Don't let the nickname fool you: Cleo "Whimpy" Hogan is a retired U.S. Army Major and combat veteran with two tours of duty under his belt. But since the 1990s, Kentucky-based Hogan has been involved in the agribusiness of beekeeping, and currently raises both Italian and Russian honeybees in such numbers that he can generate 160 gallons of honey in a single harvest.
Hogan sells not only the honey, but also the bees. To keep costs down he makes his own beehives, which are fairly straightforward woodworking projects that can be done with conventional tools; but one thing that previously stymied him was how to do the cove cut required for a concave, parabola-shaped handle.
Hogan and his pal Lawrence Bartley figured out how to do it, using just a circular saw and a simple jig:
Obviously you're not going to want to do this with your favorite circular saw, but here's the perfect app for that swap-meet Skilsaw gathering dust in the garage. And while any of you ID students oughta be able to reverse-engineer the jig just by watching the video, Hogan will send the plans to fellow beekeepers free of charge. His e-mail address is cchoganjr [at] scrtc -dot- com.
Ron Paulk has already got his own following, independent of Core77; while we don't have the demographic breakdown, we assume they're mostly DIY'ers, builders, and fellow contractors. These video extras from our chat with Ron will be of interest to Ron's following, as we get into some topics that Ron hasn't covered on his own YouTube channel: The surprising story of how he decided to become a contractor in the first place, what it was that made him expand into design, and why YouTube is an invaluable learning tool.
The summer job that changed Ron's life, and made him realize that building stuff was better than grad school:
Why (and how) Ron expanded into design and doing his own CAD work:
When we interviewed builder/designer Ron Paulk on his Mobile Woodshop and Paulk Workbench, there were some tangential things we discussed that we couldn't fit into the previous videos. We didn't want the footage to go to waste, as we thought some of you might be interested in hearing these side conversations; so we've cut them into short, one- and two-question videos.
First up, Ron discusses how he avoids the "overdesign" problem:
Ron tells us what the hardest part is about designing a large storage system, explains his design process, and tells us where he looks when he's seeking answers to problems:
As industrial designers, a lot of us dream of having product design hits, where we design something so popular that those royalty checks start piling up. But the obstacles are manifold. To sell units in the thousands you've got to find a deep-pocketed manufacturer to sign on, unless you're able to front the tooling costs yourself, you've got to hope that the raw materials supply, marketing and distribution all work out, and of course you've got to design something that thousands of people really want or need in the first place.
Ron Paulk not only has a bona fide design hit on his hands with the Paulk Workbench, but has also neatly sidestepped all of those obstacles we just mentioned. The factory is actually the end-user, and by all accounts they're happy to build the product themselves. Perhaps the most amazing part is that the marketing of it has all happened completely by accident. It is an absolute best-case product design scenario: Ron designed and built the workbench for his own personal use, then discovered there was demand—mass demand—for his design, and figured out a way to distribute it. Ron tells us the story below.
As he mentions towards the end of the video, in addition to selling plans for the Paulk Workbench, Ron is also selling plans for his Miter Stand (a standalone item) and his Cross-Cut Jig (which attaches to the Paulk Workbench).
Selling blueprints to a DIY project is nothing new; hobbyist magazines have had little ads in the back of them for decades. But with YouTube taking care of the marketing, the internet taking care of the distribution, the end-users themselves taking care of the materials supply and fabrication, and with Ron himself handling the most important element, the clever design, Paulk has pointed the way towards a potential product design future—one that's much more hands-on than 3D printing—that I could not have imagined when I was back in design school.
Homebuilder and self-taught designer Ron Paulk had a problem: He needed a large-surface workbench--which is generally no problem for those of you with geographically-fixed workspaces--but he needed it to be portable, so that he could tote it to jobsites in his Mobile Woodshop. He also needed it to be incredibly sturdy. Dissatisfied with the design shortcomings of commercially-available workbenches, Ron analyzed exactly what his specific needs were, then set about designing his own.
Currently in its second generation, plans for the Paulk Workbench are available for sale online for a reasonable ten bucks; I myself purchased a set as soon as I saw the demonstration video, which we'll embed down below.
