Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Makita Cordless Track Saw

Makita XPS01 saw on MFT/3 with Mafell dust bag attached
I love track saws. Festool makes excellent track saws that dominate the market for good reason. But Makita has turned my head with their new cordless track saw -- the XPS01.

I recently acquired the Makita XPS01PT Kit (includes the XPS01, a 5.5" 55T carbide tip ultra-thin-kerf (0.63"/1.6mm) blade, two 5Ah 18V batteries and a high-speed charger in two blue-green systainer-like containers for $499), and it came with the 55" rail and 2 more 5Ah batteries for free. I figure that's roughly half the cost of Festool's cordless TSC-55 saw and comparable supporting gear. (The XPS01PT kit is missing any dust bag.)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

IMPROVED: Fume Coffin Pre-Filter

I developed and built the Fume Coffin - Laser Cutter Exhaust Vent Filter to assist with filtering the exhaust vented from my 50 Watt CO2 laser cutter.

But it's not easy to service the Pre-Filter.

In the original Fume Coffin design the Pre-Filter lines the interior of the cylindrical HEPA filter. And accessing it requires opening the Fume Coffin and disassembling the HEPA filter assembly.

This project replaces (or supplements) the original Fume Coffin's Pre-Filter with an inline Pre-Filter that's designed to be easily monitored (it's see-through) and easily serviced.

This new Instructable is an optional add-on for the Fume Coffin project.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fume Coffin Instructable - Laser Cutter Exhaust Filter

So I designed and built this.

It's called the Fume Coffin, and it's a laser cutter exhaust ventilation filter for my 50W CO2 laser cutter.

Design documentation, build instructions and analysis are all here:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Microwave-bent Plywood

I'm interested in bent plywood techniques.

ZenziWerken uses an intriguing technique to craft this bowl. 6mm birch plywood is cut (a CNC router was used here). Then the cut-out was rinsed with water and microwaved at 600W for 1 minute. The bowl is then shaped in a form (another bowl in this case) with lead weights and clamps. The bowl was allowed to dry and harden. Finally, some wood glue was applied at the tops of the spiral arms.

The project files

Friday, March 10, 2017

Box Generators

I have built a handful of laser-cut projects based on boxes generated by Starting with generic box designs generated to my size specifications by the webapp, I modify and customize the box designs in Illustrator to create matching nesting boxes, lids, additional supports, ornamentation and other variations. 

Box generators are an effective way to make easily laserable box designs with pre-layed-out joints. (I find finger joints work well for most of my designs.) There are many box generators. Many are webapps, some are Python scripts, some are plug- ins for Inkscape. This Instructables article provides an excellent survey: The Ultimate Guide to Laser-cut Box Generators.

The major problem I have been encountering with the box-generator-Illustrator scheme is that it puts too much design complexity downstream from the box generation for anything but the most trivial projects. The scheme relies heavily on your wits and planning to get everything to line up and fit. 

I've found the design process is almost-manageable, but too often I make minor errors that result in the design turning out just slightly wrong. Sometimes the error can be remedied by adding a support fixture or some hardware. But the more I'd increase the complexity of my projects, the more I'd run into limits from the box-generator-Illustrator scheme.  

An obvious solution would be to iterate -- address the design flaws -- regenerate the cut files and cut the design again. The ease and low cost of laser cutting would seem to encourage this approach. But it's wasteful, especially if the design is for a one-off project. It's a classic artist's dilema -- smash the clay and start over.

A better approach would be to catch these errors before I cut the designs. 

A storage box with a matching lid.
(Error: The lower box height was
the height I had intended for both
the box and the lid. Also, tabs on
lid could fit more tightly.)

Box and nesting lid with
matching slot for a cord.
(Error: inner box exactly fits inside
outer box making it very difficult
to open.  Needs a thumb tab to grab
and prevent full nesting.)

A rack to hold a bamboo tray.
(Error: the rack was intended to support
the tray exactly on an interior ledge,
but the rack ended up one material
thickness too small. So it didn't quite
 fit. Remedied with screws in
bottom of tray.)

Toilet paper holder 😁
Designed to fit exactly over
a built-in fixture on the wall.
(Errors: Missed exact depth of existing
fixture by 1/4 inch causing it to wobble.
Also, design is silly looking.)

What's next: So is CAD the solution?