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Thread: Tools needed to build robots?

  1. #1
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    Tools needed to build robots?

    Hi,

    I have the basics of an electronics workshop, but I need some tools to build the bodies. I do have two 3d printers coming in, Real Soon Now, but I still need to deal with wood and metal pieces.

    My needs are, at present, to rebuild the bottom frame of a powered wheelchair into something that I can work with, to cut wooden (or MDH) panels for Groucho's upper half, and to cut and bend brackets for servos and other motors. I've never done any welding before, so I haven't planned on any welding equipment.

    I was thinking that I could get away with a Scroll Saw (bench mounted), a drill press, and a circular saw.

    Some questions: Can one scroll saw cut thin metal (for brackets) as well as wood; I'm assuming I'd need a blade change and cleaning between the two. Likewise, can a circular saw cut metal tubing or should I leave that job to a hacksaw?

    And can anybody recommend a good site or book to help me build (or even buy) a good workbench?

    I have no local HackerSpace to help me, and my budget for this is a maximum of $1,000.

    Thanks in advance.
    -
    A little learning is a dangerous thing.

  2. #2

    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    If you're working with aluminum (6061, 6063, and friends) then wood saws will typically work, although they may wear the blades faster.

    For mild steel, a metal blade *may* work for you, but you will probably see a lot of tool wear, and you'll likely want to be spraying coolant (Rustlick or WD40 or whatever) on it while it's working.

    A cheap angle grinder might be useful. As would some good cobalt steel drill bits, if you're going to be screwing things together.

    I might look at a cheap stick welder; they're fairly easy to use (the flux is in the stick, no gas tubes needed like with MIG or TIG or A-O.) And a cheap angle grinder. If you're going to be doing lighter duty work (like just this one project or two) the cheap crap from Harbor Freight might be quite good enough.

  3. #3
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    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    Depending on the level of precision you need for your cutting you may be able to get away with a small horizontal bandsaw and a file if cost is an issue. I use this one, and it comes with a small table so I can use it like a regular vertical bandsaw. Bit of a compromise though.

    The scroll saw blades will probably work for cutting metal as jwatte has said, but I would personally not use a regular circular saw blade for cutting metal, the teeth are much coarser and a jam might go bad very quickly. I have seen blades specifically for cutting metal though, so if you can find those you should be good.
    Last edited by Th232; 05-15-2014 at 09:25 PM.

  4. Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    I personally would recommend a jigsaw with a few metal and thin wood blades. It has recently changed my life My (limited) experience has been much better with that than with a scroll saw (I feel too limited in size, and there's always a moment when I would have the board I'm cutting touching the mast of the scroll saw... :/).
    Drill press is also a must, with a good set of bits (two or more of each of the ones you use frequently!).
    A good, cordless hand drill.
    A dremel or similar rotary tool, with various cutt-off discs. Perfect to shorten screws without damaging the thread, but also very useful cut small rectangular holes in panels, and more generally cut anything you don't have the proper tool to cut even in difficult to access places.
    Some cutting oil.
    A set of wood files (rectangluar, half round, round). Same for metal.
    A good quantity of sand paper of various grades.
    A dirt-cheap very small hacksaw for difficult cuts.
    Maybe rivets and the associated tool.
    An assortment of various types and sizes of clamps.

    I would also recommend a very good set of taps of the few screw sizes you like (not the shitty 50-pieces sets that only last 2 holes and 47 of which you don't care about), but that's more a matter of style I guess.
    ---
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    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    Cut-off saw + metal = very nice results.
    Hacksaw + angle grinder and/or hand file + metal = pretty nice results.
    Handheld circular saw + metal = very bad things.

    I've managed to function without a drill press because of thin materials, a decent cordless drill, and a cheap automatic center punch, but it is definitely one of the tools that makes life so much easier.

    Second the pop/blind rivets. A decent tool (rotating head and four nosepieces) is not usually very expensive ~$30 and rivets can be quite inexpensive in bulk packs at bigboxes. ...and McMaster sells copper blind rivets in packs of 100 under $8...

    Darsha's first upgrade was pop-rivets, 1/2" 6063 angle, 3/4" 6063 angle, 1" 6063 square tube, and polypropylene/polyethylene cutting board. It looked ugly because of poor use of hacksaw and no drill press, but was very cheap and strong. Second upgrade used cheap taps from a 12? piece metric set of taps and dies (tap wrench, die wrench, plus tap and die for 5 or 6 sizes). Tapped 12 holes at least 3/4" deep in the ends of 6061-equivalent aluminium extrusion without any breakage, but wish I had used WD-40 to finish it all faster and with far less pain/effort. Did chip a tiny piece off the outermost cutting edge of one die while fixing the thread of many 18-8 SS M5/M6 bolts shortened with bolt cutters, but otherwise worth the ~$20 for the kit at a bigbox.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
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    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xevel View Post
    I personally would recommend a jigsaw with a few metal and thin wood blades. It has recently changed my life My (limited) experience has been much better with that than with a scroll saw (I feel too limited in size, and there's always a moment when I would have the board I'm cutting touching the mast of the scroll saw... :/).
    What is the difference between a jigsaw and a scroll saw? When I was a wee tad, my grandfather had a tool he called a jigsaw. It looks pretty much the same as the tools I've seen now called scroll saws.
    -
    A little learning is a dangerous thing.

  7. Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    Pshh, sorry for that. names of tools are quite complicated to get precisely right when you know them mostly in another language...
    I used google image to try to make sure that what I was talking about was understandable, but that "internet bubble" thing can play tricks, even if I've done what I could to steer mine towards the US:

    Scroll saw
    Jigsaw tool

    As far as I can tell you're not he only one with that definition of a jigsaw. I guess that since it's the same general technique of cutting by an oscillating thin blade, both are technically just a handheld (jigsaw) and tabletop (scroll saw) version of the same tool...
    ---
    Personal blog: http://xevel.org
    USB2AX documentation: http://xevelabs.com

  8. #8
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    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    After reading the suggestions and thinking things over, I will be looking for an inexpensive table saw, a decent (hand held) jig saw, a drill press, and some various hand tools (a miter box, some hand saws, and a couple of sets of files). Right now I'm looking more at Sears than anyplace better, though I really would like to see the Grizzly showcase somewhere in Pennsylvania.

    My main piece of machinery will be a rather large 3d printer, but that will take 2 months to put together after I send them the order, but I have to wait until the smoke clears before I can order one. The one I'm looking at has an envelope of 12" square, or 18" square, or 24" square. It has four extruders and some nice numbers. I'm just waiting until they have the bugs all worked out (the 12" works fine, but they weren't going to have the parts for the larger ones until this month - and I disagree with the creators about the potential problems of scaling up a 3d printer).
    -
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  9. #9

    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    DangerousThing, don't forget to check out your local machine/Fabrication shops.
    for most projects buying things like welders, Milling machines and lathes just don't
    fit in the budget, using local shops for these types of operations could fit your budget.

    Tommy

  10. #10

    Re: Tools needed to build robots?

    The main problem with larger printing areas, if it's "extruder based" printers, is print speed. Once your head has to cover 100 square inches per layer, you will be waiting many many hours for each print.

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