• person rss_feed

    JacobCoffinMakes’s blog

    33 posts

    • chevron_right

      Bookbinding the Fully Automated! Rulebook

      JacobCoffinMakes · Tuesday, 2 July - 18:16 edit · 6 minutes · 3 visibility

    I recently started trying to learn bookbinding (and because I never liked practicing by making something I didn't need, I'm starting with a 266-page solarpunk TTRPG rulebook I helped make).

    I joined the Fully Automated discord a while back, mostly because I was looking for a place to talk worldbuilding in the genre. I read the lore/setting part of the rulebook and it actually helped me start thinking bigger than I had been around ways the world could be better. If there's a solarpunk timeline from our modern day, through conflicts and crumbles and collapses, gradually rebuilding towards something eutopian, then they're much closer to that high-tech, post-scarcity end-state than the solarpunk stuff I normally write. But there's something kind of fascinating about that world, and it makes for a great place to tell stories.

    I offered them the use of the art I'd already made, and then I got involved in writing and editing the lore, including contributing a couple sections around rural areas and reuse, which, true to form, they expanded into something bigger than I had come up with on my own.

    Since the game is an open source, all-volunteers thing, we didn't do a print run, just released a series of PDFs. But I have free access to a printer that can do 11x17, a plotter printer that can print on canvas, my SO's unused bookbinding kit, and enough patience to learn to bind at least a few copies, so I decided to give it a try.

    The first step was rearranging the pages into signatures. These are small pamphlets of folded papers that get sewn and glued together to form the book. This turned out to be way easier to do than I expected, as there are several online tools for interposing PDFs. I found and really like this one: https://momijizukamori.github.io/bookbinder-js/

    This allowed me to take the regular letter-sized (8.5"x11") PDF and rearrange it into signatures of four or five 11"x17" pages, with two pages per side. It handled reordering the pages so they work correctly once the signature is folded together and stacked with the others. We also took these interposed files and made them available on the FA! website.

    Once I had the interposed version, I could print off the signatures:

    I really recommend printing each signature separately so you can paperclip them together and keep careful track of which pages are inside it. It's really, really easy to completely lose the plot on the numbering - I almost couldn't figure out how to put a four-page signature back in order once or twice, if it had been mixed with other ones I'd have been really confused. But it's easy as long as you keep them in their sets and remember which side is up (because its the only sheet/side where two page numbers show in order).

    The free printer I had access to couldn't print without leaving a margin so I had to trim them by hand. I started off using a papercutter on the short sides, but eventually switched to using a straightedge and scalpel on all the sides.

    The next step was folding the signatures folio-style using a bone folder:

    And then punching holes so I could sew them together. Some guides have you sew each signature separately, then sew those together, but the one I followed (and recommend) does them all at once.

    The folded piece of paper is a template marked and punched so all the holes in all the signatures line up as closely as possible.

    Next, I sewed it together using the Penrose Press guide, being careful to pull the threat as tight as I could before tying it off on each signature. I really like how secure this seems to make the binding.

    Even if you tie it tight though, it'll still have some gaps. That's were clamping and gluing it helps! The guides I followed suggested just stacking books for weight at this part, but I went ahead and built a really ugly book press with a piece of scrap particleboard, scrap 2"x4", some wax paper, and a couple deck screws. I pre-drilled the holes, wrapped the boards in the wax paper, and screwed them together so the book block could be clamped between them:

    That's when scope-creep hit and I switched plans from making this first copy a softcover book to making a hardcover.

    I followed my SO's bookbinding book, and this guide for the spine, and added a section of cheesecloth (in place of mull, which I didn't have) and manila paper in roughly the dimensions they specified. These help hold the spine together and attach it to the cover (called the case).

    Next, I roped the Fully Automated folks into making a back cover for me, and I put together a printable version with a spine and everything. I took a lot of measurements, made my best guess, then went to our local makerspace to print it on their plotter printer:

    It's slightly large but I'm happy with it!

    The next steps came pretty much entirely from this guide.

    I cut some bookboard (stiff cardboard) to size, and did my best to line it up with the image showing through the canvas. Once I had them in place, I traced them lightly onto the back of the canvas in pencil, held it up to the light to see if it was good, and made corrections until I had good lines. Then I measured out to the edges of the sheet and trimmed it down:

    Then I glued the bookboard to the canvas:

    I forgot to take some pictures for the next step (sorry) so you'll have to rely on my descriptions. First I cut the corners off the cover at a 45 degree angle 1/8" out from the corner of the bookboard. I used a carpenter's square to mark the angle. Then I folded the sheets over the bookboard and glued them.

    Then it was time to glue the book block into the case. This happened fast enough that I didn't dare stop to take pictures. I slipped some wax paper between the endpaper (a blank sheet I included on front and back when I used the interposing software) and the rest of the book block. Then I painted it with glue as quickly as possible, being careful to first glue the cheesecloth to the paper, then painted it over with glue as well. Then I carefully closed the cover onto the sheet. The endpaper was just about a liquid at that point, despite how lightly I stippled on the glue, so I'm glad I didn't have to try to make changes. I flipped it, and let it dry for awhile.

    Then I repeated those steps on the other side and left a heavy laptop sitting on it.

    Its always tense waiting while the glue dries on a project, hoping its not clamped crooked, or the glue isn't running and sticking to something it shouldn't. Especially when you're combining the end result of two other projects. Luckily this one turned out mostly okay:

    I can see where the endpapers stretched (just like one guide said they would) causing them to reach further towards the fore-edge than I'd have liked. But it generally looks pretty smooth and clean so I'm not very bothered by that.

    All in all, I think not bad for my first bookbinding project!

