Monday, December 27, 2010

The Development of Scenic Spectacle

Occasionally, I come across something, a site, technique or product that I know to be really great, and realize that I haven't passed it on yet, here on my blog. As I try to use this both to help others from reinventing wheels that have previously been invented and improved upon, and as a depository of ideas, I need to pass on Dr. Frank Mohler's site The Development of Scenic Spectacle. I have been referring to the site on and off for years after discovering it in grad school doing research. On the site there are animated models of how historic rigging / automation worked from the 16th, 17th, and 18th century. The site also has a great bibliography. Check it out - you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nuts and Bolt Resources

A few resources I came across looking for "the perfect fastener" for a recent product. None of these places are bolt suppliers - but one search lead to another on google, and here we are with some useful terminology and information.

Nuts & Bolts Pdf talks about how bolts work, forces, and specifications, as well as nuts and washers and locking compounds. Not geared towards theatre, or even construction, but towards racecar drivers, but still worth a read.

Glossary of Nut & Bolt Terms As titled - check here if you ever come across a fastener that you are unfamiliar with.

Nut & Bolt Identifier Tool is something I need for my shop at home (we have similar tools in my shop at work). I like how this encorporated both the bolt and nut identifiers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Zen & the Art of Prop Making

Deco Works has a short list of entries that involve some prop "how-to's". It's sort of a wierd mix between easy or obvious and more difficult, but worth a look.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PLC Online Training

In the fall 2010 Automation notebook from Automation Direct there was an article about online training courses for PLC programming offered through Interconnecting Automation. There are a few sample courses available, and the rest are available for $30 to $40 per month for unlimited access. I took a couple of the sample ones and they were a good introduction. The source is definately a good resource for starting or furthering your PLC programming knowledge.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Every now and then a discussion is started regarding what the essential tools are for any shop... Popular Mechanics weighs in on this topic. I have to admit that I don't own a center punch (though it's on my list to buy), a sledge hammer or machinest vise. I suppose that access to those at work is part of the reason, though I haven't needed them at home though all of the renovations I have comepleted. But that is why the topic is interesting - each person has their own idea of what their own essential tools are.

So my list (at least at the moment & in no particular order):
personal Protective equipment
cresent wrench
pipe wrench
socket wrench & socket set
allen key set
jig saw or roto zip
hand saw
needle nose pliers
Bits for above drill
Circular Saw
measuring tape
Phillips / Flat Head Screw Drivers
Extension Cord
Carpetners / framing square
Miter Saw
Staple Gun
end nips / side nips
Router & bits
hack saw
Gerber / Leatherman multi-tool
Set of open / box wrenches

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Extrusions & Stand-offs

I have recently found two additional companies that have been pretty useful.
For a desk I am building, I a mirror / glass trim has been specified as a trim made by Extrude-A-Trim. They have several unique shapes, and no minimum quantities. However they are located in Canada, so their shipping charges may be more expensive.

I also use a variety of stand-offs, which I usually purchase through Outwater. However, Metomic has a few cheaper alternatives. Of course if you need to go high end, Gyford is the way to go.

I think that one of the interesting things about these types of hardware is that I would have used them more in theatre if I had known they exsisted. Both in design and in technical direction, there is a pull between using "safe" hardware - its known, available, and economical & that "perfect" piece of hardware that may be commerically available, or may need to be custom built, or it may be available but expensive.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is Google's answer to acedemia. It is quick and easy to search, will search your university's resources, and find you the full text, related articles, and even help you document the source. You can even find patent information (though google has a specific section for that as well). While we aren't always writing research papers, sometimes it is nice to find some schollarly information.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Spectatorium

I have been reading about Steele Mackaye’s Spectatorium. It was built for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 to tell the story of Columbus.
Here are a few fun facts:
-The dome was 270’ tall
-Covers about 360,000 SF
-There are 25 stages, moving on 6 miles of railroad track, and weighing approximately 1,200 tons!
-The proscenium opening is 150’ x 70’, the stage is 180’ deep
-The furthest person to the stage will be viewing scenery from 400’ away.
-Uses about 1,600 horsepower to move scenery
-Cyclone Machinery alone uses 400 horse power, and is about the same for creating waves and current on the onstage water. The water was held in an 8’ deep tank, holding 750,000 cubic feet of water
-Had seating for 8,000 (some places estimate up to 12,000)
40 Patents were developed for the theatre

It was not built – due to cost overruns, time overruns, and lack of funding. A smaller building names the Scenitorium opened February 5, 1894.

