Printrbot Simple

I have been working on a full sized printer that I have been designing but it is going to be a while before that is done and even when it is it will not fit in my very tiny apartment. With tax returns coming in and my girlfriend really starting to get into 3D printing I decided that I wanted something that I could fit on my desk not only because I want to be able to print from the comfort of my office char but also because I know me and I will take forever to finish the other printer as I get distracted by a thousand other projects.

After quite a lot of research and deciding that I could solve my issues with a printer made of wood by just sealing the wood I went with a Printrbot Simple. We will see how it goes but I have heard many, many good things about this printer and thus far it is looking very nice, if a bit DIY which is really not a bad thing.

Making Christmas

Since I live in an apartment building we are not allowed to have live trees, it is like they are a fire hazard or something. In stay of buying one of those awful plastic things that vaguely resemble a pine tree I have decided that it is far more fun to get a bit more creative with the whole holiday decoration process. Last year I made a Donkey Kong themed tree and this year I went chalk board.


  • Chip Board: $30
    3/4" thickness. 2 Sheets of 4'x8'. I know it is kind of crappy but plywood is crazy expensive for this.
  • Chalkboard Paint: $10
    YOu can also make this with no-sand grout and matte latex paint. I think it is 1tsp for 1qt of paint.
  • Screws: ???
    You just need a few for the base. I used 12 2" wood screws.


  • Jig Saw/legend> </li>
  • Sand Paper
  • Brush, whatever you like and possibly an artist brush
  • Twine
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • </ul>
    Step 1 - Draw a Tree:
    Okay. I am apparently a drunken 3-year-old when I try and draw pine trees so all you really have to shoot for is drunken 4-year-old to have it look better than mine. I went for something where each step was the same height to make it look a bit more Susseian. I made mine about 6'6" tall. You are going to need some of the bottom for a base and remember that it is going to add about a foot to the height. If you tape the twine to the centre of the top and tie the end to the pencil you can use that to make the swoops even.
    Step 2 - Cut All the Things:
    Cut the first tree side out and then use it as a template for the second one and cut that out. Then you need to cut a ~3/4" slot half way down one and half way down the other so that they can slot together. Then cut 4 pieces about 1' square for the base out of the scraps.
    Step 3 - Build the Base:
    Take your 4 pieces and you are going to screw through the top of some piece into the edge of another to make the box so that there are screws on each face and the final product is 1'3/4" on each side (I wish I had a picture of it in the process but I do not, sorry). Make sure to pre-drill your holes or you will split the material. When it is together you need to cut slots for the tree to sit in. Measure the center of each side and cut a 3/4" wide by 1" deep slot in each side on the top.
    Step 4 - Sand:
    Use a pretty low grit. Try and take some of the roughness off of the back side and clean up the edges.
    Step 5 - Paint:
    It is going to take several coats. I did 4 with some sanding in between. The artist brush is nice for getting in the little divots that the material can tend to have.
    Step 6 - Assemble:
    Get some help and slot the two pieces together. Then lift them up and slot them into the base.
    Step 7 - Decorate:
    Get the chalk out and get to work. If you want to add some lights do that too. If you let the excess fall into the base it looks pretty nice with the under lighting effect. If you have the room above it you could hang a paper lantern as a star. I did not so I glued a magnet to the top of the tree and a washer to the bottom of a tea light holder and used an electric tea light as my star.
Making Game Boards

Board games are one of my favorite pass-times. I have what should be a linen closet packed to the brim with the things. From Gloom to Le Have I have games ranging from casual to comples and classic to modern. One game that I did not have and have been wanting to play recently was Go. Since the board is pretty simple and all you need besides that are some beads I figured why not just make it myself rather than spending good money on one of those fancy, overpriced sets.


  • Wood: $5-10
    Composite board is nice because it is cheap and by the end of finishing the board you will not really notice. My board is about 13" square, you can go bigger if you want. Go 1/2" or 3/4" on thickness.
  • Beads: $5
    You are going to need two colours, traditionally white and black but as long as they are different it does not matter that much. If you go to your local craft store you should be able to find some nice beads in the floral section with flat bottoms.
  • Shellac: $10-15
    You could finish it with something else but I really love shellac, it just makes wood look so nice. The quart will go a long, long way past this project so you can consider this cost an investment in nice looking wood things in the future.
  • Tea: ~$1
    About 5 tea bags of a dark tea. I used plain old Orange Pico Lipton.


