This fall, I’m running the Autumnal Maker School (AMS). What’s required to be in the school, and to graduate? Make ten things between September 21 and December 21. Preferably useful things, but artistic things work too. I have made a 1) Volvelle, a 2) computer program that calculates the area of a hexagon, a 3) graphic design sample that shows how to make an Egyptian god, a 4) braiding disk, and 5) picture IDs for my school; there was also an 6) art exhibit in there, and guiding a group of students into 7) designing a manufacturing process.  The other day was 8) The Pulley Spinner.  And here’s 9) The parts for a Ratchet.Design lab projects: Ratchet

Frankly, I’m not sure it’s going to work. Cutting a ratchet gear is tremendously challenging, as it turns out, and let’s not go into the challenges of cutting a circular gear out of wood that will also work.

Nonetheless, I learned a few things from making these parts —

  • Be conservative with the saw;
  • Don’t force parts out of the wood;
  • keep the saw close to vertical, and then sand;
  • Think about the final dimensions of each part — they do have to fit together eventually.

Again, I’m not sure that these will work.  At all.  But I feel proud for having made them — for finding the template, for cutting them out of wood, for sanding and carving them as needed, and managing them for the last while without losing any of them.

Can I build the thing?  I haven’t the foggiest idea.

And the Shelf:

Design lab projects The Design Lab work-bench wall (half pegboard, half French cleat) has been running out of space since the day it was installed: too many tools to organize, not enough physical space to put them on display. Argh.

By chance, though, I encountered a video by Ben Brandt.  Ben is a woodworker, and woodworking instructor of some kind. He had a simple four-minute video about using pegboard and strips of 1×3 pine wood to make simple shelves. The shelves can then be drilled with holes to accommodate screwdrivers or spade-bits; built up into a rack for chisels or similar tools; or half-drilled to hold drill-bits or other accessories like punches.  It could even have slots for flush-cut saws or similar straight-blade tools.

Here’s the video:

If you bother to watch, you’ll see that mine is not particularly elegant; but then, neither is his.  On the other hand, building this shelf opened my eyes to solving some of my tool storage issues, which pleased me no end.

Peg board shelvingMine looks fairly similar to his, really. Although mine holds no tape measure. 🙂 And I wound up making two — one for spade bits, and one for screw-drivers.  It’s a nice fix, it gets a bunch of tools out of boxes and onto the the wall where students can see them, can visualize how they’re used, can use them, and can ask about them. Those are among the important keys to teaching tool use, really — can a student see the tools, use the tools, find the tools, be taught how to use them, and learn to use them for him- or herself.

For Me:

It was also an important bit of learning for me.  It taught me that I could watch a tutorial on carpentry on YouTube, get a little bit of training in a bit of design, carry it and and put it into practice, and then immediately transfer that knowledge to a project in a slightly different way.  That is an enormous step, I think, for anyone.  It’s one thing to watch a woodworking video, quite another to put the skills into practice, quite another to “ring changes” on that skill.  I have two more shelves in the works already, one for saws and one for chisels — and both require considerably more finesse than these two did.  But both of them are creating variations of this shelf which I have not seen before.  And that means that I’m developing my skill set more than I expected.

I do need to learn how not to punch out the board on the far side when I drill through it, though.  The back-side of these shelves is not a pretty sight at all.