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What Happens When You Combine a Floating Dock with Surfing?

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

For a concept shoot in Bali, surfing rag Stab Magazine towed a floating dock out to where the waves break, then set Volcom's surfing team loose. Here's what happened, and it looks as fun as it does dangerous:

The Dock from STAB on Vimeo.

Hand Tool School #39: Useful Tool Features vs. Gimmicks

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

For today's woodworker, tool buying is as much a part of the experience as actually working wood. For better or for worse is a matter of opinion—I'm going to stay positive and say that without tool buying much of the economy of woodworking would fall apart. No woodworker can deny the siren song of buying a new tool, and today we are very fortunate to have a lot of tools to choose from. Whether you need it right now or not, a new tool represents possibility. Maybe you don't think you could execute a task without the tool or you think it will make a task faster or better with this tool. It is the potential this new tool can unlock that is intoxicating.

I write this preamble as a disclaimer that I see nothing wrong with buying new tools to scratch that itch. Supporting the makers is important to keep the market alive. However, buying a new tool because you think some additional feature will change the way you work could be a frustrating move that may even set you back in your growth as a woodworker. Today as in the past, tool manufacturers abound with slick options and features that will make their tools work better. These additional features cause a lot of confusion and create sales where there are none now. In our option heavy society, we want to super size our tools and get the works. While you may consider sour cream, chives, and bacon essential to your baked potato experience I am hesitant to say similar options in the tool world are anything more than infamous automotive undercoating.

Gimmick or Useful?

What do these additional features really add to the performance and ease of use for your tools? Does it really change the game, or is is just a gimmick to bring people back to the cash register? Let's look at some hand tool examples on the market today.


Canted Saw Plates

This basically means the width of saw plate beneath the toe of the saw is narrower than at the heel. This feature will prevent you from sawing past your line on the far side of your workpiece by accident since the heel side will reach the depth first. A second advantage is that the angled presentation of the teeth makes for faster, easier sawing. I call gimmick on this. The baseline argument assumes that the sawyer is keeping the back of the saw parallel to the work. Spend any time with a back saw, and you will find that angling the saw slightly and working your line across the board, sometimes from the far side toward you, sometimes the opposite, is the best way to accurately saw to a knife line or pencil line. In fact, the really nice saws are hung (simply put, the angle between the handle and the tooth line) so that this angled presentation is the natural way the saw is used. Moreover the tooth geometry is matched so that optimal cutting happens at this natural hang angle. It seems to me that the canted blade is just messing with something that already happens when attention is paid to the hang angle in the first place. This feature is certainly not new, as it is found in many vintage saws. However, just because it was used back then doesn't mean it is right. In fact, I think hand tools were more prone to gimmicks back in the day when more people used them and more competition existed. I have worked with both canted and un-canted blades, new and vintage, and I can honestly state that the difference is negligible but leaning toward a proper hung saw and un-canted blade.

Thin Plate Saws

The thin plate creates a narrower kerf and allows for more precise cuts and easier work. It makes sense that the less wood that is removed the easier the work will be. Also a gimmick in my opinion. The specs will vary from maker to maker, but on average, the difference between a thin kerf and "regular" kerf saw is .004?. Somehow I don't think the perceived effort is any different and if so, I think I can handle that extra work. Maybe it will help me burn off that stick of gum I just chewed. As far as accuracy, are any of us cutting joints that are so small and need to be so accurate that this reduced kerf will actually make a difference? In reality, I think more problems arise with a thinner plate that could be more fragile. A beginner sawyer is going to be more likely to bend and kink the plate. I have no data on this, but I have to believe that the thinner steel will heat up faster and expand more readily in use. I wonder what the actual kerf is after the plate heats up? With an average difference of 4 thousandths, it wouldn't take much before that margin is gone. Then again, how much continuous sawing does one do with a dovetail saw? And the thin plate saws really are all dovetail saws. If a larger back saw was made to be thin kerf, it had better have a bamboo-wrapped handle and be meant to be pulled, or I would run the other way.

