Simple projects - going for boxy stuff


First, I cut out some acrylic the first couple days for a project that I love on Instructables, designed by Robives. Then I realized I didn’t have the right adhesive, so I delved through the forum and picked the adhesive that @smcgathyfay recommends:

That’s been sitting on the desk for a few days, so I decided to assemble today.

Rather than go to the hardware store for a dowel that isn’t acrylic, I stacked the little hole cutouts and glued them into dowels. Results: not incredible, but sort of functions.

This design was intended for wood, and several folks have had success with various acrylics. I think colored gears would provide interesting shapes and contrast. I’ll probably remake it in wood with dowels and enjoy smoother action.

Second thing I did: I looked up a box generator that was suggested here on the forums and made a box. I imported the generated pdf into Adobe Illustrator and drew a line for the lid to separate from the box.

Then, because my lid was flopping around, I added another piece on each side in the lid so it stays on.

There you have it. Simple easy work.
I learned a few things doing someone else’s design, and I think that’s a pretty good way to learn how to design for myself. Start with something that works, learn why it works, and go from there to develop my own stuff.


Awesome! The gear box is on my list one of these days! And I like the lid solution as well! :relaxed:


Awesome stuff! I’d been wondering how your forging was going. :blush:




Nice job! I like the way you come up with practical solutions like the cutout dowel and the lid liner.


Steel pins would look great with the acrylic gear box although if you search you should be able to find acrylic dowels too.

Just as important as finding designs that work is finding what doesn’t work in designs and learning to avoid those features later.

I like your box solution with the tab go alignment and keeping :slight_smile:


SUPER nice!

I thought about trying to make a dowel by stacking. You don’t seem thrilled by the result. Do you think it’s a feasible method with some tweaking of some sort?


That’s advice I plan to follow :slight_smile: The boxes look great! I love that the box generator you found worked so well and that it was easy to cut off a top. Great thinking wrt adding that extra piece to keep the lid from flopping around. I plan to steal that idea shamelessly :smiley:



The dowel pieces that I ended up with were not smooth for a few reasons:
1- The laser beam is in an hourglass shape and cuts at an angle, so each segment has a wide side and a narrow side. It’s subtle; but really shows up when making a dowel.
2- No jig to keep them in line.
3- Those are little tiny fiddly pieces, and I am a big clumsy “close enough” kind of person.

Additionally, gorilla tape gets a lot of weeding, but not all of it. So those are a lot of two-sided little bits.

Also in the assembly stage, having a dowel to line up the gears is definitely a best practice which I didn’t follow, so the shaft isn’t the only thing that isn’t smooth… my gears are also not precise.

As @hansepe pointed out, there are appropriate materials ready-made that I just didn’t go get for the project.

Bottom line: I certainly won’t say it can’t be done; but stacking holes is not the most efficient solution.

That’s advice I plan to follow :slight_smile:


Hmm… Haven’t tried this, but might try cutting a tiny hole/circle in the center of each piece of “dowel,” through which a pin, wire, ??? could be inserted as a registration device. Could manually place top/bottom “caps” if desired. Doesn’t fix the hourglass issue, though.

Or pick up a piece of wooden dowel at local craft or big box store. :slightly_smiling_face:


Everything you said makes perfect sense. Eh… Maybe I’ll try it sometime. But I can’t imagine my result will be any better than yours.

Not a bad idea. Then you need a dowel for the dowel. :slight_smile:


And then the dowel for your dowel needs a dowel. That way lies madness…


That is the correct answer, I think. The project had been sitting and staring at me, all cut out, for more than a week. It was just time to build it. I had already held it up for glue, and its primary purpose was to make something different than puzzles and plaques and “cool. it does flat stuff.” I wanted a nice acrylic sample to show off to friends and family. And to play with because I like toys.

As it is, I’ll probably remake it so it runs smooth and straight. It’ll be a better sample from wood with multi-color gears, I think. Edge-lit is maybe going to be the ideal sample piece for clear acrylic.

Still, learning is worth the time and materials sacrificed to the newly gained wisdom.


I ordered somewhere around 500 pins of various lengths from McMaster because I wasn’t thrilled with making my own. The box arrives today. I’ll have pictures to show off tonight!


So cool! Those look very similar to things on the top of my list!


I have made a few modifications to the file. Resized for 1/4" dowels since they are way cheaper than 6mm, and then a few little tweaks to make it work for me.

This is build 2.3 and is going to a birthday party for Wilson in about 10 minutes. I credited the designer and will do so on any future builds of this fantastic gear toy.


Still awesome! :grinning:


And it was a hit. [of course]
I will be responding to many gift-giving events for the next year with this.


That turned out great! Gift-giving items is something I’m particularly excited for…we just had a cousin get married and I can’t count how many times over the weekend @Snowjax and I looked at each other with that, “we could totally laser that” smile!