Posts Tagged ‘custom’


One day I had an idea, went into the garage and built it. The End.

Not sure what more I can say about this post. I thought it would be cool to make more of an unconventional themed oil filled candle. I figured a spark plug lends itself well to a flame theme so I went for it. A day in the shop landed me a double scaled spark plug candle.

The entire plug was made from a single piece of 6061 aluminium and done to scale. The specs are as follows. Overall height 7.750”, spark plug maximum diameter 1.460”, oil chamber volume .68 cubic inches, 100% cotton wick, 99% pure paraffin(e) lamp oil, burn time approximately 2 hours.

So here we go…


Project planning began by recreating a spark plug scaled 2:1 in a CAD program. This is what I referenced to for all the machining dimensions.



The actual hands on portion of the project started off with a 6.5 inch section of 1.500″ 6061 aluminum.


Using various cutters I was able to build the first have to my CAD specs. It is starting to look fairly authentic.


Onto the milling machine where the wrench hex was milled into the plug.


The first half worked out as planned, here’s hoping I don’t screw up the second half.


The threaded section was spun down to spec before the threading began.


A 2:1 scale of the threads turned out to be approximately 10 tpi. I re-geared the lathe for the proper pitch and set up the threading tooling before cutting.


Time to drill out the oil chamber using a 9/16 inch drill bit to a depth of 2.800 inches.


With the chamber drilled I machined in a shoulder to allow for the wick holder to rest on.


The completed spark plug worked out great. Next step was to machine a mounting base, a wick holder and a ground electrode.


With the wick holder complete I gave the spark plug a test drive. Turns out it actually works!


To make the plug look more authentic a ground electrode was required. I came up with a few ideas before settling on using a .250″ stainless steel round bar. I trimmed .400″ of the round stock down to .120″.


Next step was to get some heat into the round bar in order to give it a 90 degree bend in the vise.


With the bend complete all that was required was trimming up of the electrode length to spec.


In order to fit the ground electrode into the plug a .125″ hole was drilled to allow the stainless pin to rest into.


Here are all the fabricated components including the base. I opted to keep the base super simple in order to not distract from the spark plug.


And so this brings us to the part of the show which displays some of the completed shots.


Very happy with how the hex turned out, as well as the rest of the machining.


A few notes on the electrode. The spark plug gap is NOT to spec. It would not work out without smothering the flame therefore I opted for a visual pleasing gap which is a bit larger. Second thing to note is that different wicks and different oils burn differently. Some give off more carbon the others. In my case the flame has no visible black carbon however the bit that is present gets deposited on the stainless electrode. I like to think of it as a clean burning eco friendly oil candle. Third thing I decided on was to leave the finish of the electrode rough. I had contemplated polishing it but I thought the rough look gave the candle a bit more character.



So I made the mistake of purchasing a 36” slip roll capable of handling 16 gauge (at least that’s what is advertised, I haven’t actually tried it yet). The mistake being that I am in a serious state of running out of shop space for equipment. The machine actually sat in the middle of my shop for a good 4 months until I finally decided it wasn’t going to find a home for itself. One Saturday I just sucked it up and built a steel frame for it and added some wheels so that I could stand the unit up on end and roll it into a corner.

Anyway…this post isn’t actually about the machine but more about just messing around with random stuff. I figured I should actually try out the slip roll since I paid money for it. I did not have a current use for it, only brainstormed ideas where it would be required at a later date. I plasma chopped a chunk of 20 gauge sheet metal out and set it up in the slip roll. The intention was just to watch the metal bend, be satisfied, and then recycle it.

Well the bending and satisfaction part worked out as planned but the recycling was harder to do. On a side note…I am a sucker for scrap metal bins. I know of multiple good bins in my area which I frequent. I have access to lots of brake rotors so I exchange what I take with rotors. The bins get paid out to whoever owns them based on weight therefore I make sure I leave more weight then I take. The point being that I feel sorry for scrap metal and find it hard to watch it go to the recyclers. I want to save it all and build it into something cool. Well I have learned that I am only one person and that I can not save all the metal on my own. I try to frequent the bins less often as I find the less I know the better off I am. The whole point of this is that I couldn’t bring myself to scraping my slip roll sample.

