• Reclaimed Wood and Handibot with Richard Hill

    by  • March 7, 2017 • 0 Comments


    Sugar skull cut on reclaimed lumber, pre-paint.

    Reclaimed Wood Objects with Character

    At Handibot and ShopBot, we love to hear from our customers and see some of the awesome projects that are being done on our tools. The network of faithful users who host us onsite and post on social media have blown us away with ideas that shape the way we look at making our tools. But with all of the cool stuff being made out there in the world, it’s easy to overlook some of the stuff that’s happening right under our noses. ShopBot’s very own Richard Hill has been experimenting with all sorts of interesting designs and projects with reclaimed wood and his Handibot, ranging from intricately-carved patterns to boxes and statement pieces.


    This box was made from reclaimed wood. Note the crack in the bottom that makes it a truly unique piece.

    A North Carolina native, Richard spent several years in Oregon before coming back to work at ShopBot. During his time in the Pacific Northwest, he found himself at the crossroads of both an environmentally responsible scene and technological growth culture, which shaped the idea that while trees are a plentiful resource, it’s easier to find things that have already been made from wood that are no longer in use. While these discarded pieces or slightly imperfect hunks of wood may no longer serve their original function, they are still perfectly good specimens of wood that can be made into something interesting.


    terminator stout cut on handibot

    Sometimes, the Pacific Northwest influence creeps in, like with this Terminator Stout logo.

    Experimentation is Critical

    For Richard, working with reclaimed wood requires special attention; you might not always have a perfect edge, or even the ideal piece you need for a project. One such endeavor involved creating a large 20-sided die, like those found in tabletop games (of which Richard is also a fan). While many would see this as a simple project that just involved cutting down a block to have 20 faces, Richard really wanted to deconstruct the geometry of it and assemble it piece by piece, creating an actual dodecahedron (the fancy math term for the shape). This also allowed the use of less wood, and made the reclaimed wood materials easier to come by, since it just needed to come in sheets as opposed to a large chunk. Doing the project in this way involved precise calculations of angles and design considerations to ensure everything would fit together, all without being able to assemble it until it was all cut. The result was a series of 20 beveled triangles, which laid out formed a sort of amorphous geometric shape. Each triangle was numbered to not only make it look like a giant 20-sided die, but also to help with the assembly process.


    Pieces cut for dodecahedron, before assembly.


    The triangles were cut at a precise angle to allow for assembly.

    The triangles were cut at a precise angle to allow for proper assembly.


    brendan collins dodecahedron

    ShopBot’s Brendan Collins models the taped dodecahedron.

    Once cut, numbered and laid out, the pieces were all aligned and assembled, then needed to be taped together to allow the adhesive to dry, since there was no supporting center to the object. With the adhesive dry, the piece could then be stained and painted, giving it an awesome, shiny, and antique look.



    The finished die, stained and painted — crit hit and all!



    These are just some of Richard’s excellent projects. For more, be sure to follow the Instagram accounts for his Sprocket Designs and Handibot. For more on cutting and designing with Handibot, visit handibot.com!

    Updated Timelines for Focal Projects @Handibot (evolving from last year’s report)

    by  • October 28, 2016 • 0 Comments


    Updated Timelines for Focal Projects @Handibot (evolving from last year’s report)

    Hardware                                                                                              Targeted Store Release Date
    -Acc: Rotary 4-Axis (automated)                                                                      AVAILABLE NOW
    -Acc: Manual 4- and 5-Axis system                                                                 AVAILABLE NOW
    -Acc: (Automated) 5-Axis                                                                                               [1]
    -Acc: Laser Marking and Engraving Head                                                             2/2017 [2]
    -Acc: 3D Print Head                                                                                      (current lack of interest)
    -V2.0 Handibot (with FabMo Controller)                                                          AVAILABLE NOW
    -Acc: Plotting/Drawing Pen Attachment                                                           AVAILABLE NOW
    -Acc: Quick router change collar                                                                       AVAILABLE NOW
    -Acc: Tangential Reciprocating/Oscillating Knife (cardboard)                                  12/2016
    -Acc: Extended Length Base (y-axis) for V2 Handibots                                            12/2016
    -Acc: Crawler                                                                                                                    [3]
    -V1.x to V2.0 Upgrade Service/Exchange                                                             12/2016 [4]

    Also available in Store:
    = bit kits and bit holders
    = large drag knife
    = large material jig
    = accessory base fixture
    = various V1.x upgrade and replacement parts
    = drag knifes for vinyl and thin materials
    = V1.x Plotter pen attachment
    = V2 Laser sight

    [1] We have working prototypes of a 5-Axis Handibot system, but the prototype is overbuilt and the design would result in unappealingly high prices. We’ve back-burnered development at the moment but expect to finish project with alternative mechanicals in Spring 2017.

    [2] We’re being a little careful with the Laser because we want to make sure that we have full safety features and govt approval in place before release.

    [3] For those who have been following our work on the “Crawler”, an automated sequential positioning accessory for Handibot, you will be aware that our initial approach was not successful. We arrived at an accessory we thought would work pretty well, but found that it failed in serious testing. The approach of essentially dragging Handibot as an indexed sled resulted in machining heights that were just too variable for the approach to be useful. We are currently continuing with an alternate strategy that we believe to be promising and hope to report on it the first of the year. In the meantime, feel free to jump in. Thoughts, suggestions, prototypes, or third-party accessories could be interesting to the Handibot community.

