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Movie Prop Maker Fon Davis’s Workshop

Dec 23, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Cool  //  1 Comment

Make Magazine ran a fascinating interview of Fon Davis, who runs a neat movie prop making company called Fonco Creative.  It included a great video tour of his workshop:

Be sure to check out the original article for a bunch more photos and information.
I’ve noticed over the years that there seems to be a fairly significant underground community of people making props both for the film industry but also just for fun.  Always fun to see what they’re up to, and it often includes some CNC or some techniques that any CNC’er would find interesting and useful.…

Rose Engines: The Preferred Machine for Guilloche

Dec 6, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Techniques  //  No Comments

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the brief blog posting on Engine Turning, Jeweling, and Guilloche was the most popular post last week.  It seems that others share my fetish for these interesting decorative machine arts.  As a result, I wanted to share a couple of great videos that really show how Guilloche (that’s pronounced “Gee-o-shay”) is done with a machine called a “Rose Engine”.  Perhaps the idea that a Rose Engine is used results in the use of the term “Engine Turning” for Guilloche.  I like that latter term better.  It’s more elegant and Engine Turning has become firmly entrenched in many minds as being the little abrasive circles that appear on metal.  I will take this opportunity to apologize for not using the proper accent on the term Guilloché, but it is just easier to type without it and the use of the term without it appears to be commonplace on the Internet.
Our first video is from a fine watchmaker that hails from right here in the good old U. S. of. A.  Roland G. Murphy makes spectacular hand-crafted wrist watches, and their video is also extremely well done:

As you can see from the…

Engine Turning, Guilloche, Damascene, and Jeweling

Dec 2, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Techniques  //  No Comments

Sometime, when you’re not doing much else, Google “engine turning”. You’ll find a number of extremely fascinating entries:

Classic engine turning by Eamonn Keogh…
That photo is what we classically mean by “engine turning” here in the States. It goes by a number of other names as well:
Damascene / Damascening (particularly for firearm bolts)
Ornamental Turning
Mottling (especially in the UK)
It is a purely decorative effect that is quite pleasing. Even more elaborate, more impressive, and also called “engine turning”, is the work done for fine jewelry, cufflinks, clocks, and similar purposes:

This work is often referred to as “guilloche” and to my way of thinking it’s more a type of engraving than engine turner.  Guilloche also refers to a type of enameling technique, which is another art form I would like to learn in order to complete my astronomical orrery clock.  Guilloche patterns can be generated mathematically, for example by this program.  At some point I will build a Wizard just for fun in our Conversational CNC product that will generate the g-code for guilloche engraving much like I’ve included a Turner’s Cube calculator in G-Wizard Calculator.
At some point, I’d…

CNC Holiday Project: EDM Reindeer

Dec 2, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  1 Comment

Stirling South is a neat site for the CNC hobbyist.  There’s a group of three working together on a variety of projects including a whole lineup of Stirling engines, puzzles, and some really nifty CNC arts and crafts. They have “pro” quality CNC machines from Haas and others, so its almost a bit beyond hobby status, but its fun to see what they accomplish. How about these EDM wire cut reindeer, for example:

The reindeer plans…

Finished Reindeer…
The reindeer were inspired by a woodworking project where one cuts them out in one axis on a scroll saw, then rotates and cuts the other axis. In this case, they used a wire EDM. Cool, eh?…

3D Printing Goes Mainstream: Staples to Offer 3D Printing Service

Nov 29, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Cool  //  1 Comment

If there was ever a doubt that 3D printing would become a mainstream megatrend, this story should remove that doubt:
Staples has announced it will be offering a 3D printing service via its Office Supply stores.  The announcement was made today at Euromold 2012.  While this isn’t the first 3D printing service, it is the first to be announced by a household name like Staples.
The new service will be called “Staples Easy 3D”.  To use the service, customers upload their designs to Staples’ website, then pick up the printed objects at their local Staples.  They can even have the printed object shipped to their home or business, similar to the photo and document printing service they already offer.  The machines they’ll be using are Mcor IRIS 3D Printers.

The Mcor IRIS 3D Printer…
The specs on the IRIS are impressive:
–  1 million+ colours
–  Resolution of 5760 x 1440 x 508dpi (XYZ).  Printed layers are 0.004″ thick, while the X and Y axes have a resolution of 0.0004″.
–  Printable object size options are A4 Paper: 256 x 169 x 150mm, and Letter Paper: 9.39 x 6.89 x 5.9in
–  Input file types:  STL, OBJ, VRML
Resolution is…

A New Every Day Carry Product: The Ti2 Sentinel Cache

Nov 27, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  1 Comment
Ti2 Sentinel Cache

The folks behind the original Ti2 pen project on Kickstarter recently dropped me a note about their latest Kickstarter project, the Ti2 Sentinel Cache:

It’s got a decidedly “Every Day Carry” feel to it and looks like a very cool EDC accessory.  The ends both unscrew to allow for storage inside the cache.  The Kickstarter project depicts a variety of uses ranging from keeping pills and waterproof matches to using one as a cigar humidor.  They’re machined from Titanium, and I’m sure the workmanship will be excellent just like it was on the Ti2 pen.
I keep wondering what I’d do with one as a diver, and then wishing they’d do a waterproof diver’s LED light with a similar style.  Maybe they’ll consider it for their next Kickstarter project.…

Zoho: A Machined Android Figure

Nov 27, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool  //  No Comments

Zoho is a gorgeous piece of machine artwork created by Mark Ho:

