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- 11/24/17--11:40: _Design Job: Aim Hig...
- 11/24/17--11:40: _Reader Submitted: M...
- 11/24/17--11:40: _Is a Cat a Liquid? ...
- 11/24/17--11:40: _How I Learned to Cu...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _Design Job: Help In...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _A Craftsman's Theor...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _How Timothy Wilmots...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _What Computer Visio...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _Another Design for ...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _Today's Urban Desig...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _Reader Submitted: A...
- 11/27/17--11:46: _Thinx's Design Dire...
- 11/28/17--03:53: _When Spiders Consum...
- 11/28/17--07:52: _Spiders on Differen...
- 11/28/17--07:52: _Making Reusable Mol...
- 11/28/17--07:52: _Today's Urban Desig...
- 11/28/17--07:52: _Design Job: Learn a...
- 11/29/17--07:55: _Currently Crowdfund...
- 11/29/17--07:55: _Design Job: Are You...
- 11/30/17--00:33: _PAL is a Nifty, Mod...
- 11/24/17--11:40: Reader Submitted: Mitte: Mineral Water at the Touch of a Button
- 11/24/17--11:40: How I Learned to Cut Dovetails By Hand
- 11/27/17--11:46: How Timothy Wilmots Builds That Six-Way Multi-Function Shop Cart
- 11/27/17--11:46: What Computer Vision Actually Looks Like
- 11/27/17--11:46: Another Design for an Assisted-Splitting Axe
- 11/28/17--07:52: Spiders on Different Drugs Spin Different Types of Web Patterns
- 11/28/17--07:52: Making Reusable Mold Boxes for Silicone Molds and Casting
- 11/28/17--07:52: Today's Urban Design Observation: Homeless Couch Fort
- 11/29/17--07:55: Currently Crowdfunding: Notable Campaigns of the Week
- 11/30/17--00:33: PAL is a Nifty, Modular, Mobile, Portable Lighting System
The Mechanical Design Manager leads and directs the Mechanical Design team in all aspects of mechanical design activities within an Aviation Studio. S/he is responsible for building and leading a world class team, driving excellence inside the discipline, and for coordinating activities that promote TEAGUE's cross-discipline offering. The Mechanical DesignView the full design job here
Mitte bundles the technique of natural water purification in an appealing table top device.
Mitte a smart home water system that purifies and enhances water through a process inspired by the natural water cycle. It works in two simple steps: first, it purifies water to an unprecedented level with a proprietary distillation-based method. Then, Mitte makes the water not only pure, but also healthy by enhancing it with essential minerals.
The Core77 team spends time combing through the news so you don't have to. Here's a weekly roundup of our favorite finds from the World Wide Web:
An interesting read—A retrospective on cultivating Industrial Design at Google.
Global Grad Show at Dubai Design Week shows student work from dozens of design schools around the world.
A short history of the Ercol 206 Easy Chair: Ercol Originals typified mid-century British manufacturing—made from Buckinghamshire beech and elm, they integrated craftsmanship with the values of industrial production.
An exhibit at Georgia Tech showing 45 sets of 3D printed dinnerware. You'll have to go to the campus in Atlanta to see them all—the web site just shows a selected few.
I've wanted to be able to hand-cut dovetails for years, and I'm proud to say I now can! I recently took "Hand Tools Skills - Mastering Dovetailing," a four-session class at Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn. This is a review of that class.
[Full disclosure: Tools for Working Wood waved the tuition fee in exchange for an honest review of the class.]
What sets this class apart from other dovetailing classes is the instructor, TFWW founder Joel Moskowitz. Joel is a woodworker and a history buff who has done a lot of research into how 18th-Century British workshops ran. Thus, in Joel's class, you're not just learning to cut dovetails, but you're learning to do it in a very old-school and efficient way. "We try to mimic late 18th-Century methods used by apprentices who churned out dovetail after dovetail with simple tools, basic techniques, and practice," Joel says.
Cutting dovetails requires getting a lot of different things right. Joel has broken those things down into a series of essential skills, then has you move through them step-by-step, with each class building on the skill you learned before.
The class I took was broken into four sessions:
Session 1 - Sharpening
"Something that really slows people down," Joel explains, "is not having sharp tools. I mean really sharp tools." Thus the first class had one simple goal: To teach you how to quickly turn a dull or damaged tool into a razor-sharp blade that slices through the wood. This crucial skill, Joel explained, would be one of the first things an apprentice in a traditional shop would need to master, and they wouldn't have all day to fuss over it.
