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Welcome A Workshop That Works for You
Adam Savage photograph by Cody Pickens
AKE is a quarterly magazine for do-it-yourself enthusiasts of all kinds. Every issue is packed with how-to articles ranging from kid-friendly crafts to cutting-edge robotics. We’ve covered microcontrollers, cigar box guitars, Roomba hacks, rocket-launched video cameras, potato cannons, stop-motion movies, wind-powered generators, laser light shows, wooden puzzle boxes, remote control vehicles, home automation, and much more. If you’re new to MAKE, our website, makezine.com, will give you an idea of the other kinds of projects we offer. You can even share your own DIY projects at our online library, makeprojects.com. Recently, we surveyed our readers to find out what else they wanted to see in MAKE. In addition to more projects that teach basic skills such as electronics, woodworking, and alternative energy, over 90% told us tools and workshop skills were high on their wish list. That makes sense: no matter what you make, you need a dedicated space and the tools to make it. The survey confirmed many of our beliefs about our readers, but there were surprises sprinkled in. Almost everyone we surveyed told us they already own a soldering iron, a cordless drill, and a highspeed rotary tool. And while fewer than 5% have a computer-controlled milling machine or a 3D printer, most readers wish they had these high-tech fabrication tools in their shops (count me among them). We asked readers what they made in their workshops. We were surprised to see that 68% said they made a rocket and 47% made a robot, but only 11% made a go-kart and 7% made a kegerator (hopefully not at the same time). The survey was of great value to us in planning this special issue of MAKE, devoted entirely to workshops and tools. Our goal is to give you everything you need to know to design, build, and stock a workshop that works for you. We’ll show you how to construct workbenches and workhorses, describe what
Our goal is to give you everything you need to know to design, build, and stock a workshop that works for you. kinds of tools you need to accomplish almost any task you can think of, and introduce you to the exciting world of home 3D fabrication. We’ll also take you on a tour through some of our favorite makers’ workshops, including an exclusive visit to MythBuster Adam Savage’s brand new workshop/museum, which he completed just days before this issue went to press. We hope you find this issue useful and inspiring. We also hope you’ll tell us about your own workshop (even if it exists only in your mind at this time) and what you’ve made (or want to make) by taking our latest reader survey at makezine.com/ go/survey. (And if you’re one of the first 10 to respond, we’ll send you a Maker’s Notebook so you can make plans for your upcoming projects.) Happy making! Mark Frauenfelder Editor-in-Chief
ON THE COVER: Adam Savage gives us an exclusive first look at his new personal workshop/museum. Photograph by Cody Pickens.
10/11/10 2:14:28 PM
“Man is a tool-using animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools: without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.”
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MAKE SPECIAL ISSUE: Ultimate Workshop & Tool Guide 2011 is a supplement to MAKE magazine. MAKE (ISSN 1556-2336) is published quarterly by O’Reilly Media, Inc. in the months of January, April, July, and October. O’Reilly Media is located at 1005 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, CA 95472, (707) 827-7000. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Send all subscription requests to MAKE, P.O. Box 17046, North Hollywood, CA 91615-9588 or subscribe online at makezine.com/offer or via phone at (866) 289-8847 (U.S. and Canada); all other countries call (818) 487-2037. Subscriptions are available for $34.95 for 1 year (4 quarterly issues) in the United States; in Canada: $39.95 USD; all other countries: $49.95 USD. Periodicals Postage Paid at Sebastopol, CA, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MAKE, P.O. Box 17046, North Hollywood, CA 91615-9588. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement Number 41129568. Canada Postmaster: Send address changes to: O’Reilly Media, PO Box 456, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6V2
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/12/10 3:07:03 PM
What is the missing component? Electronics instructor Ollie Circuits planned to show his class of freshman electrical engineering students how to use a super capacitor as a memory back-up capacitor, but first he wanted to show how the students could make their own super capacitor and demonstrate its charge/discharge cycles with the simple circuit above. Most of the components were already on his workbench, the homemade super capacitor would be made from several layers of lemon juice-soaked paper towels interleaved between several layers of a mystery material to form a multi-layer stack.The stacked layers would then be sandwiched between the two copper-clad PC boards and held together with a rubber band. Ollie rushed to a nearby pet shop. What did he buy? Go to www.Jameco.com/unknown7 to see if you are correct and while you are there, sign-up for our free full-color catalog.
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10/13/10 2:51:05 PM
14: Adam Savage’s New Man Cave
Exclusive: The MythBusters host shows off his new personal workshop/ museum, and talks about the things he makes and the tales they tell. By Adam Savage
64: The Maker’s Ultimate Tools
In a perfect world, these six high-tech tools would be yours. By Saul Griffith
66: The Ultimate Tool Buying Guide
A complete list of tools you need to make almost anything. By Saul Griffith
18: Mister Jalopy’s Garage
Like a portal into the past and the future, it’s stuffed with vintage tools, car parts, a record album digitizing station, and the Bandit. By Mark Frauenfelder
68: Your Electronics Workbench
20: The Rocketman’s Garage
You’ll never want to leave your maker cave. By William Gurstelle
What you need to get started in hobby electronics. By Charles Platt
71: 8 Non-Tools Every Workshop Needs
Ky Michaelson never met a vehicle he didn’t think would go better with a rocket engine bolted to its backside. By Gareth Branwyn
2011 Tool Guide 72: Gadgets & Multitools
Blades, specialty drivers, and do-it-all pocket tools for the maker.
22: The Barrage Garage
Building the ultimate multi-purpose maker’s workshop from scratch, and outfitting it with tools and materials to tackle all kinds of projects. By William Gurstelle
76: CNC & 3D Fabrication
Entry-level and DIY tools for computerized cutting, milling, and 3D printing.
82: Electronics & Robotics
34: Outrageous Fortune
Hot irons, meters, gadgets, robot kits.
The awesome machine shop at Intellectual Ventures Lab. By Keith Hammond
Clever caddies, chargers, and more.
35: The Safe Workshop Rules to make by. By William Gurstelle
36: Show Us Your Shops
MAKE readers share their cool workshops on Make: Online. By Gareth Branwyn
90: Metalwork & Machining
Use a simple mortise-and-tenon joint to make these fine-looking shop horses that’ll last a lifetime. By Len Cullum
5: Raise a Makerspace, Raise a Maker
Kids need a place to make things at school. Here’s a DIY building you can raise to make it happen. By Dale Dougherty
46: Wilderness Workshop
In just a few minutes you’ll be ready to make and repair electronics. Stepby-step instructions for making (and unmaking) the perfect solder joint. By Joe Grand
54: Your Own CNC for Less Than $800
Make your own computer-controlled router and save big. An overview from the co-author of Build Your Own CNC Machine. By James Floyd Kelly
Rout, saw, sand, drill, and demolish.
Build a stowable mini workshop inspired by vintage DIY magazines. By Mister Jalopy
50: Primer: Soldering and Desoldering
94: Woodworking & Construction
Our goal is to give you everything you need to know to design, build, and stock a workshop that works for you. By Mark Frauenfelder
44: Mister Jalopy’s Hide-Away Workbench
Build your own inexpensive, sturdy work tables, shelving, and wood rack. By Charles Platt
Dremels, mini lathe, vise, and pliers with more cowbell.
6: How to Create a Hackerspace
Makers are joining together in shared workshops to access cool high-tech tools, collaborate, and learn new skills. They’re called hackerspaces. Here’s how to set one up. By Mitch Altman
12: The Maker’s Bill of Rights
If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. An Owner’s Manifesto for those who like to hack, repair, or just know what makes their technology tick. By Mister Jalopy
58: Build Your First 3D Printer
Assemble a MakerBot using this popular kit and start printing your own parts and prototypes. By Marc de Vinck
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 2:29:35 PM
Raise a Makerspace, Raise a Maker By Dale Dougherty
ow do we give young people more opportunities to become makers and learn practical skills they can apply to their own creative projects? The question comes up for me after each Maker Faire, when I see how young people are inspired by other makers. I know they leave and want to start making things. Could schools offer more opportunities for making things? Could we provide potential makers a physical space to meet — a “makerspace” that can be organized with tools and supplies, so they can work on projects? At World Maker Faire in New York City, I saw a solution — a simple building called Shelter 2.0 (shelter20.com), designed by Robert Bridges to provide housing in areas hit by disaster. It’s a digitally fabricated shelter, between a house and a tent, that can be put up (and taken down) with simple tools in a matter of hours, even by young makers themselves. Can we find motivated parents and local makers to create a space and develop programs for local kids, in complete DIY fashion? Imagine a barn-raising of a makerspace in a local community. Nothing could be more in the spirit of making than young makers building their own space. Developed by Bridges with Bill Young of ShopBot, the standard modular makerspace is 10'×16' with a barrel-shaped roof covered by canvas or corrugated tin. The plans are available under a Creative Commons license, and as a Google SketchUp model, so you can modify the design and find a local ShopBot user to create the shelter yourself. Or, we can provide the standard components as a package that ships in a 4'×8' crate. (We’re still exploring different options for manufacturing and shipping.) All the instructions for building a makerspace will be online, along with videos that show you how.
Now, you don’t have to build this particular building. The important thing is to find a DIY way to create a makerspace that young makers can enjoy working and playing in. A space can inspire us to see making as something that takes place at school, but isn’t school. It should be placed near the playground because we want our young makers to have fun and play, while making things. We can begin a process of open collaboration to define the materials, tools, and other supplies that are needed, and to identify programs and projects that work well for young makers. We can help identify mentors locally and online who can offer safety training, teach about tool use, and provide specialized expertise. In addition, we can develop awards for participation and achievement to recognize the accomplishments of young makers. Plus, Mini Maker Faires can be used as local fundraisers to provide support for makerspaces and also provide an opportunity for young makers to demonstrate their projects. Our goal is to build a network of makerspaces around the country (if not the world) and connect them online through makerspace.com.
Create a makerspace in your community. To get more information and to get involved, go to makerspace.com.
Dale Dougherty is the founder and general manager of Maker Media.
10/11/10 12:02:35 PM
How to Create a Hackerspace Join with other makers in a shared workshop to access high-tech tools and learn new skills. By Mitch Altman
s I write this, I’m on a workshop tour of Midwestern U.S. hackerspaces, teaching people of all ages how to solder and make cool things with electronics. The tour is an outgrowth of Noisebridge, a hackerspace I that co-founded in San Francisco three years ago. On the tour with me is Jimmie Rodgers, co-founder of the Artisan’s Asylum hackerspace in Boston, and Matt Mets, a blogger for Make: Online and member of Hack Pittsburgh. On our travels, we’ve asked lots of hackerspace members how they got their spaces going, so that we could share their experiences with you. Three years ago there were only about 50 hackerspaces; now there are hundreds
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Photography by Mitch Altman (A, C, D) and Matt Mets (B, E)
forming all over the world, and some are even calling themselves “makerspaces.” Wired’s GeekDad blog calls it “an international movement to bring technologists and their projects to the same physical spaces.” And you can be a part of it.
and other resources, where you can learn, teach, and help each other work on the projects you love. That’s basically what a hackerspace is. If you can’t find one around the corner, it’s time to make one! Here’s how.
What’s a Hackerspace and Why Do I Need One?
1. Get the bug and spread it. Chris Anderson of Hive13 hackerspace in Cincinnati got the bug at a monthly technology-geek meeting called 2600. “Attending my first 2600 meeting in Cincinnati washed away all my frustrations about being a lonely geeky guy,” Anderson says. Then he realized: “Starting a hackerspace in Cinci could get me my 2600 fix whenever I want it.” He got excited after reading the Hackerspace Design Patterns online (see Resources on page 11), and told everyone at the next meeting. “I became the guy who wouldn’t shut up about hackerspaces,” continues Anderson. “I posted about it on all the local blogs, talked about it at parties, talked to all the
If you’re reading this magazine, you already have at least one amazing DIY project in mind. But to make it real, you might need to use a way-cool tool that you don’t have (or have a clue how to use), say, a computer-controlled mill, a laser cutter, or an industrial sewing machine. Or maybe you want to learn to solder, or build musical instruments. Maybe you don’t have enough room in your apartment to put up that space probe balloon. Or maybe your project could be more awesome if you could get together with other cool-minded makers, hackers, and nerds in a friendly space with shared tools
COME TOGETHER: Fig. A: “Kids of all ages” at a soldering workshop at Pumping Station One hackerspace in Chicago. Fig. B: The machine shop at Pumping Station One. Fig. C: Some cool tools at A2 MechShop in Ann Arbor, Mich. Fig. D: Soldering workshop at All Hands Active in Ann Arbor. Fig. E: Brainstorming new ideas at AS220 in Providence, R.I.
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1980s: 2600 and Phrack create community for hackers through their publications.
The New Wave of Hackerspaces A timeline of shared spaces for project makers:
1990s: Early U.S.
hackerspaces form, including New Hack City in Boston and San Francisco, the Walnut Factory in Philadelphia, Hacker Halfway House in Brooklyn, N.Y., and both L0pht and the Hasty Pastry in Boston. Primarily collectives of software hackers, they’re not open to the general public.
maker types and weird artist types I could find, and through all this, met others who would become founders of Hive13.” Anderson’s story is typical. Hackerspace founders get the bug, and then spread it by telling everyone they know to tell everyone they know, utilizing local organizations, the internet, posters on lamp poles — whatever does the job. 2. Organize! Hackerspaces run the gamut from anarchy to structured democracies to benevolent dictatorships. When you create one, you’re creating a culture that you want to be part of, which will attract others who fit in. Not all groups are for everyone; this is fine. The first thing the founders of Noisebridge did, even before we had the name, was create a Google group so that anyone could communicate about getting involved. Within weeks we’d registered our chosen name online; started our website, email list, and IRC channel; and begun meeting every Tuesday night at a local café. As excitement grew, so did our numbers, and we soon moved our weekly meetings to people’s apartments. Deech Mestel, president of Arch Reactor in St. Louis, Mo., told me of a similar process. “We grew out of our pizza parlor, and started meeting in an empty apartment owned by one of our members. It’s where we threw our first open house party that attracted lots of new members. It’s also where we wrote our bylaws.”
Early 2000s: Many
hackerspaces form in Germany when Chaos Computer Club (CCC) starts actively supporting them. A few appear in other countries.
large, diverse communities of people who make just about anything. Subsequent Maker Faires and hacker conferences worldwide reinforce community.
Hackerspaces such as C-Base and Metalab actively help other spaces get going, and support diverse, open hackerspaces worldwide.
MAKE magazine starts publishing, bringing together
Hackers on a Plane trip to Chaos Camp inspires participants to start hackerspaces in their hometowns: HacDC in Washington, D.C. (hacdc.org), NYC Resistor in New York City (nycresistor. com), The Hacktory in Philadelphia (thehacktory.org), and
3. Incorporate (recommended). Though some are informal collectives, most hackerspaces form some type of corporation. This gives the group a legal entity to sign contracts, and also limits individuals’ personal legal liability. Some groups form for-profit corporations, others form nonprofits. Bre Pettis, who started NYC Resistor, went with an LLC (limited liability corporation). “It was just way easier,” he recalls. “We went online, filled out a form, and we had our corporation.” At Noisebridge we pooled our money and paid $2,000 to a lawyer who took us through the entire process with the IRS, becoming a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation, called a 501(c)(3). Artisan’s Asylum is taking a similar approach. (Noisebridge and other hackerspaces have their 501(c)(3) documentation on their websites.) Arch Reactor plans to become a “social and recreation club” nonprofit corporation, called a 501(c)(7). Sounds fun! 4. Make the rules you want to live with. Some hackerspaces have a highly refined set of rules, others are ad hoc. Noisebridge has only one rule — Bill and Ted’s “Be excellent to each other” — from which everything else follows. Cowtown Computer Congress Kansas City (CCCKC) has 10 rules, starting with rule 0 and ending with rule 9: “Turn off the lights when you leave.” When choosing your rules, keep in mind one of the unofficial Design Patterns,
Noisebridge in San Francisco (noisebridge.net).
Hackerspace Design Patterns presented at the 24th Chaos Communications Congress (24C3) by three hackers from the CCC Cologne hackerspace. Their intent is to help start hackerspaces worldwide (see Resources).
Hackerspaces.org is launched, in time for The Last HOPE conference.
2008 to present:
Successful U.S. and European hackerspaces, networking through hackerspaces.org, show the world that hackerspaces are awesome and they work, spurring many to start their own spaces all over the world.
Present: Hundreds of hackerspaces and makerspaces all over the world are now listed at hackerspaces.org.
discussed at hackerspaces around the world: “Don’t solve problems that haven’t happened.” What about the inevitable misunderstandings that arise in any group? “We haven’t had a situation yet where someone hasn’t stepped up to talk things through,” says Anderson at Hive13. This is how most hackerspaces deal with conflict. Though not always easy, it’s important to let people know if you’re having a problem with them. 5. Find your space. You’ve got the hackers, now get the space. Hackerspace organizers have found a few strategies to rent spaces and build them out for not a lot of money. Typically members donate the labor, and in a down real estate market, landlords are willing to deal, especially if you’re willing to make improvements to the space. Jeff Sturges of OmniCorpDetroit (OCD) says, “Detroit has a lot of really creative people who are un- or underemployed. Because of this, our members have lots of time to donate their skills to help get our space together. We can’t get as much money together as spaces in other cities, but we got our huge warehouse for really cheap.” In smaller cities, it may be helpful to team up with existing groups. Nathan Heald of Indiana’s Bloominglabs says, “Bloomington is a small university city, so there are not as many people to draw from. But after we put out the word, we found an organization that has arts and
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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Photography by Matt Mets (F, H) and Mitch Altman (G)
crafts programs. They had extra space in their building, and since there was synergy with our group, they gave us a really good deal on rent.” For the All Hands Active hackerspace in Ann Arbor, Mich., the connection was gamers. “A few gamers in our group connected us with a network gaming store in town who gave us a corner of their store for free,” says Bilal Ghalib. “We only pay a minimal amount for utilities each month.” Chris Cprek of LVL1 in Louisville, Ky., recommends finding as many spaces to choose from as possible, so you know you’re making the right decision. “We put out a big call for all of our members to contact anyone they knew who could help us find a space. … We had a vote, for people to rank all the spaces we found according to personal preference. Then a go/no-go vote to be sure everyone was onboard with this space.”
6. Fix it up. You’ll probably want to update the space to accommodate your work areas. Sturges says OCD knew they had a good landlord when, “He told us that we could make improvements on the space and deduct all materials expenses from our rent.” The landlord also gave them an entire extra floor in the building because he liked what they were doing, and knew he had a good tenant. Steve Hamer of QC Co-Lab, in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa, teaches at a technical college that no longer needed a large section of one of their buildings. “Besides the obvious advantage of having a space for free,” says Hamer, “is the bonding experience of everyone working together to build out the space — ripping up the ugly carpeting, polishing the cement floors that revealed, removing unneeded walls, setting up work areas, chill areas, and a kitchen.”
MAKE AND CRAFT: Fig. F: The crafting area at i3 Detroit in Ferndale, Mich. Fig. G: The popular weekly soldering workshop at Noisebridge in San Francisco. Fig. H: Weekly open Craft Night at NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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7. Fund it. On top of rent, your space might have other operating expenses, such as utilities, internet, and insurance. Most hackerspaces fund their operations through membership dues and donations. If you go this route you’ll need to pick a dues structure that takes in a bit more each year than you spend, ideally with some buffer in the bank — “at least three months of rent” in your bank account at all times, recommends the Hackerspace Design Patterns. Some hackerspaces, such as Artisan’s Asylum, or Pumping Station One in Chicago, make a large percentage of their income by charging for classes and workshops, or by selling T-shirts or kits. At Metalab in Vienna, Austria, it’s beverages. “We make about a third of our income selling Club-Mate,” says Paul “Enki” Böhm. (It’s a popular yerba maté energy drink among hackers in Europe.) NYC Resistor has been known to have
very popular rent parties on months when they were short. At Bloominglabs, Heald and another member took a leap of faith and funded their first month’s rent out of pocket, since, he says, “We didn’t have enough members to pay for it all, but knew that once we got our space we would soon have enough members.” And they now do. When it was time for Noisebridge to rent its first space, five of us took a similar leap, signing the lease and paying the rent for our first space. We then put out a call for donations to cover it all. We received $12,000 in 24 hours. 8. Get your tools. While you’re collecting the normal tools you’d expect at a hackerspace — soldering irons, drills, mills, saws, and so on (see pages 64–67 for the ultimate workshop tool guide) don’t forget to look for the bare necessities, too: tables and chairs, AC power strips, lots of shelving for people
to store their projects, and appliances to make up a kitchen — a great place for doing a project as well as sustenance! Surprising to people unfamiliar with hackerspaces is finding that MakerBot 3D printers (see page 58) are practically ubiquitous. And, given the multi-thousanddollar price tag, so are the laser cutters you see at so many spaces. (But they’re too cool not to have!) And there’s Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner. Roombas are fun to hack (and some spaces actually use them to vacuum). Some spaces, such as Artisan’s Asylum, have incredibly nice machine shops, complete with industrial milling machines, lathes, grinders, and much more. I3 Detroit has a space suitable for welding and for making machines that shoot out fire. Tools are typically donated or loaned by members, or purchased outright from member dues. According to Cprek from LVL1, “When we first rented our space, we had nothing. So we put out the word, and
Photography by Matt Mets (I) and Mitch Altman (J)
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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nies that would sell us liability insurance. (We chose one that didn’t have a reputation for refusing to pay out claims.) We also got D&O insurance, which covers our directors and officers in case anyone sues them personally. All this costs us about $2,000 per year.
BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE: Fig. I: From roboteers to artists and crafters, people make all sorts of things at Hack Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa. Fig. J: The 10 rules that govern Cowtown Computer Congress Kansas City (Mo.).
saw what we got donated. We’re still pretty new, but we already have most of what we want. We’ll give a little more time to see before using some of our funds to buy a projector and MIG welder.” Jonathan Guberman, who helped start Site 3 Co-Laboratory in Toronto, says, “Right off the bat we tried to get nice equipment, such as our laser cutter (60-watt!), metal lathe, and industrial sewing machine. This will attract new members, and gets us going and keeps us going.” While everything at Noisebridge is donated, with no strings attached, many spaces, including Arch Reactor and Hive13, have some of their nicest equipment on loan from their members. 9. Get insurance (recommended). Insurance is easy enough to get, and it’s a good idea for protecting your group from liability. At Noisebridge we contacted a broker, told them exactly what we were up to, and they came back with a few compa-
10. Teach skills. “I love teaching!” says Site 3’s Guberman. “It is very empowering for people to teach them subjects they think they can’t do. People think, when they see a project I make, that I’m some kind of genius. I’m not — anyone can do this. And I want to show them. Facilitating collaboration is what hackerspaces are all about. We can teach people that they can do whatever it is that they are interested in.” Teaching also helps the hackerspace itself, says Anderson at Hive13. “To avoid mishaps, we have a qualification process, where people need to be taught how to use each piece of equipment before they can use it.” Noisebridge and other spaces have similar training. Hackerspaces offer a unique opportunity to build confidence, to make teachers out of every learner and vice versa, with instruction on almost any topic: mechanics, chemistry, biology, photography, machining, painting, comics, games, astrophysics, video … you’re limited only by your imagination (which is limitless). As public schools are eliminating classes in art, science, music, technology, and other important fields, hackerspaces are creating educational environments to fill the void.
