Chicago Blackhawks Fan Sign

As usual, I was presented with a last minute Christmas gift creation this year. When a family of 6 is passionate about their Chicago Blackhawks, what do you get them for Christmas? Autographed pictures? Hockey pucks from scoring a goal? Season tickets? I guess that stuff is too clichè, which is why she came to me for ideas. So I came up with this…..a 12”x24” custom personalized plaque made of plywood. Letters and Blackhawk head are separate elements that are somewhat recessed into the plywood. Take a look!

 

Ferrari 599 GTO Sign

 

If you’ve viewed any of my previous posts, you know that I’ve got a thing for anything related to Ferrari. When Ferrari introduced the 599 in 2006, I fell in love. However, that love turned to lust four years later when they announced the 599 GTO. Ok, that sounds weird to lust after a car, so we’ll just say that I got excited…..excited because it was the third car in their history to wear the GTO badge. (The first being the 250 GTO in 1962 and the second in 1984, the 288 GTO.) Anyways…..on to the build!

I’m always up for a good challenge, especially when it requires the potential use of new materials, techniques, and tools. This was a project that involved a new and unchartered territory for me: thermoforming. I’ve always been interested in the possibility of making higher quality, duplicate parts quickly and economically, so thermoforming seemed to be the logical way to go. I was introduced to thermoforming while at my day job, working for a packaging company as a designer/prototype developer. I learned from a variety of seasoned veterans in the packaging industry about thermoforming and how it surrounds us every day. Things like yogurt cups, backlit signage, and packaging, all incorporate thermoforming somewhere in the process.

Anyways…..before you can vacuum form, you need a vacuum former. Well, that was kind of an issue, since I didn’t have one laying around. So I did what any right-brained, curious individual would do….I researched the interwebs and built one myself. It’s pretty basic, when you get right down to it. All you really need is an oven box, a vacuum platen, a vacuum pump, and an air tank or two. After that, the perfection of the parts lies within the creation of the molds themselves. I’ll dedicate a whole other post to the construction of the vacuum former itself, but for now, enjoy the pics of the 599 GTO sign!

Kitchen Stool Design

Soooooo, this was another “me” project. I recently moved into a newer, smaller place that didn’t require the need for an actual kitchen table. The kitchen countertop warranted the need for a high-top chair or stool in order to be purposeful. So I came up with a few variations and ultimately settled upon this design. I originally set out to create something simple while still looking complicated. The goal was to create a design that was easy to make, yet complicated to the untrained eye…..if you know what I mean. This was the winner. The seat and foot rungs are made of solid maple and the legs are made from an inner core of pine, skinned with an outer layer of 0.125″ Baltic Birch plywood.

Cherry Bed Design

This is one of those projects that I should have completed several years ago, but never found the time to do it due to other things getting in the way….like life. When I was in college, I designed and built my first bed out of oak veneered plywood. 10 years later, I would ultimately scrap the piece out of embarrassment and vowed to design another bed that had anything but 90º corners. I was lucky enough to have acquired some solid cherry from my grandfather, who recently passed. I used most of it for the main structure of the bed but given the smooth arc of the headboard, I would need to source another material. I decided on 1/8″ cherry veneer plywood. The bed features a full length LED light strip into the headboard that not only serves as a design element but also a reading light. An early concept I was considering incorporated an LED light strip on the edge of the headboard. (See concept pics) This never came to fruition as I got tired of the bed taking up so much room in the shop and needed to get it out as quickly as possible…..I still like the idea and plan to use it in another project. I also threw in an outlet and USB charger into the headboard for good measure. A small inlay hides the electrical when not in use.

 

Cartoon Cabinet

 

The clients for this project were rather important, as their approval will definitely lead to more work in the future! These particular clients are notorious for leaving their toys out all over the place. Like most kids, they recently ran out of space in which to store their toys. So I decided to help them out by building them something that would allow them to store more toys so that their parents couldn’t get upset with them for not putting their toys away. I mean, that is the root cause of not putting toys away, right? Since I’m basically a big kid, I did some sketches and a few renderings as though I were building this for myself. Red is my favorite color, but I would eventually let the kids pick out the colors for the drawers and the top of the cabinet. The parts were designed on the computer and eventually cut from 1/2″ Baltic Birch plywood on the CNC. The face frame was constructed of 8 different pieces which would ultimately generate a master template for the front and back frame assembly. Drawer fronts and front face frame were ultimately skinned with 1/8″ styrene (because I didn’t have time to do extensive filling and sanding work.) The drawer boxes were made with 1/2″ Baltic Birch plywood as well.

 

Ford GT Half-Scale Replica: Part 3

Since I decided to thermo-form the Ford GT body, I wanted to work out the kinks in a small scale version before I invested in large scale. The capacity of my current thermo-forming platen is roughly 22″x16″, so I would scale down my 3D model to accommodate the forming platen. That meant going back into Cinema 4D and planning for slicing the model apart into several pieces to be machined that would ultimately fit back together like a puzzle. My biggest concern with the GT body was forming the top of the rear rear body, where the engine bay meets the body panel. There’s a very distinct edge that needs to be formed and I wasn’t sure if the vacuum would pull the plastic into all the various contours of the body.

Next stage…..building a large thermo forming machine to accommodate the ½ scale size of the Ford GT….