Folded Backs

Instead of a solid piece of brass or steel or whatever with a groove cut in it and glued to the saw plate, the folded saw back is folder over and holds the plate in tension. On this feature, I say useful (you thought this was going to be all negative didn't you?). With a folded back holding the plate in tension, you can easily adjust and re-tension the blade if you kink it. Moreover, the folded back provides a safety mechanism of sorts that allow the blade to move instead of causing harm to the tooth line with a rigid plate. Think about how your skis are designed to pop off your feet when you yard sale all over the ski slope and what shape your knees would be in if the skis didn't come off. Folded backs are more expensive because it takes more work to execute, but I think you will find they make for a better saw that will be more durable and stand up to the mistakes that beginner and advanced sawyers make.

Adjustable Mouth Planes

I'm a bit "meh" on this option. If you only have 1 or 2 planes, then I can see being able to adjust the mouth opening to accommodate a thicker shaving/chip. As an everyday plane user with a nice selection of planes to handle each stage of milling and joinery, I can say that I rarely, if ever, change this setting. My rough and medium planes are set for that purpose, and my smoothing and finished surface tools only do that job. Also, I work primarily with happy hand tool domestic species that don't require a super tuned plane to control tear out. I find that a medium mouth opening is more than sufficient for jointing and smoothing and only my Fore plane and Scrub plane require a wider mouth. So I'm on the fence as I can see it being useful, but I certainly wouldn't use this feature as basis for buying or not buying a plane. If you want this feature solely to control tear out, consider whether the woods you work really demand it.

Progressive Pitch/Rake/FleamA well fitting handle will do more for starting a saw than futzing with the tooth geometry

This is the practice of gradually changing the tooth geometry on a saw. Sometimes it is smaller teeth that get larger along the lengths and more simply it is a more relaxed rake with greater fleam that glides over the wood and makes the saw easier to start. I say gimmick! This may be a surprise to some of you as I myself used to think this was a great thing that turned a saw from good to great. Then it came time to resharpen it, and I found it confusing and annoying to have to adjust the geometry along the plate. This is one area of sharpening where I still use a guide and having to stop and change settings is really inconvenient. Maybe one day I'll ditch the guide, but I still can't see this changing my mind. If you pay more attention to your body mechanics and sawing technique, I think you can solve any problem that you would try to solve by gerrymandering the teeth of the saw. I did a Hand Tool School demonstration about a year ago on starting a saw, and I illustrated that by taking the weight off the toe, you can start just about any saw easily. With no starting back stroke. I successfully started a 5 ppi 28 rip saw with no rake or fleam in Ipe (a wood that makes granite cry) with a single, light forward stroke. That doesn't make me a savant, just aware of the weight at the toe of the saw. Messing around with this progressive stuff just complicates things and is nothing but a gimmick.

Higher Angle Frogs

This is another option that isn't new as you will find many vintage wooden planes with higher bed angles, and you will find some mention to higher angle frogs in the last century with metal planes. It seems like this additional frog and even the additional, higher bevel angle blade idea have really become popular in recent years. I'm not going to call this a gimmick because it does work to control tear out on really gnarly woods, but I will call it somewhat unnecessary. Unless you work with HEAVILY figured woods born deep in the rainforests that are harder than granite and have grain patterns more interlocked than a DNA strand, I think your tear out problems can be correct in other ways. A tight mouth, sharp blade, and good chip breaker position will solve this problem without having to swap blades or change the frog and without increasing the level of effort to push the plane.

I think I'll stop there. There are some more things that I could probably come up with, and I realize that I'm only talking about hand tools. I think the power tool makers are more guilty of this and have a lot more gimmicks built in to their tools. Can you say laser? But I would be speaking on that subject from a several year old perspective since my power tools and their gimmicks are currently taking up space in other woodworker's shops now.

So What's Wrong with Gimmicks?

Hey, I like lasers as much as the next guy, but what happens when the battery dies and I don't know how to line up a cut or level a picture without that laser? What skills am I skipping and not learning? When I get tear out on a board, do I just go buy a different plane, or do I try to solve the problem with what I have using my knowledge of wood and how a blade actually cuts? Your answers will probably be different than mind, and I do think in some instances getting that new tool may be the path of least resistance. You will also find that a gimmick-free tool may not exist anymore. When was the last time you could buy a car without power windows and locks?

