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The Cubiio: A Portable Laser Engraver!

This is so cool.

Shop tools come in two varieties: Bring the work to the tool (i.e. table saw, bandsaw) or bring the tool to the work (circular saw, jigsaw). A laser engraver has always been in the first category, but now a Taiwan-based startup called Muherz has created one that falls into the second category.

Behold the Cubiio, a portable laser engraver:

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Due to power limitations the Cubiio can only engrave on wood, paperboard, cardboard, fabric, felt, leather (and pancakes, I guess), but not metal, glass, concrete, stone or ceramics. Plastics are iffy, with transparent materials "not recommended."

As for how you calibrate it, the developers say it first fires a weak laser beam that visually outlines the engraving area, allowing you to confirm it's correct before you do any actual burning. It appears you must have your material 150mm to 160mm away from the lens. And the operation is driven by smartphone app.

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The Cubiio Kickstarter campaign has been wildly successful, with $212,980 pledged on a $25,000 goal at press time, with 34 days left to pledge. Early-birds are going for $299, with the device expected to retail for $449.


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Tools & Craft #60: Do You Really Need an Adjustable Mouth on a Handplane?
For the past couple of decades, the adjustable mouth has always been on the laundry list of features a plane should have. For example, in an article in Fine Woodworking #171 by Chris Gochnour on shoulder planes, one big complaint he had about the Clifton shoulder planes is that they do not have an adjustable mouth. What he doesn't explain is why it matters.The real question is not if a plane has or doesn't have an adjustable mouth but what, if any, advantage are they to the user? I'm not arguing against a fine mouth on a plane, but rather why we should care if a plane has or doesn't have an adjustable mouth, as long as the mouth it has is fairly fine. I would suggest that the only real reason for an adjustable mouth on any plane, bench, shoulder, specialty or otherwise is the ease of manufacture. Traditionally made wooden planes do not have adjustable mouths. You will occasionally come across a well used plane where a later user has repaired the mouth of the plane and inserted a piece of wood to tighten up the mouth. But the planes weren't sold that way. Norris and other firms also made iron front plates which could be retrofitted to a wooden plane for the same purpose. But these were repairs, and once the retrofit was done to an old plane, the mouth was fixed again to a specific width. English style steel planes by Norris, Spiers, and other makers never had adjustable mouths. Planemakers would fit planes for a fairly thin mouth, and that was that. You could "Adjust the mouth" by swapping in a thinner or thicker blade, but that required getting a new blade. There is user literature (I forget where) that suggests using a shim behind the blade near the sole to tighten the mouth of a plane or a shim behind the blade far way from the sole as possible to tilt the blade up and widen the mouth. Of course on a bevel up shoulder or mitre plane, a thicker iron doesn't effect the mouth opening. In the wooden plane world quality smooth planes came with very, very fine mouths and in use as the sole and blade wore you could either replace the blade or more likely start using the plane for less critical work and get a new plane for the very fine work. A well fitted cap iron also makes the mouth size less critical for all but the most difficult of situations but that is another story. For the sake of argument, let's suggest you want to make a plane with a .004" mouth (which is really fine). From a hand work perspective, it takes skill but not much else. The plane maker just makes the plane with an overly tight mouth and then skillfully widens it to whatever dimension is called for. Or you can size an iron to whatever thickness you want to. This method is reliable but also requires skilled labor. The biggest problem is that between normal variations of blade thickness and body manufacturing tolerances, making a mass production tool with a consistently fine mouth is near impossible, and in the 19th century, impossible. The steel plane makers such as Norris and Spiers (and modern makers) solved the problem by custom fitting each iron to each blade and then stamping assembly numbers on everything so that once fitted, it was easy to keep blade and body together during manufacture.Shoulder planes by Norris, Spiers and others were made with very tight, non-adjustable mouths. The adjustable iron shoulder planes that Preston invented at the turn of the 20th century, that Record later bought out, and Clifton copied, didn't have adjustable mouths. Later versions of the same planes by Record and Lie-Nielsen did. On fixed mouthed shoulder planes of all kinds you will occasionally see planes with widened mouths but the finer the mouth of the plane the easier it is to control as it enters and exits the sides of a joint.Part of the brilliance of Leonard Bailey's bench plane design was that it was made of easily reproduced cast iron parts that each only needed a little machining in a couple of places. The frog, where the blade rested on was just bolted onto the sole of the plane and it was adjustabl[...]



Reader Submitted: Liberate Your Smartphone from the Hassle of Headphone Wires with AirLink

AirLink by NeorbLab is a Bluetooth jack adapter that wirelessly connects headphones to smartphones. Thanks to its built-in Bluetooth module, AirLink adds Bluetooth capability to any stereo device.

