Modern-Day Small-Batch Hybrid Production Techniques: Combining CNC with Hand Tools for Effective Results

When Tom Blake was designing his revolutionary surfboard in the 1920s, I'm sure he had no notion that it would change surfing. Nor could he have any idea that his design would eventually be usurped by foam and plastic. Nor could he have possibly envisioned that nearly a century later, a small shop would go back to wood and produce new designs inspired by his, and that this shop would not be located in his stomping grounds of Hawaii or California, but way over in England.Cornwall-based Otter Surfboards produces Blake-inspired hollow surfboards, featuring a skeleton with sturdy ribs that nevertheless might have appeared shockingly thin to Blake. To adhere the rails and surfaces they use adhesives with efficacies Blake could only have dreamt of. And while he'd recognize some of the hand tools Otter uses, the CNC mill would likely throw him for a loop. Check out the hybrid techniques they use to put their boards together:This will sound naïve to those of you familiar with the usage of Japanese hand tools, but I was amazed at how he used a ryoba to cut curves. I have so much trouble getting the flexible blade to cut straight, it never even occurred to me that you could intentionally bend it and cut without binding.I do wish the video was edited a bit less; I would've liked to see more footage of how he built up and contoured the rails during that time jump between 2:36 and 2:44.For those of you within proximity to Cornwall—perhaps you're headed to see boatmaker Ben Harris?—the chaps at Otter offer workshops ranging from one to five days in length, where you can learn to build surfboards, bellyboards or handplanes (the swimming kind, not the wood-shaving kind). Click here to see more of their stuff.

DiResta’s Cut: Corian LED Lamp

In his sprawling underground NYC shop, Jimmy DiResta has what seems like every tool and material known to man, all tucked away somewhere in the labyrinth. In this episode of DiResta's Cut, Jimmy whips out a tool and material we haven't seen yet in this series: A desktop CNC mill and a sheet of Corian. Watch as he turns it into an adjustable LED lamp:

A Desktop Robotic Arm That Can 3D Print, Mill, Plot, Carve, Etch, Assemble and More

The prevailing form factor for consumer-level 3D printers and CNC mills is a box, dictated by the axial/gantry-style mechanisms of these machines. But entrepreneur Zaib Husain and engineer Azam Shahani were thinking outside of the box, literally, when they devised their Makerarm prototype. An articulated arm is cantilevered off of a column mounted to a worksurface; the arm has a 180-degree sweep, ten inches of Z-travel and a maximum reach of nearly 16 inches. So what does this arm do? Well, everything. The creators have designed a series of interchangeable tool heads that can hold an almost absurd variety of: Cutting heads for milling and engraving, nozzles for 3D printing either FDM-style or resin-based, a laser cutter, a soldering iron, a pen plotter, and even a series of pick-and-place tools like a claw gripper, an electromagnet and a suction cup. Check out its range of operations: I found the auto-leveling feature shown in the video the most fascinating, where the head tracks the slanted surface of the workpiece. The sensors that must be contained within to perform such a feat make me wonder if the arm can also automatically index off the corner of the workpiece. Holddown–not to mention bolting the arm's base to your worksurface–is presumably still the user's domain.Unsurprisingly, the $999 early bird special is already sold out on Kickstarter. That was for just the Makerarm and a single head pack including the electromagnet and pen plotter. The fully-loaded version that ships with all of the heads (see below) is going for $2,199.Though they've still got a long way to go, it seems certain the project will be funded. Though the campaign is only in their first few days, they've already raised $145,653 of a $349,750 goal, and there are still 28 days left to pledge. And assuming they do make it, they're planning on shipping by October 2016.

Floating timber slabs create layered walls within New York shoe store by Jordana Maisie

Australian designer Jordana Maisie has created a Manhattan boutique for upscale shoe brand Feit that features asymmetrical display areas made of thin sheets of wood (+ slideshow).

The 420-square-foot (39 square metres) shoe store opened in New York's West Village neighbourhood in September.

The design aims to reflect the handcrafted quality of Feit's leather shoes and merge it with a modern and minimal aesthetic, said Maisie, who collaborated with the company's owners, Tull and Josh Price.

