Tree Ring Cork Board

My Fabrication project for this week involved using A 5’’ x 7’’ walnut board and cork. The original idea for the project came from my desire to use cork.

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My original plan was to create a 3d shape with the cork and then mount it on the wood plate. I decided it have a somewhat comedic effect if I made the shape of tree rings using cork. After a few test runs with the laser cutter I went to cut the cork on it.

this is the point where I ran into issues. After multiple passes with the laser I couldn’t get the cork to cut at all. After pulling the piece out I was able to crack out the outline of the largest tree ring but I knew I wouldn’t be able to make anything worthwhile using this method.

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After this fail I decided to just laser etch the rings and mount the piece on the walnut board.

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I ended up cutting the edge of the piece out using scissors and then using wood glue to attach the cork to the walnut.

In all honesty I’m not really happy with the piece as it is but I should have researched cork and its laser cutting properties before deciding on using it as my main material for this project. Given more time I would have rethought the project and worked the whole thing into a different direction

Extremely Inaccurate and Unhelpful NYC Weather Predictor

For the most recent fabrication assignment we were required to build an enclosure for an electronics project that had utilized multiple components. After spending some time thinking about what I wanted to make I decided that I wanted to make something fun and pointless.

What I came up with was the “Extremely Inaccurate and Unhelpful NYC Weather Predictor.” Basically it’s just a box that has one push button and when you push the button a “random” combination of LEDs lights up.

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I went to the container store to get the box for the project. Using calipers I measured the inside edges of the box to see that the dimensions were 5.67’’ x 5.72’’. After that I created the illustrator file with an initial design to try out on the box.

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After that I laser cut a piece of cardboard to test the size and design of the top. After some tweaks I laser cut a piece of black acrylic.

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An issue that arose with the first cover was that the hole for the button was not big enough. Although the button fit in the cardboard prototype with a hole the same size I should have accounted for the acrylic not having any give. Another problem I noticed was that I misspelled the word Inaccurate in each piece of acrylic. I decided that I didn’t want to buy any more of it though so I decided to leave it.

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After the initial fabrication I built the light switching circuit and attached it all to the top acrylic panel.

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The final fabrication part was drilling a hole in the back of the box for the arduino’s power cord to go through. Drilling the wood I used small drill bits and then progressively worked my way up to larger bits to try and not damage the wood or splinter it too much. It didn’t work amazingly but the outer portion of the box looked alright.

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Overall, I am happy with final product, minus the typo. I should have figured out a better way to drill the hole in the back and probably should have mounted the arduino better inside but for this prototype I am happy with the enclosure.

Topographic Shadow Box

This week’s Fabrication Assignment was based on using the laser cutter and measurements. This meant making precise measurements with and without the laser cutter using a variety of the tols we learned about in class.

Ideation:

I have used the laser cutter for a few projects at ITP so I initially wanted to try to make a kern cut pattern and then use living hinges to create a lampshade like the one below:

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After some research and talking to some people I decided that the whole process would be a bit too labor intensive for the time allotted and my skills.

Once I had decided against the lampshade I decided to do a type of shadow box instead.

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The shadow box above was a sort of inspiration in my decision to try and make one. I really like topographic maps though so I wanted to make a shadow box with a topographic map design in it. I decided that using a combination of etching and cutting on acrylic in combination with mylar paper would create the effect that I wanted.

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In illustrator I designed this map to be etched and added a border of 5.44’’ x 5.49’’ to be cut so it would fit in a small box that I bought at the container store.

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I used the 50 watt laser cutter for this piece and set the laser to the recommended power and speed for the etching. The photo above is after the first go through with the laser. I ended up etching over the clear acrylic four times to get the depth and consistency in the pattern I wanted. Once over with the laser to cut and the piece was good. overall to cut this piece it took around an hour of time from start to finish.

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The box above is the one where I would be adding in the leds and the acryllic

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I added in a few strips of neopixel LEDs along the bottom of the box and then, using a utility knife and wood shaving tools, cut out a small divot in the side of the box to add one more led strip so I could shine lights through the side of the cut acrylic. I also added four standoffs to the corners to hold the map up.

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I measured and drilled small holes into each corner of the piece for the standoffs using a 1/8th drill bit. When drilling I put a bit too much pressure on the first hole and it cracked the corner of the piece but it was small enough where I didn’t mind the blemish too much.

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Using mylar paper I created a diffusing screen for the light that would fit beneath the glass.

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Above is an image of what the map would look like if a light was shown through the bottom of the acrylic map.

Unfortunately when I went to test the led strip none of the leds would work. After wiring up and testing an external strip and seeing that it worked fine I knew that me bending the strips in the box and messing around with the connections probably shorted them out in a few spots. As of right now I did not have the time to fix that so the box does not light up properly.