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View the full project here(image)



How to Hand Drill Holes in Stone and Concrete
A star drill is a specialized chisel used to make holes in stone, concrete, and masonry.  Drilling holes with this tool involves hitting it with a hand-held sledge, slightly rotating it, and then hitting it again. Do this enough times, and you will eventually create a hole.How to use a star drill. It's hard to find a photo of one of these things, much less a video.You can still buy star drills but few people today would consider using one, not when electric rotary hammers are available for drilling concrete and masonry. A rotary hammer uses a motor and gears to replicate the hit/turn/hit/turn action of a star drill. Only it does it faster and with less reliance on muscle.  The pneumatic rock drills used for mining do more or less the same.Star drill tips.Interestingly, rotary hammer bits frequently have the same cross shaped tips as the star drill—but made from carbide instead of hardened steel.In between the invention of the star drill and that of the modern rotary hammer were some interesting manual solutions. The person who devised the hand-powered machine in the video below had a sense of humor or was extremely literal in his thinking—along the lines of "if drilling holes by hand requires a hammer then doing it with a machine must require them too". width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UH_6QcW3d2Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">A manual rock drill designed by a literal minded inventor. In spite of being manually operated, the machine in the video below has more in common with the modern rock drill or rotary hammer. Where it differs, aside from being human powered, is the way the blow is directly transferred to the back of the bit. In today's rotary hammers the drive piston never actually touches the back of the bit holder. Instead, the drive piston drives a second piston (flying piston) forward on a cushion of air and it hits the back of the bit holder. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IWqxZM2nHTg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">A manually operated rock drill.The gif below was pulled from an animation of an older DeWalt electric rotary hammer. Mechanisms vary from tool to tool but what it shows is illustrative of what happens in nearly every modern machine. The drive piston is separated from the flying piston by a cushion of air, which prevents the motor from being damaged by isolating it from vibration that would be transmitted back from the bit. src="//gifs.com/embed/vts-23-1-sds-plus-sds-max-vob-98l9Vz" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="640px" height="360px" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);">GIF of the hammering mechanism of an older DeWalt Rotary Hammer. Note the space between the drive piston on the right and the flying piston in the middle. The drive piston never touches the flying piston while the flying piston drives the bit forward by mechanically striking the back of the tool holder.[...]



You Have Less Than 3 Days Left to Get a Discounted Lifetime Membership to Public Goods

Public Goods is the tiny company hoping to make a huge impact on our personal finances. Entrepreneur Morgan Hirsh's mission is to manufacture common household consumables—shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, cleaning products, et cetera—and sell them directly to the consumer at cost. By eliminating middlemen and retailers they can sell, for instance, a $12 bottle of shampoo for $3.25. (The company profits not on the products themselves, but on membership fees--$12/month, or $96/annually.)

The company also claims their products are as natural as possible:

Savings aside, what matters most are the quality of our products. We began with obsessive formulations, vetted by the most discerning people we know. It took us over a year. We visited over 100 skincare labs. We consulted with experts. Hired the most reputable chemists. And we think you will really like the result: healthy products, naturally scented, cleanly designed and packaged.

Public Goods is currently running a wildly successful Kickstarter that's garnered $552,481 pledged on a $20,000 goal. And it's no wonder why: They're offering lifetime memberships for just $69 (or $79 if the 124 slots left at press time run out).

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The campaign ends this Friday, August 18th at 8pm EST. After it wraps lifetime memberships will no longer be available, and you'll have to go either monthly or annually if you want to sign up.

Here's the price list for the items they're planning to launch with, which you'll be able to order a la carte "as soon as 15 days after this Kickstarter campaign is over:"

Shampoo 8oz $3.25
Shampoo 12oz $3.75
Conditioner 8oz $3
Conditioner 12oz $3.5
Moisturizer $3
Bar Soap $2.75
Liquid Soap 8oz $3.5
Liquid Soap 12oz $4
Deodorant $3.5
Razor Handle $11
Razor Blades (x4) $3
Toothpaste $4.5
Toothbrush $3.5
Shaving Cream $3.25
Lip Balm $1.25
Sunscreen $3
Toilet Paper $7.75 (6 thick 2-ply rolls)

You'll need to do a little math to determine whether or not it's worth it for you. I went over my Amazon orders for the past year and here's what I found:

- I'm paying $0.44/roll of toilet paper on Amazon vs. Public Goods' price of $1.29/roll
- I'm paying $3 per tube of Colgate toothpaste vs. Public Goods' $4.50
- I'm paying $0.60/bar for Dial soap vs. Public Goods' $2.75
- Public Goods' shampoo, however, is less than half of what I'm paying now
- PG's razors are nearly 50% cheaper as well.

