WIP [ITP Blog]

Intro to Fabrication - Week 2

September 13, 2018

The second week’s Fabrication assignment was to build five of something. Using jigs were strongly encouraged to make the replication process easier.

My first idea was to build cases/holders for an Arduino UNO since my electronics kit didn’t include one. I also didn’t like how the Arduino’s bottom isn’t flat, which makes mounting it flat impossible (example). I was inspired by this Arduino wooden base on Etsy and the way an Arduino board slides into the wooden base.


I met with Ben during his office hours to discuss my Arduino base idea. He helped me realize the trickiness of creating a slit that an Arduino board could slide through using the ITP shop tools, so we iterated on the idea. The plan eventually transformed into a clipboard-like object where a holding material is clipped to a wooden board using wing nuts.


Building A Prototype

I then built a prototype of this clipboard using wing nuts and cardboard—an easily shaped material.

prototype components



Slicing The Wooden Bases

The next step was to prepare the wooden base. The measurements were slightly larger than an Arduino UNO board and were included in my clipboard drawing. I then used a band saw to create a strip of wood with the proper width.

whole wood base

wood strip

wood strip

The strip was a bit rough and uneven after using the band saw, so I sanded it.

strip sanding

strip sanded

Once I had a strip of wooden bases, I sliced the strip into individual units using the rotary saw. These slices also required a bit of sanding to smooth out their edges.

wood slices

unsanded wood slices

sanded wood slices

Slicing The Plastic Clips

The next day I gathered all the remaining components for the repeatable clipboard. I found a plastic track in the junk shelf and stopped by Home Depot for wing nuts and screws.

all components

I then measured the plastic track to slightly smaller increments compared to the wooden base. John advised me to slice the track first before splitting it in half because it’s easier to control the band saw in shorter distances and bursts.

plastic measurements

plastic slicing

plastic slices

I then clamped together a simple jig to split the thin plastic track and keep it on tight path while traveling the band saw.

plastic jig

plastic jig

I then verified my measurements and checked the plastic component rested within the boundaries of a wooden block.

wood plastic

Jigging Holes

The next challenge was how to consistently drill holes into the wooden base and plastic track clips so that a screw and wingnut could bind the two materials together. I calculated and sketched where the drill holes should be made in the wood and plsatic respectively. Then, I rummaged the shop’s wood scrap bins for jig material and clamped together a jig that would create a guiding corner in which the press would drill a hole at the right dimension in the wood and plastic.

hole planning

press measurements

wood jig

wood jig

wood measurements

For the plastic jig, I reversed the guiding side block when doing the second hole so that the plastic lip could always rest against the guide.

plastic jig

plastic jig reverse

Here were the final, drilled components for this project:

drilled components

Measure Twice, Fail Once

Unfortunately, the plastic components didn’t quite line up with their wooden bases.

fabrication fail

Ben warned us how difficult it is to be exact—in measurements and cuts—and I paid the price for not making extra plastic clips when I had my slicing jig setup. So I had to take the extra plastic track, draw new measurement lines, recreate the bandsaw jig, and slice more plastic strips to retry the drill holes. I produced more than ten clips this time in case I messed up the drill holes again.

bandsaw again

plastic extras

Handheld accuracy

After learning my lesson that not all of the drill holes were uniformly spaced, I decided to use a hand drill and a jig to line up the plastic clips over the existing wooden holes.

handdrill jig

handdrill jig

Five fraternal items

So the items didn’t turn out quite identical, but I’m happy that they appear to come from the same family of materials, process, and jigs.

all final components


Future Thoughts

  • Always create more than you need—the first pancake rule definitely applied to this project (and at the higher quantity of the first 10 plastic clips with drill holes…)
  • Measurements and fabricated items will only be as accurate as I’m willing to be—yes I built jigs, but I also knew that my cuts on the band saw were not completely accurate and that my jig materials weren’t completely straight too
  • I should have considered using a Forstner bit since the drill holes weren’t that clean and caused some of the bases to fracture
  • Definitely want to use counter sink bits in more production/public facing projects because screw heads are unsightly when sticking out
  • For these shorter projects, allow the materials and tools to inform and shape my project instead of trying to force an idea (Arduino case) into the project constraints

Adrian Bautista

A perpetual work in progress blog documentating my NYU ITP projects. Words are my own.