Building An Artisanal Tape Measure

Some tools are so common, so basic, that we take them for granted. A perfect example is the lowly tape measure. We’ve probably all got a few of these kicking around the lab, and they aren’t exactly the kind of thing you give a lot of thought to when you’re using them. But while most of us might not give our tape measure a second thought, [Ariel Yahni] decided to create an absolutely gorgeous new enclosure for his. Because if you’re going to measure something, why not look good doing it?

A CNC router is used to carve the body of the new tape measure out of a solid block of wood and cut a top plate out of clear acrylic. [Ariel] then used an angle grinder to cut off a small section of steel rod which he secured into a carved pocket in the base using epoxy. Finally, the internals of a commercial tape measure were inserted into this new enclosure, and the acrylic top was screwed down into place.

[Ariel] has made the DXF files for this project public for anyone else who wants to carve out their own heirloom tape measure, though it seems likely the designs will need some tweaking depending on the make and model of donor tape measure. While this might not be the most technically impressive project to run on Hackaday, it’s still a fantastic example of the sort of bespoke designs that are made possible with modern manufacturing methods.

This design reminds us of a similar project to turn a basic Honda key fob into a true conversation piece with the addition of some CNC’d hardwood and aluminum.

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Downdraft Table Inhales Dust, Not Cash

We always look forward to the builds [MakerMan] sends in, and it’s not just because we dig his choices in royalty free music (though it helps). He always manages to put together his projects with a minimum of fuss, and perhaps more importantly, a minimum of funds. His builds use salvaged components, easily sourced materials, and common tools. Watching him work invariably makes us realize that we tend to overthink our own projects.

In his latest video, [MakerMan] was tasked with building a downdraft table for a local factory that makes jewelry boxes. By sucking air through a series of holes in the table’s surface, sawdust created while the workers are building the boxes will automatically be removed from the workspace. Even if you aren’t in the jewelry box making business, any task which produces fine particles (such as sanding) could benefit from such a setup. You probably won’t need a downdraft table quite as large as the one he builds, but the principles will be the same if you get inspired to build a somewhat smaller version.

The build starts with sheets of MDF, which get cut, glued, and screwed together to make the basic tabletop shape. To this, [MakerMan] attaches a welded steel frame which will give it the strength MDF itself lacks. With careful measurement, lines are plotted across the top of the MDF sheet and all the holes are drilled with a simple hand drill; no fancy CNC here.

With the table doing its best colander impression, [MakerMan] adds an air box to the bottom which is similarly made of thin MDF sheets. All of the joints are sealed up with caulk, because at this point you want things to be as air tight as possible. A large blower is attached to the bottom, which gets piped to a dust collection system that’s made of a garbage can and…you guessed it, more MDF.

Watching [MakerMan] turn what’s often literal trash into a functional build never gets old. We’ve seen him create everything from a gorgeous origami chandelier to a very impressive diode laser cutter using little more than scrap parts and hand tools, and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

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Become the Next Fabergé With a Rose Engine Lathe

The basics of a skill may take a long time to master, but there is always something else to learn about regardless of the craft. Building a piece of fine furniture out of hardwood or being able to weld together a bicycle from scratch are all impressive feats, but there are fine details that you’ll only learn about once you get to this level of craftsmanship. One such tool that will help with these intricacies is known as the rose engine lathe.

This tool is based on an average lathe, typically used for creating round things out of stock which is not round. A rose engine lathe has a set of cams on it as well which allow the lathe to create intricate patterns in the material it’s working with, such as flower type patterns or intricate spirals. One of the most famous implementations of this method was on the Fabergé eggs. While this might make it sound overly complex, this how-to actually shows you how to build your own rose engine lathe out of a piece of MDF and a large number of miscellaneous pieces of hardware.

We recently featured another build which performs a similar function called engine turning. While similar, this is the method responsible for creating overlapping spirals on a piece of metal. Either way, both projects are sure to spice up your metal or woodworking endeavors.

Thanks to [PWalsh] for the tip!

Art Deco Control Panel Looks Out of Metropolis

Bakelite, hammertone gray finish, big chunky toggle switches, jeweled pilot lights – these are a few of [Wesley Treat]’s favorite retro electronics things. And he’ll get no argument from us, as old gear is one of our many weak spots. So when he was tasked by a friend to come up with some chaser lights for an Art Deco-themed bar, [Wesley] jumped at the chance to go overboard with this retro-style control panel.

Granted, the video below pays short shrift to the electronics side of this build in favor of concentrating on the woodworking and metalworking aspects of making the control panel. We’re OK with that, too, as we picked up a ton of design tips along the way. The control panel is all custom, with a chassis bent from sheet aluminum. The sides of the console are laminated walnut and brushed aluminum, which looks very chic. We really like the recessed labels for the switches and indicators on the front panel, although we’d have preferred them to be backlighted. And that bent aluminum badge really lends a Chrysler Building flair that ties the whole project together.

All in all, a really nice job, and another in a long string of retro cool projects from [Wesley]. We recently featured his cloning of vintage knobs for an old Philo tube tester, and we’ll be looking for more great projects from him in the future.

