July 2018 3D Prints

Monitor Lift

One of my office monitors started making odd noises and showing crazy artifacts.  It got to the point of being un-usable, so I replaced it.  The pair was 5 years old and they don’t sell that model any more.  The cheap replacement I bought didn’t come in the same height and neither monitor had height adjustability.  A black circular disk printed at the right thickness matched the two screens up well.  A copious sprinkling of office desk clutter helps camouflage the printed lifter.

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Electrical Cutouts

There is going to be a lot of power and low voltage routing going on at the new house.  I have been practicing with my oscillating multi tool to get the cutouts just right.  A set of tracing templates would help.  It turns out low voltage and high voltage boxes are slightly different sizes.  Who knew?

They are pretty simple.  Color coded and labeled for their intended use, and thick enough to balance a bullet level on top.  Mark where you want the box to go, trace out the square, cut and install.


Laser Case

I picked up a laser range finder to help out with all the flooring and other work at the new house.  It is really amazingly accurate, but leaves something lacking.  There is no case.  The delicate output window for the laser is unprotected, and so is the screen.  A sock or super basic nylon case would have been helpful.  No worries, I printed my own, and shared it on Thingiverse.


Cup Holder

Our new place has a bigger yard and that requires a bigger mower.  I found a riding mower to act as my trusty yard steed.  It fulfills all of my boyhood fantasies of owning a riding mower except one.  The cup holder.  Basically it doesn’t hold my RTIC cup.  I fixed that with a little Husqy orange liner.  Can’t go losing your drink every time you hit a bump.

Death and Resurrection of a Drill Press

My beloved drill press is a Craftsman from the early 90s (I think) that I snagged on craigslist.  It has served me well, but is very difficult to move.  Top heavy and with a small base; even small shifts in position are precarious.  I am going to need to move it a lot soon, so when woot had a Bora Portamate mobile base on sale I snatched it up.  I was walking the drill press out of its corner to get the base installed when disaster struck.

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I tried to control it on the way down, but once it got going there was no stopping it.  I didn’t get hurt but the arm that holds the table broke off.  I still had a drill bit installed in the chuck, and that is what kept the table from sliding further.  It bent the drill bit, but the quill appears true.  I stood it up and started it spinning.  No wobble of any sort that I could see.  With that established I gathered up the broken parts.

Maybe a quick visit to the local welding shop would have me set right?  Apparently cast iron is very difficult to weld.  They were not wild about trying, and wouldn’t guarantee me any of their work.  Whelp…forget that.  After being really bummed for a day or two, I decided I could build up my own top table top out of the scraps I had around.  I gained enough confidence to install that mobile base.  It floats like a dream now!

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I started with a stout piece of oak drilled to match the table arm attachment point.  A drill press would have been really useful there, but I managed without.  From there I built out ribs that hold the top.  I made sure everything was square with respect to the drill bit before screwing them in completely.

The table top will be done with two layers.  The top will have a square cutout that holds a sacrificial drill insert, and the bottom has a hole so you can push up from the bottom to remove the insert.  I printed a square guide to let me cut out a 2.75×2.75 inch hole for the insert.  That new plunge router lets me do all sorts of cool things.

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I routed some slots for a set of aluminum t-slot guides that hold the fence in place.  The fence is just two pieces of the same plywood glued back to back.  I cut a dozen of the center inserts.  They all got an undercut chamfer to help keep dust from letting them sit level.  This table is smaller than my last, but I feel it is more functional by far.  It was a good recovery, and ultimately led me to making a better drill press table.

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Nailer Cabinet

Air nailers are a pretty wonderful invention.  They can provide low visibility fastening in a lot of different applications.  I have had a brad nailer for ages, and picked up a good pin nailer when I redid the kitchen.  The cordless electric nailers are a lot heavier than their air counterparts, but for just a few quick hits, they are awesome.  I recently built up a full inventory of air and electric brad and pin nailers.  Time to put those nailers to work building a little home for all these gadgets.

I planned out a cavity to hold all the nailers up top, and a set of drawers below to keep the nails and other accessories.  1/2″ maple made up all the components except the drawer bottoms.

Once assembled I cut more plywood with a 45 degree angle on it to act as a french cleat across the back.  The electric nailers sit nicely on their own, but the air ones will need hangers.  Plus, this lets me rearrange things, or add dividers if I feel the need later down the line.

I played with the arrangements, and there are lots of spacing options that work.  Big enough to be flexible, but not so big as to waste space.

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This is a decent looking cabinet on its own, and is about where I would stop in my previous builds.  I wanted to add a little something, so I made my own maple edge banding.

The pin nailer came in handy for securing it all, and hand planing really lets you sneak those parts into a good fit.  With the body of the cabinet in shape I turned to the drawers.  I thought drawer fronts with chamfers might be a neat flare, and I had a new router bit to try out.  I cut all the end grain chamfer while it was still a solid long block, then cut the two fronts out and routed the long grain.  It completely mitigated any tear-out issues.  I finally feel like all those minor screw ups of the past are congealing into wisdom.

