I’d been going to Techshop Ivry for a little while when I thought it was about time I learned to use one of the machines that fascinated – and scared – me the most : the ShopBot PRSalpha.
First off, the machine is huge : it can accomodate whole sheets (250 cm x 125 cm) and is obviously massive. But the fact that it’s been installed behind a metal gate – for safety reasons – make it even more impressive when you’ve never used it.
Still, as much as I liked using the laser cutters they had upstairs, I felt somewhat restrained in terms of projects I could do, so I took one of their mandatory basic operating classes to try and use that beast.
The first project I made on it was a simple stool that I designed in Fusion 360, following a tutorial that was originally meant for a table. I used Fusion to model the stool and lay the pieces flat, but used Vectric’s VCarve to generate the toolpaths as it felt safer to stick to what I had been taught for this first project.
I cut out everything from 18mm plywood, which was cheap and soft enough for this first try. Turns out, 18mm is just a theoratical measurement : in my case, the stock was actually a bit thicker, maybe 18.5 mm. I realised that only after removing the stock from the bed, which left me with a thin coat of plywood at the bottom of each cut: thankfully I was able to cut it with a jigsaw.
After that, I also realized that I had forgotten to include some dogbones for the pieces to fit together: once again, it was easy to fix that using a Dremel tool so that the pieces could fit as intended.