Project of The Week: Beetle-Kill Pine Door

Howdy Hackers!

Due to high rental costs in Boulder, my roommate and I decided to rent out the living room! It’s a pretty sweet living room, has it’s own separate entrance and a balcony. It made sense to us because the kitchen is the size of the living room with a balcony and entrance as well so we decided to efficiently use the area as a communal space/kitchen.We met an amazing couple and before moving in we all decided building a door to make the living room separate would be a fun project.

Thanks to the amazing Woodshop available to SSD members, this project came to life!

Behold the end result. An 80 pound door made out of beetle kill pine.


We got all the wood at Home Depot for under $100 dollars. We figured if we’re going to have a door let’s go all out and make it legit and awesome, you know, something we could all be proud of- not some pre-made manufactured door.


Home depot had these slatted boards that slide into each other, that made life a lot easier! But we still needed top and bottom trim and an internal support system.


The internal support system turned out to be the most important aspect of the door and took a lot of measuring and planning. The slatted boards have a tendency to float away from each other so the width of the door kept expanding. Once we pushed them as tight together as possible we were able to get the correct measurements for the support system and tack the front and back panels together accordingly. We found some pallets and used the wood from that.


This is a solid knob that we got from Resource for 10cents!


The circle is for where the knob was going to go. The middle support goes on top of that so the screw doesn’t go too far out the front of the door.



The screw had to go through the middle support board and through the front panels. It turned out that the knob when screwed on as tight as possible was perfect! Meant to be I suppose=)


After securing the knob The back panels were ready to go on. I used a pneumatic finishing nail gun (rented from home depot across the street) to secure the front and back panels to the internal support system. The reason we used finishing nails instead of Screws, bolts, or hammerable nails is simply because of aesthetics. Now from a few feet away it looks like the door is held together by magic;)


The top trim needed some support so I cheated the top and bottom support upward until it was halfway on the panels and halfway through the top trim. As you can see the top trim comes out a little bit, that was so I could put flat boards on the front. This way looks cleaner and the internal support system doesn’t show.


Just cutting the front trim as before mentioned.



This part is incredibly important to get right or the entire project goes under. If the door drags along the carpet it could break the hinges so it’s important to line up where the hinges go correctly. To do this we put a scrap piece of board the same width as one of this boards (~3/4″) underneath the door and lined it up with the cut I made against the wall to use as reference. My roommate had a Dremel Multi-max oscillating tool which had a wood trim attachment, it is meant for precision cuts and that’s what I used, a router probably would have been good too.


The screws that came with the hinges were not even an inch long so we used 3″ long self tapping screws we got from McGuckins(cost like 4 bucks for 50 of them) We screwed those bad boys in and BAM! Door.



Happy Hacking!





Member Project of the Week!

This is not shameless self-promotion. This is what happens when no one sends me a project to post by Thursday — I post a project of my own! If you’ve been at the space over the last week or two, you’ve seen this taking shape:


It’s a desk I’m making using reclaimed pine boards. They started life as my parents’ fence, looking like this:

A few passes through the auto planer, and voila! A finished desk. Well, almost finished. I’ve got a couple more rounds of sanding to do, then I’ll stain it and install. The legs in the picture above are just saw horses; it’ll be mounted on black steel pipe with flanges for feet.

Lost-PLA Aluminum Casting

Last Sunday, several Hackerspace members came over to check out my David Gingery-style aluminum casting setup.   We tried “lost-PLA” casting, and it worked out pretty well!

Aluminum Yoda

Lost-PLA: Works, It Does

 The test target was the 3D-printer-classic Yoda head.  It was printed on a RepRap in PLA and bedded directly in sand.  Molten aluminum was poured straight into the PLA, vaporizing the plastic as it filled the mold.    Overall, this process makes for a shorter, simpler route from a virtual 3D model to a solid aluminum object than anything else I’ve done or heard of.

Jim printed Yoda on his RepRap Mendel with minimal infill.    In order to put the sprue on the bottom it was cast upside-down.  So I started by setting the plastic model on a molding board, and rammed up the drag (packed in sand) around it.  Rolling over the drag, I set a 1″ sprue pin on the exposed base of the pattern, and rammed up the cope around that.

The actual pour was somewhat exciting (that’s a bad thing), as you can see in this video Seb shot.  On the initial pour, it appeared that the aluminum failed to enter the pattern at all.  (Castings fill wildly faster than I expect, plus I was distracted by the sudden eruption of fire.)   The flames died down, revealing a gas-filled bubble of aluminum rising from the sprue.  This is a bad sign, so I tried pouring in a bit more aluminum.  This is generally pointless and never does any good, but it’s hard to resist trying.  So the extra just filled up the sprue a bit more, expanded the puddle on the surface, and torched the strap holding the flask together.

After the pour, we were all convinced the experiment had been a complete failure.   As we  knocked the casting out of the sand, I fully expected to find a misshapen, formless blob.  So convinced was I of failure, that with the casting still too hot to touch without heavy gloves and covered in burnt sand & plastic residue,  I assumed we were looking at scorched PLA.  I had just begun to speculate about how the plastic could have survived so entirely intact when Jim grabbed a stick and whacked Yoda on the head: Ding!  Surprise victory!

Overall, the reproduction quality is excellent.   In spots you can even make out the fine striations from the 3D printer.  The parts that didn’t work:

  • Yoda’s long, thin ears didn’t fill, which was entirely expected.  This might be resolvable with the addition of gates & vents so that the aluminum can come in from the bottom while vaporized PLA escapes upward.
  • The wide flat-bottomed base of the shoulders didn’t fill.  Upside-down this became a wide flat-roofed space, which trapped a big enough bubble of escaping gas that it couldn’t get out through the  bottleneck at the base of the sprue.  If I’d realized this ahead of time, I would have made a bigger sprue covering the entire base and this wouldn’t be an issue.

In any case, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities with this process.   It eliminates lots of tedious pattern making and at the same time radically expands the variety of things I can cast.


Here is a picture from Jim of the pattern mid-print; showing off the fancy 10% hex infill: