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We are proud to present The Ben Heck Show. The all-new online-TV-series created for (and by) electronics enthusiasts, and sponsored
exclusively by element14. Join Ben and friends for bi-weekly episodes as they modify and build all kinds of community-suggested gadgets.
Got an idea for a mod? Then share it with Ben. Or, if you’re ready to build, we’re ready with the parts list to make it happen. Either way, be
sure to tune-in at element14.com/TBHS


pIFC_SIP_Ad_Element14.indd 2 1 9/14/10
10/13/10 7:27
2:56:41 PMPM
A Workshop
That Works
for You

AKE is a quarterly magazine for
do-it-yourself enthusiasts of all
kinds. Every issue is packed with
how-to articles ranging from kid-friendly
crafts to cutting-edge robotics. We’ve cov-
ered microcontrollers, cigar box guitars,
Roomba hacks, rocket-launched video
cameras, potato cannons, stop-motion
movies, wind-powered generators, laser
light shows, wooden puzzle boxes, remote
control vehicles, home automation, and
much more.
If you’re new to MAKE, our website,
makezine.com, will give you an idea of the
other kinds of projects we offer. You can
even share your own DIY projects at our
online library, makeprojects.com.
Recently, we surveyed our readers to
find out what else they wanted to see in
Our goal is to give you
MAKE. In addition to more projects that everything you need to
teach basic skills such as electronics,
woodworking, and alternative energy, over
know to design, build,
90% told us tools and workshop skills and stock a workshop
were high on their wish list. That makes
sense: no matter what you make, you need
that works for you.
a dedicated space and the tools to make it.
  The survey confirmed many of our
beliefs about our readers, but there were kinds of tools you need to accomplish
surprises sprinkled in. Almost everyone almost any task you can think of, and in-
we surveyed told us they already own a troduce you to the exciting world of home
soldering iron, a cordless drill, and a high- 3D fabrication. We’ll also take you on a
speed rotary tool. And while fewer than tour through some of our favorite makers’
5% have a computer-controlled milling workshops, including an exclusive visit to
machine or a 3D printer, most readers MythBuster Adam Savage’s brand new
wish they had these high-tech fabrication workshop/museum, which he completed
tools in their shops (count me among just days before this issue went to press.
them). We hope you find this issue useful and
We asked readers what they made in inspiring. We also hope you’ll tell us about
their workshops. We were surprised to your own workshop (even if it exists only
Adam Savage photograph by Cody Pickens

see that 68% said they made a rocket and in your mind at this time) and what you’ve
47% made a robot, but only 11% made a made (or want to make) by taking our
go-kart and 7% made a kegerator (hope- latest reader survey at makezine.com/
fully not at the same time). go/survey. (And if you’re one of the first
  The survey was of great value to us 10 to respond, we’ll send you a Maker’s
in planning this special issue of MAKE, Notebook so you can make plans for your
devoted entirely to workshops and tools. upcoming projects.)
Our goal is to give you everything you  
need to know to design, build, and stock Happy making!
ON THE COVER: Adam Savage gives
a workshop that works for you.   us an exclusive first look at his
We’ll show you how to construct work- Mark Frauenfelder new personal workshop/museum.
benches and workhorses, describe what Editor-in-Chief Photograph by Cody Pickens.

Make: 1

p001_SIP_Welcome_F1.indd 1 10/11/10 2:14:28 PM

“Man is a tool-using animal.
Nowhere do you find him without ™ founder & gm, maker media
tools: without tools he is nothing, Dale Dougherty
with tools he is all.” dale@oreilly.com
—Thomas Carlyle


Editor-in-Chief Creative Director MAKEr media division Los Angeles &

Mark Frauenfelder Daniel Carter publisher southwest Sales
markf@oreilly.com dcarter@oreilly.com Fran Reilly Jeff Griffith
fran@oreilly.com Joe Hustek
Managing Editor Designer
Sales Development Manager 626-229-9955
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Photo editors Selina Yee
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EDITOR AT LARGE Laura Cochrane Circulation Manager
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online e-commerce eVENTS

director of digital media editor-in-chief Associate Publisher & GM, director, Maker Faire,
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web developer ASSOCIATE EDITOR Coordinator
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MAKE Technical Advisory Board PublisheD by CUSTOMER SERVICE

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Please Note: Technology, the laws, and limitations imposed by manufac-
online contributors
turers and content owners are constantly changing. Thus, some of the
John Baichtal, Chris Connors, Collin Cunningham, projects described may not work, may be inconsistent with current laws
Adam Flaherty, Kip Kedersha, Matt Mets, John Edgar Park, or user agreements, or may damage or adversely affect some equipment.
Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper use of equip-
Sean Michael Ragan, Marc de Vinck ment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill
and experience. Power tools, electricity, and other resources used for
these projects are dangerous, unless used properly and with adequate
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Use of the instructions and suggestions in MAKE is at your own risk.
O’Reilly Media, Inc., disclaims all responsibility for any resulting dam-
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MAKE SPECIAL ISSUE: Ultimate Workshop & Tool Guide 2011 is a supplement to MAKE magazine. MAKE (ISSN 1556-2336) is published quarterly by O’Reilly Media, Inc. in the months
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2 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p002_SIP_Masthead_F1.indd 2 10/12/10 3:07:03 PM

Jameco_Make_P7_fullpage 9/2/10 1:49 PM Page 1

What is the
missing component?

Electronics instructor Ollie Circuits planned to show his class of freshman electrical engineering
students how to use a super capacitor as a memory back-up capacitor, but first he wanted to show
how the students could make their own super capacitor and demonstrate its charge/discharge
cycles with the simple circuit above. Most of the components were already on his workbench, the
homemade super capacitor would be made from several layers of lemon juice-soaked paper towels
interleaved between several layers of a mystery material to form a multi-layer stack.The stacked
layers would then be sandwiched between the two copper-clad PC boards and held together with
a rubber band. Ollie rushed to a nearby pet shop. What did he buy?
Go to www.Jameco.com/unknown7 to see if you are correct and while you are there, sign-up
for our free full-color catalog.

1-800-831-4242 | www.Jameco.com

p005_SIP_MkrSpace_F1.indd 3 10/13/10 2:51:05 PM

™ 2011

14: Adam Savage’s New Man Cave 64: The Maker’s Ultimate Tools
Exclusive: The MythBusters host shows off his new personal workshop/ In a perfect world, these six high-tech tools would be yours. By Saul Griffith
museum, and talks about the things he makes and the tales they tell.
By Adam Savage 66: The Ultimate Tool Buying Guide
A complete list of tools you need to make almost anything. By Saul Griffith
18: Mister Jalopy’s Garage
Like a portal into the past and the future, it’s stuffed with vintage tools, 68: Your Electronics Workbench
car parts, a record album digitizing station, and the Bandit. What you need to get started in hobby electronics. By Charles Platt
By Mark Frauenfelder
71: 8 Non-Tools Every Workshop Needs
20: The Rocketman’s Garage You’ll never want to leave your maker cave. By William Gurstelle
Ky Michaelson never met a vehicle he didn’t think would go better
with a rocket engine bolted to its backside. 2011 Tool Guide
By Gareth Branwyn 72: Gadgets & Multitools
Blades, specialty drivers, and do-it-all pocket tools for the maker.
22: The Barrage Garage
Building the ultimate multi-purpose maker’s workshop from scratch, and 76: CNC & 3D Fabrication
outfitting it with tools and materials to tackle all kinds of projects. Entry-level and DIY tools for computerized cutting, milling, and 3D printing.
By William Gurstelle
82: Electronics & Robotics
34: Outrageous Fortune Hot irons, meters, gadgets, robot kits.
The awesome machine shop at
Intellectual Ventures Lab. 88: Workspaces
By Keith Hammond Clever caddies, chargers, and more.

35: The Safe Workshop 90: Metalwork & Machining

Rules to make by. Dremels, mini lathe, vise, and pliers
By William Gurstelle with more cowbell.

36: Show Us Your Shops

ULTIMATE TOOL 94: Woodworking
MAKE readers share their cool
workshops on Make: Online.
By Gareth Branwyn WoRKSHoPS BoX & Construction
Rout, saw, sand, drill, and demolish.

38: Workhorses
Use a simple mortise-and-tenon
joint to make these fine-looking
DiY 1: Welcome
Our goal is to give you everything you
need to know to design, build, and
shop horses that’ll last a lifetime. stock a workshop that works for you.
By Len Cullum By Mark Frauenfelder

44: Mister Jalopy’s 5: Raise a Makerspace,

Hide-Away Workbench Raise a Maker
Build a stowable mini workshop Kids need a place to make things at
inspired by vintage DIY magazines. school. Here’s a DIY building you can
By Mister Jalopy raise to make it happen.
By Dale Dougherty
46: Wilderness Workshop
Build your own inexpensive, sturdy work tables, shelving, and wood rack.
By Charles Platt 6: How to Create a Hackerspace
Makers are joining together in shared workshops to access cool high-tech
50: Primer: Soldering and Desoldering tools, collaborate, and learn new skills. They’re called hackerspaces.
In just a few minutes you’ll be ready to make and repair electronics. Step- Here’s how to set one up.
by-step instructions for making (and unmaking) the perfect solder joint. By Mitch Altman
By Joe Grand
12: The Maker’s Bill of Rights
54: Your Own CNC for Less Than $800 If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. An Owner’s Manifesto for those who like
Make your own computer-controlled router and save big. An overview from to hack, repair, or just know what makes their technology tick.
the co-author of Build Your Own CNC Machine. By Mister Jalopy
By James Floyd Kelly

58: Build Your First 3D Printer

Assemble a MakerBot using this popular kit and start printing your own
parts and prototypes.
By Marc de Vinck

4 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p004_MAKE_SIP_TOC_F1.indd 4 10/11/10 2:29:35 PM

Raise a
a Maker
By Dale Dougherty

ow do we give young people more
opportunities to become makers
and learn practical skills they can
apply to their own creative projects?
The question comes up for me after
each Maker Faire, when I see how young
people are inspired by other makers.
I know they leave and want to start making Now, you don’t have to build this Create a makerspace
things. Could schools offer more opportu- particular building. The important thing is
nities for making things? Could we provide to find a DIY way to create a makerspace
in your community. To
potential makers a physical space to meet that young makers can enjoy working and get more information
— a “makerspace” that can be organized playing in. A space can inspire us to see
with tools and supplies, so they can work making as something that takes place and to get involved, go
on projects? at school, but isn’t school. It should be to makerspace.com.
At World Maker Faire in New York City, placed near the playground because we
I saw a solution — a simple building called want our young makers to have fun and
Shelter 2.0 (shelter20.com), designed by play, while making things.
Robert Bridges to provide housing in areas We can begin a process of open collab-
hit by disaster. It’s a digitally fabricated oration to define the materials, tools, and
shelter, between a house and a tent, that other supplies that are needed, and to
can be put up (and taken down) with identify programs and projects that work
simple tools in a matter of hours, even by well for young makers. We can help iden-
young makers themselves. tify mentors locally and online who can
Can we find motivated parents and local offer safety training, teach about tool use,
makers to create a space and develop and provide specialized expertise.
programs for local kids, in complete In addition, we can develop awards
DIY fashion? Imagine a barn-raising of a for participation and achievement to
makerspace in a local community. Nothing recognize the accomplishments of young
could be more in the spirit of making than makers. Plus, Mini Maker Faires can be
young makers building their own space. used as local fundraisers to provide sup-
Developed by Bridges with Bill Young port for makerspaces and also provide
of ShopBot, the standard modular maker- an opportunity for young makers to
space is 10'×16' with a barrel-shaped demonstrate their projects.
roof covered by canvas or corrugated tin. Our goal is to build a network of maker-
The plans are available under a Creative spaces around the country (if not the
Commons license, and as a Google world) and connect them online through
SketchUp model, so you can modify the makerspace.com.
design and find a local ShopBot user to
create the shelter yourself.
Or, we can provide the standard
components as a package that ships in a
4'×8' crate. (We’re still exploring different
options for manufacturing and shipping.)
All the instructions for building a maker-
space will be online, along with videos Dale Dougherty is the founder and general
that show you how. manager of Maker Media.

Make: 5

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How to Create
a Hackerspace
A s I write this, I’m on
a workshop tour of
Midwestern U.S. hacker-
spaces, teaching people
Join with other makers in a shared of all ages how to solder
workshop to access high-tech tools and make cool things
and learn new skills. By Mitch Altman with electronics.
The tour is an outgrowth of Noisebridge,
a hackerspace I that co-founded in San
Francisco three years ago. On the tour with
me is Jimmie Rodgers, co-founder of the
Artisan’s Asylum hackerspace in Boston,
and Matt Mets, a blogger for Make: Online
and member of Hack Pittsburgh.
On our travels, we’ve asked lots of
hackerspace members how they got their
spaces going, so that we could share their
experiences with you.
Three years ago there were only about
50 hackerspaces; now there are hundreds

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forming all over the world, and some are and other resources, where you can learn, COME TOGETHER: Fig. A: “Kids of
even calling themselves “makerspaces.” teach, and help each other work on the all ages” at a soldering workshop at
Pumping Station One hackerspace in
Wired’s GeekDad blog calls it “an interna- projects you love.
Chicago. Fig. B: The machine shop at
tional movement to bring technologists That’s basically what a hackerspace is. Pumping Station One. Fig. C: Some
and their projects to the same physical If you can’t find one around the corner, it’s cool tools at A2 MechShop in Ann Arbor,
spaces.” And you can be a part of it. time to make one! Here’s how. Mich. Fig. D: Soldering workshop
at All Hands Active in Ann Arbor.
Fig. E: Brainstorming new ideas at
What’s a Hackerspace and 1. Get the bug and spread it.
Photography by Mitch Altman (A, C, D) and Matt Mets (B, E)

AS220 in Providence, R.I.

Why Do I Need One? Chris Anderson of Hive13 hackerspace
If you’re reading this magazine, you in Cincinnati got the bug at a monthly
already have at least one amazing DIY technology-geek meeting called 2600.
project in mind. But to make it real, you “Attending my first 2600 meeting in
might need to use a way-cool tool that you Cincinnati washed away all my frustrations
don’t have (or have a clue how to use), say, about being a lonely geeky guy,” Anderson
a computer-controlled mill, a laser cutter, says. Then he realized: “Starting a hacker-
or an industrial sewing machine. space in Cinci could get me my 2600 fix
Or maybe you want to learn to solder, whenever I want it.” He got excited after
or build musical instruments. Maybe you reading the Hackerspace Design Patterns
don’t have enough room in your apart- online (see Resources on page 11), and
ment to put up that space probe balloon. told everyone at the next meeting.
Or maybe your project could be more “I became the guy who wouldn’t shut up
awesome if you could get together with about hackerspaces,” continues Anderson.
other cool-minded makers, hackers, and “I posted about it on all the local blogs,
nerds in a friendly space with shared tools talked about it at parties, talked to all the

Make: 7

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1980s: 2600 Early 2000s: Many large, diverse com- Noisebridge in 2008 to present:
and Phrack create hackerspaces form munities of people San Francisco Successful U.S.
community for in Germany when who make just about (noisebridge.net). and European
hackers through Chaos Computer Club anything. Subsequent hackerspaces, net-
their publications. (CCC) starts actively Maker Faires and December 2007: working through
The New supporting them. A hacker conferences Hackerspace Design hackerspaces.org,
1990s: Early U.S. few appear in other worldwide reinforce Patterns presented show the world that
Wave of hackerspaces form, countries. community. at the 24th Chaos hackerspaces are
Hacker- including New Hack Communications awesome and they
spaces City in Boston and Mid-2000s: August 2007: Congress (24C3) by work, spurring many
San Francisco, the Hackerspaces such as Hackers on a Plane three hackers from to start their own
A timeline of Walnut Factory in C-Base and Metalab trip to Chaos Camp the CCC Cologne spaces all over the
shared spaces for Philadelphia, Hacker actively help other inspires participants hackerspace. Their world.
project makers: Halfway House in spaces get going, to start hackerspaces intent is to help start
Brooklyn, N.Y., and and support diverse, in their hometowns: hackerspaces world- Present: Hundreds
both L0pht and open hackerspaces HacDC in Washington, wide (see Resources). of hackerspaces
the Hasty Pastry in worldwide. D.C. (hacdc.org), NYC and makerspaces
Boston. Primarily col- Resistor in New York July 2008: all over the world
lectives of software 2005–2006: City (nycresistor. Hackerspaces.org is are now listed at
hackers, they’re not MAKE magazine com), The Hacktory launched, in time for hackerspaces.org.
open to the general starts publishing, in Philadelphia (the- The Last HOPE
public. bringing together hacktory.org), and conference.

maker types and weird artist types I could 3. Incorporate (recommended). discussed at hackerspaces around the
find, and through all this, met others who Though some are informal collectives, world: “Don’t solve problems that haven’t
would become founders of Hive13.” most hackerspaces form some type of happened.”
Anderson’s story is typical. Hackerspace corporation. This gives the group a legal What about the inevitable misunder-
founders get the bug, and then spread it by entity to sign contracts, and also limits standings that arise in any group? “We
telling everyone they know to tell everyone individuals’ personal legal liability. Some haven’t had a situation yet where someone
they know, utilizing local organizations, the groups form for-profit corporations, others hasn’t stepped up to talk things through,”
internet, posters on lamp poles — whatever form nonprofits. says Anderson at Hive13. This is how most
does the job. Bre Pettis, who started NYC Resistor, hackerspaces deal with conflict. Though
went with an LLC (limited liability corpora- not always easy, it’s important to let
2. Organize! tion). “It was just way easier,” he recalls. people know if you’re having a problem
Hackerspaces run the gamut from anarchy “We went online, filled out a form, and we with them.
to structured democracies to benevolent had our corporation.”
dictatorships. When you create one, At Noisebridge we pooled our money 5. Find your space.
you’re creating a culture that you want and paid $2,000 to a lawyer who took You’ve got the hackers, now get the space.
to be part of, which will attract others us through the entire process with the Hackerspace organizers have found a few
who fit in. Not all groups are for everyone; IRS, becoming a tax-exempt nonprofit strategies to rent spaces and build them
this is fine. corporation, called a 501(c)(3). Artisan’s out for not a lot of money.
The first thing the founders of Noise- Asylum is taking a similar approach. Typically members donate the labor, and
bridge did, even before we had the (Noisebridge and other hackerspaces in a down real estate market, landlords are
name, was create a Google group so that have their 501(c)(3) documentation on willing to deal, especially if you’re willing to
anyone could communicate about getting their websites.) make improvements to the space.
involved. Within weeks we’d registered Arch Reactor plans to become a “social Jeff Sturges of OmniCorpDetroit (OCD)
our chosen name online; started our and recreation club” nonprofit corporation, says, “Detroit has a lot of really creative
website, email list, and IRC channel; and called a 501(c)(7). Sounds fun! people who are un- or underemployed.
begun meeting every Tuesday night at a Because of this, our members have lots
local café. As excitement grew, so did our 4. Make the rules you want to live with. of time to donate their skills to help get
numbers, and we soon moved our weekly Some hackerspaces have a highly refined our space together. We can’t get as much
meetings to people’s apartments. set of rules, others are ad hoc. Noise- money together as spaces in other cities,
Deech Mestel, president of Arch Reactor bridge has only one rule — Bill and Ted’s but we got our huge warehouse for really
in St. Louis, Mo., told me of a similar pro- “Be excellent to each other” — from which cheap.”
cess. “We grew out of our pizza parlor, and everything else follows. In smaller cities, it may be helpful to
started meeting in an empty apartment Cowtown Computer Congress Kansas team up with existing groups. Nathan
owned by one of our members. It’s where City (CCCKC) has 10 rules, starting with Heald of Indiana’s Bloominglabs says,
we threw our first open house party that rule 0 and ending with rule 9: “Turn off the “Bloomington is a small university city,
attracted lots of new members. It’s also lights when you leave.” so there are not as many people to draw
where we wrote our bylaws.” When choosing your rules, keep in mind from. But after we put out the word, we
one of the unofficial Design Patterns, found an organization that has arts and

8 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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crafts programs. They had extra space in 6. Fix it up. MAKE AND CRAFT: Fig. F: The crafting
their building, and since there was synergy You’ll probably want to update the space area at i3 Detroit in Ferndale, Mich.
Fig. G: The popular weekly soldering
with our group, they gave us a really good to accommodate your work areas. Sturges
workshop at Noisebridge in San Francisco.
deal on rent.” says OCD knew they had a good landlord Fig. H: Weekly open Craft Night at NYC
For the All Hands Active hackerspace when, “He told us that we could make Resistor in Brooklyn, N.Y.
in Ann Arbor, Mich., the connection was improvements on the space and deduct
gamers. “A few gamers in our group con- all materials expenses from our rent.” The
nected us with a network gaming store landlord also gave them an entire extra
in town who gave us a corner of their floor in the building because he liked what
Photography by Matt Mets (F, H) and Mitch Altman (G)

store for free,” says Bilal Ghalib. “We they were doing, and knew he had a good
only pay a minimal amount for utilities tenant.
each month.” Steve Hamer of QC Co-Lab, in the Quad
Chris Cprek of LVL1 in Louisville, Ky., Cities of Illinois and Iowa, teaches at a
recommends finding as many spaces to technical college that no longer needed
choose from as possible, so you know a large section of one of their buildings.
you’re making the right decision. “We “Besides the obvious advantage of having a
put out a big call for all of our members space for free,” says Hamer, “is the bonding
to contact anyone they knew who could experience of everyone working together
help us find a space. … We had a vote, for to build out the space — ripping up the
people to rank all the spaces we found ugly carpeting, polishing the cement floors
according to personal preference. Then that revealed, removing unneeded walls,
a go/no-go vote to be sure everyone was setting up work areas, chill areas, and
onboard with this space.” a kitchen.”

Make: 9

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7. Fund it. very popular rent parties on months when to store their projects, and appliances to
On top of rent, your space might have they were short. make up a kitchen — a great place for
other operating expenses, such as utilities, At Bloominglabs, Heald and another doing a project as well as sustenance!
internet, and insurance. member took a leap of faith and funded Surprising to people unfamiliar with
Most hackerspaces fund their operations their first month’s rent out of pocket, hackerspaces is finding that MakerBot
through membership dues and donations. since, he says, “We didn’t have enough 3D printers (see page 58) are practically
If you go this route you’ll need to pick a members to pay for it all, but knew that ubiquitous. And, given the multi-thousand-
dues structure that takes in a bit more once we got our space we would soon dollar price tag, so are the laser cutters
each year than you spend, ideally with have enough members.” And they now do. you see at so many spaces. (But they’re
some buffer in the bank — “at least three When it was time for Noisebridge to too cool not to have!) Photography by Matt Mets (I) and Mitch Altman (J)
months of rent” in your bank account at rent its first space, five of us took a similar And there’s Roomba, a robot vacuum
all times, recommends the Hackerspace leap, signing the lease and paying the rent cleaner. Roombas are fun to hack (and
Design Patterns. for our first space. We then put out a call some spaces actually use them to vacuum).
Some hackerspaces, such as Artisan’s for donations to cover it all. We received Some spaces, such as Artisan’s Asylum,
Asylum, or Pumping Station One in $12,000 in 24 hours. have incredibly nice machine shops,
Chicago, make a large percentage of complete with industrial milling machines,
their income by charging for classes and 8. Get your tools. lathes, grinders, and much more. I3 Detroit
workshops, or by selling T-shirts or kits. While you’re collecting the normal tools has a space suitable for welding and for
At Metalab in Vienna, Austria, it’s you’d expect at a hackerspace — solder- making machines that shoot out fire.
beverages. “We make about a third of ing irons, drills, mills, saws, and so on (see Tools are typically donated or loaned
our income selling Club-Mate,” says Paul pages 64–67 for the ultimate workshop by members, or purchased outright from
“Enki” Böhm. (It’s a popular yerba maté tool guide) don’t forget to look for the bare member dues. According to Cprek from
energy drink among hackers in Europe.) necessities, too: tables and chairs, AC LVL1, “When we first rented our space, we
NYC Resistor has been known to have power strips, lots of shelving for people had nothing. So we put out the word, and

10 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p006-11_SIP_Hackerspace_F2.indd 10 10/13/10 10:53:34 AM

nies that would sell us liability insurance.
(We chose one that didn’t have a reputation Find a Hackerspace
for refusing to pay out claims.) Near You
We also got D&O insurance, which
covers our directors and officers in case There are too many makerspaces and
anyone sues them personally. All this costs hackerspaces to list in this space – more
us about $2,000 per year. than 500 worldwide, including 200-plus in
the United States and Canada. To find one
near you, check out hackerspaces.org/
10. Teach skills. wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces, a compre-
“I love teaching!” says Site 3’s Guberman. hensive, user-maintained list.
“It is very empowering for people to teach Click on your state to get a list of spac-
es there; click on your country and get not
them subjects they think they can’t do.
only a list of active and planned spaces,
People think, when they see a project but also events and people in that country
I make, that I’m some kind of genius. interested in helping start a hackerspace.
I’m not — anyone can do this. And I want
to show them. Facilitating collaboration
is what hackerspaces are all about. We entrepreneur can use TechShop’s sophis-
can teach people that they can do what- ticated tools to bring their ideas to reality
ever it is that they are interested in.” using the materials of their choice. With
Teaching also helps the hackerspace locations in Portland, Ore., Raleigh, N.C.,
itself, says Anderson at Hive13. “To avoid and Menlo Park, Calif., they have plans to
mishaps, we have a qualification process, open more, including San Francisco, San
where people need to be taught how to Jose, and a 15,000 square-foot TechShop
use each piece of equipment before they in the Detroit area that they hope will spur
can use it.” Noisebridge and other spaces innovation to help the local economy.
have similar training.
J Hackerspaces offer a unique opportunity Hackerspaces Forever!
to build confidence, to make teachers out of This is a great time to be a geek! The
BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE: every learner and vice versa, with instruction internet is full of resources, technology
Fig. I: From roboteers to artists and on almost any topic: mechanics, chemistry, is cheap, MAKE magazine is showing us
crafters, people make all sorts of things
biology, photography, machining, painting, how to make anything and everything,
at Hack Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Fig. J: The 10 rules that govern Cowtown comics, games, astrophysics, video … our current economic down-times are
Computer Congress Kansas City (Mo.). you’re limited only by your imagination giving many of us more time to explore
(which is limitless). our creativity, and there are more hacker
As public schools are eliminating classes conferences and Maker Faires.
in art, science, music, technology, and other We don’t know where this new hacker-
saw what we got donated. We’re still pretty important fields, hackerspaces are creating space movement is heading, but we’re
new, but we already have most of what we educational environments to fill the void. creating it with every person who joins in
want. We’ll give a little more time to see every day. Together we’re creating a com-
before using some of our funds to buy a TechShops and More munity that can benefit each of us, and
projector and MIG welder.” Coincident with the hackerspace move- everyone, far into the future.
Jonathan Guberman, who helped start ment is the rise of co-working spaces,
Site 3 Co-Laboratory in Toronto, says, tool libraries, start-up incubators, and Resources
“Right off the bat we tried to get nice equip- TechShops. All of these are helping Hackerspace Design Patterns is a very
ment, such as our laser cutter (60-watt!), self-employed people to work in a useful compilation of what has worked, and
metal lathe, and industrial sewing machine. community of like-minded people, hasn’t, for hackerspaces over many years.
This will attract new members, and gets us rather than at home alone. Topics include sustainability, community,
going and keeps us going.” TechShop (techshop.ws) is a for-profit, meetings, and conflict resolution.
While everything at Noisebridge is high-end version of a hackerspace that hackerspaces.org/wiki/Design_Patterns
donated, with no strings attached, many provides high-tech tools and classes. Their
spaces, including Arch Reactor and Hive13, shops are packed with expensive equip- Hackerspaces.org is a great general
have some of their nicest equipment on ment like CNC mills and plasma cutters resource, with the best directory of
loan from their members. that they make very affordable and acces- hackerspaces worldwide, as well as a 24/7
sible to the general public. CEO Mark Hatch email list and monthly call-ins for people
9. Get insurance (recommended). says they’re able to do it because of “the to ask questions and share experiences.
Insurance is easy enough to get, and it’s a precipitous drop in the cost of new machine
good idea for protecting your group from tools — some of which are 90% cheaper Mitch Altman travels the world turning off TVs,
helping hackerspaces, and teaching people to
liability. At Noisebridge we contacted a now than they were ten years ago.”
solder and make cool things. He is currently
broker, told them exactly what we were up For the price of a monthly membership, writing a book for beginners on how to make
to, and they came back with a few compa- any aspiring inventor, hacker, maker, or cool things with microcontrollers.

