Build A Lathe Like It’s 1777

We’ve seen quite a few scratch built lathes here at Hackaday, but none quite like the handcrafted pole lathe put together by [Jon Townsend] and his band of Merry Men as part of their effort to build a period-accurate 18th century log cabin homestead. With the exception of a few metal spikes here and there, everything is made out of lumber harvested from the forest around them.

The lathe is designed to be a permanent structure on the homestead, with two poles driven into the ground to serve as legs. Two rails, made of a split log, are then mounted between them. The movable components of the lathe, known as “puppets” in the parlance of the day, are cut so they fit tightly between the rails but can still be moved back and forth depending on the size of the work piece. With two metal spikes serving as a spindle, the log to be turned down is inserted between the puppets, and wedges are used to lock everything in place.

So that’s the easy part. But how do you spin it? The operator uses a foot pedal attached to a piece of rope that’s been wound around the log and attached to a slender pole cantilevered out over the lathe. By adjusting the length and angle of this pole, the user can set the amount of force it takes to depress the pedal. When the pedal is pushed down the log will spin one way, and when the pole pulls the pedal back up, it will spin the other.

Since the tools only cut in one direction, the user has to keep letting the pressure off when the log spins back around. The fact that the work piece isn’t continuously rotating in the same direction makes this very slow going, but of course, everything was just a bit slower back in the 18th century.

So now that we’ve seen lathes made from wood, intricately cut slabs of stone, and a grab bag of junkyard parts, there’s only one question left. Why do you still not have one?

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CNC Scroll Saw Makes Promising First Cuts

When we talk about CNC machines, we almost invariably mean a computer controlled router. Naturally you can do other forms of automated cutting, say using a laser or a water jet, but what about adding computer control to other types of saws? [Andrew Consroe] recently put together a postmortem video about this experimental CNC scroll saw. While he never quite got it working reliably, we think his approach is absolutely fascinating and hope this isn’t the last we see of the idea.

Those who’ve used a scroll saw in the past might immediately see the challenge of this build: while a router bit or laser beam can cut in any direction, a scroll saw blade can only cut in one. If you tried to make a sharp turn on a scroll saw, you’ll just snap the fragile blade right off. To work around this limitation, [Andrew] came up with the brilliant rotary table that can be seen in the video after the break.

By combining motion of the gantry with table rotation, he’s able to keep the blade from ever making too tight a turn. Or at least, that’s the theory. While the machine works well enough with a marker mounted in place of the blade, [Andrew] says he never got it to the point it could reliably make cuts. It sounds like positioning errors would compound until the machine ended up moving the work piece in such a way that would snap the blade. Still, the concept definitely works; towards the end of the video he shows off a couple of pieces that were successfully cut on his machine before it threw the blade.

While we’ve actually seen DIY scroll saws in the past, this is the first computer controlled one to ever grace the pages of Hackaday. While some will no doubt argue that there’s no sense building one of these now that laser cutters have reached affordable prices, we absolutely love this design and how much thought went into it. At the very least, we figure this it the beefiest doodle-drawing robot ever constructed. Continue reading “CNC Scroll Saw Makes Promising First Cuts”

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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Given Enough Time, Even A Circle Can Get Complicated

With the weather getting a little nicer, [Michael] thought that running some plant hangers off on his CNC router would be a simple stay-at-home project. After all, you just need to cut a couple circles out of a sheet of plywood…right?

Sure, but [Michael] realized that simply cutting out a ring wasn’t a very efficient approach. Unless you happen to need progressively smaller plant hangers, or maybe a new set of drink coasters, the center disc ends up being wasted material. That might not have been a big deal a few months ago, but when a trip to the Home Depot for more plywood could literally be hazardous to your health, that kind of inefficiency just won’t do.

He reasoned it would be better to break the ring down into sections, which could easily be nested so they fit neatly on a square plywood panel. Of course, now those sections need to be connected to each other in a way that’s strong enough for the ring to hold up the weight of the plant.

So that means extra pieces need to be cut out to serve as braces, and you’ll need to screw it all together, so better add some nuts and bolts to the BOM. You’ll probably want some eye bolts as well, but in a pinch you could just weld washers to the heads of screws like [Michael] did once he ran out of the good stuff.

