Laser cut mechanical Moon Phase Clock

Tracking the lunar orbit with laser cut precision

For those who need to know the phases of the moon, there are options way more satisfying than turning to your favourite Internet search engine.

This laser cut marvel was produced by Lukas Christensen as a gift for his brother, a biodynamic farmer who relies on Moon phases to plant and harvest crops.

When investigating exactly what to make, Lukas decided that merely tracking phases of the Moon would be far too easy. To add an extra challenge, he incorporated the function of showing rise and set times of the Moon. And so the Moon Machine began to take form.

Clearly no stranger to working with numbers, Lukas has included a thorough walkthrough of his process on Instructables.

Although an actual video would have been great to see, here is the next best thing – an animation of the mechanism where you can see the hand crank turning away. In real-world use, one turn of the crank is made each day.

Some of the wooden gears broke under the considerable pressure of the assembled machine at the point where forces are translated to the central planetary gear. To get around this, substitute parts were cut from aluminium.

Reflecting on the completed Moon Phase machine, Lukas has identified a number of ways to make it even more accurate should he come to attempt another version.

Learn more about Moon Machine on Instructables.

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Above are Laser cut and printed wood robots from Indie Laser.

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Laser cut wooden chess set packs flat

Chess essentials ready to go

Perfect for the active chess player who likes to get out and about, Got Chess? presents a stylish contemporary solution. This laser cut wooden chess board concept by product designer Peter Baeten folds flat into a neat leather pouch that also acts as a playing surface during the game.

“Inspired by the classic leather notebooks, ‘Got Chess?’ is a fully functional chess set, but stripped to its essentials.”

The line between 2D and 3D is blurred as the silhouettes of the pieces take centre stage. Due to the way that the pieces slot in to the board, only the active players have a full view of the game at hand.

Laser cut and then hand finished, Got Chess? consists of four tablets – one each to house the black and white pieces, and two to make up the board.

So if you see a guy wandering around with a stylish folded leather pouch, don’t automatically assume it’s a hipster iPad case. This could be your big opportunity to challenge a Grand Master.

Peter Baeten via Laughing Squid

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Making Cannons with Lasers

Fully Functional Black Powder Cannons from Mini Cannon Tech

Alexander Sarnowski is the product designer behind Mini Cannon Tech – fully functional mini-sized cannons that combine CNC metal machining with wood laser cutting.

For as long as he can remember, Alexander has been building everything from his own morse code machines to home made rocket motors. For his 16th birthday his father bought him a mid-sized lathe, and since then he’s been designing and cranking out parts every chance he gets.

The inspiration behind his miniature civil war cannons came when he manufactured a cannon for his grandfather’s birthday.

“I made him a fully functional miniature civil war mortar out of brass, and he was more excited than I’ve ever seen him about anything. I think that was the point where I realized that I might be on to something.”

Alexander started his research on the mini cannon market and quickly found that while there were plenty of functional cannons available, most of them weren’t nearly as realistic as the ones he had in mind. So he set out to create a scaled down civil-war era black powder cannon that was fully functional, small enough to fit on a desk, and made from historically accurate materials. 

Alexander knew his way around a lathe, so the barrels wouldn’t be a problem. The wood carriages however, would have been impossible to make by hand at the scale he wanted. That’s where Ponoko came in:

“My roommate had ordered laser cut parts from Ponoko for one of his robotics projects, so I asked him if Ponoko also cut wood. I had plenty of CAD experience, so discovering Ponoko was the last piece to the puzzle.”

Once he learned what was possible with Ponoko, designing the first prototype “only took me a few hours” he says, adding that “the time it took me to bolt it all together was only a few minutes, thanks to how accurately the laser cut parts were.” He cites the help he got early-on as one of the top reasons he likes Ponoko:

“I have made some orders where I didn’t compensate for the heat of the laser properly,” he says “so Ponoko sent me exactly what I had ordered AND a redesigned layout for my parts to insure that my parts came out correctly.”

Mini Cannon Tech is now the producer of some of the smallest, and most realistic shootable Civil War cannons online. And yes, these incredibly small cannons can really fire! Using the same process as a real cannon, real black powder is used to fire a small projectile over 100 feet. Check out the video below to see the cannons in action:

His first run of cannons quickly sold out to customers worldwide. I asked Alexander if he had any future products on the horizon.

