Buchanan Mall Bench Project

While at the Exploratorium I helped with the Buchanan Mall project. The local residence and members of the Exploratorium got together to strategize ways to reclaim the space. The final idea was to use benches as the center point of public gardens, centers for community art, and performance.

The benches were framed with laminated wood arch ways approximately 10ft that would support planters, art, and other structures. My role was to help fabricate and assemble the benches, which ended up being over a 3-month process. This was my first time working a project of this scale and I quickly learned it was all about the jigs. To build twenty benches we made fifty arch ways so we could pick the forty best to use on the final product. Because of the scale of the project, simple operations would last days to weeks. The jigs allowed operations to be both repeatable and quick. 

I had a blast watching pallets of raw wood turn into beautiful center pieces for a community. A lot of what I did was simple, high volume processes but it allowed me to refine my techniques with various wood working tools.

Settle Plate Fix

The first project I worked on at the Exploratorium was to rework an exhibit. The exhibit used a desk top CnC with a camera mounted wear the tool would be. The camera’s X, Y, and Z direction could be controlled by the user to look at different parts of a seal plate containing marine biological growths. 

The exhibit was experiencing vibrational issues in the Y direction. My diagnosis was the system was over constrained by having a lead screw and rail bearing. To fix this I swapped the rail bearing for a roller bearing. I machined the bracket for the roller bearing to mount onto the existing space and fly cut then polished the flat surface to roll on. This fixed the vibrational issue and has held up over time.  

This project got my foot in the door with the Exploratorium as well checked out to on various tool to use on my own including the mill.

Assembling Bucky Balls

Offered my help with the assembly of an artist installation at the Exploratorium referred to as the Bucky Ball. The installation has a Bucky Ball, a geometric shape composed of hexagons and pentagons, suspended within another Bucky Ball which was mounted about 10ft above the pier. Each line segment contained LEDs which were individually controlled by software. Over two days I helped assemble, install, and organize the hundreds of feet of cable. The end product was stunning at night. 

Wedding Bands

While I have experience designing and making parts, I had never made or worn jewelry. I wanted our wedding bands to be special so I decided to give it a shot. After some paper prototypes and a couple of CAD models I started the machining process. I chose titanium because of its strength, relatively light density, corrosion resistance, and appearance. It was my first-time machining titanium and honestly, I was a little wary. Titanium can work harden if you cut too slow or too fast or your tool isn’t sharp enough. After taking a couple of cuts and dialing in my feeds and speeds, my nerves went. After receiving the input from my wife, “I want it to look like a ring, not a part” I continued to remove material till her ring looked delicate. On the other hand, I wanted my ring to look like a “part” so I kept my ring blocky. In the end we both loves our rings and I had a blast working on them.