So this post is how I couldn’t let go of a chunk of scrap sheet metal. After I inflicted my Big Brother powers and forced the steel to comply with my agenda I took a second look and figured I may be able to turn it into something useful. The following pictures take you through an impromptu garage session. Meh.


So this is how the unplanned project began. I simply wanted to see a section of steel get bent in my new 36″ slip roll. It started out so innocent.


Once the steel was bent I figured I would weld it into a tear drop shape and then trim the top up, free hand, with the plasma cutter to give it more of a unique shape.


This is what the shape came out to be.


The time came to transform the tear drop cylinder into something more than just a shiny piece of metal. I used some ER70S 3.2mm TIG filler rod and started twisting it up and tacking it on.


Just kept bending, twisting, and welding as I went along.


Finally decided I was finished once I had a fairly uniform design built.


Next I spray bombed on a clear lacquer finish to give the bare steel some protection, and shine.


As you can see from the foliage poking out the top I recycled my steel into a vase cover. I used a glass cylinder with the proper diameter which slid perfectly into the tear drop as the holder for the water. My creation is simply a facade for the murky water that will inevitably appear.


Personalized it with a gordsgarage decal.



A friend of mine that works at the local Porsche dealer has been harassing, yes harassing, me to supply him with a gordsgarage automotive themed item for what seems like an eternity. My friend, who shall remain nameless, came to me with a Porsche PCCB center lock brake rotor that was taken out of service and requested that it be converted into a clock for his man cave. I said I would see what I could do.

As cool as clocks can be they always seem to be the default fab item for anything that is round. Brake rotor clocks have been done, and overdone, time and time again. If I was going to build a clock it needed to have a slightly different style then most. Even at that it is hard to come up with a truly unique way to display seconds that tick by.

The one thing I had going for me is that ceramic brake rotors weigh a 3rd of what cast rotors do. This will allow me to be able to tack on a bit more weight and still allow it to be hung on a wall. I’m not sure I am totally thrilled with the end result but the feedback I received from others appears that the design meets a certain amount of approval. It serves its function and fits into its environment as designed. The following post takes you through the build process of my version of a man cave brake rotor clock.


The project revolves around a used Center Lock Porsche PCCB rear brake rotor. Because of the center lock design the holes, where the wheel bolts would typically go, are now equipped with red anodized wheel lugs.

Since I wanted to build something more then just a flat hanging rotor attached to a wall I started off by machining some pivots out of 1.75″ solid round 6061 aluminum. First order of business was to drill, and tap, an 8mm hole.


Onto the milling machine where the center section got hogged out an inch deep and the width of the rotor.


The beauty of swarf makes up for the waste it becomes.


Test fitting of the rough machined rotor clamps prove to fit perfectly.


To secure the clamps to the rotor a couple of 1/4″ set screws were fitted into each clamp.


To complete the pivot assemblies a couple end caps and center spacers were spun out on the lathe. I opted to keep all the angles, and design, fairly clean and simple with no added cuts or highlights.


These are the rough machined pivot assemblies that will get clamped onto opposite ends of the rotor.


Next it was time to move on the steel work and fabricate the actual wall holder. The rotor pivots were going to require a bushing to help provide the support. A couple of spacers were cut, and faced, from some 2″ seamless tubing I had remaining from my metal bender rollers I built.


Each bushing received a 3/8″ hole drilled only through one side. Keep scrolling, the reason will be revealed.


The pivot bushings required some support. I wanted to keep things simple and clean without making the unit look messy or chunky. Not to mention I needed to keep the weight of the entire project as low as possible. I opted to bend some 3/8″ cold rolled rod with a radius that would visually match the brake rotor.


I sketched out the rotor on the bench to aid in the mock up. This way I could ensure that my clearances would work and that my center line would actual be centered.


