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Found 13 results

  1. Last week, I received my order of a little GearBest 1.6 w. Laser engraver. Friday, my son and I....actually my son and 12 Y.O. grandson...assembled it. I watched. My son is a robot tech and assembly was easy for him. I would still be arranging the parts. I left it at his house in Tucson and he's going to going to get it up and running. He's somewhat of an Arduino freak and wants to play around with getting the laser to interface with a Raspberry Pi instead of a computer. All, way above my pay grade. So, I guess I've stuck my toe .... barely... into the CNC world. My son is a busy guy so, it may be a while before we'll have an operational machine. But, I've got plenty of other toys to keep me out of trouble.
  2. The walnut hollow form.

    Finally got the walnut hollow form off the lathe, actually, it's been "off" the lathe several times over the past couple of weeks. Gerald had mentioned in another thread I might have problems with my laser and he was right, it was too heavy and wanted to move all over the place. Had to address that. Had some other issues and some other projects got in the way. This is my second attempt at hollowing something deep and it was probably a little too ambitious for me. Have to keep telling myself, this is a learning process and that was the main purpose for this piece. Next one will probably be smaller. Anyway, here's a pic, it's about 16" tall and about 14" major diameter. It will go in a sack to dry and then get remounted for turning off the tenon and sanding. Close to 1/4" through out, a little thicker here, a little thinner there. Still learning you see. Steve
  3. My turn to Rube

    One of my goals this week was to figure something out for a laser pointer for my boring bar, which I haven't used yet. My brother, who did most(all)of the fabrication on it keeps asking me when I'm going to use it. So, I'm one step closer. To be honest, when the week started I didn't know exactly how I was going to do it. This is what I came up with. The post is 3/4" black iron pipe and the pointer arm 1/2" iron pipe. The block is glued up from 5 pieces of baltic birch 3/4" plywood. The first block I made was smaller and I used big box plywood. When I tried to clamp down on the laser bar the plys separated and then it was ruined. I had always planned to do the "good one" out of baltic birch so it was no big deal. With this one I reinforced the plys with a couple 1/4" through bolts. The holder for the laser diode is a 1/2" compression by 1/2" iron pipe thread on the other end. I split the ferrule and it tightens up nicely on the diode. I got the idea from the collet handles that I make. I have a battery holder on the way and as soon as it arrives I'll be good to go, I think. The real test will come when I try hollowing. Vibration can make a pointer move off location so I'm anxious to see how this one works out. Steve
  4. laser replacement

    The laser on my Ron Brown rig has stopped working bright enough to see. Looking for a replacement pen (about 0.4 inch) or a good laser diode. I looked on Amazon and found lots of diodes which I now have narrowed to 3 possible. 1.Question is what do you have? 2.Where can I get it? 3.Would you recommend it?
  5. Making name tags using inkscape