    #bookbinding #diy #solarpunk #book

    • Pictures 19 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • favorite

      2 Like

      albeert, poVoq

    • chevron_right

      Mountain Bike to Cargo Bike - Step 1: Rear Cargo Rack

      JacobCoffinMakes · Thursday, 13 June - 22:46 edit · 5 minutes

    I posted to the slrpnk.net utility cycling community a little while back looking for advice on turning my old steel-framed mountain bike into something I could use to haul groceries and maybe some bits of furniture I find on trash day.

    I got a ton of helpful suggestions, and started out on what I think will be a gradual project as I make incremental improvements to this bicycle.

    Step 1 was adding a rear rack, so I could add cargo panniers, or a basket behind the seat.

    I settled on this one because I liked the extra support legs, and because it claimed to be able to support more weight than most other designs (something I remain skeptical about, but I'm pleased with the overall construction so far).

    I did find that the right side seat stay was too crowded for two of the wraparound attachments to fit, so I'd need to use the built-in attachment point just above the rear gear.

    Unfortunately, the lower support rod segment was too short to reach the attachment bolt. But that was fixable - the rod was just a length of 3/8 steel round stock with a flattened section where it bolted to the wraparound attachment bracket. It would be pretty easy to make one of my own.

    I started by buying some 3/8” steel rod and a fresh can of propane for my offbrand bernzomatic torch (on two trips, one by train, one by bike because I didn’t realize the old one was empty till I tried to use it).

    (Test fitting the 3/8 rod into the upper section of the telescoping rear post)

    Then I got some of my old forging tools together. Without a proper forge or anvil, I knew it’d be pretty sloppy blacksmithing, but I didn’t need this to be particularly fancy.

    From left to right: 3/8ths steel round stock, fireplace glove, a steel block I found on the side of the road (my anvil, at the moment), my favorite forging hammer (combination round peen and straight peen), offbrand bernzomatic torch, lighter because I couldn't find my striker, and a face shield because you should wear safety goggles while forging (and this was easier to find)

    I didn’t take any pictures while working because I didn’t want to waste additional fuel. Basically I just heated the end up as much as I could without a way to contain the heat, and hammered the daylights out of it whenever it seemed to be as hot as it’d get. It was halfway closer to cold forging than proper blacksmithing but I managed to spread the end of the rod flat enough to drill a hole through safely.

    I used the drill press, a metal-drilling bit, and a bunch of tap oil, and went through the center of the piece without any real difficulty.

    Once the hole was positioned, I used the grinder to clean up the overall shape of the forged part a little. Like the old wisdom says: a grinder and paint makes me the welder (or blacksmith) I ain’t.

    (Top: the new one. Bottom: the original/stock part)

    I decided to go much longer than necessary, which I suppose adds a little weight, but also some strength as we’re not relying on as much of the hollow tube it attaches to for structural support.

    Once it was cleaned up and the oil removed, I spraypainted it. It would have been easy to go with Gloss Black to match the rest of the bike rack (I had a can of it handy) but I decided to paint it blue. I’d just put some work into making this part custom, and I’m working on rethinking if my goal needs to be to make something look like a product in the first place. For now I don’t mind calling a little attention to it.

    Plus, the bike never looked great, which works great for me. One of my relatives found it rusting in a sandpit, gave it to me my first job away from home, and I’ve replaced piece after piece back when it was my sole means of transportation. For quite awhile it was held together with zip ties and various kinds of tape (and featured a fender made from cut-up gatorade bottles and duct tape) and the overall look meant it wasn’t exactly a high priority target for theft.

    I gave the paint the full 24 hours to dry, then assembled the last bit of the rack.

    Looking decent!

    I have some panniers a relative gave me to hang over the rack if I can ever figure out how these straps work, but I wanted to see if it would work with a big steel basket I got out of a dumpster awhile back.

    Turns out it was ridable, though heavier than I'm used to. Cargo would likely make it even more tippy, though maybe not more so than those child seats I've seen around? Just the same, I suspect if “bicycle pickup truck” was a good idea, more people would be doing it so I took it off.

    I just didn’t trust the attachment system on the hand-me-down panniers to stay attached and not get tangled up in the rear wheel and chain. Each side had an adjustable strap with a hook, and a loop of strap sewn on. It just seems like with the flex and stretch of the cloth bags as the bike moved and bounced along, it’d be too easy for the hook to come unhooked, at which point it’d be awesome at snagging a spoke or something.

    My answer wasn't pretty, but it worked. I removed the hooks (didn't damage anything so I could put them back someday) and fastened it together with zip ties instead. When I go to buy bigger panniers someday (these are fairly small) I think I’ll want ones with buckles or something more secure but still removable.

    Edit:

    I just made my first grocery run with the cargo bike! I’ve got the rear rack shown above, some basic secondhand fabric panniers secured with straps and zip-ties, and a milk crate from a consignment shop. I went for a pretty light grocery run for the first trip, just two totes of frozen stuff, and it rode just fine on the way home.

    I think I’m going to upgrade to bucket panniers at some point soon, but I’m glad I can at least start using it like I’d planned.

    • Pictures 11 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • favorite

      1 Like

      poVoq

    • chevron_right

      Solitary Bee House Update

      JacobCoffinMakes · Wednesday, 12 June - 14:18 edit · 1 minute

    I posted awhile back after making a home for solitary bees, sharing that it had gotten some use. Its important to replace the sticks annually to prevent parasites from being passed from bee to bee as holes are reused.

    Thanks to some winter storms, we had lots of downed branches to clear, so I had no shortage of sticks available for use as future bee housing:

    (One pile of many)

    The holes need to be between 5" and 6" deep, so I started cutting the sticks into 6.5"-ish lengths.

    This doesn't look like much but it took a lot of eight-foot branches to make these piles.

    The next step was drilling holes. Different size bees need different diameter holes, so I read a few guides and picked out a range of drill bits between a metric #2 and a full half-inch (I don't think solitary bees care about unit standardization) to make sure any potential tenants can find a cozy caliber to call home.