Make: 11

p006-11_SIP_Hackerspace_F2.indd 11 10/13/10 6:12:05 AM

Mister Jalopy’s “Owner’s Manifesto” from MAKE Volume 04

Illustration by James Provost

12 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p012_SIP_MkrsBillRts_F1.indd 12 10/11/10 12:07:23 PM

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1. Hand-built 8"×10" vacuum former. I built it Built from an old pressure cooker purchased
from a shop-vac motor and some kiln wire from a at a flea market. Pressure helps eliminate tiny
ceramics supplier. 2. Craftsman bandsaw. I traded bubbles when casting in molds. 6. Grinder/sander.
a gold pocketwatch and a stuffed iguana for this. 7. Warhead. A prop from The Abyss, one of my
Noisy but excellent. 3. Handmade toolbox. To favorite movies. 8. Old dentist’s drill. 9. Drill press
impress my peers and superiors at ILM, I stayed (one of two). 10. Very large toolbox. 11. Maggie,
up one night and built this toolbox and a twin. It the youngest of my two rescue dogs from Pets
has wheels and a locking scissor-lift so I can use Unlimited in San Francisco. 12. Sortimo rack
it at my desk without bending over. No tool need system. Holds every piece of hardware any shop
be moved out of the way to get to any other — a will ever need. The trays have modular containers
quality I call “first-order retrievability.” 4. A 16" inside. I love this thing. 13. My hand-built R2 unit.
disc sander/grinder. A recent Craigslist purchase. Constructed by me over 6 years. It’s perfectly
I have to install 3-phase/220V power to run it. accurate, all aluminum, fully remote control, and
5. Pressure vacuum chamber, for moldmaking. has an iPod running its high-fidelity sound system.

1 2

My New
Adam Savage talks about the things
he makes, and the stories they tell,
at his new home workshop/museum
in San Francisco.

Photograph by Cody Pickens

14 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p014-16_SIP_Adam_Savage_F2.indd 14 10/11/10 7:07:43 AM

I ’ve spent most of my adult life having regular
access to a workshop of some kind. My first
really private workspace was in Brooklyn, N.Y.
don’t believe them). I need, in some ways, to be
overwhelmed by the space where I make.
By the same token, I have a deeply personal
After moving from there to the mattress factory relationship with everything in that space, such
in Hunter’s Point, San Francisco, to my parent’s that at my worst, I’m a high-functioning hoarder,
basement, to my own garages, closets, and cars, and at my best, I’m the curator of the most
I’ve finally moved into my ideal man cave, as you awesome museum of my own brain.
see here. The museum I oversee is, at its core, a sim-
I frequently call my shop spaces “possibility ple conduit for the stories that objects tell.
engines” (I just as frequently worry that that’s Sometimes fictional objects tell true stories.
a pretentious thing to call my shop spaces), and Eventually, every object describes a narrative in
I’ve always required a certain amount of visual its wear and decay, and my fascination with that
cacophony in these places where I seek inspira- narrative is what has always made me a maker.
tion. I like noise (some might call it mess, but I want and need the objects around me to talk. »

9 10

11 12


Make: 15

p014-16_SIP_Adam_Savage_F2.indd 15 10/11/10 7:12:24 AM

When I can’t find objects that talk the way I want, I’ve made get bogged down by the reality that making things is an endless
them, and when I didn’t know how to make them, I’ve taught exercise in things not going as you planned. Which really is the
myself how. I have done this since I was 5 or 6. point, isn’t it?
Many of the most transcendent, and most frustrating, I don’t make things in order to have finished objects. I have
moments in my life have been while making things. I’ve left far finished objects as a by-product of my need to always be making.
more projects by the wayside unfinished than I’ve completed. I love these objects. I enjoy the conversation we have together.
At least 30 sit on shelves in various storage spaces, and I have I like the problem solving, the broken blades, and the Band-Aids.
eager plans for each of them, most of which will go unfulfilled. They’ve made me who I am.
But I won’t.
More photos: makezine.com/2010/workshop
With the limited time I have to devote to personal projects,
and with the long experience I’ve had in making, I now do most Adam Savage is a lifelong maker, having worked in theater, fine art
of my tool setup, construction-problem solving, and building in sculpture, machine art, robotics, animation, commercials, and films like
my head. I spend weeks throwing out bad ideas, and honing good A.I., Space Cowboys, the Star Wars prequels, and the Matrix sequels. He’s
taught advanced modelmaking, and has a modelmaking textbook kicking
ones, so that when I finally do get into my shop, I’m ready, and
around in his head. For the last eight years he’s hosted MythBusters. He’s
the work goes quickly. the father of 11-year-old twins, and collects and makes movie props and
That’s the plan, anyway. At least half the time my fine ideas other impossible objects in his spare time.


C A My MICROLUX mini-mill I plan to purchase a full-sized coun-

terpart to this little baby, but it has served me well. I gunsmithed most
of my Blade Runner gun on this thing using carbide bits. My previous
shop was 110 square feet (my new shop is over 2,000 — yay!), so size
was a key issue. This is a powerful beast despite its size. I bought and
installed an aftermarket DRO (a digital readout of exact position and
movement) that makes using it much easier.

B My shop “tool chair” was a present from artist Chico

MacMurtrie (amorphicrobotworks.org). I used to work as Chico’s
assistant; he built this during a time when he had a medical condition
that didn’t allow him to sit very comfortably.

C My lightsaber collection Front and center is what

you’d call a Luke ESB saber, constructed by me (not very accurately,
I’m sorry to say) from sketches I made when I visited an ILM museum
exhibit (before I worked at ILM). I pick these up from time to time.
I love having a lot of anything; the fact that they’re lightsabers makes
this one of the most awesome collections ever.

16 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p014-16_SIP_Adam_Savage_F2.indd 16 10/11/10 7:26:25 AM

“I designed and cut this
bench from an actual
butterfly photo. My
machine paid for
itself in 3 months
making products like these.”
-Ken Garcia, PlasmaCAM® machine owner

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p017_SIP_AD_PlasmaCam.indd 17 10/13/10 4:10:49 PM

Photograph by Carla Sinclair


L ocated on a quiet street flanked by gigantic

shade trees in Burbank, Calif., Mister Jalopy’s
garage is like a portal into the past and the future
bodied mail trucks, dragsters, utility trucks with
cherry picker baskets, Aeroflots, diamond-plate
F-350s with welders on the back, teardrop
at the same time. It’s fully stuffed from floor to trailers, well diggers, and, most favorably, book-
ceiling with vintage tools, car parts, and movie mobiles. I would collect houses and skyscrapers,
memorabilia he picks up at garage sales. but that would take up too much space,” Mister
“I would fill my dream garage with ice cream Jalopy notes. Owner of a used bicycle shop called
trucks, carnival rides, Helms Bakery trucks, Coco’s Variety, Mister Jalopy confesses to owning
funeral flower cars, Mercedes-Benz ambulance eight cars, including a 1965 Ford Country Squire
conversions by Binz, Unimogs, doodlebugs, Wagon with a whimsical paint job by his friend,
flathead four-powered log splitters, Cadillac a retired Disney sign painter. Read the chronicles
El Caminos, passenger buses from India, Air- of his garage life on his blog, dinosaursandrobots.
streams, Model T fruit trucks, farm equipment, com.
hit-and-miss engines, Spartans, aluminum- —Mark Frauenfelder

18 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p018-19_SIP_Mr_Jalopy_F2.indd 18 10/11/10 7:28:46 AM



1. Having restored and hot-rod pinstriped an 6. Your father’s father rode in that kiddie ride.
O’Keefe & Merritt stove, Mister Jalopy won’t Mister Jalopy is trying to figure out where to
dare start this rare mint-green range until the mount an engine. 7. That beautiful art deco
average daily temperature drops below 85. Farnsworth radio cabinet hides a complete
2. Good garage policy: WWTBD? (What Would The Macintosh record album digitizing workstation
Bandit Do?) 3. Automobile water bags and Model (see MAKE, Volume 04, page 54). 8. The Captain
A headlights from a time when crossing the Fantastic pinball machine was rescued from the
desert by automobile was a risky proposition. trash and “almost works!” 9. Garage sale Oriental
4. The “Outlaw Motorcycle Club” Levi’s cutoff rugs really tie the room together, and oil spills
jacket from the 1960s was a garage sale find. just add character. 10. Purchased for some
5. The heartbeat of any good garage, the future race car project, those spindle-mount
ever-present, never-large-enough, Snap-on magnesium racing wheels were from Barney
rollaway tool chest that has every imaginable Navarro’s 1969 Indy 500 entry.
tool except the wrench you need at midnight.

Make: 19

p018-19_SIP_Mr_Jalopy_F2.indd 19 10/11/10 7:29:19 AM

K y Michaelson, aka The Rocketman, hails
from an illustrious line of makers. On his
family tree can be found inventors of the motor-
his book), and it was this ability to dazzle with
his creations that sent him on a lifelong quest to
build more impressive machines.
cycle transmission and clutch, the rotary lawn- Michaelson is forever hungry for power and
mower blade, the flip-top aspirin box, and the speed. In his Gyro Gearloose world, he’s never met
oxygen mask as used in commercial aviation. a moving vehicle he didn’t think would go better
As a child dealing with dyslexia, Michaelson with a big-ass rocket engine bolted to its back-
struggled in school, but discovered a natural side. And, at this point, there aren’t too many
affinity for building things. One day in math class things he hasn’t “rocketized,” from motorcycles
his teacher discovered that he’d hollowed out and go-karts to tricycles and kiddie scooters.
his textbook and built a crystal set inside (the And then there are the rocket-powered toilets and
earpiece wire was concealed through his shirt barstools. See more of Rocketman’s crazed
sleeve). She was awestruck by his ingenuity (in creations at the-rocketman.com.
addition to being pissed at him for destroying —Gareth Branwyn

1 3

Photograph by Chad Holder

20 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p020-21_SIP_Rocketman_F1.indd 20 10/11/10 7:31:31 AM

1. Replica of an early Michaelson motorcycle, (age 10). Not surprisingly, “Rocketman” is his
originally built by Michaelson’s great uncles of middle name. No, really. Legally. 6. An H202
Michaelson Motor Company. 2. Rocket-powered rocketpack. Michaelson’s building a new one
go-kart. His kart holds the world record of 252 with bigger rocket fuel tanks so it’ll fly longer.
mph. 3. The payload section of Michaelson’s Civil- 7. An original 1912 Michaelson motor that the
ian Space Exploration Team’s GoFast rocket, which, Rocketman found at a flea market in Davenport,
on May 17, 2004, became the first amateur rocket Iowa. He’d been in search of one for 30 years.
in space. 4. Dubbed the “SS Flusher,” this rocket- 8. A rocket-powered bicycle Michaelson built
powered toilet came about when somebody over- using a Mongoose frame. 9. A twin-engine drag
heard Michaelson saying that a commode was one bike, built on a BSA frame. 10. A steering “engine
of the few things he hadn’t made into a rocket. bell” off an Apollo rocket. Michaelson has over
The bowl donor worked for the prison system and 275 space artifacts in his home in the Minneapolis
donated it on the q.t. 5. This hybrid (N20/plastic) suburbs.
rocket trike was built for Michaelson’s son, Buddy


Make: 21

p020-21_SIP_Rocketman_F1.indd 21 10/11/10 7:31:57 AM

Building The ultimate, multipurpose
the maker’s workshop, built
Barrage from the ground up.
Garage By William Gurstelle

As a city dweller, I’ve often looked

with envy at the spacious outbuild-
THE ings of my rural friends and relatives.
GARAGE Horse barns, potting sheds, root cel-
lars, equipment garages — plentiful,
enclosed, and private space is the one thing that
makes me envy those who live beyond the end of
the bus line. I think often about what I could make
if I had a room of my own: a purpose-built, well-
equipped space in which to create.
Apparently I’m not alone in these a versatile, flexible space capable of
thoughts. Homebuilders commonly offer handling nearly any project I could think
two-, three-, and even four-car garages of — from building a cedar-strip canoe to
for new homes. But all that space isn’t compounding fuel and oxidizer for a rocket
needed simply to shelter the family Chevy. engine, from soldering a Minty Boost to
It’s needed to keep pace with the explo- developing a model ornithopter.
sion in DIY projects and their concomitant This series of articles details the
material and tool requirements. creation of a modestly sized yet state-of-
Randy Nelson, president of Swisstrax, the-art maker’s workshop, which I named
a manufacturer of workshop and garage the Barrage Garage.
floor products, says that garages are quick- This installment covers the design and
ly evolving into more than simply places construction of my Barrage Garage, and
where people keep their cars. Installation the considerations behind its doors and
of the company’s special-purpose floor tile windows, floor coverings, and other infra-
in garages and workshops is booming. structure. The parts that follow describe
“[Spaces for making things] have just the equipment inside it, such as work-
about doubled in the last ten years,” says benches, machine tools, hand tools, and
Nelson. “People aren’t just stuffing junk my own space-saving tool storage system.
in their garages any more. It’s become the
male domain, the place where they can do
their work and have their tools.”
There are scores of books providing
advice on setting up a wood shop or metal
shop, and many others that describe
setting up specialty areas such as a paint
shop, a photography studio, or a chemistry
But what I wanted was not a single-
purpose workspace. I was seeking the
ultimate, multipurpose maker’s workshop:

22 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F2.indd 22 10/12/10 3:22:20 PM

Workshop Egress A 9-foot-wide, automatic, well-
insulated door outfitted with required
CUSTOM CAVE: The obvious advantage
of building a workshop from scratch

is the luxury of spec’ing it perfectly to
safety equipment was essential. The huge
your needs.
door makes bringing materials in and out
of the workspace a snap.
Criteria Fenestration Natural light and a view
to the outside were high on my list of
» The first step was to determine priorities. Therefore, the design called for
which features were the most four east-facing sliding windows having
important and practical.
a total glass area of 24 square feet.

Organization I devised a plan for a

combination of stackable modular
cabinets, which, along with a slotted wall
storage system, maximize the efficiency
and versatility of my space.

Surfaces I wanted more functionality and

style than a concrete floor could afford.
I selected a special-purpose tile floor for
Photography by William Gurstelle

workshops and garages that makes walk-

ing and standing more comfortable.

Power I needed 240 volts to run the

heater and welder, and 120-volt recep-
tacles placed at frequent intervals along
all walls on two separate 20-amp, GFI-
protected circuits. This ensures a plentiful,
safe supply of electrical power to all tools.

Make: 23

p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F2.indd 23 10/12/10 3:22:48 PM

Building Imhotep’s: a perfectly level slab placed in
exactly the right spot.

the Barrage Concrete Ideas

After excavation, the concrete work began.
Garage Concrete is composed of Portland cement,
gravel, sand, and water. When freshly
poured, concrete is wet and plastic. But
» My first task was to site the structure. within hours it begins to solidify, ultimately
Where should the workshop go? becoming as hard as rock.
Most people call that process “drying,”
but the concrete crew foreman on my job
told me that’s not really the best choice of
words. Concrete does not simply solidify
because excess water has evaporated from
the slurry. Instead, the water reacts with
the cement in a chemical process known
as hydration. The cement absorbs the
water, causing it to harden and bond the
sand and pebbles together, creating the
stone-hard material we know as concrete.

Framing the Concept

Prior to the mid-19th century, building
was an art that took many years of
apprenticeship to learn. There were few,
if any, building codes. Quality of work was
based largely on the personal integrity
and craftsmanship of each builder.
For 2,000 years, the most common
technique for building with wood was the
Initially I considered placing the shop in made in it. It has always been this way. method called timber framing. Buildings of
my basement. Possible, but this would Four thousand years ago, in the reign that era still exist; typically they are barns
involve far too many compromises. The of the great Egyptian pyramid builders, and homes with huge wooden beams
basement is a low-ceilinged space with construction techniques were rudimen- supporting large open spaces.
marginal access via a narrow stairway. The tary. Imhotep, legendary architect of the In the mid-19th century, building tech-
thought of carrying tools and materials up pharaohs, had only knotted measuring niques changed. Cheap, factory-produced
and down, turning corners, and so forth ropes stretched taut between stakes, nails and standardized, “dimensional”
quickly dissuaded me. plumb bobs, and sighting sticks. lumber from sawmills allowed for a faster,
Instead I turned to the nearly forgot- But Imhotep gave the pharaohs the more versatile method of construction
ten space along the alley in back of my tools to build monuments capable of called balloon framing.
home. Separated from the rest of my yard withstanding 50 centuries of desert Invented by Augustine Taylor of Chicago,
by a chain-link fence, it was covered with sandstorms. He did that by starting with a balloon framing revolutionized building
25-year-old lilac bushes. I loved those perfectly level floor. It’s believed that the construction. It utilized long, vertical fram-
fragrant, beautiful spring blossoms, but Egyptians leveled the area under a pyra- ing members called studs that ran from sill
the space those lilacs grew upon was mid by cutting a shallow grid of trenches to eave, with intermediate floor structures
workshop-perfect: it had room, privacy, into the bedrock, then filling them with nailed to them. What used to take a crew
and access. So, goodbye lilacs. water. Knowing that the height of water of experienced timber framers months
City ordinances allowed me a maximum within connected trenches would be at to join and raise, could be constructed
of 240 square feet for the shop. With the exactly the same level, the workers hacked in a fraction of the time by a competent
city building permit obtained, it was time out the intervening islands of stone and carpenter and a few helpers.
to push some dirt. sand with hoes and stone drills. Over time, balloon framing evolved into
The Barrage Garage has a flat floor as the current technique known as platform
Pushing Dirt well, but my excavators used a 75-horse- framing. The Barrage Garage, like most
It all starts with a level floor. Every work- power backhoe and modern surveying modern buildings, is built by nailing together
shop, atelier, pole barn, or garage must tools including transits and lasers. My standard dimensional lumber — 2×4 trusses
have a level floor if great things are to be end result is pretty much the same as holding the roof and 2×6 studs forming the

24 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 24 10/11/10 7:43:19 AM

walls — at code-defined intervals. Then,
plywood sheathing is attached to the lumber
frame, and the basic structure is complete.

A Solid Floor
The first order of business after the work-
shop shell was complete was to install
the floor. There are three general options:
coatings, mats, and tile. Each has its own
advantages and disadvantages.
Most common and least expensive are
coatings. There are several types of coat-
ing available for concrete floors, including
epoxy, polyurethane, and latex.
Epoxy paint is probably the most widely
applied form of floor coating. Epoxy forms
a hard, durable surface and bonds solidly
to a correctly prepared surface. Because
floor coating provides no cushioning, it can
be hard on feet and legs. Also, it doesn’t
last forever: expect to recoat the floor
every five years or so.
Polyurethane coatings are also very
durable, and they resist chemical spills
better than epoxy. But urethanes do not
bond directly to concrete, so an epoxy
primer coat is required.
Latex garage paint is widely available
and inexpensive. It goes on easily and
doesn’t require the prep work associated
with epoxies and urethanes. However, it’s
less durable.
PVC floor protection mats are another
option. They protect the porous concrete
floor from staining or corrosive chemicals
such as oil, paint, or acid. Mats are typically
simple to install, requiring only scissors.
Importantly, they add a cushioning layer
above the hard concrete.
Special-purpose vinyl tile is the premier
flooring option for workshops and garages,
and that’s what I installed in the Barrage
Garage. These floor tiles, from Swisstrax
(swisstrax.com), snapped together firmly
and were installed without special tools.
Tile handles heavy loads and high traffic.
It resists damage caused by chemicals,
and it’s far more comfortable to stand on
than concrete. But best of all is tile’s ability
to transform a humdrum workshop into
a great-looking space.

SCRATCH BUILT: A perfectly level slab

is an imperative start. I used platform
framing for the structure, and durable,
cushioned vinyl tile for the flooring.

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p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 25 10/11/10 7:45:18 AM

Choose Outfitting the all-purpose
Your Tools maker’s workshop with the tools
to tackle most any project.
By William Gurstelle

S o far, I’ve detailed the construction of my all-purpose maker-style

workshop, which I’ve nicknamed the Barrage Garage. It’s turned out
beautifully, and as anticipated, it’s the envy of my maker friends.
Small? Sure, it’s a mere 20 feet by 14 question to be sure, and one that a dozen
Photography by William Gurstelle

feet, but it has all the space required to people would answer a dozen different
do serious creating. It’s loaded with ways. My goal was to make the Barrage
features, including a way-cool vinyl tile Garage into the Platte River of workshops:
floor, a high-tech wall storage system, a mile wide and three feet deep. Like the
fluorescent lighting, 240-volt power, and Platte, my workshop covers a lot of dif-
lots of electrical outlets. ferent areas but is not particularly deep
After the infrastructure was completed, in any single genre. Flexible as a yoga
it was time to outfit the Barrage Garage. instructor, it provides an environment
Choosing tools and supplies is a subjective in which I can attempt projects in wood,

26 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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metal, chemistry, home repair, electricity, work or electrical projects. The plywood- FUN STARTS HERE: With your workshop
even the odd bit of pyrotechnics (see covered 2×6s are great for everything else. structure built, the next step is choosing
the tools and workbench setup best
MAKE Volume 13, page 54). I finished the workbench by outfitting it
suited to your projects. I chose a sturdy,
If you’re a maker with dreams of with a wood vise with bench dogs (wooden counterbraced fir bench and a wide array
metalworking, woodworking, building inserts mounted opposite the vise to hold of basic tools.
electronics projects, customizing your oversized work pieces), a portable machin-
rod, or simply keeping your house up ist’s vise, and a pullout shelf.
and running, read on. In this installment, The typical advice from experts to
we’ll examine the must-have tools and novices is to buy the best quality tools you
equipment that make the Barrage Garage can afford. And I believe it’s good advice.
such a maker-enabling space. Cheap screwdrivers, for example, can be
a big mistake; the soft metal edges of infe-
The Workbench rior blades can bend or even break under
Building a workbench was my first con- stress, and the plastic handles chip when
sideration, for it’s literally the foundation dropped. For any tool you use frequently,
on which all subsequent work will be built. it makes sense to go with quality.
I considered the design carefully, evaluat- On the other hand, when you’ve got a
ing possibilities ranging from a complex one-off job, and you’re not sure if you’ll
Scandinavian design with a beechwood ever have another application for piston-
frame mounted on self-leveling hydraulic ring pliers or a gantry crane, then buying
cylinders, to an interior door nailed to an inexpensive tool may make sense.
two sawhorses. I chose something in the Besides raw materials and tools,
middle — a solid, heavy, counterbraced I stocked up on general supplies: duct
construction made from 2×6 fir lumber. tape, electrical tape, transparent tape,
The work surface is two-thirds wood and powdered graphite, rope or cord, twine,
one-third granite. From a local countertop light oil, white glue, super glue, quick-set
maker I was able to inexpensively obtain epoxy, extended-set epoxy, sandpaper,
a beautiful 2'×2' piece of polished granite heat-shrink tubing, zip ties, pencils, ink
left over from a bigger job. The ultraflat, markers, rags, wipes, and towels. Now,
smooth granite is perfect for doing fine on to the tools.

