Building a classic Star Trek control panel

July 10th, 2013 by danbackslide

It just so happens that I’m a member of a local Star Trek fan club, as well as a TCMaker board member. (I am a multi-purpose nerd.) For the past eight years the USS Nokomis has run a party room at CONvergence. Last year the hotel was remodeled, and an 8 foot long, marble-topped desk replaced a (somewhat) easily-removed armoire. Since we can’t get it out of the room, I came up with an idea to make it fit into our Original Series decor — turn it into a control panel.

Sketchup model of the proposed control panel

Sketchup model of the proposed control panel

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Origami chair redesign: a fiberglass exterior

June 16th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Hey, thanks for checking out my blog!  Last week I promised to write about creating the exterior of my chair.  Below, I describe my thought process around editing the seat shape, choosing a color and an exterior finish.  I also discuss the mistakes I made and how I corrected them.

Between layers of fiberglass and resin I sanded from 80-150-220 grit—a mistake.  Because resin will drip, I was limited to applying it only to surfaces that were level.  I then had to reposition the chair and again apply resin only to the level surfaces.  All of the sanding and limits to resin application meant that it took several weeks just to apply one layer of resin to the entire chair.

Between layers of fiberglass and resin I sanded from 80-150-220 grit—a mistake. Because resin will drip, I was limited to applying it only to surfaces that were level. I then had to reposition the chair and again apply resin only to the level surfaces. All of the sanding and limits to resin application meant that it took several weeks just to apply one layer of resin to the entire chair.

First, I needed to ensure that the ergonomic seat I had just carved from spray foam and covered in body filler would be comfortable for any adult.  Minne-faire was approaching, so I decided to display my unfinished chair in order to collect some data about the comfort level of the seat and whether or not I needed to edit the shape.  My carving mistake was quickly revealed:  every woman who tried the seat loved it and every man found the back half of the center ridge too high!  Oops!  Luckily, that was an easy fix.

Second, I considered the color.  I could not decide between bright orange and white so when I invited visitors to try out the seat, I also asked them to vote for a color.  Their choice was clear:  classic bright red!

Throughout the dried, but not yet sanded, layers of resin (the shiny areas in this photo) appeared dozens of small mars and dents—with every single layer.  This was one clue that resin alone was going to be insufficient coverage.

Throughout the dried, but not yet sanded, layers of resin (the shiny areas in this photo) appeared dozens of small mars and dents—with every single layer. This was one clue that resin alone was going to be insufficient coverage.

Third, for a sleek, contemporary look I decided to give the chair a fiberglass finish.  Most of the chair received one layer of fiberglass and 4-5 layers of resin.  The seat and back were coated with 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and 5 layers of resin.  Between each layer I sanded the resin from 80-150-220 grit which turned out to be a mistake.  Each non-final layer of resin should only be sanded to 80 grit so that the next layer will easily adhere.

The extra sanding did help by yielding a perfectly smooth surface before applying the next layer of resin.  However, despite the smooth application surface, each new layer of resin consistently produced substantial mars & dents.  I seemed unable to pour a smooth layer of resin which made me wonder if I was ever going to be happy with the finish.

The white circles in this photo surround dark spots on the seat and back.  Those are not shadows but, rather, the dark green body filler that I used when I ran out of pink body filler.  It is showing through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin.  This was my second clue that fiberglass and resin were going to be insufficient coverage.

The white circles in this photo surround dark spots on the seat and back. Those are not shadows but, rather, the dark green body filler that I used when I ran out of pink body filler. It is showing through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin. This was my second clue that fiberglass and resin were going to be insufficient coverage.

I thought that using fiberglass resin would negate the need to paint the chair because the resin can be tinted with universal pigments (the kind that your local paint store uses).  The hardware store where I bought the resin threw in the pigment for free and I combined them in a plastic bucket.  The resin color looked perfect in the bucket!  But once on the chair I realized that resin is super translucent because it contains no opaque base.  Therefore, the 2 different colors of body filler I used on the seat were very visible, even through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin!

If I ever do this again, I will make sure that the color of my chair before laminating is consistent throughout. With an even-colored base, the tinted resin and fiberglass cloth would have been adequate coverage.  Still, to get a smooth surface I would have to spray the resin rather than pour or brush it on.

The difficulty in achieving a smooth surface combined with the translucency of the resin made me realize that I must paint the chair.  After pricing High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint spray guns ($180), primer spray guns ($50), paint ($100), and the rest of the equipment I would need to do the job myself, I decided to save some money and have my chair painted at an auto body shop ($250).  But this will be my final step and there is a lot more to do before I get there.

