases, but not all.

Even after you have all the physical things you need to assemble a product, there are at least two more thing you may need. Time (just like with software) and tools (which compare to a computer in the software example above.) In my case, to build my products I had some of the tools I needed, but I also had to buy some of them. If you don’t want to buy your own tools you can consider a makerspace or something like TechShop if you have one near you. As you continue to create your product you may end up spending more on tools, to do things better, faster, etc. This is another cost you may not think about. There’s also repairing and replacing tools, and consumables like blades, bits, paint, shipping materials, etc. and each one of those also takes some time. If you’re driving to a store, or even just ordering online, that’s time, and if your time is worth anything, you need to be compensated in some way.

I’m all about DIY, when it makes sense, and sometimes even when it doesn’t make sense, and that’s the key here. Sure, time is money, and yak shaving isn’t always the best thing to do, but sometimes you do it anyway. The good thing is, everyone has a different scale of what they are willing to do (or what they can do) and what they are willing to pay someone else to do.

I’ve gone off the rails a bit, and I guess I’ll need to do a 12.5 post to continue this. If it’s a bit rambling, forgive me, I’m still thinking through a lot of this.

(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned.)

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