The trivet that I failed on numerous times

Okay, so for my fourth pay it forward gift, I made a trivet for Lynne who, like me, went to Carnegie Mellon. This trivet contains the thistle symbol for CMU.

I failed at this build many, many times. First, I thought I would cut some blue and green ceramic tile and inlay that into a piece of wood. Needless to say, I couldn’t cut all the tiny pieces and make it look anything remotely like the thistle. Then I thought I’d use fireglass and make an image out of that. Yeah, that failed miserably, too. Then I decided to switch to wood and use a technique I had employed previously to make a rose for my wife.

So, step one. Obtain…….drumroll please……important Turkish oak chips. Yep, that’s right. This project is made with oak chips imported from Turkey. I won’t go into how I got them, but let’s just say it involved a transportation company delivering them before I had the import permit….which is kind of against the law. Then, after the chips were legally cleared to enter the US, they disappeared for a week. Continue reading “The trivet that I failed on numerous times”

The Tilted Square

The tilted square. If you know what that is, you’re a Carnegie Mellon student/grad/staff/professor from some years back. CMU’s logo used to be that beloved square, tilted at 14 degrees.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find anymore. The university has pretty much purged it out of existence, and it’s not considered “correct” to use it anymore in university communications, documents, etc. Not even a throw back t-shirt to give us alumnae/alumni some love.

Below is the great tilted square logo. I’m posting this under the fair use clause of US copyright law, mainly for historical and criticism purposes. Note that CMU probably still owns the copyright to this image, so don’t go off using it for anything other than fair use (i.e., commercial purposes, etc.)

Many people consider it a very poor design for any number of reasons: the tilt itself, location of text relative to the basic shape, the fact that the text “cuts” across the square in a very unnatural way. Me? I like it, but maybe that’s because I think it represents what’s great about Carnegie Mellon: we’re a little bit different.

cmu tilted logo

Raise Your Glass…..or Wooden Drinking Implement

Another pay-it-forward build update.

So, for my friend Kathleen, I decided to make a wooden beer/soda/water mug. It’s made from flat pieces of wood cut at an angle to make an almost circular polygon. To do this, I first had to build a jig…..


This jig serves a very important purpose. It lets me reliably and repeatedly cut pieces with a 15 degree bevel. While I can tilt my saw blade for the same effect, it’s difficult to safely and accurately make these cuts. This jig takes care of that for me. I drew it up on the computer and laser cut the pieces for it. Continue reading “Raise Your Glass…..or Wooden Drinking Implement”

Everything is awesome!

Ok, so here’s the next build for my pay it forward gifts. My excellent friend Shawn, whom I’ve known since college, recently started putting together some old Lego kits. He even went so far as to restore the clear Lego pieces which apparently age due to a fire retardant. I’m sure said retardant also probably causes all types of horrible health problems like making appendages you want to keep fall off. Anywhooooo…….

I decided that Shawn needed some candle holders. But not just any candle holders. LEGO HEAD CANDLE HOLDERS!!!!! Continue reading “Everything is awesome!”

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall…..

So once again this year, I’m doing that Facebook pay it forward routine. The idea is to do something nice for 5 people who must pay it forward by also doing something nice for 5 others. If you look at one of my previous posts, you can see what I made last year.

Rather than wait until all five gifts are created, I’ve decided to post about them as I make them. This is mainly due to the fact that gifts this year will be much more involved and take longer. Continue reading “Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall…..”

Gifts Galore

Gifts for my friends
Gifts for my friends

So a while back, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a “pay it forward” type of challenge. The idea was that for the first five people who agreed to do the same, you were supposed to do something nice. They would post the same challenge on their pages, and so on and so forth. Well, I decided to do this on a whim. But instead of just doing something nice, I decided to make gifts for people. I told them that all five gifts would be made by me.

Of course, this is me we’re talking about. Even a couple of friends noted that the language of the post was odd and not like me. This is true given that I just copied the text of the challenge, but they still felt it was out of character. Therefore, to stay in character, I decided to make the gifts unique. Here now, are the five gifts I made for my friends.

