Designing a marble track from scratch

marble

 

Woodworker extraordinaire [Matthais] was approached by a toy company to create a ‘marble run’ toy. [Matthais]’ jig-building skills are beyond reproach, so whipping up a prototype for this toy was pretty easy for him.

The basic unit of construction for this marble run is a simple ramp block with inputs and outputs at either end. These were crafted from blocks of wood, with the ramp carved out with a slot mortising machine. To make the side cuts on each block, [Matthais] used his pantograph router and a jig that cuts the wood for marble inputs on either side.

After taking his creation to a hackerspace for some very large kids to play with, [Matthais] found a few problems with his initial design. The blocks didn’t want to stay aligned when marbles were moving down the ramps, so a small mortise and tenon – looking very much like a piece of Lego – were added in several locations on the underside of each block.

Making one of something is relatively easy, but [Matthais] is making hundreds of pieces for his marble run prototype, each interchangeable with another. That’s impressive for something crafted by hand, but when you’re a master at making jigs like [Matthais], everything goes by pretty easily.

[Frank] builds a chair from a sequoia

chair[Frank Howarth] is a very competent woodworker known on the YouTubes for his wonderful stop-motion videos of turned wood bowls. Lately, though, he’s put some effort into building furniture, this time a beautiful lawn chair made from a gigantic sequoia log.

A few years ago, [Frank] and a friend acquired a gigantic sequoia log and milled it themselves with a chainsaw. After two summers, the huge boards were finally dry enough to be used and [Frank] decided a lawn chair would be a fine project.

The sides of the chair are a single monolithic piece of wood. Of course [Frank] needed to cut the sides in half and join them together again for the decorative holes, but it’s still an impressively solid piece of woodworking. The back and seat of the chair are also made out of the same sequoia board, cut into slats held together with three very large dowel rods.

This project probably wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the awesome equipment and tools [Frank] has in his shop. He has a great tour of his shop available for your viewing. We should all be so lucky.

Foot-powered lathe is a tour de force of joinery techniques

foot-powered-lathe

Meet [Quetico Chris]. He’s a master woodworker who likes to find his own alternatives to using power tools. Most recently, he was inspired by a fly-wheel from an old factory. He used it to build this foot powered wood lathe.

It works something like a foot powered sewing machine. There’s a lever for your foot which converts the downward force from your foot into a rotating force which drives the work piece. The mechanics of the lathe are pretty common, but we think the build techniques he uses are anything but. The video after the break shows each step [Chris] went through when crafting the human-power tool. His approach was to use wood as often as possible which includes foregoing modern fasteners for older joinery. He uses mortise and tenon, wood pinning, doweling, and a lot of puzzle-like tricks to get the job done.

We lack the skill and tools to replicate this kind of craftsmanship. We’re going to stick to letting a laser cutter form our wood connections.

Continue reading “Foot-powered lathe is a tour de force of joinery techniques”

Wooden cargo bicycle

nearlycomplete

This is a cargo bicycle made almost completely out of wood. [Niels] and three of his classmates built it at Wico Campus Tio, a science and technology school in Dorpsstraat, Belgium. There’s a lot to be impressed by in this build. Sure, the guys concede that not everything is wood. They used metal screws as well as hubs, a crank shaft, and gears from a bicycle (not seen in this image). But everything else was made from Beech or Padouk wood. This includes the leaf springs that help cushion the cargo box from the bumps in the road.

The box itself acts as the handlebars. You can see the bracket which holds one end of a dowel spanning the left side of the box. This image was taken before the seat and cranks were added, but once they’re in place the front axle will turn along with the box for steering.

You can get a good look at the finished bike in the video after the break. You’ll also find a link to the Power Point slides there. Since that presentation is in Dutch we translated the text and pasted it below.

Continue reading “Wooden cargo bicycle”

CNC Table Saw Jig

table saw jig

[Woodgears.ca] seems to be a wealth of clever hacks, and this CNC box joint jig is no exception.  Although one has to manually move the jig to make the actual cut, it still gives the user a lot of extra functionality. One only has to click the mouse button to advance the workpiece.  One drawback to using a table saw, even with this jig is that some internal parts still may have to be cut. Check out the video after the break to see this device in action, or skip to around 3:08 to see what hand operations still have to be done.

Besides just being a cool build, we loved the box-jointed project enclosure for the electronics. As this was made in 2003, it’s nice to see that the idea of “self-replication” (at least in part) didn’t start with the [Rep-Rap]. The 10 year old (as of 2003) Thinkpad notebook computer running QBasic in DOS is a nice “hacker” touch as is using 100 Watt light bulbs as power resistors. Pretty clever electronics, especially for someone that’s known more for his excellent woodworking skills than his obvious electrical engineering knowledge! Continue reading “CNC Table Saw Jig”

Making giant wooden balls

One day, we hope, we’ll be as awesome as [Keith Holaman]. He makes humongous wooden balls with a chainsaw, crane, and a truck-mounted lathe.

[Keith] got his start making wooden balls on a small lathe at home. For some reason he always wanted to make a bigger wooden ball, but his equipment at the time couldn’t handle this size in [Keith]’s imagination.

To make his gigantic wooden balls, [Keith] skulks around his local forest looking for downed trees and stumps. After getting these huge logs home, he roughs out the sphere with a chainsaw, mounts a chuck on the log with huge bolts, and attached it to a diesel motor.

Because the logs are so huge, he can’t turn the log very fast. to remove a whole lot of wood very quickly, [Keith] spins his tool head at a few thousand RPM.

There aren’t many build details or even an indication of how big these wooden balls are. We’d guess they’re easily over a meter in diameter. If anyone knows where we can see these balls in person, drop a note in the comments.

A 3D Pantograph

pantograph

It seems that there is no end to ingenious woodworking tools, such as this 3-D Router Pantograph from [Woodgears.ca]. The pantograph, a design using linkages to trace and scale drawings, may have been invented in the 1600s, but if we were honest, most of us haven’t heard of this device. This particular pantograph is able to trace letters or other stencils in three dimensions by pivoting about an additional axis.

If you’re wondering where to get these stencils, they’ve got you covered with an online stencil generation tool. However, if you want to make even more detailed stencils, we might recommend using a free drafting tool such as Draftsight (here’s a review), or Sketchup.

[Woodgears] gives a good explanation of how it’s made in the video after the break. You can also buy plans for it if you want templates to use to cut everything. Continue reading “A 3D Pantograph”