'Cause that's what the world needs, right? Well, maybe! I'm going to copy these recent KMBI canoe articles over there to help get things moving on the new MakerSite Blog.
The real thrill of Makersite.com is to be its maker-enabling tools and methods. But while we develop those, the blog will be an entertaining and informative diversion.
These last two sessions (Tuesday and Wednesday evening) have been pretty short, yet even so the boat has come a LONG way. Check it out:
I remain completely psyched by how well this is going.
While I'm on the subject of Knox Makers - and apparently not writing about much else at the moment - I'd like to mention the KMBI: the Knox Makers Boatbuilding Initiative.
It came about something like this: I sent out an email to the Knox Makers group mailing list that I thought it would be fun to build a boat. Many people expressed interest... and a few days later we gathered at the makerspace and started building. It's just that easy!
We had a starting point: I have, for three years, had plans and materials in hand for a Geodesic Airolite Sweet Pea Mk II, and had nearly given up on ever getting around to building the darned thing. But now things are different. Now we have a maker space, and makers to populate it.
So far we've had two work days. A long startup day Saturday (~6 hours, with a team size waxing and waning between five and three makers), then a quick followup session Sunday evening (~2.5 hours, 3 people). Here are some images of the process. Sorry about the poor picture quality; when it's that exciting you don't take time to take good pics.
It starts with the patterns: gotta make station molds, which will give the boat its shape while the framing elements are convinced to relate to each other properly. Doug and James went to town on tracing and cutting these. Important note: don't ask the Knox Makers for help finding a quantity of cardboard if you don't really want cardboard! "Good people, excellent cardboard scroungers," that's our motto. Or one of them.
That's James attaching two pieces of poplar. He's already adhered the stem assembly patterns to the top one, so once they're attached we'll cut them out together. Note that we don't yet have a bandsaw. That will make such tasks much easier when it arrives.
Nathaniel had brought a tablesaw, which was awesome to have. We didn't have a featherboard, however, and the plan was to make a lot of long and narrow rip cuts. This is always easier with something to help keep the wood against the rip fence. No problem, we're makers! And a few minutes later, look what we'd put together.
For the strongback, the beam upon which the canoe is to be assembled, we built a box beam. Doug's pocket hole fastening system really showed its worth on this one. And the result? Clearly strong.
Illustrated here: the flexiness of a nine foot long, 3/8" x 3/8" strip of poplar. Nice.
At the end of Day One we had this pile of longstuffs to show for our efforts. Not pictured are the smaller bits we'd cut out: keel assemblies (gluing up), thwart gussets, breast hooks.
Day Two began with the attachment of the strongback to two sawhorses. After attachment, we sighted the top and decided the bottom was flatter, so we flipped it. Much better, though we did have to re-mark the centerlines and station locations we'd layed out.
We glued the station molds to 2x4s that would serve as cleats for fastening them to the strongbacks.
Laying the keelson (whacky name for the long strip that goes along the bottom of the canoe) on the molds, we saw it was not straight. Initially it was much worse than shown here...
...but Nathaniel found he could adjust the station molds by simply tightening one of the two screws at the cleat. The keelson was straight as an arrow in no time. Sweet!
The stem assemblies, now glued together and sanded clean, attached at either end via a cleat on the strongback. Starting to look pretty good now.
And now, may I present... a boat-like shape!
There have been so many places, even in these first couple of days, where things turned out better because there were several of us working on it, discussing what on earth the plans intended us to do, etc. Somehow, though, we found a perfect balance where we were discussing things but not belaboring them. I hope the images show that we were moving at a pretty decent pace here. We got to this point with roughly 30-ish man hours of build time. Future builds will be even faster as we start to know what we're doing, and we can hopefully reuse some of the jigs and fixtures we've had to make for this first one.
I'm so psyched to be building my first canoe with the Knox Makers. Stay tuned for more such!
By the way, I made a big plywood version of the Knox Makers logo mentioned in the previous entry. Check it out:
I flaked out and didn't have time to paint it, so Doug Laney did the hard part for me. Thanks!
I recently made the joyful discovery that, not only does Knoxville have a makers/hackers group, the group is active and has just this month finally rented a space in which to gather and make stuff.