Since the rod support required something to actually be attached to I trimmed up a 19 inch section of 3″ x 1/8″ flat bar. I plasma cut the ends to get rid of the corners.


I was kind of stuck for creative ideas to attach the rod to the wall support plate. Usually I like to get creative with sort of thing. I decided on keeping the brake rotor the main focal point and opted to fabricate some clean and simple support rods from some 7/8″ cold rolled.


Concept revealed. Mocking up the components before putting the TIG to them.


Everything was tacked and final welded. Time to move onto to the other parts of the project.


The clock face was sliced from a sheet of 6061 aluminum using the circle guide for the plasma torch. Ironically this is the same sheet of aluminum that I cut my German tank sprocket clock face from years ago.


To clean up the plasma cut, and to ensure the face was perfectly round, the aluminum was mounted on the lathe and trimmed up.


The PCCB rotor hub has two 8mm holes threaded from factory 180 degrees apart. With a couple of spacers I would be able to mount the face to these existing holes. I programmed in the proper spacing on the DRO for the mill and drilled the face for mounting.


Here the entire project was mocked up to ensure everything would fit. It does.


Onto the art work for the clock face. I decided to build a tachometer themed time keeper. Using a combination of Draftsight, InkScape, and vinyl plotter software I came up with this.


I vinyl plotted the entire face on black vinyl first to ensure it would work the way I wanted it too. I then printed just the “redline” section on red vinyl.


It’s always so satisfying when I start to peel back the transfer tape to reveal the vinyl. I wasn’t sure what color background to use. I thought of powder coding the face white but in the end I opted to stick with a brushed finish. I think I made the right choice.


Here is the completed clock. I use continuous sweep movements for my clock motors which not only gets rid of the “ticking” but also gives a more precision look to the second hand.


Time to move onto the hub side of the rotor. Since this clock is going in a “man cave” I thought I would personalize it for Mike. Started by slicing out a 7 inch diameter section of mild steel to be used as a mounting for more vinyl decaling.


Porsche uses a 5 x 130 wheel bolt pattern. Using the mills DRO I marked all the mounting holes and then finished them off on the drill press.


Building using math is so satisfying as things always fit together perfectly.


The time has come where all the fabrication work is complete and it’s time to move onto the finishing stage. I removed the hub from the rotor and chucked it up in the lathe in order to clean the finish up using Scotchbrite.


Tractor Red powder is incredibly close to the same shade as factory Porsche red brake calipers. Since I know Mike likes red I figured using the color was a “no brainer”


The rotor mount was wired to one of my oven’s baking racks and then fogged with the powder.


With the pivot mounts sealed using silicone plugs it was time to bake the powder coating at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.


Here are all the components that make up the project before the assembly phase begins. Everything was either powder coated, polished, or brush finished.


The hub side face received a personalized Mike’s Place decal so that you knew exactly where you are.


The contrast between the red and the brushed finishes looks good. I was happy that the pivot still works with the added thickness of the power coating.


Rotor mounted up and centered just waiting for all the guts to be installed.


The clock face gets mounted using a couple of 5mm black socket head cap screws. Even though the screws are placed a bit far apart they still help give the clock face that”gauge” look. In order for the clock battery to be replaced the face will need to be unbolted from the hub.


Since the rotor was mounted on a pivot it was important that all visible angles would look good. I like all the nice, clean, lines of the cross section.


The rotor lugs were originally anodized red from the factory. Since the finish on them was slightly worn, plus the shade of red would clash, I decided to strip them of the anodizing and give them a brushed finish instead.


I try and add a “GG” somewhere to my projects. This time I applied a decal on the inside where the only time anyone will see it is when the clock motor battery needs to be changed. In this picture the mounting spacers for the clock face are evident.




I have a lot of interest in simple, mechanical, things. Something that requires an energy source and that does not involve electricity or fossil fuels is always super cool to me. Water wheel fed saw mills, steam powered work shops, bicycles, yo-yos, fully manual lathes, a hand saw, and the list goes on.