People's sharpening methods vary widely and are kind of like family recipes. Joel's method is based on speed and efficiency.
We first covered the basics of blade geometry.
Next we went on to grinding: Why to grind, when to grind and perhaps most importantly, how to grind without overheating the blade and ruining it. As someone who does not have much experience with freehand grinding (in my own shop I use a Tormek wet grinder with jigs), I was a bit surprised at how little time it took Joel to grind a blade by eyeballing it, tapping the toolrest this way and that. He showed us a very specific sequence of grinding, examining, adjusting and quenching. I won't go into specific detail because that's basically the secret sauce, but I will say I found it edifying.
After grinding we moved to the stones. Joel's "recipe" calls for a dual-sided diamond plate and an 8000-grit waterstone.
Next we moved onto stropping.
Again the emphasis is on speed, as in an old-school workshop (or heck, a modern-day one) that's cranking out furniture, tools would constantly be going dull and would frequently require re-sharpening. By getting this down to a science, you can get back to work as quickly as possible.
At the end of the three-hour class, I had razor-sharp chisels. That in itself isn't so important; what's more important is that I now had the knowledge of how to quickly restore those edges after I slam them into a knot or some tough endgrain. In a working shop, sharpening shouldn't be some singular event, like taking a bath in the evening, but more like washing your hands throughout the day.
As for sharpening supplies for your own shop: At least one of the students mentioned that the diamond plates were out of their budget, and Joel then explained how to do a lower-cost process using sandpaper and a piece of flat glass. So you don't have to buy diamond plates to use his sharpening method. (You will, however, probably need access to a grinder at some point, unless you have a lot of patience.)
Session 2 - Learning to Saw Straight, Cutting Tails, Chopping Waste
To cut dovetails, you must be able to saw straight. And in two axes: You must be able to cut both perpendicular to the face of the board and perfectly plumb.
Joel explained saw tooth geometry to us and demonstrated how to use a saw correctly.
He then had us practice this exhaustively by chucking up a bunch of 1/2-inch poplar boards in a Moxon vise and going at it. To my surprise he taught us how to do this without making any marks at all. "I want you to get good at eyeballing," he explained. By following his tips, I learned that you can actually "see square" pretty easily.
But sawing square is something I've always had trouble with, and it was very gratifying to see sharp improvement in just one three-hour class. You can read about how to saw straight and watch videos about it, but what I found most helpful was having someone actually standing there and watching what you're doing, then offering tips.
These tips differ from person to person, because our bodies and body mechanics are all different. For example, after analyzing one student's sawing technique Joel suggested that she stand slightly differently, and this seemed to improve her accuracy.
The advice was different for me. Joel showed me at least two things that really helped. The first was a trick for how to straighten a cut gone astray at the beginning, before you fully commit. The second was a piece of advice that seems obvious, but that totally clicked for me: "You have to analyze what you're doing," Joel explained. Pay attention to what your body is doing as you make the cut. Then analyze the cut. Is it slanted? Why? Is your elbow tracking straight? Are you putting too much downward pressure on the saw? Then adjust, make another cut, analyze again, adjust again. By making a series of microadjustments to my technique, by the end of the class I was producing better-quality cuts than I was at the beginning. More importantly, I learned that you do this by identifying what the variables are that are influencing your cut, then start making corrections one-by-one.
For the second half of the session we also began cutting tails, that is, cuts that are still perpendicular to the face of the board, but slanted along the grain.
Again we laid this out by eye, not making any marks nor using a dovetail gauge. We also learned the traditional way of removing the dovetail waste, which was to first kerf it up with the saw, then chop it out with chisels.
Perhaps most importantly, he showed us the trick of how to correct for the chisel's tendency to move backwards into the cut. By the end of it we had tails with nice, clean, crisp baselines.
Joel then gave us boards to take home to practice on. I really wanted to improve so I did this every day. I didn't have a Moxon vise in my home shop, but you can get around this with some Irwin clamps and some boards.
Session 3 - Marking and Mating the Pins
When Joel had been cutting the tails, he did it quickly and with an unconcerned air. But now that the tails were cleaned out and it was time to transfer them to the pinboards, I saw he was paying very close attention to what he was doing.
This is when I realized that however you cut the tails doesn't really matter, as long as they're square; the real "magic" is in how you transfer their outline to the pinboard and accurately cut to that line.
Joel showed us his preferred marking method and a way to make those lines more visible, then we started sawing and chopping.
I was conservative in my cuts, erring too far on the side of the waste line, and my pins took a bit of paring and malleting to fit. Joel explained that the ultimate goal is to get the joints to fit "straight from the saw," as that's of course what would have been done in a traditional shop.
