Popular Pastime Reintroduced by ShopBot Tools at the Maker Faire Bay Area

The 13th Annual Maker Faire Bay Area, which took place May 18th-20th, once again did not disappoint. The weather was beautiful and there was an estimated attendance of 90,000! Packed with hands-on and how-to sessions, makers young and old were inspired and excited. New programming was added this year: Thursday After Dark at the Exploratorium; Industry, Career, & College Day on Friday (See: The World Needs more Makers article on PCMag.com); and there was the addition of the Learning Lab in Fiesta Hall.

The ShopBot booth was converted into a pop-up factory; creating a start-to-finish production line using the ShopBot Desktop MAX, Handibot® Large Sheet Tool and Handibot Smart Power Tool – Adventure Edition tools to make yo-yos. Yes, yo-yos!! We painted and pre-cut baltic birch 1/2” plywood into sheets to fit on the Desktop MAX. Then, we handled the cutting, drilling, and carving as a batch process for the insides of the yo-yo pieces. Engraving and edge round overs on the painted side of the yo-yo pieces (the fronts) were then processed on one of the two Handibots. After the machining operations were complete, we lightly sanded the pieces, then completed assembly using a dowel pin and string to then pop the sides together and…voila! Using our booth as a live production and assembly shop was a demonstration of how many products can be designed, then manufactured, using CNC (digital fabrication) in a systematic, consistent, and highly efficient manner.

Close to 1,000 yo-yo’s were distributed to attendees at Maker Faire over the 3 day event!

We were thrilled with the abundance of social media posts generated at Maker Faire. Posts were shared by makers with the yo-yos created at the show and pics of themselves with our giant 44” foam yo-yo (cut on a 4×8 PRSalpha tool and assembled pre-show) with the hopes of being selected as the drawing winner for the Handibot Smart Power Tool giveaway. We selected at random from all the social media posts shared publicly and tagged with #goShopBot, #goHandibot, @ShopBotTools, and @HandibotTool. And the winner is… Heather Taylor Price! Heather is a maker and works at a library makerspace at a high school in Utah – she has been considering adding CNC to the makerspace for quite some time and now has the opportunity to do so. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with for the students to tackle! You can follow Heather on Twitter: @skyridgelibrary and @heathertaylorprice.

Midday Saturday, our very own Bill Young participated in a panel discussion at the MAKE: LIVE stage. Experts in digital fabrication including Josef Prusa (Prusa Research s.r.o.), Dan Shapiro (Glowforge), and Bill Young (ShopBot), moderated by Matt Stultz, discussed the current state of digital fabrication and where they see it moving forward.

One of our big highlights was Saturday afternoon, at the MAKE Center Stage. Ted Hall presented: “How Digital Fabrication Promises to Make Small, Fulfilling, Local Manufacturing Competitive Again.” Ted talked about an invention his uncle had designed 30+ years ago and how, until very recently, there wasn’t an affordable way to produce this or many other inventions without excessive upfront costs and huge production numbers. Today, however, with the availability of enabling tools in the digital fabrication realm (CNC, 3D printers, laser cutters, etc.), Ted’s uncle and makers all over the world can be competitive.

Ted’s presentation was based on a series of Medium articles that he’s been writing. Learn more about these themes: leapfroging current mass-production and replacing it with methods that can make the small producer competitive again, Digital Fab Renews Small Mfg, Complexity Comes Free, Leveraging Agility & Entrepreneurial Energy.

The next opportunity to hear Ted Hall, ShopBot’s Founder & CEO, speak will be at the CNC Symposium at IWF, August 21st.

Maker Faires are popping up all over the world. While we can’t be at all of them, we encourage ShopBotters to take their Handibot, Desktop, or Desktop MAX to a Maker Faire nearby so you can show off what you design and make. You get to watch kids of all ages light up, they learn about how to make a classic toy (like what we did) or another object, and it provides an opportunity to get to know other makers in your area. Find a Maker Faire near you.

Building Boats, and a River to Float Them On

Assembling the Weekend Dinghy

Imagine being a high school student and having the opportunity to pilot a plane or a boat, learn how to design and model planes and boats, and understand the businesses behind the aviation and marine industries—all while taking core high school courses. Davis Aerospace and Maritime® High School, a unique partnership between Cleveland Metropolitan School District and PHASTAR Corp. presents that opportunity for students in Cleveland, Ohio.

In April, under a contract with TIES, I was able to spend two days at Davis to work with the teachers and digital fabrication lab managers. Our goal: to use the ShopBot CNC router (a PRSalpha) to build boats and create a model of the Cuyahoga River to float them on. Doing the research for how to make that happen was part of the fun.

 

PROJECT 1: Building Models of Boats

Danny and Nick, digital fabrication lab managers, showed me the progress that they had made translating designs on paper into models of boats. As shown in the photo, cutting out the models by hand, then taping the models together, regardless of how the plans were generated (photocopies or CAD drawings generated from paper copies), had its drawbacks.

 

First attempts at creating models from paper plans.

 

Joining Long Pieces Together
Once a CAD file of the designs had been generated in Fusion 360, Danny and Nick (with Scott acting as cheerleader) had used the ShopBot to cut out a sample in plywood. With the intention of eventually making boats bigger than either the bed of the 4’ x 8’ ShopBot or a standard sheet of material, they had created their own version of a scarf joint. It was a great idea to use the precision of the CNC to create curves to interlock and join shorter pieces into longer panels. But there’s more!

 

Scarf joint using the precision of a CNC tool.

 

Bill Young, a boat builder from Virginia who early on realized the potential of CNC woodworking, would add another dimension to the scarf joint. For his boat kits, he created scarf joints that beveled the edges of the material where two shorter pieces joined together to make a long panel.

 

Scarf joint options. Straight butt joints, or beveled edges.

 

Then, Bill realized that he had the option of 3D carving (though he didn’t call it that) the scarf joints to increase the precision of the fit, reduce the chance of breaking off the tips during shipping, and disguise the joint in the finished product. Here is a link to Bill’s blog about his creative technique for creating “wavy” stepped scarf joints.

