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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  27 Jan 2015  |  Comments (1)

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'The Wrist Report' is the semi-serious, bi-somethingly bulletin from the frontier of forearm fashion and functionality.

Even earlier this month at CES it was clear that the wearables frenzy had lost some of its vigor since last year (presumedly as manufacturers try to make good on some of their overblown concept promises). Of the news that there was, it seemed that technology on the wrist was being met with much more modesty by manufacturers—Withings going simpler and cheaper with their brand activity tracker in traditional timepiece form and Swiss watchmaker Montblanc making tentative steps into the world of wearable tech by strapping a tiny OLED screen to the underside of the wrist (yeh, it looked as good as it sounds).

Fast-forward only a couple of weeks and it seems that some new entrants into the forearm function/fashion fanfare are doing away with the tech altogether. In remarkable concurrence with Debbie Chachra's article in The Atlantic critiquing the hero worship of 'makers', Portland multi-tool manufacturer and Core77 fav Leatherman is gearing up to launch a multi-tool that straps (rather proudly) around the wrist. Introducing Tread.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Jan 2015  |  Comments (5)

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And we mean quick 'n dirty. For every finely polished shop solution is an equally functional, nasty-looking one that you quickly bang out because you need it. And if there was a museum filled with people's ad-hoc shop creations from around the world, I'd be there once a month.

The Los Angeles-based crafter behind the Cheltenham Road blog needed someplace to store his drill bits. Being numbers-challenged—"I keep thinking if I just concentrated I could remember that 7/32nds was smaller than 15/64ths," he writes—he wanted something that would not only keep the bits in size order, but let him quickly know which bit to grab while pre-drilling for a particularly-sized screw or dowel.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  13 Jan 2015  |  Comments (7)

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After a woodworker has cut his/her joinery, prior to final assembly they'll do a dry fit to make sure everything fits correctly. This can be challenging depending upon how complicated the piece is; the more tenons and mortises there that need to be lined up, the more swearing you'll do during the process.

That's why this swear-free video of a team of Japanese master carpenters is so stunning. Not only is the joint insanely complicated and huge, designed to connect two timber-frame beams end-to-end, but they're using a traditional method of tapered pegs to smoothly connect—and disconnect—the pieces:

Not complicated enough for you? Check out this dry-fit where two beams are joined inside of a third piece:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Our top-rated tool-related story of the year didn't involve a particular tool, but rather, the space where one stores and uses them. The story of a "Largely Intact Woodworking Shop from the 1700s Discovered, Being Used as a Storage Shed Behind a School" blew our minds and, judging by the numbers, yours.

03jeffklee-002.jpgPhoto by Jeffrey E. Klee, Architectural Historian of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

After seeing the tool storage system from PraXsys, pictured below, we determined "What Our First Industrial Design School Assignment Should Have Been: Self-Made Carrying Cases." Before learning to design for others, oughtn't we learn to design things to carry our own gear?

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In "A Slick Hinge from Germany, and Some Awesome Toolbox Designs from Brazil," woodworking madman Matthias Wandel uncovered an unusual toolbox in the shop of cabinetmaker Gregor Bruhn. Wandel then created a mock-up to show us how the slick hinge mechanism works, and we also got to see some clever takes on the design from a pair of young Brazilian craftsmen. Check out videos for both at the link above.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Whether hand or power, where would we be without our tools? Some of you earn your living with them, others among you retreat to personal workshops after hours, shaking off your CAD jockey status by working physical materials.

In 2014 we were lucky enough to witness an avalanche of innovative implements from around the world. Some you can buy around the corner, others would require you take out a massive loan to afford and have shipped from overseas. But all of them inspire the industrial designer in us to go out and make things.

First off we traveled to Germany for Holz-Handwerk, the European Trade Fair for Woodworking & Wood Processing. We saw everything from Mobile Furniture-Building Workstations to the awesome Logosol, which enables a single person to turn a felled tree into boards all by themselves.

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We also checked out the JLC Live show in Providence this year, where we watched a demo of Festool's Amazing Dust-Free TSC-55 Cordless Track Saw. The thing blew our minds--no power cord and practically no dust.

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One of the crazier things we saw this year was an Articulated Bandsaw. Manufacturer MD Dario flips the script on moving material through a blade; with their contraption, you can move the machine around a stationary 16-foot beam and still get impressively intricate cuts.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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My gym-going buddy says NYC's fitness centers will be packed to the gills--for the next two weeks. Getting in shape is apparently the number one New Year's resolution, though people start to fizzle as early as mid-January.