TechShops and More Coincident with the hackerspace movement is the rise of co-working spaces, tool libraries, start-up incubators, and TechShops. All of these are helping self-employed people to work in a community of like-minded people, rather than at home alone. TechShop (techshop.ws) is a for-profit, high-end version of a hackerspace that provides high-tech tools and classes. Their shops are packed with expensive equipment like CNC mills and plasma cutters that they make very affordable and accessible to the general public. CEO Mark Hatch says they’re able to do it because of “the precipitous drop in the cost of new machine tools — some of which are 90% cheaper now than they were ten years ago.” For the price of a monthly membership, any aspiring inventor, hacker, maker, or
Find a Hackerspace Near You There are too many makerspaces and hackerspaces to list in this space – more than 500 worldwide, including 200-plus in the United States and Canada. To find one near you, check out hackerspaces.org/ wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces, a comprehensive, user-maintained list. Click on your state to get a list of spaces there; click on your country and get not only a list of active and planned spaces, but also events and people in that country interested in helping start a hackerspace.
entrepreneur can use TechShop’s sophisticated tools to bring their ideas to reality using the materials of their choice. With locations in Portland, Ore., Raleigh, N.C., and Menlo Park, Calif., they have plans to open more, including San Francisco, San Jose, and a 15,000 square-foot TechShop in the Detroit area that they hope will spur innovation to help the local economy.
Hackerspaces Forever! This is a great time to be a geek! The internet is full of resources, technology is cheap, MAKE magazine is showing us how to make anything and everything, our current economic down-times are giving many of us more time to explore our creativity, and there are more hacker conferences and Maker Faires. We don’t know where this new hackerspace movement is heading, but we’re creating it with every person who joins in every day. Together we’re creating a community that can benefit each of us, and everyone, far into the future. Resources Hackerspace Design Patterns is a very useful compilation of what has worked, and hasn’t, for hackerspaces over many years. Topics include sustainability, community, meetings, and conflict resolution. hackerspaces.org/wiki/Design_Patterns Hackerspaces.org is a great general resource, with the best directory of hackerspaces worldwide, as well as a 24/7 email list and monthly call-ins for people to ask questions and share experiences. Mitch Altman travels the world turning off TVs, helping hackerspaces, and teaching people to solder and make cool things. He is currently writing a book for beginners on how to make cool things with microcontrollers.
10/13/10 6:12:05 AM
Illustration by James Provost
Mister Jalopy’s “Owner’s Manifesto” from MAKE Volume 04
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 12:07:23 PM
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1. Hand-built 8"×10" vacuum former. I built it from a shop-vac motor and some kiln wire from a ceramics supplier. 2. Craftsman bandsaw. I traded a gold pocketwatch and a stuffed iguana for this. Noisy but excellent. 3. Handmade toolbox. To impress my peers and superiors at ILM, I stayed up one night and built this toolbox and a twin. It has wheels and a locking scissor-lift so I can use it at my desk without bending over. No tool need be moved out of the way to get to any other — a quality I call “first-order retrievability.” 4. A 16" disc sander/grinder. A recent Craigslist purchase. I have to install 3-phase/220V power to run it. 5. Pressure vacuum chamber, for moldmaking.
Built from an old pressure cooker purchased at a flea market. Pressure helps eliminate tiny bubbles when casting in molds. 6. Grinder/sander. 7. Warhead. A prop from The Abyss, one of my favorite movies. 8. Old dentist’s drill. 9. Drill press (one of two). 10. Very large toolbox. 11. Maggie, the youngest of my two rescue dogs from Pets Unlimited in San Francisco. 12. Sortimo rack system. Holds every piece of hardware any shop will ever need. The trays have modular containers inside. I love this thing. 13. My hand-built R2 unit. Constructed by me over 6 years. It’s perfectly accurate, all aluminum, fully remote control, and has an iPod running its high-fidelity sound system.
My New Possibility Engine Adam Savage talks about the things he makes, and the stories they tell, at his new home workshop/museum in San Francisco.
Photograph by Cody Pickens
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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’ve spent most of my adult life having regular access to a workshop of some kind. My first really private workspace was in Brooklyn, N.Y. After moving from there to the mattress factory in Hunter’s Point, San Francisco, to my parent’s basement, to my own garages, closets, and cars, I’ve finally moved into my ideal man cave, as you see here. I frequently call my shop spaces “possibility engines” (I just as frequently worry that that’s a pretentious thing to call my shop spaces), and I’ve always required a certain amount of visual cacophony in these places where I seek inspiration. I like noise (some might call it mess, but
don’t believe them). I need, in some ways, to be overwhelmed by the space where I make. By the same token, I have a deeply personal relationship with everything in that space, such that at my worst, I’m a high-functioning hoarder, and at my best, I’m the curator of the most awesome museum of my own brain. The museum I oversee is, at its core, a simple conduit for the stories that objects tell. Sometimes fictional objects tell true stories. Eventually, every object describes a narrative in its wear and decay, and my fascination with that narrative is what has always made me a maker. I want and need the objects around me to talk.
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When I can’t find objects that talk the way I want, I’ve made them, and when I didn’t know how to make them, I’ve taught myself how. I have done this since I was 5 or 6. Many of the most transcendent, and most frustrating, moments in my life have been while making things. I’ve left far more projects by the wayside unfinished than I’ve completed. At least 30 sit on shelves in various storage spaces, and I have eager plans for each of them, most of which will go unfulfilled. But I won’t. With the limited time I have to devote to personal projects, and with the long experience I’ve had in making, I now do most of my tool setup, construction-problem solving, and building in my head. I spend weeks throwing out bad ideas, and honing good ones, so that when I finally do get into my shop, I’m ready, and the work goes quickly. That’s the plan, anyway. At least half the time my fine ideas
get bogged down by the reality that making things is an endless exercise in things not going as you planned. Which really is the point, isn’t it? I don’t make things in order to have finished objects. I have finished objects as a by-product of my need to always be making. I love these objects. I enjoy the conversation we have together. I like the problem solving, the broken blades, and the Band-Aids. They’ve made me who I am. More photos: makezine.com/2010/workshop Adam Savage is a lifelong maker, having worked in theater, fine art sculpture, machine art, robotics, animation, commercials, and films like A.I., Space Cowboys, the Star Wars prequels, and the Matrix sequels. He’s taught advanced modelmaking, and has a modelmaking textbook kicking around in his head. For the last eight years he’s hosted MythBusters. He’s the father of 11-year-old twins, and collects and makes movie props and other impossible objects in his spare time.
A My MICROLUX mini-mill I plan to purchase a full-sized counterpart to this little baby, but it has served me well. I gunsmithed most of my Blade Runner gun on this thing using carbide bits. My previous shop was 110 square feet (my new shop is over 2,000 — yay!), so size was a key issue. This is a powerful beast despite its size. I bought and installed an aftermarket DRO (a digital readout of exact position and movement) that makes using it much easier.
B My shop “tool chair” was a present from artist Chico MacMurtrie (amorphicrobotworks.org). I used to work as Chico’s assistant; he built this during a time when he had a medical condition that didn’t allow him to sit very comfortably. C My lightsaber collection Front and center is what you’d call a Luke ESB saber, constructed by me (not very accurately, I’m sorry to say) from sketches I made when I visited an ILM museum exhibit (before I worked at ILM). I pick these up from time to time. I love having a lot of anything; the fact that they’re lightsabers makes this one of the most awesome collections ever.
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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10/13/10 4:10:49 PM
Mister Jalopy’s Garage Photograph by Carla Sinclair
ocated on a quiet street flanked by gigantic shade trees in Burbank, Calif., Mister Jalopy’s garage is like a portal into the past and the future at the same time. It’s fully stuffed from floor to ceiling with vintage tools, car parts, and movie memorabilia he picks up at garage sales. “I would fill my dream garage with ice cream trucks, carnival rides, Helms Bakery trucks, funeral flower cars, Mercedes-Benz ambulance conversions by Binz, Unimogs, doodlebugs, flathead four-powered log splitters, Cadillac El Caminos, passenger buses from India, Airstreams, Model T fruit trucks, farm equipment, hit-and-miss engines, Spartans, aluminum-
bodied mail trucks, dragsters, utility trucks with cherry picker baskets, Aeroflots, diamond-plate F-350s with welders on the back, teardrop trailers, well diggers, and, most favorably, bookmobiles. I would collect houses and skyscrapers, but that would take up too much space,” Mister Jalopy notes. Owner of a used bicycle shop called Coco’s Variety, Mister Jalopy confesses to owning eight cars, including a 1965 Ford Country Squire Wagon with a whimsical paint job by his friend, a retired Disney sign painter. Read the chronicles of his garage life on his blog, dinosaursandrobots. com. —Mark Frauenfelder
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1. Having restored and hot-rod pinstriped an O’Keefe & Merritt stove, Mister Jalopy won’t dare start this rare mint-green range until the average daily temperature drops below 85. 2. Good garage policy: WWTBD? (What Would The Bandit Do?) 3. Automobile water bags and Model A headlights from a time when crossing the desert by automobile was a risky proposition. 4. The “Outlaw Motorcycle Club” Levi’s cutoff jacket from the 1960s was a garage sale find. 5. The heartbeat of any good garage, the ever-present, never-large-enough, Snap-on rollaway tool chest that has every imaginable tool except the wrench you need at midnight.
6. Your father’s father rode in that kiddie ride. Mister Jalopy is trying to figure out where to mount an engine. 7. That beautiful art deco Farnsworth radio cabinet hides a complete Macintosh record album digitizing workstation (see MAKE, Volume 04, page 54). 8. The Captain Fantastic pinball machine was rescued from the trash and “almost works!” 9. Garage sale Oriental rugs really tie the room together, and oil spills just add character. 10. Purchased for some future race car project, those spindle-mount magnesium racing wheels were from Barney Navarro’s 1969 Indy 500 entry.
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y Michaelson, aka The Rocketman, hails from an illustrious line of makers. On his family tree can be found inventors of the motorcycle transmission and clutch, the rotary lawnmower blade, the flip-top aspirin box, and the oxygen mask as used in commercial aviation. As a child dealing with dyslexia, Michaelson struggled in school, but discovered a natural affinity for building things. One day in math class his teacher discovered that he’d hollowed out his textbook and built a crystal set inside (the earpiece wire was concealed through his shirt sleeve). She was awestruck by his ingenuity (in addition to being pissed at him for destroying
his book), and it was this ability to dazzle with his creations that sent him on a lifelong quest to build more impressive machines. Michaelson is forever hungry for power and speed. In his Gyro Gearloose world, he’s never met a moving vehicle he didn’t think would go better with a big-ass rocket engine bolted to its backside. And, at this point, there aren’t too many things he hasn’t “rocketized,” from motorcycles and go-karts to tricycles and kiddie scooters. And then there are the rocket-powered toilets and barstools. See more of Rocketman’s crazed creations at the-rocketman.com. —Gareth Branwyn
The Rocketman’s Garage Photograph by Chad Holder
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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1. Replica of an early Michaelson motorcycle, originally built by Michaelson’s great uncles of Michaelson Motor Company. 2. Rocket-powered go-kart. His kart holds the world record of 252 mph. 3. The payload section of Michaelson’s Civilian Space Exploration Team’s GoFast rocket, which, on May 17, 2004, became the first amateur rocket in space. 4. Dubbed the “SS Flusher,” this rocketpowered toilet came about when somebody overheard Michaelson saying that a commode was one of the few things he hadn’t made into a rocket. The bowl donor worked for the prison system and donated it on the q.t. 5. This hybrid (N20/plastic) rocket trike was built for Michaelson’s son, Buddy
(age 10). Not surprisingly, “Rocketman” is his middle name. No, really. Legally. 6. An H202 rocketpack. Michaelson’s building a new one with bigger rocket fuel tanks so it’ll fly longer. 7. An original 1912 Michaelson motor that the Rocketman found at a flea market in Davenport, Iowa. He’d been in search of one for 30 years. 8. A rocket-powered bicycle Michaelson built using a Mongoose frame. 9. A twin-engine drag bike, built on a BSA frame. 10. A steering “engine bell” off an Apollo rocket. Michaelson has over 275 space artifacts in his home in the Minneapolis suburbs.
10/11/10 7:31:57 AM
Building the Barrage Garage
The ultimate, multipurpose maker’s workshop, built from the ground up. By William Gurstelle
As a city dweller, I’ve often looked with envy at the spacious outbuildTHE ings of my rural friends and relatives. BARRAGE GARAGE Horse barns, potting sheds, root cellars, equipment garages — plentiful, enclosed, and private space is the one thing that makes me envy those who live beyond the end of the bus line. I think often about what I could make if I had a room of my own: a purpose-built, wellequipped space in which to create. Apparently I’m not alone in these thoughts. Homebuilders commonly offer two-, three-, and even four-car garages for new homes. But all that space isn’t needed simply to shelter the family Chevy. It’s needed to keep pace with the explosion in DIY projects and their concomitant material and tool requirements. Randy Nelson, president of Swisstrax, a manufacturer of workshop and garage floor products, says that garages are quickly evolving into more than simply places where people keep their cars. Installation of the company’s special-purpose floor tile in garages and workshops is booming. “[Spaces for making things] have just about doubled in the last ten years,” says Nelson. “People aren’t just stuffing junk in their garages any more. It’s become the male domain, the place where they can do their work and have their tools.” There are scores of books providing advice on setting up a wood shop or metal shop, and many others that describe setting up specialty areas such as a paint shop, a photography studio, or a chemistry laboratory. But what I wanted was not a singlepurpose workspace. I was seeking the ultimate, multipurpose maker’s workshop:
a versatile, flexible space capable of handling nearly any project I could think of — from building a cedar-strip canoe to compounding fuel and oxidizer for a rocket engine, from soldering a Minty Boost to developing a model ornithopter. This series of articles details the creation of a modestly sized yet state-ofthe-art maker’s workshop, which I named the Barrage Garage. This installment covers the design and construction of my Barrage Garage, and the considerations behind its doors and windows, floor coverings, and other infrastructure. The parts that follow describe the equipment inside it, such as workbenches, machine tools, hand tools, and my own space-saving tool storage system.
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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Workshop Design Criteria Âť The first step was to determine which features were the most important and practical.
Egress A 9-foot-wide, automatic, wellinsulated door outfitted with required safety equipment was essential. The huge door makes bringing materials in and out of the workspace a snap.
CUSTOM CAVE: The obvious advantage of building a workshop from scratch is the luxury of specâ€™ing it perfectly to your needs.
Fenestration Natural light and a view to the outside were high on my list of priorities. Therefore, the design called for four east-facing sliding windows having a total glass area of 24 square feet.
Photography by William Gurstelle
Organization I devised a plan for a combination of stackable modular cabinets, which, along with a slotted wall storage system, maximize the efficiency and versatility of my space. Surfaces I wanted more functionality and style than a concrete floor could afford. I selected a special-purpose tile floor for workshops and garages that makes walking and standing more comfortable. Power I needed 240 volts to run the heater and welder, and 120-volt receptacles placed at frequent intervals along all walls on two separate 20-amp, GFIprotected circuits. This ensures a plentiful, safe supply of electrical power to all tools.
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Building the Barrage Garage
Imhotep’s: a perfectly level slab placed in exactly the right spot.
Concrete Ideas After excavation, the concrete work began. Concrete is composed of Portland cement, gravel, sand, and water. When freshly poured, concrete is wet and plastic. But within hours it begins to solidify, ultimately becoming as hard as rock. Most people call that process “drying,” but the concrete crew foreman on my job told me that’s not really the best choice of words. Concrete does not simply solidify because excess water has evaporated from the slurry. Instead, the water reacts with the cement in a chemical process known as hydration. The cement absorbs the water, causing it to harden and bond the sand and pebbles together, creating the stone-hard material we know as concrete.
» My first task was to site the structure. Where should the workshop go?
Framing the Concept
Initially I considered placing the shop in my basement. Possible, but this would involve far too many compromises. The basement is a low-ceilinged space with marginal access via a narrow stairway. The thought of carrying tools and materials up and down, turning corners, and so forth quickly dissuaded me. Instead I turned to the nearly forgotten space along the alley in back of my home. Separated from the rest of my yard by a chain-link fence, it was covered with 25-year-old lilac bushes. I loved those fragrant, beautiful spring blossoms, but the space those lilacs grew upon was workshop-perfect: it had room, privacy, and access. So, goodbye lilacs. City ordinances allowed me a maximum of 240 square feet for the shop. With the city building permit obtained, it was time to push some dirt.
Pushing Dirt It all starts with a level floor. Every workshop, atelier, pole barn, or garage must have a level floor if great things are to be
made in it. It has always been this way. Four thousand years ago, in the reign of the great Egyptian pyramid builders, construction techniques were rudimentary. Imhotep, legendary architect of the pharaohs, had only knotted measuring ropes stretched taut between stakes, plumb bobs, and sighting sticks. But Imhotep gave the pharaohs the tools to build monuments capable of withstanding 50 centuries of desert sandstorms. He did that by starting with a perfectly level floor. It’s believed that the Egyptians leveled the area under a pyramid by cutting a shallow grid of trenches into the bedrock, then filling them with water. Knowing that the height of water within connected trenches would be at exactly the same level, the workers hacked out the intervening islands of stone and sand with hoes and stone drills. The Barrage Garage has a flat floor as well, but my excavators used a 75-horsepower backhoe and modern surveying tools including transits and lasers. My end result is pretty much the same as
Prior to the mid-19th century, building was an art that took many years of apprenticeship to learn. There were few, if any, building codes. Quality of work was based largely on the personal integrity and craftsmanship of each builder. For 2,000 years, the most common technique for building with wood was the method called timber framing. Buildings of that era still exist; typically they are barns and homes with huge wooden beams supporting large open spaces. In the mid-19th century, building techniques changed. Cheap, factory-produced nails and standardized, “dimensional” lumber from sawmills allowed for a faster, more versatile method of construction called balloon framing. Invented by Augustine Taylor of Chicago, balloon framing revolutionized building construction. It utilized long, vertical framing members called studs that ran from sill to eave, with intermediate floor structures nailed to them. What used to take a crew of experienced timber framers months to join and raise, could be constructed in a fraction of the time by a competent carpenter and a few helpers. Over time, balloon framing evolved into the current technique known as platform framing. The Barrage Garage, like most modern buildings, is built by nailing together standard dimensional lumber — 2×4 trusses holding the roof and 2×6 studs forming the
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walls — at code-defined intervals. Then, plywood sheathing is attached to the lumber frame, and the basic structure is complete.
A Solid Floor The first order of business after the workshop shell was complete was to install the floor. There are three general options: coatings, mats, and tile. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Most common and least expensive are coatings. There are several types of coating available for concrete floors, including epoxy, polyurethane, and latex. Epoxy paint is probably the most widely applied form of floor coating. Epoxy forms a hard, durable surface and bonds solidly to a correctly prepared surface. Because floor coating provides no cushioning, it can be hard on feet and legs. Also, it doesn’t last forever: expect to recoat the floor every five years or so. Polyurethane coatings are also very durable, and they resist chemical spills better than epoxy. But urethanes do not bond directly to concrete, so an epoxy primer coat is required. Latex garage paint is widely available and inexpensive. It goes on easily and doesn’t require the prep work associated with epoxies and urethanes. However, it’s less durable. PVC floor protection mats are another option. They protect the porous concrete floor from staining or corrosive chemicals such as oil, paint, or acid. Mats are typically simple to install, requiring only scissors. Importantly, they add a cushioning layer above the hard concrete. Special-purpose vinyl tile is the premier flooring option for workshops and garages, and that’s what I installed in the Barrage Garage. These floor tiles, from Swisstrax (swisstrax.com), snapped together firmly and were installed without special tools. Tile handles heavy loads and high traffic. It resists damage caused by chemicals, and it’s far more comfortable to stand on than concrete. But best of all is tile’s ability to transform a humdrum workshop into a great-looking space.
SCRATCH BUILT: A perfectly level slab is an imperative start. I used platform framing for the structure, and durable, cushioned vinyl tile for the flooring.
10/11/10 7:45:18 AM
Choose Your Tools
Outfitting the all-purpose maker’s workshop with the tools to tackle most any project. By William Gurstelle
Small? Sure, it’s a mere 20 feet by 14 feet, but it has all the space required to do serious creating. It’s loaded with features, including a way-cool vinyl tile floor, a high-tech wall storage system, fluorescent lighting, 240-volt power, and lots of electrical outlets. After the infrastructure was completed, it was time to outfit the Barrage Garage. Choosing tools and supplies is a subjective
question to be sure, and one that a dozen people would answer a dozen different ways. My goal was to make the Barrage Garage into the Platte River of workshops: a mile wide and three feet deep. Like the Platte, my workshop covers a lot of different areas but is not particularly deep in any single genre. Flexible as a yoga instructor, it provides an environment in which I can attempt projects in wood,
Photography by William Gurstelle
o far, I’ve detailed the construction of my all-purpose maker-style workshop, which I’ve nicknamed the Barrage Garage. It’s turned out beautifully, and as anticipated, it’s the envy of my maker friends.
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metal, chemistry, home repair, electricity, even the odd bit of pyrotechnics (see MAKE Volume 13, page 54). If you’re a maker with dreams of metalworking, woodworking, building electronics projects, customizing your rod, or simply keeping your house up and running, read on. In this installment, we’ll examine the must-have tools and equipment that make the Barrage Garage such a maker-enabling space.
The Workbench Building a workbench was my first consideration, for it’s literally the foundation on which all subsequent work will be built. I considered the design carefully, evaluating possibilities ranging from a complex Scandinavian design with a beechwood frame mounted on self-leveling hydraulic cylinders, to an interior door nailed to two sawhorses. I chose something in the middle — a solid, heavy, counterbraced construction made from 2×6 fir lumber. The work surface is two-thirds wood and one-third granite. From a local countertop maker I was able to inexpensively obtain a beautiful 2'×2' piece of polished granite left over from a bigger job. The ultraflat, smooth granite is perfect for doing fine
work or electrical projects. The plywoodcovered 2×6s are great for everything else. I finished the workbench by outfitting it with a wood vise with bench dogs (wooden inserts mounted opposite the vise to hold oversized work pieces), a portable machinist’s vise, and a pullout shelf. The typical advice from experts to novices is to buy the best quality tools you can afford. And I believe it’s good advice. Cheap screwdrivers, for example, can be a big mistake; the soft metal edges of inferior blades can bend or even break under stress, and the plastic handles chip when dropped. For any tool you use frequently, it makes sense to go with quality. On the other hand, when you’ve got a one-off job, and you’re not sure if you’ll ever have another application for pistonring pliers or a gantry crane, then buying an inexpensive tool may make sense. Besides raw materials and tools, I stocked up on general supplies: duct tape, electrical tape, transparent tape, powdered graphite, rope or cord, twine, light oil, white glue, super glue, quick-set epoxy, extended-set epoxy, sandpaper, heat-shrink tubing, zip ties, pencils, ink markers, rags, wipes, and towels. Now, on to the tools.
FUN STARTS HERE: With your workshop structure built, the next step is choosing the tools and workbench setup best suited to your projects. I chose a sturdy, counterbraced fir bench and a wide array of basic tools.
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Basic Tools A. Electric drill, cordless or corded A drill with a variety of screwdriver tips and drill bits may well be your most frequently used power tool. In the Barrage Garage, where I have power outlets everywhere, I appreciate the lightness and torque of a corded drill. But many people appreciate the flexibility of a cordless model. The higher the top voltage (e.g., 14.4 or 18 volts) of a cordless drill, the greater its torque and the more it weighs.
The Tools » If you’ve got opinions on what is an absolute necessity for the well-equipped maker’s shop, let us know. Post your recommendations at makezine.com/tnt.
