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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 (8)

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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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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   7 Aug 2014  |  Comments (19)

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When a product design asks for $7,000 on Kickstarter but nets $228,000, it's worthy of study, particularly when the design is not an obvious home run. Any product designer should be asking themselves: What is it that these guys tapped into, in the backers' consciousness, that made it such a hit?

First let's look at the product in question. The mininch Tool Pen is a hollow, magic-marker sized hexagonal rod that holds six driver bits, with the frontmost ready to use. It's essentially a bit-storing screwdriver in a more compact form, and with a pen-like cap to prevent the front bit from spearing the inside of your pocket or bag.

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Posted by core jr  |  21 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

JamesSelf-0.jpgFigure 1: Digital CAD used to communicate form and design aesthetic. All images Courtesy of Younghoon Hwang, UNIST, Korea

This is the third article in an ongoing series by Dr. James Self in which he explores designers' approaches and tools in support of a thoughtful, reflective design activity.

CAD vs. Sketching, Why Ask? · To Design Is to Understand Uncertainty · TDRs & Conceptual Design Practices

From thumbnail sketches to low fidelity models and prototypes to test rigs, CAD concept renderings, illustrations, mock-ups and visualizations, designers embody their design intentions using a variety of Tools of Design Representation (TDRs) during conceptual design in an attempt to provide creative solutions to often ill-defined design problems. The industrial designer employs TDRs with two objectives in mind. First, they provide a means to describe, explain and communicate design intentions to others. Second, they are used to reflect upon and develop one's own design intent towards emergent—but still conceptual—solutions. As such, TDR use is a critical component of conceptual design practices. In a previous Core77 article (CAD vs. Sketching, Why Ask?), I responded to what I see as a limiting and somewhat circular debate on the role and use of CAD tools during conceptual design, drawing attention to the fact tools are only tools insofar as they are used as such to achieve a purpose. That is, the effectiveness of TDRs (CAD and sketching included) is dependent upon both context of use and, critically, the designers' own skills, knowledge and judgment in their application.

In light of the dizzying array of digital, conventional and hybrid tools now available to the designer, this article builds on some of the issues previously touched upon. I aim to move beyond anecdotal accounts of this or that best tool, way of working, method or media in this or that context or working environment towards the fundamentals of TDR use during conceptual design practice. What kinds of fundamental designerly knowledge, skills and practices underpin effective and productive engagement with and use of TDRs during conceptual design? I believe that knowledge of these fundamentals is required both to develop more effective digital design tools and to contribute to design pedagogy alongside the more traditional studio teaching environment of practical skills acquisition.

Fortuitously, design research over the past 30 years provides us with important insights into the act of designing and the kinds of thinking it involves. Donald Schon's seminal work (The Reflective Practitioner, 1991) on the notion of design as a reflective practice has been influential in providing a means to understand design activity and tool use. Briefly, considered through the lens of reflection-in-action, design activity is characterized by reflection (considering what has just been done, such as reflecting upon a sketch) and action (revising a sketch or CAD model in light of reflective understanding). Within this iterative process of reflection and action, the representation or embodiment of design intent is critically important. The designer must externalize design intentions through TDR use—sketches, drawings, notes, CAD models, physical prototypes, etc., of varying levels of fidelity—in order to reflect upon, test, and develop design ideas.

Important in influencing the nature of this reflection-action is the distinct character of the design problem. Design problems, unlike problems in the sciences, may often be ill-defined or wicked. The primary feature of these ill-defined problems is that there is and cannot be a single correct solution to the original problem but that there are many possible outcomes. In fact, there may potentially be an infinite number of possible solutions and a limitless number of ways to proceed towards a final design solution.

Harold Nelson and Erik Stolterman (The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World, 2012) describe this engagement with the design problem as a search for an ultimate particular. The designer must come to a solution that is itself new or particular in relation to any other solution that may have come before, one that must provide a best or ultimate possible result given the designer's emergent understanding of the design problem.

JamesSelf-2.jpgFigure 2: Sketch illustration to reflectively explore design intent

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

01lostart-002.jpgPhoto by Christopher Schwarz & John Hoffman's Lost Art Press

Behind the Berrybrook School in Duxbury, Massachusetts, stands an old beat-up shed. Teachers were using it for overflow storage in 2012 when Michael Burrey, a restoration carpenter working on a project at the school, came across the building. Inside, looking past the scattered toys and tricycles, he recognized the space for what it was: A woodworking shop. An extremely old one that predated electricity, judging by the "1789" painted on a roof beam and the remains of a treadle-powered lathe.

02lostart-003.jpgPhoto by Christopher Schwarz & John Hoffman's Lost Art Press

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

"All the benches were there," Burrey told The Boston Globe. More giveaways as to the structure's purpose: "The way the benches are in relation to the windows, how the light comes in to light an area, the location of the tool racks on the walls."

04lostart-004.jpgPhoto by Christopher Schwarz & John Hoffman's Lost Art Press

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   2 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Cool update in a running techno-anthropological mystery: A sizable stash of quipu have been found in Peru. Quipu are systems of knotted, colored strings believed to be the Incan Empire's method of recording numeric information. Despite existing as a large and complex culture for centuries, no clear record of Incan written language has ever been found. To be clear, the Incan Empire was the largest pre-colombian civilization in the Americas, with a tightly structured monarchy, a footprint of over two million square miles and upwards of 12 million citizens. In addition to participating in large scale trade and governance, it appears that the Empire's growth was largely supported by a labor tax—a type of mandated tribute in the form of work done for the state. Not a small undertaking to organize. Bureaucracies, as a rule, depend on written communication and documentation to keep the wheels of state turning, and quipu may provide clues.

