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

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We previously looked at the Gorilla Gripper and the Handle on Demand, two portable solutions for hauling heavy sheet goods. From Germany's Zieker Innovationen comes an equally portable, but arguably easier to use solution: Push rather than carry.

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Posted by core jr  |   1 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If there's one thing that'll kill the creative process quicker than a computer crash with no Time Machine backup handy, it's a lack of understanding and communication when creating a new product in a collaborative environment. Our friends at IDSA have teamed up with Loughborough Design School to create a simple way to keep us all on the same page during the New Product Development (NPD) process. If you've been to a previous IDSA conference, you may remember their token informational fold-out iD cards (not to be confused with these). The cards break down the names, descriptions and images for 32 different design representations in four different groups—sketches, drawings, models and prototypes. The cards share what the representation stands for in terms of use and the information it provides.

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The new app that consolidates the cards and information in one convenient, color-coded resource, taking the mystery out of unknown terminology with straightforward appeal to all levels and genres of design, making it easy for for teams to work together cohesively. Check out the video overview of the app and its features:

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

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From German machine manufacturer Martin comes the Speed 20/10, a rollable spray station for varnishing. The one-meter by two-meter surface is covered with a roll of ordinary, cheap packaging paper, which varnish won't stick to; so when spraying your piece, there's no need to mask the underside. And it has a couple of other cool tricks, watch the vid:

What you might not be able to see in the vid is that it's foot-pedal controlled; tap one pedal to get those two rollers to pop up, so you can lift your piece away from the sides, or you can hit the other foot pedal to either advance to a clean sheet, or roll smaller pieces off of the surface and into your waiting hands. The action requires an air compressor, being all-pneumatic; they don't want any electricity jumping around, the rep explained, if folks are spraying explosive substances.

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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At the Holz-Handwerk show there are tons of circular saws, tons panel saws and tons of CNC mills. But there's only one Logosol M8 Portable Sawmill. This crazy contraption is something like a chainsaw combined with a tracksaw, and one man (or one Swedish man, anyway) can unload the thing off the roof of his Volvo, carry it into the forest, and start making boards.

You're undoubtedly wondering, from the photos above, how that lone dude got that big-ass log up onto the stand all by himself. It's not just brute strength, there's design involved, as you'll see around 3:08 in the demo video:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A gentleman with the unlikely name of Guido Einemann sought to design and build, as Ron Paulk did, the perfect workbench to suit his needs. But unlike Paulk's mobile solution, Einemann wanted something shop-based. A master carpenter & cabinetmaker by trade, Germany-based Einemann needed something that could hold unusual-shaped pieces like staircase stringers, could expand to hold wide pieces, would feature a vise for clamping, could change height while he worked on assembling cabinetry, and could be wheeled around his shop.

Thus he developed Der Montagetisch Einemann, a line of scissor-lift-enabled worksurfaces incorporating a variety of clever features, including vacuum clamping! Check it out:

Here's a closer look at that overhead, powered, tool-holding, cable-and-hose-managing contraption (der Multischwenkausleger, or multi-swiveling boom) and how the vacuum-clamped finishing process works:

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Mar 2014  |  Comments (4)

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Hey folks, your correspondent is on the ground at Holz-Handwerk, a massive trade show in Germany covering everything under the sun related to woodworking and furniture building. Here they've got machines, tools, jigs, inventions, contrapations, guys named Hans, and all manner of cool stuff that you can use to make other cool stuff. The exhibitors seem to be primarily German, though there are pockets of companies from all over the world here.

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Unsurprisingly the Italian machines (like this planer from SCM Group for when you need to work boards that are a freaking half-meter wide) have a little flair

With thousands of exhibitors spread over six-and-a-half massive exhibition halls laid out like a sprawling college campus, I realize that I could not possibly see half the stuff in here if I had twice the time, and that makes me want to cry. Plus the flowing crush of 100,000 attendees makes shooting video demonstrations of anything just about impossible. Still, the intrepid Core77 editor soldiers on, bolstered by discoveries like the following:

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Deep down inside, I always suspected this is what bored craftsman raised in rustic settings did with wood cut-offs

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Mar 2014  |  Comments (4)

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First things first: This is without a doubt the worst demo video I've ever shot, in terms of A/V quality. The surly gentleman in the video refused to perform a demo for the camera, only agreed to let us shoot if he was trying to close a sale with a "real customer" and would not repeat actions for close-ups. (Plus he kept calling me "Junior.") To make matters worse, you can't really hear much after the guy in the next booth fires up his own tools.