    I used the drill press to start the holes then used a set of extra long metric bits in a screwgun to get the full length the bees need

    This didn't always go perfectly. I didn't break any bits, but sometimes the holes were crooked enough to punch through the side of the stick and I'd set them aside.

    Then I just had to bag up what I'd made and replace the sticks in the bee house:

    (Background omitted because it's easier than tidying the shop.)

    I'd thought I'd made enough sticks for two years, but it took almost all of them to fill the bee house. Glad I prepared as many as I did.

    I think I'd call that move-in ready.

    #diy #bees #woodworking

    • Pictures 9 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • favorite

      1 Like

      poVoq

    • chevron_right

      Caliper Fixup

      JacobCoffinMakes · Monday, 27 May - 21:42 · 2 minutes · 3 visibility

    I bought this set of outside calipers at a junk store in my hometown (sort of a consignment, thrift store deal, with lots of old furniture, and the contents of like half a dozen garages right down to the old jars of mismatched screws. I sort of use it like a hardware store).

    I like this design a lot, I like the lack of a spring on the jaws, and that you can fasten the little distance measuring arm to the side it measures on, so you can close the calipers around something, tighten that wing screw, then open the calipers to get them back.

    They had some surface rust, so I decided to clean them up. The first step was to disassemble them. Not difficult when there's only three pieces involved.

    I let them soak in some evaporust for about 8 hours. I really like this stuff, it hits the sweet spot between very effective and not especially dangerous, and it's reusable! They do overestimate how effective it is in their instructions though, so it often takes longer.

    The calipers, straight out of the evaporust. You can already see some text which was hidden before, along with the initials AM from a previous owner.

    Now that the worst of the rust had been dissolved, it was time to switch from chemical to mechanical cleaning. I sanded it down with 400 grit emery cloth.

    The calipers with only one side sanded.

    As I cleaned up the sides, I found a few neat bits of history:

    Here's some funny nicks up near the joint on one side. I wonder what caused them. And the previous owner's mark on the right side, AM. This is a big part of why I love old tools. I love the history they carry with them, even if I don't know all of it.

    Looking better, but still a ways to go. I was surprised to find that there weren't any markings on the little distance arm. I'd been expecting to find little angle tickmarks or something, maybe even printed numbers, but there weren't any to be seen after the evaporust, or once I started gently sanding off the remaining rust and the black crud evaporust leaves behind.

    Once I had most of the rust gone, I switched to steel wool. I didn't want to take too much material off the surfaces, and I felt the more flexible steel wool would hit inside the pitting from the rust better.

    The steel wool shined it up quite nicely. And here's a closeup of some of the surface pitting left over by the rust on the left side. The back of these calipers didn't have this kind of damage.

    It was tempting to leave it here, but I didn't want the rust to return, so I decided to treat the calipers with cold blue, to provide some protection against oxidation. There are other ways to protect steel, but I like the look and it seems to hold up well enough.

    Cold blue always looks a little rough when it first goes on (this stuff is a gel you don't want to get on your hands. You wipe it on, leave it to darken the metal for 60 seconds, and wipe it off again) but a little burnishing with 0000 steel wool will tidy it up:

    There we go, still pretty shiny, but not as likely to rust again. Not bad considering how it looked in the beginning. Hope you'd approve, AM.

    • Pictures 11 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • favorite

      1 Like

      poVoq

    • chevron_right

      Mushroom Garden

      JacobCoffinMakes · Tuesday, 23 April - 23:42 · 2 minutes · 8 visibility

    My SO and I have been planning to start a mushroom garden for awhile now. You can buy these kits with mushroom spawn in peg form, and you just drill holes in a log and hammer them in. I'd had big dreams of going along the bike path, adding them to all the dead logs there, until I learned how important it is to properly and thoroughly inoculate freshly-cut logs in order to make sure your fungus of choice is properly established and safe from the competition. This was a bit of a problem as we live in an apartment and the circumstances where I'd cut down a healthy tree are seriously slim, and don't include providing food for mushrooms.

    But one of the perks of having a big family is that one of them is always doing yard work, and when one of their birch trees bought it in a recent snowstorm, I was ready to jump in and claim a few pieces. They were happy to get rid of it; they feel grey birch burns poorly - and I was happy to take some because it supposedly turns beautifully on the lathe and it's a suitable medium for shiitake mushrooms.

    As an aside, I prepped one thinner piece for use on the lathe. I clamped it to the table and used a draw knife (and a regular carving knife) to strip off the bark, before painting the ends with wax. This helps prevent cracking and checking due to uneven drying from the ends, and spalting/mold/rot from moisture under the bark. Assuming it does as well as the maple and oak I've done previously, it'll be ready to use in a year or two.

    Okay, back on to the mushrooms! We bought our kit from a company called Northspore who provided pretty thorough guidance. Their instructions said that logs 4-6" thick and 3-4' long would be good, and one of ours fit that nicely. The instructions also said our log had been cut at about the worst time, after the buds on the branches had begun to swell. So... sorry, mushrooms! Hopefully you'll figure out how to make that work.

    They provided a drill bit, instructions on how deep to drill (1") and where (in staggered rows, each hole 4" apart, 2" from their neighboring rows, so it makes diamond patterns). I grabbed a drill and measuring tape and set about drilling all the holes.

    (I also cut a couple risers out of a dead log to keep the mushroom log off the ground)

    Once all the holes were drilled, we started hammering in the pegs with a rubber mallet.

    I don't have great photos of this step (it was a lot of fun) but here's one of the log after we got them all driven in.

    The last step was to seal all the pegs in place with melted wax. The kit provided powdered wax and a little fuzzball on a wire handle for applying it. We set up a double boiler on a hotplate and melted the wax while we added the pegs.