Severeal patents are available online from Google Patent as well.

Objects of the Spectatorium, New York Times, March 20, 1893
The Spectatorium, New York Times, April 2, 1893
Steele MacKaye: Producer and Director by Wade Curry Educational Theatre Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3, Special American Theatre Issue (Oct., 1966), pp. 210-215
Appliance for Theatres Patent
Wave Maker Patent

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Balls, Hollow Balls, and Hemispheres

I think that Wagner is becoming a frequently referenced company here.

Today, I cam calling them out because they sell hollow balls from 1 1/2" all the way up to 12" in steel, aluminium, stainless, brass and bronze, along with a smaller variety of solid balls, and hemispheres. I have sourced large metal balls for several projects - and of course the 1/2 steel balls are great for decorative finishes like rivets and add-on's.

Friday, August 13, 2010

If money was no object

I would have one of these. I can think of tons of fun things to do with one of these - and could definately see it's use around the shop, especially for props. Take a look at the PlasmaCam and see what you think.

Friday, August 6, 2010

50/50 estimate

I was taking a look at a new blog, Project Junction, and came across a bit that says that microsoft project assumes that when you estimate time that you estimate that it is a 50/50 chance that it will be correct. The blog goes on to say:
Very few people give you a 50/50 estimate when you ask for a task duration. Unless you train the estimators each person will give you their personal estimate based on his/her risk tolerance. It might be a 90% estimate from Ms. Risk Averse and a 30% estimate from Mr. Everything’s Easy.

I know that you can give the same set of drawings and infromation to multiple people and you will get different answers from everyone, but I am not sure that I think estimating to a 50% chance of meeting a deadline really works in our world where the deadline is less than flexible. This creates the challenge in estimating hours - it is easy to estimate a safe number of hours that will allow you to get the job done. And if you are held to the hours that are estimated, the hours will naturally lean towards less risk. It is hard to estimate tightly - where there is enough hours to complete, but the hours must be efficient and effective.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Decorative Metal

Looking through the latest issue of The Fabricator I saw an add for As the name implies, they do sell twisted rod, but they also sell a variety of other products as well; such as embossed, hammered, birdcages (baskets, spheres and oblongs), finals (ends, cut silhouettes, and wood grained metal. They can do steel, aluminium, copper, and brass. The wood grained piece caught my eye because there have certainly been times in the past where the designer wanted the look of wood, but the scenery needed the structural support of steel. While paint can do wonders, wood faking steel and vise versa never quite work. But, it the steel had a wood grained texture - perhaps this would be a suitable alternative in those situations.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transformers Filming

Transformers has been filming here in Chicago the past several weeks, and it has brought out lots of crowds. Last week we went down to check out the installation of some of our rental deck (not installed by us). Nothing like working on top of a 25 story building. Of course, you could ignore the view and count the number of OSHA violations....

On the other hand, it was cool seeing some of the scenery they brought in. They had scenery sitting in lots across the city, on trailers, staged for future use. With the cranes, a casual glance most of it looked like no more than building ruble... the lack of hardhats, coupled with sharpie inventory marks made it a little more obvious.

Looking at the scenery brought up an interesting topic: How much of this was built for the show, and how much was pulled from stock? The ruble, the cars, and even the damaged bus shelters were generic - they could be used repeatedly, just like many theatre props. On the other hand, these pieces are large - and would cost alot to store, and with travel and set up could require additional touch up. At what point then does the cost of storage out weight the cost of building new? Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

AV Technology Course

Info Comm is offering an online course in AV Technology. There is one thing that is certain - and its that AV technology isn't fading any time soon. Its an affordable and green way to give a variety of looks, content, and feel to a very basic set for a variety of uses. Especially for coporate work - meetings, trade shows and such, AV is an option that is increasingly popular, and it is often incorporated into more and more traditional theatre.

Better yet, the quick start class online is free! You can take a look at that course here.

The course is online and an introduction leading to further certification. The test costs $200 to non-members.

If you want to take the pre-test to test your knowledge go here

This is a PDF that discusses the requirements for full certification.

Info Comm also has an article about project management and budgeting for live events.

Regardless if you choose to take the class or not, sheck out the site - there is a variety of worthwhile info to check out!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Green" Paint

Bommerang Paint offers paint that is recovered from old, unused paint. While it does come in a limited color pallette, it only uses about 1% new paint, and has excellant paint qualities. While the palette certainly limits its theatrical use, it is a good product to keep in mind when going green is a priority.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Square Clamps

Finding ways to clamp onto pipe provides lots of options: kee klamps, speed rail, lighting c-clamps or mega clamps, or even leg sockets for platforms.