He then gave us a pile of small boards to take home for practice. The idea was to do one pair of boards each day. Not more, not less, he explained; exactly one. The idea is to build up muscle memory over time, not trying to cram it and not letting it atrophy.
In my home shop, I practiced pretty diligently, and made some progress (even if I still had to pare a bit).
Session 4 - Half-Blind Dovetails
Traditional drawers are made using half-blind dovetails, so that the drawer face has a clean appearance. A joiner/cabinetmaker in 18th-Century Britain would be required to produce these more complicated joints as a matter of course, so that's the final thing we learned.
I found this pretty challenging, as you cannot saw all the way through the pinboard, but must instead learn to do it at a compound angle:
In contrast to through-dovetails, with half-blinds there is no way to get the joint ready straight from the saw; all of the waste must be pared away. Joel showed us a couple of tricks to hasten the process. This is also where that wall of tools in the store came in handy: It's not a mere display, but is loaded up with sharp tools ready to be used. I grabbed a skew chisel, the first time I'd ever used one, and it was indispensable for getting into those back corners.
I was the slowest in the class, but managed to complete it in time. We all did, here they are:
If you want to learn to cut dovetails by hand, I highly recommend this class.
The atmosphere is casual but Joel covers a lot of material in this class, so you need to pay attention.
The home practice element was crucial. You can't just show up to class and be anointed with the ability. I was pretty diligent about putting in the practice between classes and, satisfyingly, it paid off.
I liked the no-nonsense approach and Joel's focus on old-school efficiency and practicality.
I also liked that you have access to TFWW's tools. By chopping with one of my own chisels that I'd sharpened myself, then with a store chisel that Joel had sharpened, I saw a marked difference in ease-of-use and learned that I wasn't taking my own sharpening far enough.
I dug learning this skill in a class rather than through books or YouTube videos because I feel that, hour for hour, a class is more efficient. Having an instructor there who can correct you on-the-fly, and give personalized advice, made me feel I was picking it up much quicker than I would just practicing by myself.
Who Should Take This Class?
I found the demographics of the class interesting: In addition to hobbyist woodworker/design blogger me, there was a professional (power-tool-using) furniture builder, an architect and a carpenter.
Should You Take a Class or Buy a Magnetic Guide?
Two months ago I watched a YouTube video of a guy who was frustrated because no matter what he tried, he couldn't get the hang of dovetails. So he bought a magnetic guide and a Japanese pull saw, and then he could do it.
They key there is the "no matter what he tried;" in other words, he didn't know what he was doing wrong, so he didn't know what to work on correcting. Because Joel laid out for us exactly what could go wrong, I understood what all of the required elements were, knew what to practice, and millimeter by millimeter my dovetails got better.
And now I can cut dovetails by hand with a minimum of fuss.
While I could have just purchased a guide and called it done, for me the satisfaction is in gaining a skill that I can continue to use forever.
Plus they're fun to make. After the class had ended, I made this dovetail-board-jig thingy to make the marking step easier:
I then grabbed some pieces of scrap, and used it to make this riser for my external monitor:
I'm pleased to report that these are the tightest tails I've done yet, and I got them to fit straight off the saw!
Tools for Working Wood will be offering the course again in January, limited to four students per class. You can learn more here.
Enhance is a boutique industrial design firm with core focuses in full-service product development as well as designing and positioning products for licensing. We are looking for passionate, driven and creative new graduates for product design, 3D modeling, photo-realistic renderings, animations, prototyping and marketing material development for consumer products in our portfolio, as well as for our clients.View the full design job here
I am no master craftsman; I consider myself barely competent, and yet I learned to cut dovetails like these after taking several sessions of a class.
So something that's been puzzling me is why, on antique furniture, are dovetails that were made by master craftsmen often so sloppy?
I've heard the theory that joiners/cabinetmakers were simply in a rush and didn't care how they looked, but something about that always nagged at me. Here Richard Maguire, a/k/a The English Woodworker, provides an alternate theory that I find compelling:
It makes perfect sense to me. The craftsmen of centuries past did not have access to finely-made tools like the kick-ass dovetailing saw I use; the manufacturing of the time simply wasn't as dialed in as we've got it now.
I posted this video to a woodworking group on Facebook--and while some agreed with it, I also got instant push-back. "There is no documented or physical evidence to support this theory," one commenter wrote. But isn't the Industrial Revolution, and the constant improvement in tool-building over what people were stuck with before, the evidence itself?