This is what brings me onto my next project which is a slingshot. Now I have to mention that I am not a hunter and I typically have no desire to kill anything except the occasional mosquito. I really know very little about slingshots and I suspect there is an entire world surrounding these simple devices that I know nothing about. I just happen to think that the simplicity of a slingshot is pretty cool and the transfer of energy that it is designed to deal with is intriguing.

I have had an idea in my head for a very specific style slingshot for quite some time now. The design is fairly detailed and it will take some dedicated AutoCAD time to come up with a workable design. I had never built a slingshot so I thought that a practice run might serve me well and that way I will have a better idea of how to build my final design.

So over the last couple of weeks I milled away aluminium and spun it down to my desired sizes to finally come up with a practice version of a gordsgarage slingshot. I did not start with any specific design in my head. I built it as I went along and it turned into what it is simply by chance. The morphed design worked out well in the end and I am pleased to say the slingshot is actually functional. I have had multiple test firings with it and it appears to work as designed.

So as per usual the entire process is documented in picture format located below. There is one video included in case you are interested. I also included a picture gallery closer to the end. I had too many pictures to post so I condensed a bunch of the final shots into an album.



The project started off by obtaining a slingshot band and some ammo. I have plenty of loose ball bearings kicking around but I figured I would go genuine.


Onto the fabrication process. Like I said…I didn’t have a plan in place so this is how it all started. I knew that I wanted finger holes so I made the slingshot to specifically fit my hand.


I measured the OC (on center) point of my fingers on my left hand as well as the diameter of my middle knuckles then I started to drill some holes in some 6061 aluminum.


With the holes milled to fit my fingers I started to shave of extra aluminum.


The final step in the finger holder was to mill a tab tab that would eventually slide into the handle assembly. Here one corner of the tab was cut, just needed to finish off the left side.


I didn’t have a clear vision for the “yoke” of the slingshot but I had a general idea. Since I didn’t have any round aluminum stock large enough I decided to machine something out of .375 aluminum flat bar. I started with a 4″ x 4″ section and mounted it to a lathe arbor.


I included this picture because it shows the 4″ diameter I am shooting for. 5 minutes on the lathe will bring it from 4 corners to pi.


Getting closer to my final dimension. Makes me wonder if there is a mathematical term for a square with rounded corners.


So with my 4″ circle compete I set things up on the milling machine to hog out a center, offset, hole with a hole saw.


Back onto the lathe I switched out the 3 jaw chuck for the four jaw and dialed in the center hole. With a boring bar I cleaned up the previously cut hole to dimension.


Now I am back onto the milling machine where I needed to position the part precisely in the chuck as the next step involves drilling symmetrical holes.


I had a plan in my head that was BrainstormCAD’d at around 2:30 am on a sleepless night. It involved drilling a stepped hole in order to secure the slingshot band this way making the install look super clean. It is rather difficult to put into words so I will just mention that the design actually worked.


Here is my progress so far. I post the picture to help illustrate the order in which things are done.


As you can see from the previous picture the handle is nothing more then a 1.250″ chunk of aluminum stock. It is time to start working it over. I need to fit the finger holder into the handle. Instead of milling a slot out I figured I would remove a bunch of the excess material with a drill bit first. I don’t think people appreciate the cutting power of a drill bit enough. Perhaps now would be a good time to reflect on their abilities.


With the holes drilled I then dropped in a .375″ end mill and hogged out the remaining material.


Here I am able to test fit the finger holder and it just happens to slide in perfectly. Amazing what can happen when you use math.


I needed to secure the finger holder to the handle so I set it up in the mill then drilled, and tapped, 5mm holes to accept stainless steel allen head bolts.


I needed to flush mount the non-yoke into the handle. Since the handle had a .375″ slot machines to accept the non-yoke I need to mill off a flat section in order to close up the visual gap that would have been evident with a radius.


I have some ideas in store for the base of the handle. As I plan to build multiple options I decided to drill, and tap, a 6mm hole into the bottom.