 

Bill Young’s wavy stepped scarf joints. Joints are machined from the top down, then flipped for assembly.

 

Holding the Parts Together During Assembly
Stitch-&-glue is a technique used by many boat builders who are creating “hard chine” boats: Panels cut out of flat material are designed or lofted with “developable surfaces” so that the curves of the panels will fit together when “folded” into 3D boats.

With a CNC machine, the panels can be cut very precisely so that there are no gaps or overlaps between the edges of the panels. As the panels are being cut, a series of holes can be added so the panels can be “stitched” together with cable ties until they have been glued in place.

Once again, I looked to Bill Young for inspiration. A number of years ago, Bill had created a file to cut a 1/4 scale model of the “Weekend Dingy,” a 9’ skiff designed by Karl Stambaugh of Chesapeake Marine Design. The original skiff was built during several of the Woodenboat magazine community boatbuilding events, and Bill’s model kits and instructions were given away during the early Maker Faires. For this trip to Cleveland, Bill was able to find the original .sbp files, convert them to a .dxf, then import them into a Vectric file for us to try out at Davis.

 

VCarve Pro or Aspire CAD file generated from original .sbp code.

  • In the ShopBot Control Software, the FC command will convert a .sbp file to a .dxf file. That .dxf can then be imported into the Vectric software.
  • The .sbp file includes the compensation for the waste from the bit. To get the true size of the design, the vectors that mark where to cut out the parts have to be offset to the inside the radius of the bit used in the original .sbp file.
  • Anything that is just a plunge into the material, like a hole for the stitches, would not have to be offset.
  • Once the true size of the design is determined, the model can be scaled up or down and re-toolpathed to take into account material and bit size as needed.
  • Note the layers in the design file. Many of the layers were created from the .sbp to .dxf conversion. Some, Bill created to keep track of his work

 

At Davis, we first scaled the model even further and tested the concept with tempered hardboard, easily available from the big box stores. Using a 1/8” bit, we used the drill toolpath to create the marker and through holes for the stitching (the size of the bit determines the size of the hole), and the profile-to-the-outside toolpath for cutting out the pieces. Didn’t quite get the cut depth correct, but not bad for re-engineering a 10-year-old file.

 

First test and detail of smaller model cut out of 1/8” tempered hardboard.

 

For the ¼ scale model, we used .25” inch Luan, again from the big box store. Without the vacuum hold down table and template that Bill had used for his Maker Faire kits, we marked where it was safe to put a hold down screw in the CAD file, had the ShopBot run a file to mark those locations on the board, and screwed the board to the sacrificial table. Since adding tabs to hold the parts in place while they were being cut out might mar the clean edge of the cut, we instead added a ramp to the profile toolpath to create a temporary functional tab at the start point of the cut. Nick also provided a physical assist to keep each piece in place while the cuts completed.

 

Vacuum template used by Bill Young for original Weekend Dinghy kits given out at Maker Faire. One could create a mini vacuum table much like the one described here, lay a template like this on top, then the material. When the parts are being cut out, the toolpath cuts into the template, and the parts are held in place by the vacuum.

 

Nick is using a board as an assist to hold the parts in place as they finish cutting.

 

Parts ready for assembly.

 

Members of the after school club assembled the boat using cable ties and intuition. (So why did Bill provide instructions?)

The school now has a project that they can share with their students, and with the community at large. It was also a terrific opportunity to revisit the ShopBot website for ideas and information about boatbuilding, including the original inspiration for why Ted Hall created ShopBot Tools.

 

PROJECT 2: A River to Float Them On

Danny and Nick showed me the 3D printed and laser cut boats the kids had designed, and a hand-carved model of a big bend in the Cuyahoga River lined with a plastic table cloth and fake turf. Danny reported that it was successful at first, but the plastic table cloth was water resistant, not water proof. All too soon, the water leaked out of the model. Still, the students were able to test concepts about size of craft, displacement and maneuverability around the objects, and geography of the river.

 

First attempt of creating a model of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.

 

With the ShopBot, Davis wanted to create a bigger version of the Cuyahoga River to test larger models. Adding semi-realistic information on the depth available to float a water craft, and the height of the bridges they have to get under, would make the model more meaningful.

The first step was to locate a digital model of the river that flows through Cleveland and into Lake Erie. I tried Terrain2STL, a website that takes information from Google Maps and turns it into 3D files that can be printed with a 3D printer or 3D carved on a CNC. Cleveland is too flat for much detail, and the site wouldn’t give underwater data either. I also looked at Google Maps, USGS (US Geological Services) for topographic information, and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for a chart of the Cleveland area that would be useful for mariners piloting Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. No one source was sufficient, but combined, they gave us a lot to work with.

 

USGS map of Cleveland waterfront. Location of Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School is marked.

 

Google Maps version of Cleveland.

 

Chart of the lower Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie water front with water depths, bridge heights, and landmarks as seen from the water. Pronounce NOAA as a man’s name. Who says the government doesn’t have a sense of humor?

 

Once we got a semi-clear image of the banks of the river, we brought it into VCarvePro for tracing. With the vectors, we could select the portion of the river we were interested in, and scale it for the size of material we have available. For our first attempt with a small piece of pink insulation foam, we were ready to use a pocketing routine and a ball nose bit to scoop out a model of the river.

 

Outline of the Cuyahoga River traced in VCarve Pro. Next step is to select the area of interest, and set up for pocketing in foam.

 

Pocketing the selected area at three different depths with a ball nose bit and a large stepover using a contour path (hence the visible lines).

 

Since the model was a 2D vector and not a 3D rendering such as an .stl, with VCarve Pro, in this first attempt, we could only use 2D toolpaths that machine to one depth. However, the Vectric softwares have a toolpathing option called Fluting that will vary the depth of a single open vector from one end to another. Simulations indicated that, with a little manipulation, it would work to give us a river that was shallower upstream, and deepened as it neared the mouth.