    We hid our mushroom log in a shady forested spot near the apartment fence. If all goes well, I'll be back with mushroom pictures sometime next year.

    #mushrooms #gardening #woodworking

    • chevron_right

      Quick Shed Door Repair

      JacobCoffinMakes · Sunday, 14 April - 19:12 · 5 minutes

    This was a pretty quick little project - some of my friends recently bought a house, it came with a shed, and the door of that shed was broken. The design of the door allowed it to swing open about 180 degrees, at which point it'd hit its own frame.The wind must have caught it one day and swung it open hard. When that big wide door hit the frame so close to its fulcrum, it just snapped right down the line. It also bent all the hinges.

    The previous owners tried to fix it, it looks like by lifting the door back in place and driving some mismatched screws through some wood scraps and metal plates. That left the door drooping, hanging crooked in the frame, and flexing kind of alarmingly when it opened.

    We'd talked about taking it down and fixing it properly, I even took some measurements.

    Then one morning I got lucky, I saw a post on our local Buy Nothing -type page where someone was offering up some 1"x12" boards they'd been using as shelves in a shed. They were a bit weathered but otherwise in good shape (no cracks, warp, or rot). It was trash day in that neighborhood so I hustled out there and claimed the whole pile. 1"x12"s ain't cheap.

    On the way back I picked up a shovel with a cracked handle which I fixed with a hose clamp and have been using for a couple years now.

    We set a day, I packed the lumber and tools, and we started in on the shed. I think we also planted a peach tree (using my new shovel) that day.

    We started by taking the door off the shed and setting it on some sawhorses I brought.

    (Dog helping hold down the door)

    This was where we made our first unfortunate discovery. The shed was older than we'd realized. The 1"x12"s the door had been made from were rough cut, not dimensional, so the boards I'd brought were about half an inch narrower, and a quarter inch thinner than the originals.

    So we had a couple options here - all the boards were rotten for a few inches of the bottom. We could replace all of them with the new ones, which would be a close fit of all our materials, and would lose us a couple inches of width unless we added another board, or we could save lumber all around and change the design to keep most of the existing door but make it a little janky. They were good with that, so we did a kind of strange design.

    First we removed the split board and it's support scraps and set them aside. Then we cut one of the new boards to the original/final height of the door.

    Next we measured far enough up to catch all the rot, and we cut the door that much shorter.

    We attached the new vertical board so it extended a couple inches at the top and bottom (it's on the right in the picture above). Then we added two braces across the face of the door, so they went across at the final height of the door/the long new board, leaving a bit of space above and below the old boards. These would add some extra ridigidity, by having pieces going across on the front and the back, and they'd hide the difference in length. Then we cut some pieces to go behind them, fitting flush above and below the old boards. These weren't structural, they just took up space so critters and weather wouldn't get in.

    Once the door was made, we started looking at hanging it again.

    Unfortunate discovery two: the doorway was crooked. Part of that was the fault of the badly rotted board which crossed the doorway under the door. It didn't seem to be doing anything but catching rain and soaking it up, so we pried it off and replaced it. Luckily it only crossed the doorway, it wasn't actually part of the building frame, which seemed to be in okay shape. The top of the doorway was also out of square, but not enough to be a major problem. As they reminded me a few times, it's a shed, not a house.

    We straightened out the hinges by putting them on a brick and pounding on the high points with a small sledge (not ideal but it worked). Then we hung them back up and attached the door. From what I remember, it sat just above the new lower plate when it was closed, might have rested on it but I don't remember.

    The last step was to cut a thin piece to attach to the inside of the door frame to make up for the width lost by replacing a roughcut board with dimensional.

    From there, I think we called it good. It had rained on and off during the project, and we didn't want to re-attach the trim while it was wet for fear of trapping water between the boards.

    We cleaned up the tools and had some pizza.

    As a side project, I took the original, very rotted wooden door handle, and the scraps of the split board. From the dimensions of the original and the look of the wood, I figured they cut the original from scraps of the same roughcut 1x12s they built the rest of the shed out of, so I wanted to make the replacement the same way.

    I traced the original onto the wood, flipped it end for end, and traced it again, and sort of averaged the two. The original wasn't actually symmetrical but my replacement would be much closer. Then I started sanding it down until it was comfortable to hold. I pre-drilled the holes for the screws, including space for the heads, so they wouldn't split the handle when it was attached.

    I stained it, I think my usual mix of Gunstock and Red Oak, then applied a few coats of urethane, sanding lightly between coats. I even got the back, where it'd touch the door, and the holes for the screws. I figured they could paint it whatever color they painted the door, like the original, or leave it as-is, either way it'd be very waterproof and last a long long time.

    All it needs now is a new coat of paint.

    #fixing #DIY #woodworking

    • Pictures 11 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • chevron_right

      Arcade Cabinet built from secondhand materials

      JacobCoffinMakes · Sunday, 3 March - 21:30 edit · 16 minutes

    the finished arcade cabinet

    This was an earlier project on my make-everything-from-junk adventure. I've actually built two arcade cabinets - the first with the goal of using only secondhand stuff, sort of sequestering various junk into something that would be around for awhile, and eventually gave it away on our local Buy Nothing -type group. It was unfortunately very poorly documented, I don't have many pictures of it.

    This second one was a gift/reason to hang around in the workshop building something with a friend. They'd seen the first one, and we got talking about building an arcade cabinet custom for them. I like projects that cross a few domains, woodworking, painting, electrical, etc, and I really like reusing materials. Ad I love having a reason to hang around working on projects with friends, so I was excited.

    I really like the archival efforts around old arcade cabs, but I generally think of new custom-built arcade cabinets as being kinda wasteful. They use lots of new material, particle board, etc, and take up lots of space, often for a luxury item that doesn't end up getting used very much.

