Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three Kinds of Rock

I've been reading a book about the elements. Or, perhaps more specifically, the periodic table ("The Disappearing Spoon," by Sam Keane). But that's not what inspires today's post title. Instead, it is the observation that in some of the earliest tools of the paleolithic, our ancestors still found it necessary to carry more than one kind of rock.

These days, even a big-box store can only scratch the surface of the available tools. I noticed this most when I was building scenery for the stage; you needed a monstrous number of different tools to even complete a single job. These days, I'm experiencing it most sharply while building props.

Not that I've given up sound design, or that sound design doesn't require a tool or two! In fact, I've got two exciting designs coming up, and I'm adding two new tools to my collection (a better software-based noise remover, and a Zoom portable recorder).

(More detail on that soon, so don't despair, people who came here for the sound design stuff.)

I was just at the hardware store today, strolling the aisles, and I entertained myself identifying the speciality indicated by the specific supplies on display in each section; glazing here, mudding beside it, auto body repair a little further down.

And then came home with a fresh sheet of MDF to work on what I hope will be a shorter project than usual; assembling some vaccuform Lewis Gun magazines.

Now, I really like TechShop. The span of tools, the fact you don't have to make sawdust in your bedroom, and of course tools that give me access to materials and processes I simply could not do at home...like engraving acrylic, or lathing metal. But it was also rather satisfying to put my own small collection to good use again. Rough-cut some MDF with jigsaw, trimmed it properly with the scroll saw, cleaned the edges with a third-sheet sander. Drilled holes with the drill press. Glued it in place, and did some rough shaping with the Dremel.

But soon enough I'll take the project to TechShop as well. Because I can cut the other shapes I need from MDF, but it is faster and neater to cut them out with a laser. Or, soon, with a ShopBot...but I have at least two classes to take before that option is available to me.

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