Tag Archives: woodworking

How to Copy Carve a Rotary Phone with a Router

How to Copy Carve a Rotary Phone with a Router

Here is a great video showing how to copy carve a rotary phone out of a chunk of wood using a router. The video comes from Matthias Wandel, who runs the amazing Woodgears.ca. Check it out if you haven’t already, it’s on my list of the 100 best sites for the prop maker. He is an engineer by trade, and approaches woodworking from a unique angle.

I just (re)discovered his YouTube channel, where he has videos for many of the projects he posts on his site. The aforementioned video for copy carving a phone is there, as is a video showing how to build your own copy carver.

Friday Fun Time

Chicago PD prop master Jim Zemansky talks props in this video, particularly the use of replica guns and blank-firing weapons. If you pay attention, you will see one crew member using what looks like a paintball gun off-camera during gun battle scenes; it appears he is shooting it to simulate bullets hitting around the actors. I found that interesting.

I’ve been following this build of a life-size ED-209 from Robocop for the past couple months, and it is finally finished. Here are all the parts in Make Magazine’s series which followed Shawn Thorsson as he built this massive robotic replica. Also check out Tested’s short video which looks at the final piece when it debuted at Maker Faire.

Princeton Magazine talks with TD Chris Nelson and prop master Michele Sammarco of McCarter Theatre about a recent production designed by Eugene Lee. There are some great little tidbits in this piece, such as Michele’s quote that “actors don’t like squishy chairs”.

Not all screws are the same. Popular Woodworking Magazine tests several types of screws on the market to show how they act when driven into hardwood. Personally, I know drywall screws should only be used for drywall, but I still use them. I’m usually working with cheap materials anyway; if I am doing fine furniture out of hardwood, I don’t use screws at all (brad nails all the way).

Good Friday Links

David Neat starts us off with making smooth shapes from Styrofoam. He’s dealing with the real-deal Styrofoam here, not that white bead foam stuff. And sure, this article is over a year old, but it has some really useful techniques.

Bill Doran has a helpful video on adding rust to your props. Ninety percent of the time when I show a completed prop to a designer, they say, “that’s great… once we age it down a bit.” Knowing how to weather, age, distress or generally tone down props is an essential skill for a props person, and adding rust is one of the ways to do this.

Make Magazine takes a look at some Maker-Friendly hardware stores from around the US. It’s a fascinating look at the vast array of materials a store might choose to stock, as well as a sobering reminder of how awesome hardware stores used to be to those of us whose only local options are Lowes and Home Depot.

I covered some basic stitching for fabric in my Prop Building Guidebook, but if you get into embroidery and ornamental stitching, there is a whole other world of ways to manipulate needle and thread. Tipnut has some great vintage illustrations of ornamental borders and the basic stitches to make them happen.  It’s a relaxing project for when you are bored in tech and the designer wants the napkins to be “fancier”.

Finally, here is an article called “The Most Important Lessons in Woodworking“. Robert Lang uses his experience cutting plugs as a lesson in woodworking in general, and I think this lesson can be expanded out to prop making in general. It’s not just about how to use specific tools or techniques, but how to approach your whole project in the most efficient and easiest manner possible.

 

Valentine’s Day Links

Happy Friday, everyone! For those of you in my part of the country, I hope you survived the winter storm(s) alright. Whether you are back to work or still stuck in your house, here are some prop-related articles for your reading pleasure:

The ever-inspiring prop maker Ross MacDonald has a post on some of the period paper props he has made for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire over the past four years. His props are always well-researched and produced on vintage machines as close to how they were originally produced.

Collector’s Weekly has a great piece on the fifty year history of Easy-Bake Ovens. If you have never checked out their blog, this is a great piece to start on. Their stories are always a cut above the rest, filled with tons of great photographs, and delving into the history of various objects in great detail.

If you are interested in making props while spending barely any money on materials, check out the Cardboard Armory. As the name suggests, this blog details various armor and weapon projects built with little more than cardboard, hot glue and the occasional piece of PVC pipe.

Though directed at woodworkers, Popular Woodworking’s “Top 6 Ways to Become a Better Woodworker” is just as relevant to the prop maker. Ok, it’s actually five ways, since one of the ways is to read Popular Woodworking (though if you build prop furniture from wood, it’s a good magazine to check out).

Alpha Officium makes historically-accurate coins out of real metal. His website has some common coins like Florins and Groats, and he can also do custom orders if you need something more specific.

A Friday of Links

This photograph of a country store from 1939 has all sorts of amazing things going on in it. I could look at it for hours. The whole website it comes from, Shorpy Historical Photo Archive, is a treasure trove of imagery like this one, and all of them can be viewed at incredibly large sizes so you can spot every little detail.

At the other end of history are Trevor Traynor’s photographs of contemporary New York City newsstands.

This short blog post up at Popular Woodworking taught me some interesting things about how British table saws are different from American ones, particularly in the safety features. I think the fence that stops at the blade is an interesting concept, and would love to try it out.

Have you heard about this? A team of people out in Tennessee are building a full-scale replica of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. That’s a 114 foot long spaceship for those who don’t know. What’s great is that if you look back through the blog, you can see that work began on this over six years ago, and now there is some hard-core construction going on nearly every single day. It looks fairly certain that they can pull this whole thing off.

I tweeted this earlier in the week, but if you missed it, NPR had a great story about faux food artisan Sandy Levins, who recreates historical dishes for display at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, New York’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and many other museums and historical sites.