    I've mentioned that to take advantage of the potential of one of these little laser engravers there are some software programs to know. One of these is an open source program called "inkscape". To someone who has never used it, inkscape can be intimidating as there are so many menus, options, controls, etc. etc. With a little effort it all starts to make sense and a person begins to understand what is going on. This is a little step-by-step to create a name tag file that can be used with a cnc laser or cnc engraver. Once the main template is created it's a simple matter to change the name to rout or engrave several different tags. The picture above is the main screen from inkscape. As you can see there are menus and tool bars all over the place. The only one that concerns us just now is the one on the right of that picture and the close up just to the right of this text. This dialogue defines the size of the document we're creating. One of nice things about inkscape is the ability to create a working page whatever size is needed. For a name tag that's about 3.5"X 2.4". The laser software is written in millimeters so the document will be created in millimeters. In this case, 90X58 millimeters. Inkscape will work in mm, inches, feet, or even pixels. The document page is outlined in the above picture. After creating the page three items were added to it. First, a rectangle slightly smaller than the document. This defines the actual size of the name tag as the laser will engrave this box and provide a guide for cutting out the tag. These small lasers aren't powerful enough for actually cutting wood, not even thin veneer. By engraving the rectangle I don't have to measure to cut but can just follow the line inscribed by the laser. Then, two decorative ovals were drawn. There are menu boxes to size, position, and manipulate the ovals or any other object. A person can even determine how thick the drawing line is. At this point the file is saved in inkscape as an SVG file. That is the inkscape default format. SVG stands for scale-able vector graphic. That type of graphic can be made larger or smaller without losing detail or resolution. This is now my master template, From now on the only design changes will be different names as required. When a name is added it probably won't be exactly where you want it. For this example I'm going to center it on the page which is also the center point of the ovals. Incidentally, the rectangle and the ovals were centered on the page using the same method. Notice in the example the "name" is selected. It can be moved around, rotated, enlarged, or made smaller. Centering an object on a page couldn't be easier with inkscape. Simply open the "alignment menu and choose what you want to do. Again, only because the program is so powerful there are many options. Looking at the menu to the right you can see I've chosen to align my name relative to the page. The two symbols I've pointed out represent vertical centering and horizontal centering. Simply clicking on those center the name perfectly on the page. A person can also choose to center items relative to each other or a dozen other options. At this point it does get a little tricky. Its important to keep in mind a laser engraver is basically a plotter and not a printer. A printer moves the print head back and forth. As the paper advances the printer makes a dot in the right place, connect the dots and you get a picture or text. A plotter actually follows a path, much like writing in cursive. So, a path must be created that the plotter can follow. Two more steps and the file will be ready to send to the laser. First, all four objects, the rectangle, the two ovals, and the name must be selected. You can see a selection box around all four objects and I've chosen the option "group" in the drop down menu. That will make all of the objects one entity as far as inkscape is concerned. If I enlarge one, they will all be enlarged the same amount. After grouping them the selection boxes morph into one box as there is now only one object. At this point there is one more operation before the file can be saved and that is to add the object to the "path" After, the file is saved in "DXF" format which is a "desktop cutting plotter" file. This may seem a lot of steps but in reality it takes about five minutes to do this start to finish. Once the master template is created the name can edited in about a minute. This is a very simple example of creating a file that a laser or cnc engraver can read. The next step is to open the laser software and load the dxf file for engraving.
  6. CNC Woodworking

    After reading @Steve Krumanaker blog on his laser, it has interested me greatly, but on the cnc router level. But Steve's blog really got me thinking on this. Been looking at CNC Router home made plans and there is a whole community out there for this type of do-it-yourself and they are very supportive of one another, very open source, free plans, open source software, and just a neat community altogether. Thanks Steve for showing me.
  7. The Benbox laser forum

    Not strictly about woodworking but definitely wood working related. A forum about building and using a laser engraver on various materials including wood. A great resource for anyone who has purchased, or is considering a laser engraver for wood working. Steve
  8. The Software....