Nevertheless, Bad Dog Tools' Bad Dog Biter is amazing enough that I had to try to capture what I could, lack of cooperation be damned. This drill-mounted nibbler is designed to cut all the tricky materials you hate cutting, whether plastic, metal or laminates, and whether they're in sheets, corrugated sheets or tubes. Check it out:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Here's another product showing Festool sweating the details, those little things we industrial designers are trained to look out for.

If you're using a drill to drive something into an overhead surface, you'll find that pulling that trigger subtly changes the balance of your grip. This is a minor issue for the DIY'er hanging a pair of IKEA lamps, but a major issue for someone who hangs drywall for a living and will drive hundreds or thousands of screws in a day. Thus Festool's DWC-18 series of cordless drywall screwdrivers feature an "Auto" setting, where the user simply presses the attachment's plunger against the surface to drive the screw.

Ergonomically speaking, this means you're just cradling the unit in your palm and pressing upwards, rather than gripping, squeezing and pressing upwards. Multiply that subtle energy savings over a full workday, across thousands of tool-buying customers, and that small design feature makes a profound impact.

Here's how it looks in action, and you'll also hear the rep run down the full list of the tool's stats and features:

Once again we must apologize to our U.S. readers, as this was one of only two Festool demos we were able to capture at JLC Live—and both of those tools are Euro-market-only, at least for now. (If you haven't yet seen the other, the dust-free TSC-55 track saw, be sure to check that out!)

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We recommended the Grabit Pro Screw Extractor in last year's Gift Guide, and mentioned the Accutrax Pencil Blade here. Here they are in action, as demonstrated by tool entrepreneur Bob Cumings of Prazi USA:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Mar 2014  |  Comments (1)

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We headed up to the JLC Live show in Providence last week, so we just had to stop by Festool Connect, the awesome one-day outreach event where the company gives demos of their latest and greatest. As most of you know, Festool is a company with a reputation for unmatched product design—go through their user forums and you'll find a fervent following backing that up, if you don't already have Festool product in your own shop—and they certainly didn't disappoint for 2014.

While we had a hard time capturing video of all of their tools we wanted to show you, thankfully were able to get footage of their wicked TSC-55 cordless track saw, which somehow magically spirits the dust away without being hooked up to a vac! You have to see this thing in action:

Our European readership is in luck, as the tool will be available April 1 on that side of the pond. For us Americans, alas, the U.S. release date—if there's even going to be one—is TBD. We'll keep you posted if we hear anything.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Feb 2014  |  Comments (1)

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One of our first assignments as industrial design students should have been to design and build our own carrying cases. But no, we students were too busy being taught crap like theory, so we all coughed up twenty bucks for a plastic ArtBin. Which is a shame. A simple modular toolbox would have been relatively straightforward to design and build, while providing us with the perfect, individualized product to field test and tweak the design of over the course of a semester.

From Germany comes what they're calling the Toptainer, seen here. Once loaded up with tools, it's meant to fit into an older plastic Systainer design.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Ever since spotting that unique, hinged toolbox that Matthias Wandel did a video of, we've been wondering where it came from. The German marque Würth can clearly be seen on Bruhn's box. The Würth Group is a Germany-based global wholesaler of tools and hardware, but it does not appear that they designed the box; a German manufacturer of cabinetmaker's tools callled E.C. Emmerich sells an identical box, as does hardware manufacturer Häfele.

Far as we can tell, it's a German company called Domini Design that actually designed the thing. They call it the Mobilo Box, and it comes in a variety of sizes. The Mobilo Box 43 is the smallest version, "suitable for managers," as Domini says (read: people who don't really need to get their hands dirty):

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Feb 2014  |  Comments (3)

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When Gregor Bruhn moved his cabinet- and furniture-making business Hand Werk from Germany to Canada, he brought with him tens of thousands of Euros' worth of state-of-the-art German manufacturing machinery. But it was a humble-looking wooden object that most caught the eye of Matthias Wandel, the woodworking scientist behind Woodgears, when he paid Bruhn's shop a visit (and thankfully for us, he shot video). Check out the slick hinge linkage on Bruhn's tool chest and watch what it does:

Amazing, no? And after viewing that video above, where Wandel deconstructs how the hinge works, two young carpenters from Brazil decided to see if they could make their own. David Zimmerman Júnior and his pal Jean Pierre Lana sent their results in to Wandel, who shared it with the rest of us. Check out the video of Zimmerman and Lana's impressive creations that incorporate their version of the dobradiças inteligente:

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Posted by Arthur Young-Spivey  |  11 Feb 2014  |  Comments (8)

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Every once in a blue moon, some piece of 3D software comes along and just makes one wonder "How'd I ever survive without it?" The Foundry's new plug in for MODO, MeshFusion, is what I'd consider to be the most amazing piece of software written in a decade. I know it's a bold statement to make, but for the designer in me, it's brought something to the table that no one else has quite put together so eloquently.