The handle was looking rather plane being just round and smooth. I thought I would give it some grip by dropping in a .375″ ball nose endmill 60 degrees apart around the circumference.


The ball nose machining gives the handle both a functional, and visually pleasing, aspect.


With the 3 main components completed it was time to enter into finishing stage. I had contemplated anodizing certain components but in the end I thought that a brushed look suited the project. The finger holder was cleaned up using a die grinder and sanding wheel.


Here are the 3 main components cleaned up with a brushed finish.


With the main slingshot machined it was time to start on the handle bases. Like I mentioned earlier I installed a 6mm thread into the base of the handle in order to accommodate different bases. I had many ideas to build however I decided to limit myself to just three. Here is the start of the first base. It is a chunk of 2.50″ round aluminum that will eventually be turned into a 9 round ammunition holder.


Onto the milling machine where 10 holes where drilled, 9 of which will accommodate the 3/8″ ammunition.


Since I am planing to hold the ammunition in place with 1/8″ rare earth magnets I cross drilled the previously machined holes so that I could epoxy the magnets in place.


With all the crucial angles machined I cleaned up the visuals on the lathe.


Here I sat down at the sunny kitchen and epoxied all the 1/8″ rare earth magnets into place.

The video posted below shows the loading of the slingshot ammunition into the holder. The ammo can be loaded from either side and the magnets are plenty strong enough to keep them in place.


The second interchangeable base would be nothing more the an over sized hook attachment to allow for a caribiner to hook onto. Started off with 1.250″ aluminum stock and trimmed the sides flat.


Dropped a 5/8″ endmill through the middle to make room for a caribiner to clip onto.


Moved onto the lathe to clean up all the visual lines. Gave it s tapered finish.


Rough machining completed of the caribiner end.


As another option for a base I decided to adapt a triple blade carbon arrow head onto the end. At first I was going to pass on this idea as the arrow heads are rather sharp but when I discovered I could buy protective pods to prevent any unwanted injury I figured I would go for it.


This is the first, and second, stage machining of the arrow head adapter. The center hole was drilled and tapped to accept the threaded arrow head. The outer three holes were machined only for cosmetics.


The arrow head adapter was tapered down on the lathe to give it a more stealth look.


All the components of the slingshot received a brushed finish. The finishing touch was the glass bead blasted gordsgarage “GG” gear logo. I created a .900 inch diameter logo on the vinyl plotter, applied it to the handle, taped up the rest of the surrounding areas and then shipped it to the glass bead blast cabinet for some etching.


Here are all the machined, and finished, components that make up the slingshot prior to assembly.

The following gallery displays the finished product. If you click on a picture you will be able to cycle through all the remaining pictures at a decent resolution. The gallery shows multiple combinations of the ends. The ammunition holder can be used on it’s own or coupled with other options. Check out all the pictures to get all the details!



Awhile ago my daughter asked me if I would take her to a certain bath products store so that she would be able to purchase some bath soaps and lotions as a mother’s day gift. This year she showed some initiative in getting something organized for mother’s day so I wasn’t about to deny her some transportation in order for her to execute her plan. When we got to the store I browsed the shelves while my daughter spent all her time smelling every product and deciding what her mom would like the best.

As I enter any retail store I can not help but become obsessed, and fascinated, by the marketing that businesses implement in order to get their products sold. I find it interesting that the cost of a product can drastically increase based on how it is packaged and marketed. It sometimes seems like the substance of the product is irrelevant but if you can make it visually, and emotionally, appealing then people will want it and want to pay for it.

This brings me to my latest garage adventure. I always build things that I find interesting to me. I do not sell my products and certainly do not put any value on them. However I decided that I would take a relatively simple object that I have built in the past and enclose it in some custom packaging to give it a more finished appeal. I would use the marketing technique that we are bombarded by and use it to my advantage.