B. Files and brushes Flat and round bastard files and a wire brush. (A bastard file refers to one with an intermediate tooth size.)
M. Scale A triple beam balance or electronic scale is a necessity for chemistry projects and mixing stuff. Power Tools N. Belt sander O. Drill press I simply can’t live without my drill press, because it provides far more accuracy than a hand drill ever could. P. Cut-off saw
C. Cutters You’ll want diagonal cutters, a utility knife, tinsnips, a wire cutter/crimper/ stripper, and a good pair of scissors. You’ll find a self-healing cutting mat to be a great help; buy one at any fabric store. D. Mixing and volume-measuring equipment Sturdy plastic bowls in different sizes, disposable spoons, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. E. Hacksaw For those occasions that require cutting through something harder than wood. F. Handsaw Most often, you’ll likely be cutting dimensional lumber (2×4s, 2×6s, etc.) to size, so choose a saw with crosscut teeth instead of ripping teeth. G. Linear measuring gear Tape measure, protractor, and combination square. H. Socket and wrench set If you work on things mechanical, you’ll appreciate the quality of a good socket set. Spend the money and get English and metric sockets, as well as Allen wrenches (hex keys). I. Pliers come in a variety of shapes. At a minimum, you should have standard, needlenose, and vise-grips. J. Hammers Start with a claw hammer for nailing and a rubber mallet for knocking things apart. K. Digital multimeter If you do any electronics work, a volt-ohm meter with several types of probes and clips will be indispensable.
L. Screwdrivers Choose an assortment of high-quality Phillips and flat-headed (and possibly Torx) screwdrivers in a variety of sizes.
Q. Grinder Beyond these basics, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tools available, all of which may be useful depending on the project. In regard to stationary power tools, it’s a tough call. Because they’re expensive and require a lot of shop real estate, it really depends on what you’re going to do most. I use my table saw all the time. But I know people who consider a band saw an absolute necessity and others who say a scroll saw is their number one power saw priority. Special Tools Soldering iron Choose a variabletemperature model with changeable tips. Magnifying lens You’ll find a swingarm magnifier with a light a very helpful addition to your shop. It mounts directly to your workbench and swings out of the way when not in use. It’s great for everything from threading needles to examining surface finishes. Safety equipment Safety glasses, hearing protection, a fire extinguisher, goggles, a dust mask, and gloves are very important. All safety glasses, even inexpensive ones, must conform to government regulations, so they all provide adequate protection. However, more expensive ones are more comfortable and look better, making you more inclined to always use them. (See “The Safe Workshop,” page 35.)
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/13/10 6:18:48 AM
E B M
C J H
10/11/10 7:51:08 AM
OK, once you’ve got all this stuff, where are you going to store it? I use a combination of bins hung on StoreWall (storewall. com) panels, and my own contrivance that I call the Tool-Zine. It’s easy to build and provides an incredible amount of storage in a small area. The Tool-Zine is like a magazine for tools; you store your tools on “pages” and simply turn to the correct page when you need a particular tool. You’ll be amazed at the convenience and organization it brings to your shop. A 4-page Tool-Zine provides the equivalent of 64ft2 of wall space in a space slightly larger than 8ft2. That’s a highly leveraged storage solution! Conceptually, the Tool-Zine is straightforward. It consists of four 1" PVC pipes slotted lengthwise. A 2'×4' piece of 2" pegboard is inserted into each slot and fastened with machine screws. Next, wood lath is bolted to both sides of the pegboard to make it rigid. This entire assembly makes a single page of the Tool-Zine. Four pages are assembled and then mounted vertically on wooden brack-
ets that are firmly affixed to wall studs, reminiscent of the way the pages in this magazine are bound to the spine. MATERIALS » 1" Schedule 40 PVC pipes (4) 5' long » 1" PVC pipe end caps (4) » 1" wood laths, 4' long (4) » 2" pegboard in 2'×4' sections (4) Other pegboard thicknesses might work, but you’ll have to adjust the slot width. » 2×6 lumber about 8' long » ¼" machine screws, 1½" long (20) with nuts and washers » #8 machine screws, 1½" long (20) with nuts and washers » Wall anchors or wood screws
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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Make Your Tool-Zine The diagram shown here has all the information you need to build the Tool-Zine. Here are a few pointers to make the task easier. 1. The most difficult part is making the long slot in the PVC pipe. To fit the pegboard, it must be straight, with a constant width. You will likely need a table saw to do this successfully. I bolted the PVC to a 2×2 piece of dimensional lumber so I could use the saw’s rip fence to keep the cut as straight as possible.
Illustrations by Tim Lillis
2. Set the saw blade height on your table saw so that it’s just high enough to cut through the bottom of the PVC, but doesn’t cut into the bolts used to attach the PVC to the 2×2 guide piece.
4. Be sure to anchor the top bracket firmly into the wall studs. 5. I chose to build a platform to support the lower bracket. The platform rests on the concrete floor and is attached with a concrete anchor. As an alternative, the bottom bracket could be wall-mounted like the top bracket. It you do this, make sure the brackets are securely mounted to structural members that can handle the weight of your tools.
COMPACT YOUR COLLECTION: Easily flip through your tools with this customizable organizer made of pegboard and PVC.
6. The Tool-Zine is customizable. You can easily add additional pages or increase the distance between pages by extending the size of the brackets. However, if you do, be sure the brackets are adequately anchored to the wall studs.
3. Depending on the kerf width of your saw’s blade, it may be difficult to slide the pegboard into the slot. If so, use a rubber mallet to pound it in.
10/11/10 7:53:42 AM
Stock Your Shop
Be ready with a basic inventory of the stuff dreams are made of. By William Gurstelle
n my Barrage Garage workshop, I keep frequently used materials on hand at all times. Stocking a well-considered selection of materials is important when I need to make a simple model or a fast prototype to bring an idea to life, or at least prove to myself that it’s worth further exploration. Choosing materials is an important part of any project. But tradeoffs abound and it can be tricky to decide which raw material is right for the job. One material may be strong, but difficult to machine. Another may be great for use indoors but lose its integrity when placed in the elements. Over time, I’ve developed an inventory of basic raw materials that enable me to start, and sometimes even complete, a great variety of projects without the need to visit a lumberyard or wait for the UPS truck.
Dimensional Lumber Dimensional lumber is the wood commonly sold in lumberyards. It’s sized according to standardized widths and depths that are nominally described in whole numbers, but its actual size is ¼" or ½" less than described. For example, a 1×2 board is actually ¾"×1½". Dimensional lumber comes from softwoods like fir and pine. Cut into 2×4s, it’s commonly used for building the frame or supporting structure of a project. Shelves and smaller objects are frequently made from 1"-thick (nominal) boards of various widths and lengths. It’s inexpensive and versatile, so keep ample supplies on hand for spur-of-themoment projects. I like to stock: 1×2×8' (4) 1×4×8' (4) 2×4×8' (4)
Engineered Wood Engineered wood products are manufactured from wood components and adhesive. Strong and light, they’re just the thing
for covering walls and roofs, and they’re useful for projects of all types. Engineered woods include the old standby, plywood, as well as particleboard and mediumdensity fiberboard (MDF). MDF and particleboard are manufactured from wood pulp and glue pressed into sheets. They’re easy to cut and sand, a plus for the inexperienced maker. They’re cheaper than plywood, and not as prone to warping. Plywood, on the other hand, is proportionally lighter and stronger than MDF and particleboard. It holds fasteners more securely, and has far better moisture resistance. Plywood comes in a variety of thicknesses; 2" and 3" are the most commonly used. Engineered wood comes in 4'×8' sheets that can take up a lot of storage space. If that’s a problem, cut the sheets in half. Stock: 3" plywood, B or C grade, 4'×4' sheets (2) or a 4'×8' sheet if you have room
Dowels When dimensional lumber is too big, dowels (cylindrical rods made from solid wood) are utilitarian wonders. They’re great for aligning, fastening, and supporting project parts. Stock: ¼" dowel, 3' lengths (4) 2" dowel, 3' lengths (4) ½" dowel, 3' lengths (2)
Hardware Cloth and Expanded Metal Hardware cloth is wonderfully useful stuff. It’s a sheet of stiff, galvanized steel wire
welded into a regular square mesh. Flexible and strong, it’s perfect for screening off large areas inexpensively. Expanded metal is a rigid, open mesh made from sheet metal that has been slit and expanded. It is much stronger and more rigid than hardware cloth. You can use these materials for animalproofing, providing support for materials such as plaster or concrete, making guards for dangerous areas, and more. Expanded metal is strong enough to be walked upon. Stock: Hardware cloth, ¼" mesh, 2'×4' sheet (1) Expanded metal, 2'×4'’ sheet (1)
Angle Iron aka Structural Steel Structural steel or iron, like dimensional lumber, is most often used to build a frame or superstructure. The many types of structural steel are described by the shapes they make when looking at them on-end — angles, channels, bars, I-beams, and more. Angle iron is the king. It’s relatively inexpensive, extremely strong, and can be attached to other pieces of iron by fasteners or by welding. I keep several 8' pieces of galvanized 14-gauge slotted angle iron on hand. Although its galvanized surface makes it nearly unweldable, it’s still wonderfully versatile. The slots allow pieces to be cut and joined easily using 2" bolts and nuts. Channels and I-beams are useful in situations requiring greater stiffness, although they’re heavier and cost more per linear foot. Stock: Slotted steel angle, 1¼"×1¼"×8' (2)
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 7:54:20 AM
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Stronger than copper alone, brass sheet is a great prototyping material that can be machined, bent, or cut to close tolerances. It’s easily worked with common hand tools and can be joined by soldering or by mechanical fasteners. Stock: Brass sheet, .032"×6"×12" (1) Brass sheet, .016"×6"×12" (1)
Beloved by makers for its ability to be bent and then retain its shape, this tough and springy wire is especially useful in making mechanisms and models. Be forewarned, it’s really tough stuff, requiring a special cutter (or a high-speed rotary tool like a Dremel). Stock: Music wire, .056" OD, 3' lengths (2)
Plastic Pipe and Pipe Fittings
Nearly all projects involve joining parts together, commonly by using mechanical fasteners such as bolts, screws, and nails. Going to the hardware store for every nut and bolt consumes time and fuel, so keep a reasonable selection of fasteners on hand. Stock: Round-head or pan-head machine screws (12 each): 4-40×¼" 4-40×½" 6-32×2" 6-32×¾" 8-32×½” 8-32×1" 10-24×½" 10-24×1" ¼-20×¾" ¼-20×1"
Because of its low cost, strength, and easy workability, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is among the most common plastics in use. PVC pipe comes in many sizes and shapes, with many types of connectors (called fittings). It’s useful for making furniture frames, medium-duty support structures, and plumbing for liquids or air. Stock: PVC pipe, 1" diameter, 8' lengths (2) with 1" elbows (4), tees (4) and caps (4) PVC pipe, 2" diameter, 8' lengths (2) with 2" elbows (4), tees (4) and caps (4)
MATERIAL WORLD: Having a wellstocked selection of basic materials makes it possible to build (and photograph) on the fly.
Hex-head cap screws (6 each): ¼-20×1½" ¼-20×2" 2-16×1" 2-16×1½" 2-16×2" 2-16×2½" Nuts (24 each): 4-40 6-32 8-32 10-24 ¼-20 2-16 Nails (1 box each): 2d and 8d
10/11/10 7:55:30 AM
Make a billion dollars and your shop could look like this too. Photography by John Keatley Nathan Myrhvold’s Intellectual Ventures Laboratory boasts stateof-the-art workshops for electronics, photonics, and culinary arts, courtesy of his Microsoft fortune. But it’s their machine shop that really makes us hungry. 1. Romi 20" CNC lathe. 2. Haas VF-5 5-axis CNC mill. 3. Pair of Traks: Trak K3 knee mill (2-axis) and Trak DPM bed mill (3-axis). 4. Gorbel 500lb overhead bridge crane. 5. and 6. Haas VM-3 4-axis mold-maker’s mill. See more of IVL’s workshops at makezine.com/go/ivl.
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 12:16:37 PM
The Safe Workshop
Wait 12 hours between sketching the plans and starting the construction process. The times people get hurt are usually when they’re excited and in a hurry. Slow down, and work deliberately.
Secure your work when using hand or power tools.
Avoid using a table saw when you can. Statistically, it’s easily the most dangerous piece of equipment in the shop.
Photography by Jason Madara
Don’t touch a bare wire, or cut any wire, until
Rules to make by. By William Gurstelle
The high-decibel noise generated by power tools such as table saws and circular saws can damage your hearing. Protect your ears by using full-sized, earmuff-style protectors.
our workshop should be a welcoming and friendly place. The key lies in creating a safe and secure environment. Before embarking on a new project, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the working conditions in your shop. If your project area gives you a vaguely nervous feeling, now’s the time to bring things up to date. Don’t delay: inspect, review, and evaluate your space and make whatever changes seem necessary to keep you out of trouble. Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas from the members of MAKE’s Technical Advisory Board to get you started. Have at it!
Wear a particle mask when appropriate to avoid breathing dust and other particulate pollutants common in workshops. Sawdust from treated wood and some plastics have known health risks.
Always use clamps,
Obtain a pair of well-fitting, cool polycarb goggles, leather work gloves, and a protective lab coat. Make them attractive and stylish so that wearing safety equipment is fun.
Pull back long hair.
you’re sure where the other end goes. When in doubt, measure the potential. This will save you from a possible heart-stopping electrical shock.
If you work with heavy things — say, timbers or angle iron — or are prone to dropping tools, steel-toed safety shoes are a great investment in long-term foot appearance.
Aim away from yourself. When cutting with a utility knife, position yourself so that when you slip, the blade doesn’t land in your flesh.
not your hands, to hold a work piece on a drill press table. If the tool binds, the work will spin dangerously.
Always keep a
first aid kit in your workshop, and always know where it is. First aid kits can be purchased readymade, or you can put one together yourself. Essential items include bandages, pads, gauze, scissors, tweezers, and tape.
Install a smoke detector in your shop and place a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach spot. Make sure the extinguisher is rated for all types of fires.
10/11/10 7:59:42 AM
Show Us Your Shop
MAKE readers show off their workspaces at Make: Online. By Gareth Branwyn
n our website Make: Online (makezine.com) we frequently get photo submissions of our readers’ workspaces. Like parents beaming over newborn baby pics, makers love pointing out the aspects of their setup they’re proudest of, and the features they find most useful. Here’s a selection of shops we’ve featured on the site — and we’d love to see yours, too. Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. A
R. Mark Adams is a computational biologist in Potomac, Md., and a member of HacDC (hacdc.org). He has two young daughters and enjoys sharing his passion for technology and science with them, plus building robots and other DIY projects in this gorgeous shop he’s built. makezine.com/go/adamsshop B
Mark also did a how-to on MAKE about building a portable, electronics-friendly workbench: makezine.com/go/adamsbench C
Craig Crutchfield’s garage workshop is “a man cave, a sanctuary, a workspace,” he writes. “It’s a laboratory for making camera gear and Frankenstein cameras. I make all my home’s repairs out here, and do some remedial woodworking. It’s my art studio, a place to store inspiration when I can get my hands on it. It’s a great place to think and create. A refuge.” makezine.com/go/crutchfield D
With little room in his home to do electronics projects, Adam Wolf was feeling squeezed. But being the enterprising sort, he decided to just set up shop in an available closet! makezine.com/go/wolf E
Tight Squeeze B
John Baichtal of MAKE writes of Grant Hutchinson’s shop: “I’m a big fan of workshops, the messier the better, and this one definitely fits the bill. I especially love the old-school Macs that Grant has turned into servers. The super old ones are an 8500 and 9600 working as web servers, while a relatively modern G4/450 dualie serves as a file server. But these old-school devices can’t compare to Grant’s pride and joy, his Apple Newton server!” makezine.com/go/hutchinson
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 8:00:56 AM
Hong Kong Views
Well-known robot and toy designer Mark Tilden (father of BEAM robotics and the WowWee Robosapien line) has a commanding view from his home shop. He writes: “After having spent most of my lab-life staring at basement walls or security bars, I recently sorted myself a home lab 600 feet high, overlooking Kowloon Park and the Hong Kong skyline.” makezine.com/go/tilden G
None Shall Pass
David Glicksman of Los Angeles was inspired by posts on MAKE and Boing Boing (boingboing.net) to create a very special, and especially geeky, security lock for his garage shop. “This is a great example of the kind of fun, inspiring projects that come out of these online communities. I combined Chris Schaie’s beautiful mechanical iris, Steve Hoefer’s secret-knock-detecting Arduino code, and an engraving made with my scratch-built CNC router to make the entrance to my garage/ lab.” See the video at makezine.com/go/ glicksman. See more maker workshops at: blog.makezine.com/archive/workshop
10/11/10 8:04:51 AM
Use a simple mortise-and-tenon joint to make these fine-looking shop horses thatâ€™ll last a lifetime.
Based on the trestles of a Japanese woodworking bench, these sawhorses are a good beginning joinery project. Theyâ€™re constructed using the mortise and tenon, the fundamental joint in woodworking. The tenon (end projection) of one piece fits into the mortise (hole) in another piece, as in Figure A. This project uses the drawbore style of mortise and tenon, which is secured by a wooden pin that draws it tight and makes it look great.
Photography and illustration by Len Cullum
By Len Cullum
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 10:25:13 AM
The Mortise and Tenon Joint
Lumber: 4"×4"×8' (2), 4"×6"×8' (1), 2"×4"×8' (1), and (optional) 1"×4"×8' clear cedar or pine (2) Wood dowels, ½"×3' (2) to make 12 lengths of 4"–4½" Double-sided tape (optional) Wood ﬁnish (optional)
TOOLS Edge cheek
Table saw (recommended) or other saw Drill press (recommended) or drill Handsaw I recommend a Japanese ryoba saw. Combination square, knife, hammer Drill bits: 1" Forstner bit, ½" Forstner bit, ½" wood bit or brad point bit Wood chisel, 1" Make sure it’s sharp. Sandpaper or hand plane
What makes a drawbore different from a regular pegged tenon is the offset pin holes. Instead of the pin passing straight through the joint to hold it together, the hole in the tenon is bored slightly closer to the shoulder. This offset causes the tenon to be drawn deeper into the mortise when the wooden pin is driven through. Watching a joint that you made pull itself together like that is a very cool thing. And when you feel how strong it is with no glue or metal fasteners, it opens doors in your head. You realize that joinery isn't just the realm of mountain-dwelling woodworking mystics, but an accessible approach to working with wood. The joint may look intimidating, but if you take your time and use sharp tools, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. And while the drawbore style is a little more complicated, when cut carefully it’s fairly forgiving of loose ﬁts, a bonus for the beginner. If you’re comfortable around woodworking tools, these horses should present a light challenge, then last a lifetime. Because of their myriad uses in the workshop, to call them sawhorses would sell them short. I prefer workhorses.
Lumber Choosing the right lumber can make the project much easier. Look for pieces that are straight and have the fewest knots. Sight down the length of each one to check for bending or twists (Figure B). I chose ﬁr for a couple of reasons. It’s heavy, stiff, and fairly easy to work, and since it’s basic construction lumber, it’s available most anywhere. You can also use pine or cedar or pretty much any wood you like, but do not use treated lumber. The total cost for the ﬁr was $25.
TIP: Home-center lumber can be pretty wet. If your pieces feel damp and especially heavy you might want to let them dry for a few weeks before starting; otherwise, as the wood dries and shrinks, your joints will become loose.
Sizing The proper sizing for horses is largely about preference and use. I use 2 sizes in my shop: higher ones for standing work (sawing, planing) and lower ones for sitting work (heavy joinery). The ﬁnished height is determined by measuring from the ground to the bottom of your closed ﬁst. Subtracting 4" from that result will give you the ﬁnished length for your legs including the tenons. We’ll call that measurement H.
10/11/10 10:26:04 AM
Milling To start, lay out and cut all your pieces to length (Figure C). While there isn’t a lot of waste, there’s enough to allow you to move the parts around to avoid larger knots and other ﬂaws. The cut list: From each 4×4 cut: »»1 @ 36" beam, ﬁnal dimensions 3¼"×3¼"×36" »»2 @ (H) legs, ﬁnal dims 3"×3"×H From the 4×6 cut: »»4 @ 21" feet, ﬁnal dims 3¼"×5"×21" From the 2×4 cut: »»2 @ 28½" stretchers, ﬁnal dims 12"×3"×28½" There are several ways to dimension the parts, from handsaws to band saws. My tool of choice is the table saw. Since most table saws don’t have the capacity to make these cuts in a single pass, I’ll do it in two. Starting with the legs, set the saw fence to 3" and raise the blade to just past half of the 4×4 wood’s thickness, in this case about 1¾" high. Putting the best face against the fence, push the piece through (Figure E). Once you’ve made that cut, ﬂip the piece end to end, and with the same face against the fence, make the second
pass. You should be left with 2"-thick scrap. Next, rotate the piece 90° and repeat the process, removing the second face (Figure F). Repeat this process with all of the parts, ﬁnishing all like parts at once.
Layout The accuracy of the layout is important, so take your time. Mark all like parts at the same time and check that they all match before making any cuts. I generally measure joints from the center out. After measuring in from both sides to ﬁnd center, I strike a line and work outward from it. You don’t have to follow this method, but it works well for me. I also use the blade of my square to transfer lines. Once I have one measurement marked, I then transfer that same line to the matching or corresponding pieces. It speeds things along and helps keep everything consistent.
Tenons To lay out the leg tenons, start by marking the shoulders (see Figure A, previous page). Measure in 2½" in from each end and strike a line around all 4 sides. For the cheek line, measure ½" to either side of center and strike a line all the way around the end
TIP: If you’re using a handsaw, the easiest way to get a good straight cut is as follows. Using a square, mark cut lines around all 4 sides. Make a diagonal cut about a quarter of the way through, roll the piece 90°, and cut again (Figure D). Continue rolling and cutting until you’ve cut through.
(Figure G). Transfer these lines to the ends of all 4 legs (remember to orient each leg’s 2 tenons 90° to each other). The layout for the stretchers is the same, only you should be 3¼" in from the ends, and these tenons are aligned with each other. To cut the tenons, I like to use a saw called a ryoba nokogiri (“double-edged saw”). The ryoba is a Japanese generaluse carpentry saw with two sets of teeth: big teeth for ripping (cutting with the grain), and small teeth for crosscutting (across the grain). Unlike most western saws, which cut on the push stroke, Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke. Using the crosscut side of the saw, cut along the shoulder line, being sure to stop when you reach the cheek line. To help keep the cut straight, you can hold another piece of wood along the line as a guide (Figure H). Flip the saw to its rip side, and cut along the cheek line. When you have a diagonal cut from the shoulder to the center of the thickness, roll the piece over and ﬁnish the cut from the other side (Figure I). Once all the cheeks are cut, lay out and cut the edge cheeks. Measuring out 1¼" from center, strike your lines and cut
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 10:27:33 AM
(Figure J). Clean up any high spots with a sharp chisel. The last step is to put a small chamfer or bevel on the end of the tenon (Figure K). This can be done with a knife, chisel, or sandpaper, and it will help ease assembly.
