Sunday, April 28, 2013

TARDIS Build Update - Part 10

Welcome back for update 10 on my TARDIS build. But first, a bit of a PSA.

Folks, I cannot stress enough the importance of safety. I'll cut directly to the punchline and confess that I nearly chopped my thumb off a few days ago. It scared the crap out of me. In many of my videos and blog posts, I talk about "Safety first" and how important it is. No project is worth getting injured over. No project is worth losing a finger, thumb, or hand over. Or your vision. While I am usually EXTREMELY careful, sometimes I slip up. Here's how it went down.

As usual, I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. First mistake. Second mistake, I had gotten comfortable with my tools. The third really big mistake was that I was in a rush. I was using my chop saw, and for the life of me it all happened so fast I can't really tell you what happened, or where I went wrong. I put a piece of wood in, started up the blade and lowered it down. In the next instant there was an INCREDIBLY loud popping noise and I felt a super sharp pain in my thumb. I pulled my hand instantly to my stomach and grabbed it. Honestly, I was just waiting for the blood to start gushing. I was looking around for the part of my thumb that must have been chopped off. A few seconds passed, and I felt no blood. I reluctantly withdrew my thumb from the clench of my hand to examine it. It has already started swelling up and changing colors. It had a few cuts on it. A tiny bit of blood.

Had my thumb been about two inches in the other direction, or had the piece of wood pushed my hand a tiny bit over, I wouldn't be typing this blog entry. I'd be in the hospital recovering. Racking up medical care bills.

The violence of the event was immense. It was so fast, so brutal, and so shocking. I feel like I may actually be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I cannot stop thinking about the brutality of the incident, and how life changing it COULD have been had things only been slightly different. Inches different.

The thing that keeps running through my mind is that there was no allotted reaction time. I didn't see it coming. It's not like I could have pulled my hand away and avoided it had I been paying attention. There would not have been a moment for me to stop the blade from spinning or plunging in order to save my hand, had it been in the blades path. Before I was even aware that something had gone wrong, my thumb was already crushed.

As far as I can figure, what happend is that the wood I was cutting wasn't up against the back guard rail. I even think there was a bit of scrap wood in the blade well, keeping it from sitting in place properly. As I was in a hurry, I didn't think to clear it out. Figured it wouldn't make a difference or matter. I put the wood down, started the blade and lowered it. I think what happened was the blade grabbed the wood, picked it up, slammed it into the back wall and then straight down. My thumb must have slipped under the wood and got crushed when it came down.

I feel so incredibly lucky to still have my thumb. I cannot even tell you. I cannot express how mad I would be if I lost my thumb just to build a tardis. There is no amount of TARDIS that can make up for a lost thumb, or use of my left hand.

The real upside to this story is that I'm recovering extremely quickly. It's only a couple days after the incident happened and I'm already back to work. My thumb remains a bit sore and a tiny bit discolored, but nothing was broken, torn, or ruined. It just took a good thumping. I'm extremely happy to NOT be a cautionary tale. Don't let this happen to you, folks. Please be careful. Don't work when you're tired. Don't try to go fast. Don't be lazy. Pay attention. Use the tools as they are supposed to be used.


With that out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks. Much progress to share. Let's start with the roof. With the pyramid now finished and dry, it was time to get it attached to the base. Please recall that one of my design goals is to have the pyramid detachable from the base, so that I can fit a MOSTLY assembled tardis inside my house. With the pyramid on, it's too tall. My idea was to have a lip on the underside of the pyramid which would allow it to affix with precision onto the base.

I started by getting the pyramid aligned on top of the base. You can see from this pic how uneven the edge is.

I then trimmed it down roughly, using a coping saw.

With a little help from the orbital sander and a sanding block, the edge of the roof is now even with the base. The pyramid is being held in place with a couple wire nails right now. Yes, they make tiny holes in the surface, but I'm not too worried about that. I'll just putty them when all is said and done.

With the roof in position and tacked into place, I flipped it over and installed the lip. I cut four pieces of wood to length, meitered the ends, and then trimmed an angle on one side that is equal to the slope of the roof. It fits very snugly. I lined the edge of the roof base with painters tape. This will not only add a tiny bit of wiggle room, but will also prevent glue from joining the lip I'm building to the roof base itself.

