Over Christmas, Lindsey and I played a game with some friends in which you are given a question and everyone writes down their answer. Then the answers are collected and read out by someone and the ‘guesser’ has to guess which answer came from which person.
One such question was, ‘what would the title of your autobiography be’? I said ‘The Constant Enthusiast’ and Lindsey said, ‘Very Easily Annoyed’. Someone then suggested that our joint autobiography could be ‘Very easily annoyed at the constant enthusiast’! This isn’t always untrue I have to say but during this break in which we have three weeks holiday but can’t even leave the city, I endeavoured to make some useful things for our house.
The Burmese are not fans of shelves, or cabinets or storage units it seems to me. I’m not sure why that is or if it’s true but our place is certainly lacking in these things. Three of our four bedrooms have large wardrobes but two of them only have one shelf each with some poorly constructed draws that are difficult to open and close. A while ago I already constructed some badly made shelves for Lindsey’s wardrobe but that still leaves a number of wardrobes without shelves where everything just gets piled up in a mess.
In the past I have made some things using the school’s CNC machine to cut very accurate pieces of material. I’m not sure what ‘CNC’ stands for (‘cool, neat cutter’ – perhaps) but it’s a wonderful tool. I like to build things but am not very good with a jigsaw such that my edges are rarely straight. When using the CNC machine in the past I simply gave the dimensions to the very helpful staff there and they then converted it into a CAD program (again – not sure what CAD stands for but it’s basically software that allows you to design 3-D objects) and then feed the machine the information and let it to do its magic. As I knew I wanted to design a number of things this break, I actually had someone teach me how to use the machine so I wouldn’t have to constantly bother them. This involved also learning some basic CAD software which I can highly recommend as it’s free, online and talks to a much more complex CAD system. This is ‘TinkerCad‘.
One quirk of Myanmar is that you cannot order material in anything less than 8ft by 4ft slabs. This means that I needed to go through an awkward process of getting the material and then man handling it up to the ‘makerspace’ which is the school’s student workshop (now unused). You then need to cut it up into chunks that fit the machine. This doesn’t have to be accurate because the machine cuts the pieces out of what you give it. The maximum dimensions it can can handle is 70cm by 50cm.
I wrote myself a cheat sheet listing all the steps I needed to go through to get the machine to work. There are a lot of them and this extended to a whole page of A4. Along the way I made every mistake it was possible to make but in the end I am pleased with the results. Using the machine I could create shelves that fit the sides of our wardrobes in shapes that I would never dream of attempting using a jigsaw. Here’s an example of the machine cutting just such an edge – a thing of beauty in my view.
This also means that you can accurately cut pieces of the same size such that your finished items actually can stand up straight without wobbling. I am not going to profess that any of my finished products are particularly elegant but they do fit the purpose I intended using the space we have available. From Chaos – Order:
I am not saying that cabinetry is in my future – far from it but I do enjoy the CAD program and with this you can give someone who actually knows what they are doing a design and have them build it for you. As this is Myanmar this can be done fairly cheaply and quickly. Watch this space for innovative new designs!