Everything got multiple coats of danish oil.  Not a bad finish, I like the wipe on aspect and how it looks.  Honestly though, it is just some kind of thinned linseed oil.  At probably 4x the price of basic linseed oil, I might just figure out how to thin that stuff myself.

I 3D printed organizers to keep each set of nails contained and labeled.  The drawer I had these in was a mess with different nail lengths all mixed up.  Mishaps have occurred from pulling the wrong length nail ream.  If I ditched the manuals I could have probably combined everything in one drawer.  Oh well, this provides ample expansion for new nail lengths, or other jigs/accessories I might acquire.

The final design looks pretty nice.  I will see how much dust it collects and consider adding doors later, but for now it is perfect.

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June 2018 Prints

A bountiful harvest of prints this month.  I had a lot of work going on in the shop, and that typically ends up producing different jigs and prints to help out.

First up, I reorganized all of my machine screws into one central organizer.  To help with organization and to tell them apart I printed a screw ruler and hardware guide.

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The ruler measures screw lengths of either flat head or other style.  The guide has through holes that match my common hardware styles along with examples of washers and nuts.  It makes matching a random bit of hardware easier.


I do a pretty good job keeping my eye and ear protection on when in the shop.  Dust masks are another thing.  A lot of my tools have vacuum, but certainly not all.  Most masks I have tried don’t work well with the beard and mustache, and most are pretty hot.  This one works well for me.  I built it a little home to prevent damage, and so I always know where it is.  I feel a little like bane when I wear it.

I took a photo of it on the cutting mat, then used the lines to help design an appropriate housing shape.  The hinge required a single screw and nut, and a magnet in the lid and body keep it closed.  The backplane screws down so I tucked it under a cabinet with other PPE.


I had a lot of flat parts that needed holes drilled in them in the same location.  Instead of marking every one I made a drill template with bushings.  The bushings are sized so a particular drill bit just fits inside.  It keeps the bit on location and perpendicular to the surface.  They will wear out eventually, but are easy to replace.  These all fit in a 5/8″ hole and have two screws to keep them in place.  Once built this saved me a ton of time and increased repeatability.

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Dust collection fittings never fit.  There was an article about it in one of my woodworking magazines.  The guy basically threw up his hands and told the industry to get their act together.  I emailed him with my solution.  He said it was cool, but a workaround for an issue that shouldn’t exist.  Agreed, but here is my workaround for my miter saw.

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I switched to using these small bottles from woodcraft for my glue.  I like them a lot better than the bottles that most glues come in.  The only trick is that the little red caps blink out of existence once dropped.  I did a few test prints with a segment missing to get the taper size and groove right for this one, but I think I have a winner.  It is much easier to handle, harder to lose, and is more easily replaceable.


I had kind of a failed attempt at a vacuum system for degassing epoxy.  I might revisit it at some point, but for now it is a defunct project.  I needed to tap some polycarbonate for pipe fittings and bought a pipe thread tap.  It didn’t come with any case or even pouch, so I printed one.  I sprayed it good with oil to prevent rust.  Hopefully stored this way it will not get lost, broken, or rust.

Car Phone Charger Dock

My phone has wireless charging built in, and it is a wonderful feature.  Very futuristic.  I wanted this ability in my car when doing road trips or errands.  I started with a flat lipped bed that would keep the phone in place.  There is a spot behind the gear select knob that was just big enough for it to sit.

I took apart a small puck wireless charger and pulled the internals out.  It was all one piece with 4 holes for me to mount to.  Very convenient.  Below are the first 3 PLA iterations of my design.

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The first one on the left was too wide, and din’t have enough space cut out for fingers.  The cover (below) didn’t sit well in the cavity either.  The next one was better, and had more rounding.  The last one had a tapered bottom to lighten the look, and a simple disk to cover up the electronics.

I put it in the car and test drove it for a few days.  It was an awkward fit.  the rubber pads underneath kept it from sliding around, but it was tight navigating it between the shifter and console.  I sat it upright in the change well and found that orientation a lot easier to use.

This sticks up a lot higher than was really needed, but The principle is sound.  I switched to PETG because the other car parts I printed in that material have held up well.  I thought I had a slam dunk with the left one, but the angle of the cable was too low, and the circuit card needed a little fit adjustment.  PLA and PETG shrink differently.  If you prototype something in one material, then switch to another, tight fights might need adjustment.

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I have run around with this version for a week now and love it.  My phone falls right in and is picked up easily.  The cable is well controlled and doesn’t get in the way.  It took a few iterations to get here, but was worth it.


The only issue with using that space for my phone is that I typically put trash there.  It was easy to see and clean out at the end of the day.  Time for another print!  I can fit a little trash can in the side pocket of my door.  Measuring down inside the pocket calls for something like a pair of inside dividers.  I didn’t have any, but I do now!