In the picture below, the lowest step of wood is the lip, loosely fit into place. I glued it down after this pic was taken, using only gravity to hold it in place.

Once everything dried, I was able to remove the pyramid. You can see here the lip. It works perfectly! I'm probably going to cut a chamfer on the edge so that it slips into the base more easily, but you get the idea.

With primary construction nearing completion, it was time to turn my attention to the functional details of the build. I plan on back lighting my windows, door sign and sign boxes. For the windows and door sign, this means building boxes to hold the LED's and contain their light. Using specs from Philip Wise's build, I put these together very quickly. For once during the build, precision and accuracy didn't really matter at all. As long as the boxes were a quarter of an inch larger than the diameter of the windows, they would work fine. It was kind of refreshing not having to worry about joints lining up perfectly and all that stuff. I did still use a set square to make sure they were as "right" as possible. Here's my kitchen, once again being put to good use.

Once all the glue was dry, I stood them all up to clean off the counters, and noticed that the whole thing looked like some kind of contemporary art display.

Now it was time to build their backs. I used plywood left over from previous roof prototypes. The wood was not a perfect fit, and I had to cut small triangles to fill in one corner on each box, but I don't care. These boxes will be inside the darkened tardis, and nobody will ever see them. They are purely functional, and not cosmetic. I roughly cut the plywood to size, glued it in place, then held it fast with a few wire nails. I could have clamped them all, but that would have taken much more time as I have a finite number of clamps. I then used a router to go around the edges and trim the plywood to the exact size of the boxes. Worked great! The nails made short work of the boxes, and I'm totally happy with how they turned out.

Now back to some glamorous elements of the build!

It was time to build the frame for the phone door. I followed Philips build for this, and my first version turned out decently. Cutting grooves in the wood using the table saw was cool, but a bit unnerving. What you see here is version one. I was really happy with how it came out, but the knot on the right hand side got to bothering me.

I installed the phone sign, but it wasn't until I got it into place that I thought to do some research on the thing. Which was totally dumb, as I realized I used the wrong sized and colored hinges, and put them in the wrong place. Other than that, it's perfect. Here's how version one fit into the door.

I found this picture online. After doing some work in Adobe Illustrator with this photo, I concluded that the hinges are 1" tall, and are placed 2.5" from the top and bottom of the sign respectively.

Since I cut recesses for the hinges in the first sign frame, AND I didn't like that huge knot on the right, I decided to rebuild it. Hence version 2.

And that's about where the build stands as of right now.

In other Doctor Who related news, the fabric for my Tennant suit arrived the other day. I got this from Indy Magnoli. This was his second round of the fabric, and I believe it looks great! Thanks Indy!!

Check back soon for more pics of the build, and more updates on my shenanigans.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

TARDIS Build Update - Part 9

I am almost all caught up with my blog updates for the Tardis build, and this one will pretty much be it. Which is great.

First up, I wanted to extend a hand of gratitude to the good folks at Star Trek Renegades, who I am currently working with to produce a series of behind the scenes pieces and interviews. So far I have intereviewed four cast members. The first part of my interview with Tim Russ has already been loaded into my youtube page, and soon to follow is part of of my chat with Adrienne Wilkinson. Already this week I have logged interviews with Larissa Gomes, and veteran actor Richard Herd. Richard portrayed Admiral Paris in Star Trek Voyager, and also the main bad dude in the original V tv series. Truly an honor to be working with such talented and wonderful people.

And really that's all just given as an excuse for why I haven't done any building in the past two days.

The good news is that lots of stuff has been happening in the background, behind the scenes. I've ordered my pebbled lexan for the windows, and the production of the PVC waterjet cut window frames is complete, and they are shipping. I've purchased what I believe to be the right lantern, and we are nearly there with the correct toppers. I've also gotten some attachment hardware for the light boxes that go behind the windows. So lots of movement on the project, just not a lot of activity in the garage for the past two days.