    After assembling the machine it's time to install the software. I have to say before I get into that, assembling the machine is well within the scope of most any wood workers ability. It's kind of like Lincoln logs. If a person takes it in small steps and doesn't look at the overall picture, it's not too daunting. Like my brother's wife always says, "it's hard by the yard, but it's a cinch by the inch" she is right. Now, what can I say about the software? A lot, and not much. It's important to keep in mind, for myself, as much as anyone. This is a bare bones, entry level, hobby machine. It will engrave an area approximately 11" X 14" and will cost 2-300 dollars depending on the time of day, literally. Any of the name brand machines, like Epilog, will cost a few thousand for their entry level machine. I'm not comparing my machine to those at all, they are more refined, more powerful, more capable, etc. etc. Like the instructions, the software must be downloaded from the banggood website. Its kind of confusing just what to do once it's downloaded and there is zero technical support. Once again, I knew that going in. And like before, I spent several hours googling, researching, watching video, reading instructables and struggling to install the software and get it working. One big problem is that most virus software doesn't like it, so it won't allow the package to install. A person basically has to disable virus protection during the install process, something I didn't care to do. After the software is installed, the computer must be configured to communicate with the laser, guess what? Back to youtube, google, instructables, etc. etc. to find out how to do that. Again, hours were spent figuring it out. In fact, I never did get that first software package to work but downloaded a different package from gearbest.com and finally I could communicate with my machine. The engraving program included with the software is called "benbox". It is a very, very basic setup. To give an idea how basic, it always loads in Chinese, so every time a person starts the program they must choose a different language, unless of course, they speak Chinese. Basic settings must be restored every time the program is started, such as laser speed, power, etc. etc. You can't save a profile, like if you find settings that work well with maple, they must be written in a notebook and re-entered each time a person would burn maple. A person must also go through the steps to connect with the machine every time it starts. None of this is a big deal but it's not what most of us are used to with a program. Even so, eventually I was ready to try to engrave something. The first several times I tried, mostly what I made was a black hole in whatever I was using, It seemed no matter what, that was the result. At the risk of repeating myself, once more, google, youtube, etc. etc. etc. After much research, tweaking, setting up and testing I got to where I could get the black hole to move slightly and make little square boxes that kind of resembled charcoal, frustration was beginning to set in and I began to wonder if I'd wasted both time and money. Back to the web, finally I thought, maybe there was a benbox forum? Guess what, there is. benboxlaser forum All I can say is, forums are a gift, in only an hour or so I had learned enough on the benbox forum I was able to engrave a simple gif of a horse. Not the most impressive bit of laser engraving but hey, it was a start. The next few days I spent a lot of time on that forum. I have to say it again, a good forum, like this one, and from my limited experience, the benbox forum is one of the best things about the net. In just a short time, I learned much about the capabilities of the software and the machine. I also saw, there are people who own this machine doing some very nice work with it. I also learned the machine is capable of much but is limited severely by the included software. For instance, with benbox, the laser itself only knows on or off, there are no degrees of power. In a nutshell, what that means a person can etch dark or not at all. There is no gray scale. That's kind of a big deal. For outlines, silhouettes, or something like a Celtic knot, black or white is just fine. For a picture of any kind, gray scale is a must. As I was browsing the forum one thing I noticed was many of the members weren't using the benbox program but instead a program called "t2laser". As I started reading more I discovered one of members had gotten frustrated with benbox and was smart enough to develop t2laser, which according to many who post there is a much better option. It didn't take much to convince to download a trial version and after a few tests, buy and install the registered version which he sells for $39.00. At this point I have about $250.00 in this venture. Well, after using the new software I am seriously impressed with it. Very user friendly, easy to configure and the gentleman responds to questions in a few minutes most of the time. I am still very early in the learning curve with this machine and this software but also very encouraged with recent results. One of the items I make quite a few of, are decorative lids for mason jars, and/or honey dippers for mason jars. One of the main things I wanted to do with this machine was to embellish the lids to increase the value of them. I did a couple test lids today using the t2laser software and I'm really pretty happy with the results. One of these is maple and the other is walnut, same settings on both. The nice thing is, once the setup is made, the little laser can work on it's own while I'm doing something else. So, that's where I am at this point, still lots to learn but that's part of the fun isn't it? If someone were to ask me if the machine is worth the cost, I would say it is to me without doubt, just for the learning experience, the rest is all gravy.
  9. WIP, mason jar lids

    A couple decorative mason jar lids. These are embellished using a cheap Chinese laser engraving machine. No finish on them as they are basically learning pieces. Anyway, I have blog going on purchasing and learning to use one of these machines if anyone is interested. Steve
  10. Pulling the trigger

