CNC Epoxy Inlay Backgammon and Cribbage Board

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I’m using my CNC router to make a travel-sized backgammon and cribbage board, inlaid with epoxy and colored mica powder.

Part 1
In this first installment I introduce the project, mill the wood to size, and set up the CNC router to cut the inlay pockets on the backgammon board.

Part 2
In the second installment I mix the mica and epoxy, and pour the inlays.

Here are links to some of the tools, materials and software that I’m using in this project:

AutoDesk Fusion 360 for personal use
Blender
Next Wave CNC Shark Router
Carbide 2-flute Down-cut end-mills
Mica Powder for Epoxy Resin
West System Epoxy
Wooden checker pieces
Wooden cribbage pegs

Feeds & Speeds
All at 25,000 RPM
Roughing: 1/8″ downcut end mill, plunge 50mm/min, cut 800mm/min
Finish: 1/32″ downcut end mill, plunge 200mm/min, cut 250mm/min

3D Printed Ornaments

Watch how I use my 3D printer to make unique ornaments to give away to family and friends.

If you have a 3D printer and want to print these ornaments yourself, here is a 10MB zip archive containing STL files for the four 3D models that I created:

Quick Mount Camera Boom

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I made a quick-release mount for this 7-foot camera boom to shoot videos from various locations in my workshop.

Here are links to the parts that I used:

Impact 7 ft HD Wall-Mounted Boom Arm
DMKFoto Heavy Duty Ball Head with Quick Release Plate
Konsait Black Camera 323 Quick Release Plate
IRWIN Step Drill Bit, 3/16-Inch to 7/8-Inch

The ball head listed above is inexpensive but its quick-release is not compatible with Manfrotto quick-release plates, which I use on all my gear. So I changed out the plate for the quick-release listed above. You can also get Manfrotto ball heads that come with their quick-release plate, and they’re a bit more expensive but good quality.

My main cameras are a Panasonic GH5 and a Panasonic G95, and prefer to use the G95 on the camera boom because it’s lighter weight. I also have an older Canon EOS Rebel SL1 that I used to shoot many of my previous videos and that’s what I’m showing on the camera boom in this video.

Cooking with Fire

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In this outdoor cook-off with the Fortune Bay Expedition Team, we challenged folks to cook something amazing using only a wood fire as the heat source. No fossil fuels, no alcohol stoves, no electric appliances. It was an opportunity to learn new outdoor cooking techniques while enjoying some amazing food and good company.

Also check out our video on building the Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven.

Here are some links to the books that inspired this cook-off and that we gave away to the lucky winners, and some of the other cool gadgets we used:

Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven

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This video shows how I built a portable wood-fired pizza oven that’s inexpensive, easy to build, weighs only 7.5 pounds, and can be carried easily in a backpack. And it makes fantastic pizza too!

Also see our Cooking with Fire event where we used this oven along with some other great fire cooking techniques.

Get the Shirt!

Click here to see our Pizza + Fire = Awesome T-Shirt on zazzle.com:

Pizza + Fire = Awesome T-Shirt

Materials List

Here are the materials I used to build this oven. I recommend getting these materials locally but in case you can’t, I’ve included links to amazon.com.

Tools

These are the tools I used for this project, again with links in case you have trouble finding any of these items:

Potting Bench


I designed this bench to be used for potting plants and general outdoor use. The top is 48″ x 30″, and the lower shelf is 70″ wide.

Materials

I used preservative-treated wood for mine, and a rot-resistant species like cedar or cypress would also work well. The table is made entirely from 1″x4″ (nominal size) boards andyou can substitue lumber of another size such as 1″x6″ without changing the cut list, except that you would need fewer boards for the top and shelf. The following pieces are needed, with all measurements in inches:

Quantity Length Description
4 44 Frame long
8 27.75 Frame short
8 34.5 Leg*
4 5.25 Foot
8 70 Shelf long
2 44 Shelf short (rip to 2.25″ wide)**
2 21 Shelf cleat
8 48 Top

*The specified leg length gives a 36″ high table when using 3/4″ thick boards for the feet and top (adjust if desired).
**Don’t be tempted to leave the short shelf pieces full-width and notch them so they extend beyond the front of the frame, or your shins will be sorry. Guess how I know that…

You can cut all the pieces from 17 boards 8′ long with minimal waste as follows:

Boards Cut 1 Cut 2 Cut 3 Cut 4
4 48 – top* 48 – top*
2 34.5 – leg 34.5 – leg 25.25 – frame short
2 34.5 – leg 34.5 – leg 21.25 – shelf cleat 5.25 – foot**
2 44 – frame long 44 – frame long 5.25 – foot**
1 44 – shelf short 44 – shelf short 5.25 – foot**
6 70 – Shelf long 25.75 – frame short

*It’s okay if the top pieces are slightly under 48″
**This cut list yields one extra foot piece – this lets you discard one in order to cut around bad knots etc.

Assembly

Start by making two frames as shown from the 44″ long pieces and 27.75″ short pieces. I used 2 deck screws at each joint. The inner short pieces are 14″ on center from the outer pieces.

Assemble four legs, offsetting the front boards 1/2″ in from the edge of the side boards. An easy way to do this is to lay a scrap of 1/2″ plywood on a work surface to support the front board, then stand the side board on edge and screw together. I used 5 screws for each leg.

