$6 Upcycled Dog Bed

We needed a new dog bed. OK actually, the dog needed a new bed. Here is the sad “before” state.


Dog beds cost like $25-40. That’s just silly. It’s some fabric and stuffing. So, we got some supplies. A throw blanket from Wal Mart ($2.87). Iron-on seam tape ($3.97). And the best part – we had a couple of old study-buddy pillows that were ready for donation to the thrift store, where they would no-doubt sit endlessly waiting for one of the tens of people in the world who buy used pillows to stumble on them. Since everyone has some old pillows of some type lying around for stuffing, total cost for the dog bed: $6.00.


We were a little worried about the seam tape, whether it would be permanent, and whether it would adhere well to the blanket material. This ultrabond stuff worked well.


Fold the blanket in half. The seam tape is double-sided, so you put it between the blanket seam and iron it down on one side. You can press the iron for just a few seconds at this point.


Then fold the blanket over, pull back the other side of the tape, and iron it down. At this point, you need to press down hard with the iron for about 10-15 seconds to get adequate heat to transfer through the material.


Once you’ve done 3 sides, you’re ready to stuff away!


Then you iron closed the final seam. Of course you could have turned it inside out before stuffing it, and then closed it up, but we liked the visible seam edges better. And our approach seemed like it put less stress on the seamed edges than if it were inside out.

And now for the after-shot!  Happy dog.


Programming for Kids Meetup

1379773101884We had an awesome Programming for Kids Meetup at 7hills Makerspace on Saturday 9/20. We had about 20 kids, ages 8-14, and their parents in attendance. The kids were introduced to programming using Scratch. By the end of the class, there were crabs and witches flying all over the space!

We will invite all the kids back in about a month so they can share the games, animations, apps and other things they’ve programmed on their own. The kids will all get to vote on the best program, and we’ll share links to all of them here on the site.



Weather Video

Outbreak of bad weather today in Rome. Took the following video outside the makerspace at 4th and Broad.

FlipBooKit – Mechanical Flipbook Art and Kit

I backed the FlipBooKit project on Kickstarter.


My kit showed up last week and I had a chance this evening to assemble it. I thought everyone would enjoy seeing it in action.

What’s a FlipBooKit? Here’s an excerpt from the Kickstarter campaign that explains what they are and where the inspiration came from. The video of mine is below.

“Flipbookit.net is from kinetic artists, Mark Rosen and Wendy Marvel. They create moving art that tells stories and tickles our sense of nostalgia. In late 2011, their series of motorized flipbooks based on the motion studies of Edweard Muybridge began touring with galleries, art shows and at special events internationally. MAKE magazine is featuring the artists in their January issue and a few of the boxes were on display at Maker Fair 2012 (you can see the original flipbooks at http://www.mechanicalflipbook.com).”

This video doesn’t exist



to know people is wisdom,
but to know yourself is enlightenment.
to master people takes force,
but to master yourself takes strength.
to know contentment is wealth,
and to live with strength resolve.
to never leave whatever you are is to abide,
and to die without getting lost-
that is to live on and on.

Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)


OK, who says marketing has to be all about Myfacing and Tweetering on the Interweb these days?

Well, Steve showed up at our make-night last night. He made this AWESOME plinko board for friend-of-the-space SAI Digital to show off a cool inbound marketing technique at the recent Business Expo event here in Rome. Um, they won best of show. No wonder.

I will try to get him to do a write-up on it, but for now, here’s a pic. It’s Arduino-controlled, has these cool clicky-sounding relays for the lights that give it a great carnival feel, and the woodworking looks like it was done at Yankee Workshop.

Another Furniture Hack – Easel Lamp

Dude, what’s up with the lamp fetish? Two weeks in a row? I know, right!

Here’s the deal. I will be moving into a new apartment after the first of the year. I want to fix it up and make it stylish and comfortable, but the industrial, architectural stuff I like is just too expensive. No self-respecting maker would pay $2,200 for one of these. So, I decided to try and make my own this weekend.

I started at Hobby Lobby. They have these awesome wooden easels for $50. I happened to have a coupon for 40% off on a single item, so I got one for $30. Schweet.

Next, I found an old ugly lamp in the basement and salvaged the hardware.