So, whether or not you'll see a savings by going with Public Goods all depends on how much you order each year. Happy calculating!


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Design Job: Your Career is Coming Full Circle: Design Infini is Seeking a Junior Automotive Wheel Designer
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Assist the President and Director of Design in creating unique and innovative automotive wheel concepts that align with the company’s brand. Confer with clients to ascertain their needs, establish design specifications, and present to President and Director of Design. Prepare sketches and other illustrations of new automotive wheel concepts and submit to President and Director of Design for approval. Research materials and manufacturing requirements to assist President and Director of Design in ascertaining cost estimates and production limitations.

View the full design job here(image)



Currently Crowdfunding: Our Favorite Kickstarter Projects of the Week

A roundup of our favorite Kickstarter projects currently crowdfunding for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

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Rollbe is a compact circular measuring tool that allows you to measure in straight lines and on curved surfaces simply by rolling the device from point to point. One reddit user brings up a valid argument about the price and the measuring device's DIY potential. Would you rather pay $20 or make this yourself?

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Feastfrom is a simple but effective line of cooking utensils designed with campers in mind. While the full collection features two sizes of spatulas and a set of tongs, we're most interested in tongs' clever nesting design—great for camping and tiny living spaces.

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Honestly this VR outfit just looks fun as hell.

*****

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Prince Posthumously Gets His Own Pantone Color

Yesterday Pantone announced they've collaborated with Prince's estate to give the late artist his own official color. Unsurprisingly, it's a shade of purple.

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It's called "Love Symbol #2," in reference to the symbol Prince temporarily went by in the '90s following a contract dispute. Writes Pantone,

The (naturally) purple hue, represented by his "Love Symbol #2" was inspired by his custom-made Yamaha purple piano, which was originally scheduled to go on tour with the performer before his untimely passing at the age of 57. The color pays tribute to Prince's indelible mark on music, art, fashion and culture.
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Prince had commissioned the piano in preparation for the aforementioned tour. On Prince's Twitter account, which is still up, you can see his excitement at receiving it:

BOOM (FROM LOTUSFLOWER) ON THIS NEWLY ARRIVED PURPLE PRESENT FROM YAMAHA.... "RESOUNDING!" pic.twitter.com/cXwRPi1wzG

— Prince (@prince) April 12, 2016 ">

R.I.P. Prince.


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Secretly Snap Your Selfies (and More) with this Necklace-Turned-Spy-Camera
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There are enough quirky "found thing" necklaces out there for this one to pass as nothing more than a piece of jewelry ironically moonlighting as a camera—which is exactly what Brooklyn-based designer Olivia Barr wants you to think. In reality, it's a real-live piece of tech that's perfect for the hipster Harriet the Spy in all of us.

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Reader Submitted: MESA: A Portable Task Light that Won't Blind You

MESA is a portable light that operates on the simple principle that light should shine where you're looking and not in your eyes. MESA's revolutionary form factor provides directed light without glare so you can see indoors and out. MESA is tall enough to work under and short enough to see over, making it ideal for almost any situation.

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View the full project here(image)



The Sewbot, a Fully Automated Sewing Machine, is Cool. It's Also Bad News for Garment Workers
This is one of those things that's technologically impressive and socially terrifying.CNC technology has spread into most areas of manufacture. One large component with CNC operations is "hold-down," or affixing the material firmly in place so that the business end of the tool can work it precisely. Hold-down has been solved with rigid materials, but flexible things like fabric provide a problem. Fabric puckers and shifts as it's being manipulated. This is why there's still a demand for human seamsters/seamstresses around the world. The human eye, coupled with trained hands, can make the constant microadjustments necessary to feed fabric through a sewing machine.But now even the job of seamstress is on the verge of being erased. An Atlanta-based company called SoftWear Automation has harnessed machine vision and robotics to create the Sewbot, a fully-automated garment-producing machine: width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BA96-WX-oXc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">That video above was shot nearly two years ago. SoftWear Automation now says the Sewbots are ready for prime time, and last month they signed an agreement with a Chinese company, Tianyuan Garments, to set up a fully-automated T-shirt production line based in Little Rock, Arkansas. According to China Daily,"From fabric cutting and sewing to finished product, it takes roughly four minutes," said Tang Xinhong, chairman of Tianyuan Garments. "We will install 21 production lines. When fully operational, the system will make one T-shirt every 22 seconds. We will produce 800,000 T-shirts a day for Adidas." Tang said that with complete automation, the personnel cost for each T-shirt is roughly 33 cents. "Around the world, even the cheapest labor market can't compete with us. I am really excited about this," he said. Those who are pro-American-manufacturing might also be excited: American technology turning the tables, and stealing Chinese jobs? Well, yes and no. Tianyuan's Little Rock factory will create just 400 jobs "in time." I'd wager it takes more than 400 conventional seamsters/seamstresses to manufacture 800,000 T-shirts per day. Viewed from an America-vs.-China perspective, yes, American technology is siphoning away Chinese jobs and creating several hundred American ones. But from a global perspective it is of course a net loss of jobs. The larger picture is that technology is now supplanting workers around the world who are trained in performing a task that was previously impossible for a machine to accomplish. In many regions, a person with little education but good manual skills could earn wages, however paltry, by filling demand at a garment factory. That opportunity will evaporate.As Sewbots proliferate, SoftWear Automation and companies like Tianyuan Garments will undoubtedly profit. What will happen, we wonder, to the would-be seamsters/seamstresses?Further reading:"Sewbots prepare to take millions of jobs off humans in clothes manufacturing sector," Robotics & Automation News[...]