That kick-ass transforming shop cart drew a lot of attention two weeks ago. So yesterday Timothy Wilmots, the craftsman who built it, started posting a video series showing you how he builds it from scratch.
Part of the fun of watching it is drooling over his high-end stationary tools. Not all of you have access to a Felder table saw with a slider, but everything he shows you could also be done with a plain-Jane table saw or circular saw, a router, a jigsaw and some patience. (Stay tuned 'til the end to see how that turntable is powered.)
I can't get over how brilliant the design of this MFSC (Multi Function Shop Cart) is. And Wilmots is selling a comprehensive set of plans for it here.
Also, a question for our European readers: I could've swore table-saw-based dado cutters were illegal in Europe, but Wilmots, who is based in Belgium, is clearly using one in the Felder. What gives?
Over the years we've been conditioned by movies, from the "Terminator" flicks of the '80s and '90s to more recently, the "Fast & Furious" franchise's "God's Eye," to have a concept of what computer vision looks like.
But how does the real thing stack up? Take a look at this computer vision system's take on Times Square:
That's Google Research's NASnet, a "state of the art object detection framework." I was interested to see that it not only picks up vehicles, people, bicycles and traffic lights, but also backpacks, handbags and even drinks cups.
I have mixed feelings on watching this technology progress. Obviously it's coming no matter what, and I'd like a system that can detect, say, a known terrorist hauling a backpack. On the other hand, if you haven't yet seen that video of miniature assassin drones--which are basically bullets that can move in any direction and have someone's name written on them--you need to check it out. If that technology falls into the wrong hands, we'll be wishing we lived with Terminators instead.
Incidentally, I believe the Daft Punk soundtrack was not added in post-production, but that all computer vision systems spontaneously generate French house music. I'm not a scientist but I know that it's integral to the computational process.
Which gives me an idea: What would Daft Punk Terminators look like?
Few years ago we showed you the Leveraxe, a Finnish design twist on an axe head that makes splitting firewood easier:
Well, turns out that idea wasn't new, even if the execution was. An American dude named Bob Kolonia invented the Chopper1 Axe way back in 1975, and it sold like hotcakes.
The way that it works is interesting:
According to the company, Kolonia decided to wind the company down in 1989. But in recent years people have been asking him to start selling the axe again.
"At first he resisted, but realized that with the internet, he could sell the Chopper1 Axe directly to the consumer," the company writes. I guess sometimes you just have to axe nicely.
Cherry pickers like these are a pretty common sight in the city. They use them for everything from pruning trees to lighting movie scenes to hanging decorations for festivals.
Well, I got up close and found they have a very nifty UI:
That's good design, and I imagine it speeds training time immensely.
Atelier ARI's Pluglight is a suspending workspace lamp that allows users to charge their devices simultaneously.
The fifth person to join THINX, Inc., Meng Shui is now the design director for both THINX and its sister brand, Icon. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts with a master's degree in branding, Meng is strongly influenced by contemporary art and cultural fashion.View the full content here
Some of you will find this exciting. I find it disturbing. Materials scientist Nicola Pugno and a research team at Italy's University of Trento have succeeded in getting spiders to produce super-strong silk--by lacing the spiders' drinking water with graphene and carbon nanotubes. According to Phys.org,
Professor Pugno said: "Humans have used silkworm silks widely for thousands of years, but recently research has focussed on spider silk, as it has extremely promising mechanical properties. It is among the best spun polymer fibres in terms of tensile strength, ultimate strain, and especially toughness, even when compared to synthetic fibres such as Kevlar."
"We already know that there are biominerals present in in the protein matrices and hard tissues of insects, which gives them high strength and hardness in their jaws, mandibles and teeth, for example. So our study looked at whether spider silk's properties could be 'enhanced' by artificially incorporating various different nanomaterials into the silk's biological protein structures."
To do this, the team exposed three different spider species to water dispersions containing carbon nanotubes or graphene. After collecting the spiders' silk, the team tested its tensile strength and toughness.
Professor Pugno said: "We found that the strongest silk the spiders spun had a fracture strength up to 5.4 gigapascals (GPa), and a toughness modulus up to 1,570 joules per gram (J/g). Normal spider silk, by comparison, has a fracture strength of around 1.5 GPa and a toughness modulus of around 150 J/g."
"This is the highest fibre toughness discovered to date, and a strength comparable to that of the strongest carbon fibres or limpet teeth. These are still early days, but our results are a proof of concept that paves the way to exploiting the naturally efficient spider spinning process to produce reinforced bionic silk fibres, thus further improving one of the most promising strong materials."