I picked up a 15-foot lamp cord at Home Depot for $3.50. The longer cord is important because of the height of the lamp. And I grabbed a can of wood stain (the easels come unfinished) for $8. So, total cost for the lamp: $40.

The easels have a nice flat surface at the top. This was perfect for drilling a 1/2″ hole for the socket post.

Wire up the socket.


Install the halo.

I wanted a more distressed look, so before I stained it, I drug a planer across the legs of the easel at random places.  This creates nice gouges.

Then I wrapped some bolts, nuts and screws in a rag and beat the crap out of it. This creates dents and dimples that look like genuine wear, and they cause the stain to be absorbed in an uneven way. I also took an awl and scratched the wood in random places, and I created some deeper holes and dents.

Finally, I disassembled the easel parts and made a big mess with my stain.

Here’s the finished product.  I’m darn happy with it, especially for $40!

Pipe Lamps


Ethan and I decided to make some steampunk’ish desk lamps out of black pipe this weekend. There are lots of various designs and tutorials out on the web, but we just got ourselves a bunch of parts and assembled things until we found a structure we liked.


The main parts you need to create one of these are pipe lengths (we used 10″ and 3″ sections), elbows (we used 45 and 90 degree ones), flanges (the round, flat base things), lamp sockets, 1/2″ to 3/4″ reducers (for the little feet as an alternative to the flanges), Tee shapes, and some old electrical cord/plugs. Ours was made of 1/2″ parts, but you could move up to 3/4″ for a larger lamp. Depending on your design, you might also find a use for the end caps.

We added the brass water water spout to break thing up, but ended up not liking it. I think we’re going to replace the water spout with something less modern-looking.


Oh, and you need light bulbs of course.  Check out these two versions. They are vintage, filament-type bulbs that GE sells and that you can find at most home supply stores. They really help to give your lamps that vintage, industrial and/or steampunk look. Beware, these bulbs put off a lot of heat and get very hot, so you’ll want to be careful about the type of fixture you put them in (see below).


For the bulb covers, we used a couple of those hanging portable lights that are common in auto shops, garages, etc. The ones we used came in bright yellow, but a little black spray paint did the trick. You could re-use the whole thing by re-purposing the bulb socket and cord for your lamp, but we didn’t think about that till it was too late.  So, we ended up with a couple of cord and sockets for another project.


Ethan took advantage of this phase to do some “graffiti” in the 7hills kitchen. :-)


Making Laser-Cut Acrylic Boxes/Enclosures

We often find ourselves needing to make a custom box or enclosure of some type. For example, if we create an electronics gadget, we might need to put it in a housing.  A laser cutter is a great tool to produce these boxes, but you still have to deal with laying out a vector drawing with the right dimensions, figuring out how it’s going to be joined together and all that jazz.

So, I found this awesome online tool that allows you to quickly and automatically produce a vector drawing of a box. The box designs it produces have notched edge,making them really easy to assemble after they’re cut.

You put in your dimensions, configure a few settings, click create, and within seconds it hands you back a PDF with all six sides of your box laid out.  You can then import the PDF into your favorite vector drawing program (we like Inkscape), and customize it further.  For example, you might want to have a cut-out on one side to allow for the USB port to stick through.  Or you might want to have holes drilled (cut) in the bottom to line up with the mounting holes of a PCB board. Check out the picture above to see one I made for an Arduino-based music project I was working on.

You can access the tool here. I’ve also put a permanent link to it in the sidebar of this site. Just put in the height, width and depth of your box and the material thickness (e.g. 1/8 inch acrylic would be 0.125).  For most projects, you can just hit “Design It” at this point and you’ll be fine.  As you get more advanced, you might want to play around with the other options.  The setting for notch width comes in handy when you start producing much smaller boxes.  For example, I did some dice that were only 1 inch cubed and I had to make the notch-width smaller.  Also, if you find that your box fits together too tightly or too loosely after cutting it, you might have to adjust the setting for cut width. For our laser cutter, .007 seems to work well for 1/8 inch acrylic.

To close up your box permanently, what I’ve found that works well is to use a syringe with acetone in it.  You lay down a very tiny bead with the needle of the syringe along the inside seams of the box, and it basically “welds” it together by dissolving a little of the acrylic.

That’s about it.  Happy box-making.