More Additions to the Shop

George CarlsonBuild Log, News, Tools

It’s been busy lately. John Buckley and I built a high-tech router table. The machine uses a 3HP water cooled router spindle and an Arduino controlled router lift. The computerized lift makes making precision cuts easy.

The MakerBarn Router Table

We are also in the process of rebuilding a Powermatic 66 table saw. This a heavy-duty industrial saw that will be configured for making dado (wide slot cuts) cuts and box joints. This means we can make dado cuts without having to re-configure a saw. A wonderful time saver.

RoboChop CNC Router

RoboChop CNC Router

Lastly, the RoboChop has arrived! The RoboDhop is a 27×48″ High Precision CNC router. It has a 3HP water cooled spindle and high precision ball screws for positioning. It is on-loan as a way to see if we would like to purchase our own CNC Router. Shortly I’ll announce classes to teach Vectric V-Carve software and how to use the machine.

A new addition to the shop

George CarlsonNews, Tools

Abrasive Blasting Caninet

Abrasive Blasting Cabinet

One of the latest additions to our arsenal of tools at The MakerBarn is an abrasive blasting cabinet. Since we have a large air compressor and the entire building has been plumbed for compressed air, installation of the unit was easy.
“Sand blasting” can be quite messy, but with the sealed cabinet, the operation is quite clean and comfortable. Parts to be blasted are brought in through a door that seals. The operator’s hands go into large gloves in the front of the cabinet and a window allows the operator to see inside. A shop vac keeps the air inside the cabinet clear of dust.
The unit has been supplied with 100 grit snow-white Aluminum Oxide abrasive. This is a fine abrasive that looks much like sugar. It works well for quickly removing rust and paint from metal surfaces. It also works well for texturizing a surface, or etching glass or plastic. The vinyl cutter can be used to produce a mask for etching glass. The fine abrasive cuts glass, but does not destroy the vinyl.
When using the blaster, make sure your part is clean and free of grease, oil, of loose paint chips. Grease and oil can contaminate the abrasive and make is useless for etching projects. Large paint chips can clog the blasting gun.
The gun should be held at an angle to the surface, not straight on. The idea is to scrub the surface. Blasting directing down unto the surface can peen the surface and damage the part.
Bring in an old rusty yard tool and try the blaster on it. You’ll be pleased with the results.

Of Crosses and Doves – Maker Barn helps a church

John BuckleyBuild Log, Making

My wife and I love making many things, but I especially like to make things that serve a real purpose and  I can’t think of anything more worthy than helping our church to grow and serve others.    For many years our Woodlands United Methodist church has had a “Craft Circle” group of ladies who make craft items for two big annual Fall sales; one called “Gala” and the other “Boutique”.   The items include handmade quilts, glassware and various decorated items.  While the craft ladies are very good at decoration they often ask us to help supply the raw materials that go into a finished craft.

A good example are the beautiful wooden crosses that Craft Circle decorates every year.  They come in two sizes; 15″ x 12″ and 20″ x 12″.  The small one is made from 2×3 lumber and the large one is made from 4×4 lumber.  It might seem an easy job to build a cross from two pieces of lumber, but it turns out to require far more measurement and accuracy than I first imagined!  The point at which the two pieces are joined has to be notched to exactly 1/2 the width of the other piece and accomplishing this on the table or chop saws takes a bit of practice.  Fortunately Maker Barn has the tools we need to churn out large and small crosses – we just supply the lumber and the willingness to learn how!

Crosses_01           Crosses_02


Another example are special wooden church name tags made in the shape of a dove and used at a special conference held 2-3 times a year called “Walk to Emmaus”.  Prior to Maker Barn each tag was made by hand using a scroll saw and it took one person 10+ hours to make the 100+ tags required every year!  At Maker Barn we use a vector file of the dove and knock out 60 doves in a little over an hour using the laser printer equipment.

Doves_01         Doves_02

Our church is a very special part of our lives and Maker Barn has become a welcome way to learn new skills and contribute to our church at the same time.

  • John Buckley

New .org Domain & Website Hosting

Clay McGovernNews

As you may have noticed, we recently switched our domain to emphasize our non-profit status as a part of Extraordinary Education. So when visitors type the old .com domain, they will now be automatically directed to our new domain and website.

In addition to the change in domain, we also moved from a hosted WordPress solution to a full service website hosting solution. That change will give us a great deal of flexibility in terms of the services we can offer through our website. We have future plans for a member forum and a wiki.

All in all the process was pretty painless and went forward without any major glitches. Hopefully I’m not jinxing us by writing this!

The Hegner Scroll Saw

George CarlsonBuild Log, News, Tools

Hegner 25V

The Hegner Scroll Saw

We’ve been watching school and government auctions for items to equip The MakerBarn.  We have gotten some great deals on high quality tables, cabinets, and chairs.  On one of the auctions sites, I noticed a school district down near Victoria was auctioning a Multimax scroll saw and a Delta bandsaw.  Both looked fairly rough, but I placed some bids just to see how it went.  Victoria is a long drive so I hoped by bids would be fruitful.

I won both auctions.  This meant driving 300 miles, but with luck, it would be well worth it.

