Posted tagged ‘mdf’

DIY Day four

July 2, 2010

The days I’ve been in this week have actually merged into one huge chunk of time. But I can now report on the further developments in making my plinth.

If I could I would actually exhibit my plinth as a piece in its own right. It’s actually turned into something quite unique and nice to look at. I’m already contemplating its locality post show.

So let’s see, in my last post concerning this I had finished off all the pieces of the panels. I had started painting them too as I wanted to save time later and just assemble it when I next came in to the workshop.

We had also left a laser cutting of pattern into 3mm MDF (I still had spares from before) after I had left the previous day as we realised the lack of border on the other one I was going to use would make it harder to attach. I made sure the 10-point stars were in the middle of the cutting and Karel (3DResource manager) used his AutoCAD skills to size it exactly to what we needed in order to fit it into the previously routed front panel. This looked great and fit almost perfectly. There were only a few gaps which could easily be polyfilled later down the production timeline.

So the next day I took some extra MDF in to make the top and also the spindles I bought to cut up and stick under the top layer to raise it a bit higher and to leave a further gap for ventilation.

I told Karel my idea for construction, he slightly adjusted it and we went back to what I was originally thinking of: instead of just screwing the panels together edge to edge I would use the spindles as the main frame for the whole structure and attach the panels to this.

We, then, however, needed to cut some more wood as I had only taken in a couple of my spindles when I actually needed 4. This wasn’t hard and I started screwing the prepared panels to these. I ensured my measurements were accurate and double checked them many times along the way to make sure one wasn’t shorter than the rest and to make sure it didn’t wobble at the end.

Attaching frame (which also forms the legs) to the side panel

Attaching frame (which also forms the legs) to the side panel

legs/frame attached to side panel (prior to error checking change)

legs/frame attached to side panel (prior to error checking change)

My arms aren’t the strongest and as I was drilling into 18mm MDF and then through to the chunky wood frame I slightly struggled to hold the drill down. But I thought it was a job well done and made sure the screws were sunk into the MDF rather than sticking out.

However,  there was an abrupt change of plan when we realised we had not made it correct in order to leave the walls on the outer parts of the whole plinth, and allow for the door to be attached using hinges. This was partly also due to needing to place a shelf in for the projector and keeping the width to a suitable amount to fit it so the lens would come to the middle. So the consequence was me having to undo half a day’s worth of work.

The panels fit together nicely on top of the legs/frame which were inset by the thickness of the side panels (18mm).

The panels fit together nicely on top of the legs/frame which were inset by the thickness of the side panels (18mm).

However, Karel very kindly decided to dedicate himself to helping me get the majority of the construction done that day. I drilled and screwed what I could. glued and nailed what I could and handed over tools and parts when I couldn’t do the more difficult and muscle needing tasks such as bending some chunky metal to make me a hook for hanging a padlock on.

Part of frame cut on one side to make room for projector, and side hole aligned with position of projector vent

Part of frame cut on one side to make room for projector, and side hole aligned with position of projector vent

Second shelf cut with square in corner to fit with frame and hole at back corner for cables to pass through

Second shelf cut with square in corner to fit with frame and hole at back corner for cables to pass through

The day was full of huge ups and downs. But the end result of my plinth was worth it and I am super grateful that we have a place like the 3D Resource center to work in/from.

Top added, hinges added, holes for cables and two extra support beams aligned with the top and bottom of the door

Top added, hinges added, holes for cables and two extra support beams aligned with the top and bottom of the door

Filling holes and gaps with Polyfiller. It's better to have it bumpy than sunken so that when it is sanded down it can be flattened to the same line of the surface

Filling holes and gaps with Polyfil. It's better to have it bumpy than sunken so that when it is sanded down it can be flattened to the same line of the surface

Using a metal pole bent backwards and then bending again from the back to allow for attaching a padlock

Using a metal pole bent backwards and then bending again from the back to allow for attaching a padlock

To add the finishing touches I polyfilled all the gaps and then the next day, after they had been sanded down I prepared the hole on the top for the camera to come through. I almost forgot about this and it should have been done before the top had been attached. But Karel was in super sonic  mode at the time of cutting it down and drilling it on that I dared not protest. Anyway, I drilled a big hole in the middle where I’d marked out the shape of the camera. I was going to arrange it so that the main bulk of it – i.e the lens and infra-red LEDs would be raised above the flat level of the top of the plinth. This would hopefully allow for the lighting recognition to still work in the dark and not be limited by the cut off of the area around the camera formed by the hole itself.