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p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 27 10/11/10 7:48:09 AM

Basic Tools L. Screwdrivers Choose an assortment
A. Electric drill, cordless or corded of high-quality Phillips and flat-headed
A drill with a variety of screwdriver tips (and possibly Torx) screwdrivers in a
and drill bits may well be your most variety of sizes.
frequently used power tool. In the Barrage
Garage, where I have power outlets M. Scale A triple beam balance or
everywhere, I appreciate the lightness and electronic scale is a necessity for
torque of a corded drill. But many people chemistry projects and mixing stuff.
appreciate the flexibility of a cordless
model. The higher the top voltage (e.g., Power Tools
14.4 or 18 volts) of a cordless drill, the N. Belt sander
greater its torque and the more it weighs.
O. Drill press I simply can’t live
B. Files and brushes Flat and round without my drill press, because it
bastard files and a wire brush. (A bastard provides far more accuracy than a hand

The file refers to one with an intermediate

tooth size.)
drill ever could.

P. Cut-off saw
C. Cutters You’ll want diagonal cutters, a
utility knife, tinsnips, a wire cutter/crimper/ Q. Grinder
stripper, and a good pair of scissors. You’ll
» If you’ve got opinions on what
find a self-healing cutting mat to be a great Beyond these basics, there are hundreds,
is an absolute necessity for the
well-equipped maker’s shop, let us help; buy one at any fabric store. if not thousands, of tools available, all of
know. Post your recommendations which may be useful depending on the
at makezine.com/tnt. D. Mixing and volume-measuring project. In regard to stationary power
equipment Sturdy plastic bowls in differ- tools, it’s a tough call. Because they’re
ent sizes, disposable spoons, measuring expensive and require a lot of shop real
cups, and measuring spoons. estate, it really depends on what you’re
going to do most. I use my table saw all
E. Hacksaw For those occasions that the time. But I know people who consider
require cutting through something harder a band saw an absolute necessity and
than wood. others who say a scroll saw is their number
one power saw priority.
F. Handsaw Most often, you’ll likely be
cutting dimensional lumber (2×4s, 2×6s, Special Tools
etc.) to size, so choose a saw with cross- Soldering iron Choose a variable-
cut teeth instead of ripping teeth. temperature model with changeable tips.

G. Linear measuring gear Tape measure, Magnifying lens You’ll find a swing-
protractor, and combination square. arm magnifier with a light a very helpful
addition to your shop. It mounts directly
H. Socket and wrench set If you work on to your workbench and swings out of the
things mechanical, you’ll appreciate the way when not in use. It’s great for every-
quality of a good socket set. Spend the thing from threading needles to examining
money and get English and metric sock- surface finishes.
ets, as well as Allen wrenches (hex keys).
Safety equipment Safety glasses,
I. Pliers come in a variety of shapes. hearing protection, a fire extinguisher,
At a minimum, you should have standard, goggles, a dust mask, and gloves are very
needlenose, and vise-grips. important.
All safety glasses, even inexpensive ones,
J. Hammers Start with a claw hammer for must conform to government regulations,
nailing and a rubber mallet for knocking so they all provide adequate protection.
things apart. However, more expensive ones are more
comfortable and look better, making
K. Digital multimeter If you do any you more inclined to always use them.
electronics work, a volt-ohm meter with (See “The Safe Workshop,” page 35.)
several types of probes and clips will be

28 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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Basic Tools

Power Tools

Safety Equipment General Supplies

Make: 29

p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 29 10/11/10 7:51:08 AM

OK, once you’ve got all this stuff, where ets that are firmly affixed to wall studs,
are you going to store it? I use a combina- reminiscent of the way the pages in this
tion of bins hung on StoreWall (storewall. magazine are bound to the spine.
com) panels, and my own contrivance that
I call the Tool-Zine. It’s easy to build and MATERIALS
provides an incredible amount of storage » 1" Schedule 40 PVC pipes (4) 5' long
in a small area. » 1" PVC pipe end caps (4)
The Tool-Zine is like a magazine for » 1" wood laths, 4' long (4)
tools; you store your tools on “pages” and » 2" pegboard in 2'×4' sections (4)
simply turn to the correct page when you Other pegboard thicknesses might work,

The need a particular tool. You’ll be amazed

at the convenience and organization it
but you’ll have to adjust the slot width.
» 2×6 lumber about 8' long

brings to your shop. » ¼" machine screws, 1½" long (20)
A 4-page Tool-Zine provides the equiva- with nuts and washers
lent of 64ft2 of wall space in a space slightly » #8 machine screws, 1½" long (20)
larger than 8ft2. That’s a highly leveraged with nuts and washers
storage solution! » Wall anchors or wood screws
Conceptually, the Tool-Zine is straight-
forward. It consists of four 1" PVC pipes
slotted lengthwise. A 2'×4' piece of 2"
pegboard is inserted into each slot and
fastened with machine screws. Next, wood
lath is bolted to both sides of the pegboard
to make it rigid. This entire assembly
makes a single page of the Tool-Zine.
Four pages are assembled and then
mounted vertically on wooden brack-

30 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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Make Your Tool-Zine 4. Be sure to anchor the top bracket firmly COMPACT YOUR COLLECTION:
The diagram shown here has all the into the wall studs. Easily flip through your tools with
this customizable organizer made
information you need to build the
of pegboard and PVC.
Tool-Zine. Here are a few pointers to 5. I chose to build a platform to support
make the task easier. the lower bracket. The platform rests on
the concrete floor and is attached with
1. The most difficult part is making the a concrete anchor. As an alternative, the
long slot in the PVC pipe. To fit the peg- bottom bracket could be wall-mounted
board, it must be straight, with a constant like the top bracket. It you do this, make
width. You will likely need a table saw to sure the brackets are securely mounted
do this successfully. I bolted the PVC to structural members that can handle the
to a 2×2 piece of dimensional lumber so weight of your tools.
I could use the saw’s rip fence to keep
the cut as straight as possible. 6. The Tool-Zine is customizable. You can
easily add additional pages or increase
2. Set the saw blade height on your the distance between pages by extending
table saw so that it’s just high enough to the size of the brackets. However, if you
cut through the bottom of the PVC, but do, be sure the brackets are adequately
doesn’t cut into the bolts used to attach anchored to the wall studs.
the PVC to the 2×2 guide piece.
Illustrations by Tim Lillis

3. Depending on the kerf width of your

saw’s blade, it may be difficult to slide the
pegboard into the slot. If so, use a rubber
mallet to pound it in.

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p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 31 10/11/10 7:53:42 AM

Stock Be ready with a basic inventory
Your of the stuff dreams are made of.
Shop By William Gurstelle

I n my Barrage Garage workshop, I keep frequently used materials on hand

at all times. Stocking a well-considered selection of materials is important
when I need to make a simple model or a fast prototype to bring an idea to
life, or at least prove to myself that it’s worth further exploration.
Choosing materials is an important part for covering walls and roofs, and they’re welded into a regular square mesh. Flex-
of any project. But tradeoffs abound and it useful for projects of all types. Engineered ible and strong, it’s perfect for screening
can be tricky to decide which raw material woods include the old standby, plywood, off large areas inexpensively.
is right for the job. One material may be as well as particleboard and medium- Expanded metal is a rigid, open mesh
strong, but difficult to machine. Another density fiberboard (MDF). made from sheet metal that has been slit
may be great for use indoors but lose its MDF and particleboard are manufac- and expanded. It is much stronger and
integrity when placed in the elements. tured from wood pulp and glue pressed more rigid than hardware cloth.
Over time, I’ve developed an inventory of into sheets. They’re easy to cut and You can use these materials for animal-
basic raw materials that enable me to start, sand, a plus for the inexperienced maker. proofing, providing support for materials
and sometimes even complete, a great They’re cheaper than plywood, and not as such as plaster or concrete, making
variety of projects without the need to visit prone to warping. guards for dangerous areas, and more.
a lumberyard or wait for the UPS truck. Plywood, on the other hand, is propor- Expanded metal is strong enough to be
tionally lighter and stronger than MDF walked upon. Stock:
Dimensional Lumber and particleboard. It holds fasteners more Hardware cloth, ¼" mesh, 2'×4' sheet (1)
Dimensional lumber is the wood commonly securely, and has far better moisture Expanded metal, 2'×4'’ sheet (1)
sold in lumberyards. It’s sized according to resistance. Plywood comes in a variety
standardized widths and depths that are of thicknesses; 2" and 3" are the most Angle Iron aka
nominally described in whole numbers, commonly used. Structural Steel
but its actual size is ¼" or ½" less than Engineered wood comes in 4'×8' sheets Structural steel or iron, like dimensional
described. For example, a 1×2 board is that can take up a lot of storage space. lumber, is most often used to build a
actually ¾"×1½". If that’s a problem, cut the sheets in half. frame or superstructure. The many types
Dimensional lumber comes from soft- Stock: of structural steel are described by the
woods like fir and pine. Cut into 2×4s, it’s 3" plywood, B or C grade, 4'×4' sheets shapes they make when looking at them
commonly used for building the frame or (2) or a 4'×8' sheet if you have room on-end — angles, channels, bars, I-beams,
supporting structure of a project. Shelves and more. Angle iron is the king. It’s rela-
and smaller objects are frequently made Dowels tively inexpensive, extremely strong, and
from 1"-thick (nominal) boards of various When dimensional lumber is too big, can be attached to other pieces of iron by
widths and lengths. dowels (cylindrical rods made from solid fasteners or by welding.
It’s inexpensive and versatile, so keep wood) are utilitarian wonders. They’re I keep several 8' pieces of galvanized
ample supplies on hand for spur-of-the- great for aligning, fastening, and support- 14-gauge slotted angle iron on hand.
moment projects. I like to stock: ing project parts. Stock: Although its galvanized surface makes it
1×2×8' (4) ¼" dowel, 3' lengths (4) nearly unweldable, it’s still wonderfully
1×4×8' (4) 2" dowel, 3' lengths (4) versatile. The slots allow pieces to be cut
2×4×8' (4) ½" dowel, 3' lengths (2) and joined easily using 2" bolts and nuts.
Channels and I-beams are useful in situa-
Engineered Wood Hardware Cloth and tions requiring greater stiffness, although
Engineered wood products are manufac- Expanded Metal they’re heavier and cost more per linear
tured from wood components and adhesive. Hardware cloth is wonderfully useful stuff. foot. Stock:
Strong and light, they’re just the thing It’s a sheet of stiff, galvanized steel wire Slotted steel angle, 1¼"×1¼"×8' (2)

32 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 32 10/11/10 7:54:20 AM

Brass Sheet Music Wire MATERIAL WORLD: Having a well-
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Beloved by makers for its ability to be bent stocked selection of basic materials
makes it possible to build (and
Stronger than copper alone, brass sheet and then retain its shape, this tough and
photograph) on the fly.
is a great prototyping material that can be springy wire is especially useful in making
machined, bent, or cut to close tolerances. mechanisms and models. Be forewarned,
It’s easily worked with common hand it’s really tough stuff, requiring a special Hex-head cap screws (6 each):
tools and can be joined by soldering or by cutter (or a high-speed rotary tool like a ¼-20×1½"
mechanical fasteners. Stock: Dremel). Stock: ¼-20×2"
Brass sheet, .032"×6"×12" (1) Music wire, .056" OD, 3' lengths (2) 2-16×1"
Brass sheet, .016"×6"×12" (1) 2-16×1½"
Fasteners 2-16×2"
Plastic Pipe and Nearly all projects involve joining parts 2-16×2½"
Pipe Fittings together, commonly by using mechanical
Because of its low cost, strength, and easy fasteners such as bolts, screws, and nails. Nuts (24 each):
workability, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is Going to the hardware store for every nut 4-40
among the most common plastics in use. and bolt consumes time and fuel, so keep 6-32
PVC pipe comes in many sizes and shapes, a reasonable selection of fasteners on 8-32
with many types of connectors (called hand. Stock: 10-24
fittings). It’s useful for making furniture Round-head or pan-head machine ¼-20
frames, medium-duty support structures, screws (12 each): 2-16
and plumbing for liquids or air. Stock: 4-40×¼"
PVC pipe, 1" diameter, 8' lengths (2) 4-40×½" Nails (1 box each): 2d and 8d
with 1" elbows (4), tees (4) and 6-32×2"
caps (4) 6-32×¾"
PVC pipe, 2" diameter, 8' lengths (2) 8-32×½”
with 2" elbows (4), tees (4) and 8-32×1"
caps (4) 10-24×½"

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p022-33_SIP_Barr_Garage_F1.indd 33 10/11/10 7:55:30 AM



Outrageous 6

Make a billion dollars
and your shop could
look like this too.
Photography by John Keatley

Nathan Myrhvold’s Intellectual

Ventures Laboratory boasts state-
of-the-art workshops for electron-
ics, photonics, and culinary arts,
courtesy of his Microsoft fortune.
But it’s their machine shop that
really makes us hungry. 1. Romi
20" CNC lathe. 2. Haas VF-5 5-axis
CNC mill. 3. Pair of Traks: Trak K3
knee mill (2-axis) and Trak DPM
bed mill (3-axis). 4. Gorbel 500lb
overhead bridge crane. 5. and 6.
Haas VM-3 4-axis mold-maker’s
mill. See more of IVL’s workshops
at makezine.com/go/ivl.

34 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p034_SIP_IntlVntrs_F1.indd 34 10/11/10 12:16:37 PM

The Rules to
Y our workshop should be a welcoming
and friendly place. The key lies in
creating a safe and secure environment.

Safe make by.

Before embarking on a new project, it’s
a good idea to take a close look at the

working conditions in your shop.
By William Gurstelle If your project area gives you a vaguely
nervous feeling, now’s the time to bring
things up to date. Don’t delay: inspect,
review, and evaluate your space and make
whatever changes seem necessary to keep
you out of trouble.
Don’t know where to start? Here are
some ideas from the members of MAKE’s
Technical Advisory Board to get you
started. Have at it!
The high-decibel noise generated by
power tools such as table saws and
circular saws can damage your hearing.
Wait 12 hours between sketching the Protect your ears by using full-sized, Wear a particle mask
plans and starting the construction earmuff-style protectors. when appropriate to avoid breathing dust
process. The times people get hurt are and other particulate pollutants common
usually when they’re excited and in in workshops. Sawdust from treated wood
a hurry. Slow down, and work deliberately. and some plastics have known health risks.

Secure Always use

your work Obtain clamps,
when using hand not your hands,
a pair of Aim
or power tools. to hold a work
well-fitting, away from
cool polycarb yourself. piece on a drill
goggles, When cutting with press table. If the
Avoid using leather work a utility knife, tool binds, the
a table saw gloves, and position yourself work will spin
when you can. a protective so that when you dangerously.
Statistically, it’s lab coat. slip, the blade
easily the most Make them doesn’t land in
dangerous piece attractive and your flesh. Always keep a
of equipment in stylish so that first aid kit
the shop. wearing safety in your workshop,
equipment is fun. and always know
Pull back where it is. First
long hair. aid kits can be
Don’t touch purchased ready-
a bare wire, made, or you can
or cut any put one together
wire, until yourself. Essential
you’re sure where
items include
the other end
bandages, pads,
goes. When in
gauze, scissors,
doubt, measure
tweezers, and tape.
the potential.
This will save you
Photography by Jason Madara

from a possible
electrical shock.

If you work with heavy things — Install a smoke detector in your

say, timbers or angle iron — or are prone shop and place a fire extinguisher in an
to dropping tools, steel-toed safety easy-to-reach spot. Make sure the
shoes are a great investment extinguisher is rated for all types of fires.
in long-term foot appearance.

Make: 35

p035_SIP_SafeWorkshop_F1.indd 35 10/11/10 7:59:42 AM

Show MAKE readers show off their
Us workspaces at Make: Online.
Your By Gareth Branwyn


O n our website Make: Online (makezine.com) we frequently get photo

submissions of our readers’ workspaces. Like parents beaming over
newborn baby pics, makers love pointing out the aspects of their setup
they’re proudest of, and the features they find most useful. Here’s a selection
of shops we’ve featured on the site — and we’d love to see yours, too.
Send photos to workshop@makezine.com.
A Robotronic
R. Mark Adams is a computational biologist
in Potomac, Md., and a member of HacDC
(hacdc.org). He has two young daughters and
enjoys sharing his passion for technology and
science with them, plus building robots and
other DIY projects in this gorgeous shop he’s
built. makezine.com/go/adamsshop

B mini bench
Mark also did a how-to on MAKE about
building a portable, electronics-friendly
workbench: makezine.com/go/adamsbench

C Man Cave
Craig Crutchfield’s garage workshop is “a man
cave, a sanctuary, a workspace,” he writes.
“It’s a laboratory for making camera gear and
Frankenstein cameras. I make all my home’s
repairs out here, and do some remedial wood-
working. It’s my art studio, a place to store
inspiration when I can get my hands on it. It’s
a great place to think and create. A refuge.”
D Tight Squeeze
With little room in his home to do electronics B
projects, Adam Wolf was feeling squeezed.
But being the enterprising sort, he decided
to just set up shop in an available closet!

E Mac Daddy
John Baichtal of MAKE writes of Grant
Hutchinson’s shop: “I’m a big fan of work-
shops, the messier the better, and this one
definitely fits the bill. I especially love the
old-school Macs that Grant has turned into
servers. The super old ones are an 8500 and
9600 working as web servers, while a relatively
modern G4/450 dualie serves as a file server.
But these old-school devices can’t compare
to Grant’s pride and joy, his Apple Newton
server!” makezine.com/go/hutchinson

36 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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G F Hong Kong Views

Well-known robot and toy designer Mark
Tilden (father of BEAM robotics and the
WowWee Robosapien line) has a commanding
view from his home shop. He writes: “After
having spent most of my lab-life staring at
basement walls or security bars, I recently
sorted myself a home lab 600 feet high,
overlooking Kowloon Park and the Hong Kong
skyline.” makezine.com/go/tilden

G None Shall Pass

David Glicksman of Los Angeles was
inspired by posts on MAKE and Boing Boing
(boingboing.net) to create a very special, and
especially geeky, security lock for his garage
shop. “This is a great example of the kind of
fun, inspiring projects that come out of these
online communities. I combined Chris Schaie’s
beautiful mechanical iris, Steve Hoefer’s
secret-knock-detecting Arduino code, and an
engraving made with my scratch-built CNC
router to make the entrance to my garage/
lab.” See the video at makezine.com/go/

See more maker workshops at:


Make: 37

p036-37_SIP_ShowShops_F1.indd 37 10/11/10 8:04:51 AM

Workhorses Use a simple mortise-and-tenon
joint to make these fine-looking
shop horses that’ll last a lifetime.
By Len Cullum

Based on the trestles of a Japanese woodworking bench,

these sawhorses are a good beginning joinery project.
They’re constructed using the mortise and tenon, the funda-
Photography and illustration by Len Cullum

mental joint in woodworking. The tenon (end projection) of one

piece fits into the mortise (hole) in another piece, as in Figure A.
This project uses the drawbore style of mortise and tenon,
which is secured by a wooden pin that draws it tight and makes
it look great.

38 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p038-43_SIP_Workhorses_F1.indd 38 10/11/10 10:25:13 AM

The Mortise and Tenon Joint Lumber: 4"×4"×8' (2), 4"×6"×8' (1),
2"×4"×8' (1), and (optional) 1"×4"×8'
clear cedar or pine (2)
Wood dowels, ½"×3' (2) to make 12
lengths of 4"–4½"
Double-sided tape (optional)
Cheek Wood finish (optional)

Shoulder Table saw (recommended) or other saw
Edge cheek
Drill press (recommended) or drill
Handsaw I recommend a Japanese
ryoba saw.
Combination square, knife, hammer
Drill bits: 1" Forstner bit, ½" Forstner bit,
½" wood bit or brad point bit
Wood chisel, 1" Make sure it’s sharp.
Sandpaper or hand plane



What makes a drawbore different from Lumber TIP: Home-center lumber can be
a regular pegged tenon is the offset pin Choosing the right lumber can make the pretty wet. If your pieces feel damp
holes. Instead of the pin passing straight project much easier. Look for pieces that and especially heavy you might want
through the joint to hold it together, the are straight and have the fewest knots. to let them dry for a few weeks before
hole in the tenon is bored slightly closer to Sight down the length of each one to starting; otherwise, as the wood dries
the shoulder. This offset causes the tenon check for bending or twists (Figure B). and shrinks, your joints will become
to be drawn deeper into the mortise when I chose fir for a couple of reasons. It’s loose.
the wooden pin is driven through. heavy, stiff, and fairly easy to work, and
Watching a joint that you made pull itself since it’s basic construction lumber, it’s
together like that is a very cool thing. And available most anywhere. You can also use
when you feel how strong it is with no glue pine or cedar or pretty much any wood
or metal fasteners, it opens doors in your you like, but do not use treated lumber.
head. You realize that joinery isn't just the The total cost for the fir was $25.
realm of mountain-dwelling woodworking
mystics, but an accessible approach to Sizing
working with wood. The proper sizing for horses is largely
The joint may look intimidating, but if about preference and use. I use 2 sizes in
you take your time and use sharp tools, my shop: higher ones for standing work
you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. And (sawing, planing) and lower ones for sitting
while the drawbore style is a little more work (heavy joinery).
complicated, when cut carefully it’s fairly The finished height is determined by
forgiving of loose fits, a bonus for the measuring from the ground to the bottom
beginner. of your closed fist. Subtracting 4" from
If you’re comfortable around woodwork- that result will give you the finished length
ing tools, these horses should present for your legs including the tenons. We’ll
a light challenge, then last a lifetime. call that measurement H.
Because of their myriad uses in the work-
shop, to call them sawhorses would sell
them short. I prefer workhorses.

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p038-43_SIP_Workhorses_F1.indd 39 10/11/10 10:26:04 AM

TIP: If you’re using a hand-
saw, the easiest way to get
a good straight cut is as
follows. Using a square, mark
cut lines around all 4 sides.
Make a diagonal cut about a
quarter of the way through,
roll the piece 90°, and cut
again (Figure D). Continue
rolling and cutting until
C D you’ve cut through.