The Delta bandsaw was fairly recent vintage.  It had been the victim of a student brawl and had been knocked over.  But the upper and lower trunions were broken, but everything else survived.  A few used parts off eBay and some new tires, and the bandsaw tuned up beautifully.

The scroll saw had been sitting outside for quite some time.  It is a Hegner Multimax 25V, which is a very high quality scroll saw with a 25” deep throat and a variable speed motor.  New, these saws sell for about $2,000.  At some time in the past the motor controller had failed.  The school had wired the motor direct, which meant it was being run at hyper-fast speed.  This torn-up the link between the motor eccentric and the lower arm as well as a few other things.  I machined a new link from aluminum, then went to work on the motor.  The controller had a bad IC, which I was able to replace. The motor and controller are rather unusual.  The motor is a permanent capacitor split phase induction motor with a tachometer output.  The tach output is used as a feedback to the motor controller to assure constant speed.  The output voltage of the magnetic pickup was very low.  So I use a tiny audio transformer to increase the voltage.  After adjusting a few component values in the controller (sometimes it’s helpful to have an electronics design background) the motor ran fine.  The last item to repair was the cast iron flywheel/eccentric that attached to the front of the motor.  It was being held by some material that looked a lot like JB Weld.  This was not a good sign.  In the abuse that followed the rewiring of the motor, the flywheel must have come a bit loose.  The hammering of the eccentric, due to the high speed, enlarged the hole in the soft cast iron flywheel.  I put the flywheel in the lathe, trued it up, and bored the mounting hole for a steel sleeve.  Then I machined a precise steel sleeve and pressed it in the flywheel.  A bit of work, but the motor, flywheel and link were now working perfectly.  I replaced a couple of additional parts and now have a saw that runs like new.  Altogether, the parts cost about $75, but that’s not too bad for such a high-end machine.  Oh, by the way, the auction price for the scroll saw was $27.50, so we came out pretty well.

The Woodworking Show

George CarlsonNews

Thanks goes to Ed Draper for getting us a booth at The Woodworking Show.
The Woodworking Show is a nationwide show that visits the Houston area once a year. We had people from as far away as Austin and San Antonio visit the booth and learn about makerspaces and The MakerBarn. There were several woodworkers from our area who said they were very happy to hear about us and would come by for a visit.

Electronics at The MakerBarn

George CarlsonNews, Tools

We aren’t all woodworking and machine shop; we also have a wonderful electronics lab in the works.

The lab centers around four tech stations.  Three of the stations will be configured for experiments and testing audio and other low frequency work including micro-controllers.   You could use one of these stations to work on anything from tube amplifiers to Arduinos.  The forth station is equipped for work with RF (Radio Frequency) devices.  If you are into Ham Radio, this will be your favorite workspace.  Ever wonder what the spectral output of you WiFi router looks like?  The 9594E cover spectrum up to 2.9GHz.

The normal tech stations will each be equipped with a Tektronix 2246 100MHz oscilloscope, BK Precision 5MHz Function Generator, lab multimeter, and power supplies.  The RF station will have an HP8640B signal generator, an HP 8594E Spectrum Analyzer, and an HP 5328A frequency counter.  All tech stations will be supplied with a solder station and de-soldering tools.

There will also be a good supply of various parts, new and used as well as other equipment that can be checked out for use.

How often would you get a chance to operate a $20,000 Spectrum Analyzer or a $10,000 signal generator?  The answer is every evening at The MakerBarn.DSC_1057

Major Milestone Reached in Barn Renovation

George CarlsonNews

Today marked a major waypoint in the building of The MakerBarn.  The upstairs fur downs are framed out, which marks the end of all the framing work.  The fur downs are structures that drop down the ceiling to hide A/C ducts, beams, and plumbing.  In our case we were covering the roof support beams that run the length of the building.  The beams were, well, ugly and crooked.  A little 2×4 orthodontia, and the ceiling will look fine.

Next is completing the electrical for lighting, install the insulation, then hang sheetrock.  Start getting those party hats ready for grand opening!

Our Roll-In Metal Cutting Band Saw

George CarlsonNews, Tools

Roll-In Metal Band Saw

Our Roll-In Metal Cutting Band Saw

We just finished refurbishing the Roll-In Metal Cutting Band Saw. This saw was donated to The MakerBarn. It was in pretty rough shape because it had been sitting in a storage warehouse for many years.

The machine was stripped down to nuts and bolts. Bearings were replaced. Paint was stripped and repainted. A few parts had to be fabricated, and the rubber tires were replaced. The vise needed quite a bit of machine work, but it too came out fine. The motor was rebuilt, and new electrics installed. The machine even has MakerBarn’s MACS system installed for safety. It’s all ready for some metal cutting action!

SawStop 3HP Industrial Series Saw

George CarlsonNews, Tools


SawStop 3HP Industrial Series

We picked up the SawStop table saw today. This will be the jewel of our woodworking shop. It is a SawStop 3HP Industrial Series saw with a 52″ fence. This is SawStop’s top-of-the-line machine, and we were fortunate, with the help of Madera Works of Texas, to become its new owners.

It’s a big saw, almost 8′ wide. The photo shows it just after we unloaded it. There are support legs for the extension table which are not yet installed.

This saw should serve us for many years to come.