First order of business when it comes to doing final install on the walls is putting bolts onto the back of the walls. Following Philips method, I am putting six bolts on each door. One on the top, two on each side, and one on the bottom. For reference, here are the bolts I'm using. I got them at Home Depot.

A better look:

Here's what the bolts look like installed. This really wasn't much of a trick. I just drilled a little pilot hole first, then sunk in the screws. Precision wasn't really a big factor, as the bolts slide about a half inch out.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I had to install the "spine" to the door. I used my hand weights to secure it into place. I've seen folks use really complicated and effective means of clamping this thing into place, but I just couldn't be arsed. So I put some weights on it. And it worked.

Here you can see two of the walls fitted into place. IIRC, I still needed to do a bit of trimming on one of the doors at this point, but it ended up just being some light sanding.

"MattMunson, what the eff are those clamps all about" you may be asking yourself. During the course of wall construction, they took on a little bit of a bow. I'm sure resting hand weights on them for a few hours didn't help. What you are looking at here is an attempt to get out that bow, and hold the wall in the proper shape while I mark the hole for the top bolt to fit into.

Here's an interior look at the wall in place.

A nice look at all three walls in place, along with a few beauty shots from behind.

For the curious, a bit of this makes an appearance in the most recent Team Tardis video update. Check it out to see more.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TARDIS Build Update - Part 8

The work continues at a furious pace! So fast, that my blog is falling behind. This is a good thing, by the way.

The most "glamorous" work recently has been the mounting of the two front doors. Please let me take a moment to remind my readers that I have pretty much zero woodworking experience. This is all new to me. So it was with great satisfaction that things came together so well.

Things started off with the building of yet another jig. This will be used to router out the space for the hinges.

This is what I'm talkim' bout, bro.

After that, it was just a matter of installing the hinges on the door. As always, I followed Philip Wise's build, and used a separate plank for the other half of the hinge. This is then screwed into the post.

Here's the first door in place. I was pretty darn happy with it. It hangs very straight! I still need to do a tiny, tiny bit of trimming along the bottom, just to level it out, but overall it's really great. Swings nicely, hangs straight. Just what every growing boy hopes for.

I then repeated the process on the other door. Shockingly, the doors fit together almost perfectly. I need to do a teensy bit of sanding to get them to mate up 100%, but visually they look great from the front. A tiny bit of bowing has occurred in the primary door, and I'm attempting to fix that as I write this blog post. I will keep you posted. No pun.

With the doors in place, it was time to turn my attention once again to the roof. The roof hasn't really been a pain, it's just something that keeps getting pushed to the back burner. Regular readers will recall that I did a POC pyramid, but was unhappy with the amount of time it took to make and the lack of precision. I changed gears and made a jig for the triangles, and produced a second POC which was absolutely perfect and I was thrilled with it. Had I known it would turn out so good, I would have used my target wood for it and called it a day.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, and my photos.

Using my template as a guide, I quickly cut out these four pieces.

I had to build a chimney too. At the time of building, I was using different dimensions than what would become my "final" chimney. But, it was a good learning experience to build this. I used my chop saw to cut meiter joints on the four pieces of wood, then glued them up using a set square as a guide. This method worked really well, and the ultra-flat surface of my kitchen counter once again came in handy.

I then assembled all the pieces to make sure everything was fitting properly. My jig was not designed to cut the edges for the chimney, so I had to do those by hand. I have since updated my jig to include those. The chimney was run through the table saw a couple of times to cut the lip into it, into which the pyramid sheets fit. This way, the chimney not only serves its purpose as a lamp holder, but also provides structural support for the entire roof.

With everything fitting together properly, it was time for the glue up. I start by assembling the entire thing using painters tape. This allows me to not only make sure the joints are held together very tightly, but also that everything is aligned.

After that it was just a matter of running glue along each of the seams on the under side. I let it dry for a couple of hours, then did another bead. Here's what it looks like after the glue had tried and the tape came off.

Here's a close up of the joint after all was said and done. Really nice!

With the second roof POC a screaming success, I knew it was time to finally push ahead and do the final version. I'll save that for the next blog post.