Cut hole needing to be chiseled

Cut hole needing to be chiseled

I then jig-sawed the rest of the rectangular shape out of the top piece and then filed it away for a while. I then slanted the angle of the file so that the camera could slot in easily from the bottom but stay within a snug fit at the top of the hole. I made this a slower process so that I could continuously test the fit and file away where necessary until it was right. I think I did a pretty decent job at getting it to fit right. This meant I wouldn’t need to use duct tape to secure the camera in place either.

Slotting camera in place for a snug fit

Slotting camera in place for a snug fit

Next I started the main painting of the whole plinth. I used a gloss based paint – the one coat one I bought from B&Q. It gave a nice smooth finish once dried but I could tell it was better to do the 2 coats anyway.

The edges of the MDF were really hard to paint as the paint kept seeping through rather than staying on th e surface of the edges. If I have time I am going to try to sand and paint a few layers on the edges. If I can’t do this before assessment then I’ll definitely do so for the exhibition.

And this is it – the finished plinth!


I really like it and so does everyone who has seen it so far. I think one person even thought I was doing another pathway of the course (like designer-maker) when they saw me working on it in the workshop. But I said to him that was the cool thing about the course, you start it off with your one practice in mind but you get to the end and you have the opportunity to include many other practices, skills and techniques for the final stages.

I’m very proud of my plinth, it’s why I said earlier – it’s no ordinary plinth. And as a result I feel very grateful towards the 3DResource team in helping me get it to look the way I wanted and even better than what i wanted. It was worth all the downs encountered.

🙂

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Afternoon of real DIY

June 29, 2010

So when I did finally get back to the 3Dresource guys, with intervals of a bit of waiting I was shown how to use the drilling machine with a large circular saw type bit. This was roughly the right size for the circles I needed to cut out of my MDF for extra ventilation towards the top of both the side panels of the plinth. As heat rises there should be some release via these holes.

Karel, the manager of the department, gave me a few safety tips and showed me where to clamp the MDF and supporting wood down and how to clean the saw bit every now and again so that it wouldn’t get caught and burn instead of continue cutting through.

The drilling machine used for cutting the circles

The drilling machine used for cutting the circles

Cutting circles out of MDF

Close-up of cutting circles out of MDF

Although I was slightly nervous – having not handled any of this kind of machinery since secondary school (about 9 yrs ago now!) – I soon got the hang of it and finished cutting the circles in very good time.

Next we needed to tackle the harder job of routing. I had to wait around a bit at this point as all the technicians were busy and Karel had to go to a meeting so I was told it would have to wait till Wednesday afternoon. I’m not the type to ever panic ( gets you nowhere) but inside I’m thinking, oh man, this is never gonna get finished and what about my deadlines? Because seriously I need to have everything, and I mean EVERYTHING done by this weekend!

I decided to just start painting the panels that were already cut. No point in moping around. I’d made all the effort to get my MDF to uni and had to make do with what I could in terms of productivity.

Preparing to paint the MDF

Preparing to paint the MDF

About an hour later, Gillian, kind and super helpful Gillian, a technician who had been working in the upstairs gallery space came down and said we could have a go at doing the routing.

The routing needs to be done so that there is a recess for the other pattern-cut MDF to sit. This would form part of the front panel of the plinth.  In order to cut this in the correct rectangular window we had to cut out the middle section – not as easy as I thought it would be.

Firstly, we drilled holes into the corners of the rectangle I had marked out and then used the jigsaw to go along very close to the edges so that routing would be easier to do later.