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Hexagonal Lamp Is A Stylish Application Of Plywood

Lamps are useful things, and can be a great way to add style and lighting options to a room. Where overhead lights have to provide enough illumination for all manner of tasks, a subtle table lamp can add a nice moody glow to a room when it’s time to kick back and relax. Oftentimes, a stylish lamp can be let down by having a run of the mill plastic switch hanging off the power lead, but it doesn’t always have to be the case. [Emiel] designed this hexagonal lamp with a hidden switch, which works remarkably well.

[Emiel] starts by laying out hexagonal paper templates on plywood and perspex sheet. The plywood is cut on the bandsaw, while the interior cuts on the perspex are made on a scroll saw to avoid unsightly cut entry lines. The outer half of the lamp slides up and down on a pair of steel rods. Springs hold the outer half up, and it can be pressed down to activate a switch inside to turn the lamp on and off.

The build has a clean and attractive aesthetic, with the LEDs hidden inside, glowing through the perspex slices built into the body. It looks like something you’d find in the rooms at the Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. If regular lamps aren’t enough for you, however, you could always consider building something interactive. Video after the break.

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Honda Key Fob Turned CNC Work of Art

Now that nearly every car on the road comes with an electronic key fob, people are desperate to find ways to repair these indispensable little gadgets without coughing up potentially hundreds of dollars at the dealership. There’s a whole market for replacement shells which you can transplant your (hopefully) still functional electronics into, but if you’re going to go through the trouble of putting the electronics into a new case, why not make it special?

That’s what [Michicanery] was thinking when he decided to build his own custom key fob. The end result is an utterly magnificent feat of engineering that’s sure to be a conversation for the life of the vehicle, if not beyond. Made of wood and aluminum cut on his OpenBuilds Lead CNC 1010, this build just might inspire you to “accidentally” drop your existing fob from a great height. Oh no, what a shame.

[Michicanery] starts by disassembling his original fob, which is the type that has a key integrated directly into the device. This meant his replacement would need a bit more thought put into it than a separate stand-alone fob, but at least it wasn’t one of the ones where you have to stick the whole thing into the dashboard. To make sure the build was strong enough to survive a lifetime of being turned in the ignition and generally fiddled with, he cut the central frame and buttons out of 1/4″ thick aluminum.

The top and bottom of the fob were then cut from Chechen wood and then chamfered on a table router so it felt a bit better in the hand. He applied oil to the pieces to bring out the natural color and grain of the wood, but not before engraving his own logo onto the back of the case for that extra touch of personalization. Not that we think [Michicanery] is going to have trouble identifying his keys from this point on.

Like the incredible watch cases we’ve seen recently, this is a perfect example of an everyday object getting a new lease on life as a bespoke creation thanks to a custom built enclosure. Granted we’re not sure Honda key fobs have quite the heirloom potential of a good watch, but we’d still prefer it over the black plastic original.

[via /r/DIY]

Raspberry Pi Jukebox Hits All the Right Notes

We (and by extension, you) have seen the Raspberry Pi crammed into nearly every piece of gear imaginable. Putting one inside a game console is so popular it’s bordering on a meme, and putting them into old stereos and other pieces of consumer electronics isn’t far behind. It’s always interesting to see how hackers graft the modern Raspberry Pi into the original hardware, but we’ll admit it can get a bit repetitive. So how about somebody scratch building an enclosure for their jukebox project?

[ComfortablyNumb] took the road less traveled when he created this very nice wooden Raspberry Pi enclosure in the shape of an eighth note. Stained and varnished and with a nice big touch screen in the middle to handle the controls, it’s an attractive and functional piece of home audio gear that we imagine most people would be happy to hang on their wall.

The process starts by printing out the desired shape on a piece of paper to use as guide, and then gluing together strips of wood to create the rough outline. Then the surface was thoroughly sanded to bring all of the strips of wood to the same level, and the final design was cut out. On the back of the note, [ComfortablyNumb] boxed out an area to hold the Waveshare seven-inch touch screen panel and the Raspberry Pi itself.

Having seen so many projects where the Pi is rather unceremoniously shoehorned into another device, it’s refreshing to see the results of a purpose-built enclosure. Since [ComfortablyNumb] was able to build the electronics compartment to his exact dimensions, the final result looks exceptionally clean and professional. Not a drop of hot glue to be seen. It also helps that this build only required the Pi and the display; as the device is meant to be plugged into an existing audio setup, there’s no onboard amplifier. The audiophiles out there might recoil in horror, but adding a dedicated digital to analog converter (DAC) would be easy enough to add if the stock audio on the Pi isn’t good enough for you.

The project is finished off with stain and several coats of varnish to get that deep and rich color. We don’t often find ourselves working with dead trees around these parts, but we’ve got to admit that the final product does look quite handsome. Certainly beats the LEGO cases many of our Pi projects live in.

If you’re looking for more wooden-encased Pi jukeboxes, you might enjoy this somewhat abstract magstripe-based take on the concept. Of course, we’ve also seen our fair share of actual jukeboxes receive a Raspberry infusion over the years.

[via /r/raspberry_pi]