Next time, I will discuss the influence of Converse All Star sneakers on my design.

Origami chair redesign: fixing FLW’s problem?

May 28th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Thanks for checking out my blog post!  As I promised in last week’s entry, this week I will reveal whether or not I solved Frank Lloyd Wright’s design problem.  The Origami Chair famously has a tendency to tip forward; especially as the sitter scoots forward in preparation for standing up.  Wright’s solution was to add anti-tipping feet; he added metal caps to make the extra pieces look more intentional.

This photo provides a good view of FLW's anti-tipping feet.  They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

This photo provides a good view of FLW’s anti-tipping feet. They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

My thought was to make the front feet larger, providing a greater surface area and, therefore, a lesser proportion of the sitter’s weight on the front corner of the feet.  Good idea??  I originally made the feet about 4″ long (a 25% increase from the FLW model) and then sliced off a couple of inches from the bottom of each side of the chair, doubling the length of the feet.  Result??

I still had a tipping problem.  The seated person wasn’t in any danger but the experience of getting up from the chair could still be a bit startling–not a desirable quality for a chair!

I considered tossing the chair out and moving on to another project until a fellow member of Twin Cities Maker mentioned that a chair with a tipping problem might make a great rocker.  Thus began a new design!

So, next I carved a model rocker out of polystyrene foam.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached. The paint chip that I have taped to the side is a color I considered for the chair.

Determining the arc of the rockers turned out to be quite a research project.  Eventually, I found a simple formula for finding the length of the radius of the circle from which the arc should be drawn.  That is seat height x pi.  I brought my model and 2 tubes to a steel-bending expert.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

Next, I made several steel plates to screw to the feet and tail of the chair so that I could connect the chair to the rockers.

Positioning the chair, just right, onto the rockers was challenging.  If there is a next time, I will get help holding the chair as I weld it to the rockers.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet.  You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet. You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

 

Next week, I will discuss creating the exterior of the chair.

Origami chair redesign: a plywood foundation

May 22nd, 2013 by SLSolarz

Over the next several weeks I will post photos of my rocking-chair project as it progresses.  I welcome your feedback and hope that you will help me find a name for this chair.

My design is inspired by 2 sources: the Frank Lloyd Wright Origami Chair and the Converse All Star sneaker.  I’ve always wanted to re-design the Origami Chair as an updated, cool lounger.  The Converse reference came later, after hours of observation, when it struck me (and my friend Ann who stopped by the Hack Factory for a critique session), that my placement of masking tape around the rockers was reminiscent of a pair of red sneakers (more on this in a future post).

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

A few years ago I made a large, black lacquered version of FLW’s Origami Chair and I kept one for my own home.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

Using the chair at my home, I started my new chair by tracing a pattern onto poster board.  Then, I made another pattern about 2/3 the size of the large one, tweaked the proportions and used that pattern to cut the plywood.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this.  It is a slow process for me.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this. It is a slow process for me.

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded...

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded…

Once I assembled the plywood pieces I carved an ergonomic seat and back out of spray foam.  To create a smooth surface, I covered the carved foam in body filler and then did a lot of sanding.

Next week I will discuss the main design problem with FLW’s Origami Chair and whether or not I solved it.

 

CNC Projects? Show us yours!

May 16th, 2013 by otto_pjm

Following the most recent CNC Class, which I think was a great success on many levels, I was inspired to make a project that has been on the back burner for awhile. I want to use a CNC to make some furniture. I’ve been inspired by the work of Gregg Fleishman, and as a starting point I cutout a scale model of one of his designs.

IMG_2506

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Table Saw Etiquette

March 15th, 2013 by danbackslide

table sawTable Saw Etiquette

By Christopher Odegard, Wood Shop Manager

The table saw probably is the most-often used power tool at the Hack Factory, in part because its operation is relatively straightforward. As a result of the heavy use ours sees, the staff has to work diligently to make sure it’s running well and ready to go. There are a number of things that every member can do to help.

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Last bow making class of 2012 on Sunday Dec. 16th!

December 10th, 2012 by Orkraider

I’ve decided to sneak in one last bow making class before the world ends on the 21st of December.

This class happens this Sunday, December 16th, from 10 am to 6 pm, at the Hack Factory.

If you want to be ready for the end of the world, prepare for the zombie apocalypse, have the perfect accessory for your Hawkeye or Archer costume, or fancy yourself as the next Katniss Everdeen, this is your chance.