Berge Equipment offers several styles of clamps for square tube (1.5"), including a flange. Most of the clamps connect a pipe or tube to a square tube for railings.

The light Source has clamps for 2" box that are similar to cheese boroughs.

Palay Display carries a clamp that allows you to insert a 5/8" threaded rod on the top for construction specialty racks.

Wagner offers square tube flanges and flange covers.

For casters, Service Caster has square sockets for stem casters.

And for capping the tubes look to alliance plastics.

NRG Researchoffers a clamp that is reminiscent of a beam clamp. Once again you are limited to a 5/8 stud or receptacle for hanging from the clamp.

Also check out J W Winco for more options and their blog. The blog, by the way is actually very informative and fun - definitely worth a read.

Shape Products has a variety of square tube components (curved pieces, corners, flanges)

And for splicing two tubes together take a look at wagner.

For legs, the Leg-a-Matic II can be used with either 2" square or 1 1/2" sched. 40 pipe.

I suspect that the options are greater for round tube / pipe because it is more difficult to weld since you have to shape the round tube to match correctly (though this this is easier with the correct tools, or you can purchase shaped connectors to weld on).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Google Wave

I recently heard about Google Wave, and its a site worth referring. It reminds me of the software I used to use for shows from basecamp - that allowed all of the project members on the team to upload documents, make revisions, look at the schedule and to-do lists and generally see the status of the project. This is a little more involved, in that it also allows conversation - more like instant messaging, and thus a little more fluid.

Note that to best use the sight, you need to use google chrome for your internet browser.

What I am using currently is Newforma Project Center. It is great for organizing lots of jobs and indexing and searching information about the jobs. It also works nicely for both incoming and outgoing file transfers and rfi's. It does have some scheduling capacity, but nothing that quite compares to either of the aforementioned to-do lists. Also, conversation is the same as email, but it works nicely for managing a large number of projects at one time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Prototype This

Over the holiday weekend, in the midst of doing a variety of home projects I watched the 1st (only) season of Prototype This.

The show has a core team of 4 (an electrical engineer, special effects guru, Robotics guy, and a material specialist) that join together to put together some amazing prototypes during a 10 day to 2 week period. Some of the projects they tackled were a mind controlled car that went into neutral when the driver got angry,
a backyard water slide simulator, and a flying life guard, supplying life saving floatation devices to unmanned beaches.

I liked the series, and would recommend it for several reasons.
-They use alot of materials that are used in theatre
-They show alot of different machining technologies, cnc machines, vaccuforming, laser cutting, water jetting
-They use a variety of animation / feedback and other items useful to automation.
-It shows that you can do some amazing things in 2 weeks with the right resources (granted they weren't two 40 hour weeks).
-While cash certainly wasn't an issue (budgets other than time were not even mentioned), using resources wisely was important to meet their goals. They often went to the top of the field for what they were trying to accomplish to get ideas and gain knowledge.
-I think the prototyping process is important, and too often overlooked. And, on top of being important for the realization of a finished product, challenging yourself to do a proof of concept can help you learn a variety of skills even if a finished product is not the end goal.

So if you have a few hours, take a look!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

History of Video Walls

Blooloop has an article on the history of the video wall. It's worth a read. I first remember seeing this technology with the Who's Tommy.

Also on the site is an article about

As with the above resource, it is not specifically theatre related. While I always "knew" that there were many different types of entertainment that used either technical directors specifically, or an equivalently named position, I really didn't fully grasp how many different places utilize the same skill sets that TD's nurture. Just as every show is a little different, not every museum job or attraction, or event, or trade show is the same, but all of these jobs require similar skill sets. For instance, all require planning and organizational skills, knowledge of a wide variety of construction techniques, materials, estimating, communication skills among the many other skills TD's must utilize.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Addams Family

With the opening of Addams Family on Broadway, my articlediscussing how we built the ground row including doing the lighting for all of the city lights. PRG also has an article in the issue that you should check out.

Exhibit Builder also ran an article about the show.

