Tag Archives: fabricate

100K Garages

CNC routing is amazing if you’ve ever seen it in action. You can watch perfect circles and intricate shapes appear in plywood or other sheet goods, right before your eyes. Exact duplicates of precisely measured pieces can be made over and over again. But CNC machines are expensive. They take up a lot of room in already crowded prop shops. And they require a set of technical skills that may not be inherent in a typical prop shop staff.

That’s why 100K Garages is such an intriguing concept. Basically it is a loose network of shops around the world with CNC routers of various capabilities. You submit the guidelines of what you need built, and the shops bid on it. You pick a bid you like, the shop makes your pieces, and mails it to you. Prop done!

I have not had an opportunity to give this site a test run yet. If anyone out there has, let us know. We’d love to hear about it.

Friday Link-topia

It’s been a busy week, and it’s going to be a busy month. Here’s another quick list of links I wanted to share, until I can find time to write something for reals.

  • Jesse Gaffney, a freelance props master in Chicago, has a new blog. Theatre Projects details the process behind some of his more challenging props projects. I’ve also added a link to the blogroll column on the side.
  • Art of Manliness has a wonderfully illustrated article on the various types of hammers and how to use them.  And if you’ve never been to the Art of Manliness before, take some time to look around; there’s a large archive of articles and forums to explore.
  • Popular Woodworking magazine has posted 3D models of some of the projects featured in their magazine. I don’t know if any of you props people ever use 3D to help you build, but if so, this is a great repository of early American furniture and workbenches.
  • Finally, if you have time, watch The Story of Stuff. It’s a 20 minute film showing how products go from raw materials to the store. It examines the social, environmental, and political aspects of production and consumption, but it’s also interesting for props people who are interested in objects and where they come from.

I, Pencil

photograph by FadderUri
photograph by FadderUri

One of the things I am interested in (in relation to props) is the way in which our world makes objects, or as I like to call it, the “genealogy of things.” For example, a book is made of a cover and paper; the paper is sewn together and covered in ink. The ink was put on the paper in one factory while the paper was made in another. Further, the paper originally came from a tree, which lived in a forest separate from all the factories.

I find it a little hard to explain, which was why I was so happy when I came across “I, Pencil”, an essay by Leonard Read, originally published in the December, 1958 issue of The Freeman. I hope this excerpt from near the beginning will explain what I’m talking about:

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

So on this holiday weekend, take a break from working in the props shop and read the full essay of “I, Pencil” on WikiSource.