That sweet logo there, by the way, is by Matt Jordan. He's a local designer who's a good friend of one of the Knox Makers members. Check out his newly started blog for other examples of his work. He's been kind enough to prepare this logo for us pro bono, though hopefully he'll be getting a lot of good references through the connection.
Anyway, I'm totally energized every time I meet up with these people. They're all kindred spirits, no doubt. The Akerworks motto, "We Like Making Things?" Better believe it applies to all these wonderful Knox Makers too. Expect great things from them going forward!
OK, so, if we were to design and build cat tree houses (yeah, the smaller, slightly-less-crazy kind) we probably wouldn't end up with precisely this aesthetic:
Still, how cool is that?? I think it's quite cool. I'm not certain Jennifer and I agree on that topic, but I'm fairly confident ZoeTheCat and I do.
In the Maker World there seems to be a different set of fundamental knowledge blocks. In the Real World such things are like "how to glue two pieces of wood together," which is definitely good and important. Goodness knows I've spent all too much time figuring out how to do that reliably. In the Maker World, though, we sometimes enable ourselves to make cool stuff by starting with more complicated fundamental blocks, not spending a whole lotta time questioning them, but rather just hacking them together into something bigger and cooler.
A fine example just came up on Instructables: How to Make a Cheap, Portable Magnetic Stirrer... with a computer fan!
Reading this project emphasizes to me that, if you're a maker and you aren't yet a master of power supplies and wires and motors and whatnot, you can short circuit (well, okay, hopefully not short circuit!) the process very effectively by just learning how to do this one project. Thenceforward you can confidently know you have the building block "computer fan motor" in your capability toolbox. You can then make many types of things move just by plugging this particular prime mover setup into your design.
Eventually, of course, it would be good to learn how to use the thing in greater depth. Perhaps you've followed that author's advice and ignored the third wire. That's cool. But some day in the future you'll be happy to learn what additional functionality that can provide. I believe it's a tachometer? Or maybe a thermostat on some fans? Obviously that day is still in my future, but I'm looking forward to it!
We did a big job recently: we made and shipped a quantity of 240 of a product. Yet despite that huge quantity (by our standards), the shipping container was no bigger than a shoebox.
That's because we were making little lapel pins. A little bit less than 1.5" in diameter, these Campfire Pins illustrate the logo for MaxFunCon, a sort of creativity-and-comedy conference-like-event held annually in the mountains to the east of LA. Jennifer and I got to attend the second one, which was two years ago, and had a great time. We made some pins for that one as well, and were super-honored when they asked us to do some more for this years event.
Here's what we made, viewed real close-up like:
We stayed pretty close to the existing logo for the event, but there was still some creative interpretation required to adapt it for our medium. I think it turned out pretty great.
Time was tight (even tighter than usual) so we were delighted to find we had a perfect piece of maple already in our wood supply. We sliced it into very thin pieces, sanded them perfectly flat, and laid them out on Jobot.
There's actually significantly less holddown here than we normally use: just a screw in either end, and then the little Masonite stops on either side of the board (the board on the left is done and has already been pulled aside). That's because we're using a new accessory, the Pressure Foot by WidgetWorks. I'll probably do an entry all about that, it's just that interesting.
The hardest part of it may have been attaching the pin backs. We had to adhere each little doohickey separately. It was slow and challenging, but Jennifer came up with a good system for keeping the operation straight. Check out the orderly rows in the background. You can tell I wasn't working alone on this one!
Anyway, it was a fun job for a fun event. Hope everyone had a good time, sorry we couldn't make it this year.
I'm not kidding. That last entry? Just over a year ago. I don't know how to begin apologizing!
There's been a lot of fascinating stuff going on in Akerworks Land, lots of making and doing. Not a lot of writing, though.
I've missed the writing and missed your witty comments, everybody. But good news: we've got a project in the works, kind of a different take on some of the things that have always been near and dear to us, and though it can and should eventually grow to serve a lot of different functions, we've decided that it should start off simply as a blog.
Oh, hey, check this out y'all:
That's how it works, by the way: you just type as many words as you can bear, and when you can't take it any more, when things are just getting to be too black and white, you throw in a picture to liven things up.
Anyway. This is sort of a non-entry, a logging of a confession of not blogging. But it's been great to be back at the keyboard.
See ya soon!