    [4] We are working on a DIY update/rebuild kit for upgrading V1.x Handibots to V2. In the meantime, we plan to offer V1.x owners the options of purchasing manufactured upgrades to V2 using recycled motors and rails returned for upgrade. We expect to have this program in place and announced by December.

    Controls, Software, Web Ecosystem                                                              Targeted
    – FabMo Digital Fab Control Card                                                           AVAILABLE NOW with V2 [a]
    – FabMo Card Upgrade for V1.x Handibots                                                   AVAILABLE NOW
    – FabMo Example Apps and API                                                                     AVAILABLE NOW [b]
    – Handibot specific FabMo Apps                                                                     AVAILABLE NOW [c]
    – FabMo Developer site                                                                                           12/2017 [d]
    – Handibot Gallery and Share Area                                                         It’s UP, see Handibot.com
    – Handibot Project Area                                                                                           12/2017

    [a] We are very excited about the new FabMo Digital Fab platform that is shipping with the V2 Handibot. FabMo will run all ShopBots by next year and we are expect it will be attractive for the control of digital fabrication equipment from other manufacturers.

    Our followers will note that we are about a year behind in our hoped-for release date of FabMo. We apologize for that. FabMo has been a lot of work. But we are excited with the result, believing it will bring better motion and cutting, as well as much more convenient control and workflow. Because our goal is for FabMo to run a wide range of manufacturing equipment we wanted to insure it had a strong foundation and reasonably well developed features before we released it for Handibot use. Please see www.gofabmo.org for full info on FabMo.

    [b] The FabMo we now ship with Handibot comes with example Apps (and a definitive “example” App) as well as links to information about programming Apps for the FabMo environment. The materials are all available on the FabMo Github project: https://github.com/FabMo but you will want to start at www.gofabmo.org for an introduction and links to docs.

    [c] The FabMo we ship with Handibot includes Apps that are specific to Handibot. However these Apps only begin to scratch the surface of the project and utility Apps that will build out the functionality of Handibots and smart power tools.

    [d] As a focus for the coming work on such Apps, we will be attending to the (previously inactive) Handibot Developer Forum as a location where there should be plenty of generalized App action.


    The new Shaper™ Tool …

    by  • September 21, 2016 • 0 Comments

    We’ve recently received a number of notes from Handibot friends about the release of the new “Origin” shape-following router from Shaper™. Yep, we’re excited about it! It’s an amazing technology in a well thought-out and designed product that is helping call attention to new possibilities in “smart” power tools. We’re equally excited for the...

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    Make48 D.C.

    by  • July 12, 2016 • 0 Comments

    ShopBot Tools and Handibot Engineer, Brian Owen, was in Washington DC this June to help out as a technical advisor at the latest Make 48 inventors’ competition. This was the third time that this rapidly growing competition has been held and the first time it has been held in DC. The theme for the...

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    Handibot Smart Power Tool v. 2.0 Adventure Edition – Unleashes New Powers for Prototyping and Production

    by  • June 16, 2016 • 0 Comments

    Durham, NC, June 16, 2016 ShopBot Tools, Inc., the Durham-based manufacturer of professional digital fabrication tools, has launched an expanded version of its groundbreaking portable CNC tool, the Handibot® Smart Power Tool. Sized to fit on a desktop and easily carried to any work site, the Handibot Smart Power Tool v2.0 Adventure Edition enables wood...

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    Handibot on Top of the World

    by  • June 15, 2016 • 0 Comments

    The 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (2012-2013) established March 21st as “World Wood Day.” Each year, the occasion has been celebrated by a gathering of woodworkers and artisans from more than a hundred countries. This year’s event was held in Kathmandu, Nepal – the top of the world. In late 2015,...

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    Cutting at the Wall with a Handibot … (on my boat)

    by  • June 1, 2016 • 0 Comments


        A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to try a Handibot with a vertical, wall-cutting orientation. We had previously done several small wall-cutting projects with the original Handibot V1.0’s, but I had not done anything vertical recently or with a V2.0. It was a boat project, naturally. I needed to...

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    Earrings for a Special Cyclist

    by  • April 8, 2016 • 2 Comments

    (photo courtesy of Eunice Chang @justshinyorg) Spring arrives in Durham with the sudden flourish of blooming daffodils, blueberry bushes and fruit trees followed by waves of airborne pine pollen that all but blot out the sun at their peak. The green grass returns and the willow oak trees fill with buds which open into...

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    by  • February 29, 2016 • 0 Comments

    Handibot Perspective Hood Open Small

    On the eve of the release of a brand new version of the Handibot, I’d like to take some time to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going. Handibot’s Adventure Edition (as we’ve decided to call the version 2.0) has been a massive undertaking in tool design, production methodology, and software design....

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    Router Table – Handibot Style

    by  • February 11, 2016 • 2 Comments

    For a while now, I have been thinking about flipping a Handibot over and have the bit pointing up like a router table. Mostly we think about using the Handibot like a smart hand drill, where we move the tool around a stationary work piece. With this upside down Handibot, I was thinking of it...

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    Dust Collection

    by  • February 4, 2016 • 1 Comment

    I’ve spent a bit of time, in other blog posts, talking about various parts of the production setup we use to cut Handibot parts. One big piece of using CNC routers in production environments that I haven’t touched on is dust collection. CNC routers are dust making machines – if it’s not making dust and...

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