Milling pass. You should be left with 2"-thick scrap. (Figure G). Transfer these lines to the ends
To start, lay out and cut all your pieces to Next, rotate the piece 90° and repeat of all 4 legs (remember to orient each leg’s
length (Figure C). While there isn’t a lot of the process, removing the second face 2 tenons 90° to each other).
waste, there’s enough to allow you to move (Figure F). Repeat this process with all of The layout for the stretchers is the
the parts around to avoid larger knots and the parts, finishing all like parts at once. same, only you should be 3¼" in from
other flaws. The cut list: the ends, and these tenons are aligned
Layout with each other.
From each 4×4 cut: The accuracy of the layout is important, To cut the tenons, I like to use a saw
»»1 @ 36" beam, final dimensions so take your time. Mark all like parts at the called a ryoba nokogiri (“double-edged
3¼"×3¼"×36" same time and check that they all match saw”). The ryoba is a Japanese general-
»»2 @ (H) legs, final dims 3"×3"×H before making any cuts. use carpentry saw with two sets of teeth:
From the 4×6 cut: I generally measure joints from the big teeth for ripping (cutting with the
»»4 @ 21" feet, final dims 3¼"×5"×21" center out. After measuring in from both grain), and small teeth for crosscutting
From the 2×4 cut: sides to find center, I strike a line and work (across the grain). Unlike most western
»»2 @ 28½" stretchers, final dims outward from it. You don’t have to follow saws, which cut on the push stroke,
12"×3"×28½" this method, but it works well for me. Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke.
I also use the blade of my square to Using the crosscut side of the saw, cut
There are several ways to dimension the transfer lines. Once I have one measure- along the shoulder line, being sure to stop
parts, from handsaws to band saws. My ment marked, I then transfer that same when you reach the cheek line. To help
tool of choice is the table saw. Since most line to the matching or corresponding keep the cut straight, you can hold another
table saws don’t have the capacity to make pieces. It speeds things along and helps piece of wood along the line as a guide
these cuts in a single pass, I’ll do it in two. keep everything consistent. (Figure H).
Starting with the legs, set the saw fence Flip the saw to its rip side, and cut along
to 3" and raise the blade to just past half Tenons the cheek line. When you have a diagonal
of the 4×4 wood’s thickness, in this case To lay out the leg tenons, start by marking cut from the shoulder to the center of the
about 1¾" high. Putting the best face the shoulders (see Figure A, previous page). thickness, roll the piece over and finish the
against the fence, push the piece through Measure in 2½" in from each end and strike cut from the other side (Figure I).
(Figure E). Once you’ve made that cut, flip a line around all 4 sides. For the cheek line, Once all the cheeks are cut, lay out
the piece end to end, and with the same measure ½" to either side of center and and cut the edge cheeks. Measuring out
face against the fence, make the second strike a line all the way around the end 1¼" from center, strike your lines and cut

40 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p038-43_SIP_Workhorses_F1.indd 40 10/11/10 10:27:33 AM



(Figure J). Clean up any high spots with a to work from both sides. Only drill halfway
sharp chisel. through from one side before rolling the
The last step is to put a small chamfer or piece over and drilling the rest of the way
bevel on the end of the tenon (Figure K). from the other. This will keep the drill bit
This can be done with a knife, chisel, or from blowing out the exit side, making a
sandpaper, and it will help ease assembly. splintery mess of things. After drilling, use
the same procedure for chiseling, working
Mortises from both sides to keep both faces intact
Again, working out from center, mark all (Figure N).
your lines (Figure L). When laying out the
mortises in the legs, be sure to mark them Pin Holes (Drawbores)
on both sides of the legs because the Lay out the holes for the pins through
tenon passes all the way through. the mortises (but not the tenons yet).
The first step in the mortising is to For the feet and beams these should be
remove the waste using a drill. While a centered 1½" from the mortised edge. For
hand drill will work, a drill press is recom- the stretchers they should be on center.
mended. A drill press will give you reliably Use a ½" bit to drill all the mortise pin
straight holes with sides that can be used holes. Again, using a drill press is highly
for reference as you chisel out the waste. recommended. Drill slowly to minimize
Feet and beam mortises: Using a 1" splintering on the exit.
Forstner bit, drill out the mortises to a
depth of 23"; these are blind mortises (or NOTE: I’m using dowels for this project,
stop mortises), which don’t go all the way but if you want to take it further, you
through. To keep the sides straight, first can square the holes with a chisel and
drill holes at either end, and then connect make square pins instead.
them by drilling a hole in the center. Use a
sharp, 1" chisel to clean up the sides and It’s time to fit the joints. Since each will
square the corners (Figure M). have a slightly different fit, be sure to
Stretcher mortises: Because the mark each one for its corresponding part.
stretcher is a through mortise, you’ll want I usually mark letters on the tenons and on

Make: 41

p038-43_SIP_Workhorses_F1.indd 41 10/11/10 10:28:39 AM



the edge of the mortise in places that will other, and mark a line 4" in from each end. Next add the beam (Figure W), and lastly
be covered once they’re assembled. Using a drill press and 1" Forstner bit, drill a the feet (Figure X).
The pieces should slip together with line of half-depth, overlapping holes where You can cut the pins off flush, but I like
no more than a few raps of a hammer. If the bottoms meet, from one line to the to leave them a little proud. The easiest
it’s a lot tighter than that, carefully pull it other (Figure P). Flip and repeat from the way to do this is to drill a hole in a scrap of
apart and inspect the tenon. You should be other side, then clean up with a chisel just wood about 1" thick, slip it over the pin,
able to see compressions or shiny spots like with the mortises, only this time, leave and saw against it (Figure Y).
that will tell you where it’s too tight. Use a the ends round.
chisel to make adjustments. And remem- For the foot slope, mark a diagonal from The Finish Line
ber, a slightly loose joint will be better than each end to the top, starting 2" from the The horses are now ready for the finish of
an overly tight one on this project. bottom, and ending at a point 1¾" from your choice. I use Danish oil, but shellac,
Once you’ve fit all the joints, assemble center, and cut (Figure Q). polyurethane, or varnish will do.
the horses. To finish the ends of the beams, cut a Once dry, the last step is to attach
Using a sharp pencil, trace the edges of diagonal ¼" from the top edge to a point the optional sacrificial pieces to the top
the pin holes onto the tenons. It’s impor- 1½" in from the end (Figure R). (Figure Z). Because I work with a lot of
tant that you get the edges of the hole, To make the pins, cut the ½" dowel into softer woods, I use clear cedar for this.
so mark them carefully. Disassemble the twelve 4" lengths. Using a knife, taper the That way, not only are the horses pro-
horses. Next, measuring from the edge of last ½" or so (Figure S). tected from errant saw cuts and the like,
the circle you’ve drawn on the tenon, mark Now clean up all the parts (Figure T). but the workpieces I place on them are
a line 5" closer to the shoulder. This line is Sand or plane all the pieces, being careful protected from the horses’ harder fir. As
the edge of the tenon’s pin hole; because of the areas around the joints (too much before, you can use any wood you like, or
it’s offset from the mortise’s pin hole, it will change the fit). none at all.
will draw the joint tight. You can now drill To make these tops easy to replace and
through the tenon (Figure O). Assembly free of metal fasteners, I use double-stick
Starting with the stretchers, slip the tenons tape.
Shaping through the legs and carefully drive the
First, relieve the bottoms of the feet (make pins through with a hammer (Figure U). You
Len Cullum (shokunin-do.com) is a woodworker
them concave). This will make them more should see the joint tighten itself as the pin in the Japanese style in Seattle. He often day-
stable on uneven surfaces. Clamp a pair goes through. Drive the pin until it sticks dreams of a robot that would sharpen his chisels.
of feet together with bottoms facing each out both sides equally (Figure V). Are you listening, makers?

42 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p038-43_SIP_Workhorses_F1.indd 42 10/11/10 10:29:25 AM




The Test
The mark of any good shop furniture is not only its strength
but also its versatility — its ability to adapt to the odd second-
ary uses you come up with.
I could test the workhorses’ strength by stacking them with
beams and chopping more mortises, but after two days spent
building them, I’d rather test out their versatility. So with the
help of some scrap lumber and a frosty beverage, they are
transformed from workhorses to … relaxhorses.

Make: 43

p038-43_SIP_Workhorses_F1.indd 43 10/11/10 10:30:45 AM

Mister Build a stowable mini
Jalopy’s workshop for modest tasks
and soon you’ll be building
Hide-Away your dreams. By Mister Jalopy

As sensible people slumber, the

palpable thrill of junk acquisition
wakes me at 6:30 a.m. every
weekend. Sleeping on Saturday mornings
is for those who have not fallen prey to the
temptress of garage sales. There are such
unbelievable riches buried in suburban
cul-de-sacs that I sometimes wonder if I’ll
find the Hope Diamond in a junk drawer
amongst the S&H Green Stamps, unsticky
tape, and keys without locks.
When arriving at an estate sale, I forgo
the house and go directly to the under-
lit, spider-webbed garage. Time is frozen
under a layer of dust, and you can get a
feel for the makers who preceded you with
their tube radios, home weather stations,
and oddball tricks.
At their best, garage workshops are
chock-full of raw materials like baby food
jars filled with cup hooks, cigar boxes of
lamp parts, reclaimed kitchen cabinets Make It Personal. Can it be improved upon? Think how pinstriping would dress it up!
full of solidified cans of Plastic Wood, and Or a deep-sea diver fighting a giant lobster painted on the side. Or the correct answers
from last week’s crossword written on the inside lid. Make it as personal as your diary.
neatly coiled power cords cut from broken
appliances. In the postwar, cardigan-wear-
ing and pipe-smoking handyman heyday,
considerable creativity, planning, and Affordability is a great technological Start with your workshop and then build
reuse trumped money when working on advance in itself and empowers those who the rest of the world around you.
the project that would never end — build- previously could not afford a hammer,
ing the ideal workshop. calculator, or computer, but there are References
Based on my extensive field research, it losses when replacing instead of fixing. »»“Closet Door Workshop,” Science and
seems home workshops assembled today Besides the chain of raw materials needed, Mechanics, December 1952
are but a whisper of what they used to be. energy required, distribution transport, »»“Better Ways to Build Workbenches,”
Illustrations by Tom Giesler/tomgiesler.com

Of course, the workshops have changed and end disposal, life is just less rich when Amateur Craftsman’s Cyclopedia of
along with the world. The external forces everything you own is only five years old. Things to Make, 1937
of Depression-era poverty and wartime My shop grew from a single Crafts-
rationing shaped a generation’s view of man workbench that I couldn’t access
what was worth fixing, saving, and reusing. until I pulled the car out of the garage. A
At some point, the cost of buying a workbench can be as unattainable a luxury
new hammer dropped below the cost of to a citizen of Manhattan as a computer
replacing a broken hammer handle, and is to a resident of Zambia. Inspired by the
everybody was able to afford a hammer. handyman magazines of the past, Mister
Then came the economical pocket calcula- Jalopy’s Hide-Away Workbench is a mod-
Mister Jalopy breaks the unbroken, repairs the
tor, and now a $200 hand-crank-powered est workshop that can be tucked away irreparable, and explores the mechanical world
computer is right around the corner. until project time. at hooptyrides.com.

44 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p044-45_SIP_HideAwayWorkbench_F1.indd 44 10/11/10 10:34:55 AM

Power strip

Baby food jar

Plywood lid





(table leg)


(table leg)
Mister Jalopy’s
hide-away workbench
is a modest workshop
that can be tucked away
until project time.

Make: 45

p044-45_SIP_HideAwayWorkbench_F1.indd 45 10/11/10 10:35:19 AM

Wilderness Build your own inexpensive yet
Workshop sturdy worktables and shelving.
By Charles Platt

Recently I had a problem and an opportunity. The opportunity was to

move my little prototype fabrication business from an industrial park
Photography and renderings by Charles Platt

in Southern California to a beautiful wilderness retreat in Northern Arizona.

The problem was that I didn’t have much time or money. Could I establish
an entire workshop within a couple of months, starting from bare earth and
finishing with all the tools and benches in place?

46 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p046-49_SIP_WldWrkshp_F1.indd 46 10/11/10 10:42:15 AM


And after I paid the construction costs, Fig. A: The tabletop is a 4'×4' sheet of ¾" plywood, braced and edged with 2×4s. The
could I install the fixtures for less than table legs are 4×4s. Fig. B: Two tables a couple of inches apart allow long cuts across big
sheets of plywood or plastic, by running the saw through the gap between the tables. The
$1,000? (I already owned all the tools.)
extended table edge allows quick, easy clamping. Fig. C: The simplest, cheapest, quickest,
In some ways this challenge was a bless- hang-on-the-wall, non-sagging shelf design.
ing in disguise. If you have to be fast, you
can’t be fancy, and if you have to be cheap,
you can’t be self-indulgent. This would lated, drywalled, and painted. Now for the but much more accurate and much less
not be one of those jobs that drag on for interesting part: I wanted to avoid all the aggravating.
months because the details become an frustrations and errors associated with the With my helper Shawn Hollister, I built
obsession in themselves. workshops I had used previously over the the tables lower than a typical workbench,
I specified a work area of 19'×24' to allow years. so that we’d be able to reach across them
ample space for lifting, rotating, and cut- The big central work area allowed me to or climb up onto them when making long
ting 4'×8' sheets of plastic and plywood. To place 2 free-standing benches of a design cuts. We gave them protruding lips so that
minimize heat loss, increase security, and that I had always wanted but had never I could apply clamps easily, and made
maximize wall space, I decided not to have seen. They would be stocky tables, each 4' them heavy to minimize vibration (Figures
any windows, but I did include a massive square. Placing them centrally would allow A and B).
sectional roll-up garage door. The climate me to walk around them while building
where I live is so benign during most of heavy items such as furniture, and a 2" gap Plastic Bins for Tool Storage
the year, you can work comfortably with between them would facilitate saw cuts. For tool storage, I’m unenthusiastic about
a door wide open. And during the winter, I stopped using a table saw a few years the usual options. Tools hanging on peg-
a sectioned door on tracks can be quite ago when one of them kicked a piece of board pick up dust and dirt, and when you
well-insulated. plastic at me that almost shattered my buy an extra tool, you have to move the
After establishing the basics, I stepped arm. Since I don’t have enough money or others around to make room. As for tool
back and let the contractors get to work. space for the kind of vertical panel saw you chests, they’re expensive, and you have
There was no way I could do the construc- see at Home Depot or Lowe’s, I like to lay to walk to and fro every time you want
tion myself in the time available. the wood flat and use either a handsaw or something.
a handheld circular saw, which I run along My preferred method is so cheap, it’s
Free-Standing Benches a clamped straightedge. My plan was to almost embarrassing: plastic tubs from
In less than a month I had a bare box align these cuts with the gap between the the local big-box store. I group tools in
standing on a concrete slab. It was insu- tables. This would be like using sawhorses, tubs by function, so that when I want, say,

Make: 47

p046-49_SIP_WldWrkshp_F1.indd 47 10/11/10 10:42:46 AM

Drywall Steel shelf

Retaining nail

Wood screw


2×4 rail

D E Stud inside wall




a metal file, I pull down the tub containing Fig. D: Front view of the shelf assembly, with the front edge of the shelf cut away to show
all the various shaping tools and put it on relevant features. The inset shows consequences if bolts aren’t tightened sufficiently: the
bolt can chew right through the wooden upright. Fig. E: Cross section showing how the shelf
my worktable. Now I have a full range of
is attached to the wall. Figs. F–H: A wood rack was made from pine 2×4s with 2½" wheels
options within arm’s reach. As for small attached. Galvanized wire separators are secured with screws and washers.
items such as screwdriver bits and hole
saws, I put them in small boxes inside
the tubs. At the end of a job, everything is shelves, and it’s prefinished, requiring no Tighten the bolts to the max, to take
returned to the tubs and stays clean and painting. I cut the melamine board into advantage of the friction between the end
neat, with the lids snapped on tight. sections, drilled them to fit the holes in of the shelf and the upright. Friction is
the ends of the shelves, and bolted them proportional to the force perpendicular to
Shelves That Don’t Sag on. Then I cut 2×4s into rails 47" long the surface, and it supports a load more
Where to put the plastic tubs? On shelves, and screwed them into the wooden studs effectively than just the shaft of a bolt in
of course, above the side benches where behind the drywall in my conventional a hole drilled through wood.
I have a drill press, compound miter saw, framed construction. We hung the shelves
band saw, and belt sander, the four tools on the rails, adding a couple of nails to pre- A Wood Rack on Wheels
I consider indispensable for the kind of vent the shelves from falling off (Figures Another problem was how to store materi-
work I do. But how should the shelves be C–E). That was that. als efficiently. I have to stock wood and
built? Quickly and cheaply! The horizontal rails must be a full 47" plastic in bulk, because the nearest retail
Since I don’t like the look of sagging so that the load carried by the shelves is sources are 50 miles away. I dislike stack-
wooden shelves, I chose steel shelves of spread across the entire wooden support. ing sheets against the wall where I can’t
the type sold for warehouses. A standard Any unsupported metal section will tend pull anything out easily, so my answer was
length is 4', so you don’t need many to bend. a wood rack on wheels (Figures F–H). I’ve
uprights to support them, but they still never seen this elsewhere, but it seems an
take heavy loads without bending. You can NOTE: Since melamine board is obvious idea to me. When you don’t need
bolt them to wooden uprights instead of made from compressed wood chips, it, you roll it out of the way, into a corner.
the ugly perforated vertical bars that are it can come apart, so you should use I used heavy galvanized wire to make
normally used. pine boards for uprights if you intend dividers in the rack, so that I would lose as
I chose melamine-coated particleboard to load your shelves very heavily. Or little horizontal space as possible, and I put
for the end pieces, because it’s available place an additional 47" rail beneath a flat top on it, where I could stack small
in exactly the same 11¼" width as the each shelf. pieces of scrap, with even smaller pieces in

48 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p046-49_SIP_WldWrkshp_F2.indd 48 10/13/10 6:27:55 AM

Figs. I–K: With the big door open, it feels
as if you’re working outside, and eastern
exposure gives a nice view of the full
moon rising at sunset. The exterior of
the building is covered in Hardie fiber
cement siding, which is fire resistant,
stable, and durable. The floor is a con-
crete slab finished with two coats of
epoxy paint. Ample floor space will allow
the accumulation of miscellaneous junk
I in the future, or additional work areas.


some more plastic tubs. (Figure I). When all 24 tubes are glowing outfitted on a budget. But I couldn’t be
As for seldom-used, bulky tools such they draw almost 1.3kW, and so to reduce happier with its functionality. Tools are
as bolt cutters and reciprocating saws, energy consumption I installed a separate easily accessible and don’t get lost, the
I stashed them all in plastic toolboxes that pull-switch on each fixture, with a chain space is uncluttered and easy to clean, the
I placed under the benches against the dangling, so that I can obtain light only lighting reveals every little detail, and as a
wall. The boxes aren’t strictly necessary; where I need it. result, the work flow is fast and accurate.
you can just scatter your tools on shelves. During daytime, we don’t need the lights Most important, the pleasure of working
But I wanted to keep them clean and at all. We open the huge door and feel as if in an outdoor ambience is very special
categorized. In a shared workshop, when we’re working outside, which is an absolute indeed.
all storage is labeled, you’re less likely to delight compared with the basement work- It certainly justifies the hassle of moving
misplace things (and less likely to argue shops I’ve used over the years. It’s also a everything from California.
with each other when you can’t find lot more pleasant than the industrial park
something). that was my previous environment. When
the breeze wafts in and I can look across
1.3 Kilowatts of Illumination 30 miles of national forest to a distant
The last consideration was in some ways mountain, it definitely alleviates the tedium
the most fundamental: lighting. If you of cutting and shaping components. Bees
can’t see what you’re doing, you can’t from a nearby nest sometimes invade the
do good work. I splurged about half of space, but to discourage them we simply
my $1,000 fixtures budget on some GE sprinkle some xylene on a rag and leave it
Ecolux 54-watt high-intensity daylight- lying around. They dislike the smell of this
Charles Platt is the author of Make: Electronics,
spectrum fluorescents, and suspended industrial solvent even more than I do.
an introductory guide for all ages. He is a contrib-
them from cables stretched from wall to My workshop isn’t going to be featured uting editor to MAKE, and he designs and builds
wall below the track of the garage door in Architectural Digest. It was obviously medical equipment prototypes.

Make: 49

p046-49_SIP_WldWrkshp_F1.indd 49 10/11/10 10:44:09 AM

Soldering Step-by-step instructions
and for making (and unmaking)
the perfect solder joint.
Desoldering By Joe Grand

The two key parts of soldering are good heat distribution and
cleanliness of the soldering surface and component. With practice,
you’ll become comfortable and experienced with the process.
In this primer, I’ll explain how to solder a component onto a printed
circuit board (PCB). I’ll also provide desoldering tips and show you how to
remove a surface-mount component from a printed circuit board using a
Photography by Joe Grand

Chip Quik kit. And I’ll show you how to remove a component by removing the
solder in a way that won’t damage the components or the circuit board.

Reprinted with permission from Hardware Hacking, copyright 2004, Syngress Publishing, ISBN: 1-932266-83-6, pp. 34–40.

50 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p050-53_SIP_SolderPrimer_F1.indd 50 10/11/10 10:46:01 AM

overview tools AND tips

Tools of the Trade The Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit

Soldering iron You could pay Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit The Chip Quik SMD Removal
as little as $10 or as much as Allows you to remove surface Kit allows you to quickly
$1,000 for a soldering iron. mount components quickly and and easily remove surface-
I recommend a fine-tip, 700°F, easily. Chipquik.com offers the mount components such
50W soldering stick iron. kit for $16. as PLCC, SOIC, TSOP, QFP,
A good general-purpose iron and discrete packages. The
for hardware hacking is the Sandpaper A very fine-grit main component of the kit
Weller W60P Controlled-Output sandpaper is useful for remov- is a low-melting-temperature
Soldering Iron, which sells ing oxidation from component solder (requiring less than
for under $70. and circuit board surfaces. 300°F) that reduces the
overall melting temperature
Solder Should be thin gauge Desoldering braid Woven of the solder on the SMD
(0.032" or 0.025" diameter) metal material used to wick pads. Essentially, this enables
60/40 rosin core. up melted solder. you to just lift the part right
off the PCB.
Desoldering tool (aka solder Small, flat-tip screwdriver
sucker) A manual vacuum Comes in handy for removing Includes
device that pulls up hot solder, some types of components. »» Alcohol pads for
useful for removing compo- cleaning the circuit board
nents from circuit boards. I like Needlenose pliers, wire cutters, after device removal
the one RadioShack sells (#64- and vise These common tools »» A special low-melting-
2098, $10). will make your job easier. temperature alloy
»» Standard no-clean flux
IC extraction tool Helps »» Application syringe
lift integrated circuits from
the board during removal/

Desoldering Tips BEFORE YOU START

For standard through-hole components
»» First grasp the component with a pair of needlenose pliers. Resistor
Heat the pad beneath the lead you intend to extract and pull
gently. The lead should come out. Repeat for the other lead.
»» If solder fills in behind the lead as you extract it, use a spring-
loaded solder sucker to remove the excess solder.
For through-hole ICs or multi-pin parts
»» Use a solder sucker or desoldering braid to remove excess
from the hole before attempting to extract the part.
»» You can use a small, flat-tip screwdriver or IC extraction tool Printed
to help loosen the device from the holes. circuit
»» Be careful to not overheat components, since they can become board
damaged and may fail during operation.

Joe Grand is the president of Grand Idea Studio, Inc. (joe@grandideastudio.com), a product-development and intellectual-property licensing firm. He
specializes in embedded system design, computer security research, and inventing new concepts and technologies. He is also a host on The Discovery
Channel’s Prototype This.

Make: 51

p050-53_SIP_SolderPrimer_F1.indd 51 10/11/10 10:46:30 AM


BEFORE YOU START ! DANGER: It’s important to consider safety

Inspect the leads or pins for oxidation. If the metal precautions. Improper handling of the soldering iron
surface is dull, sand with fine sandpaper until shiny. can lead to burns or other physical injuries. Wear safety
goggles and other protective clothing when working
In addition, use the sandpaper to clean the oxidation
with solder tools. With temperatures hovering around
and excess solder from the soldering iron tip to ensure 700°F, the tip of the soldering iron, molten solder, and
maximum heat transfer. flux can quickly sear through clothing and skin. Keep
all soldering equipment away from flammable materials
This simple example shows the step-by-step process
and objects. Be sure to turn off the iron when it’s not
to solder a through-hole component to a printed circuit in use and store it properly in its stand.
board (PCB). I used a piece of prototype PCB and
a single resistor.

1 2 3

4 5 6

1. Bend and insert the component leads Don’t put solder directly onto the hot 5. Once the solder joint is in place, snip
into the desired holes on the PCB. Flip iron tip before it has made contact with the lead to the desired length. Usually,
the board to the other side. Slightly bend the lead or pad; doing so can cause a cold- you’ll simply cut the remaining portion
the lead you’ll be soldering to prevent solder joint (a common mistake that can of the lead that isn’t part of the actual
the component from falling out when the prevent your hack from working properly). solder joint. This prevents any risk of short
board is turned upside down. Soldering is a function of heat, and if the circuits between leftover component leads
pieces aren’t heated uniformly, solder on the board.
2. To begin the actual soldering process, may not spread as desired. A cold-solder
allow the tip of your iron to contact both joint will loosen over time and can build 6. Here’s a completed soldering example.
the component lead and the pad on the up corrosion.
circuit board for about 1 second before
feeding solder to the connection. This will 4. When it appears that the solder has
allow the surface to become hot enough flowed properly, remove the iron from the
for solder to flow smoothly. area and wait a few seconds for the solder
to cool and harden. Do not attempt to
3. Next, apply solder sparingly and hold move the component during this time.
the iron in place until solder has evenly The solder joint should appear smooth
coated the surface. Ensure that the solder and shiny, resembling the image above.
flows all around the 2 pieces (component If your solder joint has a dull finish, reheat
lead and PCB pad) that you’re fastening the connection and add more solder.

52 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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deSoldering SMD Removal with Chip Quik

Please read through this example completely before

BEFORE YOU START attempting SMD removal on an actual device. When removing
Use a rubbing alcohol pad to remove any residue from the device, be careful not to scratch or damage any of the
the solder pads. Verify that the solder pads are clean surrounding components or pull up any PCB traces.
and free of cuts or solder jumps before proceeding.
Three Primary Functions of Flux
Desoldering, or removing a soldered component from a
» Cleans metal surfaces to assist the flow of filler metals (solder)
circuit board, is typically trickier than soldering because over base metals (device pins).
you can easily damage the device, the circuit board, or » Assists with heat transfer from heat source (soldering iron)
surrounding components. For surface mount devices to metal surface (device pins).
(SMDs) with more than a few pins, the easiest method » Helps in the removal of surface metal oxides (created by
to remove the part is the Chip Quik SMD Removal Kit, oxygen in the air when the metal reaches high temperatures).
as shown in the following step-by-step example.

1 2 3

4 5 6

1. The first step is to assemble the syringe, the device pins. Starting at one end of the the part back and forth to help the alloy
which contains the no-clean flux. Simply device, simply heat and apply the alloy. flow underneath the pads of the device
insert the plunger into the syringe and Repeat for the other side(s) of the device. and loosen the connections.
push down to dispense the compound.
The flux should be applied evenly across all 3. Flux will help ensure a nice flow of the 5. The final step in the desoldering process
the pins on the package you’ll be remov- alloy onto the device pins. Make sure is to clean the circuit board. This step
ing. (Flux is a chemical compound used the alloy has come in contact with every is important because it will remove any
to assist in the soldering or removal of single pin by gently moving the soldering impurities left behind from the Chip Quik
electronic components or other metals.) iron around the edges of the device. Avoid kit and get you ready for the next step.
touching nearby components on the PCB First, use the soldering iron to remove
2. Once the flux is evenly spread over the with the soldering iron. any stray alloy left on the device pads or
pins of the target device, the next step is anywhere else on the circuit board. Next,
to apply the special Chip Quik alloy to 4. Now that the alloy has been properly apply a thin, even layer of flux to all of the
the device. This step is just like soldering: applied to all pins of the device, it’s time to pads that the device was just soldered
apply heat to the pins of the device and remove the device from the board. After to. Use the included alcohol swab or a
the alloy at the same time. The alloy has making sure that the alloy is still molten by flux-remover spray to remove the flux and
a melting point of approximately 300°F, reheating all of it with the soldering iron, clean the area.
which is quite low. You shouldn’t have to gently slide the component off the board.
heat the alloy with the soldering iron for You can use a small, jeweler’s flat-tip 6. The desoldering process is now com-
very long before it begins to melt. The screwdriver to help with the task. If the plete. The surface-mount device has been
molten alloy should flow around and under device is stuck, reheat the alloy and wiggle removed and the circuit board cleaned.

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Your Own Make it yourself and save big.

