Carving and Engraving

We have enjoyed CNC carving some three dimensional signs for a nearby theme park.  The level of sharp detail we can create is excellent and rivals hand carving  – especially as it’s more consistent.

Three dimensional engraving of thick Foamex
Three dimensional engraving of thick Foamex

These signs were made from high density plastic Foamex but this type of carving can be applied to timber as well as other plastics.  It’s possible to re-create intricate timber carving relatively easily and it’s particularly useful when creating multiple or batch parts.

What’s more exciting is that we can also CNC carve an infinite variety of textures in these materials too.

We created a sampler to show some different textures using a number of different tools so the only limit to the type of surface is your imagination.

See what else we can do here…

Engraved CNC texture sampler
Engraved CNC texture sampler

IMG_7082

Stainless Steel & Willow!

When we are approached by our clients with a new project we carefully review their requirements and pick the best materials for the job. We would love to be able to process everything in-house but we would need an immense range of equipment and an immense factory.  Instead, when we can’t process components in-house we focus on working with great suppliers who can deliver the high quality of components that we need.  We then finish and assemble them, together with the parts that we make to produce the excellent products that our clients are looking for.

A satin finished stainless steel component
A satin finished stainless steel component

Stainless steel parts are a really good example: we bring them in from a range of suppliers and finish and fabricate them ourselves.  We have given this a component a random satin finish before building it in to bespoke stainless steel structure.

This satin finish feels almost like a fabric and is an excellent non-directional finish for stainless steel.

At the other end of the scale we are working with some bespoke wicker products made to our design by a UK manufacturer from English willow. We aren’t re-finishing these but have other assembly work to do but it’s another example of the diversity of work that we do and the flexibility we can offer our clients.

Bespoke willow work!
Bespoke willow work!

 

 

Treats!

Treats & Bread!
Treats & Bread!

We use our CNC router for all sorts of bespoke engraving and we were recently asked to produce some custom drawer front engravings for a local cabinet maker; we really liked the idea of these drawers and began thinking about what sorts of bread might be inside and what sorts of treats we would like to see in the TREATS drawer!

The trouble is that the Treats drawer is a bit too obvious – I can see some little hands creeping in…

With our engraving tooling we can achieve an excellent quality of engrave with sharp corners and great definition. You can see what that looks like from this close up of a sample piece of oak:

Oak sample engraving
Oak sample engraving

We can also laser cut and engrave anything from plastic to wood to leather so there’s lots we can do for you at home – or for your business.

See more about what we can do and get in touch…

 

Boot Stumps!

Oak logs ready for making into boot and coat racks
Oak logs ready for making into boot and coat racks

We are just starting a great pro-bono project with a local playgroup; they were looking for bespoke wellington boot and coat racks with an outdoor/natural flavour and really fancied something woody… They also had a large quantity of old broom handles inherited from a local Guide group…

The solution – we acquired some oak logs – complete with moss and bark, and are starting to cut down the broom handles and plug them into the logs to make the custom boot racks.

We’re enjoying recycling and working with natural wood all in one project. It’s also fun not to be working to a rigid design and instead being able to make up the design as we go along.  There will be some more pictures to share once we have finished but in the meantime it just goes to show that whether it’s a simple improvised design made from logs or a complex detailed bespoke project made on our CNC router – we can do it!

See what else we can do here

Stump with boot supports
A boot stump underway!

 

 

Supporting Safe Working (Literally..!)

Pulsar Instruments Plc, founded nearly 50 years ago, is an established and well-respected manufacturer of noise measurement instruments. The devices are used exclusively by health and safety professionals to monitor industrial noise levels and to ensure that they remain legal.

Safeer Sign
The finished SafeEar Max sign

Makersmith were asked to manufacture structural framing to support Pulsar’s innovative SafeEar Max signs which can be wall or pole mounted in factories or worksites.

 

The front panel can be changed to provide hearing protection warnings or simply messages to encourage people to reduce noise.

We manufactured and assembled the frames from CNC cut plywood sections so that they would be both cost-effective and stable.

Using plywood in this way allowed us to make the frame elements self-aligning so improving accuracy and simplifying assembly.

Framing Components
Plywood framing components

 

The client was really pleased and gave us the following feedback:

“Thanks for the wooden frames, they’ve been a great success for this project, providing suitable stiffness for the environments they’ll be used in plus the flexibility for the customer to mount them in various locations.”

It pay to think “outside the box” for structural products; see what we can do then talk to us and we can help with solutions in timber, steel and a wide range of other materials.

 

Assembled frames in a stack
Assembled plywood structural frames

It’s been great to work with Pulsar Instruments who have a strong presence in the UK and sell products to over 40 countries around the world via an extensive distribution network. All Pulsar Instruments’ products are manufactured in the UK and are above all affordable, robust, easy to use, yet accurate.

 

You can find out more about Pulsar at www.pulsarinstruments.com or you can email the team at sales@pulsarinstruments.com or ring 01723 518011…

New Kitchen? Make it your way…

Kitchen doors get a lot use and wear and the most common melamine or foil faced doors are hard to repair once they are damaged and the surface layer is broken.  Using birch plywood is a simple and cost effective way to construct doors that both look good and are easily repairable & refinishable – and, as in this case, have integral handles too…

We were approached by a client in London who was looking for a range of plywood doors for their new kitchen. Starting with their initial list we prepared a door schedule and  provided 3D visuals of typical doors, prepared using our SolidWorks 3D design software.