    Thought hard about this segment and came up with all sorts of reasons and justifications for even wanting a laser engraver. The honest truth is, I've just always liked gadgets. Never mind I intend to use it for embellishing some of my turnings if and when I figure out how to use it. There are some youtube videos with turners using small machines to make “signature disks” they let into the bottoms of their bowls or vessels. The machines cost about $90.00 and do a surprisingly good job. The down side is they will only do an area about 3” square and are limited in height. I thought if I ever got one I would like more capacity and flexibility so I spent a little more and bought a machine that will etch an area about 11”X14” There are several vendors that sell these machines, banggood.com, gearbest.com, aliexpress.com, to name a few. I suspect they are all made in the same factory. At any rate I bought this machine from banggood.com. One thing I will say, if, and when a person may decide to purchase one of these, be patient and watch for price fluctuations. The price will change almost daily and move as much as a hundred dollars one way or the other. So, what do you get for, in my case, about $200.00? Basically, a box of parts. I have to to admit, the parts were packaged very nicely. Everything was organized and easy to get to. All of the necessary hardware and tool are included in a little plastic compartmentalized plastic case. One thing to note about these kits, they don't come with printed instructions. I imagine that's to save expense as they are shipped all over the world. There is a video of a machine being assembled on the banggood website and there are "assembly" pictures as well. When you get right down to it, there really isn't a lot to one of these machines. The little box at the top right contains the power supply and the laser. Next to it is a pile of plexiglass parts that are machined to hold the motors and for the aluminum extrusions to fasten to. Four corner brackets to assemble the frame, a "gift" pack of small wood test pieces. 5 pieces of aluminum extrusion and the controller board next to that. And, of course, the little box of hardware and tools. The three stepper motors and various cables are not in this picture. That's about it. So, I watched the video several times and looked at the assembly illustrations. For some reason Banggood.com has made the video and pictures so a person can't save them to a computer. Seems crazy to me, but whatever. My shop is about 90 feet from our house and surprisingly, I can access our home network in the shop, if, and only if, my computer is next to the wall closest to the house. My workbench is near the opposite end of the shop and trust me, it's no small feat to change that. So, I would go to one end of my shop, watch a little of the video and run back to my bench to assemble the part I could remember. Being in my 60's that wasn't a lot. Back and forth and back and forth. The assembly starts with putting together the frame which is aluminum channel fastened together with corner brackets. I did that on my router table surface so everything would be nice and flat. The extrusions that make up the frame are two 1" X 1" and two 1" X 2" channels. I don't know if they are real 8020 or a knockoff but those aluminum channels have changed how we do so many things. The next step is to assemble the motors and bearings to the machined plexiglass components. Fortunately, this is all pretty straightforward stuff as the online "instructions", if they can be called that are not the best. I knew that before hand though so I can't complain. The bearings ride in the groove in the aluminum channel and it's actually quite smooth. I should probably note that this is not meant to be a "how-to" as far assembly goes. There are a few third party videos on youtube which are better than a series of pictures showing how it all goes together. Once a person gets into the project a little it all starts to make sense. After the motors and the bearings are attached the gantry supports are put on the channel and the feet are attached. I would guess by this point I'm about two or three hours into it. A good part of that time is watching video to make sure it's put together correctly. As wood workers, we joke about our toys when we get a new tool for the shop. Most of us know that these "toys" can hurt a person. Something like this may seem a little less risky. The opposite is true. A person doesn't even have to be near one of these to suffer eye damage as just the reflected light from one of them can be harmful. The most important safety rule with one of these is; "Don't look into the laser with your remaining eye." After the feet are attached the laser is installed and the gantry assembly is mounted. After that, the wiring begins and its all plug in connectors so that's not a big deal. After several hours of studying video, restudying video, hard work, and paying close attention to detail I'm done except for putting on some wire wraps to tidy everything up. Once I get the software loaded I'll be ready to do some laser engraving........... on the ceiling, doh, mounted the laser upside down. Thankfully it's a simple of flipping the gantry channel over as it will mount either way. Now, on to loading the software and doing some world class etching!
  11. You just never know.

    I can remember like it was yesterday. I was spending the night at my best friend's house, Ken and I did that just about every weekend, camping out or hunting, or whatever. For several years we did just about everything together. This particular evening we were in his bedroom, he was showing me the Ham Radio receiver he'd just made from a radio shack kit. I was looking at his Edmund Scientific catalog and he said something about a new invention called a laser. It had to be 1963 or four or maybe a couple years before? Anyway, all we knew was, it used mirrors to make the light brighter and was right out of our science fiction books, the future was here! Ken, who was always smarter than me said no one had any idea everything they could be used for, weapons of course but who knew what else? Who indeed? Never did I imagine that one day a wood worker could purchase an affordable laser that was more powerful than anything anyone had imagined back then. Nor could anyone imagine it would be controlled by a computer to do intricate patterns and pictures. You see, CNC wasn't really to well known back then either. Fast forward, and it has been fast, just 50 short years. I am the proud owner of a cheap CNC laser engraver. The machine I purchased has a working area of about 11X14", and uses a 2.5watt violet laser. That's the short story, there are several reasons why it's cheap and I don't know as yet if that equates to a good value as they are seldom the same thing. This is a blog about my journey getting to know, learn about, and use one of these marvels people couldn't even imagine not so long ago.
  12. I made these for the BVA. They measure 8 inches by 11 inches and are 3/4 " thick.
  13. Projects I made recently

    Heres a few things I made recently. Some f it I made from the donation from Farwest Forestry Products.

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