CNC for An overview from the co-author
of Build Your Own CNC Machine.
Less Than By James Floyd Kelly

I never expected to have a working CNC While small desktop CNC machines can
be found between $2,000 and $5,000,
machine in my workshop, but there it is. and workbench-sized machines are cost-
What makes it even better is that I didn’t have to ing $7,000 and up, I’m happy to tell you
that for less than $800 you can have a
spend a small fortune on it … and neither will you. 2'×4' CNC machine of your own.
Photography by James Floyd Kelly

Of course, this being MAKE, you’ve prob-

ably already guessed that it’s a DIY project,
but before you start getting nervous about
whether you have the skills and tools to do
this, let me add that phrase all us DIYers
love to hear: if I could build this machine,
you can build this machine.

54 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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A X-Y-Z stepper motors
B Router
C Power supply
D Breakout board
E Stepper motor drivers




Machine Overview buildyourcnc.com for proof), but having CNC machine (Figure D) and to the nozzle
You can see the final CNC machine in a drill press, table saw, and a few other of a dust collection system (and CNC ma-
Figure A. Its frame is built from medium- basic workshop tools will make your build chines create a lot of dust).
density fiberboard (MDF) — sturdy and go a little faster and smoother. Ultimately, The three stepper motors are controlled
strong, affordable, easy to cut, and best though, a DIYer can easily build this ma- via a small collection of electronics: three
of all, no welding required. The entire chine with a bit of patience and the most stepper motor drivers, a power supply,
machine can be built from just two 4'×8' basic of tools. and a breakout board (Figure E, following
Illustration by James Provost

sheets of MDF. Its parts are connected by The machine uses threaded rod for lead page). The breakout board connects to
a combination of bolts and cross dowels, screws (Figure C). Three stepper motors your PC, which runs the control software.
providing the machine with a tough and each mate to a lead screw to control the We use the free version of ArtSoft Mach3
reliable frame. forward/backward (x-axis), left-to-right (machsupport.com) but any CNC control
Believe it or not, many of these ma- (y-axis), and up-and-down (z-axis) move- software can be used.
chines have been built with nothing more ments of the machine’s router. A full-sized How well does it work? That depends on
than a miter box, saw, portable drill/screw- router or smaller laminate router (also what you do with it. Patrick Hood-Daniel,
driver, and a tap (check out the videos at called a hand router) can be attached to the my co-author and designer of this machine,

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Fig. E: The $800 CNC’s stepper motors uses his DIY CNC machines to cut and drill but it’s also nice to have someone else
are controlled via three stepper motor the parts required to build more DIY CNC around to troubleshoot a problem as well
drivers, a power supply, and a breakout
machines — how’s that for trusting in your as share the success when the machine
board. Fig. F: Engraving is a great CNC
task for beginners. Fig. G: The machine's own design? runs for the first time.
tabletop serves as the x-axis. Fig. H: The I’m just getting started using mine, and Our goal for writing the book was to pro-
bearing and rail assemblies, aka BRAs, engraving is something a novice (like me) vide a good walk-through of the process,
are made from ordinary aluminum angle
and skate bearings.
can get immediate satisfaction from. The with plenty of pictures, from start to finish.
results are sharp and clear (Figure F). After a handful of chapters that explain
CNC, the basics of joining MDF pieces,
Building the Machine and building the unique parts that give the
If you’re wondering whether building this CNC machine the ability to move smooth-
machine is really within your skill range, let ly, you’ll get straight to the electronics and
me assure you that if you’re comfortable building the CNC machine frame.
cutting wood with a table saw or handheld Your first task will be to cut, drill, and
circular saw, if you can change and use assemble the machine’s tabletop that
bits with a drill press or handheld drill, also serves as the x-axis (Figure G).
and if you can use a ruler, you can do this. Completing the tabletop will not only
(If you’re a master DIYer with tools galore, give you a place to attach the remaining
you won’t have any trouble building this components of the machine, but you’ll
machine.) also become quickly familiar with the
This project is great for shop classes, handful of standard tasks required for
after-school programs, and Boy/Girl Scout the project (counterboring, using cross
troops, but it’s also the perfect parent- dowels to connect parts, cutting lead
child project. I don’t have many opportuni- screws, and so on).
ties to work with my dad these days, but As you build your machine, you’ll cut and
I really enjoyed working with him as we drill some special pieces called bearing
built two (!) of these CNC machines and rail assemblies, or BRAs (Figure H).
together. Having someone else to double- Made from skate bearings and ordinary
check measurements and hold pieces as aluminum angle, these allow your CNC
you drill or bolt them down is invaluable, machine to move smoothly and accurately

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Fig. I: The x-axis with y-axis parts added.

Fig. J: Finishing up with the z-axis. Fig. K:
Finally, you bolt the stepper motors onto
their respective axes and connect them
to the lead screws.

on all three axes by riding on another for installing and configuring the Mach3 push its capabilities further. You’ll find,
piece of angled aluminum rail. Patrick’s software, and then put your new CNC as I have, that after building your CNC
method for building and using the BRAs is machine through a few tests to verify machine, the real work is just beginning.
extremely simple as well as reliable. movement along the three axes.
Building chapters are short, so you’ll I’ve documented the entire process
always have a good starting and stopping Have Fun with my co-author, Patrick Hood-Daniel,
point. You’ll begin with the x-axis, add on Building my own CNC machine was just in our book, Build Your Own CNC Machine,
the parts needed for the y-axis (Figure I) as enjoyable as using it. During assembly, from Apress.
and finish up with the z-axis (Figure J). I learned new woodworking techniques,
While building the CNC machine frame, became more proficient with a table saw,
you’ll also be given instructions for wiring and learned to love the Forstner bit (which
up the electronics. We tell you exactly what I highly recommend for counterbores and
motors, drivers, and power supply to buy drilling holes in general).
— you can easily substitute parts but you’ll I’ve also started to dig deeper into the
need to read the documentation carefully use of CAD software for designing, and
to match it up to our wiring instructions. CAM software for converting my designs
Basic soldering skills are helpful, but not into G-code, the instructions that Mach3
required; you can easily skip the soldering uses to control the motors and direct
by using wire nuts to connect wires. the router.
When you’re done, you’ll bolt the stepper The most surprising thing I’ve learned
motors onto their respective axes (Figure after completing this project, however, is
James Floyd Kelly (byocnc@gmail.com) is a free-
K) and connect them to the lead screws. that I am the real limit to my CNC machine
lance writer in Atlanta. He is the editor-in-chief
Next, you’ll mount your router to the — the machine is just waiting for me to of the Lego Mindstorms NXT blog, The NXT Step
router plate, follow our instructions learn new techniques and methods to (thenxtstep.com).

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Build Your Make a MakerBot with this
First 3D popular kit and start printing
Printer your own parts and prototypes.
By Marc de Vinck

I’ve been tinkering with CNC (computer numerical

control) machines for about 10 years, but I never
owned a 3D printer until I purchased MakerBot Industries’
CupCake CNC.
3D printers shape the material additively rather than
Photography by Marc de Vinck

subtractively, so they can make intricate shapes with holes

and other features that are impossible to fabricate via CNC
milling. I had to have one, even though my wife questioned
whether I really needed another machine in my studio!

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CupCake CNC Ultimate Kit from makerbot.
com, $899. Includes all parts for a 3D
printer with the new MK5 Plastruder and
automated build platform, plus a power
supply, cables, 6lbs of ABS plastic, an
SD card to store print designs, and all
wrenches and bits needed for assembly.
MakerBot also sells a Starter Kit
($649) with just the printer parts
(including the non-automated platform
and MK4 Plastruder shown in this
article; MK5 upgrade extra) and 1lb
of plastic. To build a CupCake from
A B scratch, get the open-source CAD files,
parts list, firmware, and test software at
Also consider MakerBot’s brand new
Thing-O-Matic. It’s bigger and prints
more accurately (see page 76).
Wire cutters, pliers, and hobby knife
Soldering iron and solder
Hot glue and glue gun, or epoxy
Paper towel
Cyanoacrylate glue aka super or crazy glue
Computer with internet connection

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Read instructions

for your kit batch (mine was batch 8) at
wiki.makerbot.com/cupcake, especially
the “Don’t Do That!” page; it may save
C D you some misery later.

Inside the CupCake, the “Plastruder” and selected to the proper voltage. Plug Fig. A: Stepper board testing.
print head scans the flat X-Y plane and one of its 4-pin connectors into a stepper Fig. B: Solder the endstop boards.
Fig. C: Attach the front and back panels.
deposits molten plastic, building the board, and plug the same stepper board’s
Fig. D: Nut and bearing sandwiches
object up layer-by-layer as it moves up ribbon cable into one of the 3 headers on on the Z rods.
the Z plane. The Plastruder takes 3mm- the motherboard (Figure A).
diameter filament and extrudes it at a Plug in the power supply and turn on
top rate of 16mm/second and a max the power switch on the motherboard.
temperature of 260°C (500°F); MakerBot You should see a green light on both the 3. Build the enclosure.
Industries describes it as “a souped-up, motherboard and the stepper board. Before assembling the enclosure, you
robotic hot glue gun.” might want to paint or finish its laser-
The CupCake CNC is open source, not 2. Assemble and test the cut plywood parts, but this is optional.
patented, so anyone can build one (or endstop boards (optional). I chose a butcher-block finish of mineral
improve upon it) using their own materials. Newer CupCakes don’t use endstops, and oil and wax.
But, like most CupCake owners, I built Thing-O-Matics use a different kind, so The main panels screw together with
mine from a MakerBot kit. It was easy. skip this step if you have a different kit. M3 nuts and bolts. First, screw 4 bearing
To assemble the 6 optical endstop brackets onto the underside of the middle
1. Test the stepper boards. boards, just solder 3 resistors, an LED, panel, one in each corner. Then attach the
Attach a plastic connector to both ends and a connector to each (Figure B). It’s front and back panels to the middle panel,
of each ribbon cable, with the brown easy. Four of the boards (for the X- and making sure the laser etching on the back
index wire on the side of the connector Z-axes) use RJ45 connectors, and 2 use panel faces inward, so that you can read it
marked with an arrow. Use pliers to snap 3-pin connectors. when you look into the machine (Figure C).
each connector closed. Rinse and repeat Screw the optical switch onto the PCB, Add the left, right, top, and bottom panels
to make 3 cables, then plug one into each making sure it faces the right direction. the same way.
stepper board. I used a couple of small screwdrivers to To remove stray metal bits from the
The power supply has a 24-pin connector, keep it aligned, then I bent the leads. threads of the 4 Z-stage rods, wrap one
also called a 20+4. Snap the 4-pin section Then plug each endstop into the stepper end of each in tape, chuck it gently into
off along the seam and plug the resulting board you connected, and power it up for an electric drill, add a little oil, and use
20-pin connector onto the motherboard testing. When you insert a piece of paper a paper towel to clean out all the debris
It only fits one way. in front of the opto switch, the board’s while turning the rod slowly.
Make sure the power supply is unplugged green light should come on. At one end of each threaded rod,

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Fig. E: Fit the Z rods into the enclosure sandwich a 608 bearing between two 4. Add the X and Z
with their bearings snug. Fig. F: The 8mm nuts, tightening them together with motors and pulleys.
power plate bolted to the rear of the
2 wrenches. Add another 8mm nut onto Slip the aluminum driver pulley over the
enclosure. Fig. G: Mount the X motor
and driver pulley to the middle panel. the opposite end of the rod and screw it X-axis motor shaft, flush with the end, then
Fig. H: Fit a bearing into the Z tensioning down a few inches to stay out of the way; tighten its setscrew. Mount the motor to
pulley. Fig. I: The Z belt adjusted tight this nut will hold the Z stage. Then add the enclosure’s middle panel with 4 short
around the Z rods and Z motor pulley.
Fig. J: Getting a second opinion on
another bearing sandwich at the same M3 bolts (Figure G). Install the Z motor the
leveling the Z stage nuts. end, but don’t tighten it yet (Figure D, same way, but don’t tighten its pulley yet.
previous page). In my kit, the Z tensioning pulleys were
Run the un-tightened ends of the Z rods themselves 3D-printed! Use a hobby knife
up through the 4 holes in the enclosure’s to scrape any extra bits of plastic from their
top panel and fit the other ends into the holes. Then use a bolt and nut from the
middle panel bearing brackets. Adjust the “hardware burrito” to push a bearing into
upper bearings so they sit flush with or each pulley. Screw the nut onto the bolt
below the top (Figure E). This is important, about ¼" and press the bolt head firmly
so double- and triple-check it. until the bearing is fully seated (Figure H).
Screw the bearing brackets over the Add the pulleys to the tops of the
Z rod tops, making sure they have no play Z rods and install the tensioning pulleys
or friction. Use one screw on each cover, you assembled earlier on either side of
and only add the rest after you’ve found the motor. Then add the Z belt (the longest
the cover’s perfect position. one, 424 teeth) and adjust the tension
Screw-mount the power supply and pulleys to make it tight (Figure I). Adjust
fan where indicated on the inside of the the Z pulley setscrews to align all of the
Power Plate panel. (I had to enlarge the pulleys to the same height, so that the
opening with an X-Acto knife.) Use M3 belt sits centered in all of them.
bolts to attach the panel to the rear of Using a ruler or other reference, adjust
the enclosure (Figure F), and feed the the free nuts on the 4 threaded rods until
cables through the opening on the lower they’re the same height, so that your
right side. Z stage will sit exactly level. It’s always
good to get a second opinion (Figure J).

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5. Build the Y stage. Screw the driver pulley onto the end of Fig. K: Stack Y stage magnets to ensure
The build platform attaches to the Y stage the Y motor shaft and attach the motor to uniform orientation. Fig. L: Assemble the
Y stage, clamp, and belt. Fig. M: Attach
with 5 pairs of magnets. To make sure the right side of the X stage with 8mm
the X belt to the X rib with a ¼" kink
they’re all oriented correctly, stack them M3 screws. to take up slack. Fig. N: Position the
up and use something solid to push down Position the Y stage and belt on top Y stage atop the X stage. Fig. O: Run
on the stack and seat each magnet in its of the X stage (Figure N), run the Y belt the Y rods through the Y stage and bolt
each end to the X stage. Fig. P: Slip the
hole (Figure K). Flip the stack in between around the pulleys and through the slots X rods through the X stage bearings.
filling the 2 panels, so they’ll attract each under the Y stage, and adjust the pulleys Fig. Q: Attach the X belt and rib to the
other, not repel. so they’re even with the belt. underside of the X stage.
Fit the bearings into the left and right Attach an X cap piece to either end of
side pieces of the Y stage, but don’t glue the X stage. Slide the Y rods (the shorter
them. Screw the Y-clamp pieces together pair of M8 rods) through the far holes in
around the Y belt (the smallest one, 196 the X stage and the Y stage bearings, and
teeth), as described in the kit. Use M3 nuts into the holes where you attached the X
and bolts to assemble the Y stage, clamp, cap. Then add the other X cap and secure
and belt (Figure L). the rods with nuts at each end (Figure O).
Slip the X rods (the longer M8 rods)
6. Build the X stage. through the X stage bearings (Figure P).
Attach the 264-tooth X belt to the X rib Now fix all X and Y bearings in position with
using the 2 X clamps. It’s a little long; to dabs of hot glue, and they’ll be perfectly
take up slack, make a ¼" kink in the belt aligned. Add the X rib and belt under the
between the clamps (Figure M). X stage by screwing the rib into the middle
Fit the flanged bearings into the X-left section (Figure Q).
and X-right pieces, but don’t glue them
yet. Use M3 nuts to screw the 2 pieces to 7. Install the X, Y, and Z
the X stage. stages.
Mount the Y pulley to the X stage with Put the X/Y assembly inside the enclosure
2 nuts in between as spacers and 1 nut and run the X belt around the X motor pul-
under the stage. Hand-tighten the nut ley. Add the X driven pulley to the opposite
underneath to allow for adjustment later. side of the CupCake’s base, positioned

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Fig. R: Dabs of hot glue cushion the double-check everything and follow the Wrap Kapton tape around the bottom of
X-rod ends against the wooden brackets. official directions at wiki.makerbot.com. the barrel and add the brass nozzle.
Fig. S: Suspend the Z stage from nuts on
Here’s an overview: With the middle of the Nichrome wire,
the Z rods. Fig. T: Assemble and glue the
“weird dinosaur” brackets. Fig. U: Glue First, remove the protective plastic wrap a few layers around the barrel just
the skate wheel bearing into the acrylic from all the laser-etched acrylic pieces. behind the nozzle, then coil the rest down
idler wheel. Fig. V: Wrap the soldered Use small screws to assemble the paired the barrel (Figure X). Enclose the entire
Nichrome joints with the Kapton tape.
Fig. W: Insulate the thermistor leads with
“weird dinosaur” brackets (Figure T). barrel and Nichrome coil in Kapton tape.
Kapton. Fig. X: Coil Nichrome around the Temporarily raise the acrylic idler wheel Position the thermistor against the nozzle,
heater barrel and insulate with Kapton. on a pair of washers and use a liberal close to the tip, and wrap more Kapton
Fig. Y: Wrap Kapton tape to secure the amount of crazy glue to secure the skate tape all around (Figure Y).
thermistor against the heater barrel.
wheel bearing in the center (Figure U). Insulate the barrel once around with the
Here’s a tip: draw radial lines on the idler included thick ceramic tape, followed by
wheel so that you can see it turning when another layer of Kapton.
so that the belt is tight but not too tight. the Plastruder is extruding. Unscrew the barrel bottom from the
(You’ll know.) Cut a length of Nichrome wire that gives thermal barrier. Line the hole of the
Insert the X rods through the sides of exactly 6Ω of resistance (about 12"), retaining washer with Kapton, slip it over
the enclosure and through the X stage measuring with your multimeter. Crimp the barrel, and screw it all back together
bearings. Add a dab of hot glue to the rods’ and solder each end of the Nichrome to (Figure Z).
ends to eliminate chattering (Figure R), and 2 insulated wire leads and wrap them in For the Plastruder drive mechanism,
screw the 4 end cap pieces over the rods. the supplied Kapton tape (Figure V). attach the pulley to the DC motor, gear side
For the Z stage, screw the 4 U-shaped Trim the thermistor’s leads to 1" and tin out, then press-fit on the 606 bearing.
wooden brackets to the acrylic Z stage. them with solder. Solder 2 more insulated Following the instructions, stack the acrylic
Suspend the stage from the nuts you wires to each leg of the thermistor, and pieces that hold the motor and idler wheel.
leveled on the Z rods inside the enclosure insulate with Kapton tape. Sandwich the Check the alignment of the assembly with
(Figure S). thermistor legs in more Kapton tape so the included steel rod, then screw the stack
they won’t touch each other (Figure W). and motor together tight (Figure AA).
8. Build and test Brush and wash the heater barrel parts Attach this drive assembly to the “dino-
the Plastruder. to make sure they’re all super clean. saur” brackets, followed by the extruder
The Plastruder isn’t hard to build, but Screw the threaded heater barrel into the controller board. Then attach the heater
a short circuit can lead to disaster. So thermal barrier all the way, but not tight. barrel with 16mm and 50mm M3 bolts,

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washers, and nuts (Figure BB). plug the extruder controller cable into the Fig. Z: Reassemble the Plastruder
Connect the thermistor wires to the motherboard. You’ve made a 3D printer! heater barrel with a retaining washer
over the thermal barrier. Fig. AA: Align
extruder controller board locations marked You can attach the endstops now too.
the acrylic stack holding the Plastruder
Thermistor, connect the leads from the I attached mine, but didn’t connect them drive mechanism. Fig. BB: Mount the
Nichrome heater wire to B+ and B–, the to the controller until later. I figured they Plastruder heater barrel, drive mecha-
red motor wire to 1A, and the black wire to were an additional thing that might go nism, and controller to the acrylic stack.
Fig. CC: Mount the Plastruder assembly
1B. Connect the extruder controller to the wrong while I was getting started, and to the Z stage. Fig. DD: Mount the
motherboard with the Ethernet cable. I knew I’d be near the machine while it motherboard and stepper driver boards
Download and install ReplicatorG from ran. If I heard the crunching or rumbling to the right side of the enclosure.
replicat.org/download. This is the software sound of the CupCake running beyond a Fig. EE: CupCake-printed plastic whistle
— it even has the pea inside.
you’ll use on your computer to operate maximum dimension, I could easily jump
the CupCake. From ReplicatorG, run the over and reset it.
Plastruder test procedure, as outlined in Finally, use ReplicatorG on your com-
the wiki. I placed the extruder on top of an puter to run the CupCake calibration in a few minutes I had a whistle — amazing!
old CD spindle cover to catch the hot plas- sequence, as documented on the wiki. The little loop didn’t come out quite right
tic. It spat out a nice steady stream. Yeah! Your CupCake is now ready to print. and there were a few gaps, but it was only
my third print, and I was really happy with
9. Final assembly Your First Print! the result (Figure EE).
and calibration. Printing objects on your CupCake is fairly My CupCake CNC was a lot of fun to
Bolt the Plastruder assembly onto the straightforward, but you might need a few make, and it’s even more fun to use. Now
Z stage (Figure CC). Attach the mother- tries to get everything set up right. Be sure my only problem is figuring out what to
board and stepper driver boards to the to read the “How to Print” wiki page, which print next!
right side of the enclosure, on the outside, is a great walk-through, and also refer to
using plastic standoffs to keep the elec- the MakerBot Forum on the wiki.
tronics away from the panel (Figure DD). With my first print, the plastic didn’t
Plug the 4-pin connectors from the power stick to itself, so I increased the tempera-
supply into the stepper and extruder ture about 15°C, which helped. For my Marc de Vinck moonlights as an artist creating
interactive sculpture from his studio in the North-
boards. Plug the stepper ribbon cables into third print, I got ambitious and tried the
east. He’s a member of the MAKE Advisory Board,
the motherboard and connect the stepper infamous Whistle by Zaggo (thingiverse. a contributing writer for MAKE, and the director
motor wires to the stepper boards. Finally, com/thing:1046). I fired up the printer, and of product development for the Maker Shed.

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The Maker’s The tools we use — or wish
Ultimate we could get our hands on.
Tools By Saul Griffith

Illustrations by Nik Schulz Here’s what would go into an extremely expensive ideal toolbox for someone who
wants to be able to make pretty much anything, from ultimate fighting robots to
hybrid go-karts, and even play around with microelectromechanical systems. You
can and will make do without these, but in a perfect world, where the streets are
paved with socket wrenches, these six tools would be in your basement.
For the complete list, turn to page 66. For an ultimate tools narrative, go to

CNC Mill, $50,000 3D Scanner, $30,000

haascnc.com konicaminolta.com
Now you’re machining. A 3-axis or 4-axis CNC mill is for real — it can make These machines are still quite expensive, and
almost any 3D part you can design. You really want a Haas or Fanuc mill, accuracy depends on how much you spend and
but for the weekend builder there are cheaper, smaller options. Poor maker’s the size of the object you’re scanning. They’re
alternative: CNC routers are affordable and can make big, satisfying things used a lot these days for restoration of antiquities
that are 2D or 2.5D, and make them fast. and sculptures as well as assisting in surgery.

64 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p064-67_SIP_UltTools_F1.indd 64 10/11/10 2:53:42 PM

3D Printer, $25,000 Plasma Cutter, $10,000 Laser Cutter, $19,900
zcorp.com plasmacam.com epiloglaser.com
This makes surprisingly beautiful parts; It’s more difficult to use than a laser cutter, but CAD-driven high-powered lasers cut plastic,
just don’t expect them to be robust. It’s has a big advantage: it cuts metal or anything paper, and wood in thicknesses up to about
the fastest way to go from computer model that conducts electricity. Think of it as a robotic 2 inch with very high precision. For kicks,
to physical part. My pick of the bunch is oxy torch. You can get a simple plasma torch for you can write your name on toast or etch
Z Corp’s printer — it’s the cheapest and $1K or be up and running with a CNC cutter for your face on an eggplant. They’re also good
fastest. Poor maker’s alternative: MakerBot about $10K. Make your own parts for that car for cutting rubber stamps. Poor maker’s
kits, RepRap, and other DIY 3D printers. restoration project or build custom aluminum alternative: Print the patterns with your
chandeliers. Poor maker’s alternative: An oxy inkjet printer and cut them out with a scroll
torch and a very steady hand, or a high-quality saw. Not as accurate or as fast, but a work-
band saw and lots of patience. able workaround.

Water Jet,
This rich man’s plasma cutter cuts
through 8 inches of granite with a
barely subsonic jet of abrasive grit-
filled water. It has none of the material
restrictions of the laser cutter or the
plasma cutter (though it isn’t great for
wood). The water tank weighs a ton
(literally), so you’ll need to reinforce
your garage floor. Neat fact: Used
extensively for cutting up chicken
carcasses and chocolate bars (though
with water only — no abrasive grit).
Poor maker’s alternative: Rumor has
it you can do something similar with a
washing machine pump and a hypoder-
mic needle.

Make: 65

p064-67_SIP_UltTools_F1.indd 65 10/11/10 2:54:07 PM

The A complete list of tools you need
Ultimate to make almost anything.
Buying Guide

In the real world it takes a lifetime to collect the right set of tools, and everyone’s dream list is different. Consider this
the ultimate set of tools for a tinkerer to build almost anything in prototype form. If you’re aiming for craftsman quality,
or production quantity, you’ll look for highly specialized tools not listed here. This is a list for hackers.
For more advice and philosophy on buying tools, visit makezine.com/2010/workshop.