So this post is not so much about the item as it is the packaging. I won’t go into detail on the specifics since this post is packed full of pictures. There no excuse for you not to know how I did what I did. But I will mention this. I used a new finishing technique that I recently obtained. It is a black oxide finish used for steel. I originally bought the product so that I would have some way to protect the tooling that I sometimes build. More on this later in the post. The second thing I should mention is that this build includes, wait for it……….wood! Yes I know we are all here because we like shiny things. No need to worry or get your end mill in a tizzy, I am not converting. I had an idea and I thought that I would put Mother Nature’s finger print on the project.

The project revolves around building another bottle opener out out of a Porsche 991 GT3 spark plug. I recently obtained 6 of these plugs and therefore I am making a limited edition run of 6 openers, all slightly different. This one is 002/6. Here we go…



So the project started off by cutting off a section of 7/8 cold rolled steel approximately 5 inches long


Next the chunk got spun down to a .748″ diameter


Moved onto the milling machine where each side had .130″ shaved off using a 5/8″ end mill.


Rough milling of the head of the bottle opener


Time to cut the slot for the business end of the opener. I use a 3/8″ end mill. I eyeball the angle and the depth.


Chewing out the slot.


Completed depth achieved. Those bottle caps don’t stand a chance!


Carved a thumb rest in using a 3/4″ end mill.


Jumped back onto the lathe where the opener received some cosmetic touches. I cut a couple of .040″ deep grooves spaced apart the same distance as the green lines on a Bosch spark plug.


Here is the roughed up opener just before its tail will get chopped.


With the excess material removed the opener head got drilled and threaded with a M12x1.0 tap.


A little more chamfering and clean up and the machining is complete.


Done deal, onto finishing stage.

So here we come to the part in the show where I use a black oxide finishing technique. There is a lot that can be said about this however Mr. Google already has it outlined so I will not go into specifics but I will highlight a few things. Black oxide finish is used for a number of reasons. It provides mild corrosion resistance, it gives the steel a certain appearance, and it minimizes light reflection. I started to use the black oxide for its corrosion resistance properties however in the case of this project I am using it strictly for aesthetic purposes, it gives a retro/vintage feel and look to the product.

Black oxide treatment is a chemical process that is typically done hot, around 285 degrees Fahrenheit. However there are other processes that use lower heat as well there are room temperature applications available. In my case I am using a room temperature black oxide kit that I purchased from Caswell Canada. You can visit their site if you want more information. The process is simple. I glass bead blast the part, dip it in the black oxide solution for approximately 30 seconds and then I drop it into a sealer. Because I am using this treatment solely for its appearance I skipped the sealing stage in order to keep the worn and retro black look. I included the following video to show just how quickly the process works.




Finished with a black oxide treatment.


This spark plug has approximately 15 km worth of combusted German petrol, Nitrogen, and Oxygen. Normally I’ll clean the plug however in this case I wanted to keep its authenticity so I opted to leave the sweet smell of carbon connected.


Completed opener attached to the Porsche 991 GT3 spark plug.


Onto the packaging. I wanted to try something new and decided to take a chance on machining a wood/metal case for the opener. I started of by machining a couple of aluminum arbors in order to clamp a chunk of mother natures fibers into the metal lathe.


I am planning on using a hardwood for the case but wanted to ensure my method was going to work before attempting the final product. I chucked up a chunk of 2×4 and spun it down to a cylinder to confirm the success of the plan.


I purchased a 3/4″ cove bit for a router and chucked it up into my ER32 1/4″ collet on the milling machine. The milling machine doesn’t turn the same number of RPMs a wood router does however the test cut on a scrap 2×4 proved to work


With my R&D complete it was time to move on and build the case out of good wood. I made my way down to a local wood finishing supplier and dug my way through piles of hardwood. Where I feel perfectly comfortable going to a metal supplier and others don’t I felt awkward shopping for hardwood which I know nothing about. I had to Google FBM (foot, board measure) to figure out how to buy this stuff. Anyway…I found a section of Walnut with a beautiful grain that would work for the project.


I rough cut the Walnut on my table saw and then moved onto the milling machine to clean all the edges, and dimensions, up. Normally I like to use the proper cutter, speed, and feed, for the proper application. In the case of my wood creation I decided to wing it and use my metal CCMT indexable cutters. Turns out they work great! They are not worthy of a finishing cut but that is what sandpaper is for.