Gimmicks and options can be a lot of fun, but the minute you start thinking that your perfectly good tool won't work now because it isn't canted with a laser line and kung-fu grip, you need to stop and think about what these features really will add to your woodworking experience.

So what do you think? Maybe I'm getting old and set in my ways and feel the need to bad mouth options that "kids today" have on their tools. I would love to hear from you whether you think the above are gimmicks or what other options you think might be useful or just gimmicks. Ready? Go!


This "Hand Tool School" series is provided courtesy of Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker. Rogers is founder of The Hand Tool School, which provides members with an online apprenticeship that teaches them how to use hand tools and to build furniture with traditional methods.

Clever Designs for Perpetual Calendars

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

For those of you that still use physical calendars, maybe you like having a dozen photos of hapless kittens or shirtless firemen cycling through the months. But a subset of you might prefer a single grid that will serve for the entire year and that doesn't have any pages to be flipped. If that's the case, the perpetual calendar is for you.

I was not able to track this Russian design to its original source, but this is typical of the genre.

A fellow named Renan Rozante sells these plans for a laser-cut design.

I'm not so into this DIY design made from acrylic, but it does add color for visual pop.

This design on Amazon Japan makes clever use of a metal frame to line the days up with the dates.

Here's an all-metal design (that I was unable to attribute to the original source).

My favorite of all of these designs is the Perpetual Calendar designed by Keita Shimizu, because it does not have any excess numbers sticking out of the sides.

All of these designs have a UX flaw that you design nerds have undoubtedly spotted. That flaw being that there is no provision for obscuring the higher numbers for months that have less than 31 days.

Make This DIY Ruler Stop

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

Combination squares come in very handy in the shop. But the thing I hate is that I'll often set the depth, then need to leave it at that setting for various stages in a project, and I basically can't use the square for anything else in the meanwhile. For that reason I've been meaning to buy a simple ruler stop to free up the combination square.

After seeing what's in the photos below, perhaps I'll make one. Lumberjocks user Bas, who hails from Holland, posted these photos of his simple and elegant DIY ruler stop.

Just a simple ruler stop.
Made from beech and a modified brass nut.The magnet inside holds the ruler tight and adds some friction during precise setting.The last pic is a little tip: I added 2 magnets to my ruler. So I can pick up it very easily.

Nice work Bas!

Building Better Products Through High Fidelity Prototypes & Low Volume Manufacturing

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

– Sponsored Post –

Every product starts as an aspirational vision for how the finished result should look, feel, and function in the consumer's hands. However, the design process to transform ideas into mass manufacturable products is a road paved by technical reality and practical compromise. Mitigating risk before investing in mass manufacturing is a crucial step in ensuring market success.


Because the market is so highly competitive, products can be considered obsolete before they even reach their consumers. It is no longer enough for a product to be good—products must be excellent and be crafted specifically to meet customer needs and expectations.

Desktop 3D printing and creating photorealistic renderings only get us so close to experiencing the real thing. In order to truly measure and learn, we need to build.

Prototype sample run to test final fit, feel, and finish.

Adopting a lean development philosophy demands prototyping and testing earlier and more frequently throughout the design process. Prototyping regularly and with progressively higher fidelity allows designers to focus on key features, validate assumptions, and evolve into the final version. Decisions are now supported through testing and data and no longer rooted in mere assumption. The result: greater end-user satisfaction and long-term risk reduction.

Low volume, high resolution vacuum castings for collecting user feedback. LOW VOLUME, BIG RETURN

Between prototyping and mass manufacturing, there is one additional bridge to cross—you still need to experience the final product before going to full scale production, and that is where low volume manufacturing comes in. While investing in low volume manufacturing requires additional upfront capital, its real value is in the money you'll save by mitigating long-term risk before you invest in expensive tooling costs.

Iterating through low volume production reduces your long-term risk by:

-Validating usability and aesthetic decisions by presenting the product to your target audience

-Gauging consumer interest by showcasing beta-products to retailers and/or trade shows

-Generating community interest by fulfilling beta orders through crowdfunding platforms prior to mass manufacturing

-Increasing stakeholder confidence and/or pitch investors to secure additional funding

-Refining important features or implementing changes before investing in tooling costs

(left) ABS with soft-touch finish. (middle) 5-Axis precision stainless steel part. (right) Optically clear polycarbonate lens. A BETTER WAY TO MAKE BETTER THINGS

"We can't do that," or "Yes, but it'll be expensive," —phrases frequently heard from shops that claim to do low volume production.