I enjoyed building the piece for a variety of reasons. Mostly, the project offered a challenge due to aligning the graphic to the substrate, while making the lights assessable. But first the graphic needed to be finalized. The beginning of the project started with samples of the printed graphic with multiple colors of grain of wheat lamps hooked up so that we could test how brightly the lamps would show. This led to a subsequent sample where a graphic was printed that had about 10 different percentages of transparency (ink), for the windows, each with lighting behind so that the final image could be modified to the desired window transparency. Once the graphic was off the printers, we had the experience of the samples to lead the way through the rest of the construction process.

It was a fun piece to build!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Foam Coat

Rosco has a story about how they created a short article about how an entryway was carved from foam, covered with foam coat and painted. I think it is interesting that while the foam coat was wet, they sprinkled sand on top - I have mixed sand into paint before for texture / traction, but this works as well to help with the up-close realism that museums must offer guests.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hardware Terminology

Sometimes the hardest part about finding the ideal piece of hardware is knowing what to call it. For example, as simple as a slip on flange cover plate (for square tube) may seem, it took me a good half hour to find what I was looking for. The interesting thing to note, is that for the square shape, it is a cover plate - but if it is for round tube, it is a flange canopy. I finally found what I was looking for at Wagner which offers a variety of railing systems and components.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Draw Catch

While ordering a few run of the mill door catches, I came across this at McMaster Carr.
These remote actuation cable latches allow doors to be opened remotely. McMaster describes them as:
Operate these latches from a distance—a flexible cable connects the latch and the T-handle. Pull on the handle to retract the round, spring-loaded bolt. Because the cable is flexible, you can bend it around corners and other obstructions. Min. bend radius is 1.5". The recommended maximum amount of total bending is 720° . You have two mounting options: through-hole mount the handle and bolt housing(s) or surface mount them using the included mounting plates. The through-hole mounting size for the handle is 1/2". The through-hole mounting size for the bolt housings is 9/16".
Handles are plastic. Bolts are zinc-plated steel. Mounting plates are 12-ga. steel with a black-oxide finish and require #10 screws (not included). Strike plates are Type 304 stainless steel and require 1/4" screws (not included).
Please specify cable length: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 feet.

These seem like they would be a great low-tech way to do a variety of special effects. I could have used something like that when I did Blithe Spirit a few years back.

Monday, April 5, 2010

ISquint @ USITT

isquint is another source of good information about the conference in Kansas City. It is written by Justin Lang, and he covers alot of ground, particularrly about new technology.

USITT Tech Expo

I think it would be great if a set up like this was in every automation class. The automation components are only a couple hundred bucks per station, and the TD program usually has a number of stations for AutoCAD already. I would like to add a pile of Lego's for platforms, and Knex for rigging, and you could prototype an effect in the very early stages of the technical design.

This is one of the drops from the USA painters the day before.

I wanted to show the work of the below expo exhibits because I especially liked the documentation that they demonstrated.

USITT Exhibit Photos

Saturday, April 3, 2010


My internet connection here at the conference has been pretty spotty, but I will be on my way home tomorrow, and will be able to upload from there photos and session notes from the past couple days in Kansas City. the conference has been great and I am looking forward to sharing!

Meanwhile, TD Squared and Theatreface has been blogging, so take a look at their sites and see what they have seen here at USITT.

Also check out John Huntington's blog Control Geek as he was at the conference as well.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


A couple of notes about this years USITT.

If you aren't in KC to be here, you can see a coupe sessions via live streaming:

If you are in KC, you can attend the stage expo for FREE! USITT is giving out complimentary passes here:

You can also follow the conference on Twitter #USITT
They have some pictures from set-up yesterday - worth a look!

USITT 2010

USITT is here again, and I am excited to be here in Kansas City! As the evenings allow I will be posting pictures and blogs about the sessions I see. Today, I will only be doing the expo floor - but it will be nice to have a good chunk of time to explore!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gel Tubes

I saw these tubes at USITT last year, and thought they were interesting. Today when bidding a small desk I came back to them for the effect they give and their cost. Because you can use a regular fixture they work out to be an economical fix - though they do need to be replaced eventually. LED has LED tubes that work in the same fixtures as fluorescent tubes - but not in the colors that the gel allows.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sketching w/ AutoCAD

Lynn Allen recently had a post about sketching in AutoCAD. It starts with a 3-D model of an object that you can sketch over with an AutoCAD add-in. Sketching and creating organic shapes has always been a little tedious, this looks like a very advantageous design tool.