Some would argue that the time [Michael] spent coming up with this revised design is more valuable than the wood he avoided wasting, which might be true if he was on the job and getting paid hourly. But when it’s a personal project, and quarantine has made sourcing materials difficult, we think it’s a fantastic example of working with what you’ve got on hand.

A Custom Saw Designed For Close Quarters Making

It probably goes without saying that we’d all love to have a huge, well-appointed, workshop. But in reality, most of us have to make do with considerably less. When trying to fit tools and equipment into a small space you need to get creative, and if you can figure out a way to squeeze multiple functions out of something, all the better.

Wanting to get as much use out of his space as possible, [Chris Chimienti] decided that his best bet would be to design and build his own folding combination table. Using interchangeable inserts it can switch between being a table saw and a router, and with its extendable arms, also serves as a stand for his miter saw. Of course when not cutting, it makes a handy general purpose work surface.

In the videos after the break, [Chris] takes viewers through the design and construction of what he calls the “Sinister Saw”, which is made somewhat more complicated by the fact that he obviously doesn’t have a table saw to begin with. Cutting out the pieces for the table itself and the panels that would eventually become home to the router and circular saw took some careful work with clamps and saw horses to make sure they were all perfectly square.

But the wooden components of the Sinister Saw are only half of the story. The table is able to extend by way of an aluminum extrusion frame, and there are numerous 3D printed parts involved for which [Chris] has provided the STL files. We particularly like the box that holds the emergency stop button and relocates the tool’s battery to the front panel, which looks to be an evolution of his previous work in 3D printing cordless tool adapters. We could certainly see this part being useful on other projects that utilize these style of batteries.

In the other extreme, where you want to build your own tools and have plenty of space, you could try making everything out of giant slabs of stone.

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The Key To This City Opens A Real Lock

There are few more satisfying moments than the first time you pick a lock. No matter that it’s a dollar-store padlock that you opened with a pick from a $10 eBay kit, the magic of something that should be secure clicking open in the palm of your hand is hard to beat. Pin tumbler locks are surprisingly simple devices, and to demonstrate this [Farmcraft 101] has produced one at 10x scale to demonstrate their operation on the bench.

The video is a delightful exercise in wood-shop voyerism, as we see him construct the various parts of the lock using his lathe and other workshop tools. A key of the size usually reserved for Freedom Of The City is made, but this one really does slide into the keyway and operate those pins. At the back is a latch mechanism, and the result is a fully-functional model that anyone should be able to use to figure out how the lock works.

Thelock itself isn’t the whole story though, because given the date he’s used it as the basis for a cracking April Fool in which he sends up the [Lock Picking Lawyer] and proceeds to demonstrate the glaring insecurities in his creation. Both videos are there for your enjoyment, below the break. And if you can’t wait to have a go at a lock or two, don’t forget you can always make your own tools using paperclips.

[Ed note: streetcleaner bristles. Thank me later.]

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A Gambler’s Bottle Opener

People can certainly become creative when it comes to completing simple tasks like that of removing a bottle cap. Woodworker [Matt Thompson] has come up with a next-level bottle opener that not only does the job but also functions as a game of chance. (Video, embedded below.)

The process usually starts with a spin of his chore wheel that will surprisingly often advise you to drink a beer. While the bottle cap is removed by a standard wall-mounted opener, the fun starts when the cap falls through a wooden labyrinth of various mechanisms reminiscent of a Rube Goldberg machine. Finally, the cap goes through an arrangement of nails, known as a Galton Board which is also found in some pinball and historic gaming machines, before landing in one of two containers marked “winner” and “try again”. The former will trigger the rotating wheel of a self-built peanut dispenser to provide the thirsty person with some tasty snacks. While we would love to see a making-of video with more technical details of this project, we still appreciate the exquisite woodworking and fine craftsmanship that went into building it.

By the way, if you are ever in need of an Arduino board that can also serve as a bottle opener then have a look at HaDuino.

[Thanks to Emanuel for pointing out the proper name of the Galton Board]

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