Author Archives: John Cooper

Drawing patterns on cork with the laser cutter.

I recently got into making espresso at home. As part of that I had an old cork mat that I wanted to use to store some of the paraphernalia on. The mat that I wanted to use had a burn mark in the middle but that sanded out quite easily and left a nice smooth surface.

I did a quick image search for “Coffee flower svg” and found an image that I liked then imported that into inkscape. Setting up the paper size in inscape to match the mat size allowed me to scale it to the right size. I converted the image into a path and ungrouped it so I could remove some text. Saved it. Then loaded it into K40. All pretty quick.

I’m happy with the result and will probably play with cork again. Bonded cork like this is made by just squeezing the cork in a high temperature environment so there should be no glue to gas off just wood fumes.

Using the hackspace laser cutter I went with 2.5mA and 100mm/s raster engrave. It took about 45mins. It cut a little deep so I would go with at least 150mm/s next time ( as per the wiki instructions! Doh! ).

Re-Opening the Space

We are starting to re-open the space after the COVID restrictions. Right now Members can start to visit the space by booking in advance. This is still very limited at the moment due to the shared nature of the building but we will hope to open up over the coming months in line with the overall plan for the country.

Please see the Covid Page for more information about the latest status.

We are still meeting up weekly on Discord for the open meetings see the contact page for more details.

It will be great to see people using the space again and I hope we can regroup and start to build on what we had before and, in time, start to meet up and have a more social space again.

Making a kindle case from leather scraps and superglue

I wanted a cover for my kindle and had been pondering it for a while drawing up some ideas of more and more elaborate cases with various pockets. Then I decided to try and focus a bit and reduce the case to the bare basics. I like to have a notepad with me when I read as I tend to get in a thinking mood quite often when I have been reading so it’s nice to have somewhere to get those thoughts out of my head. I had a few of these little notebooks that seemed to be just a little bit bigger than the kindle and so I thought they could be used to protect the screen of the kindle as well.

So I had a basic layout idea now it was to the scraps bin to find something to make it out of. I brought a load of leather offcuts for another project and had a load left. You can buy them by the Kg on ebay and get a random selection of small bits which are all quite useful. I found one that was almost big enough and folded it into a rough shape. I say almost big enough as it did not quite fit but looked like I could botch it a little so ploughed on.  I got a rough idea of the layout then used a rotary cutter to trim off some the excess till I had a rough shape.

Next up was working out how to hold it in pace ready for stitching. CA or superglue was the chosen solution it had two key properties, it sticks leather quickly and I have some to hand. So I ran a few beads of glue on the leather around the kindle and folded over one side. Held it down for a few seconds then breathed a sigh of relief as I manged to pull out the kindle and thus proving I had not glued it in place.

Repeating this for the note and pen and then adding a couple of extra tabs at the bottom of the notebook where the scrap did not quite fit it was starting to come together nicely. I grabbed one of the cut offs from earlier and made a little strap, again gluing it in place. Then left it to set for a while and when I came back was pretty pleased and impressed by the strength of the bond. I left if like that for a few weeks and it seemed to be holding up fine. In the end I decided to run a row of stitching along some of the glue joints just to be sure; using the Hackspace’s trusty Singer 413. The strap on the front is still just glued on and seems to be holding up fine though.

When I started to build this I just wanted to get started so this quick build method of superglue and rotary cutter seems like a really easy way to get a prototype made but in fact it looks like I’m sticking with this one for a while longer. There is something to be said for just getting started with what you have at hand rather than thinking things through and not making something. I would probably change some things if I make another one but I only know that now because I have been using this one for a while. Get out there and make something today!

Roller shutter cabinet built on the laser cutter.

For some time now I have wanted to make a roller top desk. These are normally made by cutting a plank of wood intro strips and sticking them to a piece of cloth backing to allow it to flex. This wobbly sheet is then held in a captive groove at either side allowing it to roll when pushed from one side. This creates a curved cover that rolls away in a satisfying manner. My first thought was to cut a single sheet of A4 ply into strips using the laser cutter and then follow the classic design but then I was shown a curved laser cut panel where somebody had just cut slots in a board and weakened it enough to bend it round a curve.

My first attempt did not go well, the lines where just too close together and I ended up with a smoldering square of charcoal. But it’s quite a quick feedback loop with the laser so a quick trip back to Inkscape, which was the tool I was using to do the drawing. With the line spacing just a little further apart it suddenly worked and I had something that looked like it might get me there. It took me a little while to get to grips with Inkscape but there are some good tutorials online for most things you want to do.

Next up was to build the box. I decided to go for a pretty simple design with top and bottom being the same. Laying out the overall bottom shape, then a second panel that was the same outside dimensions but had cutouts for the doors to run in. There where also some cut outs for the sides and back to fit. Then gluing these two panels together gave me a top and bottom. Then adding in some sides and back and squeezing it all into a single sheet of A4.

You can see in the photo that my door lines overran the doors. These looked okay in Inksape but something in the way K40 Whisperer laser cutter driver renders the SVG that does not quite seem to work.

After sticking it together with some superglue and a little light sanding of the tracks and the bottoms of the doors I put some candle wax on the edges of the doors and it pushed it all together. Getting the doors in place is tricky but not impossible and I found the best way was to have them about half open and fettle them into place with a thin screwdriver and a bit of wiggling.