 

Using the Fluting toolpath to vary the depth of the River

  • We created a series of open vectors inside the boundary of the river, and made sure the start point of each vector was on the upstream side (green point)
  • Choosing all of the vectors, we set the start point at 0  (top of the material) and the flute depth to 1 inch
  • Fill in the blanks, toolpath and simulate to check the results.
  • Adjust as the simulation reveals more about the results

 

The Professional Development was directed towards the faculty of the school. It was fun time when, each day, students visited the Fabrication Lab while we were working. Some even got involved in doing a quick project.

 

Danny showing the students examples of the ShopBot carving in foam.

 

Students design and machine their individual signs. It was terrific to see how well Scott knows his students, and what motivates the reluctant ones.

 

This year was the inaugural year for Davis Aerospace and Marine® High School, starting with approximately 60 students in the 9th grade class. Each year will add another class until there are 4 classes/years. Applications for next year’s class are now open. I’m sure Bill Young (and I) would be glad to visit again and keep up with the progress.

Former ShopBot COO Takes CNC to the Woodworking World

Interview from 2014 IWF in Atlanta, GA

ShopBot’s former operations manager, ‘head camp counselor,’ and the penultimate editor of American Woodworker, Randy Johnson, is out championing CNC to woodworkers across the country. As an enthusiast of traditional woodworking, Johnson caught the CNC bug and has become an inspiring proponent of digital fabrication, CNC, and how to bring it all into the woodshop. His new book with George Vondriska, CNC Router Essentials, introduces readers to the technology and craft of CNC with presentations focusing on Vectric software and highlighting ShopBot projects.

The book is organized to get new CNC users going quickly, leveraging the ease of use of VCarve Pro from Vectric, Ltd. and the best practices for introducing CNC, as developed by the ShopBot training team working with new CNC users over the last 20 years. There is a lot of good detail in the book with illustrations of dozens of projects from our shelves right here at ShopBot World Headquarters.

One of the last chapters in the book features a wooden box with a beautiful 3-D, domed lid that George, along with the WWGOA (Woodworkers Guild of America), developed as a ShopBot project. George produced a fascinating video that will step you through how the work was done and impress you with the CNC skills and strategies he has developed.

 

SPECIAL OFFERS Celebrating Randy & George’s Book Release

 

 

 

(1) For a limited promotional period, you can purchase CNC Router Essentials book from the ShopBot web store, bundled with printed instructional PDFs of the ShopBot projects from the book’s gallery, and including a jump drive with all the files you need to produce these projects. The jump drive includes four other quick start projects from Randy.

 

 

 

ShopBot Bit Kit (All 1/4″ Shank), 7 Onsrud Cutters: 1/2″ 90° V Bit (13732) 1/8″ Upcut Ball Nose (13727) 1/4″ Upcut Super “O” (13729) 1/4″ Downcut (13507) 1/16″ Tapered Ball Nose (13731) 1/2″ Two Flute Straight V Flute (13733) 1/8″ Straight “O” Flute (13728)

 

 

 

(2) For a limited promotional period, we will offer a 10% discount on our 7-Piece Bit Kit when purchased in the online store, noted in the book as an excellent way to make sure you have appropriate CNC cutters for your first woodworking work with CNC. (USE Discount Offer #CNCESSEN on our web store at checkout. You don’t need to be a ShopBotter to benefit from this one. Valid through 9.11.2018)

 

 

 

 

 

ShopBot’s Basic Training classes cover CNC basics with hands-on learning in a fun interactive environment.

 

 

 

(3) And, while reading about it is great, it’s hard to beat a hands-on, work-with-the-tool approach to getting started in CNC. For a limited period, we’ll be providing Randy and George’s book to participants in our highly-regarded Basic CNC Training course (two days at ShopBot here in Durham). You’ll actually do real projects – just like those in the book – with plenty of help at hand to make it easy to work through any questions you may have.  

 

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Here are some projects you can download from our website that are featured in the CNC Router Essentials book along with other fun CNC projects.

And, you may also be interested in …

Wood Choppin’ Time: Randy Johnson from ShopBot visits the guys at the Wood Choppin’ Time shop to a quick demo of how a CNC machine works.

Andrew Pitts, Furniture Maker


Core77 ShopBot Series


INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK’S AUTHORS:

George operates Vondriska Woodworks in Minneapolis where he has a ShopBot Desktop MAX (and several other CNC tool brands); www.vondriskawoodworks.com

Randy has recently taught Intro to CNC classes for woodworkers on ShopBot tools at both the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

ShopBot Offers Free Training for Imported CNC Routers

Images from a recent webinar on flattening and carving a log slab.

ShopBot Tools is opening its highly-regarded webinar training to owners and operators of imported CNC routers. Whether you bought an imported tool on eBay, or purchased from a US importer of Chinese tools such as Laguna, ShopBot invites you to join us for our online webinar trainings.

We’ve come to recognize that some importers (and even some US manufacturers) feel that once they’ve shown you how to start and run your CNC tool, their responsibility ends. We know that several dealers even boast of a short, “free” training session for their tools.

But as anyone familiar with CNC tools and digital production will tell you, taking a file to a CNC and starting it up is not the toughest part of CNC. Rather, it’s the conceptualizing and executing efficient CAD/CAM projects, and integrating digital fabrication into the production process, that can be a challenge to any shop. There are just a lot of interesting components of CNC to learn about – from design concepts to machining issues to material-holding. You’ll want to be able to develop an efficient workflow that fits your style. Everyone can benefit from access to key production information and resources. ShopBot would like to help … particularly shops that are just getting started with CNC. We can help new users avoid a lot of frustration. We recognize that the value of CNC is often less related to how much it weighs or what you paid for it, than whether you can put it efficiently to work in your facility. We’ve trained a lot of people to operate CNC routers over the last 20 years – we have a pretty good idea how to do it.

ShopBot is positioned to help because we design, develop, and manufacture CNC routers ourselves, right here in North Carolina, and not just the machines. We make the software, the electronic controls, and the tools themselves. So we know CNC from a lot of different angles. Maybe even more important, in our own shop we use CNC and digital fabrication across the entire manufacturing process. Our tools are digitally modeled, digitally prototyped, and digitally manufactured using CNC. We have a strong commitment to digital fabrication and robotic production assistance and believe it can be the key enabler for realistically competitive small manufacturing.

