Easel is now available to everyone

Today we are extremely happy to announce that Easel is available to everyone. 

Easel is a web app for 3D carving with the Shapeoko. You design in 2D while simultaneously viewing a 3D preview of your design cut into the material of your choice with real-world machine considerations like bit size. You'll see instantly what parts of your design can be cut with your size of bit. Import an existing design or use our simple and intuitive design tools to make something new. Then just connect to your Shapeoko and hit "Carve". 

Stamp project
Sign project
Before getting into the why behind Easel, you should try it out for yourself. Go to app.easel.com and try it out. We've also created a section of Easel projects you can get started with right away. This stamp project and sign project are both fun and easy introductions.

Why would a hardware store make software?

To us and to our customers, Inventables is much more than a hardware store. Our core objective is to feed the revolution of small-scale design, fabrication and manufacturing. 

Our first step towards that goal was sourcing beautiful, high quality, hard-to-find raw materials in workable sizes. 

Next, together with Edward Ford, we took on the distribution of the Shapeoko CNC milling machine. The Shapeoko was revolutionary in its low cost and barrier to entry. With $650 you could have a CNC that carved wood, metal, acrylic and other materials. 

It was a natural extension from there to attack the software side of digital fabrication. We wanted to put Shapeokos where they could never have gone with the existing software pipeline. We wanted to put them in schools, libraries, artists studios, design shops. We needed software that would get people excited about using a mill. We needed software designed to help you succeed. So we made Easel.

I am most proud of Easel's accessibility. At the San Mateo Maker Faire, we had people who had never seen a CNC before using Easel to carve things in under 5 minutes. We had children as young as 7 making things on our Shapeokos (remember your safety glasses!). We were blown away by the ideas people had about how the Shapeoko could work for their business and hobby in ways we had never thought of before: things like making carbon fiber frames for drones to making custom frames for a bee keeping operation.

Our core belief is that given the right tools, everyone can and should make their mark. Easel is the next step for Inventables towards that goal, but it won't be our last.

We look forward to your feedback and suggestions as we continue to make Easel easier and awesomer!

-Paul Kaplan, software engineer and lead Easel developer.


How to use a Shapeoko to propose to your girlfriend

The internet was abuzz last week when one of our customers shared his labor of love with Reddit. Shapeoko user Joe Ternus decided to propose to his girlfriend in the most elaborate way possible, starting with chopping down a tree. He then created a box, an opening iris gear mechanism, and a key to open it all and reveal the ring.

She said yes, of course.


Making wood inlays using Easel + Shapeoko

Video blogger David Picciuto, aka The Drunken Woodworker, just published an awesome video detailing how to go from design to a finished beautiful wood inlay piece using Easel and a stock Shapeoko. Check it out!


Inventory Count Day at Inventables

We're improving the way we do inventory at Inventables!  Today we shut down shipping operations temporarily while we do a full physical inventory! Our team is hard at work counting every last item in our warehouse.

What's the point??  We are working to improve our inventory system so we can keep the things you need in stock. Step one is to make sure our physical inventory matches the count on our website. Here is a glimpse inside of this detailed process.

Each product gets one of these little pink labels.

Wyatt, our Fulfillment Manager, counting his way through our large selection of wood.

The quantity of each product is recorded...

...not once, but twice! A second person follows behind and counts again to double check the first count.  When they are done a completed pink label like this is added to the shelf.

Each completed pink label brings us one step closer to keeping your items in stock.
As you can see, we are already making great progress! As soon as we are done, shipping will resume.


Autodesk's Fusion 360 now supports Shapeoko!

Autodesk's deep catalog of CAD and CAM software is well known for being easy to use and highly powerful for creating pretty much everything. A new feature you may not be aware of is that Fusion 360 and CAM 360 now support exporting gcode for Shapeoko.

Youtube user jgilbert20 breaks it all down and shows you how to take a 3D design to finished pieces:

Autodesk's Fusion 360 and CAM 360 are available to try for free from Autodesk's website for 30 days, and are free for students and enthusiasts. Thanks Autodesk!


What actually goes on in the Inventables office? Secrets revealed!

Last week we were visited by Bob from I Like To Make Stuff, who just happened to be in town on unrelated awesomeness. He brought his camera and we gave him a tour of our office, warehouse and workshop. Here's that glimpse into the workings of our machine, captured for posterity:

Thanks Bob! And check out his website I Like To Make Stuff.


Quiet Cut Spindle for Shapeoko CNC Router with ER11 Collets & Mounting Options

Here is a short tutorial to show the Quiet Cut Spindle from Inventables and to answer a few basic questions.

Shapeoko CNC router shown with Quiet Cut Spindle

#1 Question - How quiet is is? 

Very quiet. Please watch the video below to compare it to the standard rotary tool.

#2 How do I mount it?

Because the Quiet Cut Spindle is much shorter than a rotary tool you might find that you have to mount it lower. There are two good ways to do this. Option two is the preferred method because it gives you the maximum clearance under the gantry.

Option One - lower the MakerSlide
  1. Loosen the 4 screws securing the MakerSlide to the Z-axis
  2. Lower the MakerSlide so the cutting bit can reach the waste board
  3. Re-square the MakerSlide with the waste board
  4. Tighten the mounting screws
Option One, Step One - Loosen two screws at top of plate.
Option One, Step One - Loosen two screws at bottom of plate.
Option One, Step Three & Four - Lower MakerSlide, square it and tighten screws.

Option Two - swap the mounting block with the Delrin nut
  1. Remove the hardware holding the upper mounting block
  2. Remove the two screws holding the Delrin nut
  3. Lower the Z-axis plate below the end of the MakerSlide
  4. Attach the mounting block to the lower holes, where the Delrin nut was
  5. Manually turn the Z-axis screw so the Delrin nut raises up about an inch (25mm)
  6. Slide plate back onto MakeSlide and raise it till the holes line up for the Delrin nut
  7. Attach plate to Delrin nut with the same screws you removed
Option Two - swap Delrin nut position, shown by yellow pointer, with upper mounting block.
Option Two, Step One - remove upper mounting block.
Option Two, Step Two - remove screws holding Delrin nut.
Option Two, Step Three & Four - lower plate and reattach mounting block to lower holes.
Option Two, Step Six & Seven - raise plate and reattach Delrin nut with screws through upper holes.
Option Two is the preferred method. Notice it allows the maximum clearance under the gantry.

#3) How do I control the speed?

You can do this via a speed controller manually with a potentiometer (included) or with a CNC controller. For detailed instructions please refer to these blog posts gShield or TinyG.

#4 What is an ER11 collet and why do I want one?

An ER11-A collet is a standardized way to secure a cutting bit. There are two main components. The collet which grips the cutting bit and the collet nut which tightens the bit once installed in the machine and tightened down. It is very similar to the way the rotary tool works but the main difference is that this is larger and also an industry standard. That makes it much easier to know what is compatible. For example you can use a 1/4" diameter cutting tool with the Quiet Cut Spindle and the only thing you need to buy is the 1/4" collet. The same collet nut will work that comes with the Quiet Cut Spindle.

ER11-A 1/8" collet & collet nut are included with the Quiet Cut Spindle.
Cutting bits and 1/4" collet (shown above) are extra.

Use wrenches to tighten collet. Make it very snug but don't over-tighten.
If you have any other questions please refer to previous blog posts or send an email to help@inventables.com.

Followers of Inventables Blog