Mortises Again, working out from center, mark all your lines (Figure L). When laying out the mortises in the legs, be sure to mark them on both sides of the legs because the tenon passes all the way through. The ﬁrst step in the mortising is to remove the waste using a drill. While a hand drill will work, a drill press is recommended. A drill press will give you reliably straight holes with sides that can be used for reference as you chisel out the waste. Feet and beam mortises: Using a 1" Forstner bit, drill out the mortises to a depth of 23"; these are blind mortises (or stop mortises), which don’t go all the way through. To keep the sides straight, first drill holes at either end, and then connect them by drilling a hole in the center. Use a sharp, 1" chisel to clean up the sides and square the corners (Figure M). Stretcher mortises: Because the stretcher is a through mortise, you’ll want
to work from both sides. Only drill halfway through from one side before rolling the piece over and drilling the rest of the way from the other. This will keep the drill bit from blowing out the exit side, making a splintery mess of things. After drilling, use the same procedure for chiseling, working from both sides to keep both faces intact (Figure N).
Pin Holes (Drawbores) Lay out the holes for the pins through the mortises (but not the tenons yet). For the feet and beams these should be centered 1½" from the mortised edge. For the stretchers they should be on center. Use a ½" bit to drill all the mortise pin holes. Again, using a drill press is highly recommended. Drill slowly to minimize splintering on the exit. NOTE: I’m using dowels for this project, but if you want to take it further, you can square the holes with a chisel and make square pins instead. It’s time to ﬁt the joints. Since each will have a slightly different ﬁt, be sure to mark each one for its corresponding part. I usually mark letters on the tenons and on
10/11/10 10:28:39 AM
the edge of the mortise in places that will be covered once they’re assembled. The pieces should slip together with no more than a few raps of a hammer. If it’s a lot tighter than that, carefully pull it apart and inspect the tenon. You should be able to see compressions or shiny spots that will tell you where it’s too tight. Use a chisel to make adjustments. And remember, a slightly loose joint will be better than an overly tight one on this project. Once you’ve fit all the joints, assemble the horses. Using a sharp pencil, trace the edges of the pin holes onto the tenons. It’s important that you get the edges of the hole, so mark them carefully. Disassemble the horses. Next, measuring from the edge of the circle you’ve drawn on the tenon, mark a line 5" closer to the shoulder. This line is the edge of the tenon’s pin hole; because it’s offset from the mortise’s pin hole, it will draw the joint tight. You can now drill through the tenon (Figure O).
Shaping First, relieve the bottoms of the feet (make them concave). This will make them more stable on uneven surfaces. Clamp a pair of feet together with bottoms facing each
other, and mark a line 4" in from each end. Using a drill press and 1" Forstner bit, drill a line of half-depth, overlapping holes where the bottoms meet, from one line to the other (Figure P). Flip and repeat from the other side, then clean up with a chisel just like with the mortises, only this time, leave the ends round. For the foot slope, mark a diagonal from each end to the top, starting 2" from the bottom, and ending at a point 1¾" from center, and cut (Figure Q). To ﬁnish the ends of the beams, cut a diagonal ¼" from the top edge to a point 1½" in from the end (Figure R). To make the pins, cut the ½" dowel into twelve 4" lengths. Using a knife, taper the last ½" or so (Figure S). Now clean up all the parts (Figure T). Sand or plane all the pieces, being careful of the areas around the joints (too much will change the ﬁt).
Assembly Starting with the stretchers, slip the tenons through the legs and carefully drive the pins through with a hammer (Figure U). You should see the joint tighten itself as the pin goes through. Drive the pin until it sticks out both sides equally (Figure V).
Next add the beam (Figure W), and lastly the feet (Figure X). You can cut the pins off ﬂush, but I like to leave them a little proud. The easiest way to do this is to drill a hole in a scrap of wood about 1" thick, slip it over the pin, and saw against it (Figure Y).
The Finish Line The horses are now ready for the ﬁnish of your choice. I use Danish oil, but shellac, polyurethane, or varnish will do. Once dry, the last step is to attach the optional sacriﬁcial pieces to the top (Figure Z). Because I work with a lot of softer woods, I use clear cedar for this. That way, not only are the horses protected from errant saw cuts and the like, but the workpieces I place on them are protected from the horses’ harder ﬁr. As before, you can use any wood you like, or none at all. To make these tops easy to replace and free of metal fasteners, I use double-stick tape. Len Cullum (shokunin-do.com) is a woodworker in the Japanese style in Seattle. He often daydreams of a robot that would sharpen his chisels. Are you listening, makers?
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 10:29:25 AM
The Test The mark of any good shop furniture is not only its strength but also its versatility — its ability to adapt to the odd secondary uses you come up with. I could test the workhorses’ strength by stacking them with beams and chopping more mortises, but after two days spent building them, I’d rather test out their versatility. So with the help of some scrap lumber and a frosty beverage, they are transformed from workhorses to … relaxhorses.
10/11/10 10:30:45 AM
As sensible people slumber, the palpable thrill of junk acquisition wakes me at 6:30 a.m. every weekend. Sleeping on Saturday mornings is for those who have not fallen prey to the temptress of garage sales. There are such unbelievable riches buried in suburban cul-de-sacs that I sometimes wonder if I’ll find the Hope Diamond in a junk drawer amongst the S&H Green Stamps, unsticky tape, and keys without locks. When arriving at an estate sale, I forgo the house and go directly to the underlit, spider-webbed garage. Time is frozen under a layer of dust, and you can get a feel for the makers who preceded you with their tube radios, home weather stations, and oddball tricks. At their best, garage workshops are chock-full of raw materials like baby food jars filled with cup hooks, cigar boxes of lamp parts, reclaimed kitchen cabinets full of solidified cans of Plastic Wood, and neatly coiled power cords cut from broken appliances. In the postwar, cardigan-wearing and pipe-smoking handyman heyday, considerable creativity, planning, and reuse trumped money when working on the project that would never end — building the ideal workshop. Based on my extensive field research, it seems home workshops assembled today are but a whisper of what they used to be. Of course, the workshops have changed along with the world. The external forces of Depression-era poverty and wartime rationing shaped a generation’s view of what was worth fixing, saving, and reusing. At some point, the cost of buying a new hammer dropped below the cost of replacing a broken hammer handle, and everybody was able to afford a hammer. Then came the economical pocket calculator, and now a $200 hand-crank-powered computer is right around the corner.
Build a stowable mini workshop for modest tasks and soon you’ll be building your dreams. By Mister Jalopy
Make It Personal. Can it be improved upon? Think how pinstriping would dress it up! Or a deep-sea diver fighting a giant lobster painted on the side. Or the correct answers from last week’s crossword written on the inside lid. Make it as personal as your diary.
Affordability is a great technological advance in itself and empowers those who previously could not afford a hammer, calculator, or computer, but there are losses when replacing instead of fixing. Besides the chain of raw materials needed, energy required, distribution transport, and end disposal, life is just less rich when everything you own is only five years old. My shop grew from a single Craftsman workbench that I couldn’t access until I pulled the car out of the garage. A workbench can be as unattainable a luxury to a citizen of Manhattan as a computer is to a resident of Zambia. Inspired by the handyman magazines of the past, Mister Jalopy’s Hide-Away Workbench is a modest workshop that can be tucked away until project time.
Start with your workshop and then build the rest of the world around you. References »»“Closet Door Workshop,” Science and Mechanics, December 1952 »»“Better Ways to Build Workbenches,” Amateur Craftsman’s Cyclopedia of Things to Make, 1937
Mister Jalopy breaks the unbroken, repairs the irreparable, and explores the mechanical world at hooptyrides.com.
Illustrations by Tom Giesler/tomgiesler.com
Mister Jalopy’s Hide-Away Workbench
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Baby food jar
Plywood lid Lamp Silverware divider
Dresser drawer Piano hinge
Pipe (table leg) Caster
Mister Jalopyâ€™s hide-away workbench is a modest workshop that can be tucked away until project time.
Pipe (table leg)
10/11/10 10:35:19 AM
Build your own inexpensive yet sturdy worktables and shelving. By Charles Platt
Recently I had a problem and an opportunity. The opportunity was to move my little prototype fabrication business from an industrial park in Southern California to a beautiful wilderness retreat in Northern Arizona. The problem was that I didnâ€™t have much time or money. Could I establish an entire workshop within a couple of months, starting from bare earth and finishing with all the tools and benches in place?
Photography and renderings by Charles Platt
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And after I paid the construction costs, could I install the fixtures for less than $1,000? (I already owned all the tools.) In some ways this challenge was a blessing in disguise. If you have to be fast, you can’t be fancy, and if you have to be cheap, you can’t be self-indulgent. This would not be one of those jobs that drag on for months because the details become an obsession in themselves. I specified a work area of 19'×24' to allow ample space for lifting, rotating, and cutting 4'×8' sheets of plastic and plywood. To minimize heat loss, increase security, and maximize wall space, I decided not to have any windows, but I did include a massive sectional roll-up garage door. The climate where I live is so benign during most of the year, you can work comfortably with a door wide open. And during the winter, a sectioned door on tracks can be quite well-insulated. After establishing the basics, I stepped back and let the contractors get to work. There was no way I could do the construction myself in the time available.
Free-Standing Benches In less than a month I had a bare box standing on a concrete slab. It was insu-
Fig. A: The tabletop is a 4'×4' sheet of ¾" plywood, braced and edged with 2×4s. The table legs are 4×4s. Fig. B: Two tables a couple of inches apart allow long cuts across big sheets of plywood or plastic, by running the saw through the gap between the tables. The extended table edge allows quick, easy clamping. Fig. C: The simplest, cheapest, quickest, hang-on-the-wall, non-sagging shelf design.
lated, drywalled, and painted. Now for the interesting part: I wanted to avoid all the frustrations and errors associated with the workshops I had used previously over the years. The big central work area allowed me to place 2 free-standing benches of a design that I had always wanted but had never seen. They would be stocky tables, each 4' square. Placing them centrally would allow me to walk around them while building heavy items such as furniture, and a 2" gap between them would facilitate saw cuts. I stopped using a table saw a few years ago when one of them kicked a piece of plastic at me that almost shattered my arm. Since I don’t have enough money or space for the kind of vertical panel saw you see at Home Depot or Lowe’s, I like to lay the wood flat and use either a handsaw or a handheld circular saw, which I run along a clamped straightedge. My plan was to align these cuts with the gap between the tables. This would be like using sawhorses,
but much more accurate and much less aggravating. With my helper Shawn Hollister, I built the tables lower than a typical workbench, so that we’d be able to reach across them or climb up onto them when making long cuts. We gave them protruding lips so that I could apply clamps easily, and made them heavy to minimize vibration (Figures A and B).
Plastic Bins for Tool Storage For tool storage, I’m unenthusiastic about the usual options. Tools hanging on pegboard pick up dust and dirt, and when you buy an extra tool, you have to move the others around to make room. As for tool chests, they’re expensive, and you have to walk to and fro every time you want something. My preferred method is so cheap, it’s almost embarrassing: plastic tubs from the local big-box store. I group tools in tubs by function, so that when I want, say,
10/11/10 10:42:46 AM
Wood screw Washer 2×4 rail D
Stud inside wall
a metal file, I pull down the tub containing all the various shaping tools and put it on my worktable. Now I have a full range of options within arm’s reach. As for small items such as screwdriver bits and hole saws, I put them in small boxes inside the tubs. At the end of a job, everything is returned to the tubs and stays clean and neat, with the lids snapped on tight.
Shelves That Don’t Sag Where to put the plastic tubs? On shelves, of course, above the side benches where I have a drill press, compound miter saw, band saw, and belt sander, the four tools I consider indispensable for the kind of work I do. But how should the shelves be built? Quickly and cheaply! Since I don’t like the look of sagging wooden shelves, I chose steel shelves of the type sold for warehouses. A standard length is 4', so you don’t need many uprights to support them, but they still take heavy loads without bending. You can bolt them to wooden uprights instead of the ugly perforated vertical bars that are normally used. I chose melamine-coated particleboard for the end pieces, because it’s available in exactly the same 11¼" width as the
Fig. D: Front view of the shelf assembly, with the front edge of the shelf cut away to show relevant features. The inset shows consequences if bolts aren’t tightened sufficiently: the bolt can chew right through the wooden upright. Fig. E: Cross section showing how the shelf is attached to the wall. Figs. F–H: A wood rack was made from pine 2×4s with 2½" wheels attached. Galvanized wire separators are secured with screws and washers.
shelves, and it’s prefinished, requiring no painting. I cut the melamine board into sections, drilled them to fit the holes in the ends of the shelves, and bolted them on. Then I cut 2×4s into rails 47" long and screwed them into the wooden studs behind the drywall in my conventional framed construction. We hung the shelves on the rails, adding a couple of nails to prevent the shelves from falling off (Figures C–E). That was that. The horizontal rails must be a full 47" so that the load carried by the shelves is spread across the entire wooden support. Any unsupported metal section will tend to bend. NOTE: Since melamine board is made from compressed wood chips, it can come apart, so you should use pine boards for uprights if you intend to load your shelves very heavily. Or place an additional 47" rail beneath each shelf.
Tighten the bolts to the max, to take advantage of the friction between the end of the shelf and the upright. Friction is proportional to the force perpendicular to the surface, and it supports a load more effectively than just the shaft of a bolt in a hole drilled through wood.
A Wood Rack on Wheels Another problem was how to store materials efficiently. I have to stock wood and plastic in bulk, because the nearest retail sources are 50 miles away. I dislike stacking sheets against the wall where I can’t pull anything out easily, so my answer was a wood rack on wheels (Figures F–H). I’ve never seen this elsewhere, but it seems an obvious idea to me. When you don’t need it, you roll it out of the way, into a corner. I used heavy galvanized wire to make dividers in the rack, so that I would lose as little horizontal space as possible, and I put a flat top on it, where I could stack small pieces of scrap, with even smaller pieces in
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some more plastic tubs. As for seldom-used, bulky tools such as bolt cutters and reciprocating saws, I stashed them all in plastic toolboxes that I placed under the benches against the wall. The boxes aren’t strictly necessary; you can just scatter your tools on shelves. But I wanted to keep them clean and categorized. In a shared workshop, when all storage is labeled, you’re less likely to misplace things (and less likely to argue with each other when you can’t find something).
1.3 Kilowatts of Illumination The last consideration was in some ways the most fundamental: lighting. If you can’t see what you’re doing, you can’t do good work. I splurged about half of my $1,000 fixtures budget on some GE Ecolux 54-watt high-intensity daylightspectrum fluorescents, and suspended them from cables stretched from wall to wall below the track of the garage door
Figs. I–K: With the big door open, it feels as if you’re working outside, and eastern exposure gives a nice view of the full moon rising at sunset. The exterior of the building is covered in Hardie fiber cement siding, which is fire resistant, stable, and durable. The floor is a concrete slab finished with two coats of epoxy paint. Ample floor space will allow the accumulation of miscellaneous junk in the future, or additional work areas.
(Figure I). When all 24 tubes are glowing they draw almost 1.3kW, and so to reduce energy consumption I installed a separate pull-switch on each fixture, with a chain dangling, so that I can obtain light only where I need it. During daytime, we don’t need the lights at all. We open the huge door and feel as if we’re working outside, which is an absolute delight compared with the basement workshops I’ve used over the years. It’s also a lot more pleasant than the industrial park that was my previous environment. When the breeze wafts in and I can look across 30 miles of national forest to a distant mountain, it definitely alleviates the tedium of cutting and shaping components. Bees from a nearby nest sometimes invade the space, but to discourage them we simply sprinkle some xylene on a rag and leave it lying around. They dislike the smell of this industrial solvent even more than I do. My workshop isn’t going to be featured in Architectural Digest. It was obviously
outfitted on a budget. But I couldn’t be happier with its functionality. Tools are easily accessible and don’t get lost, the space is uncluttered and easy to clean, the lighting reveals every little detail, and as a result, the work flow is fast and accurate. Most important, the pleasure of working in an outdoor ambience is very special indeed. It certainly justifies the hassle of moving everything from California.
Charles Platt is the author of Make: Electronics, an introductory guide for all ages. He is a contributing editor to MAKE, and he designs and builds medical equipment prototypes.
10/11/10 10:44:09 AM
Step-by-step instructions for making (and unmaking) the perfect solder joint. By Joe Grand
The two key parts of soldering are good heat distribution and cleanliness of the soldering surface and component. With practice, you’ll become comfortable and experienced with the process. In this primer, I’ll explain how to solder a component onto a printed circuit board (PCB). I’ll also provide desoldering tips and show you how to remove a surface-mount component from a printed circuit board using a Chip Quik kit. And I’ll show you how to remove a component by removing the solder in a way that won’t damage the components or the circuit board. Reprinted with permission from Hardware Hacking, copyright 2004, Syngress Publishing, ISBN: 1-932266-83-6, pp. 34–40.
Photography by Joe Grand
Soldering and Desoldering
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overview Tools of the Trade
tools AND tips
The Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit
Soldering iron You could pay as little as $10 or as much as $1,000 for a soldering iron. I recommend a fine-tip, 700°F, 50W soldering stick iron. A good general-purpose iron for hardware hacking is the Weller W60P Controlled-Output Soldering Iron, which sells for under $70.
Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit Allows you to remove surface mount components quickly and easily. Chipquik.com offers the kit for $16.
Solder Should be thin gauge (0.032" or 0.025" diameter) 60/40 rosin core.
Desoldering braid Woven metal material used to wick up melted solder.
Desoldering tool (aka solder sucker) A manual vacuum device that pulls up hot solder, useful for removing components from circuit boards. I like the one RadioShack sells (#642098, $10).
Small, flat-tip screwdriver Comes in handy for removing some types of components.
Sandpaper A very fine-grit sandpaper is useful for removing oxidation from component and circuit board surfaces.
Needlenose pliers, wire cutters, and vise These common tools will make your job easier.
IC extraction tool Helps lift integrated circuits from the board during removal/ desoldering.
Desoldering Tips For standard through-hole components »» First grasp the component with a pair of needlenose pliers. Heat the pad beneath the lead you intend to extract and pull gently. The lead should come out. Repeat for the other lead. »» If solder fills in behind the lead as you extract it, use a springloaded solder sucker to remove the excess solder. For through-hole ICs or multi-pin parts »» Use a solder sucker or desoldering braid to remove excess from the hole before attempting to extract the part. »» You can use a small, flat-tip screwdriver or IC extraction tool to help loosen the device from the holes. »» Be careful to not overheat components, since they can become damaged and may fail during operation.
The Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit allows you to quickly and easily remove surfacemount components such as PLCC, SOIC, TSOP, QFP, and discrete packages. The main component of the kit is a low-melting-temperature solder (requiring less than 300°F) that reduces the overall melting temperature of the solder on the SMD pads. Essentially, this enables you to just lift the part right off the PCB. Includes »» Alcohol pads for cleaning the circuit board after device removal »» A special low-meltingtemperature alloy »» Standard no-clean flux »» Application syringe
BEFORE YOU START Resistor
inspect circled areas
Printed circuit board
Joe Grand is the president of Grand Idea Studio, Inc. (email@example.com), a product-development and intellectual-property licensing firm. He specializes in embedded system design, computer security research, and inventing new concepts and technologies. He is also a host on The Discovery Channel’s Prototype This.
10/11/10 10:46:30 AM
SOLDERING A RESISTOR TO A CIRCUIT BOARD
BEFORE YOU START Inspect the leads or pins for oxidation. If the metal surface is dull, sand with fine sandpaper until shiny. In addition, use the sandpaper to clean the oxidation and excess solder from the soldering iron tip to ensure maximum heat transfer. This simple example shows the step-by-step process to solder a through-hole component to a printed circuit board (PCB). I used a piece of prototype PCB and a single resistor.
DANGER: It’s important to consider safety precautions. Improper handling of the soldering iron can lead to burns or other physical injuries. Wear safety goggles and other protective clothing when working with solder tools. With temperatures hovering around 700°F, the tip of the soldering iron, molten solder, and flux can quickly sear through clothing and skin. Keep all soldering equipment away from flammable materials and objects. Be sure to turn off the iron when it’s not in use and store it properly in its stand.
1. Bend and insert the component leads into the desired holes on the PCB. Flip the board to the other side. Slightly bend the lead you’ll be soldering to prevent the component from falling out when the board is turned upside down. 2. To begin the actual soldering process, allow the tip of your iron to contact both the component lead and the pad on the circuit board for about 1 second before feeding solder to the connection. This will allow the surface to become hot enough for solder to flow smoothly. 3. Next, apply solder sparingly and hold the iron in place until solder has evenly coated the surface. Ensure that the solder flows all around the 2 pieces (component lead and PCB pad) that you’re fastening together.
Don’t put solder directly onto the hot iron tip before it has made contact with the lead or pad; doing so can cause a coldsolder joint (a common mistake that can prevent your hack from working properly). Soldering is a function of heat, and if the pieces aren’t heated uniformly, solder may not spread as desired. A cold-solder joint will loosen over time and can build up corrosion.
5. Once the solder joint is in place, snip the lead to the desired length. Usually, you’ll simply cut the remaining portion of the lead that isn’t part of the actual solder joint. This prevents any risk of short circuits between leftover component leads on the board. 6. Here’s a completed soldering example.
4. When it appears that the solder has flowed properly, remove the iron from the area and wait a few seconds for the solder to cool and harden. Do not attempt to move the component during this time. The solder joint should appear smooth and shiny, resembling the image above. If your solder joint has a dull finish, reheat the connection and add more solder.
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deSoldering BEFORE YOU START Use a rubbing alcohol pad to remove any residue from the solder pads. Verify that the solder pads are clean and free of cuts or solder jumps before proceeding. Desoldering, or removing a soldered component from a circuit board, is typically trickier than soldering because you can easily damage the device, the circuit board, or surrounding components. For surface mount devices (SMDs) with more than a few pins, the easiest method to remove the part is the Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit, as shown in the following step-by-step example.
SMD Removal with Chip Quik
Please read through this example completely before attempting SMD removal on an actual device. When removing the device, be careful not to scratch or damage any of the surrounding components or pull up any PCB traces. Three Primary Functions of Flux » Cleans metal surfaces to assist the flow of filler metals (solder) over base metals (device pins). » Assists with heat transfer from heat source (soldering iron) to metal surface (device pins). » Helps in the removal of surface metal oxides (created by oxygen in the air when the metal reaches high temperatures).
1. The first step is to assemble the syringe, which contains the no-clean flux. Simply insert the plunger into the syringe and push down to dispense the compound. The flux should be applied evenly across all the pins on the package you’ll be removing. (Flux is a chemical compound used to assist in the soldering or removal of electronic components or other metals.) 2. Once the flux is evenly spread over the pins of the target device, the next step is to apply the special Chip Quik alloy to the device. This step is just like soldering: apply heat to the pins of the device and the alloy at the same time. The alloy has a melting point of approximately 300°F, which is quite low. You shouldn’t have to heat the alloy with the soldering iron for very long before it begins to melt. The molten alloy should flow around and under
the device pins. Starting at one end of the device, simply heat and apply the alloy. Repeat for the other side(s) of the device.
the part back and forth to help the alloy flow underneath the pads of the device and loosen the connections.
3. Flux will help ensure a nice flow of the alloy onto the device pins. Make sure the alloy has come in contact with every single pin by gently moving the soldering iron around the edges of the device. Avoid touching nearby components on the PCB with the soldering iron.
5. The final step in the desoldering process is to clean the circuit board. This step is important because it will remove any impurities left behind from the Chip Quik kit and get you ready for the next step. First, use the soldering iron to remove any stray alloy left on the device pads or anywhere else on the circuit board. Next, apply a thin, even layer of flux to all of the pads that the device was just soldered to. Use the included alcohol swab or a flux-remover spray to remove the flux and clean the area.