The demo video will show you the various features of the bench design, but before we get to that, we scored an interview with Ron on how and why he designed the bench the way he did:
We are back with Ron Paulk on the design of his amazing Mobile Woodshop! In Part 1, Ron discussed how he began the design by figuring out where the large, fixed items would go. Here in Part 2, he reveals how he began filling out the rest of design. He also explains the importance of modularity, his take on two different approaches to storage design—deep, dense and invisible vs. broad, shallow and visible—and why one of his goals is to get rid of the plastic boxes that most power tools come in.
The Slingatron is a "mechanical hypervelocity launcher" proposal for efficiently launching objects from Earth into space. A company called HyperV Technologies Corp. has put a Kickstarter up for it, but with just $23,000 in pledges towards a $250,000 goal and less than a week left, it doesn't look like this one will break gravity.
Over the years, Washington-based homebuilder and designer Ron Paulk has created a number of tool trailers for himself. He put all of that expertise and experience into his latest Mobile Woodshop, neatly contained—and fully functional—inside of a 1,000-cubic-foot box truck that he can drive right up to the jobsite. We posted a link to his video tour of the truck shortly after it was finished last year, and this year we're going one better: We're interviewing Paulk himself on how he designed and built it.
Here in Part 1, Ron discusses his mobile tool storage needs, the concept behind the truck, and where the designwork by necessity must start:
The largest outdoor sports show of its kind, Outdoor Retailer takes place twice a year in Salt Lake City, and this year veteran trade show attendee and Core77 reader Mark LeBeau was on the ground to capture all the highlights. In recent years, there's been an explosion of charging solutions for powering electronic off-the-grid, an increase in the use of design as the marketing differentiator (especially in climbing equipment) and a rise in popularity of paddle boards over kayaks, not to mention the rapid emergence of GoPro as a major player in the industry!
See the latest gear for every conceivable outdoor and adventure activity from the top brands in the world in our photo gallery:
The saying goes that "You can never have too many clamps." That's why you'll see collections like Lumberjock Canadian Woodtick's, below, decorating a woodworker's shop walls. Never knowing exactly what size clamp you'll need for any given project means you've really got to spend a lot to cover all the bases. Pipe clamps ameliorate the situation somewhat, but you've still got to buy the pipes—and carry them around if you need them for an on-site job.
Stanley Tools has thus introduced their new 2×4 clamp, designed for the tradesman on-the-go. The idea is that rather than needing to load the truck up with bar- and pipe-clamps, you bring only the 2×4 clamps to the jobsite; once there you grab something presumably in abundant supply—a 2×4, if you're putting up a house—and that becomes your "bar." Check it out:
The convenience of the portability cannot be denied, but I wonder how these things measure up during actual operation. I don't have much experience with clamps longer than 24”, but for those of you that do: How do you see these things working out? Do you think they'd be trickier than a pipe clamp to wield into place, requiring two people for the longer spans? What applications would you use or not use these things for?
Ben Mesker's Jokerboxes combine three of my favorite things: Industry-specific tools, objects designed to hold stuff, and the DIY ethos. Director of Photography Mesker has 20 years of shooting experience, and after the first 15 years, he had built up a steady list of "common problems found on sets everywhere." No stranger to a table saw, the handy Mesker then set about designing a portable, ultra-utilitarian way of having all the necessary grip equipment close at hand, as a way of solving those problems.
Mesker's solutions are called Jokerboxes, and while they outwardly resemble the de rigueur apple boxes found on every film set, they contain far more functionality. You need to see this explanatory video—in the following three minutes, you are going to witness an absurd amount of clever design thinking.
You catch those shots of Mesker hand-drafting? Sure to bring back some memories for a subset of us.
By the bye, Mesker has penned an article about an early on-set experience that shaped the way he approaches projects. While the central character is "The Fastest Gaffer in Pittsburgh," the lesson could well be applied to many a creative field, like industrial design, that requires technical acumen. Read it here.
Hit the jump for some cool shots of the Jokerboxes.
The GRID-IT organizer first caused a stir when it hit the market some years ago [Ed. Note: including a2011 Core77 Design Award], and for good reason: It was an affordable and clever way to bring order to chaos, lighting up the pleasure center of many a small-tool- or gadget-organizing geek. The seemingly-randomly-placed elastic straps, as chaotic-looking as they are, belie the object's ability to swallow whatever you want, in whatever order you want it.
