Sunday, February 23, 2020

Using a Cricut Maker as a Poor Man's "Laser Cutter"

Cricut Maker

For the last couple of years, my spouse and I usually buy a large gift to each other for Christmas. 

Usually, these gifts entail some sort of high tech toy like a large screen TV.  The idea was that we would pool the gift budget and buy a really nice gift - of course, it had to be something we would both like (so alas, that 3-D printer that I always wanted will need to wait).

When Christmas came around again this past year, the usual question came up - what did we want to buy each other this year?  Earlier that year my wife had started to get into card making and had been busily stocking her own workspace with all the various tools and supplies that she needed for this new adventure. 

During a tool shopping expedition, she came across a new machine that was just launched by Cricut called the Maker. My wife has had some experience with Cricut in the past, but the machines that she had used were only made to only cut card stock or paper. Additionally, the old Cricuts used proprietary cartridges that cut out pre-programmed shapes and did not give you the option of creating your own designs. 

The Cricut Maker was a vast departure from the old Cricut's. The Maker connected to your computer or smartphone and ran off of a web-based interface. Gone were the stock shapes and letters and in their place was an online community where you could download pre-built projects or you could create your own designs using a tool that was very familiar to the Easel tool that I use for my CNC router. 

The Maker also came with a variety of cutting, engraving and marker heads that allowed one to be able to cut into everything from paper all the way up to 1/32 inch plywood. 

When my wife mentioned that she would like this magical tool to me, I was immediately on board. 

And so, Christmas morning brought a new toy under the tree for me to try out - albeit I did need to share it ☺

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Building a Simple Recliner Platform

Sturdy yet attractive

I'm probably within that demographic that could be referred to as the "sandwich" generation where I have young adult children that we are helping to get started in the world, but at the same time, I also have parents that are starting to get a bit older.

While my parents are still active and very capable in doing their own thing, they are also starting to find doing certain things are not as easy as they once were (to be honest, I am getting the same way - after redoing a floor in my house a few months ago, my knees were not very happy with me for a few weeks).

Recently my father mentioned that he was having a pretty tough time getting out of his favorite reclining chair. After some discussion, we figured that if the chair was maybe a couple of inches higher he could get up much more easily.

Now there are chairs out there that have lifting mechanisms that help you get out of the chair, but why spend over a thousand dollars on that sort of thing when there's a perfectly good chair sitting in the living room?

After some discussion, we figured that some sort of platform for the chair to sit on would fit the bill. So, before I left the workshop for the day, we decided that my father would get the measurements for the base of the chair and I would get going with the construction when I returned.

Upon my return the next day, I did get the measurements but was also informed by my parents that they had gone ahead and built their own platform.

My family comes from traditional farming stock where the main focus is function. Aesthetics is very low on the priority list.  When I inspected their handy work, it was indeed a very sturdy and highly functional platform, but from a design point of view, I suppose you could charitably define it as  "rustic".

I had to be a bit careful in how I critiqued their handiwork, but eventually, they liked the suggestion that I could try and clean up their creation a little.

So I grabbed their platform and headed back to the shop

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Online Store is Open - Come Inside!

Today I want to try something a bit new - another experiment if you will. 

As I mentioned back then, while I pretty much do this because I get a great deal of enjoyment doing what I'm doing, I really want feedback on the output of my shop - the way I see it, you can't really learn and grow without constructive feedback. 

For the time being, I was literally getting that feedback from my front lawn where I had put a selection of wares for sale. I have found this approach to be very helpful for me since I got to hear a first-hand assessment of my creations and from there I get the opportunity to make small improvements and great ideas for new projects. 

The downside with this sort of arrangement is that it is very seasonal - there just isn't the market for garden ornaments when the snow is a foot deep outside. 

I'm not really keen on the idea of building things and having to wait half the year to get that much-needed feedback. So with that, I've decided to make the leap from the front lawn to the virtual world. 

So on that note, I would like to announce the launch of my new Etsy Store - Cedar Patch Crafts. 

I do need to address the name of the store. 

While I could have simply gone with something around the Small Workshop theme, the store will not only be a place for me to sell my goodies but other members of my family may also get into the act by selling their own creations. So the shop will not be just for me. 

Cedar Patch is a nod to the new shop location that I moved to this past summer - a farm that has a fairly sizable patch of cedar trees situated on it.

The focus of the shop will be small wood focused items drawing heavily on the supply of pallets that I've accumulated. The products on sale will have construction articles on this site - so you will have a behind the scenes look at how the things in the shop are made.

Also starting today, there will be a link at the top of the homepage of this site that will give you a direct link to the items on sale. 

So - to borrow a wee bit from that Dolly Parton song - The Online Store is Open - Come Inside!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Keurig Coffee Maker Autopsy

Autopsy of a deceased Keurig machine

After about 10 years of faithful service, my Keurig coffee maker finally expired from old age.  

Normally this would be a period of great sorrow since that meant that I was no longer able to get the life-sustaining elixir that I disparately needed.  

The dearly departed

Thankfully machine died just in time for Christmas and I welcomed a new addition to the family just in time since I was just on the cusp of experiencing caffeine withdrawal.

With my new machine now performing its life-saving duties, the question became what to do with my old Keurig? 

If you have been a fairly regular reader, you should be aware that I always like to salvage things that would otherwise end up as e-waste,  So I wanted to see what I could do to have my old Keurig live on in a future project.