If you want to make one for yourself then they are up on my gitlab page: Laser cutter source files.

I’m pretty happy with the overall design and have refined the first version to round some of the corners and generally fit together better. It’s great to be able to go from an idea to a working device.

Open Day this Saturday, April 14th.


Crochet CRAFT LogoThe next hackSaturday will be from 10:00 until 16:00 on Saturday the 14th of April

So why not pop down and say hello. There will be members there to show you around or chat about the space and what people do here.

Want to know how to find us? Click here

For more details about our open nights, see the wiki.

Curious about what to bring?

All you need is yourself, enthusiasm and curiosity. Feel free to bring a project, things to make, things to do, things you want help with, or things you just can’t find time to do elsewhere.

What does the hackspace have to offer?

You’ll be free to use whatever tools and facilities you want, subject to the necessary training and/or supervision. Non-members will be expected to contribute towards hardware, electronic components etc (members get all this stuff for free!) if it’s more than a few bits and pieces. We have a fast Internet connection sponsored by Andrews & Arnold which you’re welcome to use. And a tuckshop!



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Corduroy aprons are this year’s must have hackspace accessory

I decided that I need an apron. I mostly turn up at the space in whatever I am wearing from work and sometimes things might get messy. An apron should do the trick but as it’s a hackspace I can’t just buy the first one I see. So it’s time to break out the sewing machine.

Me at the sewing machine. First off I needed a pattern or something to to copy from. Luckily Aimee already had something so I set about finding some suitable material. Traditionally these things seem to be made from something like a heavy cotton or even leather. I went for chord. Brown chord with blue trim.

Cutting out the template

I laid the pattern apron out on the big table over my cloth and after some pondering we decided to mark up a rectangle of the right length and width and just mark up the curved parts that go under the arms from the pattern. A small bit of scrap ply-wood was brought in to use as a square to get things lined up and a point of no return was passed as I made the first cut. Pinking shears are great fun, it’s like setting an alligator to work and you end up with a zig-zag cut that should not fray.

I added a centre line to help keep things lined up then chalked out the curve from the template apron. Then cut both curves in one with the sheet folded in half.

Sewing the boarders onto the materialNow for some practice runs on the machine. It’s been a while since I last had a go with this so here was some browsing of the PDF copy of the manual to see how it threads together. Then some tweaking of the tension to get it sewing right on the chord. ( I make this sound simple but I think this bit took almost the most time but I now consider myself an “expert” ) I added a plain hem along the bottom and its almost straight.

Adding the boarder.For the first attempt to attach the tape round the sides I used pins the tape in place I found that it moved about too much and the pins then made it to difficult to correct so I switched to just feeding things in an adjusting the fold as it went which worked quite well. In the end I had to unpick things quite a bit on the first run but then worked out that I needed to have a bit more tape on the front or it would work itself out.

Then finally adding on the the loop round the top and the strings round the back and it was done.

It may be a little long and I should have made the strings round the back, up the sides and around the neck from the a single piece. I also think the bit under the neck is a little to wide so it sticks out a bit but other than that I’m pretty happy with it. ( Oh and it could do with an iron, we should probably get one for the space)

3D printed coat hooks, wi-fi enabled bike lights and virtual reality

Just an average Wednesday open night down at York Hackspace.

Nick took an old plank from a pallet and with a little elbow grease and some shared knowledge turned it into a fine backing plate to the hold the coat hooks that he designed and printed on the space 3D printer.

Finished Coat Hooks

I took a very cheap hand plane and managed to get a good enough edge on it to let Nick clean up old pallet wood and turn it into quite a fine looking board.

This ended up with a fine mess of wood shavings that Nick was particularly pleased with.

Everybody likes to make some mess.

We had the loan of a PS4 and VR Headset for the night and Nathan spent some time playing at “Job” a virtual world created by the future robots to simulate what it was like to do Job in the 21st century. A lot more fun than it sounds. Everybody was enjoying his attempts to “repair” a car.

Through some more donations of kit we now have a fine looking multimedia setup in the works. It started with a projector that got attached to the ceiling. Then an amplifier and some speakers that is to be mounted on top of a shelving unit ( if you know of any spare shelving please let us know). Then through a convoluted set of connections and boxes we should be able to hook all the ageing kit up to most things. Wire lengths where measured ( in feet, meters, ceiling tiles and string lengths) and we may be able to hook it up next week. It will be useful for doing presentations or just playing tutorials from Youtube. Even the laser painting might be setup at some point.

As any true hackspacer knows things can always be improved with more LEDs and so I added a few more to his bike. Wrapped around the handmade wooden box on the front they currently provide a neat running light setup, red and white back and front then pulsing orange down the side. As they are run from an ESP8266 chip that has built in wifi it seems only a natural next step to add a wifi hotspot to the bike and a web server to control the lights.

More Bike Lights

Many more things where happening. John was having some problems with his new 3D printer but was having fun developing shapes in OpenSCAD. Dave and John where discussing wiring up sheds and sharing the tools to do it. A surprising amount of time spent trying to find something to play music to test the speakers, /dev/urandom, the computers random number generator, only goes so far. I really love the mixture of physical and digital that is happening in the space especially when there is a big group. Oh and we have a new member, Carwyn.

See you all next week.