For those of you with shops, let's make a more lasting resolution: To work a bit more efficiently this year. In this DIY shop hack video, Izzy Swan starts off with something we've seen before--the nail-as-pilot-hole-drill-bit--but then launches into seven other shop tricks you may find useful.


Posted by Sam Dunne  |  30 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Following their recent three-year $90-million mega-renovation, the Cooper-Hewitt has been going all out to raise the game of their recently relaunched all important museum SHOP. As part of their efforts, curator Chad Phillips has allegedly commissioned a number of home-grown designers to create a range of "exciting new products that are covetable, gift-worthy, and affordable" to stock the shelves, inspired by collections at the museum.

One such object comes from Brooklyn based studio UM Project (standing for "Users and Makers" as their homepage will tell you), who contributed a range of mallets in a range of incongruous materials including brass, copper, marble-esque delrin and maple given a range of tasteful powder coating and lacquer finishes. Pretty and beautifully crafted though these "Mad Mallets" undoubtedly are (presumedly inspired at least in part by the museum's Memphis collections), we have to wonder—what is the sense in these faux-functional luxury tool toys?

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The postmodern multi-material mallets could well be explained away as the simple whim of some over-zealous Brooklyn furniture designers, were it not for signs of similar stuff happening elsewhere. Beirut-based designer Stephanie Moussallem recently launched this range of handmade rolling pins (above) at the SMO Gallery Beirut (hmm, note the white wall natural habitats of these particular products) in a less colourful, but similarly luxuriously eclectic material palette.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I was just digging through videos for the Scrap Bin Wood Challenge, whereby participants try to make something useful out of their cut-offs, when this shop trick caught my eye. Woodworker Patrick Curtis (who's using scraps to turn his lathe into a disc sander, which seems crazy to me, but then I have an irrational fear of lathes) has put his planer on a turntable.

I've been in a fair amount of shops and have seen tons of in-shop videos, but I've never seen this done before. Obviously it would be a disaster if planing long boards, but for doing just a few small pieces like drawer panels and such, it seems as ingenious as it is space-saving, and obviates you having to walk around to the back of the planer to retrieve the piece.

So here's my question to those of you who spend more time in shops than I do: Why have I never seen this before? Please choose one of the following or give me an "E:"

A. People who work shorter materials do this all the time; you've just never been in a shop that does.

B. People who work shorter materials usually don't do this,
because even though it looks handy, there is an issue with ______.

C. This isn't typically done because it's only efficient for running
a few pieces at a time; if doing 20 boards, for instance,
the constant rotating becomes more work than it's worth.

D. You've never seen this before because as unlikely
as it sounds, to my knowledge this guy is actually the first to do it.

Feedback please.

And for those of you interested in the disc-sander/lathe, here's Curtis' entire video:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Children who visit The Warther Museum in Dover, Ohio each get a special gift on their way out: A working pair of wooden pliers, carved from a single block of basswood. The gift is appropriate since the museum houses the work of Ernest "Mooney" Warther, an American master woodcarver.

In the video below, son David Warther shows you how he makes the pliers--in just ten cuts with a knife--and proves that he's learned a thing or two from his dad. Pretty amazing:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The success of the recently Kickstarted Wolffepack, a backpack that can rotate from the wearer's back to front, proves some consumers want a rotateable, wearable storage system. Along similar lines, firefighter and photographer Chris Landano realized that tradespeople could use a rotateable system for gear. But he didn't get the idea from seeing the Wolffepack—he got the idea after a near-death experience several years ago.

While working as a forensic photographer for the FDNY, Landano was trying to escape from a collapsed building when he became stuck in a narrow space. His photography belt had caught on a piece of debris, and Landano was only able to extricate himself by fiddling with his belt to undo it and squeezing through. He escaped and suffered little more than damaged gear, but you can imagine how disastrous the results would have been had their been, say, a beam about to fall on him while he was attempting to unbuckle the belt. "It was in that moment of panic," Landano writes, "that the idea for TrakBelt360 was born."

Landano has invented a clever belt system that can take any kind of pouch, holster or toolbag, have it clip on, and allow it to rotate completely around the user's waist. Aside from the safety benefits of someone stuck in the situation described above, it's likely to be a boon to contractors and repairfolk; while they need to wear bulky toolbelts, one job might see them lying on their side to repair an appliance, another might have them crawling under a house on their belly, a third might have them scaling a steep ladder. To be able to quickly get whatever's hanging off of the belt rotated out of the way is far more appealing than having to remove the entire thing (and not have the tools required at hand).