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In terms of using the laser cutter and achieving the look that I was going for with the topographic map I was happy with how that turned out. On the other hand, I am not really happy with how the whole box and system looks. I am continuing to work on the lights and will hopefully be able to fix them soon. I would like to have more of a depth to the whole piece as well. Whether that means using wood to create that I’m not sure. I also would like to come up with another solution for the led strip that is running along the edge of the acrylic piece. Finally I realized later on that I didn’t need to drill the holes in the acrylic for the standoffs as the acrylic sits in the box at a depth which I like.

Repeatable Bookends

For this week’s assignment we needed to make five of the same thing. The goals were to focus on the overall process and repeatability. The project had to be multi-processed and more complex than just making five of the same figure on a laser cutter.

I wanted to make something that I would find useful and would require me to use more than a few of the shop resources. Finally, I decided on making bookends. I have a lot of books at my apartment and three sets of bookends would be a nice touch for them.

Plan:

  1. Purchase enough wood, the plan was to make six bookends since an odd number doesn’t necessarily make sense for them.

  2. Cut the wood into twelve, equal sized pieces.

  3. Stencil out the dowel holes for the connecting pieces.

  4. Use the doweling jig and drill press to help drill the holes

  5. Sand the pieces and stain them.

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I was able to find a 6’ long piece of pine wood at home depot. the length made it perfect for cutting into twelve 6’’ pieces. Two pieces would make one bookend.

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After cutting the wood into the pieces I began working on figuring out what size dowel holes to make. It seemed like 1/4’’ would be the best for the size wood I had.

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I was excited to use the doweling jig to see how easily I could learn it. It turned out that it made drilling the dowel holes extremely easy and enjoyable and the 1/4’’ bit was the perfect dowel size. After drilling all of the dowel holes on the edges I realized that I was going to be careful when I went to drill the other dowel holes using the drill press.

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I measured out the opposite holes for the other half of each bookend and then used the 1/4’’ bit on the drill press to drill those holes. I found this to be much tougher than the doweling jig portion. The first hole I drilled with the Drill Press went straight through the back side of the wood. After a few tries I started to get the hang of it and eventually finished each piece.

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I was worried about the alignment of some of the dowel holes I had drilled. It turned out that I misaligned a few of the holes to the point where there was space on the back of the bookends and not a perfect edge.

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My solution for this was to still use continue with the dowel pins, then wood glue each piece together, and then finally sand each one of the backs down to the point where there was no excess wood.

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After a lot of sanding, and some accidental over sanding, I was able to get each bookend to a point I was happy with.

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At this point I was happy with the way each of the bookends was turning out. When I think of bookends I don’t think of light wood so a wood stain was added to each bookend. Before doing this I had no clue that residue from wood glue does not stain the same as the rest of the wood. As a result I was left with parts of each bookend that are significantly lighter in color than the rest.

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Once they dried I consider the pieces complete but, in my opinion, they are lacking something. Having all that empty space on each of them, I felt like I should have added something to them. So I decided to add an Edison filament lightbulb to the sixth one as a proof of concept for what the rest would look like with the same light.

My process for adding the bulb involved drilling large hole in the base of the bookend and then using a small spade bit to make a divot down the bottom of the bookend so that the cord could be run through. This process was quick and dirty and had I thought about it more I would have gone through the process before staining and scheduled office hours to figure out how to drill the cord path without blowing out the bottom.

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Below are a few images of the final pieces!

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Minimalistic Flashlight

Initial Idea:

For the first fabrication assignment, students were tasked with creating a flashlight. When I was first thinking of the concept I wanted to create for the flashlight I began thinking about my time working in the architecture and design industry. The Minimalistic and Scandinavian design influences that I was exposed to during that time helped to give me an appreciation for simple work and clean aesthetics.

After some more thought I decided that I wanted to make a small geometric light fixture that would be best placed on a desk. I wanted the apparatus containing the circuitry to be made of wood or metal and I wanted the portion where the light was diffused through to be made of a frosted type acrylic. A few rough sketches are shown below.

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Image 1.

Gathering Materials and initial Fabrication:

I had planned on creating the housing structure for the flashlight myself but I was able to find a small, wooden, hexagonal apparatus at Blick that seemed like it would be perfect for the project. All of the other materials besides the Acryllic sheet used for the diffusion, were sourced from the ITP shop or my own materials. The final piece consisted of eight blue LEDs and a 9V battery.

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The fabrication aspect of the project was not too difficult. I was most worried about laser cutting the acrylic but the whole process was much easier than I had expected.

The most time consuming portion of the project was the soldering of the circuitry and ensuring that it would be able to fit inside of the container.

After adding in the acrylic cutout I realized that the lights didn’t diffuse the way I had hoped and that the emitted light was much less than I expected. I still enjoy the way the piece looks and the light coming out of it looks but if I were to iterate on the piece I would try different types of diffusers.

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Thoughts on the Finished Product:

As far as the finished product goes, I am happy with the way it turned out and the cleanness of the piece. If I were to continue working on it I would, again, work with other diffusers and LED combinations. I would also refinish the switch area since it is not the cleanest hole. I would also clean up the circuit inside since I pretty much just mashed everything together then superglued it stuck inside. Lastly I would like to actually build my own apparatus.