Archive for the crafting Category

Posted on crafting

A Kindle cover, made quite poorly

Have you ever fallen asleep with your kindle in your hand, only to be shocked awake when it clatters to the floor? No? Well, me neither, but I’m given to understand that it’s something that happens to certain people with some regularity.

So I got to thinking, and thinking always leads to drawing up some professional-quality diagrams. Wait. Schematics. Yeah, schematics. That sounds fancier.

Super clear and professional design schematics

I considered 3D printing the part that connects to the Kindle, but worried it would be too brittle and eventually settled on ordering a very basic case from Amazon.

As I’m sure you immediately noticed, the cover flap hinges from the side, while the schematics very clearly require it to hinge from the top. So I broke out the trusty exacto knife and soon it hinged from nowhere at all.

The next step, as per the schematics, was to add the hand-straps to the back of the flap. So, you know, I kind of did that. Not well, but… I mean they’re there.

Then I attached the safety line, for, you know, safety.

Why yes, that is duct tape over cardboard.

And I placed magnets in both sides to hold it together when it’s open. I should have formed a channel with them (this was the original plan), but instead I didn’t do that and the end product is all the worse for it. It’s all tradeoffs, you know?

Hand holders and a safety strap? Ingenious!

But there was no way to know if it would work…

I guess it works

I know it looks awkward, and believe me, it is, but my hand is also larger than necessary. This is what we in the engineering game call “something about tolerances”. Also, please note that I am not, in fact, an engineer. However, as I’m sure engineers often say: it was good enough. Except, I guess, for the painter’s tape forming the hinge. That certainly wasn’t going to hold up, so I did a very bad job wrapping the whole thing in leather.

And then I also quite a poor job staining it.

And there you have it!

Is it nice? No. Is it functional? No. Okay, I guess it is. Is it safe? Sure, if used correctly.

Posted on crafting

I made a cat toy

Why, you ask? Well, it was Christmas time, you see. Yes, I know that’s how these stories always start, but that’s the way it happened. Everyone was watching football and there were cats everywhere. A dog too, but was outnumbered and he knew it.

This isn’t all of the cats that were there.

By sheer happenstance, in an adjacent room, rolls of leather rested against one wall, and right next to them were basic leatherworking tools. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Brad, that’s a normal thing. All of these are normal things. Why are you wasting my time with this? Well, sure, maybe it’s normal—I have not once claimed to be an authority on what’s normal and what’s not—but at the very least I would content that I have little to no control over your time. That’s on you, my friend. Now, if I can please get back to my story? Thank you.

Well, I guess I made a quick cat toy. Out of leather. That’s pretty much it.

This is a cat toy, I guess.

As I mentioned quite recently it is made out of leather. I shaped the two halves over a little wooden ball (which was part of another cat toy), and then stitched them together. I stuffed the whole thing with some… I dunno, stuffing? Whatever the stuff you put into things is called… And added some catnip.

I would have liked trap a bell inside, but I didn’t have one handy.

It’s very light and irregular in shape, so when a cat hits it it moves easily and in a manner difficult to predict. All of which was very intentional; definitely not a product of its poor production.

I am tempted to make another though, this time with a bell in it.

Posted on crafting

A new handle on knife

See what I did there? You’re welcome.

The handle on one of my mother’s kitchen knives was deteriorating so I decided to “fix” it.

See? Deteriorating. Why didn’t you just believe me?

So I took some measurements…

Just look at those scribbles. Those are some quality measurements.

And using those measurements I made a 3D model in Fusion 360.


Which I printed a bunch of times on my SnapMaker 2.0! With adjustments here and there until I was satisfied with the fit.

Don’t mind the teeth or circuitry in the background. Focus instead on all the knife scales. Can you tell which ones are 3d printed?
Here’s the knife without its scales. It looks so naked.
The 3D print worked pretty well! If only I wasn’t worried about.. you know, thermo plastic being near heat sources and a perfect surface area for bacteria growth.

Once I was happy with the model, I CNCed it out, also using my SnapMaker 2.0, on a piece of test wood. Yeah it does CNC and 3D printing, so what? (Also laser cutting.)

The SnapMaker 2.0 is pretty cool.
They seemed fine.

They the test CNCing went pretty well, so I did it again – but this time from using some black walnut from a tree that grew on her childhood home.

The brass rods fit! I taped up the knife blade for “safety”, he said trying to distract from how dull the blade actually is.

Then I cut the brass rods down to size with a hacksaw, and started peening them. Oh also, I glued them in (and the scales to tang) with some resin.

Peening has begun.

It turned out pretty alright, I think! I did some sanding and used some wood filler to plug a gap, which… I should have used a different colour, but I happened to have one on-hand.

Also I made a quick leather sleeve for it because I started to feel embarrassed by the painters tape.

Here’s the pointy end!
Here’s the stubby end.
Posted on crafting

Bluetooth footpedal

My mother has a piano and a Microsoft Surface Pro. The former is good for playing songs while the latter is good for many, many things, including, but not limited to, playing songs. Also the display of sheet music for use with a piano. It would be perfect, really, if there was a way to change pages in a hands-free manner. One traditionally uses ones hands, you see, to piano.

I know what you’re thinking – there is! You can buy such things, but also you can make them.

To start with, I ordered an Adafruit Feather m0 Bluefruit LE from BC Robotics. After that it was a simple matter of wiring a few buttons up to it, and writing some code.

Once I had that figured out (or while I figured that out), I had to design a model to house it. And, you know, act as a foot pedal. Luckily, I have an awesome 3d printer so models can come to life in only ten to fifty hours, or so.


The buttons fit into those two holes, and as you apply pressure to the pedal in either direction it presses them. It’s powered by USB, which also charges a battery so it can continue to work should it be disconnected. Here it is assembled!