How to join the training:

Images from a recent webinar on making a custom bit holder – a great first CNC project.


And, hey, why are we doing it?

ShopBot’s CEO, Ted Hall, has stated:  “… If we can provide the training and resources that others are not offering, we feel like we are helping everyone in CNC, including ourselves. It’s that old ‘raising the water level’ thing.”

Non-ShopBot owners are also welcome to sign up for our in-house and regional trainings. In attending one of our trainings, whether online or in-person, you will also learn about items available in our web store—bits, accessories, and other supplies—most of which are appropriate for all CNC tools. And, ShopBot also offers CNC production services and consulting that can be helpful in setting up production with any CNC equipment.

Reports suggest that only 20-30% of production shops that could really benefit from CNC or production robotics are putting these to use. We have been making the case for years that it is robotics that will give the small shop and small manufacturing the chance to be competitive again. ShopBot is happy to lend a hand to all new CNC tool owners.

A CNC Tool that Produces Profit for Cabinet Makers

CMA 20th Anniversary Conference March 1-2, 2018 Denver, CO

ShopBot recently attended the CMA’s 20th Anniversary Conference in Denver, CO. We participated by sponsoring a lunch highlighting our 20+ years supporting small and medium sized cabinet operations with affordable and innovative CNC tools. Many of ShopBot’s first customers were cabinet makers and it was fun to touch base with some of the friends we made in our early years.

While a few of those customers have moved on to big-iron CNC’s, many others still depend on their ShopBot tools for day-in, day-out production; and many have added a second tool to increase throughput while creating agility in how they put their CNC equipment to use. Sometimes two tools are better than one, especially if they are affordable. 

We also got to chat with newer customers at the event. More than ever, we find that ShopBot has the products and services relevant to the dynamic needs of today’s cabinet makers—who must be responsive to the changing needs of their markets. They appreciate tools that can adapt with them to accommodate what the new work demands. The ease of use of ShopBot tools, as well as their adaptability, configurability, and programmability, make them wellsuited for the production methods of creative cabinet making.

Because we not only design and build our tools, but also develop our own highly usable software, we are wellqualified to help with a broad range of needs for those using CNCs in production. Our staff of experienced CNC users, developers, and engineers can work directly with customers on what options are best for their needs because we are the developers of the products we sell. And we use them in our own manufacturing, every day.

ShopBot’s CEO and Founder, Ted Hall, says “… being competitive today is about cabinet makers making effective use of smart technology. Just because a tool is controlled by a computer, or has a decal that says “smart,” does not mean that it will make you smart. You need a tool that is intuitive and interactive … a tool that puts you in control of your work and production. We’ve put a lot of years into making equipment that works with people.”

 

“When I first bought my PRSalpha ShopBot, I thought it would do everything for me,” says cabinet maker Keith Larrett. “But what I’ve learned since is that it’s even more important than that: it doesn’t do the work for me, it allows me to do work that wasn’t possible before, and do it with more speed and precision.”

Keith Larrett, Syzygy Woodworks
2014 PRSalpha 5×8 with Automatic Tool Changer 
ShopBot Spotlight: Syzygy Woodworks 

 

“I needed to find a CNC that could be assembled in my workspace and one that didn’t break the bank. I was a bit surprised with sticker shock for the caliber machine I wanted to get into – and even then, these machines couldn’t be disassembled. That’s when I stumbled across ShopBot Tools. Their machines had an excellent reputation and their customer service was out of this world great,” says custom closet and cabinet maker Andy Glass“I was a bit nervous on what add-ons might bring the cost up to and I was extremely relieved to see the final price. It was so much lower than the competition that I decided to add-on a service tech to come help me set it up, tune the machine, and train me on the software and ATC capabilities. It was an extra cost, but even with that addition it was well below the competition; and bringing the field tech to the shop was the best decision ever.“

Andy Glass, Glass Impressions
2017 PRSalpha 5×8 with Automatic Tool Changer
Andy Glass Knows How to Make a Good Impression

 

“The ShopBot has met and exceeded expectations. We’re able to perform repetitive tasks such as making the parts of tables, chairs, benches, and cabinetry much faster than before — so of course it saves us money. And there are some areas where CNC has afforded other benefits. For instance, I knew that we could do decorative carvings using the tool, but hadn’t really intended to do much of this work. Well, I’ve found that I’m doing more and more of it, because clients are really liking the work.”

Andrew Coholic, Joe Coholic Custom Furniture, Ltd.
2012 48″ PRSalpha ShopBot Buddy® with Industrial Spindle and 4-foot Powerstick
Custom Furniture Maker Finds Surprising Benefits of CNC

 

ShopBot has made CNC accessible to small and medium sized shops. We don’t just import and resell something we don’t understand. At ShopBot, we design, develop, build, and support our tools, all from our Durham, NC facility. Our customers know that we know CNCand that we know cabinet makinginside and out. Give us a call, visit our website www.shopbottools.com, or better yet, join us for one of our interesting, useful (and fun!) trainings at our headquarters in Durham, NC. If you can’t get out to North Carolina, keep your eye on our schedule of events and plan to attend one of our regional events where you can learn more about how we’ve helped cabinet makers compete and thrive.

 

Here are a couple of other blog posts about our customers using their tools for cabinet making and furniture making:

Woodworker Nick Buchholz’s ShopBot helps him explore new areas of design

Andy Pitts to other fine woodworkers: “Don’t be afraid of CNC!”

ShopBot Tools in large-scale manufacturing: Wood-Mode

 

Robotics Week: The New, Small Manufacturing is About Production Robotics

Ted Hall, ShopBot CEO, recently posted an article on small manufacturing on Medium. He explains why the new robotics is less about replacing people and more about making successful use of production robotics to enable small producers to be more realistically competitive:

Over the last several months, I have spoken to several groups about robotics in small manufacturing. Everyone gets that robots, and specifically the digital-fabricating robots that are particularly interesting to me, are machines that offer useful automation — automation in the sense of helping a producer make a lot of something. But an emphasis on automation can make it easy to miss the more powerful advantages that robotic assistance offers small manufacturing. These are the advantages that will be key to re-establishing the competitiveness of local, low- and medium-volume production.

