Tag Archives: woodworking

Dog Weight Scale, part 1: cutting the circular base

I want to learn how to use Load Sensors to continuously weigh stuff with an Arduino, so I thought it would be fun to continuously weigh our dog, Pippa, while she sleeps in her bed each night.  The project is a little like Nate Seidle’s Beehive scale, but simpler.

The idea is to turn Pippa’s bed into a scale. Pippa’s in fine shape right now, but it’s always good to keep an eye on your dog’s weight, and a custom-made scale is a great way to do it.

Continue reading Dog Weight Scale, part 1: cutting the circular base

How to Make a Drill Press Table

As multiple woodworkers have mentioned, a drill press as-is is poorly suited to doing woodworking: the cast iron table can transfer grease to the wood; the table is small; the table has limited places to fasten clamps to hold the wood down.

So here I am making a drill press table.

I started with a sketch based on this drill press plan, with an offset waste plug circle from this nice design.  I’ll narrate the project as a “how to” from here on.

Continue reading How to Make a Drill Press Table

My first real machinery arrives

The drill press arrived this evening!

I’ve never assembled a machine tool before, so I was put off by the rust-preventive coating that needs to be cleaned off, through mysterious and inadequately-explained means.

The drill press being assembled
The drill press being assembled

The manual says to remove the gunk with kerosene or some other solvent, and assumes that the reader is a seasoned machinist who knows what in the world they’re talking about.

After much searching, I found that they’re saying basically “it’s covered in grease; use a grease-cutting goo to clean it, then protect it with something”.  The most benign thing I found recommended online was oven cleaner or 409. Many folks swore by kerosene (which is highly flammable) or mineral spirits.

So my plan is to clean the parts with 409 then, for the parts that need protection, use the (non-silicone!) wax I bought for the scrollsaw table.

Squaring up the CNC machine X-axis pieces

Because the Y axis gantry is designed to glide on the long (4 foot) sides of the X axis bed, it’s very important that the long sides of the X-axis be as parallel as possible.  If they vary, the Y accuracy of the CNC machine will vary from one end of the machine to the other.

(November 23: Now that I think about it, because of the way the rail assemblies sit I think any non-parallel error in the sides of the X table will translate into Z axis error rather than Y error. That’s because as the Y gantry loosens its grip on the X axis table, the gantry will tend to drop rather than slip side-to-side.  This is a good argument for designs that have only one rail holding the Y gantry, and the other side rolling free side to side.  …but the issue with those designs is racking of the Y gantry.  So it’s a tossup.)

No matter how careful the cutter at the lumberyard is, the X axis 2’x4′ sheets will likely be a little out of parallel, and you’ll need to recut them.  In my case, the width of the X sheet varied by over 1/4″ in 4 feet.

Continue reading Squaring up the CNC machine X-axis pieces

Adding A Finish to the Glockenspiel Case

Previously I finished the labels for the glockenspiel. In this post I literally Finish the case.

Last weekend and this weekend are nicely warm enough, so I’ve put a few coats of Minwax gloss polyurethane  finish on the Robotic Glockenspiel case.  In a few days the finish will be dry, and I can do the final fine-sanding (to remove dust captured in the Finish) and assemble the thing.

Finishing the Glockenspiel case
Finishing the Glockenspiel case

P.S., don’t copy my style of finishing – I’ve not learned how to do it well, and here I’ve not done most of what you want to do to make it come out right. I haven’t put down a drop cloth or newspapers to keep the surroundings from being Finished; I haven’t used pinpoint-tip stands to keep the work from sticking to the support table; I haven’t sanded between coats to remove dust/pollen; I’ve sprayed when it was breezier than it should be.

That said, I expect it will turn out well enough for this first-prototype, and functional enough to keep dirt from getting into the wood. (How many times have I said “the end is in sight”?) The end is in sight!

Next I complete the project at last!

Final labels for the glockenspiel buttons

Since trying out woodburned labels, I made another attempt at scrollsawing the button labels for the Robotic Glockenspiel, and am happy enough with the results that I’ve glued the labels to the glockenspiel box. I’m so happy to have finally made up my mind – whew!