My only gripe with the thing was that it was somewhat awkward to pull in and out of bags, with accidental friction causing some items to snag or shift, thus ruining my organizational OCD masterpiece. For that reason I stopped using mine. But Cocoon Innovations has now finally integrated the GRID-IT into its own bag, the SLIM.
Available exclusively through their website and Apple, the $80 SLIM is kitted out with de rigueur materials--water-resistant ballistic nylon and waterproof zippers--but it's got that sweet GRID-IT built-in behind the front flap, while the secondary compartmant closer to your back holds your laptop/tablet. It ain't gonna hold your gym stuff, but for folks like me who are fans of slim bags (it's just 3.5" thick) this is looking like a home run.
I was against this thing from the start, because I cannot stand badly-acted infomercials where someone pretends they cannot manipulate a simple device. But before I say any more, check this thing out:
While I am drawn to things that fold up small and then expand, my kneejerk reaction was: No way is this thing suitable for a workbench. First off there's no shelf (as with a plastic sawhorse) on which to lay your circular saw between cuts, and you cannot do that thing where you raise the blade and rest the circ saw on the floor beneath the material (as with wooden sawhorses), because the crossmembers of this Centipede Sawhorse take up all the space.
Over on our Discussion Boards, design student seandavidson has recently solicited Workstation Help! from his fellow forum members. At 45 posts as of press time, the thread has grown to just under four pages of power-computing expertise (mostly in the first 48 hours, no less), and even though the OP is just about ready to pull the trigger on his dream machine, there's lots to dig in to, especially if you expect to be cranking out renderings on a regular basis.
Longtime member Cyberdemon is especially helpful (and sensitive to the use case), drawing a nice analogy regarding his Macbook Pro: "for the purposes of pumping cad it's kind of like buying a BMW X6 because it's a good 'off roader' sometimes it's worth it to get the Jeep and not care what people think." He also notes that "more ram [sic] will NOT improve multi-tasking while you render. Modern rendering software will eat up 100% of the available cores. That's why your computer will suck at doing anything while you're rendering even if you have 64 gigs of ram"... To which hatts responds:
Many rendering packages incorporate a "low priority" feature which will have the rendering job ease up a bit if the user is trying to do other things. Other packages let you set aside whole cores during rendering. (This is a tick in the "RAM doesn't matter" checkbox.)
However if s/he gets into motion graphics or any poly modeling, there are plenty of functions which utilize RAM. Video rendering, dynamics simulation, retopologizing, all use RAM. (This is a tick in the "RAM does indeed matter" checkbox.)
Tradesmen travel with their tools, and the best of them have organized systems for hauling them. Remember that shot of Benjamin Lai's kit? Then there's Ron Paulk, who's got an entire shop inside a box truck. And while you don't see systems like Lai's and Paulk's every day, one tool organization system you've probably never seen is the one on the International Space Station.
Timothy Peake, a former British Army Air Corps officer and the first British citizen to become a European Space Agency astronaut, is ISS-bound come 2015. As part of his training, he's working with a replica of the toolbox set-up they've got up topside, and on his Flickr page we get a rare look at the storage system.
Inventor Dino Makropoulos, who has spent years working on his Eurekazone Track Saw system, has recently developed a pair of new product designs that potentially obviate the need for the track. His new UEG, or Universal Edge Guide, is an attachment for a circular saw that enables the quick, safe breakdown of sheet goods, via a rail that rides along the factory edge of the sheet. And not only that: As Makropoulos is obsessed with user safety, he's introduced a design element in the saw base that makes kickback just about impossible.
Don't believe us? Watch this insane video (and please kids, do NOT try this at home) where Dino purposely tries to create kickback with a circular saw, both with and without his UEG attachment:
Now in the first two attempts in the video, where the saw is not fitted with the anti-kickback base, the only reason the saw doesn't fly out of Dino's hands is because he's a pro carpenter and has been for years. NONE OF YOU SHOULD EVER ATTEMPT THAT—he's done it for demonstration purposes only. In the hands of a novice or even a pro that's just not paying close attention, a kickback can cause grievous injury.
As the latter half of the video demonstrates, by fitting the base of the UEG with a stiff plastic fin well aft of the blade, he has made it virtually impossible for kickback to happen.
