A French Cleat Twist On Electronics Bench Organization

For some of us, our workbench is where organization goes to die. Getting ready to tackle a new project means sweeping away a pile of old projects, exposing exactly as much bench space needed to plop down the new parts. On the other end of the spectrum lie those for whom organization isn’t a means to an end, but an end itself. Their benches are spotless, ready to take on a new project at a moment’s notice.

[Eric Gunnerson]’s new French-cleat electronics bench is somewhere in between those two extremes, although nowhere near as over-organized as the woodworking organizer that inspired it. If you’ve never heard of a French cleat, Google around a bit and you’ll see some amazing shops where the system of wall-mounted, mitered cleats with mating parts on everything from shelves to cabinets are put to great use. A properly built French cleat can support tremendous loads; [Eric]’s system is scaled down a bit in deference to the lighter loads typically found in the electronics shop. His cleats are 2″ x 3″ pieces of pine, attached to a sheet of plywood that was then screwed to the wall. His first pass at fixtures for the cleats used a Shaper Origin CNC router, but when that proved to be slow he turned to laser-cut plywood. The summary video below shows a few of the fixtures he’s come up with so far; we particularly like the oscilloscope caddy, and the cable hangers are a neat trick too.

What we like about this is the flexibility it offers, since you can change things around as workflows develop or new instruments get added. Chalk one up for [Eric] for organization without overcomplication.

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The Book Of Dreams Brings Back All Your Memories

The retro-facing side of British social media has been abuzz for the last few days with a very neat piece of marketing form the catalogue retailer Argos: they’ve digitised all their catalogues since 1975 and put them online. While this contains a cross-section of over four decades’ styles, fads, and ephemera, it also gives the browser a fascinating look at a host of retrotechnology from a contemporary viewpoint rather than through the rose-tinted glasses of 2019. It may not be a hack, but we guarantee you’ll spend a while browsing it!

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Tiny Woodshop Is Packed With Space-Saving Hacks

Fair warning: once you’ve watched [Stephen]’s tiny workshop tour, you will officially be out of excuses for why you need to expand your workshop. And, once you see his storage and organization hacks, you’ll be shamed into replicating some in whatever space you call home.

[Stephen]’s woodshop is a cozy 6′ x 8′ (1.8 m x 2.4 m) garden shed. The front wall is almost entirely occupied by the door and a window, reducing the amount of wall space available but providing ample natural light and keeping the small space from inducing claustrophobia. Absolutely every square inch of the remaining space is optimized and organized. [Stephen] wisely eschews bulky cabinets in favor of hanging tool racks, all mounted flexibly to the wall on French cleats. Everything has a place, and since every hand tool is literally within arm’s reach, it stays stored until it’s needed and goes right back when it’s done. The shop boasts way more than hand tools, though; a lathe, drill press, thickness planer, sander, air compressor, scroll saw, band saw, and even a table saw all fit in there. There’s even dust collection courtesy of “The Beast”, [Stephen]’s DIY dust extractor.

No matter whether you work in wood, metal, or silicon, we could all learn some lessons from [Stephen]’s shop. It’s a model of efficiency and organization, and while he’s not likely to build a full-size [Queen Anne] dresser in there, it’s clear from his blog that he gets a lot done with it. Too bad we missed this one the last time we did a roundup of tiny shops.

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Pop-Up Outlet Helps Make The Most Of A Tiny Shop

You’ve got to admire the steps some people take to squeeze a shop into a small space. Finding ways to pack in ever more tools and to work on bigger and bigger projects become ends to themselves for some, and the neat little tricks they find to do so can be really instructive.

Take this workbench pop-up outlet strip for example. The shop that [Woodshop Junkies] occupies appears to be a single-car garage, on the smallish size in the first place, that is almost entirely filled with a multipurpose workbench. It provides tons of storage underneath and a massive work surface on top, but working with small power tools means stretching extension cords across the already limited floor space and creating a tripping hazard. So he claimed a little space on the benchtop for a clever trap door concealing a small tray holding an outlet strip.

The tray rides on short drawer glides and, thanks to a small pneumatic spring, pops up when the door is unlatched. There was a little trouble with some slop in the glides causing the tray to jam, but that was taken care of with a simple roller bearing. The video below shows its construction and how it stays entirely out of the way until needed.