4. Now that the alloy has been properly applied to all pins of the device, it’s time to remove the device from the board. After making sure that the alloy is still molten by reheating all of it with the soldering iron, gently slide the component off the board. You can use a small, jeweler’s flat-tip screwdriver to help with the task. If the device is stuck, reheat the alloy and wiggle
6. The desoldering process is now complete. The surface-mount device has been removed and the circuit board cleaned.
10/11/10 10:48:11 AM
Make it yourself and save big. An overview from the co-author of Build Your Own CNC Machine. By James Floyd Kelly
I never expected to have a working CNC machine in my workshop, but there it is. What makes it even better is that I didn’t have to spend a small fortune on it … and neither will you.
While small desktop CNC machines can be found between $2,000 and $5,000, and workbench-sized machines are costing $7,000 and up, I’m happy to tell you that for less than $800 you can have a 2'×4' CNC machine of your own. Of course, this being MAKE, you’ve probably already guessed that it’s a DIY project, but before you start getting nervous about whether you have the skills and tools to do this, let me add that phrase all us DIYers love to hear: if I could build this machine, you can build this machine.
Photography by James Floyd Kelly
Your Own CNC for Less Than $800
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X-Y-Z stepper motors
Stepper motor drivers
Illustration by James Provost
Machine Overview You can see the final CNC machine in Figure A. Its frame is built from mediumdensity fiberboard (MDF) — sturdy and strong, affordable, easy to cut, and best of all, no welding required. The entire machine can be built from just two 4'×8' sheets of MDF. Its parts are connected by a combination of bolts and cross dowels, providing the machine with a tough and reliable frame. Believe it or not, many of these machines have been built with nothing more than a miter box, saw, portable drill/screwdriver, and a tap (check out the videos at
buildyourcnc.com for proof), but having a drill press, table saw, and a few other basic workshop tools will make your build go a little faster and smoother. Ultimately, though, a DIYer can easily build this machine with a bit of patience and the most basic of tools. The machine uses threaded rod for lead screws (Figure C). Three stepper motors each mate to a lead screw to control the forward/backward (x-axis), left-to-right (y-axis), and up-and-down (z-axis) movements of the machine’s router. A full-sized router or smaller laminate router (also called a hand router) can be attached to the
CNC machine (Figure D) and to the nozzle of a dust collection system (and CNC machines create a lot of dust). The three stepper motors are controlled via a small collection of electronics: three stepper motor drivers, a power supply, and a breakout board (Figure E, following page). The breakout board connects to your PC, which runs the control software. We use the free version of ArtSoft Mach3 (machsupport.com) but any CNC control software can be used. How well does it work? That depends on what you do with it. Patrick Hood-Daniel, my co-author and designer of this machine,
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Fig. E: The $800 CNC’s stepper motors are controlled via three stepper motor drivers, a power supply, and a breakout board. Fig. F: Engraving is a great CNC task for beginners. Fig. G: The machine's tabletop serves as the x-axis. Fig. H: The bearing and rail assemblies, aka BRAs, are made from ordinary aluminum angle and skate bearings.
uses his DIY CNC machines to cut and drill the parts required to build more DIY CNC machines — how’s that for trusting in your own design? I’m just getting started using mine, and engraving is something a novice (like me) can get immediate satisfaction from. The results are sharp and clear (Figure F).
Building the Machine If you’re wondering whether building this machine is really within your skill range, let me assure you that if you’re comfortable cutting wood with a table saw or handheld circular saw, if you can change and use bits with a drill press or handheld drill, and if you can use a ruler, you can do this. (If you’re a master DIYer with tools galore, you won’t have any trouble building this machine.) This project is great for shop classes, after-school programs, and Boy/Girl Scout troops, but it’s also the perfect parentchild project. I don’t have many opportunities to work with my dad these days, but I really enjoyed working with him as we built two (!) of these CNC machines together. Having someone else to doublecheck measurements and hold pieces as you drill or bolt them down is invaluable,
but it’s also nice to have someone else around to troubleshoot a problem as well as share the success when the machine runs for the first time. Our goal for writing the book was to provide a good walk-through of the process, with plenty of pictures, from start to finish. After a handful of chapters that explain CNC, the basics of joining MDF pieces, and building the unique parts that give the CNC machine the ability to move smoothly, you’ll get straight to the electronics and building the CNC machine frame. Your first task will be to cut, drill, and assemble the machine’s tabletop that also serves as the x-axis (Figure G). Completing the tabletop will not only give you a place to attach the remaining components of the machine, but you’ll also become quickly familiar with the handful of standard tasks required for the project (counterboring, using cross dowels to connect parts, cutting lead screws, and so on). As you build your machine, you’ll cut and drill some special pieces called bearing and rail assemblies, or BRAs (Figure H). Made from skate bearings and ordinary aluminum angle, these allow your CNC machine to move smoothly and accurately
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Fig. I: The x-axis with y-axis parts added. Fig. J: Finishing up with the z-axis. Fig. K: Finally, you bolt the stepper motors onto their respective axes and connect them to the lead screws.
on all three axes by riding on another piece of angled aluminum rail. Patrick’s method for building and using the BRAs is extremely simple as well as reliable. Building chapters are short, so you’ll always have a good starting and stopping point. You’ll begin with the x-axis, add on the parts needed for the y-axis (Figure I) and finish up with the z-axis (Figure J). While building the CNC machine frame, you’ll also be given instructions for wiring up the electronics. We tell you exactly what motors, drivers, and power supply to buy — you can easily substitute parts but you’ll need to read the documentation carefully to match it up to our wiring instructions. Basic soldering skills are helpful, but not required; you can easily skip the soldering by using wire nuts to connect wires. When you’re done, you’ll bolt the stepper motors onto their respective axes (Figure K) and connect them to the lead screws. Next, you’ll mount your router to the router plate, follow our instructions
for installing and configuring the Mach3 software, and then put your new CNC machine through a few tests to verify movement along the three axes.
Have Fun Building my own CNC machine was just as enjoyable as using it. During assembly, I learned new woodworking techniques, became more proficient with a table saw, and learned to love the Forstner bit (which I highly recommend for counterbores and drilling holes in general). I’ve also started to dig deeper into the use of CAD software for designing, and CAM software for converting my designs into G-code, the instructions that Mach3 uses to control the motors and direct the router. The most surprising thing I’ve learned after completing this project, however, is that I am the real limit to my CNC machine — the machine is just waiting for me to learn new techniques and methods to
push its capabilities further. You’ll find, as I have, that after building your CNC machine, the real work is just beginning. I’ve documented the entire process with my co-author, Patrick Hood-Daniel, in our book, Build Your Own CNC Machine, from Apress.
James Floyd Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer in Atlanta. He is the editor-in-chief of the Lego Mindstorms NXT blog, The NXT Step (thenxtstep.com).
10/13/10 12:28:56 PM
Make a MakerBot with this popular kit and start printing your own parts and prototypes. By Marc de Vinck
Iâ€™ve been tinkering with CNC (computer numerical control) machines for about 10 years, but I never owned a 3D printer until I purchased MakerBot Industriesâ€™ CupCake CNC. 3D printers shape the material additively rather than subtractively, so they can make intricate shapes with holes and other features that are impossible to fabricate via CNC milling. I had to have one, even though my wife questioned whether I really needed another machine in my studio!
Photography by Marc de Vinck
Build Your First 3D Printer
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MATERIALS AND TOOLS
Inside the CupCake, the “Plastruder” print head scans the flat X-Y plane and deposits molten plastic, building the object up layer-by-layer as it moves up the Z plane. The Plastruder takes 3mmdiameter filament and extrudes it at a top rate of 16mm/second and a max temperature of 260°C (500°F); MakerBot Industries describes it as “a souped-up, robotic hot glue gun.” The CupCake CNC is open source, not patented, so anyone can build one (or improve upon it) using their own materials. But, like most CupCake owners, I built mine from a MakerBot kit. It was easy.
1. Test the stepper boards. Attach a plastic connector to both ends of each ribbon cable, with the brown index wire on the side of the connector marked with an arrow. Use pliers to snap each connector closed. Rinse and repeat to make 3 cables, then plug one into each stepper board. The power supply has a 24-pin connector, also called a 20+4. Snap the 4-pin section off along the seam and plug the resulting 20-pin connector onto the motherboard It only fits one way. Make sure the power supply is unplugged
and selected to the proper voltage. Plug one of its 4-pin connectors into a stepper board, and plug the same stepper board’s ribbon cable into one of the 3 headers on the motherboard (Figure A). Plug in the power supply and turn on the power switch on the motherboard. You should see a green light on both the motherboard and the stepper board.
2. Assemble and test the endstop boards (optional). Newer CupCakes don’t use endstops, and Thing-O-Matics use a different kind, so skip this step if you have a different kit. To assemble the 6 optical endstop boards, just solder 3 resistors, an LED, and a connector to each (Figure B). It’s easy. Four of the boards (for the X- and Z-axes) use RJ45 connectors, and 2 use 3-pin connectors. Screw the optical switch onto the PCB, making sure it faces the right direction. I used a couple of small screwdrivers to keep it aligned, then I bent the leads. Then plug each endstop into the stepper board you connected, and power it up for testing. When you insert a piece of paper in front of the opto switch, the board’s green light should come on.
CupCake CNC Ultimate Kit from makerbot. com, $899. Includes all parts for a 3D printer with the new MK5 Plastruder and automated build platform, plus a power supply, cables, 6lbs of ABS plastic, an SD card to store print designs, and all wrenches and bits needed for assembly. MakerBot also sells a Starter Kit ($649) with just the printer parts (including the non-automated platform and MK4 Plastruder shown in this article; MK5 upgrade extra) and 1lb of plastic. To build a CupCake from scratch, get the open-source CAD files, parts list, firmware, and test software at wiki.makerbot.com/cupcake. Also consider MakerBot’s brand new Thing-O-Matic. It’s bigger and prints more accurately (see page 76). Wire cutters, pliers, and hobby knife Soldering iron and solder Hot glue and glue gun, or epoxy Multimeter Drill Paper towel Cyanoacrylate glue aka super or crazy glue Computer with internet connection BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Read instructions for your kit batch (mine was batch 8) at wiki.makerbot.com/cupcake, especially the “Don’t Do That!” page; it may save you some misery later.
Fig. A: Stepper board testing. Fig. B: Solder the endstop boards. Fig. C: Attach the front and back panels. Fig. D: Nut and bearing sandwiches on the Z rods.
3. Build the enclosure. Before assembling the enclosure, you might want to paint or finish its laser- cut plywood parts, but this is optional. I chose a butcher-block finish of mineral oil and wax. The main panels screw together with M3 nuts and bolts. First, screw 4 bearing brackets onto the underside of the middle panel, one in each corner. Then attach the front and back panels to the middle panel, making sure the laser etching on the back panel faces inward, so that you can read it when you look into the machine (Figure C). Add the left, right, top, and bottom panels the same way. To remove stray metal bits from the threads of the 4 Z-stage rods, wrap one end of each in tape, chuck it gently into an electric drill, add a little oil, and use a paper towel to clean out all the debris while turning the rod slowly. At one end of each threaded rod,
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Fig. E: Fit the Z rods into the enclosure with their bearings snug. Fig. F: The power plate bolted to the rear of the enclosure. Fig. G: Mount the X motor and driver pulley to the middle panel. Fig. H: Fit a bearing into the Z tensioning pulley. Fig. I: The Z belt adjusted tight around the Z rods and Z motor pulley. Fig. J: Getting a second opinion on leveling the Z stage nuts.
sandwich a 608 bearing between two 8mm nuts, tightening them together with 2 wrenches. Add another 8mm nut onto the opposite end of the rod and screw it down a few inches to stay out of the way; this nut will hold the Z stage. Then add another bearing sandwich at the same end, but don’t tighten it yet (Figure D, previous page). Run the un-tightened ends of the Z rods up through the 4 holes in the enclosure’s top panel and fit the other ends into the middle panel bearing brackets. Adjust the upper bearings so they sit flush with or below the top (Figure E). This is important, so double- and triple-check it. Screw the bearing brackets over the Z rod tops, making sure they have no play or friction. Use one screw on each cover, and only add the rest after you’ve found the cover’s perfect position. Screw-mount the power supply and fan where indicated on the inside of the Power Plate panel. (I had to enlarge the opening with an X-Acto knife.) Use M3 bolts to attach the panel to the rear of the enclosure (Figure F), and feed the cables through the opening on the lower right side.
4. Add the X and Z motors and pulleys. Slip the aluminum driver pulley over the X-axis motor shaft, flush with the end, then tighten its setscrew. Mount the motor to the enclosure’s middle panel with 4 short M3 bolts (Figure G). Install the Z motor the same way, but don’t tighten its pulley yet. In my kit, the Z tensioning pulleys were themselves 3D-printed! Use a hobby knife to scrape any extra bits of plastic from their holes. Then use a bolt and nut from the “hardware burrito” to push a bearing into each pulley. Screw the nut onto the bolt about ¼" and press the bolt head firmly until the bearing is fully seated (Figure H). Add the pulleys to the tops of the Z rods and install the tensioning pulleys you assembled earlier on either side of the motor. Then add the Z belt (the longest one, 424 teeth) and adjust the tension pulleys to make it tight (Figure I). Adjust the Z pulley setscrews to align all of the pulleys to the same height, so that the belt sits centered in all of them. Using a ruler or other reference, adjust the free nuts on the 4 threaded rods until they’re the same height, so that your Z stage will sit exactly level. It’s always good to get a second opinion (Figure J).
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5. Build the Y stage. The build platform attaches to the Y stage with 5 pairs of magnets. To make sure they’re all oriented correctly, stack them up and use something solid to push down on the stack and seat each magnet in its hole (Figure K). Flip the stack in between filling the 2 panels, so they’ll attract each other, not repel. Fit the bearings into the left and right side pieces of the Y stage, but don’t glue them. Screw the Y-clamp pieces together around the Y belt (the smallest one, 196 teeth), as described in the kit. Use M3 nuts and bolts to assemble the Y stage, clamp, and belt (Figure L).
6. Build the X stage. Attach the 264-tooth X belt to the X rib using the 2 X clamps. It’s a little long; to take up slack, make a ¼" kink in the belt between the clamps (Figure M). Fit the flanged bearings into the X-left and X-right pieces, but don’t glue them yet. Use M3 nuts to screw the 2 pieces to the X stage. Mount the Y pulley to the X stage with 2 nuts in between as spacers and 1 nut under the stage. Hand-tighten the nut underneath to allow for adjustment later.
Screw the driver pulley onto the end of the Y motor shaft and attach the motor to the right side of the X stage with 8mm M3 screws. Position the Y stage and belt on top of the X stage (Figure N), run the Y belt around the pulleys and through the slots under the Y stage, and adjust the pulleys so they’re even with the belt. Attach an X cap piece to either end of the X stage. Slide the Y rods (the shorter pair of M8 rods) through the far holes in the X stage and the Y stage bearings, and into the holes where you attached the X cap. Then add the other X cap and secure the rods with nuts at each end (Figure O). Slip the X rods (the longer M8 rods) through the X stage bearings (Figure P). Now fix all X and Y bearings in position with dabs of hot glue, and they’ll be perfectly aligned. Add the X rib and belt under the X stage by screwing the rib into the middle section (Figure Q).
Fig. K: Stack Y stage magnets to ensure uniform orientation. Fig. L: Assemble the Y stage, clamp, and belt. Fig. M: Attach the X belt to the X rib with a ¼" kink to take up slack. Fig. N: Position the Y stage atop the X stage. Fig. O: Run the Y rods through the Y stage and bolt each end to the X stage. Fig. P: Slip the X rods through the X stage bearings. Fig. Q: Attach the X belt and rib to the underside of the X stage.
7. Install the X, Y, and Z stages. Put the X/Y assembly inside the enclosure and run the X belt around the X motor pulley. Add the X driven pulley to the opposite side of the CupCake’s base, positioned
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Fig. R: Dabs of hot glue cushion the X-rod ends against the wooden brackets. Fig. S: Suspend the Z stage from nuts on the Z rods. Fig. T: Assemble and glue the “weird dinosaur” brackets. Fig. U: Glue the skate wheel bearing into the acrylic idler wheel. Fig. V: Wrap the soldered Nichrome joints with the Kapton tape. Fig. W: Insulate the thermistor leads with Kapton. Fig. X: Coil Nichrome around the heater barrel and insulate with Kapton. Fig. Y: Wrap Kapton tape to secure the thermistor against the heater barrel.
so that the belt is tight but not too tight. (You’ll know.) Insert the X rods through the sides of the enclosure and through the X stage bearings. Add a dab of hot glue to the rods’ ends to eliminate chattering (Figure R), and screw the 4 end cap pieces over the rods. For the Z stage, screw the 4 U-shaped wooden brackets to the acrylic Z stage. Suspend the stage from the nuts you leveled on the Z rods inside the enclosure (Figure S).
8. Build and test the Plastruder. The Plastruder isn’t hard to build, but a short circuit can lead to disaster. So
double-check everything and follow the official directions at wiki.makerbot.com. Here’s an overview: First, remove the protective plastic from all the laser-etched acrylic pieces. Use small screws to assemble the paired “weird dinosaur” brackets (Figure T). Temporarily raise the acrylic idler wheel on a pair of washers and use a liberal amount of crazy glue to secure the skate wheel bearing in the center (Figure U). Here’s a tip: draw radial lines on the idler wheel so that you can see it turning when the Plastruder is extruding. Cut a length of Nichrome wire that gives exactly 6Ω of resistance (about 12"), measuring with your multimeter. Crimp and solder each end of the Nichrome to 2 insulated wire leads and wrap them in the supplied Kapton tape (Figure V). Trim the thermistor’s leads to 1" and tin them with solder. Solder 2 more insulated wires to each leg of the thermistor, and insulate with Kapton tape. Sandwich the thermistor legs in more Kapton tape so they won’t touch each other (Figure W). Brush and wash the heater barrel parts to make sure they’re all super clean. Screw the threaded heater barrel into the thermal barrier all the way, but not tight.
Wrap Kapton tape around the bottom of the barrel and add the brass nozzle. With the middle of the Nichrome wire, wrap a few layers around the barrel just behind the nozzle, then coil the rest down the barrel (Figure X). Enclose the entire barrel and Nichrome coil in Kapton tape. Position the thermistor against the nozzle, close to the tip, and wrap more Kapton tape all around (Figure Y). Insulate the barrel once around with the included thick ceramic tape, followed by another layer of Kapton. Unscrew the barrel bottom from the thermal barrier. Line the hole of the retaining washer with Kapton, slip it over the barrel, and screw it all back together (Figure Z). For the Plastruder drive mechanism, attach the pulley to the DC motor, gear side out, then press-fit on the 606 bearing. Following the instructions, stack the acrylic pieces that hold the motor and idler wheel. Check the alignment of the assembly with the included steel rod, then screw the stack and motor together tight (Figure AA). Attach this drive assembly to the “dinosaur” brackets, followed by the extruder controller board. Then attach the heater barrel with 16mm and 50mm M3 bolts,
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washers, and nuts (Figure BB). Connect the thermistor wires to the extruder controller board locations marked Thermistor, connect the leads from the Nichrome heater wire to B+ and B–, the red motor wire to 1A, and the black wire to 1B. Connect the extruder controller to the motherboard with the Ethernet cable. Download and install ReplicatorG from replicat.org/download. This is the software you’ll use on your computer to operate the CupCake. From ReplicatorG, run the Plastruder test procedure, as outlined in the wiki. I placed the extruder on top of an old CD spindle cover to catch the hot plastic. It spat out a nice steady stream. Yeah!
plug the extruder controller cable into the motherboard. You’ve made a 3D printer! You can attach the endstops now too. I attached mine, but didn’t connect them to the controller until later. I figured they were an additional thing that might go wrong while I was getting started, and I knew I’d be near the machine while it ran. If I heard the crunching or rumbling sound of the CupCake running beyond a maximum dimension, I could easily jump over and reset it. Finally, use ReplicatorG on your computer to run the CupCake calibration sequence, as documented on the wiki. Your CupCake is now ready to print.
9. Final assembly and calibration.
Your First Print!
Bolt the Plastruder assembly onto the Z stage (Figure CC). Attach the motherboard and stepper driver boards to the right side of the enclosure, on the outside, using plastic standoffs to keep the electronics away from the panel (Figure DD). Plug the 4-pin connectors from the power supply into the stepper and extruder boards. Plug the stepper ribbon cables into the motherboard and connect the stepper motor wires to the stepper boards. Finally,
Printing objects on your CupCake is fairly straightforward, but you might need a few tries to get everything set up right. Be sure to read the “How to Print” wiki page, which is a great walk-through, and also refer to the MakerBot Forum on the wiki. With my first print, the plastic didn’t stick to itself, so I increased the temperature about 15°C, which helped. For my third print, I got ambitious and tried the infamous Whistle by Zaggo (thingiverse. com/thing:1046). I fired up the printer, and
Fig. Z: Reassemble the Plastruder heater barrel with a retaining washer over the thermal barrier. Fig. AA: Align the acrylic stack holding the Plastruder drive mechanism. Fig. BB: Mount the Plastruder heater barrel, drive mechanism, and controller to the acrylic stack. Fig. CC: Mount the Plastruder assembly to the Z stage. Fig. DD: Mount the motherboard and stepper driver boards to the right side of the enclosure. Fig. EE: CupCake-printed plastic whistle — it even has the pea inside.
in a few minutes I had a whistle — amazing! The little loop didn’t come out quite right and there were a few gaps, but it was only my third print, and I was really happy with the result (Figure EE). My CupCake CNC was a lot of fun to make, and it’s even more fun to use. Now my only problem is figuring out what to print next!
Marc de Vinck moonlights as an artist creating interactive sculpture from his studio in the Northeast. He’s a member of the MAKE Advisory Board, a contributing writer for MAKE, and the director of product development for the Maker Shed.
10/13/10 11:16:16 AM
The Maker’s Ultimate Tools
Illustrations by Nik Schulz
CNC Mill, $50,000
The tools we use — or wish we could get our hands on. By Saul Griffith
Here’s what would go into an extremely expensive ideal toolbox for someone who wants to be able to make pretty much anything, from ultimate fighting robots to hybrid go-karts, and even play around with microelectromechanical systems. You can and will make do without these, but in a perfect world, where the streets are paved with socket wrenches, these six tools would be in your basement. For the complete list, turn to page 66. For an ultimate tools narrative, go to makezine.com/03/ultimate.
haascnc.com Now you’re machining. A 3-axis or 4-axis CNC mill is for real — it can make almost any 3D part you can design. You really want a Haas or Fanuc mill, but for the weekend builder there are cheaper, smaller options. Poor maker’s alternative: CNC routers are affordable and can make big, satisfying things that are 2D or 2.5D, and make them fast.
3D Scanner, $30,000
konicaminolta.com These machines are still quite expensive, and accuracy depends on how much you spend and the size of the object you’re scanning. They’re used a lot these days for restoration of antiquities and sculptures as well as assisting in surgery.
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3D Printer, $25,000
zcorp.com This makes surprisingly beautiful parts; just don’t expect them to be robust. It’s the fastest way to go from computer model to physical part. My pick of the bunch is Z Corp’s printer — it’s the cheapest and fastest. Poor maker’s alternative: MakerBot kits, RepRap, and other DIY 3D printers.
Plasma Cutter, $10,000
plasmacam.com It’s more difficult to use than a laser cutter, but has a big advantage: it cuts metal or anything that conducts electricity. Think of it as a robotic oxy torch. You can get a simple plasma torch for $1K or be up and running with a CNC cutter for about $10K. Make your own parts for that car restoration project or build custom aluminum chandeliers. Poor maker’s alternative: An oxy torch and a very steady hand, or a high-quality band saw and lots of patience.