[Click Here for Full Article]

Makerspaces in Education: Becoming Comfortable Using Your ShopBot and Other Digital Fabrication Tools

Showing off projects created on a ShopBot CNC and a laser cutter

Do you own or have access to digital fabrication equipment such as a ShopBot CNC machine, laser cutter, or 3D printer, and an interest in education? Do you want to know more about the software and machines available for digital fabrication in education? Are you a facilitator of a digital fabrication lab or makerspace who would like to join a support network of other educators to discuss project-based learning, lesson plans, and how to address standards? Then this hands-on workshop is for you! ShopBot’s Sallye Coyle will be facilitating a multi-day “Digital Fabrication in Education” workshop at ShopBot headquarters in Durham, NC.

This 2½ day workshop will begin with ShopBot CNC machines. Using VCarve Pro CAD/CAM software, we will design and prepare files for machining on a ShopBot. The sessions will then move to cross-platform training—demonstrating how designs originally intended for one digital fabrication tool can be prepared for use on another platform (example: CNC to laser or vinyl cutter, 3D printing to 3D Carving on a CNC machine). Topics will include design flow, 2D vs. 3D, computer aided design (CAD) and machining (CAM) software, and how to evaluate which digital fabrication process is best for a desired outcome. The final half day will return to ShopBot tools, providing more advanced information for those charged with installing, maintaining, or getting the most out of their CNC machine. If there is sufficient time and interest, we will have a session with an introduction to Fusion 360 CAD/CAM software and/or using a Rotary Indexer on the ShopBot.

While you do not have to have CNC or CAD/CAM experience, familiarity with some aspect of digital fabrication would be helpful. There will be opportunities for show and tell, and at least one round table discussion, so you should come prepared with questions and/or examples of how to use digital fabrication in education. Working in collaboration with your fellow attendees, you should leave the workshop with hands-on projects and ideas to address topics related to STEM, CTE, the Arts, Common Core, and/or Next Generation Science Standards.

 

Summer Session 2018 • June 14- 16, 2018

On-site at the ShopBot facility in Durham, NC

  • Thursday: 9am–5pm
    Thursday evening open hours to work on your own project (optional)
  • Friday: 9am–5pm
  • Saturday: 9am–1pm
  • 2.5 days total (2 CEU credits)
  • Cost: $400 per computer seat (we can have up to 2 people per computer)

 

How to Sign Up

If you’re interested in attending the workshop, send us an email at info@shopbottools.com with your name, contact details, and a couple of sentences about your experience level. And of course, questions are welcome!

For more info on the event, check out the blogs that describe previous workshops in July 2017 and 2016. To learn more about local accommodations and other things in Durham, see the visitors section of our website.

About the Workshop Leader

Sallye Coyle is experiencing how rapid advances in computers, software, and technology have changed the way education is served by digital fabrication spaces. She has traveled extensively in the US and the world, working with schools, Fab Labs, and makerspaces to “train the trainers” in how to use the digital fabrication technology, as well as how to build, maintain, and use ShopBot tools.

Special guests

In addition to ShopBot CNC tools, Handibot® Smart Power Tools populate the ShopBot Training Area. We are working on making a suite of other digital fabrication tools (and their handlers) available on-site for the workshop. These tools include: a vinyl cutter, laser cutter, and an Ultimaker 3D printer.

Signs of ShopBot Around Our Hometown – Durham, North Carolina

While driving along Roxboro Road on my way to ShopBot Tools World Headquarters (as founder Ted Hall likes to call it) one morning, I spied a sign for the Wright School that I had carved on the ShopBot tool I have in my barn. It made me think about a few of the projects that have been touched by a ShopBot tool in ShopBot’s hometown of Durham, North Carolina.

Signage

I once heard someone at a ShopBot event say that, “when you get a ShopBot CNC machine, you automatically become a sign maker.” My first “paid” gig was just that… a sign. It taught me that a professional sign maker needs many more skills than being able to carve the design, but the ShopBot goes a long way towards making each sign special. Almost 18 years later, I smile every time I drive past the house in town that sports a white sign with black lettering. The sign itself is the same shape as the house, which makes it a more customized piece than just a rectangle with an address.

Look closely in the lower right corner to see my first “gig” with a ShopBot, a sign in the shape of the house. It’s not a clear picture because I want to protect the privacy of the homeowners. This first sign taught me that the design process and finish work can take far longer than carving the sign!

 

Some of my projects are pro bono to contribute to the community. The Wright School in Durham provides best practice, cost-effective, residential mental health treatment to North Carolina’s children, ages six to twelve, with serious emotional and behavioral disorders. State-supported, it is frequently one of the programs threatened by budget cuts. A friend of the principal wanted to give him a sign for the school as a “thank you” for all of his hard work. The ShopBot did the carving, the friend did the finishing work.

While the sign I did for the US Forest Service didn’t stay in Durham, it was carved on the ShopBot in my barn. The design called for raised lettering, which allowed me to paint the blank with three coats of sign-maker’s black paint, then carve away the low spots. The Hardwood Store of North Carolina in Graham supplied samples to test types of wood to determine what would machine nicely. Ash was the wood of choice, both for color and edge quality. I used a V-bit to bevel the edges of the design, followed by an end mill bit to carve away the rest. Mitch Fisher, of Fisher Signs, sprayed the final sign with three coats of polyurethane before it was sent to the Forest Service in West Virginia.

Carving a blank that has been painted first.

Finished sign (55” x 33”) after coating with three layers of polyurethane by professional sign maker, Mitch Fisher.

Collaborations with Artists

Bull Durham

If you drive through downtown Durham (perhaps in search of ice cream at The Parlour), you’ll see Major the Bull striking an imposing figure in the CCB Plaza at the corner of Corcoran and Parrish Streets.

The original Major was not created with the help of a ShopBot. But TJ Christiansen, who is known for his excellent ShopBot trainings in house and online, used his ShopBot to create a foam mold, then welded metal components together over it to create a new version of Major. When last I visited the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), TJ’s version was gracing the lobby.