As cool as this build is, it’s just icing on the small shop cake when compared to the workbench. [Woodshop Junkies] has a complete playlist covering the build which is worth watching. And you might want to refer to our tiny shop roundup for more tips on getting a lot done in a little space.

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Detoured: Inside MachineHistories

When designers and architects need a fancy centerpiece, a design element, or even some wall sconces, they don’t head over to the machine shop by themselves. They get someone else, who owns some fancy machines, knows how to use those fancy machines, and can create anything out of wood, foam, or metal to do the fabrication for them. Think of these companies as artisan contractors, capable of turning whatever an architect thinks of into a real, tangible object.

One of these such companies is MachineHistories, a joint venture between [Steven Joyner] and [Jason Pilarsky], who work in the medium of computer code and CNC programming. As part of the SupplyFrame Design Lab’s Detoured series, lead Staff Designer [Majenta Strongheart] takes us along for a tour of MachineHistories to figure out how this collaboration actually works.

This collaboration began at the ArtCenter College of Design where [Steven] and [Jason] spent most of their time working in the shop. Eventually, they realized they didn’t actually need the ArtCenter and decided to sign a lease and strike out on their own. The first tools in their new shop were just a 3-axis CNC and a laser cutter, but MachineHistories gradually expanded to enormous five-axis machines and other incredible tools. These machines are put to work creating works of art for architectural and design installations, ranging from futuristic chairs, fine furniture, to sculptures and even new designs for simple home items.

The skill and craftsmanship that goes into these works of art are beyond compare, but this is a great insight into how all those manufactured panels, design elements, and artistic accents are created, and one that shows you can do anything, provided you have the right tools.

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Detoured: Fabbing At The Art Institute Of Chicago

[Majenta Strongheart] is one of the talented folks who works at the SupplyFrame Design Lab, home to dozens of Hackaday meetups, the Hackaday Superconference, and when the shop floor isn’t filled with chairs, is the place where tons of awesome projects are fabricated. [Majenta]’s role at the Design Lab is a Staff Designer, where she’s responsible for working the machines, and holds the distinction of being in the room when the SawStop kicked for the first time. Don’t fret: it was mirrored acrylic.

Among [Majenta]’s other duties at the Design Lab is on the social media front, showing off the capabilities of other design spaces around the country. Her first video in this series is from her alma mater, the Art Institute of Chicago. In this video, [Majenta] takes a look at the incredible fabrication facilities found here.

The tour begins in an exceptionally well-equipped wood shop kitted out with panel saws, spindle sanders, bandsaws, and not enough clamps. From there, the tour moves over to the metal shop and — unique for the city of Chicago — a forge. A long time ago, after Philadelphia and New York were the tech centers of America, and before the Bay Area was the tech center of America, Chicago made everything. The forge at the Art Institute of Chicago is the last remaining place in the city where metal casting takes place. This space was grandfathered in, and still remains a place where students can cast objects out of bronze and aluminum.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a very, very well equipped space full of enough tools to make anything you want. If you’re looking for some inspiration on what your basement, garage, or local hackerspace should look like, you need only look at [Majenta]’s tour. You can check out the entire video below.

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Making A Gun Without A 3D Printer

Around four years ago the world was up in arms over the first gun to be 3D printed. The hype was largely due to the fact that most people don’t understand how easy it is to build a gun without a 3D printer. To that end, you don’t even need access to metal stock, as [FarmCraft101] shows us with this gun made out of melted aluminum cans.

The build starts off by melting over 200 cans down into metal ingots, and then constructing a mold for the gun’s lower. This is the part that is legally regulated (at least in the US), and all other parts of a gun can be purchased without any special considerations. Once the aluminum is poured into the mold, the rough receiver heads over to the machine shop for finishing.

This build is fascinating, both from a machinist’s and blacksmith’s point-of-view and also as a reality check for how easy it is to build a firearm from scratch provided the correct tools are available. Of course, we don’t need to worry about the world being taken over by hoards of angry machinists wielding unlicensed firearms. There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into these builds and even then they won’t all be of the highest quality. Even the first 3D printed guns only fired a handful of times before becoming unusable, so it seems like any homemade firearm, regardless of manufacturing method, has substantial drawbacks.

Thanks to [Rey] for the tip!

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