In response, the founders at Firsthand Fab decided to create a shop that bridged the gap between design thinking and manufacturing. As a team of product designers and engineers themselves, Firsthand Fab recognizes the value of prototyping and low volume production as part of the process from vision to full scale manufacturing and have worked to develop techniques that allow for reasonably priced, low volume parts and products.

Partnering with Firsthand Fab means:

-Open dialogue about your end goals

-Help navigating fabrication options

-Collaborative and responsive communication

-Wide variety of processes and finishing options

-Seriously competitive pricing

Find out how Firsthand Fab can help you with prototypes, appearance models, functional parts or low volume production here.

A Super Organized Work Van

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

When Zack Dettmore replaced his old work van he went to extremes to organize the interior of the new one, outfitting it with a manufactured bulkhead and home-made shelving designed for the tools he carries.

I've seen a video of the setup he once used in his contracting business and his tools have changed a lot since that time—at least insofar as how he carries them. He now uses modular boxes, Festool Systainers for tools and Milwaukee's first-generation organizers for fasteners and small parts (Milwaukee's next generation organizers just came out, but they're incompatible with the first).

Because so much of what he carries is modular, there's almost no wasted space. I like how he notched the shelves to house the "feet" of Systainers to keep them from sliding out. 

His vertical charging station, with chargers mounted to the back of the bulkhead, is an excellent use of space. I also like that he puts heavy items close to the side door so he does not have to drag them out the back.

His labeling system makes a lot of sense—horizontal labels for what's in front and vertical labels for anything stored in back. Because when items are stored two deep, it's easy to forget what's behind. 

Long flat tools such as levels, short ladders, and track saw rails store in cross-wise cubbies behind the bulkhead (which he was smart enough to buy rather than build because you don't want to be hit by shifting cargo ).

Check out the video tour of Dettmore's work van. He has a lot of good ideas about organization, many of which would work equally well in a workshop or office.

Mutsuki's Organizational Objects Created with a Lasercutter

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

If you've got access to a lasercutter, some 4mm / 1/8" plywood and live or work in an untidy environment, Thingiverse denizen Mutsuki's got you covered. She's designed and/or remixed a host of organizational designs like these nifty Stackable Boxes:

And this Customizable Parts Box:

Or this all-purpose Portable Box:

And this reel that will hold 10 meters' worth of air hose:

Check out more of Mutsuki's stuff here.

Design Job: Navigate the Career Waters as Garmin International's Industrial Design Team Leader

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

As a leading worldwide provider of navigation, we are committed to making superior products for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor and fitness markets that are an essential part of our customers’ lives. Our vertical integration business model keeps all design, manufacturing, marketing and warehouse processes in-house, giving us more control over timelines, quality and service. Our user-friendly products are not only sought after for their compelling design, superior quality and best value, but they also have innovative features that enhance the lives of our customers.

View the full design job here

RIP: Frances Gabe

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

Long before the Roomba there was Frances Gabe, an Oregon artist who invented a self-cleaning house. She patented the design  in 1984, built a prototype, and lived in it for decades before dying in obscurity last December at the age of 101.

Frances Gabe in 1990. After her divorce she used the last three initials of her full married name, Fances Grace Arnholz Bateson, to create a new last name—adding an "e" at the end to avoid being Gab. (Courtesy of milt ritter/YouTube)

I'm not sure Gabe would have liked the Roomba, not because there's anything wrong with it but because her ambitions extended well beyond the floor. She wanted to clean the house—all of it, from ceiling to floor and everything in between.

Cleaning the kitchen.

To that end she devised a ceiling-mounted sprinkler that sprayed the room with a wash cycle of soapy water followed by a rinse. The water ran to the floor, which sloped to a drain. It was as if the room was a giant shower.

To avoid having to move too many things before cleaning, the contents of the house were made from water proof materials. Things that could not be made impervious to water—like beds—were draped with waterproof covers prior to cleaning.

