Superb Wood Floor Inlay Shows Off Computer-Augmented Tools

It’s been a few years since we first started hearing about “tools of the future changing the way we work” but this astounding whole-room floor inlay might be the best argument for them yet.

The Shaper Origin

A couple of years ago we wrote a hands-on preview of a unique tool called the Shaper Origin. If a milling machine is classically defined as having a stationary tool head with moving stock, the Origin is the reverse. To use an Origin the user adheres specially marked tape to the stock material, then holds the origin down and moves it much like a hand router.

The Origin has a camera which tracks the fiducial patterns on the tape, allowing it to know its precise position, even across an entire room. The operator sees a picture on the screen of the tool that guides them with superimposed lines, while the tool head makes its own precision adjustments to perfectly cut the design in the X, Y, and Z.

Floor in Progress

But what do you use a tool like this for? Cutting boards, small tables, and toy blocks are fine examples but don’t highlight any unique features of the tool. Many could just as easily be made using a ShopBot, X-Carve, Carvey, or any of their ilk. What you can’t do with any of those tools (or really anything besides manual labor, endless patience, and master skill) is inlay an entire floor in situ.

[Mark Scheller] (eight time winner of Wood Floor of the Year awards) used an Origin to cut a curvaceous 22 foot long rendition of the first 9 bars of Handel’s Passacaglia into the floor of a lucky homeowner’s music room. Without decades of practice, it’s difficult to imagine doing this any way besides with a Shaper Origin. You can’t put an entire room into a CNC router. The individual floorboards could be cut, but that would be tedious and increasingly difficult as the room gets larger. With the Origin it seems almost trivial. Do the design, place the marking tape, and cut. The same model is used to cut the inlays for a perfect fit. This is an incredible example of a unique use for this unusual tool!

Floor Mopping Robot Takes Cleanliness to the Next Level

While it’s nice to have a robot vacuum your floors for you, a vacuum can only clean your house so much. For a really deep clean, you’ll also need to run a mop over the hard floor surfaces. [Josh] took this to its logical conclusion and built a robot that can really scour his floors for his entry into this year’s Hackaday Prize.

The robot has the ability to spray the floor with a cleaning solution, and then drive over it and scrub the floors with a squeegee. Its designed in a way that allows it to get into tight corners without needing a special brush, and of course it has all the bells and whistles that other robots have, such as ultrasonic sensors, collision detection, and a brain that allows it to navigate a course and get the entire area cleaned.

There are many videos of the robot in action on the project site, showing its operation and testing various features of the device. It’s a pretty interesting take on the home robot, and since its Open Hardware you can build your own if you’re often frustrated by having to mop your own floors, or you could modify it to do things other than squeegee the floors clean.

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[James] Multiplies His Floor Sander by Four

Hackaday contributor and new homeowner [James Hobson] had a dilemma on his hands. He had rented a commercial drum sander to begin a floor refinishing project. Like many before him, James was a bit too aggressive with the drum sander in places. The uneven stripes didn’t show up until the sander was returned and the floor was stained. Renting the sander again would be an expensive prospect. There had to be a better answer…

That’s when [James] put on his [Hacksmith] cape and got to work. He built himself a DIY floor sander (YouTube Link) using four Ryobi orbital sanders, some scrap wood, and a bit of ingenuity. [James] screwed the four sanders to a plywood sub plate, then added a top plate with a handle. He even gave the sander its own outlet strip so he wouldn’t be dragging four power cords behind him.

[James] found that synthetic steel wool pads weren’t cutting through the floor very well, so he upgraded to 220 grit sandpaper. That did the trick, and the sander worked great. Now he won’t have to rent a drum sander when it comes time to refinish the first floor of his new house!

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MC Escher Inspires a Reptilian Floor

reptile-floor

A simple room refinishing project lead [Kris] to his biggest hack yet, a floor inspired by MC Escher’s Reptiles printMaurits Cornelis Escher is well known for his reality defying artwork. His lifelong passion was tessellation, large planes covered identical interlocking shapes. Triangles, squares, hexagons all EscherExampleinterlock naturally. Escher discovered that if he cut out part of a shape and replaced it on the opposite side, the new shape will still interlock. In Reptiles, Escher created a lizard shape by modifying a hexagon. One side flipped over to become the nose, 4 others to become the feet, and so on. If the cuts are all made perfectly, the final shape would still interlock.

[Kris] was inspired by a photo of a commercial flooring project using small wooden reptiles as the tiles. He wanted to go with larger wooden tiles for his room. He knew his shapes had to be perfect, so he wrote a computer program to split the hexagon perfectly. Armed with art in DXF format, he went looking for a flooring company to help him. The silence was deafening. Even with artwork ready to go, none of the local custom flooring shops would take his job. Undaunted, [Kris] bought an older CNC machine. The machine was designed to be driven from MS-DOS via the parallel port of a Pentium II era PC. [Kris] substituted an Arduino running GRBL. After some GCode generation, he was cutting tiles.

The real fun started when it was time to glue the tiles down. With all the interlocking parts, it’s impossible to just glue one tile and have it in the perfect position for the next. In [Kris’] own words, “You have to do it all in one go”. Thanks to some family support and muscle, the flooring project was a success.  Great work, [Kris]!

LED floor captures digital footprints


Sensacell created a unique interactive flooring system for the 2008 World Expo in Zaragoza, Spain. Comprised of 1000 LED panels, the 250 foot installation is covered in architectural glass and lights up in response to pressure. We like what different people are doing in this clip; from walking in a line to dragging a mop over the floor, the results are undeniably captivating and ultimately irresistible.

[via Gizmodo]