The jigsaw we used to cut the following panel out

The jigsaw we used to cut the following panel out

Gillian showed me how to use the Jigsaw and I got to do a lot of the cutting using it. It was hard work to hold it down and keep it going straight and so my arm started getting tired but I finished it and manged to curve the corners too. I also had to make sure my hands weren’t too close to the saw bit. It was a scary start but fun to get stuck into some proper DIY 🙂

The router and the jigsaw cut MDF

The router and the jigsaw cut MDF

Gillian neatened up the edges using the router – which will also be used to create the recess. It’s a really good tool for making sure all edges are straight.

So hopefully I’ll back at in the workshop to finish this off. I’m hoping I can get it done by the end of Wednesday as I feel really anxious that it’s really close to the assessment deadline of early next week. I need to have everything installed by Saturday latest so that I can concentrate on the Unit2 assessment page which needs to be up by  July 5th.

I also haven’t had the chance to help the others with setting up the general exhibition space yet and then there’s health and safety risk assessment forms to be completed as well as the instruction sheet for the exhibition period. I find that I prefer not to talk about what needs to be done, I’d rather just get on with it and not make myself stressed by just thinking about it.

I’m looking forward to the days after the assessment when I’ll be able to relax and focus on just the show itself.

More MDF cut

June 16, 2010

So I finally got the MDF cut with the laser machine at college. It looks really nice, and for some reason I really like the smell of the burnt edges. It’s been a few hours and it still smells quite strong.

I also really like all the offcuts – they looked so cool when I pulled the whole main sheet away, and the shapes formed the pattern as they were still in place. I didn’t think to take a picture of them at that point and now wish I had. It would take ages to arrange them in formation again. But if I did it would make for a very interesting art piece me thinks.

Laser cutting machine

Laser cutting machine

Machine has finished cutting

Machine has finished cutting

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

The final cut mdf

The final cut MDF (3mm)

Two downsides are that firstly at this scale I can notice some inaccuracies in the pattern. Some of the shapes are wider apart than others. It slightly bugs me knowing this although I doubt the average person would notice it unless they looked really hard or if it was pointed out to them. Secondly the MDF sheet was slightly smaller than we thought so the edge of the tile was cut off.

All in all it’s still pretty impressive. I want to use it for the front of my plinth, if I can, but I’ve realised I may need to re-design the way I’m planning to make the plinth.

Originally I was going to just have solid panels to make all four sides but if I use this cut out then it needs to be attached to a strong and stable frame which has legs going all the way up the sides allowing the inside to be hollow and the holes to help ventilation of the hardware concealed inside.

Things are quite mad for me at the moment. There are a lot of family commitments coming too. And I just don’t have enough hours in the day to commit to the project as I would like.

Oh well, better just get on with it and finish that essay!

With the good comes the bad

April 24, 2009

…ok maybe not always but sometimes and certainly in this case. We’ve had half the carpet put in the house now; this includes my room and the two loft rooms that we added a few months ago.

It means I can finally move my stuff from storage back into my room and stop living out of bags. The down side is that I actually liked living up in the loft with the sun shining through the skylights. It meant that I was able to work with natural light for longer and also because there was no carpet I could do as much spray painted canvas art as I liked without worrying where it might disperse.

laser cut mdf stencil

laser cut mdf stencil

Using the MDF stencil that I had laser cut from my pattern a few weeks ago (above), I’ve created a new canvas piece. It’s been a bit difficult to decide when the painting is finished because it has a layered effect and I could just keep going but there’s always a risk that the next layer might make it look less pleasing to me.

I’ve stopped it here – I received some good feedback from family and friends so far:

16x16 canvas

16x16 canvas

Canvas close-up

Canvas close-up

The painting has a sort of pastelly/chalky effect with the spraying having gone a bit blurry at the edges of the patterns but this also allowed for a gradient fade effect where I’ve got two colours merging. I added white beneath the blue as an outline shadow effect to make the blue standout more clearly against the green. I think the bright colours work well together here. Originally it was just white on green and it looked too stark. So then I added the blues and yellows and I think it looks much better like that.

So yeh now I’m in a bit of a pickle because I want to do more of these but other than doing it on the pavement outside my home (clearly not ideal) there aren’t many more options. At uni there are limited rooms and although I could use the old play-ground or parking area I wouldn’t want to ship all my things there – I would need a minivan! Even then it would be useless as I’m only ever in once a week and would be left doing tiny bits at a time.

Ergh…