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Nov 2014  |  Comments (7)

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In our daily lives, we live with such lousy package design solutions. A tube is a terrible way to store toothpaste, and when was the last time you got the last drop out of a bottle of lotion or shampoo? In addition to the user experience issues, there's the sheer wastefulness of plastic bottles that we use once and then throw in the recycling, still caked with residue. And when it comes to storing wood finishes, an even worse package design than bottles is cans. Here's a can of wood finish left behind by the previous tenant of my current apartment:

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I was excited to find it--then disappointed to see he hadn't sealed the lid properly, the lip clogged as it is with poured finish. What a waste.

In the There's got to be a better way! mindset I dug around and found a company called Finishing Solutions, which makes a product called Stop Loss Bags:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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There's a reason we don't prototype things out of stone. We use wood, metal or plastic because when you inevitably screw something up, there's a chance you can fix it. Stone isn't exactly forgiving. Which is why I have the ultimate respect for the craftsmanship of stone sculptors, with their patience and the high level of skill required to render form from rock.

I always pictured them tapping away in some atelier with a hammer and chisel, but of course the modern-day stone sculptor has access to power tools. San-Francisco-based Chuck Clanton, whose material of choice is marble and whose work you see pictured here, uses chisels driven by air-powered hammers.

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"I have been using the Cuturi air hammer line for 20 years," Clanton writes. "I learned about it from the 70-year-old artisani in Italy who have been sculpting for major studios all their lives. They use Cuturi because they stand up to 40-hour weeks, for decades."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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There aren't many of us that need to cut frame timbers, railroad ties and things beyond the scope of your average circular or table saw. But for those that do, and need to do it on-site, Festool makes the SSU 200 Sword Saw.

As with the Prazi Beam Cutter, the Sword Saw is a combination of a circular saw and a chainsaw; but whereas Prazi's invention is a DIY job, Festool's is plug-and-play and meant to ride along one of their tracks, providing straight-line accuracy:

What they need to invent next: A microphone windscreen.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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In the non-square, non-level, non-plumb world we live in, the Stanley FatMax laser level is one of the handiest tools I own. Can't remember what I paid for it—mine is way outdated—but it was less than a hundred bucks, and X/Y only.

On the other end of the cost scale, a California-based company called Origin Laser Tools produces extremely expensive high-end laser levels. Optomechanical engineer Tim Litvin started the company in 2010 with the aim of making laser levels that would be the best of the best—with locally-sourced parts and construction:

Our laser's mechanical parts are CNC-milled by a local machine shop, a local circuit board manufacturer fabricates and assembles our custom electronics... even the hand-checkered wooden grips are the product of a local craftsman. Almost every other component is also made in the United States. The components are finally assembled, by hand, here in Santa Cruz...

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Our laser tools are an investment, made by craftsmen, for craftsmen. We hope they'll become a tool that you'll look forward to using, every day.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you live in a rural area with four seasons, you know that maintaining your property is a lot of work requiring a lot of tools. And when it comes to powered items, at a minimum you need a lawnmower for the summer, a leaf blower for the fall, a snowblower for the winter and maybe a pressure washer when it comes time to clean the house in spring. That's four contraptions taking up space in your garage, each with their own motor.

Which is why Troy-Bilt's forthcoming FLEX line of products is brilliant, at least in theory. The idea behind the FLEX line is that you buy a single motor (a decent size, too, at 208cc's), then buy lawn mower, leaf blower, snowblower and pressure washer "attachments" as needed, and you can swap each of them in and out, so you've only got one motor to maintain.

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As of yet there's no details on the FLEX's "Lock & Latch" connection system, but since the devil is in the design details, we imagine the ease or difficulty of swapping attachments is something that will boost or kill sales after customer reviews hit the web. Which will be next year; the FLEX line is slated to roll out in Spring of 2015, exclusively through Lowes.

Via Consumer Reports

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  13 Oct 2014  |  Comments (9)

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They are the first to market, but they certainly won't be the last: Power tool manufacturer Bosch has rolled out wireless charging for 18-volt cordless tools before any of their competitors. An inductive charger transmits electricity to the battery placed atop it, meaning for the first time one doesn't have to disconnect the battery to juice it up.

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The productivity gains spread across the entire body of users should be enormous. I can't tell you how many times I've been using my drill and impact driver in concert, and invariably one or the other will run out of juice, meaning I've got to go back and forth with one battery on both units while I charge the other battery up. Arguably this wouldn't happen if I had the discipline to disconnect both batteries after every job and pop them back on the charger, but I just don't. With a charger frame like Bosch's, I could simply dock the entire tool after each gig and come back to 100% battery life, checking the little LED indicator on the base to be sure.

