I had an idea in my head for some time now but it lacked specifics. Usually I want to have some clear direction before moving into the shop for the execution however I have learned that sometimes good things can result from little planning. Since I didn’t have too much loose, if my idea went sideways, I thought I would just wing it and see what would come of it.

Often I wonder why things are made simple when they work just as well complicated and in the case of my next project I wanted to add an element of engineering to a rather basic item. I needed a shop clip board and wanted to build something that would reflect the environment it would be used in. I love seeing the internal mechanicals of machines and often wonder why people feel they need to cover them up.

In the case of my clipboard I wanted to build a more mechanical type spring mechanism as well as fabricate a more interesting shape for holding the paper. Unfortunately this post is not filled with fabricating pictures. Since I didn’t have a plan I didn’t know when to take pictures. In fact I wasn’t planning to post this project on the blog however it actually turned out ok so I thought I would share. The following pictures show the tail end of the project but it will give you an idea on how it was built.


The entire clip board was built from 6061 aluminum. I machined everything you see in this picture except for the stainless steel fasteners, spring, and cable. The actual “board” was plasma cut from a sheet of aluminum. I realize it is hard to visualize how this all fits together, just keep scrolling.


This is the board in mocked up stage to ensure that the spring tension would work. I’m not in love with the lever I built located on the right side of the pivot shaft however I’m going to go with it for now.


So here I jump straight to the finishing stage. Everthing was either polished or powder coated. Ready for final assembly.


Finished product! Looks kinda cool, a little bit chunky but still works for me. Next time around I’ll build more intricate.


The exposed spring mechanism allows viewing of all the action.


Rocker arm style paper clamps.


Cable adjustment cap allows for spring tension calibration.


The paper release lever lacks a bit of an interesting visual but still works, for now.


Decided to decorate the back side with a unique GG decal. Cut out an old skool diving helmet on the vinyl plotter for no other reason other then it looked cool.

  1. Roscoe says:

    Made me laugh, and oddly not as complicated as I feared. From the parts collection I sort-of-half-assed guessed the spring would be internal of the shaft, but you fooled me. Then, when I first saw the completed board, I thought it would be hydraulically operated: fooled again. Anyway, cool stuff, and now I’m thinking of one to hold blueprints with large pillow bushings, steel shaft, motorcycle shock absorber spring over the shaft, and a lever large enough to twist it off the paper. Keep your fingers clear.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Yeah, your right Roscoe, I may have overstated the complexity portion. I like the way you think though. You made me think of a pneumatic actuator with a stainless steel air tank and hand pump, run a pressure gauge, and some pneumatic lines. The exhausting air would sound super cool. Even better would be to run a gas powered RC radial airplane engine to drive a compressor. This may take some AutoCADing first. Could fit all the mechanicals into a clear case beneath the board. It would be nice if I could run jet fuel. The smell and the sound combined would make for some super cool clip board action. I think this may be doable.


  2. howder1951 says:

    Another excellent project Gord. Maybe a double action release with thumb lever would look a bit more complicated. I love this blog!

  3. Jason Garber says:

    I totally understand why you would do this. The end result is a lot of fun, and the coolest clipboard I’ve ever seen. Nice.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks Jason. A few days after I finished the board I had a Eureka moment. I came up with a super cool retro design board idea. It would involve me machining the mechanicals but then I would need to find someone who has a CNC router table to handle the board side of things. Know anyone?


  4. max22g says:

    It is always fascinating to see with you come up with. Great attention to detail. I read all your posts, as I appreciate your thinking; we share a similar approach to quality work, and even more so: I like your execution — perfect! As silly as the board is, it is a marvellous piece of work. I sometimes had tears of joy in my eyes when reading your stories, so beautiful is the work you do. Keep enjoying your creativity, and don’t ever care about the nay sayers…

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thank you max22g for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the kind words. I enjoy building things that are typically not feasible for companies to do. With low market demand, higher material costs, and excessive amounts of labor there are so many things that never get built. It is fun to see what can be done when those three things don’t factor in.

      Thanks for reading my posts. I apologize, as I have previously, for all my spelling and grammatical errors. I edit posts quickly and always miss something.

      Thanks max22g!


  5. Niall says:

    I was also expecting to see a pnuematic or hydraulic actuator.

    I just love the perversity of engineering for the hell of it, “Why did you do that?” … “Because I’m an Engineer”

    Someone asked me once how I would define “Steam Punk” and that’s pretty much what I said, now I can just drop a link to your blog 😉

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks Niall, the media are always spouting off about about the rate that technological advances occur these days. These technological advances are driven by 2 things; the economy and demand. If you really want to see what the humans of the world are capable of just take the economy, and demand, out of the equation and then step back and watch out! Building stuff “just because” is the coolest.

      BTW have you dropped some dough on a gauge yet?


      • Niall says:

        Totally agree.

        Yes I sprung for a gauge and an M-Unit and an M-Lock, going to be a much slimmer loom. Haven’t arrived yet,the anticipation is worse than the first time going into a Doxford crank case to scrape a spherical bearing 😉

  6. Luis Rodrigues says:

    Over-engineering = art for geeks :). I just love it.

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