“The great thing about model cannons is that there are literally thousands of different cannons that existed throughout history so we will never have a shortage of ideas and new products.” he says. “Right now in the works we’ve got models of Civil War mortars, the highly acclaimed Parrott rifle, and the champion of the Mexican War, the 1841 6-Pounder Smoothbore.”

What is Alexander’s advice for designers hoping to make “bang” with their product? “Only make something you are truly passionate about. If you do this, your products will inherently improve over time and your passion will show to people who are looking for a quality product. Don’t do it because you can, do it because you want to. ”

You can get your own realistic, miniature shootable cannon at Mini Cannon Tech.

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A camera that is more than it seems

Q: When is a camera Not-A-Camera? A: When it’s laser cut!

As an ornament, this laser cut and laser etched 2D wooden camera has its own charm. Just be sure to say cheese when you see someone wearing one, because there is more here than meets the eye.

Secreted inside the half-inch thick device are the tiny innards of a basic digital camera.

Olivia made the Not-A-Camera for her 101 year old grandmother, who has been a shutterbug ever since discovering a knack for photography back in her 90s.

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Above is a Gothic Architecture Wood Lamp from 1 Man 1 Garage.

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Soul of Barcelona in a laser cut TV

Las TV’s laser cut souvenir captures the feel of a city

How do you capture the soul of a city? When it comes to the dynamic metropolis of Barcelona, there are so many vibrant cultural elements to choose from.

The Las TV’s project came up with this cute little keepsake, which these Spaniards feel gives a snippet of daily life in their home town. Made from laser cut wood at Fab Lab Barcelona, the miniature retro-TV set has a nostalgic photo of the city on the screen, and at the push of a button it plays sounds recorded on the city streets.

So it is now possible to hold the soul of Barcelona in your hand, and rekindle fond memories of this unique urban landscape.

“Las TV’s seek to evoke an experience, share and exchange spaces, capture light, sound and time.”

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas & Inspiration

Make your Mother’s Day with these gift ideas from your Personal Factory.

Bouquets are pretty, and gift cards are always appreciated – however – if you want to really dazzle Mom, think outside the “big box” and go with a creative and unique gift made by designers & artists right here at Ponoko. We’ve gathered some inspiration and gift ideas to get you on the right path:

For the the crafty mom, choose a gift that pays tribute to your mom’s favorite DIY hobby. The owl embroidery organizer from Girl on the Rocks is great for the mom who loves embroidery, needlepoint and cross stitch. The laser cut acrylic owl holds and separates each color of yarn being used for a project. Another awesome DIY embroidery project is this stitch panel from Kristen Doran Design, available in acrylic red wood veneer.

For the serious knitting enthusiast, the Electric Eel Wheel by Maurice Ribble is a clever electric spinning wheel making it great for easily spinning the fiber of your choice into yarn.

Personal ornamentation is often a popular option. Feathered White and Wood Pendants from iluxo are hand made with laser cut bamboo plywood and ivory acrylic, and go great with any wardrobe. Another creative bamboo accessory are the woodland inspired earrings from Pepper Sprouts.

Jewelry needs somewhere to be stored. When they aren’t putting out lab fires, the engineers over at Laboratory424 are hard at work inventing new & unique products like the Stow Dot. The Stow Dot is designed to hold all that small, stringy stuff on walls without all those bulky racks, hooks, and shelves. It measures only 1 inch, and can hold up to 1/2 lb . Plenty of gravity defying power for your mom’s necklaces, bracelets, earbuds, or similar.

While we’re talking about Mom, don’t forget about your mom’s mom. A picture frame, such as the Flower Photo Frame by BEDA Design Inc is the perfect for grandparents who love showing off their grandkids.

The best gift, however, is the one made by you, and we’re here to help facilitate the opportunity by providing FREE design files that you can download, customize and make with Ponoko. The Tulip Vase is designed to be flat packed and easily assembled with minimal components. All you need is a glass test tube to put water and flowers in and to give the vase structure, so no glue is required. If made from plywood or MDF, the parts can be painted, waxed or varnished, and there are a few finishing options for both US and NZ materials.

For the accompanying card, user our free files to make your own Mother’s Day lace card, or make a totally unique custom card by following our guide to making a laser cut greeting card.

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Above are two laser cut birch owl clocks from Pedromealha.

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