Place the top frame upside-down on the floor and attach 4 legs, with just one screw per leg joint at this point. Then support the shelf frame at the desired height, which can be adjusted as you wish.I spaced them 16″ apart to give 15.25″ clearance after the shelf boards are attached, which is enough to fit a 5-gallon bucket with a lid on the shelf. Attach the shelf frame with just one screw per leg, and then square everything up as well as possible before fastening with more screws. Use plenty of screws for each of these joints to make the table rigid. I used 1-3/8″ deck screws here so the sharp ends don’t protrude through the other side. Attach the feet to the legs (these help prevent the table from sinking into soft ground).

Flip the table over and attach the shelf boards as shown. I used two screws at every joint, to help keep everything flat. Attach a cleat under each end of the shelf to hold the ends even:

Finally attach the top boards, spacing them evenly across the top:

Welding Cart

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I built this welding cart to hold my new Everlast PowerPro 205S TIG Welder and Plasma Cutter as well as my Lincoln MIG Welder. The cart features a large work surface and five hitch-style attachment points for mounting accessories such as a bench vise and camera supports.

Resources

I used SketchUp software to design the cart, and here is the model file: WeldingCart.skp. You are welcome to download this model and customize it any way you like.

Here’s a link to the Menard’s Masterforce 30-inch Five-Drawer Mobile Tool Cabinet around which this cart is built.

I used a 4 in. Swivel Vise with Anvil from Harbor Freight. It’s an inexpensive vise but the quality is good enough for my purposes.

Also from Harbor Freight I bought the 8 in. Deep Throat U-Clamp and 12 in. Deep Throat U-Clamp for under $10 each. The 12-inch clamp is deep enough to reach almost anywhere on the 25-inch wide work surface of my cart. Their quality seems pretty good for the price.

4th Axis Harmonic Drive

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After finishing my Modular CNC Controller I built this 4th axis attachment for my CNC router and my milling machine. This will let me machine parts such as gears, and carve 3D patterns wrapped around cylindrical shapes. In the Part 1 video I build the main drivetrain components, using a harmonic drive gearbox to get precise angular positioning and high torque with low backlash.

In the Part 2 video I weld and machine the steel enclosure, install the harmonic drive system, and try it out.

In this video I apply Powder Coating to the housing.

Documentation

The Harmonic Drive web site has detailed information about the style of gearbox that I used. The Catalog link on that page provides detailed documentation about this family of ultra-low-backlash gearboxes.

I bought the 3-jaw front-mounting self centering lathe chuck from Shars. Any similar chuck should work, provided that it can be mounted from the front.

I bought my stepper motor on Ebay after quite a bit of searching to find one with the specs I wanted, including the 8mm output shaft to fit the coupling on my particular gearbox. Here is a link to a similar Nema 23 stepper motor on Amazon.com, but with the more common 1/4″ output shaft.

Aquaponics

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Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). The wastes from the fish are broken down by bacteria living in the growing medium, and converted into a form that can be used by the plants.

Integrated Vertical Tube System
Here’s a drawing and a photo of the integrated vertical tube aquaponics system we built. The photo shows the tubes in the planting/harvesting position; normally they are rotated 180 degrees so that the openings face the window.

I made the drawing using Google SketchUp, a great free 3-D drawing program. If you have SketchUp and want my drawing file you can download it by clicking here.

To make the grow tubes, I cut slots across with a hack saw and then heated the plastic with a heat gun to soften it. Once it was soft I pushed in a tapered wooden plug to hold it open until the plastic hardened again. I did this outside because the PVC gives off some fumes when you heat it. The second photo below shows a close up of one of the openings after the tube was filled with pea gravel.

The PVC caps on the bottom of the tubes have slots cut around the edges with a table saw, so that any water that might drip out around the plants can just run down the outside of the tube and through the slots. Otherwise the cap would seal against the funnel and the water could not drain. Normally the water flows down through the tube and out the holes I drilled in the bottom of the cap.

The photo below shows the top of the system, with the flow control valves that regulate the flow of water to each tube. These were necessary in order to balance the flow because without them, most of the water runs into the tube closest to the pump. Note that the tubing is black in order to prevent algae from growing inside it, but after a while it will still develop a film inside from beneficial bacteria that break down the fish wastes. We found that it was necessary to clear the tubes out now and then, by closing all but one valve and turning the pump off and on. The sudden surge of water when the pump starts is enough to clean the accumulated biofilm that adheres to the inside of the tubing.

April 3, 2007  We got fish today! They are about 3″ long and cost us $3 apiece. Their first meal was a small handful of earthworms, which they ate eagerly. I think the one in the bottom picture is burping.

Here’s my new experimental setup to permit multiple fish to each establish a breeding territory in one tank:

5-2-2007  Here’s our first harvest of lettuce, which totaled a whopping 9 grams (0.3 ounces)! The lettuce is a red variety so the color is normal for this type.

6-3-2007: We’ve had quite a few salads now and the plants are doing great. The spinach is spindly but the basil, upland cress and lettuce are thriving.

8-14-2007 We’ve got babies! We hadn’t looked closely for a while so we were surprised to see about 50 little tilapia in the tank today and they’re already over 1 cm long. The water isn’t normally this cloudy but we just cleaned the tank so it’s all stirred up.

The adults are doing well too, and they’ve grown quite a bit.

9-3-2007: The first group of babies have grown to about 1″ long, and we now have a second brood of little ones. The adults pretty much ignore them but the larger babies will “thin out” the smaller ones for us. It’s survival of the fittest in this tank!

Epilog: We shut down this project in the spring of 2008, in preparation for moving to Michigan. We ate the largest of the fish, which weighed in at about 10 ounces – not quite market size but enough for a taste anyway, and it was pretty tasty.In retrospect we wouldn’t undertake any serious fish-raising project without first developing a food source, as purchasing fish food getsrather pricey plus there’s no control over its contents. We’d also use a tank that’s easier to clean!