Drill Fixture for Small Aluminum Plugs

fixture-crop-scaleAs part of a larger project, I had to dill eight aluminum plugs to fit inside the carbon fiber rods that I was using. The best solution would have been to use my lathe and drill from the tailstock, but my alignment there was fairly poor and I needed another way to do it. Lining up each piece of aluminum rod would have been a pain, so I instead made a fixture that I could line up once, then put the same type of plug in over and over.

Perhaps this isn’t a new concept, and I’ve in fact made something similar for golf balls and ping pong balls, but what was novel (at least to me) was the way that I made three cuts to allow it to act like a spring. Generally, if I was trying to attach a shaft like this, I would just cut a slot in one side through the hole, then clamp it down with a screw or otherwise, but since the entire thing was in a vise, I had to put the other two cuts on the back to allow everything to flex. Check out how it was made in the video below:

Sometimes it’s hard to justify making something to make something else, but, especially when there are multiples involved, this can be quite beneficial. Someone told me once that you should spend half your time making fixtures and half your time actually making the final product. I could be remembering what he said incorrectly, and the ratio seems a little high for fixtures, but considering my natural instinct is to not make them, at least I can try to meet somewhere in the middle. And if you’re wondering what these cylinders eventually went on, check out this quadcopter camera rig!

On two related notes:

  • For another jig example, here’s one for drilling holes in golf balls.
  • On that golf ball jig, you may notice I’m using a different vise – a cheap drill press vise from the hardware store. I’m absolutely thrilled with my new milling machine vise (Amazon), and probably should have bought one to begin with. After spending quite a bit of money on the mill, however, I didn’t initially pull the trigger!

Making a Castle with ComposiMold

img_6225-cropenhAbout two months ago, I went to the Worlds Maker Faire in New York (my video highlights). There were many things that caught my eye, including the ComposiMold system.* I’ve been kicking around ideas for molding parts in my head for a while, and after seeing this reusable gel, decided it was time to try it out. After all, if I screwed up my mold, it can simply be melted down again and reused (though, to be honest, I have two used molds sitting on my desk now).

My first two experiments consisted of a toy dinosaur and a chess castle. As you can see in the video below, the dinosaur mold didn’t turn out too well. Apparently being hollow, it floats inside the ComposiMold material, so I should have fixtured it down somehow. Also, perhaps some sort of resin would have been a better material for the small details needed than the cement-like “ComposiStone” solution that I used.

The chess piece, however, turned out pretty well for my “first” try. As seen in the video below, the top, or “battlement,” was a little sloppy, but I suspect this would get better with practice and improved techniques. My second try at a castle, using the same mold, improved significantly, though both would look pretty good in a fish tank or something like that.**

What I’d really like to start doing is Read more »

An Extremely Simple DIY Router Table

Not at all what the final product looked like!

Not at all what the final product looked like!

In preparation for another project, it seems that a wood router will be very useful. Using a manual milling machine to cut groves, while it works, isn’t the best way to do this, so it seems. There are some advantages to coming from an engineering/metalworking background, but sometimes I may miss some woodworking tools that others take for granted.

After a quick tour of a friend’s shop, I was convinced that I needed to put my router in a table to make things much easier. As I’d already spent quite a bit of money on the router itself, I decided to modify my table to fit it myself.

Traditionally, the fence would move in a linear fashion, but for something extremely simple I instead fastened it in one point. This means that as the 2×4 rotates, the distance between the cutting tool and the workpiece varies. In theory, this would mean I could cut grooves at any distance, though precision in the range that true cabinet makers expect likely wouldn’t be possible. I don’t need to be that precise at this point, so this seemed like a quick and dirty way to get a table working. Check out the video below to see how it was done.

If you’re wondering where I got this beefy 2×4 table, I wrote up instructions as a sponsored post on Realty Times. Sponsored or not, I’m quite happy with the results. As for the router, it can be found here on Amazon.