Another task that was remaining to be taken care of was the squaring off of the corners on the posts. Since a router bit leaves rounded edges on the insides, I needed to take a chisel and clean them out to make them square. Took all of about ten minutes. While I was doing this, I also took care of some lingering clean up tasks on the posts. Just cosmetic stuff that needed sanding or levelling.

I'm really happy I picked up a ten dollar set of chisels from Home Depot. They are very versatile tools that have already gotten a lot of use on this project.

Here at Team Tardis, we are working on two tardis builds at the same time. Some of our capabilities are limited, based on our requirements. As has been mentioned before, Ewan is building a tardis that will live outdoors, and therefore requires different things. One such thing is plywood that will withstand the harsh rigors of California winter. Meaning rain a couple of times a year. For my plywood, I just went to the local Home Depot, stole a cart and pushed it home. Recall that plywood is sold in sheets that are four foot by eight foot. Neither of us own a truck or van or anything, so pushing the cart is my only option. So when Ewan purchased his wood from Ganahl Lumber in Costa Mesa, we had a new problem. How to get that wood home?

As luck would have it, a good friend of mine and neighbor is a principle for a tequila company that happens to have a cargo van they use for deliveries. He's a sponsor of the MattMobile project, which by proxy makes him a sponsor of Team Tardis.

Be sure to support our sponsor by picking up some Ultimo Agave Tequila at your local BevMo or other trusted booze supply house.

Back to the story. I borrowed the van and drove down to Ganahl. Here's the view from the captains chair:

And here's a few shots from the lumber yard. Usually when Ewan and I go to a lumber store, we are faced with that awkward moment when the dude behind the counter asks "So what are you building???" While I understand that they are just doing their job, and possibly looking for up-sell opportunities, it's always a bummer when we have to say something like "a shed. A really trick, precision, well made shed" because what are the chances of the dude behind the counter being a huge doctor who fan? We've had people ask us if we are building a giant victorian doll house, a mega dog house, and a few other shameful constructions that are way worse than having a tardis in your back yard.

However, this trip was different. The dude helping me load asked what I was making, and I sheepishly replied "Do you watch Doctor Who, by chance???" and he said "Are you building a tardis?????" I felt vindicated!!

Lastly, be sure to check out the third and probably final installment of the Team Tardis FAQ videos. I fear that ewan and I ramble on a bit too much, so I probably will save the last 20 minutes of our discussion for a live panel or something.

Friday, April 19, 2013

TARDIS Build Update - Part 7

This post is more of a dilemma than an update. I do of course have updates to share, but I'm actually writing this post because I need some feedback, validation, confirmation or disagreement.

And it's all regarding the lantern base. I call it the "Chimney", when I'm in a foul mood.

As I have mentioned in my blog and videos numerous times, I am closely following the build of master craftsman (and honorary member of the BBC Woodshop) Philip Wise. According to Philip, his Chimney is 5.5" wide. Or maybe it was 5". I forget. Doesn't really matter, because I disagree with both of those measurements.

First, allow me to present the following three photos. Each of them are from different time periods in the shooting of the show. One is a screen grab. What I've attempted to do with photoshop is copy the base of the chimney, then paste it a number of times into the photo and lined it up with the upper rectangle of the roof, which is a known measurement.

AND YES, I understand that photos distort things. I understand what parrallax is. I understand what foreshortening is. I understand how camera lenses work. Blah blah blah I'm not new at this.

Which is why I have done this same experiment with three separate photos. The screen grab is the most convincing. not only because it's a great angle, but also because it's a VERY different angle than the other two shots.

So again, I realize that the lantern base is farther away from the camera lens than the edge of the roof. I get that. But even with that being the case, even if we assume that there is non trivial parrallax in effect, it still wouldn't jibe that the chimney is anything other than roughly 6.5".

The other piece of compelling evidence I have, which I can't really show right now because I don't have screen grabs or photos, is a comparison of the lantern Ewan owns to the one seen in an episode of "Pond Life" that was shown on youtube.

For reference, here's the episode I'm talking about that has some really great shots of the lantern and the base:

Ewan and I noticed that the latch on the one in Pond Life matches the latch on his. TO MY EYE, it does not match the latch on other builds I have seen. The details of the lantern in Pond Life also match details on Ewan's lantern.