Tool Name McMaster # $ Budget $ Deluxe Tool Name McMaster # $ Budget $ Deluxe

Hand Tools Needlenose Pliers,

Small and Large
5451a12 2 35
Necessity Utility Knife 3814a11 1 10 Bull-Nose Pliers, Small and
2 35
35435a11 Large
Extremely useful Precision Knives 38995a71 1 10 5385a12
35515a12 Adjustable Wrenches 3 40
Surprisingly useful 5385a15
Infrequent but handy Claw Hammer 6484a21 10 50 Crowbar / Ripping Bar 5990a2 2 30
Can do without, better with Scissors 3879a5 3 50 Tube Cutter 2706a1 15 80
You didn’t know it was Ball Peen Hammer 6481a31 10 50 Glass Cutter 3867a16 2 25
so lovely
Diamond Sharpener 43545a53 6 45 Bolt / Chain Cutter 3771a15 50 150
Wire Brush 7187t3 2 10 3585a13
5986a1 Sheet Metal Snips 3908a11 10 40
Pry Bars 60025a65 1 10 3902a9
60025a66 Finishing Saw 4012a1 10 30
Folding Ladder 8141t14 75 1,000 4099a1
Coping Saw 4 10
Hand Truck 2660t3 40 600 6917a11
Blacksmith’s Hammer (Heavy) 6462a24 10 80 Hole Saw Kit 4008a71 25 120
Rubber Mallet 5917a8 10 40 Handsaw 4088a71 10 20
Miter Box 4201a38 15 45 Metric / Inch Tap and Die 2726a66 40 1,200
Hacksaw 4086a34 5 25 Deburring Taper 3018a4 5 80
Tight Spot Hacksaw 4060a16 2 5 4253a16
Deburring Tools 2 25
Hole Punch Tool 3461a22 40 150 4289a36

Center Punches and Chisel Set 3506a76 25 120 Drill Stops 8959a16 2 10

7290a24 Vise 5344a31 10 1,500

Metric and Imperial
5757a35 30 1,200 C-Clamps 5165a25 2 45
Ratchet / Socket Sets
5582a11 Quick-Grip Clamps / Spreaders 51755a7  15 50
Torque Wrench 85555a221 50 300 Jaw Puller 6293k12 50 180
5541a31 8176a12
Hex Key Sets, 5215a24 Files 2 100
2 80 8194a12
Imperial and Metric 7162a13
5215a12 Hydraulic Floor Jack 25 200
Torx Key Set 6959a85 2 40 Block & Tackle / Lifting Winch 50 500
52975a21 Screwdrivers, Slotted and
Mini-Hex Drivers 2 40 8551a31 1 90
7270a59 Phillips
5314a62 52985a21
Jeweler’s Screwdrivers 10 40
Combination Wrenches, 5304a73 52985a23
25 800
Metric and Inch 5314a25 Propane Burner 10 50
Heat Gun 50 250
Vise-Grip Locking Pliers,
7136a19 2 50 Power Tools
18V or 36V Cordless Drill 29835a88 25 300
Vise-Grips, Large 7136a15 5 60
Band Saw 4164a12 250 5,000
Vise-Grips, Med Curved 5172a17 5 45
Reciprocating Saw (Sawzall) 4011a81 120 250

66 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p064-67_SIP_UltTools_F1.indd 66 10/13/10 9:21:36 AM

Tool Name McMaster # $ Budget $ Deluxe Tool Name McMaster # $ Budget $ Deluxe
Sliding Compound Miter Saw 3001a14 200 600 Toaster Oven,
40 60
Handheld Circular Saw 4033a31 30 450 Adjustable Time / Temp

Tilting Table Saw 27925a11 300 2,000 Microscope (See Safety / Measurement / Visualization)

Jigsaw 39995a21 20 450 Oscilloscope 500 5,000

Drill Press 2717a45 100 2,500 Micro Tweezer Sets 2 100

28115a77 Pick-and-Place Robot 3,000 30,000

31555a55 Variac Transformer 6994k17 200 850
Drill Sets
5 1,200 Fetish Tools
8802a11 Optics Bench 1,000 400,000
Mask Writer 50,000 1,000,000
Plunge Router 36485a11 100 300
Mini-Jector Injection Molder 4,000 50,000
Manual Lathe 8941a61 500 5,000
Thermoformer 1,000 20,000
MIG Welder 7264a12 200 1,500
ESEM Electron Microscope 25,000 500,000
Stick Welder 7967a33 100 4,600
3D Scanner 5,000 100,000
Stroboscope 1177t92 25 250
Excimer Laser Cutter 100,000 1,000,000
Hot Plate, Adjustable 3118k32 50 800
PCR (Thermal Cycler) 100,000
Dremel Rotary Tool 4344a76 50 150
Micropipettes 20 2,000
Angle Grinder 4395a16 50 250
Spin Coater 500 25,000
Bench Grinder / Buffer 4583a92 75 300
High-Temperature Vacuum Oven 2,000 30,000
Belt Sander 4892a21 100 200
Chemistry Hoods and
Bench Disc / Belt Sander 4566a31 250 1,500 2,000 1,000,000
Glass Equipment
Disc Sander 4615a21 30 800 Ultrasonic Welder 5,000 25,000
Orbital Sander 39825a15 20 250 Tube Bender 1,000 40,000
Bridgeport Mill 500 15,000 Tanks for Anodizing, Etching 25 2,500
Hot Knife (Heisseschneider) 50 200 Kiln 500 5,000
Pipe Bender 2412a4 100 7,000 Anvil 250 1,000
Foam Cutter 4981a22 10 600 Crucible 20 2,500
Sheet Metal Nibbler 3623a14 125 1,200 Thin Film Evaporator /
5,000 100,000
Sewing Machine 25 2,500 Sputterer
Hot Glue Gun 7518a22 10 120 Sheet Metal Bender / Brake 30 7,000
Air Compressor 4364k3 200 2,500 Notcher 40 800
31195k11 Arbor Press 40 900
Spot Abrasive Blaster 50 500
Vacuum Pump 100 1,000+ Safety, Measurement,
Oxy-Acetylene Torch 7754a12 250 1,500 and Visualization
Plasma Torch 600 3,000 Safety Goggles 2404t21 1 10

Computer-Controlled Tools Earmuffs 9205T6 2 30

CNC Router 800 5,000 Micrometer 2054a75 5 300

Large-Format Laser Printer 900 25,000 Caliper 8647a44 5 500

CNC Mill (3- or 4-axis) 2,500 120,000 1490t3

Head-Mounted Magnifier 5 120
CNC Lathe 5,000 150,000
Feeler Gauges 2070a7 1 25
Laser Cutter (CO2) 12,000 50,000
Plasma Cutter 3,000 20,000 Spirit Level 5 50
Wire or Sink EDM (Electrical Tape Measure 19805a74 1 25
100,000 250,000
Discharge Machining)
Adjustable Stereomicroscope 10705t64 500 25,000
Water Jet Cutter 80,000 150,000
Hot Gloves 5 100
3D Printer (Z Corp, FDM, STL) 25,000 250,000
Work Gloves 1 40
Plotter / Cutter (Roland) 1,000 25,000
Welding Mask 15 100
Electronics Tools 2042a77
Soldering Iron 7722a1 11 250 Rules 6823a61 5 100
Wire Stripper 2 80
Shop Vac 70215t26 60 200
Pliers Set 5323a49 10 120
Torpedo Laser Level 2032a7 40 200
Work Holder and Magnifier 5007a14 5 100
Combination Square, 4-piece 2007a8 20 100
Multimeter 75 250
Temp-Control Solder Station 150 1,000 2278a14
Machinist’s Squares 10 550
Hot Air Tool for Point Reflow / 2278a17
30 500
Desoldering 2278a21
Bench Power Supply, Inspection Mirror, 2" 1017t17 6 30
150 500

Make: 67

p064-67_SIP_UltTools_F1.indd 67 10/11/10 2:54:54 PM

Your What you need to get started
Electronics in hobby electronics.
Workbench By Charles Platt

The Basics sized soldering iron with a very fine tip

(Figure C), I realized I had spent years pun-
ishing myself. You need that fine-tipped
soldering iron, and thin solder to go with it.
First, you’ll need a breadboard. You can You also need a loupe, a little magnifier
call it a “prototyping board,” but this is like (Figure D). A cheap plastic one is suffi-
calling a battery a “power cell.” Search cient. You’ll use it to make sure the solder
RadioShack online for “breadboard” and you apply to the PCB hasn’t run across
you’ll find more than a dozen products, all of any of the narrow spaces separating adja-
them for electronics hobbyists, and none of cent copper strips, creating short circuits.
them useful for doing anything with bread. Short circuits are the #2 cause of
A breadboard is a plastic strip perforated frustration when a project that worked
with holes 1/10" apart, which happens to be perfectly on a breadboard becomes totally
the same spacing as the legs on old-style uncommunicative on a PCB. The #1 cause
silicon chips — the kind that were endemic of frustration (in my experience, anyway)
in computers before the era of surface- would be dry joints.
mounted chips with legs so close together Any soldering guide will tell you to hold
only a robot could love them. Fortunately two metal parts together while simultane-
for hobbyists, old-style chips are still in ously applying solder and the tip of the
plentiful supply and are simple to play with. soldering iron. If you can manage this
Your breadboard makes this easy. Behind far-fetched anatomical feat, you must
its holes are copper conductors, arrayed in also watch the solder with supernatural
hidden rows and columns. When you push close-up vision. You want the solder to run
the wires of components into the holes, the like a tiny stream that clings to the metal,
wires engage with the conductors, and the instead of forming beads that sit on top
conductors link the components together, of the metal. At that precise moment,
with no solder required. you remove the soldering iron. The solder
Figure A shows a basic breadboard. You solidifies, and the joint is complete.
insert chips so that their legs straddle the You get a dry joint if the solder isn’t quite
central groove, and you add other compo- hot enough. Its crystalline structure lacks
nents on either side. You’ll also want to buy integrity and crumbles under stress. If
a matching printed circuit board (PCB) that you’ve joined two wires, it’s easy to test for
has the same pattern of copper connectors a dry joint: you can pull them apart easily.
as the breadboard. On a PCB, it’s another matter. You can’t
First use the breadboard to make sure test a chip by trying to pull it off the board,
everything works, then transpose the parts because the good joints on most of its legs
to the PCB, pushing their wires through will compensate for any bad joints.
from the top. You immortalize your circuit by You must use your loupe to check for the
soldering the wires to the copper strips. bad joints. You may see a wire-end per-
Soldering, of course, is the tricky part. As fectly centered in a PCB hole, with solder
always, it pays to get the right tool for the on the wire, solder around the hole, but no
job. I never used to believe this, because solder actually connecting the two. This
I grew up in England, where “making do gap of 1/100" is enough to stop everything
with less” is somehow seen as a virtue. from working, but you’ll need a good desk
When I finally bought a 15-watt pencil- lamp and magnification to see it.

68 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p068-70_SIP_EltrncsWrkbnch_F2.indd 68 10/13/10 9:25:08 AM

A. BREADBOARD: Used for prototyp-
ing the connections you’ll make on
your printed circuit board (PCB),
without the need for solder.


aluminum storage box
has grooves inside that
accept a PCB.

A 15-watt pencil-
sized iron with a
very fine tip. Get thin
solder to go with it.

D. LOUPE: Good
for checking sol- F. WIRE STRIPPER:
der connections A Kronus Automatic,
on the PCB. shown here, works
with supernatural

PLIERS: Various
sizes are essential.
Illustration by Damien Scogin

G. COMPONENTS: You’ll H. WIRE: You’ll

want a variety of resistors need both hookup
and capacitors, available at and stranded wire.
your local Shack or online.

Make: 69

p068-70_SIP_EltrncsWrkbnch_F1.indd 69 10/11/10 3:04:56 PM

BOX Avoid being a mere slave
to instructions; learn how to
A Few fix things if the project
Components doesn’t work.
and Tools
Just as a kitchen should contain eggs the ends. You’ll also need stranded wire to entail no more than a $250 expenditure
and orange juice, you’ll want a variety of make flexible connections from the PCB to for tools and parts. Electronics is a much
resistors and capacitors. Your neighbor- panel-mounted components such as LEDs cheaper hobby than more venerable crafts
hood Shack can sell you prepackaged or switches. To strip the ends of the wire, such as woodworking, and since all the
assortments, or you can shop online at nothing beats the Kronus Automatic Wire components are small, it consumes very
mouser.com or eBay. Stripper, which looks like a monster but little space.
After you buy the components, you’ll works with supernatural efficiency, letting For completed projects you need, natu-
need to sort and label them. Some may be you do the job with just one hand. rally enough, project boxes. You can settle
marked only with colored bands to indicate Needlenose pliers and side cutters of for simple plastic containers with screw-on
their values. With a multimeter (a good one various sizes are essential, with perhaps lids, but I prefer something a little fancier.
costs maybe $50) you can test the values tweezers, a miniature vise to hold your Hammond Instruments makes a lovely
instead of trying to remember the color- work, alligator clips, and that wonderfully brushed aluminum box with a lid that slides
coding system. For storage I like the kind of mysterious stuff, heat-shrink tubing (you’ll out to allow access. Grooves inside the box
little plastic boxes that craft stores sell to never use electrical tape again). To shrink accept a printed circuit board. My preferred
store beads. the heat-shrink tube, you’ll use a Black and box has a pattern of conductors emulating
For your breadboard you’ll need hookup Decker heat gun. three breadboards put together. This is big
wire. This is available in precut lengths, If this sounds like a substantial invest- enough for ambitious projects involving
with insulation already stripped to expose ment, it isn’t. A basic workbench should multiple chips.

Learn the Rules

Read a basic electronics guide, like my fine on a naked PCB stops working when your chips, solder the empty socket to the
Make: Electronics (makershed.com), to I mount it in a plastic box, because the PCB, then plug the chip in after everything
learn the relationships between ohms (Ω), process of screwing the board into place cools. When soldering delicate diodes
amperes (A), volts (V), and watts (W), so has flexed it just enough to break a (including LEDs), apply an alligator clip
that you can do the numbers and avoid connection. between the soldering iron and the compo-
burning out a resistor with excessive cur- nent. The clip absorbs the heat.
rent or an LED with too much voltage. And » Check for short circuits. Tracing faults in circuits is truly an
follow the rules of troubleshooting: If there’s a short, current will prefer to annoying process. On the upside, when
flow through it, and other parts of the you do manage to put together an array
» Look for dead zones. This is easy circuit will be deprived. They’ll show much of components that works properly, it
on a breadboard, where you can include less voltage than they should. usually keeps on working cooperatively,
extra LEDs to give a visual indication of Alternatively you can set your meter without change or complaint, for decades
whether each section is dead or alive. You to measure amperes and then connect — unlike automobiles, lawn mowers,
can use piezo beepers for this purpose, the meter between one side of your power tools, or, for that matter, people.
too. And, of course, you can clip the black power source and the input point on your To me this is the irresistible aspect of
wire of your meter to the negative source circuit. A zero reading on the meter may hobby electronics. You end up with some-
in your circuit, then touch the red probe mean that you just blew its internal fuse thing that’s more than the sum of its parts
(carefully, without shorting anything out!) because a short circuit tried to draw too — and the magic endures.
to points of interest. much current.
If you get an intermittent reading when
you flex the circuit board gently, almost » Check for heat-damaged
Charles Platt is a contributing editor of MAKE
certainly you have a dry joint somewhere, components. This is harder, and it’s
and the author of Make: Electronics. He’s also
making and breaking contact. More than better to avoid damaging the components the author of science fiction novels, including
once I’ve found that a circuit that works in the first place. If you use sockets for The Silicon Man.

70 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p068-70_SIP_EltrncsWrkbnch_F1.indd 70 10/11/10 3:05:23 PM

8 Non-Tools You’ll never want to leave
Every your maker cave.
Workshop By William Gurstelle


Sure, your tools are important. But it’s the small,
personal items that make a generic workshop yours,
and keep you comfortable, happy, and on task.
1. Coveralls Nothing says “I’m newspaper or a ball cap held by the
a maker” like heavy-duty, multi- brim, but a well-engineered fly swat-
pocketed coveralls. Far more durable ter is far more effective. (The open
than a smock or lab coat, coveralls mesh of the swatting surface lets the
protect your clothes from the dust, air pass through, doubling or tripling
grease, and sparks of the workshop. the kill ratio.) Orvis Personalized
1 Buy them roomy enough to wear Leather Fly Swatter, $48 orvis.com
clothes underneath (if you want).
Want extra street cred? For a few 5. Wall-mounted hand cleaner
dollars, your local embroidery store dispenser Waterless hand cleaners
will add your name or a logo on like GoJo and Goop remove grease
the front. Carhartt Insulated Duck and dirt without the need for running
Coveralls, $123 carhartt.com water. Some come in squeezable
7 tubes, but a wall-mounted dispenser
2. Electric wall clock Time flies is easier to use, and you never have
when you’re having fun, so it’s to remember where you left the tube.
important to have a large, depend-
able clock on the wall so you don’t 6. Coffee maker with insulated
miss meals. Unless your workshop carafe For many of us, a steady
is heated, battery-operated clocks supply of caffeine on-site is a boon
lose time in the winter, and it’s hard and a pleasure that enhances creat-
to see the small dial of a desk clock ing and building. A coffee maker
from across the room. A factory- with an insulated carafe (instead
style, plug-in electric clock suits of a heated glass decanter) is more
every workshop. Geneva 14" Electric energy efficient and prevents unsa-
Quartz Analog Commercial Wall vory coffee-scorch. A mug with a
Clock, $25 hardwareandtools.com covered top keeps bad stuff out.
3. Label maker Clearly labeled bins 7. First aid kit There are a lot of
of parts and supplies make your shop sharp, hard, hot, and pointy things
neat, organized, and professional. in the workshop. Eventually, you’re
While there’s nothing wrong with going to come into contact with
3 modern label printers, the old-school, those things in unplanned ways.
turn-and-click label makers that Bandages, compresses, and wound
emboss letters onto vinyl tape are dressings are items of most benefit.
retro-cool and never need batteries. Red Cross 100 Year Anniversary First
Some even emboss steel or alumi- Aid Kit, $45 redcrossstore.org
8 num tape. Rhino 1011 Metal Tape
Embosser, $250 dymo.com 8. Wall calendar While not a neces-
sity, it’s a time-honored addition.
4. Fly swatter Traditionally, workshop calendars
Apparently, flies love the smell of tend toward the racy side but don’t
sawdust, iron filings, and whatever cross the line into the offensive. But
resin or paint you just applied. You hey, it’s your workshop.
can chase the pests with a rolled-up

William Gurstelle is a contributing editor of MAKE.

Make: 71

p071_SIP_8Non-Tools_F1_ga.indd 71 10/11/10 3:12:05 PM


Leatherman Wave
I just got a Leatherman Wave multitool, and to say I’m in love is an
understatement. In the three days I’ve had it, it has left my side for no
more than 15 minutes at a time. In addition to the two outer blades
(serrated and normal) that can be deployed in seconds using only one
hand, there’s a diamond-coated file and a saw.
Inside, you find not only the standard pliers (which are beautiful all
by themselves) but also two bit drivers (large and small), a bottle
opener, a ruler, and more.
Remember those flimsy Swiss Army scissors that can barely cut
paper? The Wave’s scissors are far better; they have a real handle, not
to mention that you can tell just by their look that the Swiss Army
blades can’t compare.
No matter which tool you’re using on this amazing 17-function knife,
it feels great in your hand. As an added bonus, you can purchase a bit
kit, which is full of different-sized flat, Phillips, and Torx bits.
Within two hours of getting my Wave, I’d already used it to fix my
boot. Earlier today, I used it to help me build an iPod charger in an
Li’l Guppie Altoids tin, from Volume 07 of MAKE. $60 leatherman.com
—Adam Zeloof
Why the heck do I need another pocket
tool? I’ve already got a multitool with
pliers, knives, screwdrivers, and more.
Well, the reason is this: ever try to Swiss+Tech UKCSB-1 Utili-Key
loosen a bolt without an adjustable
wrench? It’s pretty hopeless; the non- 6-in-1 Key Ring Tool
parallel jaws of pliers just don’t cut it.
The Li’l Guppie is the answer: it has an With the Utili-Key on my keychain, I’m perfectly content dealing with
adjustable wrench on it. most situations where I’d usually opt for a pocketknife. It’s so small,
Thanks to its carabiner-like form, you’ll forget you have it with you. I’ve often forgotten about mine until
I can hang it from my belt loop, ready I’ve already passed through airport security. And at under $10, it’s
to be deployed on a stubborn bolt. It’s easy to replace. The key unfolds to a very serviceable combination
got a fangy little blade that makes me flat and serrated blade. It also comes with a bottle opener and various
nervous (I wish it locked in place), but screwdrivers, including a Phillips head. $11 swisstechtools.com
turning the thumbscrew to open the —Adam Flaherty
wrench reveals a Phillips screwdriver,
an extra-clever feature. A flathead
screwdriver is cast into the butt of the
tool, with a pretty serviceable bottle
opener built in too. $35 crkt.com
—John Edgar Park

72 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p072-75_SIP_Tlbx-GM_F1.indd 72 10/11/10 3:24:20 PM

“Multitools are for
people who can’t define
their jobs, and who
never stop tinkering.”
—Bruce Sterling
Specialty Drivers

2 4

clip out

1 3 5

1. Eklind 7-Piece Torx Fold- cartridges, the Nintendo DS, ing it with me everywhere. And I would eat you like hot
up Key Set Laptops, PDAs, Zune HD, and a few other Previously, if I came across peanuts.” $30 calcentron.com
and a lot of other consumer products. $4 play-asia.com an obscure tamperproof —Mister Jalopy
electronics devices use Torx —JEP screw, I would grind an Allen
screws, so it’s smart to have a wrench until I could jam it in 5. Swiss+Tech Screwz-All
set of Torx drivers in your tool- 3. SK 73676 21-Piece or mickey-mouse some sort 4-in-1 I originally got this as
box. I got this fold-up Torx key Stubby Ratcheting of welding rod and Vise-Grip an impulse purchase because
set with seven different sizes Screwdriver Set SK Hand contraption. it was small and “cute.” Believe
(T6, T7, T8, T10, T11, T12, T14) Tools, formerly known as The Boxer TP62 is a stan- me, it’s anything but cute
because it’s easier to locate SuperKrome, makes a heck dard removable-bit, ratchet- when it comes to working.
in a drawer than several really of a tool. They mainly focus ing screwdriver with not So far, this little gadget
small Torx screwdrivers. on immortal socket sets, only the expected standard has cracked open my car
$10 eklindtool.net but they also make a mean Phillips and flat bits, but also battery on a hot day to check
—Dale Dougherty ratcheting screwdriver. This 57 high-security tamperproof the water level, opened and
small-profile driver (known bits to open damn near every repaired many computers
2. Tri-Wing Screwdriver as a stubby) ratchets like a machine meant to remain at the office, removed the
If using this to get into my Wii Swiss clock, fits all standard unopened. From the sinister knee-eating ergonomic key-
remote and Wii Nunchuck attachments, and comes Snake Eyes Spanner to the board trays from under my
controller (I used one for the with a bunch of bits, as well three-blade Phillips, there are office desk, opened my iPod
Make: television Roller Coaster as extenders to help you get bits for screws I didn’t even to change the battery, and
Flight Recorder project at at hard-to-reach screws. realize were removable. helped repair my aging Nokia.
makezine.com/go/roller) $20, online retailers With the Boxer, you think, The micro-sized flat screw-
wasn’t already reason enough —John Baichtal “For now, you bastard screws driver just fits the microscopic
to love this little security will remain impervious, Torx screws used to hold my
driver, how about this: I used 4. Boxer TP62 Security steadfastly guarding against cellphone together. Best of all,
it again today to open and Screwdriver Kit Once I got a the random reordering of it stays on my keychain at all
fix a corroded contact in a Boxer TP62 screwdriver kit, tenant listings. But make times. I love this little thing!
battery-operated Thomas the I realized the world was held no mistake, should I desire, $7 swisstechtools.com
Tank Engine train! They’re together with tamperproof I could have every damn one —William Jehle
also good for getting into GBA screws and started carry- of you removed in seconds.