Here's another example of something you'd never try with an ordinary circular saw:
For those that don't understand why cutting a plywood sheet sideways without a UEG would be insane, I'll explain: As you make the cut across the sheet, the sawblade leaves a kerf—a slot the same width as the blade thickness—behind it. As your cut progresses, the weight of the top part of the plywood will sag towards the lower half—closing the kerf and causing a potentially vicious, saw-hurling kickback. With the fin that Dino's installed, it is impossible for the kerf to close around the blade. Which means no kickback. (For those of you saying "riving knife," read the Q&A below.)
The other thing you'll spot if you watch that video closely: During the last cut, as Dino gets towards the end, the wood accidentally shifts sideways. Ordinarly that would be a recipe for disaster, but the steadying effect of the edge guide working in conjunction with the fin precludes any potential kickback.
We caught up with Dino for a quick Q&A on the new design:
The simple rule for designing any organization system, whether for tools, clothes, the top of your desk, etc., is: Everything should have a place for it—and the more clearly delineated that space, the better. If your desk is messy right now, it's probably because it's covered in things that don't have dedicated places. It's easy to scoop pens up and throw them into your pen cup, but it's the uncategorizable things—that catalog you think you might need later, a stack of documents that's important but not urgent, some business cards you've been meaning to file—that create the mess. And then you spend time sifting through all of it to find the thing you're looking for.
Delineating areas for objects is also important, and ideally it should be one-to-one. From a design perspective, I don't find dresser drawers very efficient, because they hold stacks of clothes, and I'm invariably digging through three items to get to the fourth. Ditto with toolboxes, where you spend five seconds of rummaging for every one second of grabbing. Multiply that wasted time over millions of tool-wielding workers that get paid per hour or per job, and you're looking at a lot of man-hours down the drain.
As we've mentioned in some of our earlier posts on tool storage, when designing your own system there are two opposite poles you can lean towards: Broad-and-shallow, or tight-and-dense. The first approach means you can see every tool in the collection, which makes selecting a tool much quicker, but requires a large surface area. The second approach is better for a space-tight or mobile application.
Here's a good example of the former that has tinges of the latter. Oregon-based cyclist Josh C., who runs The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles website, is a self-taught bike mechanic. When he found the pace of his restoration work suffering from poor shop organization, he resolved to build a better tool storage system. "My workspace is small and physical real estate comes at a premium," he writes. "I needed a solution to keep my growing bike tool collection organized, within my reach and mobile."
Earlier this month, we took a look at Sunglass, a product design collaboration site where users can download plug-ins to connect their local CAD environments to the cloud. Their partnership with Cadenas Part Solutions, a company that creates digital catalogs for major parts manufacturers, is starting to reveal the promise of such a system.
The two companies' newly-announced joint venture, the Sunglass Parts Library, provides users the ability to instantly access parts files—gears, motors, hinges, etc.—and integrate those parts directly into their CAD files. "It's the first interactive application with the ability to integrate an enterprise-grade manufacturing library directly into the 3D design environment," they write. The analogy isn't perfect, but the team-up is sort of an industrial design version of the iPod-and-iTunes ecosystem: Its success is dependent not only on the interface's ease-of-use, but also on the ability to sign up multiple bodies—in Apple's case, the music labels; in Cadena's case, the parts suppliers.
Earlier we wrote about Gerber's GDC Hook Knife, a keychain-mounted device intended to cut you free from a seatbelt. We also mentioned that that's a statistically unlikely need for your average motorist to have; if your car is submerged, the larger problem is going to be getting out of the vehicle before it fills with water. Back in the days of roll-down windows, you could crank them down if you got to it quick enough—once the water pressure got too great, it would trap the windows firmly within their rubber seals and you'd be screwed. However, with today's power windows, you've got the issue of the motors shorting out if you've driven into the drink.
Every year some 400 Americans drown in their cars. (That's just 0.01% of the population, but man, what a terrible way to go.) If you can't get the window open in a sinking car, you'll need to break it. And yes, there are objects designed specifically for that task, like the carbon-steel-tipped LifeHammer Plus and LifeHammer Evolution.
Those with dedicated workshops of their own design have the luxury of placing their own power outlets. Bur for DIY'ers making do in mixed-use spaces, or tradespeople on jobsites, the chaos that is extension cords is a built-in part of any project: You need to keep the tool connection out of the sawdust pile, and arrange the cords in such a way that you and others won't trip over them.