  • Laser Cutter
  • Sand Paper (nothing rougher than 320)
  • Brush, foam and possibly an artist brush
  • Saw of some kind, preferable would be one of the table variety
Step 1 - Laser Etching:
If Go is your game the link to my file is below in the files section so if you like it it is all yours. There is also the file for a Thud board I made a while back. If not the first step is going to be making the file. I will not go into much detail on that but I use inkscape because it is free and does everything I need it to. Just measure what you plan on using as pieces and plot your board out accordingly. When you get to laser cutting you are not trying to cut very deep. What you want is a line that is a mm or two deep and fairly well burnt so it will show up nice later. How you achieve this depends on your laser but I tend to go several passes on low power and mid speed until I get the look I want. If you are planning on having squares that alternate colours, like a chess board or a Thud board, you are going to want to cut quite a bit deeper. Later on I will get into how you cheat and make one board look like you made it out of blocks of differing wood.
Step 2 - Cutting it out:
As your board is most likely larger than what your game board is the next point of action is going to be removing the excess. If you notice in my file I have an extra line around the board. That line is where I would like the edge of the board to eventually be. This makes a nice guide later on when you go to cut the excess off. I tend to cut just before the line and then take down the rest on a belt sander just to be safe.
Step 3 - Sand:
Give the whole things a good sanding in prep for the sealing. While you are at it it is a good idea to round the corners and edges just a little.
Step 4 - Stain:
  • Blond Colour:
    Go put some tea on. Put all five bags in a few cups of water and go read a book or something. You want to burn the hell out of the tea. Let it boil for a good ten minutes and then turn it off and let it cool with the bags in. Once the tea is cool get a rag and apply a few light coats to the board. You want to get it fairly wet but you do not want to soak it. If you get it too wet you could warp the board.
  • Coloured squares:
    For this you are going to need some dark stain, an artist paint brush, and some time, maybe a movie or a podcast, it is going to take a while. Taking only a small amount of stain per trip as to not drip you are going to paint in all of the odd squares. The deep cuts I mentioned earlier are necessary here so that when the wood soaks up the stain it does not bleed into the other squares. It also adds to the effect and makes the odd squares look more so like they are another wood.
Step 5 - Shellac, Sand, Shellac:
Exactly like it says. Keep the coats light and try not to bush any place twice, shellac does not like that. Give the board a light sanding between coats and repeat until you reach the smooth, glossy finish you are looking for. Remember to handle the board only by the edges when possible during this step. Shellac dries quickly but takes a few days to fully cure. During that time it is possible to leave fingerprints in your hard work and nobody wants that.
Step 6 - Play:
You are all done. Once the board has had the proper time to cure break it in. If it is not sitting quite right or you want to make sure it is not going to scratch a table you may want to add some of those felt or rubber feet to the bottom but that is up to you.

Go Board</br> Thud Board</br>


In my never-ending need to laser cut game enhacements I decided today that a good way to pass the time wile I was waiting for the 3D printer to finish my parts was to cut myself a nice new copy of Werewolf. If you have not played before Werewolf or Mafia or whatever you would like to call it is a game that is currently running rampent across Kickstarter where there each player, sans the moderator, is dealt an identity at the beginnging of the game that is secret from all other players. You can be a villager, the seer, or a werewolf. The goal of the werewolves is to kill villagers and the goal of everyone else is to find the wereolves and kill them. It is great fun if you have a good group for it.

Game Pieces


Music to Game to

Recently I backed a project on Kickstarter, as I do too often (that site is almost as dangerous as steam sales), for a small two player RPG called Doll from Josh Jordan at Ginger Goat Press. I had never heard of them before but the game piqued my interest. I will not get into all the details of the game, there is a link below for that, but suffice it to say I do not have that many story telling games, my significant other loves them, and this one looked like a lot of fun.

After the campaign ended Mr. Jordan put out a call to the backers to see if anyone would be interested in writing some music or reading for an audio version of the rules. I jumped at the opportunity because one, it has been far too long since I have had a chance to use that music degree I worked so hard to get and two, I really enjoy writing music to a subject.

The long of it short is that I wrote some music for a fantastic story telling game that you should all check out. It will be up on Indie Press Revolution and Drivethru RPG soon so really there is no excuse not to pick it up. If you cannot wait for that you can email Ginger Goat Press at and pick up a copy of the pdfs or audio (come on, you know which one you really want) for $4 each.

Kickstarter Campaign</br> Ginger Goat