Archive for September, 2014


So after my last machining expedition I was presented with a new idea. Usually I come up with my own ideas and then execute them. It isn’t till after I have machined, or built, whatever it was I planned that someone then comes forward and says “You should…”. Where was that idea when I first started the project?

The plan for the following project came after I machined my 5 shooter smoke holder. The suggestion was that I needed to build something that could hold an entire pack of cigarettes and fit into the cup holder of a vehicle. Now I am not a smoker however…good idea I figured…should be able to make something work.

So as I pondered the details I came up with the mental blueprints for a can of smoke. The idea was to machine a billet aluminium can that would incorporate a removable lid and would hold a pack of cigarettes. Some of the details required preplanning so I sat down and AutoCad’d the important details. First off I wasn’t sure I was able to fit and entire pack of 25 smokes into the square area of a can. Turns out I can’t. The best I could design was a can to hold 22 cigarettes. Since I couldn’t fit an entire pack I reworked the design down to 18 which allowed me to build in a central screw to and allow a little more “wiggle room” for everything to fit.

I had initially designed the can to spec and had all the angles, and dimensions, figured out. When it came down to actually machining it I just winged it using an actual can to take dimensions from as I went. I will confess the can isn’t built perfectly to spec. An actual can has a diameter of 2.600” which would had required a chunk 3 inch 6061 aluminium stock to be used and machined down to almost 2.50 inches. I opted to use a piece of 2.50” stock and therefore built the can .100” smaller in diameter. In order to compensate for the slightly smaller diameter I shortened the entire can proportionally.

In the end I think it worked out well. To look at the can on it’s own it looks real, other then the billet aluminium bit. Anyway…onto the build.



The project obviously does not involve very many components. It is basically comprised of 2 chunks of 6061 aluminum, a top and a bottom. Starting first with a 2.500″ blank to cut the bottom 2/3s of the can from.



Using the dimensions of an actual can I profiled the base to match.


Next was onto the inside of that can that would hold the 18 smokes. A central thread was cut in order to incorporate a screw on lid.


The inside of the lid was machined with enough depth to allow clearance for the cigarettes.


Screwing the top on would then allow for machining to match the bottom to the top.


With the top and the bottom paired it was time to profile the lid portion of the can.


Looks fairly realistic so far.


Moved onto the milling machine where I programmed the DRO for 18, evenly spaced, holes. First off was to use a centering bit to mark all the positions.


Next all the holes where drilled at .325″ to allow easy installation, and removal, of the smokes.


Here is the completed machining of the can. Next step is to put on the final touches.


I included a new detail to this particular project. I had the opportunity to use a 36″ Roland vinyl cutter so I decided to make a sandblast template. I dedicated a weekend to learning how to use the vinyl printer and the associated software that went with it. I bought some plain white vinyl and only wasted a yard learning to cut. After an hour of figuring out my mistakes I finally got the hang of using the printer.


I took the sample vinyl template and applied it to a scrap piece of aluminum I had. Into the glass bead blaster it went.


This is my test sample after being bead blasted and the vinyl removed. A bit of acetone cleans off the adhesive residue and I am left with a fairly clean logo. Works great!


So with my sample piece turning out to be successful I moved onto making the vinyl templates for the can of smoke.


Initial application of the vinyl template.


The white vinyl looks pretty good as is however not good enough. Wait till the blast cabinet has its way with it.


With the remaining decals applied the remainder of the can received a taping to protect all the areas from getting blasted.


And here it is, the final product after having the vinyl stripped off and the residue removed.



I used an actual tab off a can and made an aluminum rivet to hold it on, looks factory!


Figured I would throw on a gordsgarage logo since cutting an extra vinyl template took no work.


And here is the 18 capacity can of “Smoke Classic”.



So it would appear that I have got myself into a groove of machining projects that can be completed in an evenings worth of time. They allow little commitment on my part yet yields decent amounts of satisfaction, in today’s world I think I have dialed in what we are all looking for. I typically live by the words “a well planned project is a project half done” however in this case a “project that is winged is a project that that wasn’t planned but turned out alright”.

I got myself into a yo-yo groove. A number of years ago I researched yo-yos and came to learn that the technology has advanced since I was a kid. Now the pro yo-yos are all ball bearing-ed, housing friction discs, and strung with your choice of left, or right hand, wound string. Really I just wanted a yo-yo like the yellow wooden one I had when I was lad. So I got my hands on a typical, non-pro, yo-yo. Took some dimensions, weighed some weight, and went to spinning on the lathe. Would you like to see?


I do not have very many build pictures to post. All the units where built from 6061 aluminum. I made 2 different versions, an adult version using 2.250″ stock and a child’s version using 2″ stock. The milling machine digital readout was dialed in to hog out some holes to lighten the overall weight.


These are the rough machined blanks. The centers are threaded to accept a stainless steel 6 mm threaded rod that is housed in a 5/16″ aluminum axle.


These are the finished machined spinners. I set the blanks up on the lathe and then tapered down the sides until I achieved the weight that I wanted.


Time to toss on some color. Some of the units got anodized and then dipped in some colorful dye.


All the colors hung to dry after coming out of the dye tank.


This one was built for a good friend of mine, Dave, who is always around to help me out when needed (except when he is in Disney World). He wanted his favorite sports team colors so this yo-yo went copper and blue.


This 2 tone unit weighs in at 72 grams and sports an orange poly string.


This was the child’s version I built and dyed florescent pink. I left it in the dye tank a bit too long so the “florescent” doesn’t pop as much as it should. The smaller 2″ diameter, along with the larger holes, brings the weight down to 47 grams.


The original plan was to dye both sides pink however I ran into a slight issue with the anodizing. I ended up having a poor electrical connection while soaking the yo-yos in the acid bath and the 1 side of the pink yo-yo never anodized. Because it didn’t anodize I couldn’t get it to take on the dye. I decided to throw it back on the lathe and brush finish the failed side. I think it looks better this way with the two tone.


This purple one was built just because. It is built to the same dimensional spec as the copper/blue one. I have logged some decent spin time with this one and I am pleased with the performance level. Good weight, good feel, good whip, good spin.


This was my original prototype. In weighs in at a hefty 104 grams! Yes, it is not for the weak fingered but it works. It does, however, start to take it toll on the digits. I used the specs of this y-yo to machine my more successful anodized units from. The main difference is that I shaved down the thickness of the sides in order to achieve better weight.


You can see how thick this one is. I initially got the spec from an original yo-yo.