So this blog is a sort of “how to scrollsaw” in a nutshell.

First, print out your pattern on paper. Make sure to print outlines rather than solid shapes, because the edges of solid shapes are hard to follow with the scrollsaw’s blade.

Next, use a glue stick and a roller to stick the printed pattern to the wood you want to cut. Some people like to use temporary adhesive, but I’m partial to glue stick.  For any closed spaces, drill a hole the size of your scrollsaw blade.

Pattern glued to the wood. Note the drilled hole in the O
Pattern glued to the wood. Note the drilled hole in the O

Next, cut the pattern out using your scrollsaw. For any closed spaces, unhook the blade, slide it through the hole you drilled earlier, reattach the blade, then cut the space. By the way, one of the things I love about my new saw (RBI Hawk) is that it’s made to do this sort of “pierced work” very quickly.

Cutting the wood. The circle interior is cut
Cutting the wood. The circle interior is cut

Once all the pieces are cut, admire your handiwork for a moment :-)

All the button labels cut out and lying on some scrap wood
All the button labels cut out and lying on some scrap wood

Next, remove the pattern paper from the cut pieces. If you used temporary adhesive you can peel the paper off. I prefer to sand off the paper because that sanding also removes any glue residue which would interfere with the Finish of the wood.

Sanding one of the cut labels
Sanding one of the cut labels

Once I sanded all the button labels I glued them to the glockenspiel box with white glue (carpenter’s glue) and clamped them down until dry.  Observe the lovely result!

Glockenspiel box with scrollsawed button labels glued on
Glockenspiel box with scrollsawed button labels glued on

Next I can (once the weather warms up) spray a clear finish on the glockenspiel box and reassemble all the hardware.

Wood-burned Glockenspiel labels

In my previous post, I scrollsawed labels for the glockenspiel buttons. This morning I tried out pyrography – wood-burning – to label the Robotic Glockenspiel buttons, using  a piece of scrap wood of the same material as the Glockenspiel box.

First I transferred the printed image to the wood using carbon paper and a stylus. I tried using an iron to transfer the pattern directly from the laser-printed paper, but found that works best (that is, at all) on inkjet prints rather than laser printing.

Pattern, carbon paper, and stylus
Pattern, carbon paper, and stylus

Next, I used a wood-burning iron to define the edges, then fill in the spaces. The result is pretty um…”rustic”, but not bad for having done almost no wood-burning before.  I’m still deciding whether I’ll go with this (pretty sloppy) or try thinner wood and my scrollsaw.

Woodburned glockenspiel labels
Woodburned glockenspiel labels

One advantage I just realized about raised, scrollsawn labels: the icons are simple enough that you can distinguish them with your fingers alone – great for people with visual impairments or for controlling it in the dark.

In my next post I return to scrollsawing the labels.

Scrollsawed button labels for the Glockenspiel

Since putting a lid on the glockenspiel case, I’ve been wrestling with exactly how to label the robotic glockenspiel buttons: If I had a laser engraver I probably would have engraved (woodburned) the labels on; sticking paper labels on could look pretty sloppy; decals sounded like a production of their own, with the risk of gumming up my printer; painting the labels would require a steady hand; woodburning by hand is another option; so is gluing on scroll-sawn raised labels.

So today I tried out my new (used) RBI Hawk 220 VS scrollsaw, that I’d cleaned up a few weeks ago.

Hawk 220 VS Scrollsaw
Hawk 220 VS Scrollsaw

Looking at the result,  I don’t think I’ll go with scrollsawn button labels: the labels look good, but I think they need to be more precise and on thinner wood. I’m also concerned that they could pop off the glockenspiel box pretty easily as I move the box about.

Scrollsawn button labels, laid on the box's wood
Scrollsawn button labels, laid on the box’s wood

By the way, the RBI Hawk is a sweeeet scrollsaw, far better than my old Sakura (knockoff of a Strong-brand saw). Even as old and worn as it is, it makes a really good cut.

The more I look at the scrollsawn labels, the better they look, but I think traced and woodburned labels will work better for the glockenspiel.

So next I’ll try transferring the labels’ pattern onto the wood  and woodburning it.