Metalworking at the barn

George CarlsonBuild Log, Making, News, Tools

Woodworking has always been a big part of the work going on at The MakerBarn, but now we are seeing more metal projects being built.  With the completion of the machine shop, addition of powder coating, and the near completion of the welding shop, expect to see even more heavy iron at The MakerBarn in the near future. Jody Cochran is powder coating a small weldment used on the new miter saw table being built by Kyle Fraczek. It’s just a large washer with a 1/2″ nut welded in, but you could never find one at the hardware store.  It’s used for mounting the feet on the large cabinet. Rob Nixon made this super dial indicator holder for the lathe.  Made from 6061 aluminum, brass, and steel, it should last a lifetime. This is a special quick-clamp designed for the new welding table.  It is a good example of offset … Read More

Powder Coating at The MakerBarn

George CarlsonBuild Log, Making, News, Tools

With the completion of the downdraft table/powder coating booth, and the acquisition of a new oven, we now have the facility to do powder coating. Powder coating is a process where a dry powder-like paint is applied to a metal piece using electrostatic attraction. The piece is then baked in an oven, causing the powder to melt then polymerize into a very durable coating. Here’s an example. This is a butterfly cut from a piece of 1/4″ steel using a plasma cutter. The butterfly was cleaned and then blasted in the abrasive blaster to remove the mill scale and give a nice even surface for the power coating to adhere to. After this point in the process you should use gloves to protect the clean object from oils on your skin. Oils on the surface of the part are not good for the powder coating.   The powder is then … Read More

Why do you want to be a maker?

George CarlsonMaking

My father was a cabinet maker and the son of an immigrant farmer, so I guess that’s where it came from.  Why would anyone want to build it, when you could just go out and buy it?  There’s something about the feeling that this object, what ever it is, was made by my hand.  I guess this is part of the human psyche.  Without this basic human need there would be no scientists, engineers, artists, or philosophers.  On some people, this need is just a bit more intense than others, so here we are. In this day and time, the support of making is needed more than ever.  We, and our kids, are bombarded with commercialism.  Kids need to be taught and shown that each and every thing they see online or in stores was made by someone.  Guy Lautard  wrote a series of books called “The Machinist Bedside Reader”. … Read More

There’s good stuff in old junk

George CarlsonBuild Log, Making, Materials

Overhead projectors are not used in schools anymore.  So you can usually get them for just a few bucks at the online school auctions. If the projector works, it can be a good way to enlarge objects and trace them on pieces of plywood.  But they’re even more fun to disassemble and scavenge parts for future projects.  My grandson and I took two projectors apart this afternoon (we have more). One of the best finds is the fresnel lens located just below the glass platen.  These lenses are about 12″ square and have a focal length of just a few inches.  Just what you need for solar energy projects.  Be careful, it’s easy to start fires with these. Other parts such as power cords, power switches, limit switches, super bright lamp holders, fans, metal pieces, and optics can be found.  The projection head almost always contains a high quality first-surface mirror. … Read More

2016 Houston Mini-Makerfaire

George CarlsonEvents, Making, News

Imagine the Possibilities, our theme for the Makerfair It was crazy!  The Mini-Makerfaire was held at the George R. Brown convention center on November 12 and 13. We had a 20′ x 20′ booth with lots of small projects for the kids to work on.  To select the project, the person would operate the large switch on the MakerBarn Robot Control Panel.  A large version of Makey would spin his “Wheel of Making” and randomly select a number for the project. We had around 200 – 300 kids (and some adults) build the projects Greg created.  The booth was very crowded both Saturday and Sunday. With all the clattering from Makey, and the constant use of the Aztec drum, we had to be the noisiest booth at the show.  Another big attraction was the Van de Graff Generator.  After a transfer belt change on Sunday morning, the generator was producing 10″ sparks. … Read More

Of Crosses and Doves – Maker Barn helps a church

John BuckleyBuild Log, Making

My wife and I love making many things, but I especially like to make things that serve a real purpose and  I can’t think of anything more worthy than helping our church to grow and serve others.    For many years our Woodlands United Methodist church has had a “Craft Circle” group of ladies who make craft items for two big annual Fall sales; one called “Gala” and the other “Boutique”.   The items include handmade quilts, glassware and various decorated items.  While the craft ladies are very good at decoration they often ask us to help supply the raw materials that go into a finished craft. A good example are the beautiful wooden crosses that Craft Circle decorates every year.  They come in two sizes; 15″ x 12″ and 20″ x 12″.  The small one is made from 2×3 lumber and the large one is made from 4×4 lumber. … Read More