When it comes to 3D software, MODO is an amazing rendering, sculpting and animation design suite, featuring materials systems for renderings that work very much like Photoshop. It also runs native on Mac, PC, and Linux and, if nothing else, fits nicely anywhere into the design pipeline that's asked of it. I wouldn't even know where to begin when it comes to the list of features in Modo but let's start with just a few:

Tool Pipeline: Gives the ability to create your own tools based upon existing ones. No scripting needed, just pick and choose the features need and go. This offers an almost unlimited amount of combinations of functionality. This quick video showcases the capabilities.

Particles and Dynamics: Just scratching the surface on these opens up the possibility to help set up shots for renderings in a whole new way. Think of creating a table; add a flat surface above it and some curves above that. Now add the option for the table to be a Passive Rigid Body, the flat surface to be a Softbody and the curves to be an emitter... now let gravity take over. The flat surface falls and wraps around the table and the particles add rain all calculated in a matter of minutes. Now add textures and you're well on your way to rendering out an outdoor picnic scene.

Fall-offs and Action Centers: Think of the 2D gradient tool in Photoshop... now think of the possibilities of this in 3D. Throw in the ability to add in the Move/Scale/Rotation based upon what's selected and it's a field day for 3D design.

Rendering Booleans and Volumetrics: Creating that "Just in Time" photorealistic shot always requires some extra finessing that usually requires a work around. If nothing else this aspect of Modo just makes the creation of a product shot that much easier. The Render Boolean works by using geometry to cut away from geometry (think about a block of swiss cheese), that can be used in both renderings and animations. Volumetric can be used to add smoke, fog, clouds, in ways that use to take a ton of postproduction work in Photoshop, After Effects...etc.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

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As we saw with the Hungarian dude making cutting boards, when you need to crank out the same item thousands of times, you'll make a jig to speed your work. And if you've got a workbench like Ron Paulk's, you'll use the dog holes to clamp stop-blocks, straightedges and fixtures. But Woodpeckers Inc., the Ohio-based manufacturer of small-run woodworking tools, is betting that there's a class of craftspeople who haven't gotten to bench dogs yet. For them they've created the X-Mat Assembly System.

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The X-Mat is a simple 12”×12” square made of chemical-resistant resin and gridded up with X-shaped sockets. By interlocking multiple X-mats and dropping in a bunch of Woodpeckers' accessories—L-Supports, box clamps, anchors and painting fingers—the idea is that you can quickly create temporary jig set-ups for assembly. My first thought was "Who would buy this?" but after watching the video, I must admit there are a lot of times I could've used something like this:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jan 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Whether you're an ID student working wood or an architecture student making foamcore models, you need a pencil to mark dimensions on the material prior to cutting it. And you quickly learn that on high-tolerance projects, a regular and unsharpened pencil can have you off by as much as 1/16th, or worse if you're a sloppy cutter; the things need to be kept sharp.

So next you figure mechanical pencils are the way to go for accuracy. But mechanical pencil leads always seem to break off when they're jostling around in your ArtBin or toolbox, and those little plastic tubes that hold the replacement leads like to disappear when you're pulling an all-nighter. Plus a mechanical pencil lead has the same problem as conventional pencils—they're worthless for marking on black foamcore or darker woods like walnut.

One potential solution is the Accutrax Pencil Blade, a piece of graphite shaped like a utility knife blade.

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Posted by An Xiao Mina  |  17 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

Palette-HERO.jpgPalette buttons can be re-arranged and customized by the user.

As any artist, designer or technologist will tell you, we rely on a wide variety of software in our day to day lives, from the Adobe Creative Suite to some sort of office bundle, as well as music and movie editing software. Each of these programs has custom controls on the software side, but on the hardware side we have the same set of tools: a keyboard and a mouse.

And while the multiple buttons of a keyboard are endlessly adaptable, that same sort of logic doesn't apply in other interactive environments. Think, for instance, about the vast difference between driving a car and riding a motorcycle, or playing a video game on Playstation vs. operating a remote control for a television. Although the input devices and mechanisms share some obvious, similarities, the hardware experience varies substantially.