    But playing retro games was actually already a big part of this friend's mental health routine so I knew they'd use it - and I was confident I could find most if not all the material secondhand, which would save them a lot of money. (In the end, we did use one panel of storebought particleboard for the front plate/door just to get it finished. Otherwise, aside from the buttons and raspberry pi, we still managed to make it all from old stuff.)

    I started with what we already had: various 2"x4" and 1"x2" boards, some particleboard and plywood cut to the dimensions of the previous cabinet which could work as shelves, and most of the particleboard from a big upright storage cabinet which would be perfect for the sides.

    A year or two earlier, I'd spotted it disassembled on trash day on my way to work. I hate to pass up good material so I quickly hauled it home before getting back into my routine. When a different friend really wanted to carve pumpkins during the COVID times, I took the sides of the cabinet, screwed on four table legs I got from metal recycling and set it up as a long table on our porch.

    We used that table for quite awhile, as a simple workbench, and a side table at friendsgiving.

    The pieces I'd used as a tabletop were just about perfect, a good height and depth, if you stood them on end. Unfortunately some fool had driven a bunch of screws into them, but that's what bondo is for.

    Maybe it seems counterintuitive to start with materials rather than a design, but that's a big part of how I've always made things. I take an inventory of what I have, figure out how it can go together, figure out what kind of designs we can make with that, and work out a list of what else we'll need. I should note we also already had a TV - it belonged to my friend and it was important to them that we use it since it had no input lag (apparently the TV I got secondhand for the previous cabinet did, and that was a problem). So we knew the measurements there and it was compatible with what we had. Maybe it's just where I am, but I've found TVs of an appropriate size for an arcade cab screen to be absurdly easy to get, either from Buy Nothing or my local swap shop.

    We now knew the upper limit on the height of the cabinet (as set by the cabinet/table pieces) and the width we'd probably use (based on the shelf pieces). Those were our constraints, so we started talking requirements. My friend is very tall, tall enough that on my more traditionally-shaped arcade cab, the marquee/roof blocks their view and they had to hunch forward to see the screen. The control panel was too low, making the posture problems worse. This would have to be taller in order for it to be comfortable. They wanted to be able to use it at parties, so the screen couldn't be recessed too far into the cabinet (either we'd have to cut the sides away like a traditional arcade cabinet (difficult to get that just right, likely we'd mess up the plastic cladding on the particleboard) or it'd have to be close to the front. They also wanted it to be sturdy. Really sturdy. I really enjoy overengineering things, so I was looking forward to that part.

    My first suggestion was that we do something based on this Gravitar 'cabaret' cabinet prototype.

    prototype

    I had a few reasons for this: the marquee was below the screen, so the screen and controls could be as high as possible. The screen was closer to the front, so it would be easy for spectators or groups of players to see it from an angle, and the overall adjustments to our side panels would be aggressively simple. Two straight line cuts at a matching angle, that I could do.

    We talked design ideas a bit, as now was the time. We could do a specific game, or something generic (although I've always found the mame and other generic all-videogames themes to be really uninteresting, personally). Perhaps because we were basing our design on an abandoned prototype, they decided to aim for "like we found some weird pirate arcade machine out of time" and they picked the theme 'goblin dive bar' based on our shared love of warhammer.

    I started drawing up a cabinet design, we talked about a logo and I made this from an old warhammer orks and goblins design:

    the logo

    Many thanks to them for pushing me to make it simpler and simpler. I think that was a good call.

    Arcade cabs are a great project because they take at least a little of everything - I really enjoyed the graphic design bit and went on to make stickers to cover it with later. With that figured out, I added a couple other flourishes, the moons on the marquee plate and the yellow buttons. My friend picked the name of the arcade company and we tried some stencil fonts and a layout for the side art.

    cabinet sketch

    This is the mockup I gave them. It's pretty hacked together but I wanted to make sure we were working from the same plan.

    Once that was done, it was time to start building. My original plan called for a frame of 2x4s forming a cube inside the structure, with 45 braces at every corner, with the sides attached like cladding. In the end that was mostly what we did, but we used some smaller boards for the frame and relied on the sides a little more for the structure.

    I tried to find my original sketches, but wasn't able to. Either they were on wood I've since used in another project, or they're on some envelope or receipt mixed in with the rest of my detritus. Instead I drew this up from memory and the pictures I have:

    sketch of the cabinet

    This sketch shows all the framing without the sides, front, or control panel. All of this was scrap lumber. The uprights were mostly a 6"x4" pressure treated post we ripped lengthwise on my neighbor's tablesaw (wear a dust mask if you're going to do that), the supports for the TV were scraps of house siding, and the big board supporting the TV was I think a scrap of 2"x12" which had been used as a concrete form and was pretty much garbage as far as materials go even after I scraped off most of the concrete.

    We wanted it sturdy, so it had to have an internal frame so it wasn't relying on the particleboard sides for structure. I wanted the control panel in particular to bear its weight through the frame right to the floor. We also screwed everything to the inside of the sides of course, and that on its own was surprisingly sturdy. Lots of 45 degree braces helped to ensure it wouldn't sway or twist at all.

    The TV frame was an improvement over my last design. On that one, the flatscreen sort of just rested in place on some rails. This time I wanted it to be fastened in place - after all, we were going to have to move this to my friend's place, and then they'd be moving it from apartment to apartment (and they since have, with no problems!).

    I don't have a ton of pictures from early on (I never think to take any until it starts to look like something). Here's one from while we were trying to make that 2"x"12" look better with bondo. Even once it was sanded smooth it still looked bad enough painted that I eventually cut a piece of plywood as cladding to cover it.

