Christmas, CNC, Maker, Woodworking

Secret Santa 2018: Japan in Maple and Walnut

For my workplace Secret Santa gift exchange this Christmas (you know, the one that very recently took place), my recipient was a Japanese citizen who likes to hike, so I made him a 3-D topographic map of Japan out of maple and walnut.

The steps to build it were pretty simple, so I won’t caption all the photos, but basically, I glued up a walnut panel, carved Japan out of maple with my CNC router, and then magically conjoined them. Tada in Japanese!

 

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Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Bed That Is Also a Playhouse and a Slide and a Dresser and a Bookshelf

My five-year-old daughter saw my wife browsing Pinterest, and long story short, I ended up building this bed/playhouse/slide/dresser/bookcase for her room:

I planned it out in SketchUp. It’s an original design inspired by a number of beds online, and the slide is based on The Wood Whisperer’s bunk bed slide. (My SketchUp file is available here.)

The stairs have built-in drawers, so they double as a dresser.

The bottom three drawers don’t run the full depth of the stairs, so there’s space at the back for books and baskets.

There’s another bookshelf built into the space underneath the slide. One side is accessible from inside the playhouse…

…and the other side is accessible from under the slide.

The slide is made of melamine, the structural portion of the bed is poplar, and most everything else is MDF.  The cedar shingles were left over from my Infinity Wishing Well project.

From start to finish (although not including the time to design it), this project took 107 hours over two months — well worth it, considering my daughter will spend at least 3,000 hours using it every year.

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CNC, Maker, Programming, Woodworking, X-Carve

Generating and Cutting Halftone Images on the X-Carve

Halftone is an app I’ve written for making halftone-style carves with Inventables’s Easel CNC design platform. A halftone image uses different sized dots to represent light and dark areas.

Upload an image, and Halftone will convert it to a grid of holes with each hole sized to reflect the brightness of the image at that point. Darker areas are represented by wider holes; if you’re going to backlight your carve, you can invert it and have lighter areas use wider holes.

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Maker, Woodworking

I Made a Stand for a Daily Photo Calendar

We bought a photo-a-day calendar for 2019, but because it didn’t come with any sort of stand, it was in danger of getting broken apart prematurely.  I made this stand for it that doubles as storage for the used pages so they can be used as a notepad.

Underneath the calendar, there’s a slot where old pages can be inserted or removed. (The wooden divider between the calendar and the old pages is not attached to anything; it just floats up or down depending on how many pages are underneath it.)

I made this stand out of an interesting block of wood that was given to me by a friend. I don’t know what type of wood it was, but its coloring is pretty similar to red oak. For scale, the calendar is about 3″ square, and the sides of the stand are 1/8″ thick.

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Christmas, Life

Our 2018 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas to all of our friends, family, and unindicted co-conspirators,

Why does every Christmas letter have to be about gazing back upon the stale agèd past instead of looking forward to the glorious future? You don’t need to know what we did last January; that was 11 months ago! OLD NEWS! The fact that Gabriel took first place in his Awana Pinewood Derby is so bygone that we should say exactly that to it. “Bye! Gone!” Turn around and face the future: Gabriel is preparing not only for this year’s race, but NEXT year’s race, and is hoping — nay, planning — to be a three-time champion. Now THAT’s what I call Looking Forward to the Glorious Future!

Grayson is not content to live in the past either. (You don’t remember Grayson? Are you still living in a 2017 Christmas Letter-era when he was named Henry and hadn’t been born yet? Get with it!) For most of 2018, all he knew how to do was lay on the ground and roll around a little. However, he abandoned ALL of that — everything he knew from the past! — in favor of crawling, which is the locomotive method of the FUTURE. Grayson is a forward thinker, just like his dear old dad.

Speaking of old, I’m going to be it… in the future!

Christina and I are hoping to go back to Mexico again soon. “Back?” you say? “But whenever did you already GO to Mexico??” In the past! I don’t want to talk about it! We had a great time! We went with our friends! It’s a beautiful country full of wonderful people!

Next year, Christina will be the treasurer for our local foster parents association. I told her that I felt like I found treasure-r when I met her, but she said, “Christopher, that’s the kind of rearward-looking yesteryear-talk that we’re trying to eliminate. It’s also a terrible pun.”  And doggonit if she wasn’t right!