Dish washing cabinetClothes washing wardrobeMisc. plumbing details

Not content to clean only the visible surfaces she devised similar systems for washing clothes while they hung in closets. Dishes were to be put away dirty and cleaned in the cabinet.

A 1990 interview of Gabe at her self-cleaing house.

Gabe held a total of 68 patents. Time may have obscured her achievements but she was well known in her day.

In her 1991 book, Feminism Confronts Technology, Judy Wajcman wrote:

Gabe was ridiculed for even attempting the impossible, but architects and builders now admit that her house is functional and attractive. One cannot help speculating that the development of an effective self-cleaning house has not been high on the agenda of male engineers.

According to Erma Bombeck, a humorist who regularly disparaged housework, Gabe's face belongs on Mount Rushmore.

Animator Lily Benson produced this spacey video after visiting Gabe in 2007.

Gabe's psychiatrist once told her "You're many times over a genius. The world belongs to you, and don't let anyone tell you anything different". Clearly, she followed that advice.

How Will adidas's New Creator Farm Hold its Own?

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

adidas just officially announced their Brooklyn-based Creator Farm, an open source hub for, well, creativity. Boasting a start-up environment within the not-so-startup company, the adidas Creator Farm seems like a secure place to work for a small team without the major risk of going under. Oh, and there's a full MakerLab involved.

Our immediate burning question is: How will the small Creator Farm hold its own within such an expansive company? Here's adidas Global Creative Director Paul Gaudio's response to a similar question:

"The Farm is an open source creative hub. It is a great place to bring new ideas in from the outside, or even new ideas from one part of the brand to another. One recent example is the Farm working directly with our basketball team to reimagine the basketball shoe. People from design, development and product marketing are collaborating with designers on rotation from adidas Originals, running and training – but also folks from James Harden to Lincoln High School athletes, to cut this new path across sport culture. We also work with local artists, designers, students, universities like Pratt or FIT and museums like the Brooklyn Museum."

So by bringing things to a local level, adidas hopes to connect the dots within their massive company. The game plan seems to be a rotation of adidas design teams, designers and collaborators visiting to connect with the full-time farm employees and keep them from getting too comfortable in the NYC bubble. The farm's full-timers all have different design backgrounds within the adidas brand, which will hopefully bring things full circle. The specific job of the Creator Farm's full-time employees? Simply be creative.

This seems like a business model that could either work really well or complicate things even further for the brand—especially if more farms start popping up in other key cities as Gaudio hints at in the same interview. Either way, we're excited to see a large company allowing employees (even a small team of 19) get as creative as they want in an intimate space. We're sure it'll lead to some exciting results.

Nooz Optics' Minimalist, Handily-Portable Reading Glasses

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

For those not already saddled with eyeglasses or contacts, it can be handy to have a pair of reading glasses on hand. In New York City at least, menu font designers and restaurant lighting designers seem determined to make menus impossible to read. For situations like these, French company Nooz Optics has designed a super-portable, compact pair of reading glasses.

The polycarbonate lenses are scratch-resistant, and by doing away with the stems the designers have created an incredibly small form factor that tucks away into a slim, protective case. It's thin enough that you can actually throw it into the pocket you use to hold your keys.

One design choice I question, however, is that they've left that unenclosed void in the middle. I understand they're going for minimalism, but it seems to me that cavity would snag on my keys for sure.

In any case the glasses are just $20, and they come in both oval and rectangular styles and a plethora of colors.

Tools & Craft #56: A Visit to NYC's Amazing Chess Forum

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

This past weekend the weather was gorgeous, and I found myself doing a walkabout in the village. On Thompson Street, the Chess Forum is a Greenwich Village fixture where you can buy chess sets and paraphernalia, books and videos, and most importantly, you can rent a table to play chess. The variety and art of the chess sets intrigued me, so I went in to browse.

As any person who plays chess will tell you, having readily recognizable pieces is important so you don't get confused while playing. But some of the sets are just gorgeous, amazing, and wonderful.

Frank Lloyd Wright Midway Gardens chess set

For anyone interested in carving, turning, or for that matter any aspect of the craft, building a chess set, especially after seeing these sets, is a great way to explore all sorts of design vocabularies. And we mustn't forgot that it's not just the pieces, chessboards lend themselves to marquetry, inlay, low relief carving, and just about any other woodworking technique you can think of. 

If you visit the Chess Forum website you can see the dozens of other sets that they carry, although I think some of the rarer ones aren't online. I really just wanted to show off what a little imaginations and a craft can produce.

Prices for a decorative set run from about $40 for a plastic golf themed set, to the sky, with the high hundreds being pretty much the top price for everything I saw in the store. Quality and design are all over the map.

All of the sets illustrated here are great examples of woodworking craft, and from a project standpoint really give a person the chance to explore a style.

PS. Sorry about the phone photography. I need to discipline myself to always bring a real camera with me when I do walkabout.

"The Loop" Re-Examines Hyperloop's Technology and the Future of Inter-City Travel

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

Sundberg-Ferar worked with Hyundai Ventures on a research and design project looking at the future of mobility and mass-transit. Inspired by Elon Musk’s Hyperloop whitepaper, Sundberg-Ferar performed a deep engineering analysis of the proposed system and developed a new strategy with feasible technologies that delivers a solution considering all aspects of a user’s travel experience.

View the full content here

Reader Submitted: A Humidifier that Doubles as Home Accessories When Not in Use

Core 77 - 6 hours 25 min ago

[Mool] is a natural humidifier crafted by natural porous earthenware that absorbs water quickly and releases moisture. [Mool] has multifunctional purposes as a humidifier during dry season and home accessories during humid season.

View the full project here

Q&A with Ben Uyeda of HomeMade Modern: Send Us Your Questions

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-07-20 05:45

Ben Uyeda has made a splash on Youtube with his HomeMade Modern video series, managing to turn perceptions of DIY from a novice craft practice into a pastime for the design-minded that should be taken seriously. A former full-time architect, he's now one of the masters in the DIY video community when it comes to taking hardware store finds like 2x4s and concrete and turning them into elegant minimal objects he challenges anyone to make.

In collaboration with Core77, Ben Uyeda wants to hear your questions to help kick off our new Q&A video series! The idea is simple: we pull questions from the Core77 audience and have experts like Ben answer them in detail. Racking your brain about how to execute a specific DIY project you're dreaming up? Want to know more about his go-to tools? Looking for shop hacks or great design books? The possibilities for questions are endless. 

Send us your inquiries for Ben Uyeda by commenting in the thread below or emailing us at mail@core77.com with the subject line "Question for Ben Uyeda". Your question might be chosen and answered by Ben Uyeda in an upcoming video for Core77!

Douglas LaMont's Wonderful Ex Machina Drafting Table

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-07-20 05:45

Here's a rather unusual drafting table, designed and built by Montana-based Douglas LaMont:

Called the Cantilever, LaMont's design is the first of what he's calling his Ex Machina series. As it turns out, his design choices were influenced by industrial history, and specifically a little-spoken-of relationship between wood and metal in the evolution of industry:

Machines have long served furniture makers by undertaking laborious operations that would require a heavy input of blood, sweat and tears using hand tools. But the relationship between machinery and woodworking isn't nearly that simple. Nor is the relationship a one way street.

Machinery is used to shape and dimension wood, producing parts that eventually become elements of a finished piece of furniture. But where do the parts for the machinery come from? Let me introduce you to the patternmaker's trade.

I recall seeing, many years ago in antique shops in New England, beautiful, large gears and cogs and wheels made of mahogany and wondering why someone would have made such things of wood. Were these the work of some odd duck with an obsession for mechanical parts, too much mahogany and time on his hands? Later, when beginning to order hardwoods for my own endeavors, I found that mahogany was available in "pattern grade", an exceptionally clear, straight-grained and defect-free grade. I soon learned the connection between pattern grade mahogany and wooden gears.

You see, the foundries and factories that produced machinery needed accurate examples of the parts they would cast to form the molds into which the molten steel and cast iron would be poured. This was the job of the patternmaker, a highly skilled woodworker whose trade involved making accurate patterns of the parts needed by the foundry. Sand molds would then be formed around these patterns and the cavities accepted the molten iron. Voila! Machine parts!

We are looking forward to seeing more in this series!