Once done on the milling machine I was now left with 2 identical sections of Walnut; 1″ thick by 2″ wide and approx. 7.50″ long.


I needed to join them as one solid block so that I would be able to machine them down. Since the ends would eventually get cut off I used carpenters glue and stuck them together.


With the 2 halves clamped into a block I needed to find the center. Most people would just “X” the end however I wanted to be as precise as possible. I squared the block up in the mill vise and then used the center finder to locate the middle.


I dropped a 1/4″ endmill into both ends in order to locate the center line of the block.


I love it when a plan comes together. Holes are perfectly centered and ready for the arbors.


If you noticed in the previous picture of the arbors, they were both machined with a centering pin which was intended to drop into the center holes of the Walnut block. This way the arbor was sure to be centered. Both end arbors were then secured using #6 wood screws.


The Walnut is chucked up in the lathe and ready to get spun down to size using, again, a steel CCMT metal cutter.


I started of with a 2″ square section of wood which needs to get cut down to a 1.250″ cylinder. I learned fairly quick that the depth of cut can be greatly increase when shaving Walnut.


Here I am half way through cutting and inspection of the process proves to be working. All 4 corners are cutting evenly indicating that the centering job of the wood on the lathe was fairly accurate.


Here I have achieved my 1.250″ diameter. a bit of 320 grit sandpaper cleaned the finish up real pretty.


I’m not going to get into detail here as what I am doing will become evident as you read on. I needed to trim the end diameters down to a small dimension. Using a part off blade worked perfect to complete the task.


Here the completed rough machining has been accomplished.


The end of the wood that were glued, and that the arbors were screwed into, have been cut off. The wood was then sanded, along the grain, by hand.


Next step was to set up on the milling machine and pocket out a section for the bottle opener to sit in using a 3/4″ cove bit.


As you will see later the case will stay closed using two 1/8″ rare earth magnets. Each wood half received a 1/8″ hole on 1 end to accept the magnet.


Here are the two completed halves all sanded and ready to accept a finish.


In order to give the Walnut a protective coating I brushed on a film of clear satin polyurethane. Once dried the finish was smooth sanded using 0000 steel wool.


With the wood complete it was time to step back into my comfort zone a machine some steel end caps for the case. Here I am starting off with a section of 1.500″ cold rolled steel. It will first get spun down to a 1.250″ diameter.


With the diameter reached I then hogged out the internals using a boring bar.


Here are the 2 rough machined end caps.


Onto the finishing stage. Both caps were glass bead blasted and then treated with the black oxide finish. Obviously the right cap is in its bead blasted state and the left cap has been treated just as the bottle opener head was.


I wanted to add a personal touch so I opted to incorporate a logo. I cut out an end cap vinyl stencil on the vinyl plotter.


Next it was centered, and applied, to one end cap. The rest of the cap was taped up to protect the black oxide finished from the bead blasting.


1 minute in the glass bead blast cabinet and then the decal, and tape, removed revealed a gordsgarage logo. What I like about this technique is that there is no evidence of a depth difference between the black oxide finish and the bead blasting. The logo feels completely flush on the end cap.


Time to jump back onto the wood section. The 1/8″ rare earth magnets, that I spoke of earlier, got epoxied into the ends of each half. I am hoping it is obvious what theses magnets are for. The idea is that they will keep the case “locked”. The magnets will attract themselves to the opposite half steel end caps. The 1/8″ size turned out to be the correct choice as they do the job of keeping the case closed but aren’t so strong that it makes opening the case feel like it’s sticking.


The machined end caps also got epoxied onto the opposite ends of the magnets.


And now there is nothing left to say. Mission accomplished. One 991 GT3 bottle opener with custom case is complete. What is ironic is that the case took 4 times as long to build as the opener.


I am thrilled with the retro and vintage look of the case. It’s all about the packaging!









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.