    2x12

    We made the control panel from a piece of 1"x14" composite pine I got from a disassembled ikea bookshelf I found on trash day. When I was working on the last arcade cab, I asked around on our Buy Nothing page and met a professional woodworker who had a large table router (this is before I got my little one). He helped me rout a round edge onto my control panel (plus a spare in case I messed up drilling the holes for the buttons) and to cut a slot I used for the marquee.

    the button layout template

    My friend and I used my spare to make their control panel. They picked the layout using some more lessons learned to improve on my first one, opted for the same sega layout I picked (found here) and we drilled the holes. They opted for a nicer set of authentic mechanical buttons and joysticks than the cheap kit I'd used the first time around, and I think that was a great call. Those buttons are also useful in other electronics projects.

    We also filled in the front cut edge of the particleboard sides with bondo and sanded it smooth.

    Once we had the basic structure and made sure the TV could fit, it was time to paint it (while the weather was good).

    For this I printed out a large stencil at the local makerspace and cut it out by hand.

    stencil

    This was a large but simple four-layer stencil (black circle, yellow, red, white) so cutting it out took no time at all. Unfortunately, the only paper available for the plotter printer was super flimsy, and that would be a pain later on.

    logo incomplete

    For the first paint session we only did the round logo. We weren't sure we'd be able to do both sides, so we started with the one which would face the room (this side also got the best particleboard). We had a bad combination of elements here - flimsy paper and because I couldn't find my good artist's yellow spray paint, we were stuck with some generic watery hardware-store-brand spray paint with the approximate thickness of kool-aid. We had to paint the black circle, paint the stencil of the moon with white, then use the yellow over that. By then the stencil had warped and in some places stuck, so the black layer was messed up with underspray and missing paint. Luckily we still had the 'negative' from the stencil, so I used that to protect the yellow while I fixed the black. Then we did the white and red.

    All of that was a mess and I wouldn't recommend it as a strategy. It was one of the worst ways I've had a stencil project go, but the end result wasn't bad.

    stencil when it was fresh

    And in a second lucky break, because it was sprayed onto particleboard, it actually cleaned up pretty well with isopropyl alcohol.

    stencil cleaned up

    The finishing touch for that side, the company name, was comparatively easy. dimensionally it just fit inside the laser cutter, so we used that to cut it out of cardstock.

    the stencil design converted to vectors

    I think we even painted this one on indoors (another bad idea but the cab was heavy).

    side art

    We definitely weren't going to repeat all that for the side facing a corner, so we did a simple two-color racing stripe instead.

    racing stripe

    It's always nice when your stencil is just a length of painter's tape and some newspaper. Even that garbage yellow paint couldn't go too badly this time around.

    painted

    We made another trip to the makerspace and cut out a couple more things. The first was the very basic phases of the moon template I'd bashed together for the front marquee, the second was a fake coin door and buttons I found online.

    laser cutter

    stencil and coin door

    We thought about doing something fancy like getting a real coin door, wiring up buttons so you had to push them for the 'coin' button in the emulator, but it seemed like a wiring hassle and our plan was for the lower part of the cabinet to be storage, so it'd be better if there wasn't wiring hanging around in there.

    Painting the stencil on wasn't hard because we didn't have to haul the whole cabinet outside, we just painted a thin strip of particleboard with veneer black and stenciled it, then attached it to the front above where the door would go.

    front marquee

    Now it was time for wiring. We got the TV in place and fabbed and test fit its bezel. (The bezel was too big for the laser cutter so we had to cut it by hand with a box cutter and a straight edge.)

    test fit

    I marked the mounting holes for the screws in the back of the TV by putting in some screws, daubing black paint on the heads, and settling the TV in place against the back board. That got close enough, though it was always a pain screwing the screws in through crooked holes in a pine board. I don't think we usually had all four attached, but it didn't seem to make much difference, the weight was on the board underneath, the screws were just to keep it from falling out when it was moved.

    buttons!

    Then we added the buttons. Suddenly it was starting to look like something. I had to keep shooing my friend off the control panel (which wasn't currently doing anything) because they were so excited about trying out the joysticks and buttons. The verdict was good though, it was a comfortable height for them, even with shoes on. No carpel tunnel risk on this one.

    the wiring

    Oh yeah, cable management is my passion. I think my friend eventually redid it so they looked nice.

    more wiring

    I wired the cab up for power using some outlets and a lightswitch I got from our Buy Nothing Group, some spare wire, and a power I cord I ripped off a refrigerator someone was throwing out. (Don't worry, they'd already taken the doors off and dumped it in a pile face down on the curb). Learning from last time, I set it up so two sockets were switched and two were on all the time (so the TV could be left on). It's a fairly simple circuit, but just in case I took a ton of pictures and ran it past an electrician I know, who said it looked fine, asked if it worked, asked if it caught fire, and gave me their blessing.

    the whole set

    I printed the case for my friend's raspberry pi. I know we could have used a regular old junk PC and still even been able to run retropie if we wanted, but they were planning to leave it running most of the time, and the pi has comparatively low power requirements, so that seemed like a good long-term plan.

    the cab with the screen showing the retropie home page

    It lives!

    You might have noticed that somewhere in here the design had changed. My friend was worried the 'shelf' area for your hands on the original design would be too crowded, and the screen was a bit close. Considering that it was a widescreen TV which would only be showing a square game in the center, the cabinet sides didn't actually hide much. And standing the TV here simplified construction even further.

    bezel piece

    laser cutter bezel piece

    I cut a separate marquee piece for the bottom of the TV (I think because the design changed somewhere along the line?). It had a cutout at one end so the TV could see the IR light on the remote, and so the user could reach the buttons under the screen.

    combining the bezel

    I glued the two pieces together, painted them, and worked out a way to attach it using hangers at the top. I remember it being difficult to attach it in a removable fashion, without anything showing on the front, and this is what I came up with.

    attached

    The final design used wooden pegs to fasten it together for some reason, and I remember you could push them back out using a pencil which was handy during all the test fitting. There was probably a better way but this has held up fine.