Below is a link to the class:

http://bowyer.eventbrite.com

You can be like this guy: Archer at Lake Calhoun

All the details about the class:
Introduction to Bow Making

Learn to make a fully functional American flat bow!
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Beginning Luthier Workshop – Tonite

May 7th, 2012 by swinkdaddy

Beginning Luthier Workshop – Electric Guitar
Details
Mondays 7pm
May 7th-28th
Class Sign Up
http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3267082933

Tonight kicks off the first class of DIY guitar building. Still 2 tickets left.

Make: Live @ the Hack Factory

June 10th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Twin cities maker was featured on episode 10 of the Make: Live series! Here is the section that we were in.

The rest of the show and a bit more information can been seen here.

Woodworking Classes

February 16th, 2011 by jrsphoto

WOODWORKING 101


From May  21, 2011 through June 4th, I’ll be hosting 4 session class woodworking basics. The first few weeks I’ll cover the woodworking tools currently at the HackFactory, some hand tools, wood finishing, and general project assembly.

The final two week I’ll plan to leave open for any projects you would like to work on with the group.

The fee for this class is $25 with all proceeds going directly back to the Twin Cities Maker.

Sign-up here


Making a Bow, part Two

December 31st, 2010 by Orkraider

I’ve now had a couple days where I’ve been able to spend some time working on bows, so here’s part 2 of Making a bow. Brad was kind enough to bring in a much better camera, so here’s a pic of the front profile of the bow as it stood at the end of part 1:

front profile
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Wednesday Night Roundup – Montage

December 22nd, 2010 by otto_pjm

No people, no comments just a snapshot of the evenings stuff.

A Japanese Style Lamp

December 22nd, 2010 by jrsphoto

Many of you have been curious about the Japanese lamp I have been making over the past few week so I figured I would post a few pictures of the finished project.  I went in to the hack factory today and finished the final piece, the brace that would hold the candle, which in my case is a very realistic looking – battery operated candle.

There are three basic parts to the lamp.  The inner frames, the outer legs, and the top.  The frames are made from 1/2 inch maple, with simple lap joints to interconnect all the frames. There are a total of 4 inner frames and each frame is connected to the other frame at 90 degrees with another lap joint.

P1020680.jpg

Once I had the inner frames done and covered with paper on the inside, it was time to make the outer legs. I made 4, roughly 1″ square outer legs that support the inner frames again using lap joints.  There are small dados in each of the legs that the inner frame mates to.

Not exactly sure what wood I used on the outer legs or the top piece but its basically just a square frame of 1″ x 9″ hard wood with 45 degree miters on each end.  Once glued up, I did a simple round-over using our router.  I spent several days sanding and rubbing on 3 coats of tung oil.

If anyone is interested in making one, let me know and I’ll loan you the book.

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Making a Bow, part one

December 20th, 2010 by Orkraider

I’ve been threatening to blog what I’m doing at the space for a bit now, so here goes.

Today I decided to start making a pair of bows, as christmas presents for my brothers.

These are going to be made out of red oak, using some 1″x2″x6′ boards I got at menards.  They’re going to be self bows, which means each is made out of a single piece of wood, with no gluing.  I’m shooting for about 50 to 55 pounds draw weight at a 28″ in draw, which should be doable with this wood.

For starters, I picked through all the boards, looking for one that was straight, with no bowing or cupping:

the Mona Lisa

a nice straight board

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Woodworking at the HackFactory

December 16th, 2010 by jrsphoto

It might seem at first glance that the HackFactory has turned into a woodworking shop. It seems that all the new wood has spawned an awaking of woodworkers in all of us. It has been great to see so many people working on such a variety of projects. Even those of you not familiar with woodworking have been making stuff.

With all these new found woodworkers comes dust. Lots of it, and its everywhere. Especially from stuff like MDF. And it’s not just in our area. Take a look at the metal working area after a few hours in the shop and you will see the sawdust on the table.

If all of us that are using the woodworking space do a little extra it will make a big difference for everyone. The time it will take largely depends on the time you spent there and the materials you were using. If you were there for 5 minutes and working with the drill press, it should only take you a few minutes. If you were there for an hour working with MDF, it will take you considerably longer.

We all have to try extra hard to keep the shop clean. Keeping the classroom and office space doors closed will help keep dust from these clean spaces. Make sure you take the time necessary to clean up your area and any tools you may have used. Vacuum the floor around any space you have used.

Keep in mind that some of those woods, MDF included, release vapors that are really bad for you. If you have a mask, you should be using it.

One last note, if your working on a project and need to leave the hack factory, take some time and clean up your space. That way if for some reason you don’t make it back, others can use the tools and table space and not have to clean up your mess.

If everyone spent a little extra time and clean up a little better than it was when you got there, it would really help.

-John • 651-252-4142


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