13 February 2009

the joy of power tools


huang, using the band saw to cut steel

this past week was unexpected: instead of hunkering down in front of my laptop or being holed up in studio, i instead was covered in sawdust, learning to use the jigsaw.

our first studio exercise was to design and build a device that would allow for 2 people to read at the same time. however, it had to be built for real at 1:1 scale, meaning no cardboard (which we call chipboard), foamcore, or other representational materials - just actual wood, metal, or whatever other things you could think of (one group used wax). so we put away our little x-actos and headed to the wood shop instead.

and boy, did people end up making some crazy-cool stuff. our review yesterday looked a bit like an art installation, as we demonstrated devices that did everything from help people spy on each other's books, use an open flame to melt away wax and reveal the newpaper underneath, or have enough privacy to read out loud in the library.

my partner and i built a dual-hinged magnetic window that allows 2 people to read newspapers at the same time, then lets them exchange reading material and interact by annotating the text or talking directly through the opening. i haven't documented the end product yet, but have a couple progress photos:


(L) some attempts at using the chisel (varying results), and (R) hinging the panels

the thing i discovered through this whole process, though, is that i really like using power tools and don't mind getting steel grease on my hands or being caked in sawdust (except when it makes me sneeze). i guess doing masonry camp a couple summers ago and working on a construction site in el salvador prepared me for this project and gave me some basis for hands-on work. there's just something really satisfying about sparks flying from cutting steel and, at the end of the day, making progress and creating something tangible.


ann using the router to carve plywood - diesel!

power tools i've gotten to use in the last month or so:
- chop saw
- jigsaw
- wood chisel + planer
- metal hand grinder
- power drill
- welder (although i'm particularly horrible at it)
- power sander

fun times!

general mood: relaxed! 3 day weekend!
currently listening to: "beat of my heart" - jon mclaughlin