Posted on Art

Percy Animé

March 2020 will forever be remember by the world for at least one thing: the introduction of Percy Animé – inquisitive rogue; catman; avid journaler. Alignment: neutral, to avoid scientific bias.

Coincidentally it’s also when I joined a D&D campaign.

But who is Percy Animé?

As a kitten Percy was “adopted” by a hag. And though he eventually escaped, he is still haunted by his time with her.

To learn more about him, we need only inspect these few pages from his journal that I found, torn and stained, in a dusty alley somewhere in the dank side of Waterdeep:

Percy clicked the last ring into place and the whole thing came apart in his hands. Huh. Simpler than I expected, he thought. The rough stone at his back dug its way into his awareness as he absently reassembled the puzzle. He pushed himself off the wall and was midway through tossing it into the depths of the alley when the most intriguing thing caught his eye. 

A group of ne’er-do-wells entering a tavern, artfully painted with the filth of hard travel. There were five of them, mixed in amongst the rabble.  All strangers from the looks of it, apart from two. Those two looked similar enough to be brothers, though it’s difficult to tell with half-dragons. 

What were they doing in Water Deep, he wondered. What were they up to? 

Percy smiled, ever so slightly. An astute observer might have just glimpsed his needle-sharp teeth. 

What was a self-respecting tabaxi to do, but investigate further?

Slipping into the tavern, he edged along the wall as he took in its layout. The group of ne’er-do-wells stood facing one of their number, a human female, whose back was to the bar.  Integrating into the group was as simple as weaving his way through the common-folk, caught up in their own lives. Planting himself just close enough, and just far enough away, for it to be ambiguous as to if he were with them or not.  He focused on the female human as she began to speak.

“Introductions are in order.” She paused. “I am Zelinas Havellyn, member of the Knights of the Shield.  We specialize in legal services. And debt collection.” 

She raised her voice noticeably, presumably so as to carry to the rest of the tavern’s occupants. “So if you’re looking for legal services, look no further than the Knights of the Shield.”

“Now, if you would please tell me a little about yourselves.” She nodded to one of the towering half-dragons.

“My name is Sasuto, practitioner of the blade.  It is all I have in this life.” He had two, in fact.  Along with horns, and red scales which glinted despite the tavern’s glooms.  

The matching half-dragon, but for a third sword and deep, black scales, sighed.  He finished the drink in his hand and spoke next.

“I am Roronoa, master of the blade.  Sasuto is my brother.” He grumbled.

Brothers. He’d never doubted it.

“Hi! My name is Chadley and I’m an acolyte of Semuan.” Wide-eyed and with a cheerful grin, he looked to be half-elven. Or perhaps a dainty human.

The last of them – a firbolg – rumbled, “I am Gygg. Druid of the spores.” 

“Anyone else?” Zelinas asked, looking directly at Percy.

“Umm..” I should have seen this coming. Surely they’d see through his deception and mark him as the imposter he was. Surely. And then he’d have to injure one of them and flee.  Perhaps Chadley, he looked feeble. 

Percy’s mind briefly caught up in plans and contingencies, none of them ideal. There was nothing for it. He had to double down and hope they hadn’t noticed the interminable pause.

“Yes, it is I! Percy Animé. Famed catman of diverse interests and great skill.” He nodded to each of his presumed companions in turn.

Zelinas nodded back, and Percy let out a nearly audible sigh of relief.  He hadn’t truly expected that to work.

— Percy Animé’s private journal

I’m sure there must be more, hidden away somewhere. He’s reported to be a cagey cat. Perhaps it’s buried, or knowing Percy, he probably zagged, storing somewhere no one would expect. What’s the opposite of buried? No. There’s no way it could be in a cloud. Are there spells for that?

Just how handsome is he?

In short, very. There are no known pictures of Percy Animé, so I took it upon myself to render a portrait of him in exacting detail, through the art of digital painting.

Percy Animé

It looks a little washed out, printed on canvas. But now his portrait hangs behind me, in an elaborate wooden frame of custom make.

I went over it with modpodge to give it the texture of brush strokes.

What has become of him?

Unfortunately there have been few sightings of Percy Animé since his time in Borovia; we only know that he left it alive, and well, if somewhat changed by his experiences there. Strangely however, there was a sighting of someone going by a similar name (Persy Von Catsing). This “Persy” looks suspiciously like Percy, but younger. He is a bard, or so I’m told.

If this seems strange and confusing, I was right there with you, but then I began to think. What if Percy isn’t tethered by time and space in the usual manner? What if he isn’t weighted down by them as we are?

I started doing some research and I found an ancient document, of reputable source, that may explain it (which I’ve reproduced it here).

It describes, at a high level, a background which takes another as its parameter. What if there are multiple versions of Percy Animé, free of the constraints of time and space. What if there are many Percy’s, but only one will prove suitable to be the Percy Animé.

What if he is the Schrödinger Cat.

Posted on Art

Wherein you make your gf an infernal box

It all started at Michael’s, as these things always do, with a box shaped like a book. You see I’d never played dungeons and dragons, but it turns out any DM worth her salt needs a way to roll her dice unobserved. The more sinister the receptacle the better.


Flowers are cool and all, but I think the accursed flesh of the damned would be more appropriate


I've always found accursed flesh to be somewhat rubbery - plastidip is great for that


Plus it's nice to paint on

Once you've painted on the pentagram and inscribed the appropriate infernal runes, it's time to raise the flesh above it. I used a glue gun.

Don't forget to paint over them again.

After spray painting the corners metalic, I sealed it with Mod Podge.

The inside should be lined with felt, the colour of freshly spilled blood.

Yes, that's a string cheese wrapper on my floor. Manipulating such dark power is dangerous, hungry work.