A Geared Bench Vise To Clamp All The Things

On the eternal quest of workshop upgrades, [Alexandre Chappel] has combined woodworking and 3D printing to add a versatile 0.5 m wide vise with some clever internals to his workbench.

The challenge with such a wide vise is that it requires two timed lead screws on either end of the vise to prevent if from pulling skew under force. This can be done with a chain, belt, or [Alexandre]’s choice, gears. Inside the moving part of the vise he fitted series of 5 herringbone gears. By turning the center gear with a lever, it rotates the gears on the end which are fixed to tow lead screws. The external surfaces of the clamp are made with plywood, and the gears are printed with PLA and high infill percentage. [Alexandre] does say that he is not sure durable the gears are, but they definitely aren’t flimsy. He added an acrylic inspection window to the box section, which we think looks superb with the colored gears peaking through. The back of the vise is mounted inside the workbench, which keeps the look clean and doesn’t take up any bench space.

[Alexandre] does a lot of filming in his workshop, so recently he also built a very impressive and practical camera arm to avoid having to move tripods the whole time. A vise is a must-have tool in almost any workshop, so we’ve seen a few DIY versions, like magnetic base vise and one with a hydraulic vise.

Vintage Gauges Turned Classy Weather Display

It’s always good to see old hardware saved from the junk pile, especially when the end result is as impressive as this analog gauge weather display put together by [Build Comics]. It ended up being a truly multidisciplinary project, combing not only restoration work and modern microcontroller trickery, but a dash of woodworking for good measure.

Naturally, the gauges themselves are the real stars of the show. They started out with rusted internals and broken glass, but parts from a sacrificial donor and some TLC from [Build Comics] got them back in working order. We especially like the effort that was put into making the scale markings look authentic, with scans of the originals modified in GIMP to indicate temperature and humidity while retaining the period appropriate details.

To drive the 1940s era indicators, [Build Comics] is using an Arduino Nano and a DHT22 sensor that can detect temperature and humidity. A couple of trimmer pots are included for fine tuning the gauges, and everything is mounted to a small scrap of perfboard hidden inside of the custom-made pine enclosure.

This is hardly the first time we’ve seen analog gauges hooked up to modern electronics, but most of the projects are just that: modern. While the end look might be somewhat polarizing, we think maintaining the hardware’s classic style was the right call.

Laser Cutting Your Way To An RGB LED Table

You’ve got the RGB keyboard, maybe even the RGB mouse. But can you really call yourself master of the technicolor LED if you don’t have an RGB table to game on? We think you already know the answer. Luckily, as [ItKindaWorks] shows in his latest project, it’s easy to build your own. Assuming you’ve got a big enough laser cutter anyway…

The construction of the table is quite straightforward. Using an 80 watt laser cutter, he puts a channel into a sheet of MDF to accept RGB LED strips, a pocket to hold a Qi wireless charger, and a hole to run all the wires out through. This is then backed with a second, solid, sheet of MDF.

Next, a piece of thin wood veneer goes into the laser cutter. In the video after the break you can see its natural tendency to roll up gave [ItKindaWorks] a little bit of trouble, but when strategically weighted down, it eventually lays out flat. He then uses the laser to blast an array of tiny holes in the veneer, through which the light from the LEDs will shine when it’s been glued over the MDF. A few strips of plastic laid over the strips serve both to diffuse the light and support the top surface.

The end result is truly gorgeous and has a very futuristic feel. Assuming you’ve got the equipment, it’s also a relatively simple concept to experiment with. It’s yet another example of the unique construction techniques possible when you add a high-powered laser to your arsenal.

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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.