Check it out:

The company reports that the new 18V batteries are backwards-compatible, so legacy Bosch users won't be left in the wired-up cold.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I'm not looking forward to winter, because the ex-manufacturing space I moved into last year is brutally cold and drafty. I spent last winter making futile attempts to caulk this and shrink-wrap that, only to achieve zero perceptible gains in thermal efficiency; the space is simply too deteriorated on all six sides for me to determine where I can best make a dent.

What I need is a focused plan, a way of determining where the largest heat leaks are so I can tackle those first. And I think I've found my solution in this awesome-looking Seek Thermal Smartphone Infrared Camera.

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The tiny, three-inch, half-ounce, $199 device brings something close to military- or industrial-grade thermal imaging to the common man with the common paycheck. (A commercial infrared camera would run you four figures.) You plug it into the bottom of your smartphone and bang, you've got an image on your screen that can accurately display a range of temperatures from -40° Celsius (-40° Fahrenheit) up to 330° C (626° F).

Here's a demo of it in action from Android Police's David Ruddock, and you can skip the first 30 seconds of pitch-blackness:

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  26 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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What with all the pomp and ceremony, prolonged exposure to design shows and festivals these days can, on occasion, cause a slight feeling of disease— a symptom perhaps of a perceived detachment from reality amongst the shiny objects and chair redesigns. What an oasis of perspective then, on our week-long tour of London Design Festival 2014, to stumble on the humbling sight of a scissor-making workshop in the heart of Shoreditch.

Craftsmen from century-old Sheffield-based Ernest Wright & Sons (fifth-generation family-owned no less) set up shop at The Saturday Market Project, giving demonstrations of blade hand-sharpening and scissor assembly in their mini-workshop. (Some of you may recall that Cliff Denton, a lifelong 'putter' at Ernest Wright & Sons, was recently the subject of a short documentary.) Whilst spending the day working up some intricate bird-like embroidery scissors, the guys also had an impressive selection of their hand-made tools on show—the owners are still passionate about the role of hand crafting in an age of mass-manufacturing when much production has moved out of British towns, like the once industrial powerhouse Sheffield.

We were particularly enamored with the cutting potential of the enormous large bolt 13" tailoring shears—a hell of weight to them! A pair of these hand-crafted monsters will set you back a cool GBP 130/USD 212

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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For small parts storage, I use the cheapie Stack-On containers we covered here. They're useful and inexpensive, but their design also dates back at least several decades. For a more modern-day solution, check out industrial design and manufacturing engineer Jeffrey Bean's Twist Tubes.

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Bean's background comes with heavy tooling experience, yielding a specialty in "the rapid design and build of plastic injection molds." He's used his skillset to create a series of storage tubes that open from the side, via rotation, and feature both colored and clear polycarbonate in the same package (for color-coded organization and visibility, respectively). And his Twist Tubes are designed to avoid the one thing that's happened to all of us at some point: Dropping the container and spilling its contents everywhere. Although cylindrical, the toothed design of the cap means the Tubes will lie flat on their sides, preventing them from rolling off of a table; the sealed design (unlike a Stack-On drawer) means the Tubes won't spill their contents even if dropped; and the polycarb ought to withstand the impact of an accidental bench dive.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The gag being a one-liner, I thought this video would be dumb from the description, but it's pretty funny. Carnegie Mellon grad Robb Godshaw is an artist-in-residence at Autodesk's Pier 9 workshop, a fabrication facility in San Francisco, and as such he's got access to some bad-ass machines like an industrial waterjet cutter. So what did he decide to do with it?

Create Alphaclamps, "an exploration of tools and their form. From the I-beam to the C-clamp, the latin letterforms seem to have a chicken-egg relationship with the letter-shaped tools that bear their name. Is the C the basis for design, or simply a descriptor of the form? Curious about how the other letters would work as tools, I set out to explore the mechanical utility of the forsaken letters of our alphabet."

Unbelievably, there are folks who did not realize this was a gag, judging by the comments on the Alphaclamp Instructable Godshaw posted. Oh, internet.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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My favorite carry-all for tools and materials is Festool's Open Top SYS-Toolbox. It's just a classic example of nuts-and-bolts ID: Simple, strong, reliable, and a perfect use of materials. The thick-walled ABS has a channel molded into the bottom, which forms the divider inside the box, and this channel allows the handle of a second box to perfectly nest within the first. Two latches at the side enable you to connect them quickly and securely. And they're compatible with Festool's full line of Systainers (manufactured by Tanos, as we looked at here), making them easy to roll around the shop or carry on-the-go in one piece.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Outdoor goods company Snow Peak was started in Japan's Sanjo City, a place "known locally as a hardware town." So it's no surprise that their Stacking Shelf Container 50 has got that "tooled" look. What is surprising is how it can be locked in two different configurations and stacked in either one.

