Pedal to the 5th degree

I wasn’t too happy after my flashlight. I was pleased with the amount of work that I put into it but as I sat in class listening to people share I felt ashamed. I was going to share my first real failure at ITP but I just felt too downtrodden to do it, too ready to move past it and learn from it. So in order to learn I had this crazy notion that I needed to go harder this week, do something more, something bigger and more creative. Originally I wanted to do shelves but then I thought a customizable pedal board would be cool.

When I did the flashlight, I learned the rule: “Be prepared for the unexpected”. My second project I learned that “be prepared for the unexpected” isn’t a rule, it’s a universal truth.

I got a head start immediately after class. I sketched a pedal board in my notebook and after a conversation with you, Ben, thought it would be cool to add a customizable feature. I figured I could use the router to make four ½” holes in the board and put nuts and a bolt in them to allow adjustability for the pedals. I went home that night and measured the five pedals I had to see how many inches my “holders” would need to be.

I was excited to get started so I looked around for some unused plywood. I luckily found a discarded piece of 24×14 1” ply and used it to draw my first prototype

Then I took the wood and put it in the panel saw. I did this after measuring because I wanted to double check that after I put everything down in the prototype, all my pedals would fit. In hindsight I should’ve done more accurate measuring from the get-go but I got lucky in that the size ended up being close to right.

Once my measurements were more finalized, I went to Home Depot to pick up more wood. Unfortunately however, Home Depot was blocked off because of the explosion in Chelsea, so I headed to Lowe’s. It turned out they only had ½” ply which wasn’t ideal. I really wanted something a bit more firm because pedal boards can take a beating but because I didn’t know how long before Home Depot would re-open, I decided to buy 5 pieces of ply.

Knowing that I would need to use the router in order to make the holes for the customizable part, I signed up for office hours. After a great lesson – thanks again, Ben – I got started. First, I used my measurements in my diagram to trace where I need to route. Then I used the drill press to put holes in those measurements. This was to ensure that when I was routing, I would know where to start. After drilling those holes, I went over to the router and began routing my life away. I gave each hole a good four or fives passes with the router and I used a C clamp and a block as a customized stopper so I would know when I need to stop routing. I was so preoccupied with getting this right however that I only got a photo of the final product.

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With the main holes routed, I had three more big steps: cut out the pieces of wood that would serve as sort of an L shaped or reverse L shaped stopper, drill holes in those pieces so that the wires from the pedal would have a place to go and drill holes in the top of the board so any excess wires could be run through the back.

After that is where I ran in to some very frustrating trouble. I thought I could just screw the thin panels that I’d cut into the wood. I bought some ¾’ inch screws and tried to screw the bottom of the L into the wood to no avail. I took a deep breath, tried again. No luck. I tried the vertical part of the L: it stripped the wood. Frustrated truly beyond belief, I asked you for help and you suggest I glue the smaller piece of panel – very wise and try using pilot holes for the vertical pieces of the wood.

I tried doing that and had a lot more success. 

I had one more step now before spray painting: filing off excess wood.

Now that I had clean wood, I applied the finishing touches and finally had a final product.

This exercise was another great lesson for me. I bit off a bit more than I could chew which probably wasn’t the best idea but I ended up getting very comfortable using the router, the band saw, the drill press, spray paint and more. I walked around Home Depot (I ended up going back on Tuesday to get spray paint and some bolts) like I actually knew what I was talking about and that felt good. I learned that things will very unexpectedly go wrong and that’s cool, we have a week. With that said, make your project manageable and if it’s a bit too big for your britches spend a LOT of time early on. Even more so than I did. Eager to apply these lessons to the next project.

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