Cycling season is upon us which also means the agony of getting into riding shape has begun. When I ride my road bike I typically ride by myself. I like zoning out and riding at my own pace. What I also like are all the training numbers that can be had, and analyzed, based on my own riding performance. I monitor heart rate and cadence as the primary indicators that help me determine my progress and abilities.

This year I began using the Strava app on my phone which allows me to track more of my riding data. I won’t go into detail about the app since the website would do a better job of explaining it however I will say that it is packed full of data that helps determine the pace I am riding at and how I improve.

Since I want to have my phone visible when I ride I wanted to have it mount in a location on my handlebar stem. There are companies that offer phone mounts for bicycles however the ones that I looked at all had some minor issues that I did not like. I figured I had a Saturday afternoon to kill so I thought I would see what the milling machine could produce for a mount.

I spent a few sleepless hours, the night before, lying awake in bed mentally engineering the mount. Once I had the neuron blueprint made I caught a few hours of sleep then headed into the shop and starting chipping out some 6061 aluminium.

The criteria were fairly basic. The mount needed to be solid; I didn’t want Velcro or rubber bands holding it on. Second concern was that the phone had to mount to it quickly. Third thing was that I wanted the mount to accommodate my Otter Box case. With these 3 personal requests I came up with a plan. The rest is of the story is told below.


I started off with a section of 1.500″ x .500″ flat 6061 aluminum and began hogging out metal to form a clamp for the phone.


With the middle sectioned out I started to open things up from the outside.


A little more milling and I finally had something that resembled the clamp that I dreamt up the night before.


I required a 6 mm thread in the center hole that would eventually provide the clamping force adjustment.


I am not a weight junkie however there is no need in carrying around anything that is not required. I milled off some extra aluminum that was not necessary.


With the clamp roughed out it was time to start on the base. The first order of business included milling out a section to accept the previously build clamp.


Next step involved hogging out all the unwanted aluminum. My projects sometimes get “chunky” and I did’t want that to happen on this one.


I needed 2 flanges that would allow me to bolt the holder to the bike and the other to help keep my phone centered. Out came the boring head and things were trimmed up.


Here it is just rough machined. Not finished yet.


I test fit the mount on the bike and determined things were, in fact, too “chunky”. I decided that the smaller flange I previously cut in order to keep my phone centered really was not required. Therefore it was time to undo my work. I set the base up on the rotary table and cut off the top section on the mount which included my previously machined smaller flange.


It is definitely looking better, and lighter, having been cut down.


As I continue to lighten things up I cut some speed holes. The one exception was the bottom 6 o’clock hole. It was drilled and tapped, you will see why later.


Here are all the components that make up my holder. You can see a knob, which I didn’t show any pictures of machining it, which will be used in conjunction with my clamp.


Onto the finishing portion of the project. The mount will get anodized in order to protect if from the elements. Of course I say elements because it needs to sound like I need a reason. Truth is that it just looks really cool when anodized. All the edges and surfaces got touched up and then were hit with 2 stage buffing. Then thoroughly cleaned and ready for anodizing.


Here they sit in a sulfuric acid bath and soak for a couple hours while getting bombarded with electrons.


Onto the coolest part of anodizing. 5 minutes in the Red Bordeaux dye resulted in a fantastic shade of red.


This is the clamp fresh out of the dye.


Because there is always 1 person that says “How much does that weigh?” the answer is 109 grams. Yes it is weight, get over it!


Here you can finally see how the mechanics of the clamp works. The knob allows me to tension up the clamp against the soft, flexible, section of the Otter Box phone case.


The base mounts in place of the steering head center cap. It is solid and secure.


The single tapped hole in the array of speed holes was done in order to allow me to store the clamp when the phone is not installed. I simply spin the clamp onto the base and that way it won’t get misplaced.


Here you can see how the entire system was designed, and built, to work. The phone is mounted very securely and has no movement.


All that is visible from the top side are the fingers that wrap around the sides and clamp. I am happy to say that I have cycled multiple times using the mount and there are no issues.