Laser Cutter, $19,900
epiloglaser.com CAD-driven high-powered lasers cut plastic, paper, and wood in thicknesses up to about 2 inch with very high precision. For kicks, you can write your name on toast or etch your face on an eggplant. They’re also good for cutting rubber stamps. Poor maker’s alternative: Print the patterns with your inkjet printer and cut them out with a scroll saw. Not as accurate or as fast, but a workable workaround.
Water Jet, $100,000
omax.com This rich man’s plasma cutter cuts through 8 inches of granite with a barely subsonic jet of abrasive gritfilled water. It has none of the material restrictions of the laser cutter or the plasma cutter (though it isn’t great for wood). The water tank weighs a ton (literally), so you’ll need to reinforce your garage floor. Neat fact: Used extensively for cutting up chicken carcasses and chocolate bars (though with water only — no abrasive grit). Poor maker’s alternative: Rumor has it you can do something similar with a washing machine pump and a hypodermic needle.
10/11/10 2:54:07 PM
The Ultimate Tool Buying Guide
A complete list of tools you need to make almost anything.
In the real world it takes a lifetime to collect the right set of tools, and everyone’s dream list is different. Consider this the ultimate set of tools for a tinkerer to build almost anything in prototype form. If you’re aiming for craftsman quality, or production quantity, you’ll look for highly specialized tools not listed here. This is a list for hackers. For more advice and philosophy on buying tools, visit makezine.com/2010/workshop.
Hand Tools Utility Knife
35435a11 38995a71 35515a12
Infrequent but handy
Can do without, better with
Necessity Priority Extremely useful Surprisingly useful
You didn’t know it was so lovely
Needlenose Pliers, Small and Large
Bull-Nose Pliers, Small and Large Adjustable Wrenches
Crowbar / Ripping Bar
Ball Peen Hammer
Bolt / Chain Cutter
5986a1 60025a65 60025a66
Sheet Metal Snips
3585a13 3908a11 3902a9
Blacksmith’s Hammer (Heavy) 6462a24
Hole Saw Kit
Metric / Inch Tap and Die
Tight Spot Hacksaw
Hole Punch Tool
Center Punches and Chisel Set 3506a76
Metric and Imperial Ratchet / Socket Sets
7290a24 5757a35 5582a11
Hex Key Sets, Imperial and Metric
5541a31 5215a24 7162a13 5215a12
Torx Key Set
Quick-Grip Clamps / Spreaders 51755a7
Hydraulic Floor Jack
Block & Tackle / Lifting Winch
Screwdrivers, Slotted and Phillips
Combination Wrenches, Metric and Inch
5314a62 5304a73 5314a25 5772a53
Vise-Grip Locking Pliers, Long-Nose
Vise-Grips, Med Curved
Power Tools 18V or 36V Cordless Drill
Reciprocating Saw (Sawzall)
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Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Handheld Circular Saw
Toaster Oven, Adjustable Time / Temp
Tilting Table Saw
Microscope (See Safety / Measurement / Visualization)
Micro Tweezer Sets
28115a77 31555a55 31555a56 31555a57 8802a11 8802a12
Mini-Jector Injection Molder
ESEM Electron Microscope
Excimer Laser Cutter
Variac Transformer 1,200
Hot Plate, Adjustable
Dremel Rotary Tool
Bench Grinder / Buffer
PCR (Thermal Cycler)
High-Temperature Vacuum Oven
Bench Disc / Belt Sander
Chemistry Hoods and Glass Equipment
Tanks for Anodizing, Etching
Bridgeport Mill Hot Knife (Heisseschneider)
Sheet Metal Nibbler
Thin Film Evaporator / Sputterer
Sewing Machine Hot Glue Gun
Sheet Metal Bender / Brake
Spot Abrasive Blaster
Vacuum Pump Oxy-Acetylene Torch
Safety, Measurement, and Visualization
Large-Format Laser Printer
CNC Mill (3- or 4-axis)
Laser Cutter (CO2)
Wire or Sink EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining)
Water Jet Cutter
3D Printer (Z Corp, FDM, STL)
Plotter / Cutter (Roland)
Electronics Tools Soldering Iron
Work Holder and Magnifier
Temp-Control Solder Station
Hot Air Tool for Point Reflow / Desoldering
Bench Power Supply, Multi-Output
Adjustable Stereomicroscope 10705t64
2042a77 6823a61 20265a36
Torpedo Laser Level
Combination Square, 4-piece
2278a11 2278a14 2278a17 2278a21
Inspection Mirror, 2"
10/11/10 2:54:54 PM
Your Electronics Workbench
What you need to get started in hobby electronics. By Charles Platt
The Basics First, you’ll need a breadboard. You can call it a “prototyping board,” but this is like calling a battery a “power cell.” Search RadioShack online for “breadboard” and you’ll find more than a dozen products, all of them for electronics hobbyists, and none of them useful for doing anything with bread. A breadboard is a plastic strip perforated with holes 1/10" apart, which happens to be the same spacing as the legs on old-style silicon chips — the kind that were endemic in computers before the era of surfacemounted chips with legs so close together only a robot could love them. Fortunately for hobbyists, old-style chips are still in plentiful supply and are simple to play with. Your breadboard makes this easy. Behind its holes are copper conductors, arrayed in hidden rows and columns. When you push the wires of components into the holes, the wires engage with the conductors, and the conductors link the components together, with no solder required. Figure A shows a basic breadboard. You insert chips so that their legs straddle the central groove, and you add other components on either side. You’ll also want to buy a matching printed circuit board (PCB) that has the same pattern of copper connectors as the breadboard. First use the breadboard to make sure everything works, then transpose the parts to the PCB, pushing their wires through from the top. You immortalize your circuit by soldering the wires to the copper strips. Soldering, of course, is the tricky part. As always, it pays to get the right tool for the job. I never used to believe this, because I grew up in England, where “making do with less” is somehow seen as a virtue. When I finally bought a 15-watt pencil-
sized soldering iron with a very fine tip (Figure C), I realized I had spent years punishing myself. You need that fine-tipped soldering iron, and thin solder to go with it. You also need a loupe, a little magnifier (Figure D). A cheap plastic one is sufficient. You’ll use it to make sure the solder you apply to the PCB hasn’t run across any of the narrow spaces separating adjacent copper strips, creating short circuits. Short circuits are the #2 cause of frustration when a project that worked perfectly on a breadboard becomes totally uncommunicative on a PCB. The #1 cause of frustration (in my experience, anyway) would be dry joints. Any soldering guide will tell you to hold two metal parts together while simultaneously applying solder and the tip of the soldering iron. If you can manage this far-fetched anatomical feat, you must also watch the solder with supernatural close-up vision. You want the solder to run like a tiny stream that clings to the metal, instead of forming beads that sit on top of the metal. At that precise moment, you remove the soldering iron. The solder solidifies, and the joint is complete. You get a dry joint if the solder isn’t quite hot enough. Its crystalline structure lacks integrity and crumbles under stress. If you’ve joined two wires, it’s easy to test for a dry joint: you can pull them apart easily. On a PCB, it’s another matter. You can’t test a chip by trying to pull it off the board, because the good joints on most of its legs will compensate for any bad joints. You must use your loupe to check for the bad joints. You may see a wire-end perfectly centered in a PCB hole, with solder on the wire, solder around the hole, but no solder actually connecting the two. This gap of 1/100" is enough to stop everything from working, but you’ll need a good desk lamp and magnification to see it.
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A. BREADBOARD: Used for prototyping the connections you’ll make on your printed circuit board (PCB), without the need for solder. B. PROJECT BOX: This aluminum storage box has grooves inside that accept a PCB.
C. SOLDERING IRON: A 15-watt pencilsized iron with a very fine tip. Get thin solder to go with it. D. LOUPE: Good for checking solder connections on the PCB.
F. WIRE STRIPPER: A Kronus Automatic, shown here, works with supernatural efficiency.
Illustration by Damien Scogin
E. NEEDLENOSE PLIERS: Various sizes are essential.
G. COMPONENTS: You’ll want a variety of resistors and capacitors, available at your local Shack or online.
H. WIRE: You’ll need both hookup and stranded wire.
10/11/10 3:04:56 PM
A Few Components and Tools Just as a kitchen should contain eggs and orange juice, you’ll want a variety of resistors and capacitors. Your neighborhood Shack can sell you prepackaged assortments, or you can shop online at mouser.com or eBay. After you buy the components, you’ll need to sort and label them. Some may be marked only with colored bands to indicate their values. With a multimeter (a good one costs maybe $50) you can test the values instead of trying to remember the colorcoding system. For storage I like the kind of little plastic boxes that craft stores sell to store beads. For your breadboard you’ll need hookup wire. This is available in precut lengths, with insulation already stripped to expose
Avoid being a mere slave to instructions; learn how to fix things if the project doesn’t work. the ends. You’ll also need stranded wire to make flexible connections from the PCB to panel-mounted components such as LEDs or switches. To strip the ends of the wire, nothing beats the Kronus Automatic Wire Stripper, which looks like a monster but works with supernatural efficiency, letting you do the job with just one hand. Needlenose pliers and side cutters of various sizes are essential, with perhaps tweezers, a miniature vise to hold your work, alligator clips, and that wonderfully mysterious stuff, heat-shrink tubing (you’ll never use electrical tape again). To shrink the heat-shrink tube, you’ll use a Black and Decker heat gun. If this sounds like a substantial investment, it isn’t. A basic workbench should
entail no more than a $250 expenditure for tools and parts. Electronics is a much cheaper hobby than more venerable crafts such as woodworking, and since all the components are small, it consumes very little space. For completed projects you need, naturally enough, project boxes. You can settle for simple plastic containers with screw-on lids, but I prefer something a little fancier. Hammond Instruments makes a lovely brushed aluminum box with a lid that slides out to allow access. Grooves inside the box accept a printed circuit board. My preferred box has a pattern of conductors emulating three breadboards put together. This is big enough for ambitious projects involving multiple chips.
fine on a naked PCB stops working when I mount it in a plastic box, because the process of screwing the board into place has flexed it just enough to break a connection.
your chips, solder the empty socket to the PCB, then plug the chip in after everything cools. When soldering delicate diodes (including LEDs), apply an alligator clip between the soldering iron and the component. The clip absorbs the heat. Tracing faults in circuits is truly an annoying process. On the upside, when you do manage to put together an array of components that works properly, it usually keeps on working cooperatively, without change or complaint, for decades — unlike automobiles, lawn mowers, power tools, or, for that matter, people. To me this is the irresistible aspect of hobby electronics. You end up with something that’s more than the sum of its parts — and the magic endures.
Learn the Rules Read a basic electronics guide, like my Make: Electronics (makershed.com), to learn the relationships between ohms (Ω), amperes (A), volts (V), and watts (W), so that you can do the numbers and avoid burning out a resistor with excessive current or an LED with too much voltage. And follow the rules of troubleshooting: » Look for dead zones. This is easy on a breadboard, where you can include extra LEDs to give a visual indication of whether each section is dead or alive. You can use piezo beepers for this purpose, too. And, of course, you can clip the black wire of your meter to the negative source in your circuit, then touch the red probe (carefully, without shorting anything out!) to points of interest. If you get an intermittent reading when you flex the circuit board gently, almost certainly you have a dry joint somewhere, making and breaking contact. More than once I’ve found that a circuit that works
» Check for short circuits. If there’s a short, current will prefer to flow through it, and other parts of the circuit will be deprived. They’ll show much less voltage than they should. Alternatively you can set your meter to measure amperes and then connect the meter between one side of your power source and the input point on your circuit. A zero reading on the meter may mean that you just blew its internal fuse because a short circuit tried to draw too much current. » Check for heat-damaged components. This is harder, and it’s better to avoid damaging the components in the first place. If you use sockets for
Charles Platt is a contributing editor of MAKE and the author of Make: Electronics. He’s also the author of science fiction novels, including The Silicon Man.
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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8 Non-Tools Every Workshop Needs
You’ll never want to leave your maker cave. By William Gurstelle
Sure, your tools are important. But it’s the small, personal items that make a generic workshop yours, and keep you comfortable, happy, and on task. 1. Coveralls Nothing says “I’m a maker” like heavy-duty, multipocketed coveralls. Far more durable than a smock or lab coat, coveralls protect your clothes from the dust, grease, and sparks of the workshop. Buy them roomy enough to wear clothes underneath (if you want). Want extra street cred? For a few dollars, your local embroidery store will add your name or a logo on the front. Carhartt Insulated Duck Coveralls, $123 carhartt.com
2. Electric wall clock Time flies when you’re having fun, so it’s important to have a large, dependable clock on the wall so you don’t miss meals. Unless your workshop is heated, battery-operated clocks lose time in the winter, and it’s hard to see the small dial of a desk clock from across the room. A factorystyle, plug-in electric clock suits every workshop. Geneva 14" Electric Quartz Analog Commercial Wall Clock, $25 hardwareandtools.com 3. Label maker Clearly labeled bins of parts and supplies make your shop neat, organized, and professional. While there’s nothing wrong with modern label printers, the old-school, turn-and-click label makers that emboss letters onto vinyl tape are retro-cool and never need batteries. Some even emboss steel or aluminum tape. Rhino 1011 Metal Tape Embosser, $250 dymo.com 4. Fly swatter Apparently, flies love the smell of sawdust, iron filings, and whatever resin or paint you just applied. You can chase the pests with a rolled-up
newspaper or a ball cap held by the brim, but a well-engineered fly swatter is far more effective. (The open mesh of the swatting surface lets the air pass through, doubling or tripling the kill ratio.) Orvis Personalized Leather Fly Swatter, $48 orvis.com 5. Wall-mounted hand cleaner dispenser Waterless hand cleaners like GoJo and Goop remove grease and dirt without the need for running water. Some come in squeezable tubes, but a wall-mounted dispenser is easier to use, and you never have to remember where you left the tube. 6. Coffee maker with insulated carafe For many of us, a steady supply of caffeine on-site is a boon and a pleasure that enhances creating and building. A coffee maker with an insulated carafe (instead of a heated glass decanter) is more energy efficient and prevents unsavory coffee-scorch. A mug with a covered top keeps bad stuff out. 7. First aid kit There are a lot of sharp, hard, hot, and pointy things in the workshop. Eventually, you’re going to come into contact with those things in unplanned ways. Bandages, compresses, and wound dressings are items of most benefit. Red Cross 100 Year Anniversary First Aid Kit, $45 redcrossstore.org 8. Wall calendar While not a necessity, it’s a time-honored addition. Traditionally, workshop calendars tend toward the racy side but don’t cross the line into the offensive. But hey, it’s your workshop.
William Gurstelle is a contributing editor of MAKE.
10/11/10 3:12:05 PM
Multitools and Gadgets
Li’l Guppie Why the heck do I need another pocket tool? I’ve already got a multitool with pliers, knives, screwdrivers, and more. Well, the reason is this: ever try to loosen a bolt without an adjustable wrench? It’s pretty hopeless; the nonparallel jaws of pliers just don’t cut it. The Li’l Guppie is the answer: it has an adjustable wrench on it. Thanks to its carabiner-like form, I can hang it from my belt loop, ready to be deployed on a stubborn bolt. It’s got a fangy little blade that makes me nervous (I wish it locked in place), but turning the thumbscrew to open the wrench reveals a Phillips screwdriver, an extra-clever feature. A flathead screwdriver is cast into the butt of the tool, with a pretty serviceable bottle opener built in too. $35 crkt.com —John Edgar Park
I just got a Leatherman Wave multitool, and to say I’m in love is an understatement. In the three days I’ve had it, it has left my side for no more than 15 minutes at a time. In addition to the two outer blades (serrated and normal) that can be deployed in seconds using only one hand, there’s a diamond-coated file and a saw. Inside, you find not only the standard pliers (which are beautiful all by themselves) but also two bit drivers (large and small), a bottle opener, a ruler, and more. Remember those flimsy Swiss Army scissors that can barely cut paper? The Wave’s scissors are far better; they have a real handle, not to mention that you can tell just by their look that the Swiss Army blades can’t compare. No matter which tool you’re using on this amazing 17-function knife, it feels great in your hand. As an added bonus, you can purchase a bit kit, which is full of different-sized flat, Phillips, and Torx bits. Within two hours of getting my Wave, I’d already used it to fix my boot. Earlier today, I used it to help me build an iPod charger in an Altoids tin, from Volume 07 of MAKE. $60 leatherman.com —Adam Zeloof
Swiss+Tech UKCSB-1 Utili-Key 6-in-1 Key Ring Tool With the Utili-Key on my keychain, I’m perfectly content dealing with most situations where I’d usually opt for a pocketknife. It’s so small, you’ll forget you have it with you. I’ve often forgotten about mine until I’ve already passed through airport security. And at under $10, it’s easy to replace. The key unfolds to a very serviceable combination flat and serrated blade. It also comes with a bottle opener and various screwdrivers, including a Phillips head. $11 swisstechtools.com —Adam Flaherty
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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“Multitools are for people who can’t define their jobs, and who never stop tinkering.” —Bruce Sterling
Specialty Drivers 4
1. Eklind 7-Piece Torx Foldup Key Set Laptops, PDAs, and a lot of other consumer electronics devices use Torx screws, so it’s smart to have a set of Torx drivers in your toolbox. I got this fold-up Torx key set with seven different sizes (T6, T7, T8, T10, T11, T12, T14) because it’s easier to locate in a drawer than several really small Torx screwdrivers. $10 eklindtool.net —Dale Dougherty 2. Tri-Wing Screwdriver If using this to get into my Wii remote and Wii Nunchuck controller (I used one for the Make: television Roller Coaster Flight Recorder project at makezine.com/go/roller) wasn’t already reason enough to love this little security driver, how about this: I used it again today to open and fix a corroded contact in a battery-operated Thomas the Tank Engine train! They’re also good for getting into GBA
cartridges, the Nintendo DS, Zune HD, and a few other products. $4 play-asia.com —JEP 3. SK 73676 21-Piece Stubby Ratcheting Screwdriver Set SK Hand Tools, formerly known as SuperKrome, makes a heck of a tool. They mainly focus on immortal socket sets, but they also make a mean ratcheting screwdriver. This small-profile driver (known as a stubby) ratchets like a Swiss clock, fits all standard attachments, and comes with a bunch of bits, as well as extenders to help you get at hard-to-reach screws. $20, online retailers —John Baichtal 4. Boxer TP62 Security Screwdriver Kit Once I got a Boxer TP62 screwdriver kit, I realized the world was held together with tamperproof screws and started carry-
ing it with me everywhere. Previously, if I came across an obscure tamperproof screw, I would grind an Allen wrench until I could jam it in or mickey-mouse some sort of welding rod and Vise-Grip contraption. The Boxer TP62 is a standard removable-bit, ratcheting screwdriver with not only the expected standard Phillips and flat bits, but also 57 high-security tamperproof bits to open damn near every machine meant to remain unopened. From the sinister Snake Eyes Spanner to the three-blade Phillips, there are bits for screws I didn’t even realize were removable. With the Boxer, you think, “For now, you bastard screws will remain impervious, steadfastly guarding against the random reordering of tenant listings. But make no mistake, should I desire, I could have every damn one of you removed in seconds.