The kicker is that the diameter at the base of Ewan's lantern is slightly larger than six inches, which would make a chimney base of approximately 6.5" spot on to the screen grabs and publicity stills I've seen.

The bummer is that the style of lantern used in the Smith tardis come in a WIDE variety of sizes and shapes. Tons of them, in fact. In fact, a ridiculous amount of them. A perplexing amount. A "make my eyes hurt from looking at so many different versions of it" amount. But I believe Ewan's find to be the closest match yet, and the fact that it supports my size theory makes me like it even more.

I do want to give a shout out to a blog that helped me in this dilemma. If you have a moment and want to read some more information, please check out this link.

And for goodness sake, don't forget to watch our latest video. This time, it's a FAQ!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TARDIS Build Update - Part 6

As with all blog posts recently, MUCH has happened since my last one.

For those of you new to this build, I am taking the tactic of focusing on my build MORE than my documentation. Crazy. I know. The downside for followers of my work (Hi Mom!!!) is that my photos are all pretty crappy, and tend to be taken in fits and starts. This means the actual building is not being documented. Still, who cares.

This post is kind of a mish-mash of recent happenings and also TARDIS stuff, so if update-salad is not your thing, I suggest you immediately return to AICN or something more mainstream. :P

I'll start this post out with a money-shot of Team Tardis themselves, Ewan and I.

This was taken during one of our Sunday build sessions.

Here's Ewan with one of his recently completed door slat and rail assemblies.

If you haven't been keeping up with my build videos on youtube, now is your chance to get on board. Part five of my build diary is actually pretty darn hilarious (IMHO) and shows that Team Tardis knows how to party.

And now kiddies, sit back and I'll tell you a cautionary tale. It's a riff on the "Measure Twice, cut Once" motif that has been the mainstay of my life for the past five weeks. Don't get me wrong. Team Tardis measures twice, and cuts once. You don't gotta tell me that stuff. However, when an incorrect number is used on said measure that you do twice, it doesn't matter how many times you verify it. If your basic assumptions are wrong, precision doesn't really matter.

The long story short is that I glued SEVEN of the cove strips onto the posts in the wrong location. It wasn't until the seventh one went in that I accidentally found out I was putting them in the wrong place.

A couple lessons learned from this. One is that TightBond III is RIDICULOUSLY strong. The bond created by this glue is actually structurally stronger than the wood itself. This means that when I attempted to separate the strips from the posts, the wood failed before the bond failed. This is actually great news for the project as a whole, but crappy news for this particular step. I lost a grand total of about 20 hours of work, and spent an additional 50 bucks in material to fix this blunder.

The time was spent doing really annoying tedious work. First I had to cut the strips, which are 1 1/8" wide. I did that on the table saw. Then I had to router the cove into them. This took FOREVER because it was really slow going, and was also pretty error prone. Because I'm not using the highest quality tools, my results were mixed, and the wood often got damaged. After that it was a matter of precision cutting them to length, and gluing them in place. Because the posts are wonky and twisted in subtle ways, it was hard to get them perfectly into position.

Here's what it looks like when I'm gluing a strip into place.

As mentioned, I did seven of those before realizing they were wrong. Then I had to remove them, which was a collossal pain in the ass... and seriously noisy. After attempting to chisel them off, hammer them off and pry them off, I finally found a method that worked. I used a piece of scrap wood and a hammer to just pound them into submission. I ended up clobbering my hand once, which led to some bleeding. Ouch.

I then had to repair all the damage I did to the posts during strip removal. Finally, I had to remake all of the cove strips, as they were completely destroyed during the removal process. Oy.

The other thing I really learned from this is that wood is weird. I would take a straight board, cut it in half, and end up with two crooked boards. I just don't get it. Wood is weird. In speaking to my good friend Bill Fischer (who happens to be a mechanical engineer) about this, he managed to put a label on my pain. Wood is not homogenous or isotropic, which actually makes a lot of sense. I'm used to dealing with things like aluminum, steel, or resin, all of which ARE homogenous and isotropic. Basically what this means is that they are structurally consistent. Every square inch behaves the same way as the one next to it. Not the case with wood.