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Which is why I was excited to learn about Palette, a "freeform controller" made of movable, interchangeable parts. Starting with the building blocks of buttons, dials and sliders, Palette allows users to create custom controllers based on how they want to interact with the computer.

The minimal aesthetic belies the original inspiration behind Palette. "Looking back at old transistor radios and war era type machines," noted CEO Calvin Chu, who observed that these devices were "really robust." "Why not make a way that even with all these different use cases, we could abstract these elements and rearrange them in different ways, just like Lego blocks?"

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  16 Jan 2014  |  Comments (1)

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A bandsaw is the go-to shop fixture if you're cutting an intricate shape out of wood. But there's a size limit as to what you can get up onto the bed and maneuver with your hands, in a manner that's safe for both you and the machine. Imagine if you had to cut a 16-foot beam or a log for a log cabin, for instance.

To get around this, Italian production-tool manufacturer MD Dario has come up with an ingenious solution: Mount an entire bandsaw on a two-section arm with ball-bearing joints at all three connection points.

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By taking this moutain-comes-to-Mohammed approach, a single operator can quickly and accurately move the saw around while the workpiece remains mobile. In the video below, fast-forward to 1:07 to get to the good part:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Jan 2014  |  Comments (3)

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We human beings enjoy making things rectilinear, which is why you're reading this on a glass rectangle while sitting at a wooden rectangle in a rectangle-shaped room that you entered by passing through a rectangle. So as soon as we could figure out how to turn trees into neat wooden rectangles, we did, by eventually coming up with the circular saw blade and the sawmill.

But before the circular saw blade became the preferred method for turning logs into boards, we tried some pretty kooky things, like this:

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That ten-bladed monstrosity is a steam-powered vertical frame saw, and some American yahoo invented it in 1801. Depending on how the blades were spaced, it could provide boards of different thicknesses.

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By 1809 the invention had spread to England, and by 1821, the Netherlands. In Dutch the machine was called a "raamzaag," literally, "window saw," as the manual one-bladed version it was based on looked like a window frame bisected by a saw. Several years ago the Dutch Steam Engine Museum actually restored one and got it working. The video they shot of it isn't terribly thrilling, but does give you an idea of what an ordeal it was to operate the thing:

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

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Of the power tools I own, this diminutive Makita impact driver is one of my favorites. I recently had to install a Murphy Bed and this thing drove lag screws into the subfloor like I was hammering brad nails. As someone who cut his teeth with bulky, cordless, keyed-chuck power drills with no hammering action, that something this small could pack so much punch has always amazed me.

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I always pictured a powerful little leprechaun inside making the magic happen; but as it turns out, the impact mechanism's a bit more prosaic. Nick Moore, whose YouTube channel is dedicated to sharing "Science on a budget, [to] take a closer look at the world we live in," cut the housing away on an impact driver extension to show you how it works. Pretty cool:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Jan 2014  |  Comments (5)

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Moving sheet goods is a huge pain in the neck, particularly for shorter guys like me with a wingspan that leaves something to be desired. But even for you bigger folk, there's nothing ergonomic about toting a 4x8 sheet around your shop or the jobsite.

The Gorilla Gripper is a cleverly-designed handle that allows you to lift and carry sheet goods using your back and legs, while preserving your fingers and toes. There are tons of YouTube videos showing the thing, but I like the following low-res one the best because it shows the actual applications in the field:

I don't think I'd have the balls to try hoisting it up a ladder, like the guy did in the video, but I'd try everything else they showed.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Making bent plywood forms is an involved business, even not accounting for the steaming. Industrial practitioners have expensive hydraulic presses, whereas shops making one-offs or limited runs have to construct both male and female purpose-built forms; and the more complicated the final shape, the crazier the clamping process gets.

British company Curvomatic seeks to make bentwood creation easier with its titular product. A series of identical metal extrusions are fitting together into a sort of snakelike fence, in most cases taking the place of the topmost form. The idea behind the multi-pronged solution is to provide even pressure, simplify clamping—in some cases band clamps can be used rather than bar clamps—and save material, for applications where the Curvomatic can supplant the second, concave form.

It also allows you to create curved shapes with undercuts, which would require at least three forms to achieve using conventional methods. Check out the video to see it in action:

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Posted by Ray  |   6 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

technique.jpgThe first result of a Google Image Search for "Technique"

"Is technique an example of overcoming 'bad' design, or is technique itself a form of design?"