And I would eat you like hot peanuts.” $30 calcentron.com —Mister Jalopy 5. Swiss+Tech Screwz-All 4-in-1 I originally got this as an impulse purchase because it was small and “cute.” Believe me, it’s anything but cute when it comes to working. So far, this little gadget has cracked open my car battery on a hot day to check the water level, opened and repaired many computers at the office, removed the knee-eating ergonomic keyboard trays from under my office desk, opened my iPod to change the battery, and helped repair my aging Nokia. The micro-sized flat screwdriver just fits the microscopic Torx screws used to hold my cellphone together. Best of all, it stays on my keychain at all times. I love this little thing! $7 swisstechtools.com —William Jehle
10/11/10 3:25:04 PM
Knives & Multitools 1
1. Victorinox Swiss Army Cybertool Victorinox was making multitools when Tim Leatherman’s great-grandparents were in diapers. Their Cybertool line packs the usual Swiss Army blades like knives, saw, scissors, and file, but it also adds ‘putercentric tools: DIP switch setter, mini-hex driver with four double-ended bits, a wrench, even a light. $82–$139 swissarmy.com —JB 2. SOG PowerLock EOD Multitool My new baby is a SOG Specialty Knives B61-N. It’s tough as nails, uses compound leverage for stronger pliers, and packs a Colonel Kurtz-esque black oxide finish that makes Leatherman tools tremble. $120 sogknives.com —JB 3. Gerber Artifact When folding utility knives first appeared, I enthusiastically signed on. Now, instead of resharpening my blade, I can just replace it when it gets dull. But these knives are usually big and clunky, enclosing
a blade-swapping mechanism that’s flimsy or fussy. Gerber’s solution? Shrink the blade! Their Artifact mounts a folding #11 hobby blade. These are common, cheap, and small enough to be safely retained in a compact folding frame by a mechanism that doesn’t requires tools. Besides this cleverness, the Artifact incorporates seven other handy implements, including some, like a pry bar, rarely seen in multitools, all in a package about the size of a pack of gum — and only slightly more expensive. $15 gerbergear.com —Sean Michael Ragan 4. Colt Cobra II Tactical Folding Knife Here’s an interesting innovation: a laser-cut serrated edge. It provides the advantages of traditional serrations (easier cutting of fibers and ropes) without their main disadvantage, that they’re difficult to sharpen. The serrated and non-serrated portions of this blade can be sharpened using
the same strokes. $20–$60 online retailers —SMR 5. Case Pocketknives There’s one tool I carry all day, every day: my W.R. Case and Sons Peanut pocketknife. They’ve been around since 1889, and are still handcrafted in Bradford, Pa. The ingredients list is refreshingly familiar — surgical steel blades, brass bolsters, bone or wood handles — and the knives have a satisfying heft and always-sharp blades. Case makes dozens of styles, from tiny to titanic. With mine I sharpen pencils, slice salami, cut zip ties, and open boxes. Yes, these are beautiful pieces of American workmanship, but first and foremost they’re damn fine tools. $35 and up wrcase.com —Jeremy Jackson 6. KISS 5500 Folding Knife The KISS (Keep It Super Simple) from Columbia River Knife & Tool has a chisel-ground blade with an angular, uncurved profile, which makes it about as easy
to sharpen as possible. The locking mechanism is effective, foolproof, and beautifully minimal, being integrated into the single bolster, which also features a removable clip. The PECK (Precision Engineered Compact Knife) model 5520 is a later, lighter model with all the same advantages, plus a sheepsfoot blade that’s even easier to sharpen because it has only one sharp edge. $40 crkt.com —SMR 7. Sebenza Integral Lock Folding Knife I was sent this amazing knife to review for National Geographic Adventure and I cherish it. It’s gorgeous, Zen-like, very simply constructed with impeccable craftsmanship and high-quality materials. And it has a titanium body, so it feels like air in your hand. A friend once said to me: “A good blade — it wants to cut you.” I was bleeding moments after taking it out of the box (getting the feel of its one-handed opening). $330 and up chrisreeve.com —Gareth Branwyn
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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Peter Atwood Pocket Tools Peter Atwood of Turners Falls, Mass. makes his living as a knifeand toolmaker. He produces limited runs of unique items every few days, which he then posts on his blog, Planet Pocket Tool. His focus is small, wrench-like tools. However, Atwood creates a wide variety of metal items like rulers, steel shot glasses, whistles, prybars, ring tools, and so on. Recently I interviewed him via email:
Leatherman Juice CS4 (aka “Make: Can Open ’er”) This full-size multitool is smaller and more lightweight than the other “full-size” lines that Leatherman carries (Skeletool, Surge, Wave, Crunch), while offering a decent-size 2.6" knife blade, scissors that are actually bigger than on the Wave, bottle/can opener, corkscrew, awl, and flat/Phillips drivers. This is a great kitchen-drawer-and-tackle-box kind of tool. $75 makershed.com Product Code MKOSCS4 Leatherman Squirt ES4 (aka “Make: Bomb Defuser”) An admirable keychain multitool, this Squirt has wire cutters and strippers (gauges 12–20) as the plier tool, with a needlenose tip, plus built-in scissors. You wouldn’t want it to be your only multitool, but it’s come in handy more than once, and it’s a great tool for the dressed-up geek or gearhead. (You can’t very well wear a Wave on your belt with your wedding ’n’ funeral duds, but you can carry a Squirt in your pocket or purse, or on a garter holster for you Lady Derringer types.) The Maker Shed version has “Make: Bomb Defuser” laser-etched on the body. Also available in stealthy black “Make: Circuit Breaker” version. $36 makershed.com Product Code MKLTM2 Leatherman Squirt PS4 (aka “Make: Warranty Voider”) This Squirt has the same toolset as the ES4, but with needlenose pliers. Our version has “Make: Warranty Voider” etched on the body. $36 makershed.com Product Code MKLTM1 —GB
JB: When working in your shop, what metalworking tool do you find yourself turning to most often? PA: My favorite tool is definitely my belt grinder. The 2×72 KMG is a wonderful machine and it is the workhorse of the shop. I have both vertical and horizontal units. JB: What is the most difficult alloy to work with? PA: They all have their quirks, but titanium is generally more difficult to work than steel. I haven’t done any Damascus steel work in a while but that’s another one that is very involved, especially with the finishing. JB: Titanium has a mystique about it in popular culture. Tell me what it’s like to work with the stuff. PA: The mystique that surrounds it is overblown IMO. It’s just another material. Titanium cuts easily on a metal cutting bandsaw with a bi-metal blade. However, it’s a pain to grind because the sparks and dust are very flammable even when using very slow speeds. Milling is a mixed bag because it tends to be very gummy. It’s funny stuff to work with but I do love it, not only for its strength but because of the wonderful varied finishes that are possible with it. —John Baichtal » TIP: Subscribe to Atwood’s blog RSS feed because his sales are over in a matter of minutes! atwoodknives.blogspot.com More of our interview: makezine.com/go/atwood
10/13/10 11:53:39 AM
CNC and 3D Fabrication
3D Printers the DIY Way
Fab@Home This DIY 3D printer uses a syringe-type extruder that can deposit silicone, cement, epoxy, even cake frosting. The new Model 2 also accommodates a plastic filament extruder, making it very versatile. Kits $2,000 and up fabathome.org
CandyFab Developed by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, this tasty 3D printer uses heat sintering: a jet of hot air welds pure sugar to create 3D shapes in candy, layer by layer. They’re at 16dpi and improving. Price varies candyfab.org
MakerBot Thing-O-Matic Kit MakerBot Industries kits are bringing 3D printing to a wide and enthusiastic audience. Their brand-new Thing-O-Matic 3D printer is a major upgrade of the popular CupCake CNC (see page 58). It’s got a more robust plastic filament extruder, better bearings and shafts, a much faster and more accurate Z stage, and a new build platform that automatically ejects each completed object and begins printing the next one. The Thing-O-Matic prints 3D objects in ABS, PLA, and other plastics, and it’s open source, so you can make your own from this deluxe kit, or from scratch, and modify it to your heart’s content. $1,225 makerbot.com —Keith Hammond
Thingiverse RepRap II Mendel The open source RepRap 3D printer uses a plastic filament extruder, the same technology the MakerBots are based on. The twist is, RepRap is self-replicating — it’s made of parts that can be printed by RepRaps. You build it yourself; many vendors sell parts or complete kits. Kits $1,165 and up reprap.org
I cannot overemphasize how cool I think the blossoming world of Thingiverse is, where folks share their 3D designs online so others can download and print them out. Once you have a 3D printer, what are you going to print? Free thingiverse.com —Windell Oskay
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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Desktop and DIY CNC Cutters Lumenlab micRo When I decided to fast-track my entry into DIY CNC, I chose the micRo, a tabletop CNC robot kit (see MAKE Volume 21, page 68). It’s small enough to be stowed under the workbench when not in use, but stout enough to cut aluminum and hard plastic. The optional spindle kit worked well for me, and you could easily mount a Dremel or other rotary tool if you choose. $599 and up lumenlab.com —Steve Lodefink
Epilog Zing 16 Laser Cutter Small and reasonably priced, Epilog’s Zing series is a new breed of desktop laser cutters. The Zing 16 is an amazing tool, just the thing for a hackerspace or tool collective. The 40-watt CO2 laser system makes quick work of cutting through wood and acrylic up to ¼" thick. Create your design with a vector drawing program, send it to the Zing, and you get a focused laser beam cutting a path through your material. (Some laser cutting rules of thumb: Square edge notches make for flush fits. Right angles are the norm. Too much power = charred edges.) Once you get the hang of it, you’ll create precise parts to solve your problems. For me, these included solenoid brackets for a train project, Arduino prototyping enclosures, and tiny geared robots. With the Zing’s work area of 16"×12", I never needed more space. (My biggest complaint is that the official drivers are Windows-only, but third-party drivers exist for OS X and Linux.) $7,995 epiloglaser.com —John Edgar Park
ShopBot Desktop The ShopBot Desktop CNC router measures just 28"×35", with a cutting volume of 24"×18"×2". It’s perfect for cutting or engraving small to mediumsized parts in materials like wood, plastic, and aluminum. In ShopBot’s CAD/CAM software, drawing parts is straightforward: you can snap and trim lines, enter angle and coordinate positions, import
vectors, fit vectors to raster images, and import 3D files in formats such as STL. Entering toolpaths is simple. The tab editor places tabs around your part to hold it while it’s being cut out, and you can watch a 3D simulator cut out your part. Connect the Desktop to your PC via USB, use the handy zeroing switches to easily set up your material, then load your toolpaths into the ShopBot controller software and it runs the bot, cutting out your part. Desktop was made with the beginner in mind, but it’s a high-quality machine whose software and hardware really work well together, for a much lower price than competitors of this quality. $4,995 and up shopbottools.com —Eric Chu
DIYLILCNC Developed by two artist-teachers at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the open-source DIYLILCNC router uses open-source EMC2 control software (see page 80). They recommend pairing it with a $175 Linux PC to keep it cheap. $700 diylilcnc.org
HobbyCNC Dave Rigotti sells CNC kits and components, like the HobbyCNC Pro Driver Board reviewed on page 78, as well as reasonable plans ($22) for making your own CNC Hobby Router with a cut area of 9"×24"×1" using a Dremel. $500 hobbycnc.com
Expandable CNC Kit Patrick Hood-Daniel’s open-source Expandable CNC Kit is a CNC router capable of making all its custom parts out of MDF; everything else is standard hardware. Version 1.3 is a 2'×4' CNC machine, expandable to 4'×8'. The spindle is an ordinary wood router; I use a Porter-Cable 892. On his website, videos explain how to put it together; fill out the form and he’ll email you the CAD and CAM files. (See page 54 for a how-to overview.) $800 (free plans) buildyourcnc.com —Tom Owad
10/11/10 3:57:34 PM
CNC Controllers These do-it-yourself kits and entry-level tools are bringing CNC fabrication and 3D printing to the home workshop.
Stepperworld FET-3/Roadster This affordable, complete 3-axis system includes a powerful controller, NEMA 23 motors, power supply, cables, power resistors — everything you need to get started. $229 stepperworld.com
HobbyCNC Pro Driver Board I’m a mechanical type of guy. So when I decided to refurbish a desktop CNC milling machine, I was a little nervous about the electronics, especially since the existing electronics were falling apart. I could have tried to build a stepper motor controller, but I didn’t want to spend all that time and money on a refurbish, only to rely on my weakest skill at the very end to see if it worked. Then I found HobbyCNC. You can get different levels and kits to fit your needs. They’re easy to assemble for anyone with basic soldering skills, and there’s plenty of support if you run into any issues. Mine went together without any problems, and is currently “making chips.” With a product like this, it’s only a matter of time before everyone has a CNC mill or router in the workshop. $79 (3-axis), $99 (4-axis) hobbycnc.com —Brian Graham
LiniStepper Controller This open source controller/driver for stepper motors features “ultra smooth old school linear microstepping” combined with active current regulation and an onboard PIC microcontroller. It even has a “magic” stepless mode. $90 makezine.com/go/linistep
Printable Tool Clips Spotted on Thingiverse: these neato printable tool clips by elite MakerBotter Christian Arnø of Norway, creator of the MakerBot Dremel mount and the printable MakerBot. thingiverse.com/thing:3482 —John Baichtal
Xylotex Drive Boxes Xylotex sells driver kits with 269oz stepper motors, but also check out these boxes: all the kit components mounted in a box with power cable, cooling fan, 6-foot motor cables, and parallel port extension cable, “all plug & play ready-to-go.” $410 (3-axis), $460 (4-axis) xylotex.com
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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CNC Mills and Routers
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Sherline Mills Lots of makers retrofit their beloved Sherline mills for CNC use; you can even order yours with stepper motor mounts factory-installed. Sherline provides only the mounts and couplers; you provide your own stepper motors, drivers, computer, and software. $880 and up sherline.com/cncpgm.htm
Taig CNC Micro Mill A fast, high-resolution desktop mill with 200oz steppers, it can cut 1" slots in mild steel with a single pass of a 1" end mill. They dare you to try that on other mills. $2,155 taigtools.com
MAXNC 10 Open Loop Mill MAXNC sells affordable CNC mills, lathes, and routers geared to machinists, but also to inventors and students. Their hobbyist model MAXNC 5 holds your Dremel and starts at $1,095; the beefier MAXNC 10 Open Loop has 70oz steppers, an upgradeable spindle motor, and an optional rotary table for 4-axis work. $1,756 maxnc.com
CarveWright Developed by NASA robotics engineers, this compact 3D CNC woodworking machine can rip, crosscut, miter, joint, contour, and rout, and it also works with some plastics and high-density foams. You can sometimes find a reconditioned Sears Craftsman CompuCarve (the same machine) for under $1,300. $1,599 carvewright.com â€”Marc de Vinck
10/11/10 3:58:41 PM
CAD/CAM Software on a Budget 1
Alibre Design Personal Edition
Most CAD/CAM software is out of reach to the typical hobbyist, costing thousands of dollars, but there are a few inexpensive gems out there. 1. Lego CAD with LDraw Quick, grab three 2×4 Lego bricks. Place the second brick on top of the first, offset by two studs on the long axis. Now, place the third brick under the second brick, at a right angle to the first. Huh? This kind of tortured description made me wonder about making my own visual Lego instructions. I Googled my way to the free LDraw suite of Lego CAD applications and parts libraries, which are staggeringly complete. Soon after installation, I was using the MLCad application for a marathon 3D brick-building session. It’s addictive to dragand-drop any Lego part ever made from an endless tub of virtual bricks. Pass the step-inclusive model file to the free LPub program, and you’ll soon be printing your own Lego instruction manual and parts
list. Thanks to the bundled POV-Ray renderer, you can choose drawing styles, from simple, flat graphics to shiny, ray-traced works of art. Free ldraw.org —JEP 2. Mach3 Artsoft’s Mach3 CNC software turns your PC into a 6-axis CNC controller. It allows direct import of DXF, BMP, JPG, and HPGL files, then it creates the G-code to control your CNC machine. $159 (demo available) machsupport.com 3. MeshCAM MeshCAM lets you create toolpaths from 3D files in STL and DXF formats, and will even generate 3D objects from flat image files like JPEGs. “No CNC experience is required — you can be cutting parts in minutes.” Works with Mach3 and CutViewer. $175 grzsoftware.com
4. EMC2 The Enhanced Machine Controller (EMC2) is free, Linux-based, open source CNC software that will operate your CNC tools and other robots. Free linuxcnc.org 5. G-Simple G-Simple is a simple CAM for 3-axis machining centers that does metric and English units, and the price is right. Free gsimple.eu 6. GCAM GCAM is a free, open source CAM package for 3-axis CNC in English and metric units. Use its simple interface to make templates and holes, then export the corresponding G-code to your CNC tool. Free gcam.js.cx 7. CodeShark Mill CodeShark Mill is a “hybrid” CNC code editor with built-in DNC communications, full editing, an integrated CAD system, an on-the-fly feed and speed calculator, even multiple-seat discounts for bigger shops. $49 (demo available) softsquad.com —MDV
Most 3D parts begin life as 2D sketches that are pushed and pulled into 3D models on your computer screen. Some programs use a “wire mesh” frame to create objects (Blender, Google SketchUp, Rhino), and some use actual solid shapes (Alibre Design, SolidWorks, Inventor, Pro/Engineer). If you plan to actually make the things you design, solid modeling CAD programs talk to fabrication machines (like 3D printers) the best. They’re made for part design, unlike other programs. And what really distinguishes them is their ability to create assembly files, with parts that relate to each other just as they relate in real life. Assemblies let you see your final design and make sure everything fits together perfectly, while keeping the part files separate from each other. One part can represent an off-the-shelf motor, another part can be exported for 3D printing, and another can be made into a drawing to send to a laser cutter. The only remotely affordable solid modeler (not a student license) is Alibre Design Personal Edition at just $99. It’s got all the stuff you need. The only notable drawbacks to PE versus Alibre’s Pro and Expert versions is that PE omits sheet metal modeling and some advanced drawing creation tools (like section and detail views), and its import/ export file options are limited. But you can still get up and running quickly and export STL files, so unless you’re a power user you’ll never miss the fancy stuff. $99 alibre.com —Dustyn Roberts
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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CNC at Your Service Need a 2D or 3D part made but you don’t have the right tool? Just email a CAD file to a digital fabrication service and receive the part in your mailbox in a few days. Think of them as “Santa Claus machines.” Some of our favorite makers told us their favorite makeroriented job shops: The burgeoning business of printing objects for those without 3D printers, for example Shapeways (shapeways.com), is exciting. These services also enable printing in media like metals that aren’t yet easily accessible to the home 3D printer. —Lenore Edman, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories Laser cutting is also available from similar online services — like Pololu (customlasercutting.com) and Ponoko (ponoko. com) — making it so that just anyone can start fabbing. —Windell Oskay, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories If your gift plans call for something sturdier than wood or acrylic, you may need a full-blown CNC machine shop. Big Blue Saw (bigbluesaw.com) has an intuitive browserbased CAD program where you can design your part, and
then choose your material (aluminum, steel, etc.) and thickness. They’ll fire up their water-jet machines, and in no time you’ll have that rolled steel stocking stuffer in your hands. —John Edgar Park, Make: television The idea of creating your own Lego kit, complete with box and printed instructions, is almost too awesome to imagine, but there it is: Lego Design by Me (designbyme.lego.com). While it’s more expensive than buying bricks individually, there’s no denying that a one-of-a-kind boxed set will warm the heart of any Lego fan. Build your set in the free Lego Digital Designer software, and then send the design to be packed by hand in the factory with just a few button clicks. —JEP
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10/11/10 4:00:12 PM
Electronics and Robotics
Extech RC200 Tweezer Multimeter The RC200 does everything you’d expect from a multimeter — measures voltage, resistance, capacitance, and continuity, checks diodes, and switches between manual and auto ranging — using a stripped-down interface, basically just an LCD with a couple of buttons letting you toggle through the modes. The RC200 measures voltages up to 600V, capacitance from 6nF to 60mF, and resistance from 600Ω to 60MΩ. It does not measure inductance. While the RC200’s ratings aren’t likely to blow anyone away, it has one outstanding feature: its tweezers. These allow you to test components — including tiny surface-mount hardware — loose or directly on the PCB, making the RC200 invaluable for tinkerers, circuit benders, and hardware hackers. A convenient adjustment wheel opens and closes the tweezers to accommodate different-sized components, or you can just squeeze them as you would any pair of tweezers. If you don’t need the tweezers, you can always swap them out for a module packing the usual test lead ports, making for a very compact standard multimeter — about 7"×1½" in size, and weighing a meager 2.3oz. $70 extech.com —John Baichtal
Edsyn Fuminator Fume Extractor Ever come out of a long kit build with a splitting headache from the solder fumes? Me too. A benchtop fume extractor was on my shopping list, and I had the chance to try out an Edsyn FXF14 “Fuminator,” a strange-looking little unit with a hinged fan and spinning filter. A fume extractor is a simple device, basically just a fan pulling air away from your working area, through a filter and out the back of the unit. Edsyn makes the FXF14 in the USA and claims that its special rotating filter works eight times better than a stationary filter. The pivoting head on the FXF14 is easily positioned close to your work, and two LEDs indicate front (green) and rear (yellow), since the air current produced by the thing can deceive your skin. The fan is so quiet that sometimes I forget to turn it off. It works great. I use it for electronics as well as jewelry (torch) soldering in my small apartment workshop. I’m really happy with its small footprint, and it looks fabulous, too (in white, black, and translucent blue, green, and red). MAKE contributing editor Brian Jepson bought a similar model, the FXF11, a few years ago and loves his. I usually feel guilty splurging on a fancy new tool, but your lungs can easily justify the investment of an effective (and attractive) benchtop fume extractor. $110 edsyn.com —Becky Stern
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:06:00 PM
MDC 7722FV Pick-and-Place Machine
Panavise Jr. If you’ve done any electronics work, you likely have a third hand tool. In addition, you need one of these: a Panavise Jr. Universal Vise. You use it to securely hold and position your circuit board while the third hand holds the components (and you hold the solder and the iron). Don’t breathe lead without it! $28 digikey.com —Gareth Branwyn
A pick-and-place machine places tiny parts that you can’t even see onto a circuit board. It’s made in Japan, lovingly, by hand. It has two cameras to view and analyze the chips before they’re placed. It’s not cheap, but it’s better than trying to hand-place almost-microscopic parts yourself. In a few years, this will be a pretty common addition to your local hackerspace and TechShop-like facilities. Watch mine work at makezine.com/ go/pnp. $30,000 mdc-smt.co.jp —Phillip Torrone
Automatically Adjusting Wire Stripper I bought two of these from MicroMark several years ago when they were priced at $30; now they’re $17. Even so, I would gladly pay $30 again. The jaws automatically adjust to remove insulation from any size wire from #26 to #10 AWG. All you have to do is squeeze the handles. With its integral wire cutter and terminal crimpers, this tool can handle many light electrical jobs by itself, which makes it a great choice if you have limited space or weight capacity for tools. After my multimeter, it’s always the first tool I grab out of my toolbox when I’m doing electrical work. It’s a joy to use, both because it works so well and because the mechanics of the stripping head are interesting to watch. There’s an adjustment dial on one jaw that must sometimes be tweaked, as in the case of stripping especially delicate wire, but 95% of the time the automatic wire strippers do their job perfectly and without complaint. Highly recommended. $17 makezine.com/go/wirestripper —Sean Michael Ragan
Magnifying 22W Work Lamp Here’s a good gift idea: a long-reach fluorescent magnifying work lamp. Not only does it light up the work area, but it has a super lens that magnifies all the tiny junk that’s being worked on. A 22watt circular fluorescent bulb supplies even, shadow-free light, and the lamp attaches anywhere it’s needed via a little vise-grip. $77 unicornelex.com —PT
Extech EX330 Multimeter This excellent multimeter, on the high end of the hobbyist spectrum, comes with features you’d expect — voltage, amperage, resistance, and capacitance measurement — but it has some fun features too, like a frequency meter and a temperature probe. It’s also good for homeowners — the non-contact voltage sensor tells you whether a wire is live or not. $55 extech.com —JB
10/11/10 4:06:25 PM
Soldering Irons and Breadboard Supplies CSI3005X5 Dual Output Bench Power Supply
Metcal PS2E Soldering Iron One of my favorite tools, and one I use almost every day, is my Metcal PS2E soldering iron. It heats up in less than 10 seconds, maintains a steady temperature, and it came with several different tips. It’s a great investment for any electronics studio. $100–$200 ebay.com —Marc de Vinck
This cheap 30V 5A supply from Circuit Specialists is pretty nice: a 10-turn pot to adjust voltage, screw terminals for more permanent installations, and a bonus 5V@1A output on the back. The current limit adjustment is not as fine as I’d like, so it isn’t good for testing LEDs (I use the HY1803D for that). BTW: Circuit Specialists gives a free multimeter, pliers, or other swag with your first order. $129 circuitspecialists.com —Tim Slagle
Adafruit Adjustable Breadboard Power Supply
Antex C/3U Miniature Soldering Iron, 15-Watt These are great for intricate work, heat up in about 30 seconds, and they’re as nimble as a ballpoint pen (resist urge to do 700° spin/flip tricks). The slip-on tip installation left me doubting the iron’s durability, but after months of use, everything still stays put nicely. And hey, it’s yellow! $28 minuteman.com —Collin Cunningham
This is a very low-dropout adjustable power supply. A good power supply is essential to electronic projects, and this one features improvements that make it more useful for hobbyists. It’s got guaranteed 1.25A output at 3V, 5V, or Adjustable voltage settings. $15 adafruit.com —PT
Deluxe Breadboard Jumper Wires USB Soldering Iron While visiting Pumping Station One in Chicago, I noticed a curious device: a soldering iron that plugged into a laptop. It uses two USB ports to draw lots of power, and it heated up quickly on my ThinkPad. It’s light but pretty solid, and maintained heat well while I soldered some wire leads onto a potentiometer. It won’t replace my trusty benchtop unit, but I could see picking one up to keep in my backpack when traveling with prototype hardware. $24 getlofi.com/shop —Matt Mets
Once you go breadboard jumper wires, you’ll never go back. They just pop into the breadboard and you’re good to go. The set includes 75 flexible jumper wires that can be used over and over again. Each stranded jumper wire has a molded barrel and a 2" stripped end. $9 makershed.com Product Code MKSEEED3 —PT
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:07:10 PM
Microcontrollers and Robotics OWI-535 Robotic Arm Kit With this award-winning kit, you control the gripper, wrist, elbow, base rotation, and motion, all from the tethered remote. The robotic arm has a vertical reach of 15", horizontal reach of 12.6", lifting capacity of 100g, a searchlight on the gripper, and an audible indicator on all five gearboxes to prevent gear breakage during operation. Who’ll be the first to hack this with an Arduino? $50 makershed.com Product Code MKEL13
Parallax (Futaba) Continuous Rotation Servo Pair this servomotor with an Arduino to learn how to control a servo, the start of many a robotics project. This one can turn a full 360° in either direction continuously! $13 parallax.com —PT
Stingray Robot Kit The Stingray robot is a good value. It uses a multi-core (eight 32-bit processors) Parallax Propeller MCU, a 64KB EEPROM, on-board 3.3V and 5V switching power supplies, 5V I/O translators (to simplify interfacing to 5V sensors and devices), integrated dual full-bridge drivers, two-wheel differential drive with a rear omnidirectional wheel, and other nifty features. If I were looking to get a bot this Christmas, this one would be high on my wish list. $300 parallax.com —Gareth Branwyn
Bare Bones Kit Rev. E Want to get started with Arduino for $20? Despite its name, the Bare-Bones Board is a full-featured Arduino-compatible microcontroller that does almost everything the Arduino Duemilanove does, at 2/3 the size. The latest revision includes analog noisereduction not found on official Arduino boards, and includes the new ATmega 328P chip. $20 makershed.com Product Code MKMD3 —PT
Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Kit The ultimate building set for both kids and parents. The basic set comes with a microcontroller brick, three servos, a variety of sensors, and all the axles, gears, and beams you could ever need. This year’s set is updated with a new color sensor and an even better computer interface. $280 shop.lego.com —JB
Getting Started with Arduino Kit Bridging the gap between the “real world” and your computer, this kit is your starting point into physical computing — using a microcontroller to sense the world and control your gadgets. Includes all electronic parts and our best-selling Getting Started with Arduino book by Massimo Banzi. Join the tens of thousands of engineers, artists, and hobbyists who’ve discovered Arduino. $70 makershed.com Product Code MSGSA
10/13/10 1:21:58 PM
10 Workshop Companions From the Maker Shed
Deluxe Make: Electronics Toolkit Product Code MKEE2
Welcome to the Maker Shed store, where youâ€™ll find kits, books, toys, tools, and other fun contraptions for makers, selected by the staff of MAKE magazine. Just type the product code into the search bar at makershed.com to find each product.