 

Black Wall Street

Major the Bull marks the entrance to Parrish Street, also known as “Black Wall Street.” Before the current renovation and revitalization project began in downtown Durham, along Parrish Street and its environs were six monuments that celebrate the contributions of four key institutions that spurred black enterprise in downtown Durham. The same artists who designed and fabricated Major, Leah Foushee Waller and Michael Waller, created the six bronze sculptures. The lettering on the aluminum plaques for each of the sculptures was engraved on my ShopBot PRT, using a 90 degree V-Bit, VCarve Pro (then called Part Wizard), and lots of Dawn dish detergent diluted with water (one part Dawn, two parts water) as a coolant.

 

North Carolina Central University

The four institutions celebrated by the monuments were NC Mutual Life Insurance Company, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, The Mutual Building and Loan Association, and North Carolina College. North Carolina College, which became North Carolina Central University, was the first public liberal arts university to support black students. For its centennial celebration, NCCU again called on Leah Foushee Waller and Michael Waller to create a centennial crest for a new park on Fayetteville Street.

Google street view of the NCCU Centennial Park on Fayetteville Street. The centennial crest is at the top of the stairs. Information plaques for the centennial chapel were also carved with a ShopBot.

When creating a bronze sculpture, often the first step is to create a model that is then used to create a mold into which the hot metal is poured. From the letterhead of NCCU depicting a sculpture of James E. Shepard, founder of NCCU, I created the model of the 36” diameter centennial crest out of MDF. A summary of the steps, from 2D graphic to 3D model, to pouring the molten bronze, and the final product after cleaning up and coloring by Mike Waller, is shown below. The bronze was cast at the foundry of Liberty Arts located in Durham Central Park, where the Farmer’s Market is held each week. It’s worth a visit to see the metal gates of the foundry.

 

Education

Duke University has its own makerspace and technology hub on campus, with a ShopBot Desktop CNC nestled in among the 3D printers. Duke University was also host (and ShopBot Tools a sponsor) for the first Construct3D Conference. Construct3D 2018, the national academic 3D printing and digital fabrication conference and expo, will take place at Georgia Tech, October 5-8, 2018. The second annual event, co-founded by Ultimaker’s Lizabeth Arum and Matt Griffin, and Duke University’s Chip Bobbert, and sponsored by founding sponsors Ultimaker and Duke University, will focus on academic use, best practices, and professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, and students from informal, K-12, and higher education contexts. Look for ShopBot to again be a sponsor.

ShopBot Desktop in Duke’s Innovation Studio

While the theatre department at Duke does not have a ShopBot, it has contracted to have a ShopBot create sets for plays that are being previewed at Duke before heading to Broadway and elsewhere. The set for the production of “The Great Game” was machined at ShopBot Tools by the prototype PRSalpha tool with a vacuum hold down table. Hey Duke Theatre Department: Playmakers at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State’s University Theatre have ShopBots in their set design programs!

Set for “The Great Game.” Ninety panels with 250 – 350 plunges per panel were machined in two weeks (8 hours a day) on the first PRSalpha with a vacuum hold down table. So much material was machined away from the board that supplemental hold down (screws) was used in addition to the vacuum. Half inch material, .25” compression bit, ramp into a single pass. Toolpaths included “profile to the inside” for bigger spaces, and pocketing to turn the waste into dust for smaller spaces.

 

NCCU Fab Lab

NCCU is also home to the first official Fab Lab at a historically black college/university (HBCU). Funded in part by the AJ Fletcher Foundation, the lab houses a ShopBot Desktop in addition to 3D printers, a digital embroidery sewing machine, and an Epilog laser.

Grand opening of the NCCU FabLab. Signage created with a ShopBot PRT.

 

Funding for the Fab Lab came in part from the AJ Fletcher Foundation. During an official visit by representatives of the Foundation, an NCCU student demonstrates the ShopBot Desktop in the lab.

 

CTE in Durham Public Schools

ShopBots also abound in the area high schools. For example, Southern School of Energy and Sustainability has a furniture making program, with the goals of having the sale of the furniture made by the students go towards scholarships for college. Riverside High School has an active PLTW (Project Lead the Way). Jordan High School has a ShopBot Desktop in their woodworking area. When you drive onto the campus of Carolina Friends School, you will be greeted by signs that were created on the ShopBot in the woodshop.

 

Restoration and Renovation

Durham has seen an explosion of restoration and renovation in the last 5–10 years. What was once a sleepy mill town (tobacco and fabric, both now gone) with a university close by has become a destination for the arts, foodies, and young people. Many of the older buildings are being updated, and Chris Burns has been instrumental in helping that happen. Chris was an original member of ShopBot Tools when it was incorporated in 1996, and still travels for ShopBot to do trainings and installations. He and his family have a service, Austin Automation, in which they contract CNC work.

Next to Duke University’s East Campus, Trinity Park is a neighborhood of gracious homes, many dating back to the 1910s and 1920s. One such home was the original Watts Hospital that was moved to its present location on Watts Street when a new hospital was built. After being allowed to fall into disrepair (a bathtub from the second floor fell through to the first floor), the current owners did a major renovation a number of years ago, which helped to spur a revival of the entire neighborhood. The house was in need of a few tweaks, so Chris did a digital probe of a corbel that needed to be reproduced. Once he had the digital file, multiples of the corbels could be manufactured.

Probing the original corbel with the ShopBot Digitizing Probe.

 

Four new corbels (and the original) on the front porch of the home in Trinity Park, Durham, NC.

Chris has also worked on bigger projects in Durham. Sometimes it is difficult to realize the scale of the projects when looking at photos of individual components. For example, here are three photos, the first is the original piece, the next two, the reproductions that Chris created.

Here’s the project, reproductions in place, to give a better sense of scale:

And now, the whole picture:

 

Another Project: Rosettes for The John O’Daniel Exchange are laid out on a 4’x8’ ShopBot.