The research was published in the materials science journal 2D Materials.
To me this research sounds like a small-scale Jurassic Park, where we're mucking about with nature in some very unnatural ways. Should we really be feeding carbon freaking nanotubes to living creatures? If you want to see a disgusting photo of what happens when you inject carbon nanotubes into mice, click here.
In 1948, Swiss zoologist H.M. Peters was studying how spiders build their webs. But he kept falling asleep during the observation process, as spiders typically build their webs nocturnally. Frustrated, he asked colleague Peter N. Witt if there was something Witt could give the spiders that would make them build webs earlier in the day.
Witt was a pharmacologist. So he started giving the spiders psychoactive drugs dissolved in droplets of water, one drug per spider.
The drugs didn't change the spider's build schedules; they stubbornly stuck to their 2am to 5am work hours. But they did drastically influence the spiders' architecture skills. According to Priceonomics,
Spiders dosed with sleeping drugs became "very drowsy," skipped spinning the longest, most challenging radial threads (those on the outer corners of the frame), and left huge gaps in their webs; Benzedrine caused the spiders to spin a spiral "that zig-zagged like an unsteady walker" and induced the inability to locate precise spots within the web; marijuana made the insects omit altogether the inner part of the web; scopolamine, which has hallucinogenic effects in humans, destroyed the spiders' sense of direction altogether.
NASA repeated the experiment in 1995 and found much the same thing: Spiders on drugs tend not to finish their webs, and depending on which drug they're on, make some odd design choices.
We would next like to see this test administered to modern-day starchitects. The hope is that some of them may design buildings that are actually rectilinear.
While most of you already know how to build a box, here industrial designer Eric Strebel demonstrates his system for creating reusable mold/casting boxes, and describes how having a bunch of these lying around in different sizes can improve your shop efficiency:
If you throw a sofa away in New York City, it will often linger on the curb for days.
For three mornings in a row, I passed this spot on Elizabeth Street where a homeless guy had scored a discarded sofa and sofa end. The weather is getting colder now, and he had pushed the couch up against the wall and tipped the sofa end up to make a sort of semi-shielded sleeping area for himself.
I can confirm that there is a man sleeping in there, but out of basic respect I did not want to invade his space to photograph him.
On the fourth morning the couch fort and the man were gone. I guess the garbage company finally hauled the sofa away.
Industrial Design Intern HRD11792 Honeywell International is a $40 billion diversified Fortune 100 leader with more than 131,000 employees in 100 countries around the world. We invent and manufacture technologies that address some of the world’s toughest challenges linked to global macro trends like energy efficiency, clean energy generation, safety and security, globalization and customer productivity.View the full design job here
A roundup of projects currently seeking funding on various crowdfunding platforms for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:
Remember this bike helmet? Well, Closca is back—this time with a water bottle that compliments the design of their nesting helmet. There's only a couple days left to pledge, so get on it if you want one of your own.
Our friends at Orbitkey are back with accessories to compliment their original Orbitkey key organizer. We especially dig the simplicity of the Orbitkey Ring (pictured above), and apparently so do a lot of other people—with 45 days left in their campaign, Orbitkey is already around $130,000 above their original goal.
Levitate pretty much anything with this small platform. At first we thought this could be gimmick-y, but the campaign photos are so subtle and beautiful we changed our minds.
Here's another water bottle design doing big things on Kickstarter right now. The simple strap around the bottle serves as an easy way to hold it during runs, and the bulge towards the bottom of the bottle keeps charcoal filters in place.
This one's a little niche but worth sharing for those who may need it—Audio Tacking for SailTimer charting apps goes to show changing the primary sense activated by a design (in this case hearing instead of sight) can make the experience that much easier.
Launching a campaign you're proud of? Send us an email to email@example.com for consideration.
Need exprienced Jewelry cad and rendering specialist for a major Jewelry Bridal caster serving Jewelry Retail stores in the United States in all 50 StatesView the full design job here
For all of its sins, the smartphone has done a lot to reduce object clutter; I no longer have to carry a separate music player, digital camera and cell phone as I once did. Could a similar feat be achieved with a light source?
The folks at Daylight Design have designed an innovative light called PAL (Portable Adaptive Lighting) that is intended to serve multiple mobile lighting needs for Texas-based Thirty Third Parallel. It's a nifty idea, and I'm digging their execution:
I'm really hoping that these guys hit their Kickstarter target, which at this point is uncertain; at press time they were at $31,000 in pledges towards a $50,000 goal. You can buy in here.