"The interior has a unique identity – prioritising process, craft and innovation, while pushing the tension between what is handmade and what is machine made," said Maisie, who is from Australia but now based in Brooklyn.

The shop "has a clean aesthetic featuring geometric shapes created by volume and void," she added.

The linear space features a labyrinthine composition of floor-to-ceiling wooden forms, with openings that provide sight lines between the interior and the street.

Related story: Sneakers are displayed on bleachers in Seattle boutique by Best Practice ArchitectureSimilar to the process of shaping leather, the design team used moulds to carve out display shelves from blocks of timber during the 3D-modelling stage.

The shelving components, made of Baltic birch plywood, were cut using a computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine. They were formed into modules and then delivered to the store.
"Each unique shape was CNC cut, hand sanded and assembled into modules offsite by the fabrication team, which enabled a complex build sequence to unroll on site," said Maisie.

Embedded within the wooden shelving units are white LEDs that brighten and dim in accordance with the seasons. Carefully placed mirrors help visually expand the room.

"Both the architectural and lighting design play with your perception of depth, as you try to distinguish where the boundaries within the space lie," said Maisie.
The design team has named the space Installation Two: Volume and Void.

This is Feit's second store in New York. The other, which opened in 2014 in Nolita, was also designed in collaboration with Maisie and features large slabs of natural wood.

Related story: 30,000 red shoelaces hang from the ceiling of Melbourne's Camper storeDescribed as an "innovator in the neo-luxury movement," Feit produces high-end boots, sneakers, and dress shoes for men and women, along with a small line of accessories. Its products are made of all-natural, non-synthetic materials.

Feit was founded by brothers Tull and Josh Price. Tull is known for starting the cult sneaker brand Royal Elastics, which he launched in 1996 and sold in 2002.

Maisie is an Australian installation artist who creates interactive and sculptural designs. Her work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and festivals throughout Australia, as well in select countries around the world. The Feit flagship store in Nolita was her first project in New York.
She currently is pursuing a master's degree in architecture and an MFA in lighting design at Parsons: The New School for Design.

Other recent shoe boutiques include an austere shop in Seattle by Best Practice Architecture, a children's shoe store in Barcelona by Nábito, and a pop-up shop for Camper in Germany by Diébédo Francis Kere.
Photography is by Naho Kubota.
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An Unusual Design for a Massive Bit Holder with Moving Parts

Variety is useful for a designer to encounter, and I love seeing how different people solve a shared design problem. It's also fun to try to figure out, absent a clear explanation, what a particular designer was thinking just by studying the form they've come up with.The CNC + OCD drill bit organizer I made had a chest-of-drawers form factor because, as I explained in the design process video, that was what the object demanded; it basically designed itself. But a fellow CNC mill user named Jerry Burks, who needs to store a heckuva lot more bits than I do, came up with something very different:Staring at just that one photo above, I couldn't figure out some parts of the design. Assuming form follows function, the little "fingers" sticking out from the sides of each "leaf" seemed to indicate the leaves were meant to be lifted out. But then what? Those leaves could presumably could not be set down on edge or they'd topple over, and the fact that the bits load from the top mean setting it on its side would be inelegant to use. And what are those routed slots in the sides of the overall piece for?Thankfully there was another shot, this one from the side:Aha. Here we can clearly see there are dowels resting in the routed slots and pegged into the sides of the leaves. We can also see the tops of the side members are wavy, with the fingers resting in the valleys. Now the fingers make more sense: The leaves can indeed be lifted, but their travel is limited by the dowel in the routed slot. So it appears the leaves can only be moved forward or backward by one valley, perhaps to make access easier, or highlight which leaf is currently being used by creating space around them.Here we can see some of the bits sitting in plastic bushings, that I imagine are friction-fit into the drilled holes:The color-coding appears to be the sole method of "labeling," which wouldn't work for me; but I'm guessing Burks has a better memory than I do.One thing I can't figure out, by looking at that last photo above, is why there are two long slots machined into the faces of each leaf. Anyone have any ideas?