Handle Drawing Detail
Detail of the integral handle to be positioned in the centre of one edge of each door
Close up of Handle
Integral handle machined into the plywood

 

We also supplied a detail of the integral handle that our clients particularly required:

Once these details were approved we manufactured a single door as a sample and sent it off to our client for approval before manufacturing the whole batch.

Our whole communication process was aimed at ensuring that our client was happy at every stage, both with design and materials.

Door handle cose-up
Door handle machined into the edge of the plywood door panel
Completed door panels
An array of completed door panels in a range of sizes

After sample approval we then manufactured the full batch of panels, coated them with satin finished wood wax and shipped them off to our client for them to install.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s great when we get spontaneous feedback from our clients; in this case we were really pleased when our clients emailed to say:

“Just a quick note to say we are delighted with the door panels, thank you so much for such a wonderful product and exemplary customer service. … they look smashing. We’ve passed your details to our architect who is very impressed.”

All sort of door shapes and profiles are possible so get in touch to see how we can make just what you need…

 

 

Retro Cool

Do you remember the very first video games? The tennis game? The “ball” that bounced from one side of the screen to the other and you had to catch it by sliding paddles up and down at the sides of the screen? Well, if you do you are probably really very old and the games industry has changed just a little since then.

Picture of the console enclosure
The SolidWorks 3D model of the enclosure assembly

 

Jack Barber was inspired to replicate this tennis game using a Raspberry PI as a training exercise. He was looking for an enclosure to house the game that would reflect the retro feel of the original.  Having talked to us we designed a sloping plywood enclosure with a white Perspex faceplate that was suitable simple, retro and durable.

We used SolidWorks to prepare the 3D design which then allowed us to export all the part details for machining on our in-house CNC Router and Laser cutter.

The faceplate was laser cut from white Perspex and the casing parts from birch plywood.

Perspex faceplate
The laser cut Perspex faceplate

 

We then assembled the unit, adding threaded inserts to enable the back panel to be easily removed. The whole case was given a clear wood wax finish and the Perspex panel bonded in place.

All of which goes to show that for one-off or small batch quantities you don’t need to get a plastic enclosure, it’s possible to make something much more tactile and creative.

Result – a housing that met the brief perfectly and has enabled Jack to build the tennis game; now to make some more…

Finished product
The finished enclosure

 

And don’t forget – if you need something making – however retro or unusual, just get in touch with us!

 

 

 

 

 

You can find out more about Jack Barber here.

Boxing Clever…

It’s great when we can solve problems for our clients! This week’s story is about a client who was looking for a small initial batch of re-usable shipping boxes that were to be in two sizes (one up to 1m long) and relatively low cost.

Our solution was to design the boxes to be made from 4mm thick black Correx (fluted plastic sheet).

Correx Box with open lid
The SolidWorks model

Using SolidWorks 3D software we were able to model the boxes to include all the connection and alignment details and then easily produce the unfolded box details.  These were then cut and engraved on our CNC router to produce all the parts needed – in this case the main body and left and right-hand ends.

 

CNC Router Layout
CNC Router tool path layout for main box body

We then assembled the boxes by folding along marked lines and bonding the components in place with specialist adhesive.

 

The boxes worked first time and our client was really pleased; a great example of how we can creatively solve design problems and give you the products that you need.

Get in touch to see how we can make what you need – whatever it is!

Completed Box
One of the finished boxes – it looks as intended – identical to the 3D design model

Distributed Manufacturing

So many things that we use these days are manufactured in large centralised factories, often thousands of miles away. I was impressed to read about the Tesla Gigafactory, being constructed to manufacture batteries at a cost of $5billion and covering 126 acres – pretty big…
What if we were to look at things slightly differently so that, when appropriate, we designed and made what we need locally, with local staff, skills and resources in human scale workshops? That might force us to question not only our need for certain products but also the materials that we use and the functionality of the products themselves.
Maybe if we took this route we might think of making more use of locally available materials such as timber and also re-using perfectly viable components from products that would otherwise be scrapped.
Think of a washing machine – there’s a lot of hardware going to the dump – the casing, the damping weight, the drum – why not rebuild with the old parts?
Making and re-making locally – something to think about…

Little….and large

We really enjoy the variety of work that we do, not just in the challenge of solving new design and manufacturing problems each day but also in the scale and range of the applications we have to deal with.

Yesterday was a good example, our workload included the design and manufacture setup for a bariatric toilet seat, a set of parts for a model paddle steamer as well as the creation of a formal Technical Document demonstrating product compliance with a European Standard. (Thankfully we are members of BSI, so that helps…)

CAD Model
The SolidWorks CAD model of the bearing housing

So our work ranges in scale from full size house design to this – the smallest part yet, a bearing housing laser cut and engraved from Perspex:

Perpsex Bearing Housing
The actual bearing housing – sorry about the poor focus…

 

So whatever the project – how big – or small (or unusual) we can help: http://www.makersmith.works/working-for-you.html