For the rest of their lives, our kids will be able to say that they got to go to LegoLand and Disneyland. I don’t want to write too much about how or when it happened for fear of contradicting the entire theme of this letter, but let’s just put it this way: last month (in the past), we fulfilled my life-long dream of driving four kids ten hours to spend three days at theme parks. But that’s all I’m going to say; you’ll have to connect the dots yourself!

Gideon, under Gabriel’s tutelage, is already deciding which career path he is going to follow after high school: professional football player (multi-million-dollar kicking position contracts only) or high-stakes poker player. His plan is to win big in his first year of either sport, retire immediately, and let us mooch off of him for the rest of our lives. Sounds good to me!

Gloria is looking forward to being the youngest person in our family to graduate from kindergarten, ever! At just five years, nine months, and seven days, she’ll be younger than every single one of her ancestors was at the time that they finished kindergarten. Oh sorry, I have to answer the phone — it’s the Guiness Book of World Records calling!

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: regardless of how much time you spent watching Japanese chefs make omelets on YouTube this year, don’t let that control your future.  You can watch as little or as much Japanese omelet footage as you want in 2019!

Forever forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom,

Chris, Christina, Gabriel, Gideon, Gloria, and Grayson Henry Finke

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Clockback, PHP, Programming, Web Applications

Run Your Own Open-Source Timehop

I like the idea of Timehop: seeing all of the photos I took on this day in years past. I don’t like the idea of sharing all of my photos with a third party, so I built an open-source replacement for Timehop that runs on my own computer and server; it’s called Clockback.

Clockback is two things:

  • a BASH script that uploads all of the photos I took this week in previous years
  • a single-page web app that displays the photos from this day:

To use Clockback, you only need two things:

  1. Your photos organized so that their filename begins with the date on which they were taken, e.g. “1969-07-20 – Moon landing.jpg”. (I use iPhoto Disc Export to do this.)
  2. A Web server to upload them to.

As long as you can run the script included in Clockback once per week from your computer, the Clockback webpage will have photos to show, and it will remove old photos, so it doesn’t use a lot of disck space.

To get the code and all of the details on how to run Clockback, check out the README in the GitHub repo.

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3D Printing, Maker, Woodworking

Shaker-Style Jewelry Cabinet

I built this Shaker-style jewelry cabinet for my wife. You’ll never guess what’s inside…

The cabinet box itself is only 1 3/4″ deep. These are the four sides; the top is shorter because it won’t be mitered, since the top of this box will be hidden in the final product.

I cut a rabbet into the back of the sides so that they could accept a quarter-inch piece of plywood for the back of the cabinet.

I love my 90º clamps.

I would love to have more clamps too.

Here’s the main box after being glued up.

I added this half-inch pine board so the hooks (for hanging necklaces) would have something to screw into and to keep the hanging jewelry away from the back of the cabinet.

I painted the interior of the box at this point because it would be very hard to reach with a brush or sprayer after installing the face frame.

I’m not sure why I didn’t install the top board before doing these coats of paint, but I guess I did it at this point.

Here’s the assembled face frame, made of 3/4″ poplar.

I don’t normally fill any of my pocket holes, but I had four plugs that came with my Kreg jig forever ago, and these holes might have been accessible to dust and lint inside the cabinet if I left them open.

I glued and nailed on the face frame and then filled the nail holes:

I then gave it another three coats of white semi-gloss.

I installed the hooks in two rows, with each hook an inch from its neighbor.

And I hung it up in the bathroom while I worked on the door.

The door was built using cope and stick joinery. These are the four sides; I cut the groove and tenons with a dado stack on my table saw. The groove is a half-inch deep and a quarter inch wide, and the tenons are sized to fit perfectly in the groove.

This is how they go together. Pretend that I also took a photo of the door after inserting the plywood panel and gluing it all up and painting it, because I forgot to do that.

This is a jig I 3D printed to help install the hinges. You drill a hole in the hole, and then the hinge fits in there.

I added a handle to the door, and boom: a door with a handle.

See how easily the jewelry hangs from the hooks?

We decided that the cabinet could use a second row of hooks about halfway down, so I made a second row of hooks about halfway down.

Tada!

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