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BOX Knives & Multitools
1 4 5

3 7

1. Victorinox Swiss Army a blade-swapping mechanism the same strokes. $20–$60 to sharpen as possible. The
Cybertool Victorinox was that’s flimsy or fussy. online retailers —SMR locking mechanism is effec-
making multitools when Tim Gerber’s solution? Shrink tive, foolproof, and beautifully
Leatherman’s great-grand- the blade! Their Artifact 5. Case Pocketknives minimal, being integrated into
parents were in diapers. mounts a folding #11 hobby There’s one tool I carry all the single bolster, which also
Their Cybertool line packs blade. These are common, day, every day: my W.R. Case features a removable clip. The
the usual Swiss Army blades cheap, and small enough and Sons Peanut pocket- PECK (Precision Engineered
like knives, saw, scissors, and to be safely retained in a knife. They’ve been around Compact Knife) model 5520
file, but it also adds ‘puter- compact folding frame by since 1889, and are still is a later, lighter model with all
centric tools: DIP switch set- a mechanism that doesn’t handcrafted in Bradford, Pa. the same advantages, plus a
ter, mini-hex driver with four requires tools. The ingredients list is refresh- sheepsfoot blade that’s even
double-ended bits, a wrench, Besides this cleverness, the ingly familiar — surgical steel easier to sharpen because it
even a light. $82–$139 Artifact incorporates seven blades, brass bolsters, bone has only one sharp edge.
swissarmy.com —JB other handy implements, or wood handles — and the $40 crkt.com —SMR
including some, like a pry bar, knives have a satisfying heft
2. SOG PowerLock EOD rarely seen in multitools, all and always-sharp blades. 7. Sebenza Integral Lock
Multitool My new baby is a in a package about the size Case makes dozens of Folding Knife I was sent
SOG Specialty Knives B61-N. of a pack of gum — and only styles, from tiny to titanic. this amazing knife to review
It’s tough as nails, uses com- slightly more expensive. $15 With mine I sharpen pencils, for National Geographic
pound leverage for stronger gerbergear.com slice salami, cut zip ties, and Adventure and I cherish it.
pliers, and packs a Colonel —Sean Michael Ragan open boxes. Yes, these are It’s gorgeous, Zen-like, very
Kurtz-esque black oxide finish beautiful pieces of American simply constructed with
that makes Leatherman tools 4. Colt Cobra II Tactical workmanship, but first and impeccable craftsmanship
tremble. $120 sogknives.com Folding Knife Here’s an foremost they’re damn fine and high-quality materials.
—JB interesting innovation: a tools. $35 and up wrcase.com And it has a titanium body, so
laser-cut serrated edge. It —Jeremy Jackson it feels like air in your hand.
3. Gerber Artifact When provides the advantages of A friend once said to me:
folding utility knives first traditional serrations (easier 6. KISS 5500 Folding Knife “A good blade — it wants
appeared, I enthusiastically cutting of fibers and ropes) The KISS (Keep It Super to cut you.” I was bleeding
signed on. Now, instead of without their main disadvan- Simple) from Columbia moments after taking it out of
resharpening my blade, I can tage, that they’re difficult to River Knife & Tool has a the box (getting the feel of its
just replace it when it gets sharpen. The serrated and chisel-ground blade with an one-handed opening). $330
dull. But these knives are usu- non-serrated portions of this angular, uncurved profile, and up chrisreeve.com
ally big and clunky, enclosing blade can be sharpened using which makes it about as easy —Gareth Branwyn

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Peter Atwood Pocket Tools
Peter Atwood of Turners Falls, Mass. makes his living as a knife-
and toolmaker. He produces limited runs of unique items every
few days, which he then posts on his blog, Planet Pocket Tool. His
focus is small, wrench-like tools. However, Atwood creates a wide
variety of metal items like rulers, steel shot glasses, whistles, pry-
bars, ring tools, and so on. Recently I interviewed him via email:

JB: When working in your shop, what metalworking tool do you

find yourself turning to most often?
Leatherman Juice CS4
(aka “Make: Can Open ’er”) This full-size multi- PA: My favorite tool is definitely my belt grinder. The 2×72 KMG
tool is smaller and more lightweight than the is a wonderful machine and it is the workhorse of the shop. I have
other “full-size” lines that Leatherman carries both vertical and horizontal units.
(Skeletool, Surge, Wave, Crunch), while offering
a decent-size 2.6" knife blade, scissors that are
actually bigger than on the Wave, bottle/can open- JB: What is the most difficult alloy to work with?
er, corkscrew, awl, and flat/Phillips drivers. This PA: They all have their quirks, but titanium is generally more
is a great kitchen-drawer-and-tackle-box kind of difficult to work than steel. I haven’t done any Damascus steel
tool. $75 makershed.com Product Code MKOSCS4
work in a while but that’s another one that is very involved,
Leatherman Squirt ES4 especially with the finishing.
(aka “Make: Bomb Defuser”) An admirable
keychain multitool, this Squirt has wire cutters and JB: Titanium has a mystique about it in popular culture. Tell me
strippers (gauges 12–20) as the plier tool, with a
what it’s like to work with the stuff.
needlenose tip, plus built-in scissors. You wouldn’t
want it to be your only multitool, but it’s come in PA: The mystique that surrounds it is overblown IMO. It’s just
handy more than once, and it’s a great tool for another material. Titanium cuts easily on a metal cutting band-
the dressed-up geek or gearhead. (You can’t very saw with a bi-metal blade. However, it’s a pain to grind because
well wear a Wave on your belt with your wedding
the sparks and dust are very flammable even when using very
’n’ funeral duds, but you can carry a Squirt in your
pocket or purse, or on a garter holster for you slow speeds. Milling is a mixed bag because it tends to be very
Lady Derringer types.) The Maker Shed version gummy. It’s funny stuff to work with but I do love it, not only for
has “Make: Bomb Defuser” laser-etched on the its strength but because of the wonderful varied finishes that are
body. Also available in stealthy black “Make: Circuit
Breaker” version. $36 makershed.com
possible with it.
Product Code MKLTM2 —John Baichtal

Leatherman Squirt PS4 » TIP: Subscribe to Atwood’s blog RSS feed because his sales
(aka “Make: Warranty Voider”) This Squirt has
the same toolset as the ES4, but with needlenose
are over in a matter of minutes! atwoodknives.blogspot.com
pliers. Our version has “Make: Warranty Voider”
etched on the body. $36 makershed.com More of our interview: makezine.com/go/atwood
Product Code MKLTM1 —GB

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CNC and 3D 3D Printers the DIY Way

This DIY 3D printer uses a syringe-type
extruder that can deposit silicone, cement,
epoxy, even cake frosting. The new Model
2 also accommodates a plastic filament
extruder, making it very versatile. Kits $2,000 MakerBot Thing-O-Matic Kit
and up fabathome.org

MakerBot Industries kits are bringing 3D printing to a wide

and enthusiastic audience. Their brand-new Thing-O-Matic 3D
printer is a major upgrade of the popular CupCake CNC (see
page 58). It’s got a more robust plastic filament extruder,
better bearings and shafts, a much faster and more accurate
Z stage, and a new build platform that automatically ejects
CandyFab each completed object and begins printing the next one.
Developed by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories,
this tasty 3D printer uses heat sintering: a
The Thing-O-Matic prints 3D objects in ABS, PLA, and other
jet of hot air welds pure sugar to create 3D plastics, and it’s open source, so you can make your own from
shapes in candy, layer by layer. They’re at
16dpi and improving. Price varies candyfab.org this deluxe kit, or from scratch, and modify it to your heart’s
content. $1,225 makerbot.com —Keith Hammond

I cannot overemphasize how cool I think
the blossoming world of Thingiverse is,
RepRap II Mendel where folks share their 3D designs online
The open source RepRap 3D printer uses a so others can download and print them
plastic filament extruder, the same technology
out. Once you have a 3D printer, what are
the MakerBots are based on. The twist is,
RepRap is self-replicating — it’s made of parts you going to print? Free thingiverse.com
that can be printed by RepRaps. You build it —Windell Oskay
yourself; many vendors sell parts or complete
kits. Kits $1,165 and up reprap.org

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Desktop and DIY CNC Cutters
Lumenlab micRo
When I decided to fast-track my entry into
DIY CNC, I chose the micRo, a tabletop CNC
robot kit (see MAKE Volume 21, page 68).
It’s small enough to be stowed under the
workbench when not in use, but stout enough
to cut aluminum and hard plastic. The optional
spindle kit worked well for me, and you could
easily mount a Dremel or other rotary tool if
you choose. $599 and up lumenlab.com
—Steve Lodefink

Epilog Zing 16
Laser Cutter
Small and reasonably priced, Epilog’s Zing series is a new breed of desktop laser
cutters. The Zing 16 is an amazing tool, just the thing for a hackerspace or tool DIYLILCNC
collective. The 40-watt CO2 laser system makes quick work of cutting through Developed by two artist-teachers at School of
the Art Institute of Chicago, the open-source
wood and acrylic up to ¼" thick.
DIYLILCNC router uses open-source EMC2
Create your design with a vector drawing program, send it to the Zing, and control software (see page 80). They recom-
you get a focused laser beam cutting a path through your material. (Some laser mend pairing it with a $175 Linux PC to keep it
cutting rules of thumb: Square edge notches make for flush fits. Right angles are cheap. $700 diylilcnc.org

the norm. Too much power = charred edges.) Once you get the hang of it, you’ll
create precise parts to solve your problems. For me, these included solenoid
brackets for a train project, Arduino prototyping enclosures, and tiny geared
robots. With the Zing’s work area of 16"×12", I never needed more space. (My
biggest complaint is that the official drivers are Windows-only, but third-party
drivers exist for OS X and Linux.) $7,995 epiloglaser.com —John Edgar Park

vectors, fit vectors to raster

images, and import 3D files in
formats such as STL. Entering
toolpaths is simple. The tab
editor places tabs around your HobbyCNC
part to hold it while it’s being Dave Rigotti sells CNC kits and components, like
the HobbyCNC Pro Driver Board reviewed on page
cut out, and you can watch a 3D
78, as well as reasonable plans ($22) for making
simulator cut out your part. your own CNC Hobby Router with a cut area of
Connect the Desktop to 9"×24"×1" using a Dremel. $500 hobbycnc.com
ShopBot Desktop your PC via USB, use the handy
zeroing switches to easily set up your Expandable CNC Kit
The ShopBot Desktop CNC router material, then load your toolpaths into Patrick Hood-Daniel’s open-source Expandable
CNC Kit is a CNC router capable of making all
measures just 28"×35", with a cutting the ShopBot controller software and it
its custom parts out of MDF; everything else is
volume of 24"×18"×2". It’s perfect for runs the bot, cutting out your part. standard hardware. Version 1.3 is a 2'×4' CNC
cutting or engraving small to medium- Desktop was made with the beginner machine, expandable to 4'×8'. The spindle is an
sized parts in materials like wood, in mind, but it’s a high-quality machine ordinary wood router; I use a Porter-Cable 892. On
his website, videos explain how to put it together;
plastic, and aluminum. whose software and hardware really fill out the form and he’ll email you the CAD and
In ShopBot’s CAD/CAM software, work well together, for a much lower CAM files. (See page 54 for a how-to overview.)
drawing parts is straightforward: you price than competitors of this quality. $800 (free plans) buildyourcnc.com —Tom Owad
can snap and trim lines, enter angle $4,995 and up shopbottools.com
and coordinate positions, import —Eric Chu

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BOX CNC Controllers

These do-it-yourself kits

and entry-level tools are
bringing CNC fabrication
and 3D printing to the
home workshop. Stepperworld FET-3/Roadster
This affordable, complete 3-axis system includes
a powerful controller, NEMA 23 motors, power
supply, cables, power resistors — everything you
need to get started. $229 stepperworld.com

HobbyCNC Pro Driver Board

I’m a mechanical type of guy. So when I decided to refurbish a desktop LiniStepper Controller
CNC milling machine, I was a little nervous about the electronics, espe- This open source controller/driver for stepper
motors features “ultra smooth old school linear
cially since the existing electronics were falling apart. I could have tried
microstepping” combined with active current
to build a stepper motor controller, but I didn’t want to spend all that regulation and an onboard PIC microcontroller.
time and money on a refurbish, only to rely on my weakest skill at the It even has a “magic” stepless mode.
very end to see if it worked. $90 makezine.com/go/linistep

Then I found HobbyCNC. You can get different levels and kits to fit
your needs. They’re easy to assemble for anyone with basic soldering
skills, and there’s plenty of support if you run into any issues. Mine went
together without any problems, and is currently “making chips.” With
a product like this, it’s only a matter of time before everyone has a CNC
mill or router in the workshop. $79 (3-axis), $99 (4-axis) hobbycnc.com
—Brian Graham

Printable Tool Clips

Spotted on Thingiverse: these neato

printable tool clips by elite Maker- Xylotex Drive Boxes
Botter Christian Arnø of Norway, Xylotex sells driver kits with 269oz stepper
motors, but also check out these boxes: all the kit
creator of the MakerBot Dremel
components mounted in a box with power cable,
mount and the printable MakerBot. cooling fan, 6-foot motor cables, and parallel port
thingiverse.com/thing:3482 extension cable, “all plug & play ready-to-go.”
—John Baichtal $410 (3-axis), $460 (4-axis) xylotex.com

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CNC Mills and Routers » Learn more about CNC at cnczone.com

Sherline Mills
Lots of makers retrofit their beloved Sherline mills for
CNC use; you can even order yours with stepper motor
mounts factory-installed. Sherline provides only the
mounts and couplers; you provide your own stepper
motors, drivers, computer, and software. $880 and up

Taig CNC
Micro Mill
A fast, high-resolution desktop
mill with 200oz steppers, it can
cut 1" slots in mild steel with
a single pass of a 1" end mill.
They dare you to try that on
other mills. $2,155 taigtools.com

MAXNC 10 Open Loop Mill

MAXNC sells affordable CNC mills, lathes, and routers
geared to machinists, but also to inventors and students.
Their hobbyist model MAXNC 5 holds your Dremel and
starts at $1,095; the beefier MAXNC 10 Open Loop has
70oz steppers, an upgradeable spindle motor, and an
optional rotary table for 4-axis work. $1,756 maxnc.com

Developed by NASA robotics engineers, this compact 3D CNC
woodworking machine can rip, crosscut, miter, joint, contour,
and rout, and it also works with some plastics and high-density
foams. You can sometimes find a reconditioned Sears Craftsman
CompuCarve (the same machine) for under $1,300.
$1,599 carvewright.com —Marc de Vinck

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BOX CAD/CAM Software on a Budget
1 2

Alibre Design
Personal Edition
Most 3D parts begin life as 2D sketches
that are pushed and pulled into 3D
models on your computer screen.
Some programs use a “wire mesh”
frame to create objects (Blender,
Google SketchUp, Rhino), and some
use actual solid shapes (Alibre Design,
SolidWorks, Inventor, Pro/Engineer).
If you plan to actually make the things
you design, solid modeling CAD pro-
grams talk to fabrication machines (like
3D printers) the best. They’re made
for part design, unlike other programs.
4. EMC2 The Enhanced
Most CAD/CAM software is out of reach to Machine Controller (EMC2) And what really distinguishes them is
the typical hobbyist, costing thousands of dollars, but is free, Linux-based, open their ability to create assembly files,
there are a few inexpensive gems out there. source CNC software that will with parts that relate to each other just
operate your CNC tools and
as they relate in real life. Assemblies let
other robots. Free linuxcnc.org
1. Lego CAD with LDraw list. Thanks to the bundled you see your final design and make sure
Quick, grab three 2×4 Lego POV-Ray renderer, you can
5. G-Simple G-Simple is everything fits together perfectly, while
bricks. Place the second brick choose drawing styles, from
a simple CAM for 3-axis keeping the part files separate from
on top of the first, offset by simple, flat graphics to shiny,
machining centers that does
two studs on the long axis. ray-traced works of art. each other. One part can represent an
metric and English units,
Now, place the third brick Free ldraw.org off-the-shelf motor, another part can be
and the price is right.
under the second brick, at a —JEP
Free gsimple.eu exported for 3D printing, and another
right angle to the first. Huh?
This kind of tortured 2. Mach3 Artsoft’s Mach3 can be made into a drawing to send to
6. GCAM GCAM is a free,
description made me wonder CNC software turns your PC a laser cutter.
open source CAM package
about making my own visual into a 6-axis CNC controller. The only remotely affordable solid
for 3-axis CNC in English and
Lego instructions. I Googled It allows direct import of DXF,
metric units. Use its simple modeler (not a student license) is Alibre
my way to the free LDraw BMP, JPG, and HPGL files,
interface to make templates Design Personal Edition at just $99.
suite of Lego CAD applications then it creates the G-code to
and holes, then export the
and parts libraries, which are control your CNC machine.
corresponding G-code to your
It’s got all the stuff you need. The only
staggeringly complete. Soon $159 (demo available) notable drawbacks to PE versus Alibre’s
CNC tool. Free gcam.js.cx
after installation, I was using machsupport.com
Pro and Expert versions is that PE
the MLCad application for a
7. CodeShark Mill Code- omits sheet metal modeling and some
marathon 3D brick-building 3. MeshCAM MeshCAM lets
Shark Mill is a “hybrid” CNC
session. It’s addictive to drag- you create toolpaths from 3D
code editor with built-in DNC
advanced drawing creation tools (like
and-drop any Lego part ever files in STL and DXF formats, section and detail views), and its import/
communications, full editing,
made from an endless tub of and will even generate 3D ob-
virtual bricks. jects from flat image files like
an integrated CAD system, export file options are limited. But you
an on-the-fly feed and speed can still get up and running quickly
Pass the step-inclusive JPEGs. “No CNC experience is
calculator, even multiple-seat
model file to the free LPub required — you can be cutting
discounts for bigger shops. and export STL files, so unless you’re
program, and you’ll soon parts in minutes.” Works with a power user you’ll never miss the fancy
$49 (demo available)
be printing your own Lego Mach3 and CutViewer.
instruction manual and parts $175 grzsoftware.com
softsquad.com —MDV stuff. $99 alibre.com
—Dustyn Roberts

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CNC at Your Service

Need a 2D or 3D part made but you

don’t have the right tool? Just email a
CAD file to a digital fabrication service
and receive the part in your mailbox
in a few days. Think of them as “Santa
Claus machines.” Some of our favorite
makers told us their favorite maker-
oriented job shops:

The burgeoning business of printing objects

for those without 3D printers, for example
Shapeways (shapeways.com), is exciting. These
services also enable printing in media like metals then choose your material (aluminum, steel, etc.) and thick-
that aren’t yet easily accessible to the home 3D printer. ness. They’ll fire up their water-jet machines, and in no time
—Lenore Edman, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories you’ll have that rolled steel stocking stuffer in your hands.
—John Edgar Park, Make: television
Laser cutting is also available from similar online services —
like Pololu (customlasercutting.com) and Ponoko (ponoko. The idea of creating your own Lego kit, complete with box and
com) — making it so that just anyone can start fabbing. printed instructions, is almost too awesome to imagine, but
—Windell Oskay, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories there it is: Lego Design by Me (designbyme.lego.com). While
it’s more expensive than buying bricks individually, there’s no
If your gift plans call for something sturdier than wood or denying that a one-of-a-kind boxed set will warm the heart of
acrylic, you may need a full-blown CNC machine shop. any Lego fan. Build your set in the free Lego Digital Designer
Big Blue Saw (bigbluesaw.com) has an intuitive browser- software, and then send the design to be packed by hand in
based CAD program where you can design your part, and the factory with just a few button clicks. —JEP

Cut it. Engrave it. Mark it.

Laser Engraving, Cutting and

Marking Systems from Epilog Laser
From creating and personalizing 3D models,
to engraving photos on keychains, to marking
high-tech gadgets, our laser systems create the
products you see here and more!

Laser Systems Starting at $7,995 1.888.437.4564

Visit epiloglaser.com/make.htm for more information and sales@epiloglaser.com
to receive your brochure kit with engraved and cut samples!

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Extech RC200
Tweezer Multimeter
The RC200 does everything you’d
expect from a multimeter — measures
voltage, resistance, capacitance, and
continuity, checks diodes, and switches
between manual and auto ranging
— using a stripped-down interface,
basically just an LCD with a couple of
buttons letting you toggle through the
modes. The RC200 measures voltages
up to 600V, capacitance from 6nF to
60mF, and resistance from 600Ω to
60MΩ. It does not measure inductance.
While the RC200’s ratings aren’t
likely to blow anyone away, it has one
outstanding feature: its tweezers.
These allow you to test components —
including tiny surface-mount hardware
— loose or directly on the PCB, making
the RC200 invaluable for tinkerers,
circuit benders, and hardware hackers. Edsyn Fuminator Fume Extractor
A convenient adjustment wheel opens
and closes the tweezers to accom- Ever come out of a long kit build with a splitting headache from the solder
modate different-sized components, fumes? Me too. A benchtop fume extractor was on my shopping list, and
or you can just squeeze them as you I had the chance to try out an Edsyn FXF14 “Fuminator,” a strange-looking
would any pair of tweezers. little unit with a hinged fan and spinning filter.
If you don’t need the tweezers, A fume extractor is a simple device, basically just a fan pulling air away
you can always swap them out for a from your working area, through a filter and out the back of the unit. Edsyn
module packing the usual test lead makes the FXF14 in the USA and claims that its special rotating filter works
ports, making for a very compact eight times better than a stationary filter. The pivoting head on the FXF14 is
standard multimeter — about 7"×1½" easily positioned close to your work, and two LEDs indicate front (green) and
in size, and weighing a meager 2.3oz. rear (yellow), since the air current produced by the thing can deceive your
$70 extech.com —John Baichtal skin. The fan is so quiet that sometimes I forget to turn it off.
It works great. I use it for electronics as well as jewelry (torch) soldering
in my small apartment workshop. I’m really happy with its small footprint,
and it looks fabulous, too (in white, black, and translucent blue, green, and
red). MAKE contributing editor Brian Jepson bought a similar model, the
FXF11, a few years ago and loves his. I usually feel guilty splurging on a fancy
new tool, but your lungs can easily justify the investment of an effective
(and attractive) benchtop fume extractor. $110 edsyn.com
—Becky Stern

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MDC 7722FV
Panavise Jr. Pick-and-Place Machine
A pick-and-place machine places tiny
parts that you can’t even see onto a
If you’ve done any electronics work, you likely have
circuit board. It’s made in Japan, lovingly,
a third hand tool. In addition, you need one of these: by hand. It has two cameras to view and
a Panavise Jr. Universal Vise. You use it to securely hold analyze the chips before they’re placed.
and position your circuit board while the third hand It’s not cheap, but it’s better than trying
to hand-place almost-microscopic parts
holds the components (and you hold the solder and the yourself. In a few years, this will be a
iron). Don’t breathe lead without it! $28 digikey.com pretty common addition to your local
—Gareth Branwyn hackerspace and TechShop-like facili-
ties. Watch mine work at makezine.com/
go/pnp. $30,000 mdc-smt.co.jp
—Phillip Torrone

Adjusting Wire
I bought two of these from Micro-
Mark several years ago when they
were priced at $30; now they’re
$17. Even so, I would gladly pay
$30 again. The jaws automatically
adjust to remove insulation from
any size wire from #26 to #10
AWG. All you have to do is squeeze
the handles. With its integral wire cutter and terminal crimpers, this tool can
handle many light electrical jobs by itself, which makes it a great choice if you Magnifying
have limited space or weight capacity for tools. After my multimeter, it’s always 22W Work Lamp
the first tool I grab out of my toolbox when I’m doing electrical work. It’s a joy to Here’s a good gift idea: a long-reach
fluorescent magnifying work lamp. Not
use, both because it works so well and because the mechanics of the stripping
only does it light up the work area, but
head are interesting to watch. it has a super lens that magnifies all the
There’s an adjustment dial on one jaw that must sometimes be tweaked, as in tiny junk that’s being worked on. A 22-
the case of stripping especially delicate wire, but 95% of the time the automatic watt circular fluorescent bulb supplies
even, shadow-free light, and the lamp
wire strippers do their job perfectly and without complaint. Highly recommended. attaches anywhere it’s needed via a little
$17 makezine.com/go/wirestripper —Sean Michael Ragan vise-grip. $77 unicornelex.com —PT

Extech EX330
This excellent multimeter, on the high end
of the hobbyist spectrum, comes with features
you’d expect — voltage, amperage, resistance,
and capacitance measurement — but it has
some fun features too, like a frequency meter
and a temperature probe. It’s also good for
homeowners — the non-contact voltage
sensor tells you whether a wire is live or not.
$55 extech.com

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BOX Soldering Irons and Breadboard Supplies

Dual Output
Bench Power Supply
This cheap 30V 5A supply from Circuit
Specialists is pretty nice: a 10-turn pot to
adjust voltage, screw terminals for more
permanent installations, and a bonus
5V@1A output on the back. The current
Metcal PS2E Soldering Iron limit adjustment is not as fine as I’d like,
One of my favorite tools, and one I use so it isn’t good for testing LEDs (I use
almost every day, is my Metcal PS2E
the HY1803D for that). BTW: Circuit
soldering iron. It heats up in less than 10
seconds, maintains a steady temperature, Specialists gives a free multimeter, pliers,
and it came with several different tips. It’s a or other swag with your first order.
great investment for any electronics studio. $129 circuitspecialists.com
$100–$200 ebay.com —Marc de Vinck
—Tim Slagle

Adafruit Adjustable
Breadboard Power
Antex C/3U Miniature Supply
Soldering Iron, 15-Watt
These are great for intricate work, heat up This is a very low-dropout adjustable
in about 30 seconds, and they’re as nimble
power supply. A good power supply
as a ballpoint pen (resist urge to do 700°
spin/flip tricks). The slip-on tip installation is essential to electronic projects, and
left me doubting the iron’s durability, but this one features improvements that
after months of use, everything still stays make it more useful for hobbyists. It’s
put nicely. And hey, it’s yellow! $28 minute-
man.com —Collin Cunningham
got guaranteed 1.25A output at 3V, 5V,
or Adjustable voltage settings.
$15 adafruit.com —PT

Deluxe Breadboard
Jumper Wires
Once you go breadboard jumper
wires, you’ll never go back. They
just pop into the breadboard and
USB Soldering Iron you’re good to go. The set includes
While visiting Pumping Station One in 75 flexible jumper wires that can
Chicago, I noticed a curious device: a
be used over and over again. Each
soldering iron that plugged into a laptop.
It uses two USB ports to draw lots of power, stranded jumper wire has a molded
and it heated up quickly on my ThinkPad. barrel and a 2" stripped end.
It’s light but pretty solid, and maintained $9 makershed.com Product Code
heat well while I soldered some wire leads
onto a potentiometer. It won’t replace
my trusty benchtop unit, but I could see
picking one up to keep in my backpack
when traveling with prototype hardware.
$24 getlofi.com/shop —Matt Mets

84 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

p082-85_SIP_Tlbx-ER_F1.indd 84 10/11/10 4:07:10 PM

Microcontrollers and Robotics

OWI-535 Robotic
Arm Kit
With this award-winning kit, you
control the gripper, wrist, elbow,
base rotation, and motion, all from
the tethered remote. The robotic
arm has a vertical reach of 15", Parallax (Futaba) Continuous
horizontal reach of 12.6", lifting Rotation Servo
capacity of 100g, a searchlight on Pair this servomotor with an Arduino to
learn how to control a servo, the start of
the gripper, and an audible indica-
many a robotics project. This one can turn
tor on all five gearboxes to prevent a full 360° in either direction continuously!
gear breakage during operation. $13 parallax.com —PT
Who’ll be the first to hack this with
an Arduino? $50 makershed.com
Product Code MKEL13

Stingray Robot Kit

The Stingray robot is a good value. It uses a
multi-core (eight 32-bit processors) Parallax Bare Bones Kit Rev. E
Propeller MCU, a 64KB EEPROM, on-board Want to get started with Arduino for $20?
Despite its name, the Bare-Bones Board is
3.3V and 5V switching power supplies, 5V I/O
a full-featured Arduino-compatible micro-
translators (to simplify interfacing to 5V sen- controller that does almost everything the
sors and devices), integrated dual full-bridge Arduino Duemilanove does, at 2/3 the size.
drivers, two-wheel differential drive with a The latest revision includes analog noise-
reduction not found on official Arduino
rear omnidirectional wheel, and other nifty boards, and includes the new ATmega 328P
features. If I were looking to get a bot this chip. $20 makershed.com Product Code
Christmas, this one would be high on my wish MKMD3 —PT
list. $300 parallax.com —Gareth Branwyn

Lego Mindstorms
NXT 2.0 Kit
The ultimate building set for both kids and Getting Started
parents. The basic set comes with a micro- with Arduino Kit
controller brick, three servos, a variety of Bridging the gap between the “real world”
and your computer, this kit is your starting
sensors, and all the axles, gears, and beams
point into physical computing — using a
you could ever need. This year’s set is updated microcontroller to sense the world and
with a new color sensor and an even better control your gadgets. Includes all electronic
computer interface. $280 shop.lego.com parts and our best-selling Getting Started
with Arduino book by Massimo Banzi. Join
—JB the tens of thousands of engineers, artists,
and hobbyists who’ve discovered Arduino.
$70 makershed.com Product Code MSGSA

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p082-85_SIP_Tlbx-ER_F2.indd 85 10/13/10 1:21:58 PM

10 Workshop
From the
Maker Shed

Product Code

Welcome to the Maker Shed store, where you’ll

find kits, books, toys, tools, and other fun contraptions
for makers, selected by the staff of MAKE magazine.
Just type the product code into the search bar at
makershed.com to find each product.