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At first this had me scratching my head, but I realized that when you need access to stuff on different levels, the "butterfly" configuration makes sense. And it's kind of neat that the rubber feet at the corners remain the lowest point of contact no matter which configuration it's in.

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Posted by erika rae  |  25 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Although the trophy itself is but a symbol for the prestige of the award, the statuette certainly provides a covetable physical artifact for those in the television industry. While you may not be interested in actually watching the broadcast tonight, you might appreciate the craft that goes into making the trophies everyone seems to gush over for a few days each year. After seeing the handiwork that goes into them, you might find yourself gushing, too.

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Maybe it's the exclusivity that comes with winning one of the golden gals, but I've always had this image that includes a super secret lab and the rarest of materials when it comes to the trophies. So it's refreshing to see the number of people involved in the process. While only one person gets to take home the statuette for good, there sure are a lot of hands that are put to work on each trophy, from ladling molten metal into the molds to final assembly and quality assurance.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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A bunch of industrial designers sitting around a table and poring over research can come up with some awesome stuff, but I also love seeing that breed of object designed by insightful end-users. Those items that a person is subconsciously designing in their head, out in the field, while performing a task over and over again with its predecessor and thinking: Wouldn't it be cool if this object had X right here, wouldn't this work better if this part was shaped like Y, et cetera.

Enter Andy Tran, a cinematographer who makes his living shooting outdoor and sports footage. When he's not on the clock, Tran is out in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, shooting educational wilderness videos for his InnerBark YouTube channel. Informative and (naturally) well-shot, Tran's videos aim to teach you how to get by "If hiking, camping, hunting and fishing were a day job," and among the product reviews and tutorials, his latest videos feature a well-thought-out knife of his own design.

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As an avid outdoorsman who was taught outdoor living skills by his father, Tran has had a knife strapped to his hip since the age of 7, so the design of his Tahoma Field Knife must've been brewing a long time indeed. Check out the features and functionality of the design, produced by Rocky-Mountains-based TOPS Knives:


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Posted by core jr  |  20 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Yesterday, our friends at PSFK released a report on a movement that is within our purview much as it is in theirs: The first edition of the "Maker's Manual" "provides insights into how people can learn, program, prototype and even sell their projects." Available for free download, it goes beyond your average trend report to offer "a wealth of tools, support and services available for every project size—from the hobbyist's tinkering to the entrepreneur's hack."

The "Maker's Manual" a fluent top-level survey of the technologies, services and communities that are out there today, online and off, and while the the report is not by any means comprehensive, it's certainly an excellent place to start if you're looking for, say, a Maker Shop or Collaboration Hub. There are nods to the usual suspects—Inventables, Makerbot, IFTTT, Techshop, etc.—but also more obscure or otherwise emerging projects and companies such as GaussBricks and Craftsman Ave. Sure, there's a good chance that some of these resources may be too experimental or as-yet-inchoate to have a long-term impact, but this is precisely why the "Maker's Manual" serves as a kind of State of the Union. Indeed, the introduction includes a pithy Obama quote, from the recent White House Maker Faire: "Today's D.I.Y. is tomorrow's 'Made in America.'"

And although some of the headings and copy might read as hype, the "Maker's Manual" does well to addresses pragmatic issues such as fundraising and IP. All told, the 33 pages are chock full of solid information, presented in an appropriately skimmable format, one that invites readers to further investigate the companies and services that strike their fancy.

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Unfortunately, the PDF is encoded in a way such that the text isn't searchable; not only does this mean that there's no quick way to find a keyword but also none of the links are clickable—not even the one for Intel, which underwrote the whole thing—which, considering the inclusion of bit.ly links, seems like an egregious oversight. After all, the availability of new tools and resources is a cardinal tenet of its subject matter, and the utility of the "Maker's Manual" as a reference guide is rather diminished by the lack of search- and clickability.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Aug 2014  |  Comments (2)

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[Image via Gary Katz]

As capable a builder as you might be, there are lots of building projects that simply require an extra set of hands. So I think tradesfolk and DIYers will always appreciate product designs that allow them to do something alone rather than having to pull in an extra body.

Along those lines, check out this clever little gizmo from Festool, called the CT Wings. It's demonstrated below by the master finish carpenter Gary Katz, of the Katz Roadshow traveling training courses:

Pretty neat, no? I love the design of the fins and how they can be flipped out to accommodate different thicknesses.

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