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Having overlapped with Spain's invasion of the Americas, many basic facts about Incan government and society were wiped out by material conquest and cultural erasure. Quipu in particular were destroyed intentionally as "idolatrous," and only a few hundred have survived. Similarly, knowledge of the quipu methodology was enthusiastically stamped out. They were used longer in more remote areas, but as the Spanish conquest spread all use was eventually eradicated. This is tragic for obvious human suffering reasons, but also for the hit to our historical understanding of a seemingly divergent system of communication. The Inca were (to the best of our knowledge) the largest empire to never develop written language, which challenges deep assumptions about the nature of a complex society.

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Posted by erika rae  |  17 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed by all of the stylus options out there. But just as a chef might search for that perfect knife year after year, a designer might undertake a similar quest to find the smoothest / best-weighted / most ergonomic digital drafting instrument. Dominic Peralta, the lead industrial designer at Speck Products, and Jon Corpuz, Lead Industrial Designer at Nook Media/Barnes & Noble, have entered the fray with Timbrr, a new stylus based on the iconic pencil silhouette and designed to be produced locally.

But before we get to all of that pencil-making and local sourcing, let's start from the beginning. "Timbrr's story actually started with a simple game app that took over all the iPhones at one point of time," Peralta says. "We were absolutely obsessed with Draw Something and wanted to have a stylus that said 'I'm playing!' So, we ran to the shop, grabbed some dowels, drilled holes through them (don't try this at home!), inserted a thin stylus, sanded it and painted it pencil yellow."

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While the inspiration remained the same, it was obvious the duo pair needed to rethink their materials if they were going to be making these for more than just themselves. After testing about a dozen different wood varieties, Peralta and Corpuz decided to go with an incensed Western Cedar. While many designers turn to wood for its aesthetic or trendiness, a functional criterion informed the Timbrr team's material selection: "It has a high resin content, meaning that a natural resin that grows along with the tree is impregnated into the wood," Peralta says. "This resin helps to transmit static electricity from your hand, through the cedar wood, into the copper core and down to the touch screen device." Other wood varieties with a lower resin content don't hold work as well with touch screen capabilities. Luckily, it turns out that one of the largest cedar mills in the United States is located a mere three hours from their studio in California, anchoring their local sourcing efforts.

While Timbrr 2.0 might have followed true pencil form by sporting a bright yellow coat, the duo chose to go with a more natural aesthetic for the production version. "It was when we machined our first husks of cedar that the realized how beautiful and unique the grain was and decided to ditch the yellow paint," Peralta says. "Keeping it natural also brought out the aroma of the cedar and most importantly encourages the wood to patina over time, so that each Timbrr is unique and special to its owner."

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The team used Shopbot to bring their design to life—which seems like a completely natural choice, except for the fact that neither of the designers had any experience using a CNC mill on their own before. Peralta and Corpuz had seen the machines in action at many a Maker Faire and wanted to find a way to forgo expensive classes or costly memberships to tech shops. Peralta shares more on the decision:

We learned lots of skills in a traditional woodworking style shop and had a little experience using a basic hand operated mill... but nothing like this. Early on in the process, we made it a goal to teach ourselves CNC'ing. We decided to go with a Shopbot because they are the tried and true company in that space. The team there has lots of working tribal knowledge of CNC'ing and after talking with them several times on the phone, it made me feel really confident that this was the right direction.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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I occasionally see a septic collection truck in my neighborhood with a big motto painted on the side: "We're Number One at Picking Up Number Two." That's a pretty good one. Artist David Rees' motto is somewhat similar, as he terms himself "The number one #2 pencil sharpener in the world."

In this hilarious and spot-on video, Rees calls out the nonsense of faux hipster craftsmanship by revealing his Artisanal Pencil Sharpening trade (which clueless YouTube commenters apparently think is real!). What do old rap group T-shirts, a leather strop mined from your grandfather's tomb and the criticism of luthiers have to do with sharpening $40 pencils by hand? You'll see:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jun 2014  |  Comments (15)

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None of you clicked onto Core77 today to read about impacted fecal matter, but design touches all aspects of our lives, including the gross ones. Don't worry, and don't put that sandwich down yet; I'm not going to dwell on the scatological. I am writing this entry out of amazement that some people do not understand the ingenious design of plungers and how they are meant to be used.

It's bad enough that this lack of understanding exists among consumers, but I find it unforgivable for product designers. When designers fail to understand the very devices they're designing for, it becomes what we call Epic Fail. First off, look at this design and see if you understand why it is flawed:

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You either know right away why the design is fundamentally incorrect, or you don't. Read on.

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

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We previously covered Ron Paulk's Mobile Woodshop in depth, interviewing him in a two-part series. Well, there's fresh news of the Mobile Woodshop: It's for sale!

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 May 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Izzy Swan has much in common with Ron Paulk: Both guys know their way around a shop and ran their own businesses, neither guy went to D-school yet both design things that lots of other people want to buy.

Swan developed his Pallet Pal tool as a simple way to dismantle shipping pallets to reclaim the wood from them. The design of the tool relies mechanical advantage and body weight rather than physical strength to produce the power; Swan posted a video of his 7-year-old daughter demonstrating how to use the tool. Well, people started ordering the thing in droves, and then a company looking to kit their workers out with the device ordered a boatload. Swan was faced with the classic independent designer's problem where you've got to move from tinkering to reproducing—quickly.

To crank these things out in batches, Swan devised a number of clever workshop solutions that would maintain consistency while speeding production time. First off, check out how he turns the handles. Lathe? Nah, not fast enough—try a power drill and a table saw with a dado stack:

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