With tool created I measured the pocket width in a few spots and came up with a profile.  It took some adjustments, but the second version clicked into place.  That area of the car has a ton of curves.  This didn’t match them perfectly, but it sits well and doesn’t stress the door mold too much.  I gave this design a week as well.

It worked out like a charm, but could stand to be wider.  I printed it 50% wider out of PETG to survive the heat, and called my car project done.

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Spring 3D Prints 2018

I haven’t done a “Prints Of The Month” post in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a pile of stuff popping off the printer.  Here is a smattering of prints I completed in the last 2 months or so.


I needed extra retainer cases for some orthodontics equipment I have (bummer).  I could buy them, but where is the fun in that?  Fusion 360 has a half decent thread database, so I dug into it and made a screw together case.  I started with the default settings and couldn’t get the top to screw down all the way.  It turns out I was using a Class 3 thread.  Class 1 is the loosest, while Class 3 is high precision.

I eventually oiled the threads and worked the Class 3 one back and forth a number of times and it closes now.  The Class 1 set I printed worked itself into fully closing a lot faster.  If you are worried about your prints coming together, pay attention to the thread class.


Continuing with the gaudy yellow color, I added a magnifying light to my shop.  They sell screw on bases you can plug the light post into, but they charge 20 bucks each.  I can print as many as I want for less than a dollar a piece.


A co-worker builds guitars with a CNC mill, but occasionally needs chisels to help clean up segments.  I took his flunky grade D chisels and put a nice shine on them.  3D prints and a magnet means nobody gets stabbed by accident when transporting them back to the owner.

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I printed a small cable guide for my car a year ago.  It lasted a while, but fell off recently.  The tape failed to hold the printed part.  Time for an upgrade.  I increased the width by 50% and made it three times taller.  Before attaching the tape I scuffed up the back to help it grip well.  The PETG didn’t melt or deform in the summer heat, so I am sticking with that material.


Not my own invention, but rather a Thingiverse submission by user iamjonlawrence.  They are a set of printable radius gauges.  They have inside radius, outside radius, and a set of circles.  The hole of the circle has the radius marked on the gauge, the outside has twice the radius.  The metric versions have that fact labeled better.  They pack a lot of function in a few small prints.  They are available every 1/16″ up to 1″.  I might have to make a set that goes over 1″.

An example of how to use them is on the right.  A pair of calipers wouldn’t really tell you the proper radius, but this gauge has it pegged.


Last but not least, we have a beloved octopus stained glass in our kitchen window named Eddy.  He guards over the cooking and cleaning activities and always lends a limb.  He is too heavy to hang on a suction cup for more than a few weeks, so we always just sit him on the window edge.  He has fallen before, and that will not do.  I printed this basic profile to clip into the window frame and provide a little spot for Eddy to stay firmly in place.

Printer Upgrade Part 2

Last we left our printer saga, everything was quite broken, and I was waiting on parts.  The 625z bearings came in and I put the extruder motor back together.  When I could easily turn it by hand, I knew my extruder problems were solved.  Sure enough, I can extrude PETG at high speeds and no jams.  The hot end was not to blame.  I did develop a new problem though.

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That is the status of my end stops.  The printer thinks the inductive sensor is touching the bed even though it is nowhere close.  I had an occasional issue with the inductive sensor reading poorly.  That has become constant now, all my messing with the cables finished off my probe.  I can’t start a print without that probe.  I massaged the cable and found a spot that flipped the 1 to a 0.  Time to troubleshoot.

Ok, so the cable is pretty well shot.  I opened the jacket where the issues was, but couldn’t figure out the exact problem.  They used very thin wire, it could be a break within the jacket.  I just cut most of the cable and redid the wiring.  That got me back up and running.  I printed everything I needed for the upgrade plus spares in both PETG and PLA.


I double checked all the instructions to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and started with the tear down.  On the plus side I am really good at disassembling the whole hot end/extruder!  It looks so naked.

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I only ran into one small snag.  The part that holds the x-belt wasn’t accepting the belt on the right hand side.  I printed 3 different versions, and they all had the same issue.  I took that part off and worked around the groove with a hobby knife.  It eventually relented and let the belt seat fully.

After that, the extruder assembly was pretty straight forward.

The bed assembly was a breeze.  I like most of the changes they made to the cable management, and think this will be more robust.  How the rats nest gets handled in the controller box could be a little better though.  Maybe just a bigger box.

I went through the calibration wizard, did some nozzle height testing, then printed a smart looking benchy.  Dimensionally it is great, but course settings mean it isn’t cosmetically the best.

I am thrilled to be over the failures, and proud of myself for solving all the issues.  Given that is almost exactly the 1 year anniversary of getting this printer, I decided to share a few stats.

Printer Stats:

  • 380 successful prints (more than a few failures, especially these last 2 weeks)
  • 44.7 days spent printing (12% of its life)
  • 6.3km of filament