Sunday, November 29, 2015

DM Toolbox, Mark VII

This was the seventh toolbox to make it all the way through the drafting process but only the second to be fully built.  One of the glorious gentlemen from the excellent DM Block community was spiffy enough to give me another shot at trying out some of the improvements since I built my intial prototype.  This time around we started out using velcro as the fastener (a practicality > looking cool decision), using 1/4" fiberboard for the entire structure, 3D printing the corner caps, using Tandy's new concho hinges, and using foam & primer instead of felt & kote for the lining.

I was concerned at first that the thinner material might result in a flimsier result.  By the time I'd finished the assembly though I'd realized that the 1/8" fiberboard is plenty rigid when assembled correctly.  The final result feels just as sturdy as the prototype and it's just a scootch over half the weight (1 kg : 1.8 kg).

When I had an opportunity to start working on the structure we happened to be in the midst of a patented "Pacific Northwest Month of Drizzle".  That ruled out setting the jigsaw up on the balcony so I wound up doing all the cutting with handsaws and the dremel.  In hindsight, I think that worked out better than using the jigsaw.  The dovetails are all nice and straight, much more so than with the jigsaw.

Printing the corner caps was unexpectedly challenging.  It's a simple print but my M3D printer was refusing to cooperate.  Adamantly.  I eventually just buried the prints in scotch tape so they'd at least finish printing.  They all came out pretty messy though so I figured I'd dress them up with aluminum tape.  That made them nice and metallic but next to the black goatskin they were pretty clash-y.  I fixed that by weathering them with some ink wash to tone down the aluminum a bit.  The result is a bit... unique but I like it.

The primer and foam work much better than their counterparts.  For some reason I've been rather amused rolling dice on the foam as they tend to bounce around like billard balls and jiggle a bit when they stop.

The final result this time is a marked improvement over the prototype.  There's still a couple kinks to work out, mostly in aligning the new hinges, but overall I'm pretty pleased with the result.  Though next time I work with fiberboard and primer I should remember to give the fiberboard the entire sanding treatment before hitting it with primer.  All those little feathers and burrs that lay flat at first turn into briars once the primer dries.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Star Wars Rebel Belt

Another interesting commission for someone's christmas present.  In this case the goal was to work something "Space-y/Star Wars" into a belt suitable to be worn into a courtroom (since the recipient is a lawyer).  The client and I had the usual back and forth and settled on a series of the Rebel logo on a matted background. 

I spent 10 hours carving the belt the first time around before I realized I'd done the whole thing backwards.  Men's belts always have the buckle on the left and in a supreme moment of derp I'd accidentally put the buckle on the right.  There was nothing for it but to cut another belt and start over from scratch.  No worries about wasted material though.  The mistaken belt is being repurposed for cosplay.

In the meantime I'd figured out that I could make the rebel logo (more consistently and faster to boot) using some cams and an old wood gouge.  Using that technique on the second belt it came together much faster (a bit more than half the original time) and I think it looks a fair bit nicer too.  Its on its way down to Australia now and I love the thought of some subtle fandom in a court room.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Prototype Padded Shoulderpad

I've been meaning to bang out a prototype for a padded shoulderpad for awhile now and a recent order gave me the opportunity.  A client in Denmark wanted a long, all black shoulderstrap with a padded pad and I was perfectly happy to oblige.  The pad started out like the usual variety but then I added a layer of fabric and then two foam applicators.  That was all wrapped in some nice, supple deerskin and the result turned out pretty darn well.  Normally when I make a prototype I wind up with a long list of changes to make in the next mark of the model but not so this time.  I think the only change I'll make is using a heavier thread.  Tandy's new "Fine Waxed Thread" is a bit too fine for my tastes.  Deerskin only comes in a few options but I'm anticipating being able to offer these pads in black and brown/tan at the very least.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hindu Inspired Guitar Strap

This order was sufficiently complicated that it's taken a couple weeks to fully come together.  The client wanted to work Hindu elements (particularly emblems for Kali, Ganesh, and AMMA) into a Sheridan design.  That on its own took some time but we upped the complexity a bit by narrowing the strap to 2" instead of the normal 2.5".  That half an inch can make a big difference sometimes.  Going with the theme I replaced the typical flowers used in Sheridan with lotus blossoms and heavily employed tinting to give the entire design some contrasts.

In addition there were two modifications to how the guitar strap connects to the guitar.  Instead of having a hole at one end of the guitar strap we fixed a loop of latigo that closes with a stud button.  That will wrap around the neck of the guitar and should work pretty well.  On the other end I'd changed the cut of the little strip that connects to the bottom of the guitar.  Formerly it was cut with a 2" square at one end for the strap to feed through itself.  Material-wise this has been a cumbersome part of the pattern and in this case I was worried about the strip being as wide as the strap.  So I replaced the square with a Dee and that seems to work reasonably well.  The strip can be fed through the Dee in the same manner as before, or, since the Dee is too large to feed back through the strap, it can hold the strip in place on its own allowing for more options in how the strip and strap connect.

All in all this has been a pretty heavy project but I'm pretty content with how it's all come out.  I'll probably start working some of these elements into the "default" design for the Bard guitar straps.