Plans, projects and how-to's for home machinists

Myers Shapeoko Fence – Fusion 360 Remix

Like many, I’m using the wasteboard, fence and cam clamps that Ben Myers designed for the Shapeoko CNC router. They are excellent and I’ve learned a lot from his many CNC tutorials, so I’ve purchased them all from his Etsy store. Unfortunately, the XL size fence file seems to contain a mistake.

I couldn’t wait for a fix from Ben, and I can’t stand Carbide Create’s drawing and editing tools, so I recreated the fence in Fusion 360 and fixed the problem. I’m making my F360 file available for download in case you can use it. The material thickness is 15mm (~1/2-inch MDF) but you can easily change it by going to Modify -> Change Parameters. You can also easily change the length of the fences there, if you have a standard or XXL size Shapeoko.

Download: Myers Modified Shapeoko XL Fence

The fence is supposed to have a little pocket in the corner for Carbide 3D’s BitZero Touch Probe, but Ben’s XL-size Carbide Create file just cuts some slots. I also wanted to make it with 1/2-inch thick MDF instead of 3/4-inch for a couple of reasons. First, the shorter fence allows me to lower the dust shoe more when I cut thinner materials. Second, it lets me use the BitZero anywhere along the fence when I cut 3/4-inch thick material, instead of just in the corner.

I’ve also made the pockets for the screws near the touch probe pocket just a little deeper than the others. All of the pocket depths are a percentage of the material thickness, so they should adjust automatically for 3/4-inch material. You’ll need to cut the fence from a piece of stock that is at least 4.5 x 31 inches. 

My CAM/Manufacturing setup is also there. Keep in mind that I’m still learning F360 CAM and getting familiar with my Shapeoko. So don’t trust my work too much. I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a comment if you discover any problems or you can teach me something.

I used a Whiteside RU2100 1/4-inch 2-flute up cut flat end mill. Router speed is 18k RPM. Roughing speed is 100 IPM, finish cuts are 30 IPM. Max stepover and stepdown is .125-inch (which might be too much but I got good results).

Ryobi Tool Storage Ideas

My collection of Ryobi One Plus cordless tools keeps growing. While looking for a better way to store them I came across Ryobi Nation, where I found some very good storage ideas, plus lots of ideas and plans for other things to make.

I found many tool storage designs there and many of them hang the tools from slots, usually upside down. Unlike them, this design has adjustable width slots. It’s a little more complicated and also more expensive, because it uses aluminum T-slots, but I think the extra time and cost is probably worth it. It can hold Ryobi tools that most of the other designs can’t, like a Ryobi brad nailer, and a trim router. It also holds most tools upright, not upside down, so that they are easier to grab and use. 

I like that the tool storage rack is separate from the cabinets, because I don’t need those.  I also like his use of French Cleats to mount the tool rack and storage cabinets.  

There are no plans, but Steve Mosley’s design should be easy to reproduce. Besides the backboard, there are just two parts, which you need to make a lot of copies of. My Shapeoko CNC router should be able to make them quickly and easily.

The Kreg Mini Trak he uses seems to be a little pricey, there are some less expensive alternatives available.

Adjustable Width Ryobi Tool Storage

A Pivot to Robotics

I’ve been interested in robotics for a long time and my desire to build a large outdoor rover was the reason I used to buy a mini-lathe about thirteen years ago. That led to a desire to learn how to machine metal, and that led to

Then I decided to start a nonprofit makerspace about eight or nine years ago. That turned into a second full-time (and unpaid) job for five years which did not leave any time for this website, or for making anything.

I’m no longer involved with the makerspace and I like to keep busy, productive and learning. So this last winter I turned my attention back to robotics because it encompasses a lot of my interests and skills:

  • I’ve had a lifelong interest in electronics and I have a degree in electronic technology (which I’ve never used professionally).
  • I’m knowledgeable about computer hardware and I’m pretty certain I could have been a very good professional computer programmer if I’d wanted to go down that path. Unfortunately, my coding skills have become very old and rusty, but I’m working on them.
  • I like designing and building mechanical things and I have the tools and skills to make almost anything.

