A Needlepoint Project Box

IMG_0304aMy friend Sarah enjoys knitting and needlepoint in her spare time.  I noticed she kept her thread cards in one container, her scissors and pins in her sewing kit, and hoops and projects elsewhere.  Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if she could keep all her needlepoint-related projects in one place?

When I sketched up the plans, I knew that I wanted to have a partitioned area to keep the little plastic ‘cards’ of thread, an area for miscellaneous supplies (I think sewing enthusiasts call these items ‘notions’), an area for the ‘skeins’ of thread waiting to be put on the cards (not sure of the technical term for those), and an area for hoops when they aren’t in use.

IMG_0302At first, I was going to have just one box with a lift-out tray.  But I wanted to have three separate compartments.  I figured I would put a drawer in the bottom for large, infrequently-used items, the lift-out tray for frequently used items, and the main bottom compartment for moderately sized, moderately-used items.

Instead of going with the lift-out tray, I decided to go with a fold-out style box, which I figured would be a bit more elegant and just as functional.

The box is made from Poplar with miter keys made from Purple Heart.  The lid is Purple Heart with a Poplar Frame.  I didn’t have a wide enough piece of Purple Heart for the lid, so I got to do my first book-matching rip on the table saw, and it turned out great.

IMG_0301To keep her mother-in-law (another needlepointer) from purloining the box, I burned Sarah’s full name deep into the lid using a Scrabble™ tile font I found online.  It’ll take a lot of belt sanding to get that name off the box.

Click to embiggen.

The lid is retained in an almost-upright position by a black chain on the right-hand side.  Since the lid is a little wider than 11.5″, I took a couple of scrap pieces of Purple Heart and used them as standoffs for a piece of Lexan.  That way, Sarah can keep needlepoint patterns with her projects.


Lessons Learned:In hindsight, I really wish I spent more time on getting the drawer flush with the front.  It looks fine head-on, but it sticks out a bit on the profile shot.

Fallout AER-9 Laser Combat Rifle

IMG_1829Going along the theme of the Dalek-Human Hybrid Tommygun I made for Pete last year, I decided to make yet another gun for him.  Only this one will hopefully be a little more recognizable to a wider audience.

20131112_035314All my work up until now has been pretty much wood only.  However, I wanted to work on a project that had small, curved details that would be so much easier to do if I used plastic, e.g. the front and back ends of the barrel, and the fore grip.

Fortunately, I’m not the first person to make an AER-9, so I had the luxury of standing on the shoulders of giants.  Notably Volpin Props, who meticulously detailed every step of the construction of his own rifle.

20131112_035245Schenk was out of town for work, so I didn’t have access to the laser cutter.  I had to cut out all the tiny pieces by hand.  I also used spray adhesive to fasten a printout of the gun stock to a sheet of MDF, and then cut it out on the bandsaw.  I guess this is how cavemen used to do it in ancient times?

20131114_033744I used a liberal amountof spot-putty on the project.  It’s great for smoothing over seams and gaps, and sands super smooth. I also used a special type of ‘filler’ spray paint on the stock part of the rifle.  The MDF acts like a sponge when painting, and I wanted a smooth metallic look on the finished product.  I didn’t see that happening on the edge surfaces of the MDF.

20131116_051813I also picked up a product called Magic Sculpt from TAP Plastics here in town, which is a handy two-part epoxy clay.  I was able to mold it to the part where the power cell attaches to the barrel, and it dries as hard as you would expect epoxy to.  It’s kind of expensive, but because it’s a two-part mix, I wind up using less of it than I’d expect.  The two Play-Doh sized containers I got will probably last me a decade.

The power cell gave me a good reason to visit the grandparents.  Grandpa got a lathe as a retirement gift long ago, and hasn’t seen much use lately.  Also, the only other people I know with lathes have metal lathes.  Anyway, modeled up the power cell in Solidworks and printed it out 1:1 scale.  I could then use calipers to compare what I had spinning on the lathe to what I wanted to have spinning on the lathe.

The bottom support rod was made from dowels that I drilled out and chained one to another.  In hindsight, I probably should have just carved the whole thing out on the lathe in one piece.  It would have been a lot more sturdy, should the gun come down hard on something.

20131118_033447I saw a few ideas online for the top tube of the rifle.  One person used steel tubing, another used an acrylic rod.  While walking through Home Depot, I realized I could just use Pex.  Pex is a modern plastic tubing used in houses for water pipes.  It’s fairly bendy, so you don’t have to wrestle around with elbows and couplers during house construction like you have to for copper pipe.  A zap from the heat gun, and it retained its new shape fairly well.

I’ll be sure to update this post in the future when I get pics of the finished gun showing the decals and weathering.


Skyrim Coasters

My friend Nate loves Skyrim.  I remember him excitedly showing me the trailer for it months before it came out, and he played the hell out of it after it came out.  Before X-mas time, I trolled the net for some Skyrim gift ideas, and came across a set of Skyrim-themed coasters.  That would make a great gift.

IMG_3240Each coaster is 3mm ply with a city logo from six of the nine major cities laser-etched into the surface.  I cut circles from a thin self-adhesive cork sheet and stuck them to the bottoms.  I applied wipe-on polyurethane to the surface (making sure not to get any down into the logo area), then washed the logos with an assortment of thinned acrylic paint; the excess acrylic was then easily wiped off the poly’d surface of the coaster.

fig 2: example of foreground depth-of-field misjudgement

I didn’t think six tiny coasters would make an impressive gift, so I decided to double-down and create another six coasters.  In Skyrim, spells are learned by finding ancient engravings etched in stone.  I wanted to make six more coasters to look like stone tablets engraved with the Dovahkiin translations of six different spells.

Each coaster is laser engraved in 3mm ply, then sprayed with a stone-textured paint.  I did the same thing I did with the city-emblem coasters, only it was very difficult this time because it was hard to wipe away the black acrylic paint from the very rough texture of the coaster.  They still turned out pretty well.  Self-adhesive cork applied to the bottoms protects the surfaces upon which they sit.