3D Printing, CNC, Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Set of Cabinets with CNC-Carved Doors

The area above our washer and dryer (not pictured) was mostly wasted space, so my wife asked me to build some custom cabinets. (Actually, she said, “Can you just buy some cabinets for above the washer and dryer? You really don’t have to build custom ones. I just want something better than this shelf. Anything. “) I designed some cabinets that would use up all of the available space, resulting in a rectangular box about 57″ long, 37″ tall, and 18” deep.

I originally built a single MDF box, but when I realized how heavy it would be, I split it into two boxes so that we could lift it into place without a crane.  Pro-tip: Don’t build something that will weigh a hundred pounds if you’ll have to hold it above your head while you’re screwing it to the wall.

I added boards to the top and bottom of the back of each box to increase stability as well as provide a place to screw the cabinet to the wall.

I saw a tip online about covering the edges of MDF with drywall joint compound to achieve a smoother edge after painting, so I tried that. It seemed to work ok, but it was kind of a hassle.

After painting, I drilled a series of quarter-inch holes two inches apart to allow for adjustable shelves. I originally meant to cut all of these with my CNC router to ensure that they were precisely spaced, but I forgot until after I had assembled the boxes.

We hung the cabinets without any trouble. There would have been trouble if we had had to lift the entire thing up there all at once.

I built the face frame out of thin MDF strips and pocket screws and attached them to the cabinet boxes with wood glue and a brad nailer.

In order to make the doors, I wrote a program that reads a cross-section profile of a cabinet rail and panel, like this:

and tells my CNC router to carve that style of cabinet door in 3D (more on that in a future post). Unfortunately, my wife only wants Shaker-style cabinet doors.  I still carved them on the X-Carve as a proof of concept for more complicated future doors.

The doors are 35″ tall, which meant that I couldn’t cut the recessed panel in a single session, so I had to carve out the bottom half, carefully move the door without losing the x-axis alignment, and then carve the rest.  It worked out pretty well:

FYI, if you’re going to be pulverizing five liters of MDF, empty your ShopVac regularly.

I chose hidden European-style hinges with a half-inch offset. These require drilling 35mm holes in very specific locations, so I 3D-printed a jig to guide my drill press…

…and then promptly drilled all the way through one of the doors. Thank you Bondo for sponsoring this portion of my build:

After I finished repainting, you couldn’t tell at all, and as long as I don’t tell anyone else, no one will ever know. It will be our little secret!

Now that the cabinets and doors are in place, the useable space above our washer and dryer has increased by 480%. Buying finished cabinets with this much storage space from Home Depot would cost about $430; I spent $100 in materials and 11.5 hours of my time (mostly painting, since my paint sprayer was acting up).

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3D Printing, Maker, Programming

Today’s Functional Print: Twist-In Shelf Supports

In today’s “shake it up baby” news, I’ve printed some hard-to-find twist-in shelf supports.

The shelves in our new living room have vertical metal tracks that don’t just accept a push-in support clip; the support must be turned 90º in order to interlock with the track. These supports aren’t sold at any of the national hardware store chains, and the only place I could find them was on another frustrated homeowner’s Shapeways account. I recreated them (and beefed them up a bit) so that I could share the model here.

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The SCAD script is available on GitHub, and the part can be customized and downloaded on Thingiverse.

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3D Printing, Maker, Woodworking

This is a post. It’s a post about a post.

We just moved into a new house, and the 20-year-old signpost is showing its age. It had deteriorated at the bottom, so it was no longer set in a hole and was just leaning against a tree.  I decided to restore it and make use of a gift that the previous homeowners had left us.

Here it is on my workbench awaiting some TLC.

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I planed the hanging board and the vertical post to clean up the faces. The horizontal post fell apart in my hands when I removed the bolts, so it went in the trash.

Here are the post and hanging board after being planed on each side.

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I used the wood from the old vertical post to make the new horizontal post (since the bottom 18″ was unusable, it wasn’t long enough to be reused vertically). I found an abandoned 10′ post in the backyard, so I recycled it into the new vertical post for the sign.

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I cut a lap joint in the post and sanded off all of the old paint. Here’s a before/after shot (taken with Reenact, of course).

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Here’s a shot of the lap joint in the horizontal post after I added some spar urethane to both posts.

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One last dry-fit before final construction:

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I chamfered the edges of all of the posts on the miter saw to match the original; this should help prevent water from soaking into the top of the vertical post, and it looks nice too.

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I removed all of the rust from the chain and eye bolts using a vinegar/salt solution followed by a water/baking soda solution. It worked way better than I expected.

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If I had known how well the rust removal would go, I wouldn’t have bought new bolts to join the posts.

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Chains attached.

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The previous owners of the home had bought some ceramic house-number tiles in Italy but had never been able to put them up. Rather than just gluing them to the wood, I wanted a method that would be reversible if I didn’t like the result or if I made a mistake, so I designed and printed some hold-down clips to attached the tiles to the hanging board.

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It was tight getting the tiny little galvanized nails tacked in without chipping the tiles, but half an hour with a nail set (actually a bolt with a concave point, since I couldn’t find my nail set) did the trick.  There is some space between the tiles and clips to allow for wood movement.

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I hung the numbers up and trekked down the hill to plant the post.

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Tada! Now the UPS driver will know where to bring our Amazon orders.

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3D Printing, Maker, OpenSCAD, Programming

Create LEGO-compatible Angle Plates with LEGO.scad

LEGO Angle PlateIn response to a comment here, I wrote the first OpenSCAD module for generating complex brick shapes using my LEGO.scad project.

LEGO.scad is great for creating bricks and wings of all shapes and sizes, but it isn’t suitable for making complicated shapes like angle plates. LEGO sells 90º angle plates (pictured); the new module can generate plates with orientations between 0º and 100º.

This is the default output: a 90º plate with both sides 2×2.

Here’s one with an angle of 45º and different size sides:

Here’s the underside of one with an angle of 100º, a 2×3 base, and a 4×1 overhang:

To generate your own plates, check out the LEGO.scad repository and call the angle_plate() module in OpenSCAD. Feel free to share your creations in the comments below.

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3D Printing, Maker, Programming

Today’s Functional Print: Baby Gate Support

In today’s “No, don’t go up there” news, I’ve printed a custom baby gate support.

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Based on a design by Thingiverse user Printed_Solid, this support allows a pressure gate to be used against a post without attaching a wall cup, which would leave a permanent screw hole. I updated the original design to have longer and thicker corners to prevent strong children from pulling it off of the post, and the entire part is customizable to fit your specific post.

The SCAD script is available on GitHub, and the part can be customized and downloaded on Thingiverse.

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3D Printing, Games, Maker, OpenSCAD, Programming

Today’s Functional Print: Board Game Piece Bases

In today’s “do you think this is some sort of game?” news, I’ve designed and printed some boardgame piece bases.

These were printed specifically for my son’s “Thomas and Friends Tracks and Trestles” game, which was missing two of its bases, but the design is customizable to fit almost any size gamepiece.

The OpenSCAD script and STL file are available on GitHub, and you can customize your own gamepiece base on Thingiverse.

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3D Printing, Maker, OpenSCAD, Programming

Today’s Functional Print: Stove Knob

In today’s “customizable knob” news, I’ve designed and printed a customizable knob.

When we moved into our current house, the knob to control the stovetop fan was missing:

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After six months of procrastinating and one hour of OpenSCAD, it now looks like this:

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Now I don’t have to turn on the fan with a pliers!

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The OpenSCAD script and STL file are available on GitHub, and you can create your own customized knob in Thingiverse.

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