Sunday, November 20, 2011

The day has arrived!

The day has arrived!

This is all MDF and is near perfect. I have found a few flaws with the skirt plans, whether or not they're true or my imagination, I cannot say. However, I will document everything I did to achieve this the best I can. If the Builder's Council decides they'd like a full tutorial, then that's certainly something I would write up. However, for the most part, this short tutorial is straightforward and I promise you that this skirt building process is incredibly easy and very fast. In fact, I achieved all of what you see here in less than an hour (with the exception of gluing the MDF.

PROTIP:The skirt plans show that the widest point from side to side is 13.598".....and that the narrower end (I will refer to this as the small width on the wings)should be 11". It's generally accepted that the angles of the skirt is 36 or 37 degrees, however, this is where I find the flaw. When I glued up the boards, I measured one end as close to 13.598" as I could....and then proceeded to cut a 36 degree angle. If this angle were in fact correct, then my small width should automatically end up being 11"....but it's not, in fact, it's closer to 10-3/4". I will live with this, and don't find it that big of a deal, but keep that in mind when you're making your skirt. To confirm this, my original skirt, was done with an 11" base first....then I did two wings at 36 degrees....and believe it or not, the wide width is closer to 14".....

Here is a short, step by step process for producing this skirt. I will use some photos from my previous blog to help illustrate this process.

1. I purchase 1/2" MDF from Lowe's. It was $23.XX a sheet....not too bad and it gives me plenty of wood in case I mess up.

2. I had this cut down to 2'x3', a few smaller boards (these are perfect for the base) and one strip that is conveniently 1/2" x 3/8"....perfect for those ribs!

3. I glued all four 2'x3' planks together, clamped it up, and let it sit over 24 hours....

4. After it glued, I then proceeded to rip the planks in half....I did not measure to ensure that they were even, just that they had enough material to make two skirts.

5. At this point, I squared one end up so that I had an even side to work with.

6. Next, I set my table saw to 36 degrees and ripped the entire board.

7. Now, I took the bottom of the board, or the 'longer side' and measured over 13.598, and I think I actually did 13-9/16.

8. Next, I made sure that I was going to cut the board so that the angles matched, and cut the other side using my I had two boards that were 3ft long, but had perfect angles cut on the sides.

PROTIP:Leave the boards long, so that if your first angular cut is messed up, you can simply move the center point back, and start over without ruining the whole skirt!

9. Next, I found the radius of the outer circle to be R8.337....I made a template out of posterboard, and then proceeded to draw the circle on the long side of my board.

10. Now I was ready to cut, according to the link I showed in my last blog post, he used a band saw with a tilting table, made a circle jig, and went to town....I opted to free hand it. (note - This is my dad who helped me so I could photograph the process).

HOWEVER....after 30 minutes, I had made very little fact, I had only cut 1/4" of one side of the patience was gone. At this point....I had an idea.

11. I said screw the bandsaw, and brought my table saw out......this is genius.

12. I set the tablesaw to 36 degrees and proceeded to make many straight cuts all along my circle.....straight cut after straight cut was made, but you can see how quickly it would go. Make sure that your cutting your angles on the correct side.

13. Once I made it all around both of my circles, I used a mouse sander, and sanded the MDF. This took about 5 minutes per side to get it buttery smooth.

14. All in all, after you have the MDF glued up, you should be able to complete this cutting and sanding in 30-45 minutes.

Here is a look at the finished product. I still need to cut the cap for the skirt, and attach the ribs, but to get this much done in less than an hour is amazing. I am going to build two skirts and provide one to a fellow Astromech member.

Couple of tips:

1. If you follow my method, I would almost suggest you go by the 11" first rather than the 13.598 like I did. At that point, I didn't know they wouldn't end up being perfect. What this means, is when I make my skirt base, rather than using the plan for them, I have to derive my own based on the width of my skirt.

2. If you could measure the side wings on this MDF skirt, you'd see that the smaller end is slightly larger than the plans....however, ALL of the other dimensions are 100% correct (with the exception of that 11" side).

3. This skirt will be heavy, but at the same time, when you're already dealing with a 150+ pound droid, what's another 10 pounds? The fact is, this skirt is so strong that you'll never worry about picking the droid up by the skirt. However, you could easily drill some weight holes in places that won't be seen.

There it is guys, it's really that easy!

Tomorrow, I plan to cut the cap and start to get the ribs cut!

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