So begins Sanjy009's inquiry into "Technique vs. Design," proceeding to illustrate the topic with a couple of examples, which have driven much of the discussion thus far. He starts with an anecdote about driver's ed in Scandinavia: "Sweden teaches drivers to open their car doors with the opposite arm, so their bodies are facing backwards and the driver is better able to check their blindspot before opening the door" (it turns out it might be Amsterdam; no confirmation as of press time), followed by a discussion of the ergonomics on musical instruments.

The latter serves as the primary talking point; to Michael DiTullo's point that "we are due for something new, but even most of the purely digital tools mimic analog inputs," I would note that:

1.) I think the Ondes Martenot is a good example of how an avant-garde instrument still requires an intuitive UI: It's essentially a theremin (i.e. a sine-wave generator) that has a graphic interface, as seen in this video overview (it starts a little slow, but gets pretty cool at 3:55; by the end, the interviewer notes that "It's definitely the most 'alive'-sounding electronic instrument... It has a very human quality to it.") Radiohead fans might recognize the coveted synthesizer, which multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood has played on every one of their albums since Kid A; it also features heavily in his solo side projects.

2.) The Tenori-On also comes to mind—the short write-up on MoMA's Inside/Out blog (they've acquired it in their permanent collection) offers a nice summary of how the 16×16 grid actually works.

technique-instruments.jpgClockwise from top left: Ondes Martenot via Wikimedia Commons; Jonny Greenwood via Wikimedia Commons; Tenori-Onvia Wikimedia commons; Theremin player

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Nov 2013  |  Comments (6)

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I love Forstner bits as much as I hate spade bits. Is there anything as satisfying as boring that smooth-sided, flat-bottomed hinge-cup hole in a cabinet-door-to-be? If your application requires you to go all the way through your workpiece, sure, you can get some nasty tear-out; my solution is to use a backer board of wood a different color than your piece. That way, when you see differently-colored shavings start to come up, you know you've gone all the way through.

All Forstner bits are not created equal, of course. I own several makes: Irwin, Freud, and some crappy no-name Made in China and Made in Taiwan bits I bought at the local mom-and-pop hardware store (before I was thrown out and permanently banned after getting into an argument with the owner over a sink aerator. Ah, NYC). The Freud seems to do the best job of evacuating the chips, while the others require more corkscrewing/hula-hooping and/or mid-drilling vacuuming. I know Freud manufactures in Western Europe, and I suspect Irwin manufactures in China, perhaps explaining the quality discrepancy. And now I've caught wind of a kind of super Forstner bit, this one out of Germany.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Nov 2013  |  Comments (1)

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If this video was just about a guy who makes things using only pre-1949 shop tools, it would be awesome (check out the wicked picket-cutting machine at 1:47). If it was just about a guy who can turn 1,200 cornerblocks by hand with machine-like accuracy, it would be awesome. And if it was just about a guy who teaches kids who have been thrown out of multiple reform schools how to make things, it would also be awesome. But it's all of those things and a fourth, much more important thing. Like inventor Ralph Baer, craftsman Eric Hollenbeck explains with brutal honesty why he continues to do what he's done for so long, and while his reason is wholly different from Baer's, it touches on a truth a portion of us will well recognize. It's no surprise this video is a Vimeo Staff Pick:

The beautifully-shot video was done by filmmaker Ben Proudfoot (who at 23, is perhaps too tender to immediately grasp why Hollenbeck didn't want to go to town for supplies). As for Hollenbeck, he runs Blue Ox Millworks and Blue Ox Community High School out of Eureka, California. For those of you living in the region, on the 29th and 30th of this month they'll be hosting their biannual Craftsman's Days local showcase event.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Nov 2013  |  Comments (4)

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For those of you with access to a full shop—I'm looking at you, ID students—if I gave you a half-dollar coin and asked you to turn it into a wearable ring, which tools would you turn to? The drill press and bench grinder are probably the first to come to mind. That's why it's all the more amazing that this unnamed craftsperson did the same using little more than a hammer and a handheld drill (old-school style at that, corded and with keyed chuck) with a variety of attachments, some store-bought, some seriously jury-rigged.

The safety-minded among you will cringe—this man has no regard for his fingers, and while he never damages them on camera, it does look like the "Don't Do—" part of an industrial safety training video. Yet you can't help but be impressed by the results, and by the sheer range of uses this guy gets out of his drill.