Reusing scrap at the Firefly Workshop

Energy & Sustainability
Reusing scrap at the Firefly Workshop

plasticssmith.jpgMake: Online staple Craig Smith of the Firefly Workshop in South Milwaukee, WI, wrote in with some great sentiments about living the maker lifestyle.

To me, MAKE: has not been a neat project here or there in my spare hobby time. It has been a way to solve everyday needs. Today in fact, I used two plastic projects from this past year.

This morning I scraped the frost & ice from my windshield using a monster oversized scraper that I made from some leftover thick plexi from my boat slider window replacements. The scrap plexi was cut, shaped, sanded, plasti-dipped handle… the bend was made from shielding the plastic with wood strips and heating a narrow line gap with a heat gun. And this evening I used a 45RPM record centering disc that I made from some scrap heat-flattened PVC pipe plastic from an earlier project. I set the circle cutting bit just right and made some discs in the drill press. The hole was then drilled out a bit bigger for the turntable spindle. Amazing how scrap leftover materials can be easily made into useful items. For no more than just making something you need at the time with what you have lying around.


16 thoughts on “Reusing scrap at the Firefly Workshop

  1. JWB says:

    The people responsible for the “Mechanical logic gates” have a “Similar [Post]” for CNC material reuse:

    HashTable: An Algorithm for Material Reuse

      1. John Baichtal says:

        Thanks, JWB!

  2. Simon says:

    I think I am missing the point of this post. I thought keeping all scrap was standard practice for maker types? I have all kinds of left over bits of wood, steel, plastic, aluminium, brass, etc. Often the things I make consist almost entirely from these scrap bits and pieces. As the scrap bits get smaller they just end up in smaller and smaller containers.

    1. craig says:

      Simon, the point is everyday occurences that come along, being solved with the maker attitude. Most makers see a project they want to re-create as a project of their own. I hope to inspire that everyday needs can be quickly solved with a broader attitude. Where’s my gol-dang ice scraper… cut, sand, heat, bend, THERE, PROBLEM SOLVED! Hey, I got a replica vintage turntable sound system on clearance, I haven’t spun vinyl for decades, but there’s no 45 insert… measure, drill press, bore out, sand, THERE, PROBLEM SOLVED!
      This is just a small example of things I’ve made at home or at work… I have 3 custom tools in my tool pouch that I use weekly in the Spa/Hot Tub Service Tech industry. If you can imagine a solution for a problem… create it!

      1. Simon says:

        Ah, I see now I think. To me making things is just the way I am wired. I don’t even think about it now, I just do it. It doesn’t occur to me sometimes that other people don’t work that way. My mind is always working on something to make but not just what to make but how and with what materials and with what tools and skills I have available. My desk at work is covered in Post-its of scribbles of things and mechanisms and ideas. I can picture not just the what in my head but the how as well. The question I get asked the most about the things I build is how did I know how to do it. I just know. And what I don’t know I know how to work it out. I guess some people are more apt at it than others but a lot of it just comes from experience and having tried (many, many) things in the past. The scale of the things I have made over the years has increased so making small, simple things (like the two you describe) now just happens. I don’t even think about it. Hence missing the point I guess!

        On another subject, you’re not the same Craig who built a C3PO from heated and bent PVC some years back are you? A long time ago I was a member of the R2 Builders group.

        1. craig says:

          Yes, I’m the same Craig. I built three astromechs (all do the 2-3-2) naked C-3PO, Monk Spider droid and Lava Panning droid. I’m done droiding for awhile. Are you the Simon from Scotland that sent me the sound effects CD?
          I have stacks of papers going back 20 years of every design, project or concept that ever itched my brain for more than 5 minutes. As much as my more complicated projects have been shared, I think the simple everyday problem solving trinkets are important too. Funny how I can spend 45 minutes making something clever relatively simple yet elegant in design, show it to co-workers and they say “you have too much time on your hands.” To them, making stuff like this while shop puttering is beyond comprehension. Glad to hear there are lots more wierdos out there like me.

          1. Simon says:

            You are not alone! I get the exact same thing said to me all the time. Have done for years. If Make ever wants another motto that would be a good one – ‘For people with too much time on their hands’. I always ask people how much time a week they waste watching tellie but that’s usually lost on them. I don’t usually hold out much hope for them ‘getting it’ when they can’t even make an original comment about it!

            I’m not that Simon. I am Simon in New Zealand who started building an R2 long before I ever came across the R2 builders. He sat, unfinished, in a corner of my house for years (well over 10). To me he wasn’t good enough after seeing work like yours and others but I just never got around to starting a new one. The new Star Wars films also killed a bit of it all for me too I must admit. So I went off and did other things like Bender and a Tardis and so on. I sold my poor incomplete R2 to some people who have hopefully finished him off.

            If you’re like me you certainly don’t have enough time on your hands. Was out in the shed last night working on something then came in then at 11pm had a brainwave and just had to go out again to try it out. It was the same as you mention, I had a design then after a bit more thought came up with a simpler and more elegant solution and had to go make it right then. It’s not a complicated part but 30 minutes of thought, 10 minutes of machining and I have something that was good before now much better and just more ‘right’.

            Funny how a makers mind works.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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