Amazon Patents the High-Rise Urban Drone-Port

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-07-20 05:45

Amazon's vision for the future includes multi-story automated distribution centers sprinkled throughout urban areas. Goods will arrive by truck and be delivered to customers by fleets of drones issuing forth from ports or doors in the building. 

Few humans will work there because robots will perform much of the picking and warehousing work. At least that's what is presented in a recently published patent application.

The building on the left looks like a giant birdhouse, which seems appropriate given the number of drones in the air around it.

The patent documents describe these buildings as "multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles"—what we refer to as drones.

The building on the left is shaped like the Star of David. The one on the right resembles a bee hive or Jules Verne's idea of a space ship.

The reason for these buildings and why they need to be located in urban areas is described as follows:

Fulfillment centers are typically large-volume single-floor warehouse buildings used to temporarily store items prior to shipment to customers. Often, due to their large footprint, these buildings are located on the outskirts of cities where space is available to accommodate these large buildings. These locations are not convenient for deliveries into cities where an ever-increasing number of people live. Thus, there is a growing need and desire to locate fulfillment centers within cities, such as in downtown districts and densely populated parts of the cities.

Amazon currently uses its own vehicles to deliver some packages but most are delivered by UPS, the USPS, and others. The patent documents refer to deliveries being made with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and "short-term hired ground vehicles". The last part probably refers to Amazon Flex, an Uber-like delivery service that is being quietly rolled out.

Here's a view of what might happen inside the building. Note the presence of human workers.

As for who or what will interact with the drone when it's in the building the patent documents say:

…the UAV may be serviced, inspected, powered, undergo a battery replacement, be coupled to a package for deliver, and/or otherwise interacted with prior to the next flight. In some embodiments at least some of the operations may be performed by one or more robots.

A different vision of what happens inside: drones dropping down vertical shafts like the air shafts in 19th century tenements. There are virtually no humans shown here; the work is presumably performed by robots.

This is not the first seemingly crazy idea from Amazon. It wasn't long ago that people thought drone delivery was nuts, and yet the U.S. Army and emergency service providers are on the verge of instituting it. One of the last big ideas from Amazon was a zeppelin-like flying distribution center from which drones could make deliveries—like the Hindenburg but hopefully without the fire.

Fit Shear Pliers #15

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-07-20 05:45

I stumbled across this unusual product on the website of a vendor that specializes in German hand tools. It was completely unfamiliar, and I was surprised to discover that the original model was patented in 1950. How did I miss seeing these before?

It didn't help that Fit Pliers are made by Dürholt Zangen Gmbh, an obscure German tool company with only one product. The company once made a full line of hand tools, but after the initial success of the Shear Pliers it decided to stop making anything else. They're still at it 67 years later.

There's nothing unusual about the gripping portion of the Fit Shear Pliers' jaws; they're grooved near the tip with a serrated notch farther in—a configuration similar to that of standard slip-joint pliers.

Here's where it gets weird. The wire cutters are located on the handle side of the pivot instead of the side with the jaws. 

Why? Because the space where the wire cutter would normally be is occupied by scissor-like blades that function as shears. This is the added feature that makes Fit Pliers unique.

According to the manufacturer, the shears can be used to cut materials such as sheet metal, copper cable, and thin steel wire.

The nippers are better for harder wire because nippers work differently than shears. Shears cut cleanly while nippers "pinch" their way through.

Model #14 has cellulose acetate grips.

There are a couple of models of Fit Pliers currently available. The #14 has old-school cellulose acetate grips. Cellulose acetate is a "natural" plastic. It was invented in 1865 and is still used today—frequently for screwdriver handles (if they're clear or translucent they're probably cellulose acetate or the related material cellulose butyrate).

Model #15 has TPE grips.

The #15 has overmolded TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) grips, which are no doubt softer and more comfortable than those made from cellulose acetate.

There are some Fit Plier knock-offs kicking around. If you are interested in the real thing, look for the Made in Germany label.

Design Job: Branding Bullseye! Arrow Media is Seeking a Production Designer in Austin, TX

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-07-20 05:45

You’re looking to work for an agency that values Design with a capital D, and want to work with people that care for their craft. As a production designer with an eye for detail, you can take concepts and art direction and turn them into a final product. Solid typography,

View the full design job here