When it comes to sketching, line quality is everything. To build up the desired thickness using ink, you can either switch between multiple pens or you can hit the same line repeatedly with the same pen, as Spencer Nugent has done above; if using pencil or a pressure-sensitive stylus on a digital device, you can hit the same line and/or press harder, as Michael DiTullo's done below.
So this currently-under-consideration-at-Quirky design proposal has me curious. Designer "HSingh" is pushing for a pen with an adjustable tip, whereby a dial in the barrel somehow alters the nib's width.
There's virtually no explanation for how the thing would work, but the question is: Would you guys use this to change line weights, or do you prefer the old-fashioned way? And does anyone remember having to swtich back and forth from like, five different Koh-i-Noor Rapidographs in design school?
Statistically speaking, most of us only use crowbars when we're about to be arrested for Menacing, but if you've ever had to do light demo around the house you know how handy they can be. Someone actually stole my crowbar a couple of years ago, and I never bought a replacement since I haven't recently needed to pry anything open or dispense street justice.
Maybe it's just as well that I've held off, as a new crowbar may be hitting the market at the end of this summer. And, usefully, it also happens to be a hammer. And a 1/2-inch socket wrench, and a couple of other things. I'm normally skeptical of multi-tools, but the Cole-Bar Hammer, which is currently up on Kickstarter, look pretty promising:
I know what you're thinking: How well would that central joint hold up when the tool is extended into a full-length crowbar?
When I used to work for an artist who specialized in photorealistic portraiture, I remember watching the assistants use a projector to draft the preliminary pencilwork for his medium-to-large scale (30”×40”+) paintings. Since we were working with digital compositions, it was a simple matter of lining up the image with the canvas or archival paper, then painstakingly tracing the photograph and background onto it.
Now that software has democratized and simplified the tools of creating images, I imagine this is a common practice in artists' studios. But what about drawing from real life? Most everyone has seen or at least heard of camera obscura, but it turns out there's a somewhat more, um, obscure tool that draftsmen of yore had at their disposal.
Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin (Art Professors at SAIC and CMU, respectively) note that "long before Google Glass... there was the Camera Lucida." The device is a "prism on a stick," a portable lens-like device that is affixed to a drawing surface, allowing the user to accurately reproduce an image before them by hand.
We have designed the NeoLucida: the first portable camera lucida to be manufactured in nearly a century—and the lowest-cost commercial camera lucida ever designed. We want to make this remarkable device widely available to students, artists, architects, and anyone who loves to draw from life. But to be clear: our NeoLucida is not just a product, but a provocation. In manufacturing a camera lucida for the 21st century, our aim is to stimulate interest in media archaeology—the tightly interconnected history of visual culture and imaging technologies.
According to the well-illustrated history page on the Neolucida website, the device was invented by Sir William Hyde Wollaston in 1807, though the Wikipedia article suggests that it was actually developed by Johannes Kepler, whose dioptrice dates back to 1611, nearly two centuries prior.
Selections from Pablo Garcia's personal collection of vintage camera lucidas
The YouBot doesn't come with an "end effector" that can perform the rotating motion you and I would do with two hands to get that leg into the table. Knepper's team devised an elegant workaround, using rubber bands attached to two different rings:
Another day, another design, another multi-hour stretch to focus focus focus on your design work. If you're like me, you vacillate between needing the total silence of an empty studio and the busy-ness of working in a cafe. But what if you need to be in the studio? Perhaps all the cafes are closed, or perhaps you have a few hours before your next meeting, and it doesn't make sense to pop out for a quick cafe work session.
Enter Coffitivity, my new favorite web site for those moments when the office is either too quiet or too loud. The site simply recreates the ambient sounds of working in a cafe, that slight murmur of voices and random clinking of glasses that makes a cafe a cafe. They point to a study from the Journal of Consumer Research that suggests the link between creativity and this sweet spot:
We argue that noise distracts people but that the degree of distraction induced by various noise levels will affect creativity differently. A high level of noise may cause a great deal of distraction, causing individuals to process information to a lesser extent and therefore to exhibit lower creativity. A moderate (vs. low) level of noise, however, is expected to distract people without significantly affecting the extent of processing. Further, we reason that such a moderate distraction, which induces processing difficulty, enhances creativity by prompting abstract thinking. We predict, in sum, that a moderate level of noise will enhance creativity relative to both high and low levels of noise.