Anyhow, with the cove strips now in their proper place, work could begin again. Here you can see one of the side walls in its proper place, the correct distance from the face of the posts. Looking Good!

As of this writing, here is where things stand. I've kind of just thrown it together for this picture, but you get the idea. Two walls are fitted and in place, the front doors are where they need to be, and overall things are starting to look EXTREMELY TARDIS.

Directly as a result of my involvement in Star Trek Continues, I was brought on as BTS guy for another amazing Trek project, Star Trek Renegades. Renegades is set in the same TNG/DS9/VOY universe and timeline that we have all come to know and love, and takes place about 11 years after the final episode of voyager. Which I think makes it real-time. Anyhow, I am currently in the process of filming and producing a series of interviews with the cast of the show. My first one was with Tim Russ, which was a really fun experience. The first clip from this interview is already online, and I hope you'll take a moment to check it out. Not only to learn about Renegades, but also to see that I'm interviewing Tim Russ! Funny how much has changed in just a year, and how far my little youtube channel has come.

There are plenty more segments to come from that conversation, so please subscribe to my channel if you want to stay on top of it.

My second interview for that project was with an actress named Adrienne Wilkinson, who portrayed Xena's daughter. She plays the captain of a ship on Renegades, and is also a descendent of Khan. Not a bad role, if you ask me. I headed up to the hollywood hills to shoot her interview. We had a really great setting, and I think I managed to capture some of my best interview footage yet. Not only was it visually really great, but Adrienne was also a really fun and charming interview subject.

Here's where we shot:

And here's the view of the Hollywood hills from her balcony! Pretty darn cool!!!

But believe me, it's not all hard work for Team Tardis! The now world famous "Tardis Girls" invited me to join them for "Food Truck Friday" up in Granada Hills last week. I guess the best way to describe it is as a gathering of some of the greatest food trucks in SoCal. Well, I guess that's actually a really accurate way to describe it, as that's exactly what it is. This picture does not do it justice.

If you are in the mood for a little taste of local culture, I highly recommend this event.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

TARDIS Build Update - Part 5

As with all updates to date, much has happened in the past few days.

With the tardis now standing up on it's own, it was time to turn my attention to the walls, and front doors.

After MUCH chicanery and skullduggery at the Home Depot (on their behalf, mind you) I was finally able to find all of the plywood that I wanted. Long story short, the plywood I wanted was hiding under a couple of sheets of some OTHER kind of plywood that was not relevant to my interests. Way to merchandise your store, Home Depot Irvine.

Apparently I was premature (or just plain wrong - ed) in my belief that Home Depot does not deliver. Apparently, they do. I'm still not sure if they would deliver four pieces of plywood and some 2X4's and frankly I don't want to find out. Not when it's twice the fun to swipe one of their carts and push it all the way home. I timed the trip this time. It was about 24 minutes in each direction. Yes, I returned the cart when I was done. This is Irvine, baby. Not the hood.

Before doing my wall layups, I reinforced all of the slats and rails by adding in pocket holes and screws. I did this using the Kreg tool thingie, which is a total miracle maker. Very easy to use, and makes quick neat work of the job. And the connectors turn out great.

Before doing the wall glue up, I built a small work table using a 1/2" thick piece of plywood and the 2X4's. This way I could guarantee a fairly flat and level surface. Well, much more dependable than the garage floor. It also gave me a surface to clamp to during the glue up. Here you can see the first door under construction. I covered the open parts with painters tape and paper. This would help eliminate glue seepage and drips or spills.

Here's the first wall, all glued up and cleaned up. Looks pretty darn good. As with everything else... bigger than expected.

The last operation I had to do on the walls was to remove the part for the windows. I drilled four holes in the corner, then cut out the bulk of it with a jig saw. Then I went in with the router and knocked it even with the slats. A file was then used to angle off the corners.

Lastly, progress continues on Ewans tardis. In his absence, I finished gluing up the available slats and rails for the wall/door assemblies. In an unfortunate error as a result of the learning curve, Ewan's are better than mine. RATS!

Plenty more to come, so please check back soon!