JigFab Makes Woodworking Easier

Woodworking is an age-old craft that requires creativity and skill to get the best results. Experienced hands get the best results, while the new builder may struggle to confidently produce even basic pieces. JigFab is here to level the playing field somewhat.

Much of the skill in woodworking comes with mastering the various joints and techniques required to hold a piece together. Cutting these joints often requires specialized tools and equipment – ideally, some sort of jig. These jigs can be difficult to build in themselves, and that’s where JigFab shines.

The workflow is straightforward and quite modern. A piece is designed in Autodesk Fusion 360. Various joints can then be defined in the model between individual parts. JigFab then generates a series of laser cut constraints that can be used with power tools to easily and accurately cut the necessary parts to build the final piece.

It’s an impressive technology which could rapidly speed the workflow of anyone experimenting with woodwork and design. There’s even smart choices, like having a toolkit of standard predefined elements that reduce laser cutting time when producing new constraints. If you’re eager to get stuck in to woodwork, but don’t know where to start, don’t worry – we’ve got a primer for that. Video after the break.

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Printing on Wood, With An Inkjet

As a little experiment in desktop printing, because you can make a desk out of wood, [BlueFlower] modified a standard inkjet printer to print on wood. This is not an electronics mod by any means; this is still a printer that’s plugged into a USB port, does all the fancy printer firmware stuff, tells you to refill the yellow ink cartridge when you only want to print black, and all the other things that inkjet printer firmware will do. This is a mechanical mod. By taking apart the belts and rails and mounting them to a new frame, [BlueFlower] was able to open up the printer so a moving bed holding a board could be moved through the mechanics.

While the printer itself looks a little janky, you can’t argue with results. The prints look good, and should hold up well with a bit of finish. There’s a height adjustment for different thicknesses of stock, and if you’re exceptionally clever, you might be able to put a six-foot-long board through this thing. You can check out a video of this direct to wood printer in action below.

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Home-Brew CNC Router Mills A Wooden Mouse

First off, we’ll admit that there no real practical reason for wanting a wooden mouse – unless of course the cellulose rodent in question is the one that kicked it all off in “The Mother of All Demos” fifty years ago. Simply putting a shell around the guts of a standard wireless optical mouse is just flexing, but we’re OK with that.

That said, [Jim Krum]’s design shows some impressive skills, both in the design of the mouse and the build quality of his machine. Starting with what looks like a block of white oak, [Jim] hogs out the rough shape of the upper shell and then refines it with a small ball-end mill before flipping it over to carve the other side. His registration seems spot on, because everything matches up well and the shell comes out to be only a few millimeters thick. The bottom plate gets the same treatment to create the complex shape needed to support the mouse guts and a battery holder. He even milled a little battery compartment cover. He used a contrasting dark wood for the scroll wheel and a decorative band to hold the top and bottom together and finished it with a light coat of sealer.

It’s a great look, and functional too as the video below reveals. We’ve seen a few other fancy mice before, like this wood and aluminum model or even one that would look at home on [Charles Babbage]’s desk.

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Wood SCARA Arm Gets a Grip

[Ignacio]’s VIRK I is a robot arm of SCARA design with a very memorable wooden body, and its new gripper allows it to do a simple pick and place demo. Designing a robot arm is a daunting task, and the fundamental mechanical design is only part of the whole. Even if the basic framework for a SCARA arm is a solved problem, the challenge of building it and the never-ending implementation details make it a long-term project.

When we first saw VIRK I in all its shining, Australian Blackwood glory, it lacked any end effector and [Ignacio] wasn’t sure of the best way to control it. Since then, [Ignacio] has experimented with Marlin and Wangsamas support for SCARA arms, and designed a gripper based around a hobby servo. It’s as beautiful to see this project moving forward as it is to see the arm moving ping-pong balls around, embedded below.

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The Coco-Nutcracker

Coconut is a delicious and versatile food but if you’ve ever tried to open one you know they can be a hard nut to crack. Those of us who live in the tropics where they are common might reach for a machete, drill, or saw to open them, which is often a messy and sometimes dangerous ordeal. Realizing that a coconut is just a large nut with a shell like any other, [Paul] of [Jackman Works] decided to build a nutcracker big enough to crack a coconut, which turns out to be almost exactly human-sized.

The nutcracker is built almost entirely out of reclaimed wood. Several rings made of many blocks of wood were constructed on the table saw before being glued and clamped together. Once the rings were stacked and glued to each other, [Paul] put them on a lathe to get a smooth finish. Then the arms, legs, body, and head were all assembled. The actual nutcracking mechanism is one of the few metal parts in this build, a long threaded rod which is needed to handle the large forces required for cracking the coconut.

Once the finishing touches were put on the nutcracker, including boots, a beard, some hair, and of course a pom-pom for his hat, [Paul] successfully tested it by cracking a coconut open. This build is exceptionally high quality and is definitely worth scrolling through. He runs a wood shop in DC where he builds all sorts of interesting things like this, including a giant wooden utility knife.

Glasses Frames Crafted Out Of Wood

Most glasses and sunglasses on the market make use of metal or plastic frames. It’s relatively easy to create all manner of interesting frame geometries, tolerances can be easily controlled for fitting optical elements, and they’re robust materials that can withstand daily use. Wood falls short on all of these measures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to make a beautiful pair of glasses.

ZYLO is a company making wooden eyewear, and this video from [Paide] shows the build process in detail. Modern tools are used to make things as efficient as possible. Parts are lasercut and engraved to form the main part of the frames as well as the temples (the arms that sit over the ears to hold them on your face). A special jig is used to impart a curve on the laminated wood parts before further assembly is undertaken. Metal pre-fabricated hinges and screws are used to bolt everything together like most other modern sunglasses, but there’s significant hand finishing involved, including delicate inlays and highlighting logo features.

In contrast, Manuel Arroyave works very differently in the creation of his Cedoro glasses. Sheets are first laminated together, before the shape is roughed out by a special horizontal axis milling setup. Even small details like the hinges are delicately hand-crafted out of wood and fitted with tiny wooden dowels.

It goes to show that there’s always more than one way to get a job done. We’re tempted to break out the laser cutter and get started on some custom shades ourselves. Perhaps though, you’re too tired to put your sunglasses on by yourself? Nevermind, there’s a solution for that, too. Video after the break.

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Woodworker Goes from 3D-Printing Skeptic to Believer

If there’s one place where the old ways of doing things live a longer life than you’d otherwise expect, it’s the woodshop. Woodworkers have a way of stubbornly sticking to tradition, and that usually works out fine. But what does it take to change a woodworker’s mind about a tool that seems to have little role in the woodshop: the 3D-printer?

That’s the question [Marius Hornberger] asked himself, and at least for him, there are a lot of woodworking gadgets that can be 3D-printed. [Marius] began his journey into additive manufacturing three years ago as a skeptic, not seeing how [Benchy] and friends could be of any value to his endeavors. But as is often the case with a tool that can build almost anything, all it takes is a little ingenuity to get started. His first tool was a pair of soft jaws for his bench vise. This was followed by a flood of useful doodads, including a clever center finder for round and square stock, custom panels for electrical switches, and light-duty pulleys for some of the machines he likes to build. But [Marius] obviously has an issue with dust, because most of his accessories have to do with helping control it in the shop. The real gem of this group is the hose clamp for spiral-reinforced vacuum hose; standard band clamps don’t fit well on those, but his clamps have an offset that straddles the wire for a neat fit. Genius!

[Marius] has kindly made all his models available on Thingiverse, so feel free to dig in and start kitting out your shop. Once you do maybe you can start building cool things like his all-wood scissors lift.

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