I’ve built a fairly large number of robotic rovers over the years and I’ve recently come up with some innovative ideas that I want to tell others about. As a result, you are going to start seeing some posts on about robotics, computer vision and machine learning, single board computers like the Raspberry Pi, and computer programming. 

Those topics don’t fit the name of this blog or what I’ve written about in the past. But there’s no point in spending time writing an article if almost no one is ever going to see it, which is what would happen if I created a brand-new website about robotics. MB is no longer highly ranked by Google like it once was, but it is still very visible on the Internet and it gets a lot of visitors. So what I post on here will get found and read.

To prepare for new posts I’ve done some overdue maintenance on

  • The site has been secured with HTTPS and you will now see a green padlock next to the URL in the address bar. 

This was done with the help of Carol Rehnberg of 4SiteSolutions. I am very picky when hiring someone to work on my websites because I have not been impressed by most of the web designers and system admins that I’ve interviewed. I think Carol is very knowledgeable, has good judgment and is trustworthy. 

Her rates are also very reasonable and she works fast. She charged me for less than an hour of work to fix my SSL problem even though she knew my budget was much higher. So I recommend that you contact her if you need some website maintenance done or a website designed. 

  • I’ve started culling old posts that have not aged well or which were not very interesting in the first place.
  • Broken links are being fixed.
  • I’ve started to prepare for an overhaul of this site’s design by looking at other websites for color and layout ideas, and to see if I can find ideas for making this site more usable and for improving its search engine rankings. 

I Bought a LONG Shop Vacuum Hose

I just bought a 20-foot hose for my shop vacuum and I wish I’d done it decades ago.  I never realized it before, but my shop vacuum is probably the tool that I spend the most time using and a longer hose makes it much easier to use. 

The hoses and electrical cords that came with my shop vacuums aren’t unreasonable short, but over the years I’ve spent many hours moving my shop vacuum from one electrical outlet to another in order to reach every corner of my workshop.  I’ve also pulled the hose out of it or tipped the vacuum over innumerous times while trying to move it by pulling on the hose.

With the new hose, I can leave the vacuum in one location and still reach every corner of my garage workshop.  It will also let me vacuum the interiors of two cars without having to first plug my shop vacuum into an extension cord and then move it around the cars four or five times.  

Buying a shop vacuum hose can be difficult and a little risky because there are a variety of different hose diameters and the ends come in different sizes.  I purchased a 20-foot Cen-Tec Systems 92707 Premium Shop Vacuum Extension Hose from Amazon for $34.86 and I’m very pleased with it.  It is what I recommend you buy if your shop vacuum accessories fit a 1-1/4 inch diameter hose. 

The intake end fits the intakes of my Shop-Vac brand vacuum, two Sears shop vacuums and a Ridgid shop vacuum, even though these vacs came with hoses ranging from 1-1/4 to 2 inches in diameter.  The accessory end fits all the 1-1/4 inch extension tubes and accessories that I’ve acquired over the years. 

I was surprised to find that the ends on this, and many other long hoses, screw on and off; and that there is wide variety different size ends and adapters that you can buy to fit your equipment.  The problem is that the size descriptions for fittings and adapters are not always clear.  Fittings also come in both US and metric sizes, and sometimes the sizes are close enough to work because of the taper.  For example, a 32 mm inside diameter fits on the ends of my 1-1/4 inch hoses.

Hoses restrict air flow and so the the longer the hose is the less suction you’ll get.  This can be offset by using a larger diameter hose.  My new hose has plenty of suction, but I do wish I’d thought of this and checked to see if I could have bought a 1-1/2 inch hose with the same size ends as this one.  I’m sure they’re available and they probably don’t cost much more.

I’d never thought about buying a longer shop vacuum hose because I thought that shop vacuum accessories were/are obscenely overpriced.  But I needed a long hose to reach the dust shoe of my new CNC router.  This hose works great with it but I did have to design and 3D print an  adapter for it.  I will be sharing the .STL and Fusion 360 files for that in a later post. 

Random Quote

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.

— Charles A. Beard