After "Game of Thrones" Capes Revealed to Be Ikea Rugs, Ikea Releases How-To Instructions

Here's a 10-second clip of "Game of Thrones" costume designer Michele Clapton revealing where the capes of the Night's Watch come from:

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Apparently folks were titillated that Ikea rugs were the source material.

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So too was someone at Ikea, who then had whomever's in charge of producing Ikea's assembly directions create one for the cape:

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Yanks are out of luck; the Skold sheepskin rug pictured above isn't available in the 'States. (The image is from Ikea's Australian website.)

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The Ripple Rug: Carpet + Velcro = Successful Product Design for Cats

To non-pet-owners this may seem like a silly application, but this is actually a very clever use of materials. It's got the simplicity of a student design project but the business brilliance of a shrewd marketer. The Ripple Rug is simply two pieces of carpet, one filled with random holes and with a baker's dozen of small Velcro strips. Here's what that yields:

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The company says the carpet is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and can be washed with regular soap and water. At $40 a pop it seems a bit pricey vs. the BOM, but I suppose if your feline scratches this up rather than your couch then it's money well spent.


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Makita LS1019L Miter Saw
Makita recently announced the LS1019L, a new 10-inch sliding compound miter saw with cutting capacity similar to that of many 12-inch models. Among its more notable features are a dual inlet dust collection system, a bevel lock that can be accessed from the front, and a slide mechanism that allows the saw to be used against the wall.On most sliding miter saws, the motor is attached to rails that slide back and forth through linear bearings. This configuration prevents you from working with the machine against the wall because the rails stick out the back when the motor is pushed in.Makita's new saw can be used against the wall because because the motor slides back and forth on fixed rails. The only other slide miter saw with this feature is the Festool Kapex. As with the Kapex, a knob at the front of one of the slides allows users to change bevel settings without having to reach around back.In order to collect more of the cutting dust, the saw has two inlets instead of the usual one. The upper inlet is in the usual place, attached to the motor housing behind the blade guard. The lower inlet is at table level directly behind the slot through the fence.A dust collecting vacuum can be connected to a port at the rear of the lower inlet, which connects by hose to the upper inlet. When working without a vacuum it's possible to replace the upper inlet hose with a fabric collection bag. Additional features include a laser cut indicator, table extensions, and an upper fence that removes for bevel cuts. The saw has a direct drive motor (geared all the way), so there's better power transfer and no possibility a drive belt will break. As the exploded parts diagram shows, there is a belt but it's for bevel lock. The lock knob turns a shaft inside the upper rail, which uses a belt and pulleys to turn the bevel lock mechanism below.How the bevel lock mechanism works.As for what the new Makita saw can do, it will cut 12" material at 90° and 8 1/2" material at 45° on the flat, 6 5/8" crown nested, and 5 1/4" material vertically against the fence. The saw miters 0-60° left and right and bevels 0-48° in both directions.The fixed rails and sliding motor are a throwback to the radial arm saw, which until the late 1980s was the machine of choice for wide crosscutting. It fell out of favor after the introduction of the sliding compound miter saw (SCMS), which was smaller, lighter, and safer to use. The SCMS could cut wide material—not as wide as could be cut with a radial arm saw but wide enough for the tasks performed at many shops and construction sites.I don't know why the first SCMS (an 8 1/2" Hitachi) had a fixed motor and sliding rails instead of fixed rails and a sliding motor. Whatever the reason, this configuration was used in every SCMS built for the next 20+ years. It was not until the introduction of the Festool Kapex and now the Makita LS1019L that we had sliding saws that could be used against the wall. It's a small thing, but it makes a difference when you work in tight quarters.[...]