Check out the pics below for a some progress shots of the building/forming process. Enjoy!

Ford GT Half-Scale Replica: Part 2

Tail lights…..they are located on the rear of any vehicle and warn others that the vehicle is slowing down. It’s a very important safety element as well as a stylish feature of super cars. The Ford GT is no exception.

What I originally thought was going to be one of the easier parts of this build turned out to be rather complicated. With nothing more than a 1/18th scale model, books purchased at book stores and internet pics to reference, finding details on the tail lights would prove to be a bit challenging. I first set out to develop a model in which to cast in acrylic resin. A red tail lens would incorporate a white lens and both would illuminate. I scrapped this idea early on when I realized that in order to do this properly, I would need to have access to a pressure chamber in which to pressurize the resin to eliminate air bubbles from the resin during the curing process…..and I don’t have a pressure chamber. At the same time, if I was to ever reproduce these things, the cost of resin would be quite costly. So that got me thinking…about thermo forming plastic….hmmm…. I went back to the computer and redesigned the tail lights to be thermo formed. Early prototypes were formed with 0.0625″ thick clear PETG and acrylic. I even attempted to tint the lenses but couldn’t get the color dark enough. I eventually purchased 0.0625″ transparent red acrylic. (No pics yet) Next stage…..thermo forming the body….

Check out the pics below for a some progress shots of the building/forming process. Enjoy!

 

Ford GT Half-Scale Replica: Part 1

When you hear the word Ford, you probably think of cars. More specifically, you might think of the Ford Mustang, Ford Explorer, or any of the other current models that Ford has to offer. You’ve met your match if an individual mentions the Ford GT40, which rose to fame during the nostalgic racing days of the 60’s. Most people who know me know that I’m a die-hard Ferrari enthusiast….but this car holds a special place in my list of favorites. It was once dubbed the “Ferrari Killer” many years ago, and the history surrounding the original GT40 makes any racing enthusiast thirsty for more. Ford introduced the concept model GT in 2005. It eventually hit the production lines with only a limited number produced. Today, it is one of the most highly sought after vehicles in the automotive world. The production model’s styling cues resemble the original GT40 MKII’s body style with modern updates. I could go on and on about the detailed history on this famous racer, but rather than proving to you that I know what I’m talking about, you’re probably better off just Googling it…..

So here’s the deal…..I was asked to replicate the back end of the concept GT. Half-scale, to be exact….which brings the overall dimensions to 36″ wide x 16″ high x 12″ deep. The original idea was to create the replica out of fiberglass, but that eventually proved to be overkill. I’ll be posting a variety of pics, in chronological order, that update my progress on this build. Spoiler alert: early in the build, I decided that the best way to build this (and I will eventually build several) was to thermo-form the main body parts. Yes, it was a dramatic change in my process, but a necessary evil.

Check out the pics below for a some progress shots of the building process. Enjoy!

 

 

Formula One Track Wall Art

This was a project that I did recently for myself. I get quite a few car magazines and had seen something recently that caught my eye…..wall displays inspired by the many race track configurations in the world, including Formula One, Nascar, and Indy. So naturally, I thought the Formula One series was pretty cool and decided to make one myself. I chose the Formula One race track in Austin Texas….The Circuit of the Americas.

It all started with two sheets of ½” baltic birch plywood glued together. The glued pieces were then laminated with a sheet of painted styrene. Once complete, the piece was adhered to the CNC table using painters tape. (I could have used double-sided tape) The cutting process only required 3 programs…one for the outside profile, one for the inside profile, and finally a bevel on the top edge to finish off the sides. Cutting time took approximately 18 minutes total. I considered using screw brackets to mount the piece to the wall, but I wanted some depth so I decided to use metal stand-offs, therefore allowing the race track to sit 1-½” off the wall. I used a 1″ extension rod for ceiling fans and cut pieces slightly oversized. I then chucked them into a lathe and machined the ends to their final length. I cut keyhole slots in the back of the display, figured out where to screw holes into the wall, and attached the stand-offs. It looked ok, but I felt it was missing something so I decided to add the “Circuit of the America’s” logo. I could have cut the logo into the face of the display, but it would have been tiny and I didn’t want to destroy the nice, continuous smooth surface of the race track. I came up with a plan to incorporate a piece of acrylic into the display and cut the logo out of vinyl and adhere to the acrylic panel. When I was finished with Austin, I decided to make the infamous Monaco race track! Check out the pics below for a couple progress shots as well as the final displays. Enjoy!

 

 

LED Displays and Napkin Holders

I was recently approached by Werner Co to build some custom tabletop and napkin holder displays for a PR event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. They were hosting a private party after the STAFDA show and needed some brand awareness at the party. Since the environment would be rather dark, it was decided that we would illuminate the displays. However, we couldn’t build anything that needed to be plugged into an outlet, so it would have to be powered by battery. The event would last approximately 4-6 hours, so the batteries would have to last the duration of the event. Initially, I contemplated creating each tabletop display base out of wood, but after crunching some numbers, I decided it was best to cast them using resin. That would require building a flawless form for the base so that each base would be identical.All the acrylic panels would have company branding etched into them, so I needed to decide whether they would be cut with CNC or etched using sandblast techniques. I opted for sandblast since I was on a tight deadline.