The application of the finished product:

 

A Durham Business That Relies on Its ShopBot CNC Tool

In downtown Durham, next to the railroad tracks on Duke Street, and near several of the renovated buildings, is the showroom and factory of the Durham Bookcase Shop. Owner Philip Fletcher and his crew rely on their ShopBot CNC to create everything from the sign outside the building to the ready-to-finish furniture inside. You can purchase something off the floor or specify a custom size bookcase/table/dresser to fit your space. Philip can change the digital file and quickly produce a “one-off” piece.

Looks like Google Maps caught the Bookcase Shop in the process of mounting a new sign

 

A selection of the possibilities. The ShopBot CNC allows the Bookcase Shop to compete with the big box stores and keeps the production local.

 

Custom Work for Local Institutions

For over 10 years, Hardwood Designs in Hillsborough, NC used a ShopBot CNC to fabricate high-end interiors at local institutions like Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and the Thomas Center. The CNC machine is an important part of their production facility.

Interior of Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Behind the Scenes

As mentioned earlier, Durham has become a destination for foodies. There are several key players in the scene: people who have converted what were unhappy places into exciting and inviting places to visit. Nick Hawthorne-Johnson and Rochelle Johnson are two such people. Starting with what was once the Durham Food Co-op building, they created a community kitchen and incubator space that incorporate parts of Durham history. The space has grown into a key event space in town, The Cookery. Visit their website for a 5+ minute video of their early adventures.

I have a special place in my heart for Nick and Rochelle, since our son did an internship with them after college. His experience there helped to inspire him to go to law school with an interest in business law. So when Nick and Rochelle started on their next adventure in downtown Durham, I was happy to lend a few hours of machine time for a project that plays a supporting role. If you visit the izakaya (Japanese pub) upstairs above Dashi, a Japanese ramen shop, and you sit in a booth, know that the ShopBot in the barn created the frame for the seats.

The Future of Educational Technology

Say “Educational Technology” to a room of teachers, administrators, and vendors, and you will get many different definitions. Having recently attended the Future of Educational Technology Conference (FETC 2018) as a “civilian” rather than an exhibitor, I was able to attend workshops and presentations, visit the entire convention floor of vendors (387), and stop by poster sessions to chat with teachers and administrators. It was an opportunity to see how ShopBot Tools can meet the needs of educators by adding training, tutorials, and projects that link to standards, and providing these in addition to the manufacturing of quality CNC equipment.

The poster sessions were grouped by topics of interest, and submitted by real teachers/administrators. They provided for casual conversations between those with boots-on-the-ground experience and those who might be new to a topic of interest. Notice that in many of the sample posters shown below, “Why” is as important as the “How to”.

The poster sessions I had the opportunity to attend included:

• Electronics
• Coding

How coding integrates into the school day

• Makerspaces

‘Iolani School in Hawaii has maker spaces in its middle and high schools. The high school has a PRSalpha 96×48 • www.iolani.org

 

Integrating Makerspaces across disciplines

• Integrating Problem/Project Based Learning


• Professional Development

Professional Development strategies: Lecture or Engage?

WORKSHOPS: I also attended several workshops about integrating project-based learning and makerspaces into the curriculum standards. One, by Michael Gorman, included an amazing number of resources that are available on his website.

Visit Michael Gorman’s website for a wealth of suggestions.

Additionally, I attended two working sessions on free software to help with documentation which are relevant to teachers, students, and perhaps, ShopBot tutorials. Spark software from Adobe helps users create “Professional looking graphics, web pages, and videos in minutes.” A 20 minute introduction to Book Creator was enticing for embedding pictures, videos and text into eBooks that can be anywhere from two pages to 20 pages long. Look for examples soon.

387 vendors of Educational Technologies exhibited. Sorted by broad categories, the vendors included:

• Computers, smart boards, covers for computers, projection systems for the classroom.

I didn’t win the document scanner raffled off by Epson. I really wanted the smart board or projector.

• Furniture for the classroom or makerspace

CEF (Custom Educational Furniture) manufactures furniture for the classroom and makerspaces. Many of its designs are suggested by kids. www.cefinc.com

 

Store the metal stools under the table. Note the big magnets.

• Software for classroom management, documentation, CAD
• Distributors and suppliers of STEM education packages
• Games to teach coding or video games

Bloxels is a platform and an app that teaches the basics of creating video games. The Educator Handbook includes links to common core standards and NGSS.

 

• Digital fabrication equipment
• 3D printers (lots of brands, many distributors for the same brand)
• Laser cutters; Epilog and Full Spectrum included
• A first: a water jet cutter by Omax

The Omax water jet cutter can use the same design files as ShopBot CNC machines. Look for the glass unicorn I designed on the sample table.

 

Detail of unicorn in glass cut with the Omax water jet.

 

Same design files machined in HDPE plastic with a ShopBot CNC

Plans for FETC 2019: Next year, look for ShopBot to provide information about CNC equipment for cutting sheetgoods and 3D carving in wood, plastic, and non-ferrous metals.

Andy Glass Knows How to Make a Good Impression

Andy Glass hamming it up as he begins shooting a video in his shop.

To say Andy Glass keeps himself busy is an understatement. In addition to his YouTube channel Glass Impressions, he has a full-time day job, and does woodwork (of various kinds) in his “free” time. This is all while he juggles family life, which includes a wife and toddler at home.

But perhaps we should start at the beginning. Ever since he can remember, Andy has loved woodworking and making things. At age 7, he was already making birdhouses—and it progressed from there. He claims he has the “maker gene” courtesy of his grandfather. Although he only knew him once he had been retired, Andy’s grandfather was a master cabinetmaker and master homebuilder. Retirement didn’t stop him from working, he still had a beautiful shop at his home in St. Cloud, MN. When Andy’s family would go to visit, 5-6 times a year, he would spend 110% of his time in the woodworking shop with his grandfather. He wasn’t always in there building things of his own, though. Often he’d be in there helping his grandfather build things for other people, holding his hammer or helping him in whatever way he needed.

The most memorable thing he learned from his grandpa? Efficient use of materials. Andy was working on a project and needed to cut something from a scrap piece of wood. He plopped the measurements down, right in the middle of the piece of wood. His grandfather stopped him, “Why make two cuts when you can move your measurement down to the edge and make one cut?” he asked. Something so obvious as an adult, but as a 6-7 year old, not anything you even consider to get the job done.