    The next step was finding enough flat, single panel material for the front panel/cabinet door. I watched our Buy Nothing and Everything is Free groups, and scouted around on trash days for months, looking for something big and flat enough (tabletops etc) and had no luck. A few house doors came up but they were like an inch too thick for how we wanted to do the hinges. Finally I gave up and bought a slab of particleboard. The home depot I got it from was able to use their fancy saw to cut straighter edges than I could have with my skillsaw, which was great. When he was done, the guy asked if I wanted the rest. I said they could keep it to resell, I was happy to pay for the whole thing to get the piece I needed, and he said they'd just throw it away. That's how I ended up with a (I think) four-foot by eight-foot piece of particleboard cut into two door panels and one long piece. The spare door eventually became the top of this table. The long piece hasn't found a use yet but it'll probably end up being a shelf. I haven't gone back to those stores since.

    the arcade cab with the door and bezel

    The last piece was a bit of cladding glued/screwed to the board under the TV. I honestly cannot remember why I did it this way, but I painted it black, glued it in place, and we only decided after to add labels to the buttons on that piece.

    high stakes

    I took a bunch of measurements of the buttons, lasercut a couple very simple START SELECT stencils with various spacings, found one that fit well, stuck it in place (probably with easy-tac), masked the area with tape and newspaper, and gave it a couple quick hits with rusto white.

    stencils and finished control panel

    Considering the circumstances, I'm pleased with how they came out.

    The last big task was moving the thing. That was a challenge as making it sturdy made it pretty heavy, though not as heavy as the real thing with the big CRTs would have been. We rented a moving truck, and used ratchet straps to fasten it to the back inside wall, standing upright, wrapped in blankets. As a bonus, we also delivered some speakers my neighbor wanted to give away.

    My friend was planning to replace an armchair in their apartment with this cab. Their plan was just to throw it away, but first thing when we got to their apartment, I posted the chair to our local Buy Nothing page with the promise we'd deliver it. Then we set about hauling the cabinet inside, rearranging furniture, getting everything hooked up, cleaning off months of sawdust, and finally testing it out.

    finally done

    Hanging out, finally playing games on the arcade cab, in the place where it was supposed to be, was awesome. It's since seen a lot of use at parties, and it gets a lot of attention from newcomers to their apartment. We still haven't gotten around to stickerbombing it yet.

    By the time we were done and the celebratory snacks had been eaten, we had a taker on the chair. We drove it to their apartment and carried it upstairs on the way back to the rental place.

    • Pictures 32 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • favorite

      1 Like

      poVoq

    • chevron_right

      Gamera Christmas Ornament made from scrap pine

      JacobCoffinMakes · Wednesday, 28 February - 16:08 · 4 minutes

    gamera ornament finished

    A few months ago I discovered the Shōwa era Gamera movies and I gotta say: I love this goofball. I love that he's a giant turtle who stomps around on two legs. I love that he eats fire and screams constantly, no matter what he's doing. I love that he dances when he defeats an enemy. I love that he is, canonically, a friend to all children. And I love that he flies through the sky by retracting his legs into his shell, shooting fire out the openings, and spinning through the air like a frisbee.

    gamera doing gymnastics?

    Every year I try to make a new Christmas ornament. We normally add a few as souvenirs from that year (keychain from a place that was significant that year etc), but I always like to add a little carving if there's time. This year's pick was Gamera (flying).

    flying

    I started by looking for suitable models (in real life or printable) and quickly decided it'd be easier to just make it from scratch. I've made cravings of animals before so a turtle shell was doable, especially if I cheated and used power tools.

    I sketched the shape using different movie stills and posters as references. His design, both in the art and even the costume, sometimes varies, so I picked whichever features I liked best or were easiest. Unfortunately, for as long as this ended up taking me, I took surprisingly few pictures along the way. So I guess I'll paraphrase my dad's favorite unhelpful carving advice: picture a turtle shell inside your block of wood, then remove everything that isn't part of the turtle shell.

    I started by sketching the shape top-down onto a piece of scrap pine and cutting it out on the band saw. Then I used the belt sander to rough it down to a turtle shell-ish shape. It's important to oversize it, because if you're like me, you'll need room to correct mistakes. And you do that by removing everything else around the mistake until it's gone. Here's an early rough version of it

    rough

    I kept sanding it down, consulting occasionally with images from the films to make sure the overall shape was correct (or at least not mutually exclusive with the material I had left).

    smoother

    Eventually I got it smoothed down and could start positioning legs, tail, and head holes in the shell. Unfortunately, this is apparently where I stopped taking pictures. I can tell you that I needed to make this much thinner, and took a lot of material away from his belly, and flattened the shape of the shell. I cut in a pattern of the underside armor, and then removed a bit between it and the upper shell to make it more distinct. I cut the holes into the sides, but left a sort of volcano shape inside for the four limbs, so it would look like the jets from one of the movie posters. I did a similar thing for his head and tail, but didn't add a hole in the middle for fire to come out of. I also carved his head kind of pointed, with the ridges which run from snout to eye (though the eyes are hidden) and removed some material around his tusks.

    On his back, I drew a scale pattern, and the worked from the tail end to the head with a dremil, cutting away the 'top' end of each scale, just below the next one, so it would look like they're overlapping. On a big animal carving, I probably would have done this more carefully, but this is kinda just a silly ornament for the two of us, so I wasn't stressing getting the scales perfect.

    drilling the jets

    Once that was all done, I drilled holes into the 'volcanoes' sticking up from the leg holes. I hadn't decided how I'd do the fire yet at this point, but I was thinking sprigs of painted wire.