Zoho’s joints had to be pretty close to a human being’s to create such lifelike poses!
Zoho stands 43 cm tall, weighs 6 kg, has 920 parts, 101 of which are found in each hand. Of the 920 parts, 85 are mobile. Zoho was constructed of bronze and stainless steel.  Amazingly, Zoho was done entirely through manual machining–not a lick of CNC was involved.…

Anodizing a Multi-Color Logo Onto a Titanium Knife

Nov 27, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Techniques  //  1 Comment

Every Tuesday John Grimsmo does a new YouTube video in a series he calls “Knifemaking Tuesdays”.  Today we got a really interesting video that shows how he anodized a multi-colored Eagle Scout logo onto one of his knives for a customer:

I love engraving, anodizing, and all forms of finishing for CNC projects, so I wanted to pass along this neat video.  If you’ve never done any anodizing before, John has done a lot of it on both aluminum and titanium.  Titanium is neat because you can get different colors as shown on this log by using different voltages.  The other trick he shows is using Dykem as a mask to control exactly what gets anodized.…

CNC Knifemaking: Grimsmo + Tormach Style

Nov 19, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  1 Comment

John Grimsmo’s latest Knifemaking Tuesday video is all about the course he taught at Tormach on how to use CNC machines for knifemaking:

I always enjoy John’s videos, but this one really brought a big grin to my face.  Clearly those guys were having a ball playing with the Tormach mills and making their own custom knives.  They got to touch on the use of the CNC Mill, CAM software, heat treating the blades, fixing warped blades on an arbor press, and a host of other areas, I’m sure.  Hopefully they’ll teach it again next year.…

Tormach Personal CNC Lathe Gets a Tool Turret and Bar Puller

Nov 15, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Products  //  2 Comments

I’ve been watching the ongoing development of the Tormach Personal CNC Lathe for a while now.  The machine is a slant bed lathe with a work envelope equivalent to a Hardinge HLV and looks like it’ll be a pretty nice entry-level toolroom lathe.  They just published a new video showing a multi-station turret with bar puller in operation:

Looks like it’s coming along pretty well.  6 months ago they had released a video showing some gang tooling in operation:

The two vids give a pretty good idea what to expect.  No data yet on pricing or when the machine will first be available.…

Amazing Shopmade Plasma Table

Nov 12, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool, DIY CNC  //  No Comments

This plasma table from CNCZone is probably the most impressive table I have yet come across:

It’s a big beast. The gantry is mounted on the long axis so that when it is slid out of the way, access to the table with a full sheet of material is easy.

They had the various parts laser cut by a nearby supplier. Note the copious use of “tab and slot” construction. I see this a lot when plasma cut (or waterjet) parts are to be welded together.
Also note that cutting out parts like this would be a perfect job for a plasma table (or laser or waterjet).

The gantry is made of aluminum, and was powder coated. The details of the X-axis motor are showing how they used gas springs to preload against the rack. The whole thing rides on Thompson 1.5″ linear rods.

Table is 4′ x 10′. The torch is an ESAB 1500.
Hang on, hold the phone, I’ve got an ESAB 1500. I’m adding this build to my Plasma Table Idea Notebook.

There’s my brother playing with the ESAB plasma cutter it shortly after I got it……

Jared’s Cube: Baffling and Beautiful

Nov 12, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, CNC Router, Cool  //  3 Comments

If you like Turner’s Cubes, perhaps Jared’s Cube will appeal:

I found these quite by accident via Google. Aren’t they cool?
Something similar would make a neat CNC router project.  I could imagine one like the last photo but done so the layers alternate light and dark woods.  If you’ve done something artistic with your CNC machine, send me some photos.…

Every Day Carry: New Ideas for CNC Projects

Nov 5, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  1 Comment
Boker Plus Toucan Multi-Tool

According to Wikipedia, Every Day Carry (EDC), “refers to a small collection of tools, equipment and supplies that are carried on a daily basis to assist in tackling situations ranging from the mundane to the disastrous.”
While there can be something of a suvivalist overtone to EDC writings, I just see them as neat ideas for CNC projects and something a machinist ought to be carrying around in their pockets.  They’re typically little tools designed to go on your keychain or on a chain around your neck.  Here are a few to take a gander at so you get the idea:
I’ve got links on a couple of those in case you’d rather just buy one.  Aren’t they neat?  If you’ve been pondering a project to make a knife, perhaps one of these EDC implements would make a simpler starting point to play around with.  Check out CNCCookbook’s Pinterest “Guy Gear” Board for a lot more ideas.  With a CNC, your imagination is really your only limit on what you can build.…

Rocketman: Toys and Curiosities for the Mechanical Mind

Nov 5, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool  //  1 Comment

Mechanisms can be beautiful as art, and I am always pleased when I find a new site that offers that sort of thing.  Today, we’re celebrating Rocketman’s many fascinating toys and curiosities:

Gears, a crank, and precision dowel pins let you customize this gearbox according to your own desires…

CNC’ers appreciate the backlash-free operation ofa  ballscrew…
Check out the rest of the site for more interesting mechanical art.  Perhaps it’ll inspire you to your own project or toy.…

Awesome V-Twin Desktop Engine

Oct 15, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool  //  No Comments

I’m always stopped dead in my tracks when I come across an obviously CNC-made work of art like these little engines:

Aren’t the aesthetics of this thing tasty? It definitely has that “billet CNC machined” look about it. This is a $700+ toy available from the odd little firm They have some wonderfully fun contraptions that are well worth checking out. How about the 4-cylinder model:

I discovered a little later that these engines are made by a firm called “Maier”. You can Google for “Maier Butane Engine” to see other shops selling them.…



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