And, if you aren'y familar with her blog, you should take a look - there is alot of good information there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Graphic Software

I ran across this website today and thought it would be something useful to come back to. ShapeCollage will take your photos and create a collage to letters or a shape of your choice. Below are all images that have been posted on this blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Light Boxes

While most light boxes I have built require a custom shape, if you are looking for something that is more standardized check out Displays2go. They have a variety of sizes of light boxes, priced at an affordable price. We have been using the above model for some of the desks we build for TV, and they allow the graphics to be easily updated, and show up well on camera.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Screw Extraction

It seems like we often get caught up in the need for having the right tool for the job, and that we sometimes forget that many problems can be solved with what you have on hand. Take for instance Tool Mongers recent post of a tip for extracting a screw. I think it is a good reminder of the days of simplicity and making things work. While it is nice (and yes, cheaper depending on how you pay for labor) to just buy what ever you need for any given project - it doesn't fill me with the same sense of accomplishment that making something cool happen with the odds and ends that accululate in most scene shops.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Stuffed Fish

Well it isn't everyday that you come up with the need for a realistic stuff fish. But I have had the need while propping a show before, and last week I had the need to price out said realistic fish. Cabin Critters, Inc. sell a variety of fish, sealife, ducks and other wildlife. Some are more true to life than others - the 10" red fox is alot more cute than realistic, but the company offers a nice selection at reasonable prices. Next time your looking for a unique stuffed animal - give the a look.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1000 Garages

Need something cut on a CNC machine and don't have one in house? Check out 1000 Garages.
It could be a piece of furniture, a part for your new energy innovation, a cool art project, or an idea for emergency housing. It could be for a personal project, a remodeling idea, or an entrepreneurial initiative.

Inspired by Tom Brokaw's question to the presidential candidates, 100K garages is a community of workshops with digital fabrication tools for precisely cutting, machining, drilling, or sculpting the components of your project. We're here to help hook you, the "Maker", up with these workshops and the "Fabbers" that operate them.

It seems like a nice way to connect people who need things, and shops that are looking for additional work. I know there have been times when I have searched out fabrication services when I needed pieces made that I couldn't produce in house for one reason or another.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rosebrand Blog

Rosebrand has started a blog called Know How. Started just a few days ago, but it looks promising:
The objectives of our blog are to inform, educate and entertain those who are members, or followers, of our industry. We'll be posting "how to" information, design & production tips, amusing project stories and news items.

Take a look!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Link Round Up

Tool Monger has a post about the book Forty Power Tools That You Can Make. Its from the 40's and has a varity of tools included. Its avialable online from several places.

Making Saddle cuts for a round tube project? I wish I had seen this Instructable in Grad School when it took hours making tight joints for a round tube project with a grinder. Check out this Instructable for a wuick alternative.

The Lift "N "Lock seems like a clever device for any shop to have on hand. Sure there are shims that you can use when you are trying to hang that last door by yourself, but getting that perfect height is still tricky. They run about $22 each.

Speaking of tools, this modified C Clamp is worth a look. The bottom branches out into a Y, providing a wider clamping surface. You can get one for about $12.

Now that distressing is in vogue outside of theatre, you can purchase tools to help you achieve the look. Woodcraft offers a kit for $25, but it could be made in the shop. Whatis interesting is the hardware that they chose to use to accomplish the look. Distressing is kind of like scenic goop or stage blood to me. Everyone has a different recipe, and the varients all accomplish something slightly different. It would be useful to have a directory of techniques, and an analysis of what is most effective for common situations....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Focus Tape

Check Out Santa Fe Opera Electricians and their video "Focus Tape". kudos to them for putting together a great video.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Electronic Signatures

While it isn't an every day occurrence when a TD needs something officially signed. However, in freelance situations, it would be nice to have. There have been a few times when I would have used this technology in the past for small freelance TD jobs.

There are a couple options out there that will help you get those signatures. once company is Docusign, and the other is Echo Sign.

Of the two, I have only personally used EchoSign. It was easy to use, economical, and saves your documents (amount depends on your pricing plan). I used it for sign rental contracts and the rental agreement, but it could be used for a variety of contracts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

In-House Production

Today I was doing a little work involving mounting an I-beam & Trolley to truss, and was doing some looking around for hardware and came across this site. In-House Production has a few training videos, a blog and some other information about rigging that is worth a look.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Its been a while since I have posted any good physics games.
World of Goo is probably my favorite. It is available as wiiware, and is simple and intuitive to operate, but has a pleasing complexity. Generally you move around bits of goo that build towers, cantilevers, bridges, and so forth. Some goo can be reused, other types can catch on fire or be used as fuses.