The only formal woodworking education Andy has is from high school classes in construction and woodworking. Instead, he took what his grandfather had taught him and continued with self-education. He used everything from books to online videos, read other online content and magazines and, as he likes to put it he “learned by making.” That includes making mistakes too.

While working on projects in the standalone shop he had at home in Bismarck, ND, he decided to grab a camera and film one throughout his process. That first project? A Shopmade Blast Gate for 4” PVC dust collection piping. He posted it online and things took on a life of their own. The video was getting hit after hit, and because of his business and entrepreneurial skill set he came to the realization that there was value in what he was doing. It was from here that he was able to gather sponsors, which yielded sponsorship money and tools for product endorsements.

Andy’s First YouTube Video

He continued down this path for about 3 years while working his day job and produced videos when he could. Because he couldn’t devote 100% of his time to it, his competition began surpassing him. After spending some time exploring other opportunities in the realm of video channels and other online arenas, Andy recently decided to relaunch his YouTube channel, Glass Impressions. From some of the comments already coming in on his most recent posts, followers of his original YouTube channel are happy to have him back and are looking forward to what he’ll be doing next.

Having always had a love for traditional metalwork machinery and their precision, woodworking routers entered his radar while Andy continued doing woodworking. He saw the technology slowly becoming more and more affordable, which led him to decide to build a CNC himself—something he references as the worst decision of his life. “I wasted a whole lot of time and money, although I learned a whole bunch. I know CNC machining from the ground up now, how the machines work.” The hardest part of building the CNC machine himself was the sheer amount of time it took. “It’s like taking on the plumbing project of putting a garbage disposal in your house (if you’re not a plumber). You find yourself going to Home Depot or another big box store a million times just to put in the disposal.” While he is appreciative to have learned everything he did from putting the tool together, he can’t help but think on it with regret. “It was so much wasted time, when if I had bought a non-kit machine from the get-go, I could have used all of that time to learn about how to use the CNC instead of learning how to build one.”

After that experience, he purchased pre-built CNC machines and then it was 100 mph, full-steam ahead into CNC. “You have to appreciate the precision, repeatability, and the accuracy that CNC gets you.” He currently has two ShopBot tools. The first one he started using is the Desktop MAX. One of the projects he worked on with that particular tool is custom stair treads—a project that he was able to complete by using some custom jigs he made. And while he now uses his second tool, a ShopBot PRSalpha with an automatic tool changer, to do the majority of his larger jobs, the Desktop MAX has continued to be put to good use — he’s used it to create cabinets and signs, among other things.

After learning a bit about Andy and how he got where he is, we asked him some more specific questions:

SB: What were you doing traditionally that you’re now doing via CNC? Are there things that you wanted to do traditionally that you are now using the CNC for because it makes it easier?

AG: I’ve had a handful of business opportunities and products that have been rattling around in my head since the day I learned how to do woodworking. Coming up with an effective and economical way to do it has always been automation and that technology is CNC. As I moved in progression to where I am now, those opportunities are now becoming a reality. Everything I used to make in the woodworking shop was done in a traditional manner: chop saw, table saw, the router jig or the dado blade for dados and grooves and rabbets, etc.

Just this past month, we were doing a huge bar job for a bar/restaurant in Valley City, ND. The booth ends are traditional booth ends, but they wanted the end caps in solid walnut and then connected via poplar/plywood that was stained. I quickly designed a jig for use in the CNC that could register 4 glued-up walnut panels, and the machine would cut out the booth profile and add a 1/8” rabbet where it needed to connect the plywood—and I had them all done in under 3 hours (24 ends). This is just an example of how in the short couple of months having the machine, it has saved an enormous amount of time in the shop. This project is something that is not out of the realm of traditional woodwork capabilities, but it would have taken well over 2-2/12 days to complete this component.

SB: You mentioned using a jig for the booth ends, and you used one for the stair tread project. Do you find yourself building a lot of jigs for your projects or is it something that you’ve come to realize helps you problem solve?

AG: Both. I utilize CNC to make jigs and templates to not necessarily use the CNC on the project itself. Example: Putting in a live bathroom slab in the women’s room of the bar/restaurant project, we needed a 4 3/4” hole cut out for a vessel sink. I didn’t want to use the saw on the live slab, so I used the CNC to cut a jig with a 4 3/4” hole in a piece of wood, with the perfect dimensions for what we were doing for the sink. I knew that by doing this and clamping it on top of the slab in the right orientation, we could then use a router with a flush trim bit to cut the slab via the jig/templated hole. An, example of using the CNC in the initial stages of the project, not directly on the project itself.

On the CNC/production side (I geek out about this because I’m big on process and habit of workflow – finding a system no matter what it is that you do) find jigs or layout lines or stop blocks, anything that allows you to do repetitive work on the CNC with minimal effort in-between your “go times” is so worth it up front for that capital investment to save you so much time. The jigs developed allow for set-up to do things to take minutes instead of hours. It maintains efficiency and more so, consistency between cuts on the production work – which is essential – and is a must have skill in CNC technology and CNC workflow.

SB: What is it that you find you want to do with the tool that you haven’t had the time to do yet?

AG: To develop the product line for my new Fargo closets company. I have realized that there is a big gap in the market for reach-in custom closet systems, or closet systems in general that are high quality and affordable (or relatively affordable). I subscribe to Mosaic cabinet software, and have been playing around with the software creating projects, and they are just sitting in a queue, waiting to be made. My father has contracted me to build the closets in his new home in Fargo, and the general design person, interior/industrial designer that is working with them on everything did a walk through of the house with me (and my step-mother) telling me exactly what she wanted for each of the closets. I know it’s achievable via Mosaic and the ShopBot. Kitchen cabinet quality with more budget-friendly pricing. It’s all about quality.

The ShopBot CNC has me so excited because I can’t wait to get done with the bar/restaurant job and get my Fargo Closets company going. I see myself possibly transitioning out of having a “day job” and doing this in my spare time to actually making it my full-time job.