Posts filed under: Tools

The other day, Corey was on the phone with the company that makes our big CNC router when the rep asked him what the intended use of this 20,000 lb. piece of industrial equipment will be.  When Corey told him, the rep remarked, “Wow, that’s rather ambitious.”  His equipment typically goes into large-scale production facilities, such as furniture manufacturers. I told Corey “That’s because the Foundery goes to 11”



After I finished explaining the reference to Corey, who was still a toddler when one of the all-time greatest movies came out in theaters, it occurred to us that we have a conscious bias towards selecting equipment that is not typically found in a makerspace.  It’s not really about having the shiniest toys with all the latest bells and whistles, but rather looking for features and capabilities that will be most useful and productive to our most demanding members.  We expect those to be small manufacturers and entrepreneurs who are looking for speed, capacity, and precision that isn’t found in consumer- or shop-grade equipment.  We want to be able to support commercial production, and that means we need professional-grade equipment.  The downsides can include longer learning curves and higher costs to purchase, operate, and maintain, but we think it will be worth it to have equipment that you expect to find in an industrial setting (and that’s exactly where a lot of our tools were before they arrived in our shop).

Ambitious?  Overkill?  Perhaps.  But these go to 11.

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I can’t believe I beat Jason to posting about the water-jet.  This tool is what The Foundery is most proud to own.  If you are not familiar with abrasive water-jets, this machine (pictured below), uses a high pressure stream of water and abrasive to cut through virtually any material. The “sweet spot” for cutting, is any thickness 3 inches or less….3 INCHES!!!  Which means this machine can precisely cut through 3″ thick steel plate to any profile you can think of.  The machine maxes out at ~10″ thick.


And here is the water jet and myself posing for an Us-sie:


If you look closely you can see that the water-jet is fresh off the delivery truck and still several weeks away from being fully assembled and installed.  Once operational, the machine will have a working area of 10′ x 5′ and will be able to cut through 1″ thick plate at a speed of ~5″/minute.

Materials commonly cut on a waterjet include: Aluminum, steel, wood, plastic, composites, foam, glass and even granite.  The only material I know can’t be cut on this machine is tempered glass, because it would shatter into thousand’s of small cubes.

I just googled “stained glass water jet cut” to make sure you really can cut glass on an abrasive waterjet #factchecking.  I came across this stained glass gem! designed and cut on an abrasive water jet by Chip Hunter of Holbrook NY.  (


Waterjets are regularly used to cut functional parts for mechanical designs, but I think the art stuff is more impressive.  Below is a photo of my kids I converted to a vector file and had cut on a water-jet in 1/8″ thick aluminum.  I spray painted it black and BOOM!  Christmas gift for my parents!!!

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I’ll probably make something like this for my wife once we get our water-jet up and running.  She’ll think I put a lot of time into it when really, the machine will do all the work while I sit back and update my fantasy football line-up.

— Corey

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Our CNC laser cutter/engraver is the most commonly used tool in our existing space.  It features a 100 watt laser with a work area of 4ft x 3ft.  It can cut through wood, plastic and foam sheets up to 3/8in thick in a single pass.  It can etch most materials, including glass and anodized aluminum.  Using this laser is about as simple as sending a document to a printer.  This is an amazing tool for artists who want to cut out large stencils, crafters who want to engrave wine glasses and beer coasters or inventors who need early stage prototyping.  Here are a couple examples of some things Audrey has made on it.


Our most commonly asked question though is: “Can it cut a sandwich?”.

UPDATE:  It turns out I was wrong, no one has actually ever asked if the CNC laser can cut a sandwhich…lame.

So in the name of science, I used the last two pieces of bread in my house to make a sacrificial PB&J.  The video below shows the laser running at 100% power and traveling at a speed of 12 mm/sec while it attempts to turn a 2 second knife task into a 30 second engagement!

Due to the thickness of the sandwich it took, 3 passes to cut through the sandwich.  not because it didn’t have enough power but because the laser’s focus was too far from the bottom of the sandwich.  To make the final cut I had to lower the laser head for the final pass.  I call that a win for science!!!!

Extra Credit:

For those of you who have also shared the nightmarish feeling of  assembling a sandwich and then realize you forgot to toast the bread…I tried out the etching operation 😉

BOOM! I should have etched Elvis Presley’s face and sold it on Ebay…next time.

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This is just about the biggest bandsaw I’ve ever seen.  We scored a Dake VH-40 bandsaw for the metal shop.  This baby has a 41″ throat and 13″ work height, a hydraulic power table with 10″ travel, speed range from 50 – 5,000 FPM, onboard blade welder, and even a micro-drop coolant system.  This beast will power through just about anything made of metal!


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We just purchased a used Scotchman 40 ton iron-worker from Montana, which is due to arrive next week!  If you’re not familiar with an iron-worker, they’re like giant Swiss-army knives for hydraulic forming.  The Scotchman machine we now own is capable of shearing 3/16″ plate up to 14″ wide and can punch 1″ diameter holes through 1/2″ thick steel plate.  Instead of spending ten’s of minutes drilling holes though thick plate, this hydraulic Sasquatch can punch them out in seconds!

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