Christmas, CNC, Maker, Woodworking, X-Carve

Making Name Puzzles with the X-Carve

For a couple of the younger kids on my Christmas gift list this year, I made name puzzles with my X-Carve.

The puzzles are made out of Baltic birch plywood; the letters are 1/4″ thick and the base is 1/2″ thick.

I cut out the letters of the name (and some additional puzzle pieces) with a very small bit (1/32″), so when the letters are placed in the puzzle, they have a total of 1/16″ of play.  This is probably the maximum allowable play before the pieces start to feel loose.

These letters were from a proof-of-concept puzzle that I didn’t end up finishing, but you get the idea.

I carved the puzzle piece insets 1/8″ deep and rounded the corners of the base.

On one of the puzzles, I also included the logos of the Minnesota Wild and the Minnesota Twins. I gave the Wild logo some depth by carving out one of the areas that was a single color. This made it easier to paint too.

After painting the pieces, I gave them and the bases a couple of coats of clear enamel.

Which piece goes where???

I hope that the kids like these for now, and when they get older, they can glue the pieces in place and use these as wall or door hangings.

If you have an X-Carve and want to make these puzzles (or variations thereof, if you don’t know a Minnesotan child named Justin), the Easel projects are here (Justin) and here (Alyssa).

CNC, Home Improvement, Woodworking, X-Carve

Today’s CNC Carving: A towel rack that says Towels

What do you hang your towels on? A plain old towel bar? Ha. A hook on the back of the door? Sad. You drape them over the shoulders of a mannequin like a cape? Ok that’s pretty cool.

But what would be even cooler would be to hang your towels on a towel rack that says “Towels.”

There’s no mistaking what goes on these hooks. Thinking of hanging up a bathrobe? Get out of here, buster. This rack is for towels.

“But there are so many hooks and I only have two towels!” Not my problem. Buy more towels.

If you want to make this towel rack that says “Towels,” head on over to the towel rack project page at Inventables.

CNC, Woodworking, X-Carve

Garbage Can Cabinet Medallions

Ever since I built our garbage and recycling cabinet last year, visitors to my home have been mystified as to where to throw away their trash, so I made some identifying medallions for the front of the cabinet with my X-Carve.

They’re carved out of red oak (the same wood used for the top of the cabinet) that was planed down to about 3/8″ thick. I stained them with Varethane’s Kona stain (before carving) and finished them with some clear spray enamel (after carving).

The Inventables project is here for anyone interested in making something similar.


3D Printing, Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Shoe Cabinet

Our front entryway usually looks something like this:

Those are bins to hold shoes; they’re uncharacteristically empty in this picture, but with as many as seven kids in the house at any given time, they’re usually overflowing (and not nice to look at).

We decided to get a shoe cabinet to keep the shoes (and their smells) hidden. Ikea’s HEMNES shoe cabinet was our top choice:

but it wouldn’t be quite big enough, and it wouldn’t make productive use out of all of the space by the door. I decided instead to build my own custom version of HEMNES.

Continue reading

CNC, Maker, Woodworking

I Made the Bower Power Industrial Tripod Fan

My wife came across this DIY tutorial from Bower Power on how to make your own industrial-style tripod fan, and she loved it. Of course, what my baby wants, my baby gets:

I cut the tripod center on my CNC router because I still need to justify its purchase.  Leave a note in the comments if you want the Inventables Easel design for this.

I should have made the spokes wider because the one that has the grain running across it perpendicularly broke off less than five minutes after assembling the fan for the first time. If it breaks again, I have some ideas about an alternate method for attaching the legs that will be much less fragile.

The tripod assembly before staining.

The tripod assembly after staining. I used 2×6 hangars because the hardware store didn’t stock the long 2×10 hangars. This fan was originally white, but I disassembled it and spray-painted it with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, although the color looks more like wrought iron.

The finished product. It really blows!

Backyard Chickens, Maker, Woodworking

Building a gravity chicken feeder (for gravity feeding, not gravity chickens)

It’s not that I don’t enjoy feeding our chickens every day, but when they started pecking at my toes because their food dish was empty for too long (a.k.a. more than five seconds), I decided to build a gravity-powered feeder that would keep them fed for weeks at a time.

Here’s the finished product. Note the happy chickens who are not pecking at my toes.

There are two main aspects of a gravity feeder. One: a hopper that you can empty feed into, and two: an opening at the bottom that is big enough for the chickens can eat from but small enough that it doesn’t continually spill all of the feed onto the ground.

With this in mind, I free-handed a chute design on some half-inch exterior plywood left over from building the coop.

The rest of the feeder is just rectangles of plywood.

It was hard to get a photo of it, but I also added an angled piece of plywood at the bottom of the feeder to divert feed towards the front. This reduces the amount of feed that needs to be added to the feeder before the chickens can reach it.

I added a hinged cover for the bottom of the feeder in case we decide to restrict the hens’ feeding times. For now, I just lifted it open and held it up with a screw.

The lid is another piece of plywood with a basic handle and guides on the bottom to fit it into place.

Tada! The total build time was about an hour plus another 20 minutes for paint. We’ll see whether I need to make any modifications, but for now, it’s working as expected.

Update: The chickens were spilling a lot of feed while they ate, so I added a lip to the front of the trough so they have to reach in to eat, and the amount of wasted feed has dropped to almost zero.