Tiki Towers is also available on wiiware. The idea is similar to World of Goo - building structures to get to point a to b. Here you are saving the monkeys, and possibly rescuing a few as well. In this game you are using bamboo to build with, and you have a few additional capabilities (reinforcing joints for instance) However, you got a baddie that can catch a segment on fire or turn it into rubber. The game is a little more difficult to control, and a little more challenging than Goo.

If you have a few minutes to burn while you are sitting at the computer check out this site. There are many games to play, straight from your browser.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Deck Wrench

This Hardwood Deck Wrench looks like it could be a helpful addition to the shop. I like that it can be used with 1 person, and that you don't need to screw it into position to use it.

Check it out!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tile Saw

This tile saw caught my eye. In the process of remodeling my kitchen I orginally purchased a tile cutter. I was a little hesitant because I know from doing stained glass that scoring and snapping is somewhat unrelaiable, the price was drastically lower than any wet saw - even the most economical ones. After a few test cuts, and the realization that some of the cuts necessary would be fairly imposibble with that tool, I purchased a wet saw. I opted for one that had a rail which the blade moved on to make the cut, with the tile clamped to the table. I like the tool - it cuts up 20' tile on the diagonal, and the cuts are smooth and easy. And then we started cutting the tiles for around the sink. Out comes the rotozip tile cutter. Tested - it was like using sandpaper to make a cut. Next please. Nearing the end of options at my local hardware store I picked up the RotoZip Zip Mate. the right angle attachment saw for the rotozip. I considered buying a diamond blade for my circular saw, but decided against it. the tool had lots of power - it cut through the tile very quickly. I made the inside curved cuts by nibbling away the material - not pretty, but effective. While I suppose that if my wet saw could be locked into position, I could have used that - all said none of the tools were correct for the job. Hence why the Gemini catches my eye. While I suspect it is out of my price range - it looks like it would have been nice to use. And perhaps a lessen to consider all of the cuts you will need to make before starting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Decking Calculator

I was looking up some information about the specific weight of an exotic hardwood and came by Advantage Trim & Lumber.

I thought it was interesting for several reasons. First, they have a great selection of wood, and can ship ($100 min.), plus they provide information about the species. They carry FSC wood for LEED credits. They also carry several different types of planking. And what is nifty - is that they have a planking calculator that converts square footage to linear feet for either 5" or 3 1/2" planks.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bandsaw Magic

For a bit of band saw fun check out this video by Adam Sandoval. While the cutawl used to be the closes thing to true 360 degree cutting, (and one of my favorite tools ever)the Rotozip spiral saw really carved a new direction for sawing. While it can not achieve the tight square corners that a scroll saw or a cutawl can, it can cut in any direction. While I suppose that you could achieve this with cnc routers and hand routers, the spiral bit makes it more appropriate.

Bestway Bandsaw Blades have adapted that technology to bandsaw blades, enabling spectacular cuts such as what is in the video. If you have another favorite supplier of blades that will cut 360 degrees, please chime in in let us know!

And in case your up to a little more fun with the bandsaw check out this project.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Alternative Materials

I was looking through an ad for books relating to design and architecture and thought that a couple were worth pointing out.

The first is Materiology by Daniel Kula. It discussed a wide variety of materials as well as how the materials are made. It seemed like a book that would have been perfect when I was taking "Advanced Materials" in grad school.

Another is Materials for Inspirational Design. It offers a view into a variety of materials, uses, and even rough pricing.

Browsing through Amazon offers a variety of books on the subject of materials. Happy browsing!

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Beginnings

Well the new year is hear, and I haven't shared as much as I would have liked to. Project wise, most of my time has been spent on a large museum piece that has been going on for over a year, and many of the others are much smaller than in the past thanks to economy. But here's to a new year and more exciting technical exploration.

I found a site that could be useful to anyone thinking about building green near NYC. Its Build it Green, NYC. It is a large warehouse that sells reclaimed materials. Its interesting for theatrical use in several ways. First, theatre tends to be anything but green, and frequently wastes alot of material. Second, reclaimed materials may actually fit the bill for certain designs better than new - save some of the distressing! They also take in cabinets, fixtures and other "props" that could be useful. And, some of those items could be returned after a production when they are no longer needed. It may also save a few bucks.

Cost is usually the biggest issue against going green - finding resources where you can use reclaimed materials at prices that make it worth it are valuable. Check it out & let me know if you find other resources like it.