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:32:38 PM
54-Piece Bit Driver Kit Product Code MKIF2 Includes a magnetized driver, a 60mm extension, a 130mm flexible extension, and 54 bits.
26-Piece Bit Driver Kit Product Code MKIF1 Includes a magnetized driver with metal shaft and rubberized grip, a 60mm extension, tweezers, and 26 different bits.
Make: Electronics Components Packs 1 & 2
Helping Hands Product Code MKHH1
Perfect for soldering! The extralarge 3.5" magnifying glass is awesome, and the heavy-duty base is recessed for holding tiny parts.
Product Code MECP1
Product Code MECP2
The first companion pack to Make: Electronics covers all of the experiments from the first two sections of the book.
This pack continues where Components Pack 1 left off and delves into integrated circuits, digital electronics, and soldering skills.
Mintronics Kit Product Code MSTIN2
Mintronics Survival Pack: a workshop in your pocket. 60+ components for prototyping on the go.
ShapeLock Design Plastic
MAKE: Electronics Book
Product Code MKSHL1
Product Code 9780596153748
Create super-strong custom parts, prototypes, molds, servo brackets, robot housings, sculptures, science projects, and more. This space-age plastic melts in a microwave or hot water, then remains safely moldable by hand until locking rigidly at room temperature. Simply reheat in order to reshape as often as you like. Nontoxic, lightweight, machinable, and paintable.
Our hands-on electronics book makes learning easy and fun. Pick up basic electronics tips and techniques with stepby-step instructions, circuit diagrams, full-color photos, and engaging project explanations.
Pocket-Sized Digital Storage Oscilloscope Product Code MKSEEED11
The DSO Nano is a pocket-sized digital storage oscilloscope equipped with 320Ă—240 color display, SD card capability, USB connection, and chargeable batteries.
10/11/10 4:33:17 PM
Sugru Silicone Molding Magic Sugru is a new silicone material designed for hacking, repair, and modification. Open a packet and mold the Sugru into shape. It bonds to smooth metal, ceramic, plastic, and more. It cures in about a day, creating a semiflexible part that will stand up to much abuse, including temperatures from –76°F to 356°F. It’s even UV-, water-, and oil-resistant. I used it to fix the spout of our teapot. Not many adhesives could survive the heat and steam. Sugru worked perfectly, and lent a stylish air. It’s great for many fixes, such as ergonomic grips, handlebar mounts, magnetembedded tool hangers, laptop feet, and wire insulation. Looking around the house, nearly everything I see could use some improvement with Sugru. $11 sugru.com —John Edgar Park
Leaf Ties What maker doesn’t love zip ties? They’re useful for cable management, MacGyvering things, and holding your robots together. We’ve blogged these leafy ties by Lufdesign before, but now they’re for sale and not just a concept. $7/dozen lufdesign.com —Becky Stern
Energizer Energi To Go XP8000 If your electronic gadget doesn’t readily permit you to change batteries, or you simply don’t want to bother with the hassle of a spare, check out this great alternative. It’s an 8,000mAh rechargeable LiPo battery pack roughly the size of a deck of cards that weighs about as much as your smartphone. One of the killer features of the XP8000 is that it accommodates all sorts of devices thanks to its three output ports: 5V USB, 9V–12V, and 16V–20V. There are more than a dozen plugs and charging cables, including adapters for portable DVD players and DC plugs for laptops. The battery’s power indicator also impresses. Press a button, and glowing blue bars show the charge level; plug it into its wall wart to recharge, and the bars light up automatically, allowing you to see how it’s doing with a glance. In addition to the XP line, Energizer sells an SP line of solar chargers and an AP line for iPhones. $100 energizerpowerpacks.com —John Baichtal
Swivel LED Flashlight With a form factor and feature set inspired by consumer input, the compact Night Strike Swivel sports a 130° swivel head with a centrally located 100-lumen Cree XRE white LED, as well as red, green, blue, and near-ultraviolet Nichia LEDs. With the exception of the UV, each LED operates in high, medium, or low capacity. Locating a water leak, or reading in the dark without destroying your night vision, has never been easier! The lightweight, weatherproof magnesiumalloy case provides users with a rugged, soft grip while maintaining the thermal management necessary for optimum LED operations. Run-time tops out at five hours on maximum settings. $72 energizerlightingproducts.com —Joseph Pasquini
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:37:00 PM
Bucket Boss Rear Guard Tool Sheath At work I test high-speed network junk, which keeps me always racking and wiring new gear. Well, by the tenth time I had one hand holding up a router and the other in my pocket looking for a screwdriver, I knew I needed something else. When you don’t need a full-fledged tool belt, this little organizer will clip over your belt and make your work so much easier. $13 amazon.com —Joe McManus
Journeyman Tool Chest There’s something about a beautifully crafted hand tool that inspires you and allows you to exceed your normal skill level when you work with it. Such tools need, nay, demand a worthy case. Gerstner & Sons of Dayton, Ohio, have been making such cases since 1906. To put it simply: OMG, WANT! $987 gerstnerusa.com —Jake von Slatt
When the factory plastic coating on tool handles wears off, just recoat them with a synthetic rubber dipping compound like Plasti Dip. At home/ hardware stores or online. $12 plastidip.com —Craig Cochrane
Scotch Transparent Duct Tape This duct tape rocks it colorless! Now you can wrap gifts with the real deal. Let songs of joy ring out throughout Nerdonia! $5 amazon.com —JB
OpenIt When I saw how it handled our kids’ Christmas presents with ease, the OpenIt tool earned a permanent place in our utility drawer. Its blades are heavy-duty enough to cut through the most stubborn plastic packaging. It also has a retractable utility knife in one handle and a tiny screwdriver in the other, perfect for opening those little battery doors on toys. And, as if they read this Santa’s mind, there’s even a bottle opener. $10 enjoyzibra. com/openit —Bruce Stewart
X-Bench Portable Workstation Projects piling up on your dining room table? This portable workstation provides a sturdy MDF work surface measuring 53"×23". The left side has a miter gauge slot and Skil’s “universal insert plate system,” which lets you easily convert the unit into a scroll saw, drill press, or sanding station. The right side can be extended to open a center cut channel, and both surfaces have peg holes that accept the included wedgeshaped clamps. It’s even got a bump-off power switch. Fold it and store it when you’re done. Your significant other will thank you. $169 skiltools.com —Joseph Pasquini
Mini Surge Protector Charger Plug it into one outlet and you get three outlets, plus two USB charging ports! It even has a rotating plug so you can face it in the direction that’s most convenient. A green LED lets you know the outlet is powered and the surge protection is on. $25 belkin.com —Dick DeBartolo
10/11/10 4:37:53 PM
Metalwork and Machining
Roper Whitney #5 Jr. Hole Punch If you have sheet material you need to make neat holes in, nothing beats a Roper Whitney #5 Jr. punch. Compact, powerful, reliable, and hand-powered, a #5 Jr. will punch holes through quarters, if that’s what you want. (And who doesn’t want to do that?) Designed for working with sheet metal, the #5’s role in your projects will expand when you realize just how much it can do. No tool does a cleaner job punching ventilation holes in computer cases. Cladding a ho-hum bit of electronics in material to match your decor is easy when you can make your own mounting holes. Plastic flowerpots can be hung by cord passed through the smooth holes a #5 will punch in their edges. Washers made from pennies keep bolt heads from tearing through thin material and make good electrical contacts when grounding electronics. Punching heavy cardstock or plastic sheets is trivial for this tool. Wind chimes, made from found objects or flea-market cutlery, are amazingly well-received gifts, as are homemade buttons. It’s possible to do intricate punching of sheet stock and wind up with your own absinthe spoon in very little time at all. Roper Whitney makes replacement punch sets suitable for punching oblong holes in leather belts, along with many other sizes and shapes. Besides all this, the #5 Jr. combines an elegant articulation and the good ergonomics that result from a long presence in the market. Grab one and start ventilating. $55 and up roperwhitney.com —Steve Wood
Bitmoore Drill Press Milling Vise With two worm gears on X and Y axes, this cheap vise lets you precisely place workpieces under your press, and drill series of holes exactly in-line. It can also function as a poor man’s mill for wood or plastic. While drill bits aren’t made for lateral forces, you can chuck an end mill or router bit in your drill press, says MAKE reader Andy, and “It will allow you to clamp a piece down and then move it around carefully under the bit. Neat! No replacement for a Bridgeport, but I don’t have a spare 5 grand.” $70 harborfreight.com —Keith Hammond
Dremel EZ Lock The Dremel EZ Lock system is a significant advance in small-tool cutting technology. While the heart of the system is a quick-release arbor (eliminating the tiny mandrel screw), the greatest improvement is the new series of cutoff wheels, brushes, buffs, sanding disks, and specialty wheels that go with it. The new, metal-reinforced cutoff wheels have twice the life of fiberglass versions, are much less prone to breakage, and come in thin-kerf versions. There are special wheels for cutting plastic, wood, laminates, and tile, plus a new line of abrasive detail brushes to remove rust, paint, or tarnish. My favorites are the wheels for cutting plastic, which are great for case modding; and I’ve used the diamond wheels to cleanly cut borosilicate glass. After using these EZ Lock cutters for weeks, I’m still very much impressed. $10 and up dremel.com —Christopher Singleton
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:41:26 PM
Dremel 4000 Rotary Tool Kit
Mini Metal Lathe I don’t have a lot of room or money to spend on fancy machine tools, but I really enjoy making things out of metal. This meant I needed a lathe. Not a wood lathe or a pen lathe — I needed a metalworking lathe. Lucky for me, I found an entire community centered on 7"×10" and 7"×12" mini lathes. You can buy them from many sources; mine is from Grizzly Industrial, Inc. It’s small, but it can do
quite a bit. Plus, there are many people who are constantly upgrading or hot rodding their machines to get the most out of them. I used mine in the first month to repair a pulley on my ancient garage door for which there were no replacements. I figure I saved the cost of the lathe right there. And I plan on using this for years to come to make all sorts of things. $525 grizzly.com —Brian Graham
High-speed rotary tools make small cutting and grinding jobs easy, and can punch through hard materials you’d botch with a slowerspinning drill. Many makers can’t imagine a workshop without one. To overhaul their top-of-the-line tool, Dremel quizzed customers and engineered some of the most-requested improvements. The new Dremel 4000 senses loads to maintain motor speed. For better control, it’s slimmed down, with a pencil-grip nose, 360° rubber grip, literal-reading speed dial (5,000rpm– 35,000rpm), and a separate power switch to save your speed setting. It’s got a bigger fan motor, replaceable motor brushes, a five-year warranty, and two smart new attachments: a “detailer’s grip” to balance the tool like a stylus, and a sanding/grinding guide to help it follow edges. The tool’s speed never wavered when I leaned on it to grind down a misshapen PVC fitting, and its balance and control are very good. Upshot: a real upgrade of a classic tool. And I like that Dremel listened to makers to get it dialed in. $79–$99 dremel.com —KH
Craftsman 154-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set Wrenches! I’d be lost without my Craftsman mechanic’s tool set. It’s got everything. Sockets, nut drivers, hex keys, and box wrenches are all here, not to mention the lifetime warranty, which you’ll never need because these things are awesome! Sears offers both bigger and smaller kits than this, but the 154-piece is perfect for my needs. $150 sears.com —Paul Overton
Loctite 248 Keeping fasteners fastened isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to vibration. Really cranking down on a nut or bolt won’t prevent a fastener from coming loose, and you could end up damaging parts. Enter the world of thread-locking adhesives. I recommend Loctite 248, aka “Loctite blue.” Loctite has ingeniously utilized the glue stick as a vehicle for this thread-locker. Previously, Loctite was available only in liquid form, and
while it worked well, its application was better suited to the bench than the field. The glue stick is great; it prevents waste and allows precise application of the material. Loctite 248 is a medium-strength thread-locker, meaning that you can undo what you’ve done without breaking your knuckles or resorting to a torch. I rarely fasten a nut or bolt without it. $12 loctiteproducts.com —Alan Kalb
10/11/10 4:41:55 PM
Microstamp Maker’s Mark
Vise-Grip With More Cowbell
When my book The VJ Book (Feral House) was published in 2005, my thoughts naturally turned to guerrilla marketing. I recalled a photo I’d seen in Popular Science: a penny with the word “Microstamp” imprinted into it. As it happened, a new nickel was coming out, and it had plenty of blank space right in front of Jefferson’s eyes. I ordered Microstamp’s custom “Maker’s Mark,” a hard steel straight stamp that you hammer into metal (or plastic) like a center punch. It’s aimed at jewelers, crafters, and anyone else who wants to stamp their logo indelibly. Prices start at $85, but complicated images cost more, and you need to send them an image to get a quote. I received my stamp in the mail in two weeks, and it worked beautifully. It’s fun giving it a tap with a hammer and seeing the little image appear underneath. I got rolls of new nickels, then stamped them and started using them as bus fare. You might have one of them right now! $85 and up microstamp.us —Paul Spinrad
Yes, sometimes simplicity is king. But other times, you want your tools to have so many moving parts and adjusty bits that people will stop and stare. If you find yourself in the latter position, this freaky reverse-action Expand-O Pliers from Strong Hand Tools may be what you need — it’s a spreader, not a squeezer. $17 stronghandtools.com —JEP
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Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:42:31 PM
CNC For Your Workshop
FRONT PANELS & ENCLOSURES
The Ultimate Tool for Makers Introducing the PCNC 770: The ﬁrst real machine tool designed for your basement shop or other small space. At over 650lbs, this isn’t your typical small desktop mill. Tormach PCNCs are the ultimate maker machines – don’t let your tools hold back your creativity. Whether you’re a jeweler, artist, prototyper, builder, engineer, or hobbyist, a Tormach PCNC will expand your possibilities and enable your ideas.
Customized front panels can be easily designed with our free software Front Panel Designer
The PCNC 770 Features: ■
Table size 26” x 8”
10000 RPM computercontrolled Spindle
Stiff cast iron frame
Requires basic 115VAC household electrical service
Designed for disassembly for moving
Optional accessories: 4th Axis, Digitzing Probe, Reverse Engineering CNC Scanner
• • • •
Cost-effective prototypes and production runs Wide range of materials or customization of provided material Automatic price calculation Fabrication in 1, 3 or 5 days
Sample price: $ 51.75 plus S&H Product Information and online ordering at www.tormach.com
Shown here with optional stand
www.frontpanelexpress.com (206) 768 - 0602
10/13/10 3:40:55 PM
Woodworking and Construction
DeWalt 18V Drill/Driver Certainly, the piece of equipment that gets the most use in the shop and at home is the cordless drill. I’ve owned a few, and for me, the DeWalt 18V drill/driver is the best out there. It’s easy to handle, it can bore and screw like there’s no tomorrow (stop laughing), and it has great battery life. I used to own a DeWalt hammer drill, but the imbalance was giving me wrist fatigue. The 18V driver/drill is lightweight and perfectly balanced. $279 dewalt.com —Paul Overton
Delta SA150 ShopMaster Belt & Disc Sander DeWalt Compound Miter Saw I hate to play favorites, but the DeWalt DW716 12" Double-Bevel Compound Miter Saw is good enough to warrant a second entry from the company with the big yellow tools. It’s accurate, ergonomic, and rugged. This is the saw I put in the high school shop I worked in, and if it can stand up to teenagers, it’s pretty much unbreakable. On the pricey side, but worth the green. $399 dewalt.com —PO
I paid CDN$79 for my Delta 5" disk/1" belt sander two years ago, and I use it every day. Yeah, 5" isn’t much — I’d be the first to admit to serious disc envy over the Professional 10" model-maker’s sanders, and the 1" belt would be absolutely laughable, were it not for one exceptionally cool feature. Unlike your regular-type, bench-mount belt sander, which has the belt running horizontally over a steel backplate, this wee beastie has the belt running on a vertical plane with a removable backplate. It’s absolutely brilliant. Imagine having a freestanding, abrasive waterfall with a 4" deep throat. (The throat is how deep into the material you can go before you run into another part of the tool.) As with all tools, developing finesse requires scaling a learning curve — with the backplate removed and a 50-grit belt you can find yourself removing
large quantities of material seemingly at random. Caution is the watchword. Once you achieve sander Zen, though, you’ll have at your command a free-form shaper-smoother-former of uncommon flexibility. You’ll be reaching for the Dremel a lot less frequently when confronted with complex geometry, and it does normal, bench-sander type stuff, too. I’ve cobbled together jigs for tool sharpening and other specialized tasks. Caveat: The power switch is prone to intermittency in the presence of dust. Seriously. After the third failure, I dropped a properly sealed Switchcraft toggle into the case and in-lined a footswitch for hands-free activation. Delta’s only comparable model these days is the much larger 4"×8" PCB420SA, so you’ll have to seek out the SA150 secondhand, or try a similar model from Allwin, Ryobi, Jet, or Steele. About $90 online —Kaden Harris
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
10/11/10 4:47:51 PM
Extra Heavy Duty Screwdriver Set If you believe the ad copy, these are mil-spec screwdrivers that “were standard equipment in all U.S. Army tanks” up to about 20 years ago. I own a set, and it’s entirely plausible. These are full-tang, forged-steel, flat-blade screwdrivers that serve equally well in turning screws, prying stuff, and, you know, killing people who try and open your hatch. They’re heavy and nigh indestructible, and they have an anomalously sleek, streamlined shape that feels great in your hand and is not bad looking in your boot, either. Regrettably, not available in Phillips. $30 garrettwade.com —Sean Michael Ragan
Ryobi One+ 18V Cordless Tool Kit With three substantial tools, the Ryobi One+ 18V Cordless Tool Kit is definitely worth the money. I’ve used the cordless drill time and again for both assembly and disassembly work, and I can tell you from experience that it has enough torque to not only drill out a malfunctioning bike lock, but effortlessly bore an inch farther into the hardened steel around it. The reciprocating saw is quite nice, especially for handling either wood or metal, as both blades are included. Its only drawback is that the foot surrounding the blade isn’t easily adjustable. Finally, the circular saw has only a 5½" blade, but don’t let that fool you: if you don’t press hard, you’ll extract smoke along with sawdust from your work, as it too delivers surprisingly high torque. The lithium batteries will hold a good charge, sitting at room temperature, for more than six months and will give you at least a good four hours of work time on a charge. And they’re backward-compatible with older Ryobi One+ 18V tools that came with NiCads. About the only thing I’d change about this kit is switching the bulb in the flashlight to an LED. $260 ryobitools.com —Pete Marchetto
The PlugGrip is used to install and remove electrical outlets. I’d never heard of it until it caught my eye as I was picking out wall outlets for our remodel. This tool was amazing! It must have cut in half the time to replace our outlets, and its indicator lights even let us know we’d wired them correctly. The SwitchGrip does the same for light switches. The built-in wire cutter and bender worked well, and when we turned the power back on the SwitchGrip beeped to let us know the switch was working. $10 pluggrip.com —April Zamora
Titanium Clawbar Nail Puller Titanium crowbars first appeared, at least on my radar, amongst the spoils that flooded Western markets following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. I snagged one around then from a he-man catalog for my Dad’s birthday, and although it was pricey, his jaw totally hit the floor when I gave it to him: “I never imagined I could own something like this in my lifetime.” He’s an engineer, so that’s more than just a comment on the price of the gift. He’s been using it for more than a decade now and loves it. It’s indestructible, rustproof, and amazingly lightweight. It hefts like aluminum, pries like steel. An awesome, awesome tool. The price of titanium has been on
a rollercoaster ride since then, and the stream of cheap Soviet ti-tools has long since dried up. These days, the leader in titanium tool tech is Stiletto Tools of Winton, Calif. Their 12" Titanium Clawbar Nail Puller is a relatively affordable entree to the glories of titanium tools, and features a cool “dimpler” doodad that recesses the wood around a flush nailhead to make it easy to grab onto. Those with deeper pockets may want to spring for their 16" TiBar Titanium Utility Bar, a truly formidable implement of destruction which, like a samurai sword, should probably be offered libations of sake before being taken into battle. $90 stilettotools.com —SMR
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PVC Fittings for Makers Ever build something out of PVC and wish they made a 3-way elbow? Well, they do. Basically, Formufit sells PVC connectors intended for maker projects. These are glossy, unmarked fittings for pipe sizes ranging from ½" to 2", including 3-way elbows, 4-way tees, 5-way crosses, and more. As a bonus, they provide Google SketchUp files of all of their connectors so you can plan before you buy. $1–$4 formufit.com —John Baichtal
Stanley Wonder Bar It’s low-tech, but this crude-looking tool is one of the most satisfying demolition weapons I’ve had the pleasure to use around the house. No nail of any size has resisted its awesome power, and I can rip up carpet strips like a pro. No instructions needed. $11 stanleytools.com —David Albertson
Microplane Cutting Tools Known as “the woodworking tools that crossed over to the kitchen,” Microplane’s sturdy cutting tools are each made up of tiny, incredibly sharp planes. They make rasps for woodcarving and blades for hacksaws and Surforms, but I have their classic grater, which works magic on everything from nutmeg to lemon zest to Parmesan, transforming that hard lump into the fluffiest cheese shavings you’ve ever seen. They now, of course, offer zesters, a rotary grater, and even a sea salt shaver! Whichever you get, it will surely have a myriad of uses. $9 and up microplane.com —Arwen O’Reilly Griffith
We’ve been remodeling our house forever. It was recently decided that one of the exterior doors needed refinishing. After struggling with a sanding block, I decided we needed something more appropriate for the job. Since I’m also always having to flush-cut something in an awkward space or grind down the odd nail, I decided to try out the new cordless Bosch Multi-X cutter/sander/grinder/scraper. I’m a big fan of any tool that can get multiple jobs done. I also like a cordless tool that can deliver real power. The Bosch Multi-X does both. The tool ergonomics are great and it comes with a decent carrying case. $160 amazon.com —Adam Flaherty
Bosch Palm Routers These bridge the gap between Dremel tools, which are always necessary but sometimes not powerful enough, and the Dremel’s big brother, the router. I bought an old router-style workhorse of a laminate trimmer, the Porter-Cable 310, and loved working with a router I could safely control with one hand. Bosch caught on to the possibilities, and recently introduced their Colt palm-grip routers: the PR10 singlespeed and PR20 variable-speed. If a Dremel isn’t enough for a project, but you don’t want to leap to a much heavier router, take a look at one of these lightweight but powerful tools. $115 amazon.com —Simon St.Laurent
Make: Workshop+Tool Guide
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