    The next step was painting. All the costumes and even in the art have Gamera looking pretty one-note, color-wise. Just sort of a blue-green-grey color. I started with flat black spray paint, getting it pretty thoroughly, but in many light coats (so as not to raise the grain from the wood), then hit it with with lighter coats of brite blue from an angle, to try to preserve some of the darker color in the nooks and crannies. Then I mixed some green and blue acrylic paint and did a sort of drybrush all over. I painted black into some of the nooks around the jets, and head and tail. I painted his tusks white.

    Then I got some breadbag ties, the wire and paper kind. I was going to do a small bouquet of them sticking out of each jet, but the first test actually looked quite good on its own. I cut four of them (tapering it a little so it'd go into the hole better, and so it'd look more like flame on the other end) gave them each one twist, and painted them yellow-orange-red with a bit of flame pattern. They fit in tight without any glue.

    painted and on fire

    Finally I drove a little eye-loop into the top of the shell and tied an old clothing tag string through it.

    finished

    side

    front

    action

    other side

    top front

    on the tree

    #diy #zerowaste #carving #woodworking

    • Pictures 14 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • chevron_right

      Picture frame made from salvaged wood

      JacobCoffinMakes · Friday, 23 February - 23:06 · 5 minutes

    before and after

    Here’s another quick one. I don’t enjoy oil painting as much as I do photobashes and other digital art, but it’s still a lot of fun in the right moment. I needed a picture frame for a recent one, to complete a gift to a relative. It was on a stretched canvas, rather than canvasboard, so the frame had to be deeper than normal. So decided to just make it from scrap lumber I had squirreled away.

    lumber

    I started with this stuff. These 1 ½” by 1 ¾” boards were part of a kind of disappointing haul I got from my local Everything is Free page. I don’t remember what it was I thought I’d find there, but by the time I got to it, all that was left was this tangle of busted-up boards from inside some kind of homemade builtin cabinet. They were cracked from their demolition, and full of wood screws, but I took them because there was still plenty of good material and I think I wanted to justify the trip.

    using the saw

    I pulled all the screws and used them in another project, and when I went looking for material for the picture frame, they were pretty much perfect. Plenty of material, and I didn’t have to worry I’d use it for something better. The painting was of a rustic cabin, so the frame was going to be a bit rustic anyways, so a little battle damage was no big deal. I measured and marked them based on a picture frame my grandfather had made (I would have used it instead but it wasn’t deep enough for the stretched canvas). I cut them to length, then down to 45 degrees on my miter saw (it makes squaring up lumber and doing corners absurdly easy, I used to do them all by hand and getting them to fit was much more art than science back then.

    thinning out the frame

    Once I was looking at it, I realized the frame was a bit too thick, and decided to remove about half an in depth from the four pieces. This would be quick work on a table saw, but I don’t have one, so I marked a line and used the band saw. Then I sanded up all the sides on a belt sander until they looked good. There was a bit of stain left in deep spots from the original project, and I tried to keep some of it – I like a little character and history from the life of the piece. This wood was a part of someone’s home, they knocked it out with a sledge hammer, a weird goblin man came by on trash day and took it, now it’s a picture frame hanging on a wall.

    the router

    Then I had to use the router to notch the back of all the pieces to hold the actual canvas. My router was a recent junk store find, it’s the old craftsman kind that’s a hand router bolted to the underside of a little fiberglass table. I screwed it to the workbench over the lathe, down on the far end, since its out of the way and that’s my heaviest workbench. I have plans to rewire the router, so you can turn it on and off with a proper tool switch, like I did for the drill press, but I haven’t done that yet, so turning it on meant reaching underneath, feeling for one of the handles, finding the trigger and the locking button, and setting them, at which point it begins to spin. It’s awkward and I wouldn’t want to have to do that in an emergency.

    routing a piece of wood

    This was my first time really using a router on my own projects, so it wasn’t quite as pretty as I’d like, but overall it looks fine. I definitely want to replace the small, two-part fence with a taller one that runs end-to-end and gets closer to the blade. That would reduce the piece’s ability to wobble when its only braced against one of them.

    a quick test fit

    Once the notch was cut I found the 45 clamp didn’t work that well so I stuck each joint together with a big dab of wood glue and a couple small dabs of super glue. The super glue gives you just enough time to get the pieces where you want them, and sort of acts as the clamping force for the wood glue, which takes much longer to dry.

    stained

    Once it was dry, I stained the frame with Sedonia Red, it came out a sort of pink color but I think it’ll be a good fit for the white cabin with red trim in the painting, and the recipient can always hit it with a second coat of a darker stain if they choose.

    the cable

    The last step was to add a cable to the back. They make little metal picture frame hanger things, and I thought about just cutting and bending one from a soda can, but to be honest, I kinda hate those hangers. I don’t think they work well and they feel unreliable to me. Usually I just use a strand pulled from some damaged CAT 5 wire, but this time I happened to have this metal cable left over from… somewhere? I honestly can’t remember what it came from. But it’s the sort of thing I keep because it doesn’t take up much space and it’ll be useful eventually, and sure enough it was! The loops had already been cut, so I just drilled a hole through the little aluminum clamps at either end, used the vice to squeeze them down on the wire a little extra, and used them to attach the cable to the painting.

    it

    I measured both holes from the top, and predrilled them with a thin bit to make driving in the nail easier (since I didn’t want to break the picture frame.

    a fixup of the corner

    As a very last touch, I cut a tiny sliver of wood and glued it into a notch where the miter saw ripped out a bit of wood at the top left corner. A little stain blended that back in nicely.

    finished frame

    Overall, not bad for my first picture frame. It’s a little rough, but it’s supposed to look that way.

    #woodworking #diy

    • Pictures 12 image

    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • visibility
    • favorite

      1 Like

      poVoq