Recipient: James
Gift: Custom made drink coasters with the BSA logo
Materials: Acrylic and cork sheet
Tools used: CorelDraw/Inkscape, laser cutter, and spray adhesive

James was the one who started this whole thing with the challenge. Since he works for the BSA, I decided to make him some coasters. I’ve done this before for other friends, so it was an easy job to just modify the files and engrave and cut them. Then it was just a matter of gluing the top cork to the bottom acrylic. James probably has a ton of stuff with the BSA logo, but I figured he could use some nifty coasters at work and home.

Recipient: Mark
Gift: Wooden nameplate
Materials: Pine wood, stain, polyurethane coating, velcro tape
Tools used: Bandsaw

Mark is my most excellent coworker and sits in a cubicle that’s next to mine. He’s always good for a joke or random stream of consciousness discussion at work. They’re probably going to separate us at work when we move to a new building.

I made Mark’s gift using a technique that I saw Jimmy Diresta do. He prints out some text, cuts it on a bandsaw and then makes a sign out of it. Very cool. Mr. Diresta is a phenomenal guy; I wish I could make stuff like him. Here’s the video that I emulated when making my gift.

Recipient: MK (well, her kids)
Gift: Door signs
Materials: Acrylic
Tools used: CorelDraw/Inkscape, laser cutter

For MK’s kids, I made some door labels. These are based on the same ones that I made for my boys some time ago. I asked her their favorite colors, and then obtained acrylic sheet in those colors (or something as close as possible). The small signs fit in by friction/snug fit.

Recipient: Adam
Gift: Light up KISS statues
Materials: KISS models, NeoPixel LEDs, Arduino, wood, wires, solder, etc.
Tools used: Glue, model pieces, Arduino IDE, soldering iron, table saw

I’m not really going to explain this one. Just watch the video. Adam also gets 4 posters that came with the models. Why did I make this? Because when 4 KISS models go on sale, they just beg to be made all flashy shiny blinky.

Recipient: Heidi
Gift: Custom made box with a surprise inside
Materials: Pine wood, polyurethane, cabinet hardware
Tools used: Planer, joiner, miter saw, laser cutter, AutoDesk Inventor, CorelDraw/Inkscape, paintbrush

This is the gift that I am most proud of. It started out as a simple concept but morphed into more and more as I went along. I obtained some pine boards and planed them down to 1/2″. I was originally going to make box joints, but I don’t have a dado set for my table saw, and getting one was going to take time. So I planed them down to 1/4″ and did it on the laser cutter. The designs on the front and side are my own creation with a little help from, ahem, borrowed clip art. Unfortunately, taking it down to 1/4″ meant I couldn’t use the wood screws for the hinges and latch, so I used some 10-24 bolts I had laying around. It gives it a nice industrial finish.

The inside contains some medicinal items based on her husband’s suggestion. If you can’t read the script, it’s a tonic for mothers of teenage daughters. It cures ills, aches, pains, frustrations, and such from having a teenage daughter. Directions say to apply liberally to glass as needed.

We Are Makers

We are makers.

We make mistakes.
We make progress.
We make enemies.
We make friends.
We make time.
We make money.
We make assumptions.
We make apologies.
We make fools of ourselves.
We make up.
We make movies.
We make up stories.
We make excuses.
We make amends.
We make wine.
We make beer.
We make breakfast.
We make lunch.
We make dinner.
We make clothes.
We make guesses.
We make decisions.
We make it worth while.
We make out.
We make babies.
We make love.
We make war.
We make peace.

We make.

I’m a Loyal Scot…..So Now What?

If you’re an alumnus/a of Carnegie Mellon or a student/administrator/faculty, you’ve probably heard of the Loyal Scot program. It’s a program designed to increase alumni participation and outreach. To become a Loyal Scot, you must:

  1. Update your contact information to stay informed
  2. Get involved (volunteer, attend events, etc.)
  3. Give back, i.e. donate some money
  4. Show your pride by wearing the CMU logo, liking CMU on Facebook, etc.

Once you’ve done all this, you’re a Loyal Scot. And what does that get you?
Continue reading “I’m a Loyal Scot…..So Now What?”

You will be DELETED!

Here’s a costume I built for my son for Halloween. It’s made of EVA foam. I used Pepakura and the videos from the awesome TheHeroTutorials videos on YouTube put up by user Stealth from the RPF forums. The design files came from user unheard on Many, many, many thanks to these two individuals for their videos and design work.

Here’s a video of the voice-to-led function that lights up the mouth piece when he talks.

And here are some pictures: