iPad Stand

I recently bought an iPad for use during travel and for things around the house.  One such thing is for use as a recipe holder while I cook.  I have slowly been collecting my various scraps of paper and bookmarks into an organized google drive collection.  Most fit nicely on a single page in portrait mode.  I needed a way to prop it upright and started with a nice swoopy 3D printed part.  I liked the shape, but it was a little too light and the color clashed with my kitchen.


Unusual for me, I built a test piece first.  Typically I just launch into this sort of thing head first and start making mistakes.  The pine shape was made using the green 3D print as a tracing template.  I liked how it came out and proceeded with maple.

As I was cutting the groove on my router I made a huge mistake.  I wanted to rout the groove a little wider, and moved the fence closer to the bit to make a second pass.  CHOMP!


I forgot, when I moved the fence closer I used the wrong side of the bit.  When pinched between the fence and bit, the bit bites in and drags everything forward.  I made a little graphic below to show the issue.  The bit rotates counter-clockwise.  Keep out of the red zone and use the green side.

I recovered by starting over and moving on to a new piece of wood.  This time without any issues.  20171013_121914

Once I got the groove completed I tapered the back a little.  It doesn’t need to be 3/4″ thick all the way across, so I thinned the back end down.  I like the effect a lot, but in retrospect I could have gotten a lot more aggressive.


With the tapering done I used the green printed part as a template to lay out the two curved cutouts of this part.  I made the center cut wide enough to help lighten the look, and provide a cutout around the speaker ports at the bottom edge of the iPad.  I was able to orient the front to show off some lovely rays (little speckles in right hand picture) in the maple.

I am really happy with this, a past version of me would have cut the groove and called it good.  The block would have been functional, but chunky and brutal.  This is lighter and more elegant.  Truth be told I could have done more lightening and still had a functional part, but as always it is a learning-by-doing experience.  A spray coat of lacquer sealed the deal.

Ladder Feets

I have a trusty little 3 step Werner ladder that is great for doing work inside and outside the house.  It is small, light and provides enough height to be really useful without making you feel too high up.  I bought it when I got my house 8 years ago and have used it a lot since then.




The back two legs are basically straight tubes with rubber feet slipped on.  They did a good job keeping the ladder stable and level, but over the years the posts have pushed through the rubber.  The final straw was when I was doing something in the yard and the bag legs sank 6 inches down.





I pulled the feet off and tried to salvage them.  The only real issue is the bars pushing through.  Maybe “re-soleing’ these shoes is all it takes.  I tried screwing down some plywood to the bottom, but ran into issues.  The post is only resting on its edge, and the squishiness of the feet means they want to wobble around a lot.  No good.

Time to ditch these feet and go with something new.  I would try to make it all in wood, but the post diameter is not close to any standard drill bits.  I want the new feet to fit tightly.  On to 3D printing!

The foot design resembles the original rubbery version.  The difference is that these will be hard.  I added a flat parallel to the bottom of the post.  The reason being is that when you fold the ladder up it only sits on the tips of these feet.  Probably a lot of the reason they pushed through.  This flat spot will help spread the load when stored and hopefully help it last longer.  The larger flat in the upper left picture is what touches the ground when the ladder is deployed and in use.


I started with basic PLA, as a test, but they fit so well I am going to stick with the first prototypes.  I might make a higher infill PETG version in the future.  Until then the ladder folds up and stores well, and most importantly sits flat and stable when in use.


Hurricane Irma Update

Irma came and went and we are alive and well.  The battery box performed admirably, but didn’t provide enough cooling.  80+ degree days and nights with very high humidity meant we lost the fridge faster than I had hoped, and sleeping was very dreadful at best.  In the end we broke down and now own a generator and window shaker.

As always you learn a lot from these experiences.  I am no hurricane expert, but have gathered enough knowledge that I think a guide is in order.  For the leathered 3rd generation native Floridian, and the newcomer to our wondrous state.  Expect a guide to be posted in the coming weeks.

Until then my only projects this month have involved getting myself and others ready for the hurricane, and cleaning up afterwards.  Here is the pile of yard debris I have collected from the storm.  I still need to trim the palm tree on the left, and there is a lot of oak trimming that could go on near my shed.


Tumbler Sanding

Long story short: I tried to use a tumbler to conformally sand 3D prints and clean up old metal parts.  It didn’t work that well.

Long story long: I wanted a way to sand complex parts such as 3D prints and old tools.  I can convert rust easily enough, but it leaves surfaces dark, and doesn’t handle other grunge.  Sanding 3D parts works, but never gets the nooks and crannies right.

Enter the tumbler!  It is a funny shaped open top globe that vibrates.  Shooters use them to tumble brass bullet casings to clean them up.  I started with sand because it is abrasive and cheap.

No luck, sand didn’t do much even after hours of work.  How do the rock tumbler guys do it?  Silicon carbide grit.  Lovely!  I will buy some and mix it with my sand.


Watching it combine with the sand is a really fun trippy experience.


I tried lower concentrations of carbide grit to sand, but eventually added the whole 5lb bag of grit.  The metal and printed parts both spent 2-3 hours in full concentration grit.  I feel like the metal parts may have benefited.  It is a little hard to tell in the photos, but the metal is a bit cleaner.

The 3D prints didn’t show much improvement.  The sanded one was a touch smoother in places, but picked up a lot of staining from the grit.  None of the ridged areas were knocked down well.  On the plus side, delicate features didn’t break off.

Poor pickle rick is just going to have to remain rough around the edges.  Don’t buy a tumbler and grit to sand your 3D prints, it doesn’t work well.



Woodsaw 3D Printed Parts

Miter Saw Zero Clearance Insert

Sawing with a tight fitting insert is almost always the right way to go.  It supports the wood being cut and prevents the fibers from getting torn as the saw teeth punches through.  The plate that comes with the saw works, but has a wide gap.  I made a thin plywood insert, but they don’t last that long.  This is my attempt at a 3D printed one.  The original is on the right.  Notice how wide the saw blade gap is.  I took a picture of the original saw plate on one of those self healing cutting mats.  They have good ruled lines in both directions to make sure the image didn’t get distorted.

The first print out of the gate fit really well.



I made the first cut with no wood in the way.  It chopped right through the plastic and cut a self fitting slot that is just exactly the size of the blade.  I might have been a little too cautious.  Slow cutting built heat and there was a bit of plastic fuzz at the top edges of the cut.  A little light work with a utility knife had those cleaned up.  Some subsequent cuts have shown the insert to properly back the cuts.

I still need to find a spool of Dewalt yellow filament.

Table Saw Organizers

I am in a near constant state of looking for pencils and rulers/tape measures.  I should attach one of each to my body with a short retractable cable.  Until then I try to stage as many as possible at each work station.  At my table saw I made two different organizers to hold commonly used  items.  They both attach to the far side of my rip fence.

The white organizer holds my wooden ruler and a small stack of pencils.  The pencil well could have been a touch deeper, but otherwise it works well.  The yellow holder area keeps my grrripper push block.  It is at a really convenient hand position for quick use when sawing.



Cutting Corners

This was a fun collaboration with my dear madre!  She does bookmaking along with letterpress and about 100 other hobbies.  See where I get it from?  When making a hardcover book you have a solid material that is covered with something like fabric or heavy paper.  I forget all the terms, but in order for it to get covered nicely you need to cut the corner off the cover material so it folds in well.  It is kind of like wrapping a present.

I was directed to check out the cool 3D printed corner tool here: https://www.ibookbinding.com/tools/3d-printed-corner-cutting-tool/

It was a good looking tool, but the tall wall used to protect fingers made it a lot harder to use.  In woodworking we use guides like this all the time to cut knife lines in wood.  You want it to be low so you can get a flat single beveled knife up against the guide.  I made a few changes and came up with this.


It sits on the corner of binding material up to 1/8″ thick, and provides a 45 degree standoff of 1/8″ from the very tip of the corner.  I added that funny circle cutout to make sure the printer didn’t round the corner to the inside any.  This sits snugly.


Here is an example of a binder board and the cover material.  The tool sits on the corner of the hard binder material.


With fingers sufficiently out of the way, you can run a knife along the outside edge and trim the corner off.


With all corners trimmed you can do a little fold and crease and get a smart looking book cover.


Mom was happy and requested a dozen.  Easy enough!  Thingiverse link for those that want their own copy