86 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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54-Piece Bit Driver Kit
Product Code MKIF2
Includes a magnetized driver, a
60mm extension, a 130mm flexible
extension, and 54 bits.

26-Piece Bit Driver Kit

Product Code MKIF1
Includes a magnetized driver with
metal shaft and rubberized grip,
a 60mm extension, tweezers, and
26 different bits.

Helping Hands
Make: Electronics Components Packs 1 & 2 Product Code MKHH1
Perfect for soldering! The extra-
large 3.5" magnifying glass is awe-
some, and the heavy-duty base is
recessed for holding tiny parts.

Product Code MECP1 Product Code MECP2

The first companion pack to Make: This pack continues where Compo-
Electronics covers all of the experiments nents Pack 1 left off and delves into
from the first two sections of the book. integrated circuits, digital electronics,
and soldering skills.
Mintronics Kit
Product Code MSTIN2
Mintronics Survival Pack: a
workshop in your pocket. 60+
components for prototyping
on the go.

ShapeLock Design Plastic MAKE: Electronics Book Pocket-Sized Digital Storage

Product Code MKSHL1 Product Code 9780596153748 Oscilloscope
Create super-strong custom parts, prototypes, Our hands-on electronics book Product Code MKSEEED11
molds, servo brackets, robot housings, sculptures, makes learning easy and fun. The DSO Nano is a pocket-sized
science projects, and more. This space-age Pick up basic electronics tips digital storage oscilloscope equipped
plastic melts in a microwave or hot water, then and techniques with step- with 320×240 color display, SD card
remains safely moldable by hand until locking by-step instructions, circuit capability, USB connection, and
rigidly at room temperature. Simply reheat in diagrams, full-color photos, and chargeable batteries.
order to reshape as often as you like. Nontoxic, engaging project explanations.
lightweight, machinable, and paintable.

Make: 87

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Sugru Silicone Molding Magic

Sugru is a new silicone material designed
for hacking, repair, and modification. Open
a packet and mold the Sugru into shape. It
bonds to smooth metal, ceramic, plastic, and
more. It cures in about a day, creating a semi-
flexible part that will stand up to much abuse,
including temperatures from –76°F to 356°F.
It’s even UV-, water-, and oil-resistant.
Energizer Energi To Go XP8000
I used it to fix the spout of our teapot. Not
many adhesives could survive the heat and If your electronic gadget doesn’t readily permit you to change batteries,
steam. Sugru worked perfectly, and lent a or you simply don’t want to bother with the hassle of a spare, check out
stylish air. It’s great for many fixes, such as
ergonomic grips, handlebar mounts, magnet-
this great alternative. It’s an 8,000mAh rechargeable LiPo battery pack
embedded tool hangers, laptop feet, and wire roughly the size of a deck of cards that weighs about as much as your
insulation. Looking around the house, nearly smartphone.
everything I see could use some improvement One of the killer features of the XP8000 is that it accommodates
with Sugru. $11 sugru.com
—John Edgar Park all sorts of devices thanks to its three output ports: 5V USB, 9V–12V,
and 16V–20V. There are more than a dozen plugs and charging cables,
including adapters for portable DVD players and DC plugs for laptops.
The battery’s power indicator also impresses. Press a button, and glow-
ing blue bars show the charge level; plug it into its wall wart to recharge,
and the bars light up automatically, allowing you to see how it’s doing
with a glance. In addition to the XP line, Energizer sells an SP line of solar
chargers and an AP line for iPhones. $100 energizerpowerpacks.com
—John Baichtal

Leaf Ties Swivel LED Flashlight

What maker doesn’t love zip ties? They’re
useful for cable management, MacGyvering
With a form factor and feature set inspired
things, and holding your robots together.
We’ve blogged these leafy ties by Lufdesign by consumer input, the compact Night Strike
before, but now they’re for sale and not just Swivel sports a 130° swivel head with a cen-
a concept. $7/dozen lufdesign.com trally located 100-lumen Cree XRE white LED,
—Becky Stern
as well as red, green, blue, and near-ultravio-
let Nichia LEDs. With the exception of the UV,
each LED operates in high, medium, or low
capacity. Locating a water leak, or reading in
the dark without destroying your night vision,
has never been easier!
The lightweight, weatherproof magnesium-
alloy case provides users with a rugged, soft
grip while maintaining the thermal manage-
ment necessary for optimum LED operations.
Run-time tops out at five hours on maximum
settings. $72 energizerlightingproducts.com
—Joseph Pasquini

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Plasti Dip
When the
factory plastic coating

Bucket Boss Rear on tool handles wears

off, just recoat them

Guard Tool Sheath with a synthetic rubber

dipping compound like
Plasti Dip. At home/
hardware stores or on-
At work I test high-speed network junk, which line. $12 plastidip.com
keeps me always racking and wiring new gear. —Craig Cochrane
Well, by the tenth time I had one hand holding up
a router and the other in my pocket looking for a
screwdriver, I knew I needed something else.
When you don’t need a full-fledged tool belt, this
little organizer will clip over your belt and make
your work so much easier. $13 amazon.com
—Joe McManus

Journeyman Scotch Transparent Duct Tape

This duct tape rocks it colorless! Now you can
Tool Chest wrap gifts with the real deal. Let songs of joy
ring out throughout Nerdonia! $5 amazon.com
There’s something about a —JB
beautifully crafted hand tool
that inspires you and allows
you to exceed your normal skill
level when you work with it.
Such tools need, nay, demand
a worthy case. Gerstner & Sons
of Dayton, Ohio, have been
making such cases since 1906.
To put it simply: OMG, WANT! OpenIt
$987 gerstnerusa.com When I saw how it handled our kids’ Christmas
presents with ease, the OpenIt tool earned a
—Jake von Slatt
permanent place in our utility drawer.
Its blades are heavy-duty enough to cut
through the most stubborn plastic packaging.
It also has a retractable utility knife in one
handle and a tiny screwdriver in the other,
perfect for opening those little battery doors
on toys. And, as if they read this Santa’s mind,
there’s even a bottle opener. $10 enjoyzibra.
com/openit —Bruce Stewart

X-Bench Portable Workstation

Projects piling up on your dining room table? This
portable workstation provides a sturdy MDF work surface
measuring 53"×23". The left side has a miter gauge slot
and Skil’s “universal insert plate system,” which lets you easily Mini Surge Protector Charger
convert the unit into a scroll saw, drill press, or sanding station. Plug it into one outlet and you get three
outlets, plus two USB charging ports! It even
The right side can be extended to open a center cut channel, and
has a rotating plug so you can face it in the
both surfaces have peg holes that accept the included wedge- direction that’s most convenient. A green LED
shaped clamps. It’s even got a bump-off power switch. Fold it and lets you know the outlet is powered and the
store it when you’re done. Your significant other will thank you. surge protection is on. $25 belkin.com
—Dick DeBartolo
$169 skiltools.com —Joseph Pasquini

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Roper Whitney #5 Jr.

Hole Punch
If you have sheet material you need to make
neat holes in, nothing beats a Roper Whitney
#5 Jr. punch. Compact, powerful, reliable,
and hand-powered, a #5 Jr. will punch holes
through quarters, if that’s what you want.
(And who doesn’t want to do that?)
Designed for working with sheet metal, the
Bitmoore Drill Press Milling Vise
#5’s role in your projects will expand when
you realize just how much it can do. No tool With two worm gears on X and Y axes, this cheap vise lets you precisely place
does a cleaner job punching ventilation holes workpieces under your press, and drill series of holes exactly in-line. It can also
in computer cases. Cladding a ho-hum bit function as a poor man’s mill for wood or plastic. While drill bits aren’t made
of electronics in material to match your
decor is easy when you can make your own
for lateral forces, you can chuck an end mill or router bit in your drill press, says
mounting holes. MAKE reader Andy, and “It will allow you to clamp a piece down and then move
Plastic flowerpots can be hung by cord it around carefully under the bit. Neat! No replacement for a Bridgeport, but
passed through the smooth holes a #5 I don’t have a spare 5 grand.” $70 harborfreight.com
will punch in their edges. Washers made
from pennies keep bolt heads from tearing —Keith Hammond
through thin material and make good electri-
cal contacts when grounding electronics.
Punching heavy cardstock or plastic sheets
is trivial for this tool. Wind chimes, made
from found objects or flea-market cutlery, Dremel EZ Lock
are amazingly well-received gifts, as are
homemade buttons. It’s possible to do The Dremel EZ Lock system
intricate punching of sheet stock and wind
is a significant advance
up with your own absinthe spoon in very little
time at all. in small-tool cutting
Roper Whitney makes replacement punch technology. While the
sets suitable for punching oblong holes in heart of the system is
leather belts, along with many other sizes
a quick-release arbor
and shapes. Besides all this, the #5 Jr. com-
bines an elegant articulation and the good (eliminating the tiny
ergonomics that result from a long presence mandrel screw), the
in the market. Grab one and start ventilating. greatest improvement
$55 and up roperwhitney.com
is the new series of cutoff
—Steve Wood
wheels, brushes, buffs, sanding
disks, and specialty wheels that go with it.
The new, metal-reinforced cutoff wheels have twice
the life of fiberglass versions, are much less prone to
breakage, and come in thin-kerf versions. There are
special wheels for cutting plastic, wood, laminates,
and tile, plus a new line of abrasive detail brushes to
remove rust, paint, or tarnish.
My favorites are the wheels for cutting plastic, which
are great for case modding; and I’ve used the diamond
wheels to cleanly cut borosilicate glass. After using
these EZ Lock cutters for weeks, I’m still very much
impressed. $10 and up dremel.com
—Christopher Singleton

90 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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Dremel 4000 Rotary Tool Kit
High-speed rotary tools make small cutting
and grinding jobs easy, and can punch through
hard materials you’d botch with a slower-
spinning drill. Many makers can’t imagine a
workshop without one.
To overhaul their top-of-the-line tool, Dremel
quizzed customers and engineered some
of the most-requested improvements. The
new Dremel 4000 senses loads to maintain
motor speed. For better control, it’s slimmed
down, with a pencil-grip nose, 360° rubber

Mini Metal Lathe grip, literal-reading speed dial (5,000rpm–

35,000rpm), and a separate power switch to
save your speed setting. It’s got a bigger fan
I don’t have a lot of room or money quite a bit. Plus, there are many people motor, replaceable motor brushes, a five-year
to spend on fancy machine tools, who are constantly upgrading or hot warranty, and two smart new attachments:
a “detailer’s grip” to balance the tool like a
but I really enjoy making things out rodding their machines to get the stylus, and a sanding/grinding guide to help
of metal. This meant I needed a lathe. most out of them. I used mine in the it follow edges.
Not a wood lathe or a pen lathe — first month to repair a pulley on my The tool’s speed never wavered when
I leaned on it to grind down a misshapen PVC
I needed a metalworking lathe. ancient garage door for which there
fitting, and its balance and control are very
Lucky for me, I found an entire com- were no replacements. I figure I saved good. Upshot: a real upgrade of a classic tool.
munity centered on 7"×10" and 7"×12" the cost of the lathe right there. And And I like that Dremel listened to makers to
mini lathes. You can buy them from I plan on using this for years to come get it dialed in. $79–$99 dremel.com
many sources; mine is from Grizzly to make all sorts of things. $525
Industrial, Inc. It’s small, but it can do grizzly.com —Brian Graham

Craftsman 154-Piece
Mechanic’s Tool Set
Wrenches! I’d be lost without my
Craftsman mechanic’s tool set.
It’s got everything. Sockets, nut
drivers, hex keys, and box wrenches
are all here, not to mention the
lifetime warranty, which you’ll never
need because these things are
awesome! Sears offers both bigger
and smaller kits than this, but the
154-piece is perfect for my needs.
$150 sears.com —Paul Overton

Loctite 248
Keeping fasteners fastened isn’t while it worked well, its application was better
always easy, especially when it comes to vibra- suited to the bench than the field. The glue
tion. Really cranking down on a nut or bolt stick is great; it prevents waste and allows
won’t prevent a fastener from coming loose, precise application of the material. Loctite 248
and you could end up damaging parts. Enter is a medium-strength thread-locker, meaning
the world of thread-locking adhesives. that you can undo what you’ve done without
I recommend Loctite 248, aka “Loctite blue.” breaking your knuckles or resorting to a torch.
Loctite has ingeniously utilized the glue stick I rarely fasten a nut or bolt without it.
as a vehicle for this thread-locker. Previously, $12 loctiteproducts.com
Loctite was available only in liquid form, and —Alan Kalb

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Microstamp Vise-Grip
Maker’s Mark With More Cowbell
When my book The VJ Book Yes, sometimes simplicity is king. But other
(Feral House) was published
times, you want your tools to have so many
in 2005, my thoughts naturally
turned to guerrilla marketing. moving parts and adjusty bits that people will
I recalled a photo I’d seen in Popular Science: a penny with stop and stare. If you find yourself in the latter
the word “Microstamp” imprinted into it. As it happened, a position, this freaky reverse-action Expand-O
new nickel was coming out, and it had plenty of blank space
right in front of Jefferson’s eyes.
Pliers from Strong Hand Tools may be what
I ordered Microstamp’s custom “Maker’s Mark,” a hard you need — it’s a spreader, not a squeezer.
steel straight stamp that you hammer into metal (or plas- $17 stronghandtools.com —JEP
tic) like a center punch. It’s aimed at jewelers, crafters, and
anyone else who wants to stamp their logo indelibly. Prices
start at $85, but complicated images cost more, and you
need to send them an image to get a quote.
I received my stamp in the mail in two weeks, and it
worked beautifully. It’s fun giving it a tap with a hammer
and seeing the little image appear underneath. I got rolls of
new nickels, then stamped them and started using them as
bus fare. You might have one of them right now! $85 and up
—Paul Spinrad

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92 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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Make: Marketplace

CNC For Your Workshop

The Ultimate Tool for Makers FRONT PANELS
Introducing the PCNC 770: The first real machine tool
designed for your basement shop or other small space.
At over 650lbs, this isn’t your typical small desktop
mill. Tormach PCNCs are the ultimate maker
machines – don’t let your tools hold back your 3-Axis Mill
creativity. Whether you’re a jeweler, artist,
prototyper, builder, engineer, or hobbyist,
a Tormach PCNC will expand your
$6200 (plus shipping)
Customized front panels can be
easily designed with our free
possibilities and enable your ideas.
software Front Panel Designer
The PCNC 770
■ Table size 26” x 8” • Cost-effective prototypes
■ 10000 RPM computer-
controlled Spindle
and production runs
■ Stiff cast iron frame • Wide range of materials or
■ Space-saving footprint customization of provided material
Requires basic 115VAC

household electrical service • Automatic price calculation
■ Designed for disassembly • Fabrication in 1, 3 or 5 days
for moving
■ Optional accessories:
4th Axis, Digitzing Probe,
Reverse Engineering
CNC Scanner

Sample price:
$ 51.75 plus S&H

Product Information and Shown here with www.frontpanelexpress.com

online ordering at optional stand
www.tormach.com (206) 768 - 0602

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DeWalt 18V Drill/Driver

Certainly, the piece of equipment that gets
the most use in the shop and at home is the
cordless drill. I’ve owned a few, and for me, the
DeWalt 18V drill/driver is the best out there.
It’s easy to handle, it can bore and screw like
there’s no tomorrow (stop laughing), and it
has great battery life. I used to own a DeWalt
hammer drill, but the imbalance was giving me
wrist fatigue. The 18V driver/drill is lightweight
and perfectly balanced. $279 dewalt.com
—Paul Overton

Delta SA150 ShopMaster

Belt & Disc Sander
I paid CDN$79 for my Delta 5" disk/1" large quantities of material seemingly at
DeWalt Compound Miter Saw belt sander two years ago, and I use it random. Caution is the watchword.
I hate to play favorites, but the DeWalt DW716 every day. Yeah, 5" isn’t much — I’d be Once you achieve sander Zen, though,
12" Double-Bevel Compound Miter Saw is
the first to admit to serious disc envy you’ll have at your command a free-form
good enough to warrant a second entry from
the company with the big yellow tools. It’s over the Professional 10" model-maker’s shaper-smoother-former of uncommon
accurate, ergonomic, and rugged. This is the sanders, and the 1" belt would be flexibility. You’ll be reaching for the Dremel
saw I put in the high school shop I worked in, absolutely laughable, were it not for one a lot less frequently when confronted with
and if it can stand up to teenagers, it’s pretty
much unbreakable. On the pricey side, but
exceptionally cool feature. complex geometry, and it does normal,
worth the green. $399 dewalt.com Unlike your regular-type, bench-mount bench-sander type stuff, too. I’ve cobbled
—PO belt sander, which has the belt running together jigs for tool sharpening and
horizontally over a steel backplate, this other specialized tasks.
wee beastie has the belt running on a Caveat: The power switch is prone
vertical plane with a removable back- to intermittency in the presence of
plate. dust. Seriously. After the third failure,
It’s absolutely brilliant. Imagine having I dropped a properly sealed Switchcraft
a freestanding, abrasive waterfall with a toggle into the case and in-lined a foot-
4" deep throat. (The throat is how deep switch for hands-free activation. Delta’s
into the material you can go before you only comparable model these days is the
run into another part of the tool.) much larger 4"×8" PCB420SA, so you’ll
As with all tools, developing finesse have to seek out the SA150 secondhand,
requires scaling a learning curve — with or try a similar model from Allwin, Ryobi,
the backplate removed and a 50-grit Jet, or Steele. About $90 online
belt you can find yourself removing —Kaden Harris

94 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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Extra Heavy Duty Screwdriver Set
If you believe the ad copy, these are mil-spec screwdrivers that
“were standard equipment in all U.S. Army tanks” up to about
20 years ago. I own a set, and it’s entirely plausible. These are
full-tang, forged-steel, flat-blade screwdrivers that serve equally
well in turning screws, prying stuff, and, you know, killing people
who try and open your hatch. They’re heavy and nigh indestruc-
tible, and they have an anomalously sleek, streamlined shape that
feels great in your hand and is not bad looking in your boot, either.
Regrettably, not available in Phillips. $30 garrettwade.com
—Sean Michael Ragan

The PlugGrip is used to install and
remove electrical outlets. I’d never
heard of it until it caught my eye as
I was picking out wall outlets for our
remodel. This tool was amazing!
It must have cut in half the time to
replace our outlets, and its indicator
lights even let us know we’d wired
them correctly.
The SwitchGrip does the same
Ryobi One+ for light switches. The built-in wire
cutter and bender worked well, and
18V Cordless Tool Kit when we turned the power back
on the SwitchGrip beeped to let us
know the switch was working. $10
With three substantial tools, the Ryobi One+ 18V pluggrip.com —April Zamora

Cordless Tool Kit is definitely worth the money.

I’ve used the cordless drill time and again for both
assembly and disassembly work, and I can tell you Titanium Clawbar Nail Puller
from experience that it has enough torque to not only Titanium crowbars first a rollercoaster ride since then, and
drill out a malfunctioning bike lock, but effortlessly appeared, at least on my radar, the stream of cheap Soviet ti-tools
amongst the spoils that flooded has long since dried up. These days,
bore an inch farther into the hardened steel around it.
Western markets following the the leader in titanium tool tech is
The reciprocating saw is quite nice, especially for collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Stiletto Tools of Winton, Calif.
handling either wood or metal, as both blades are I snagged one around then from Their 12" Titanium Clawbar Nail
included. Its only drawback is that the foot surround- a he-man catalog for my Dad’s Puller is a relatively affordable entree
birthday, and although it was pricey, to the glories of titanium tools, and
ing the blade isn’t easily adjustable.
his jaw totally hit the floor when features a cool “dimpler” doodad
Finally, the circular saw has only a 5½" blade, but I gave it to him: “I never imagined that recesses the wood around a
don’t let that fool you: if you don’t press hard, you’ll I could own something like this in flush nailhead to make it easy to
extract smoke along with sawdust from your work, as my lifetime.” He’s an engineer, so grab onto.
that’s more than just a comment on Those with deeper pockets may
it too delivers surprisingly high torque. the price of the gift. He’s been using want to spring for their 16" TiBar
The lithium batteries will hold a good charge, sitting it for more than a decade now and Titanium Utility Bar, a truly formi-
at room temperature, for more than six months and loves it. It’s indestructible, rustproof, dable implement of destruction
will give you at least a good four hours of work time on and amazingly lightweight. It hefts which, like a samurai sword, should
like aluminum, pries like steel. An probably be offered libations of sake
a charge. And they’re backward-compatible with older awesome, awesome tool. before being taken into battle.
Ryobi One+ 18V tools that came with NiCads. About The price of titanium has been on $90 stilettotools.com —SMR
the only thing I’d change about this kit is switching the
bulb in the flashlight to an LED. $260 ryobitools.com
—Pete Marchetto

Make: 95

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BOX PVC Fittings for Makers
Ever build something out of PVC and wish
they made a 3-way elbow? Well, they do. Stanley Wonder Bar
Basically, Formufit sells PVC connectors It’s low-tech, but this crude-looking tool
is one of the most satisfying demolition
intended for maker projects. These are
weapons I’ve had the pleasure to use
glossy, unmarked fittings for pipe sizes rang- around the house. No nail of any size has
ing from ½" to 2", including 3-way elbows, resisted its awesome power, and I can rip
4-way tees, 5-way crosses, and more. up carpet strips like a pro. No instructions
needed. $11 stanleytools.com
As a bonus, they provide Google SketchUp —David Albertson
files of all of their connectors so you can
plan before you buy. $1–$4 formufit.com
—John Baichtal

Bosch Multi-X
We’ve been remodeling our house forever. It was recently decided that
one of the exterior doors needed refinishing. After struggling with a
sanding block, I decided we needed something more appropriate for the
job. Since I’m also always having to flush-cut something in an awkward
space or grind down the odd nail, I decided to try out the new cordless
Bosch Multi-X cutter/sander/grinder/scraper. I’m a big fan of any tool
Microplane Cutting Tools that can get multiple jobs done. I also like a cordless tool that can deliver
real power. The Bosch Multi-X does both. The tool ergonomics are great
Known as “the woodworking tools that crossed and it comes with a decent carrying case. $160 amazon.com
over to the kitchen,” Microplane’s sturdy cutting —Adam Flaherty
tools are each made up of tiny, incredibly sharp
planes. They make rasps for woodcarving and
blades for hacksaws and Surforms, but I have
their classic grater, which works magic on every- Bosch Palm Routers
thing from nutmeg to lemon zest to Parmesan,
transforming that hard lump into the fluffiest These bridge the gap between Dremel
cheese shavings you’ve ever seen. They now, of tools, which are always necessary but
course, offer zesters, a rotary grater, and even a sometimes not powerful enough, and
sea salt shaver! Whichever you get, it will surely the Dremel’s big brother, the router.
have a myriad of uses. $9 and up microplane.com I bought an old router-style workhorse
—Arwen O’Reilly Griffith of a laminate trimmer, the Porter-Cable
310, and loved working with a router
I could safely control with one hand.
Bosch caught on to the possibilities,
and recently introduced their Colt
palm-grip routers: the PR10 single-
speed and PR20 variable-speed. If a
Dremel isn’t enough for a project, but
you don’t want to leap to a much
heavier router, take a look at
one of these lightweight but
powerful tools. $115
—Simon St.Laurent

96 Make: Workshop+Tool Guide

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