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I want to invent things

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:13 pm
by Knight
Big goal: I want to invent things, hold them in my hand and say "I did this."

Getting somebody else to make prototypes is *expensive*.
Many of the things I want to make won't pay for themselves. I can't sell them and earn more than I'm thinking about spending.
I lack both the skill and machinery to do it myself.
The job I have allows me a great deal of free time, but requires I be present and clean for long hours. So I can spend hours on forums and sending emails, but not wood carving, mixing chemicals or taking hands-on classes.
I feel I have too many resposibilities and too many people relying on my paycheck.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:01 am
by Kim
First of all, I think I hear a contradiction. Do you want to build, make, craft things and say "I did this." or do you want to invent things?

in the first case, you are looking for a hobby.

In the second case, you are looking for a way to turn your ingenuity into something that benefits other people and brings you money. A successful inventor creates solutions to problems other people have - but may not even know they have - or creates things that are new but add something to their lives. An example of the first is the paperclip (or glasses). An example of the second is the iPad (or TV).

One way of creating something without actually creating it is to write it up in detail and in all its variations (and make detailed drawings, if applicable), the way it is done in patents. There are lots of patents on the web, and from reading those, you will get a sense of what constitutes a good patent application and what is a badly written patent application. A good patent is clear and unambiguous and covers all possible variations (="embodiments") of your idea.

The full patent application process is expensive, but you can get a temporary patent application that is valid for a year, and costs around $100 (plus/minus 25). (If you want, i can look up more specific info about this.) It could be a good way of testing whether your invention makes any sense.

It is generally a good idea anyway to let a few other people read your description of your invention and assess your idea - and the writing and any drawings - before you submit it anywhere. Use a confidentiality agreement if you are worried about anyone stealing your idea. You'll find templates online as well as actual confidentiality agreements. If you compare several agreements and templates out there, and use your common sense, you'll be able to fill in the dots in your template and edit it so that it suits your needs. (You sure sound smart enough!)

Also, many prototypes these days are printed on 3D printers, and I think there is even a build-it-yourself 3D printer kit out there. It sounds like you are the perfect person to build your own 3D printer and then use it to create prototypes.

That brings me back to the original question. What do you want to do with the prototypes?

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:45 am
by Knight
Lets start with specifics of the project I am working on:

In 1965, a group of people had a medieval theme going away party for a friend and had so much fun that they decided to do it again. Nearly fifty years later, there is some debate whether the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a historical re-enactment group (like it states in its charter) or still just a theme party, but it is now an international organization with 60,000 participants.

One of popular activities in the SCA since the beginning has been "heavy combat": armored fighters hitting each other with wooden sticks made of a very special wood called rattan. In heavy combat, a single hit of sufficient force to the head or torso is a "kill". There are a lot of rules about sufficient head protection, what areas of the body are required to be protected, etc.

Rattan has several unique properties that make it ideal for SCA combat. It is hard, but highly flexible, and when it breaks (depending on moisture) either pulps or snaps cleanly without splinters. The default weapon of an SCA heavy fighter is a 1.25" minimum diameter rattan stick (the minimum gap allowed on a helmet faceplate is one inch wide).
Several years ago, an SCA fighter in the Midwest took an extra thick piece of rattan and carved it down in such a way that it still satisfied the SCA rules but resembled a sword in appearance. He made several, showed a few people how to do it then quit. Then one of the people he showed started making them. Nobody knows who that first guy was, but in 2010 I joined that lineage when a guy making me one of these special swords quit before completing my order and I made one for myself.


In the last four years I’ve been improving my carving skill, tweaking the design, and working with other craftsmen to design accessory equipment to the rattan blades that accommodates a piece of rattan that is not shaped like a 1.25" diameter rod.


At the same time, other craftsmen have been looking at replacing rattan with a material that lasts longer and in nearly fifty years have only found a couple materials that look promising. However, in every case their experiments have been with 1.25" diameter rods.

In my years making rattan swords, I’ve learned that shape affects longevity. I’d like to take what I have learned and apply it to these new materials to see if it is possible to make some of these durable alternatives even more durable (and look better).


My finished blade should be 35" long, the most popular length for an SCA sword and too long for 3D printing and most other "hobbyist" tools.


I can print details, like this handle, but not a full piece.

The approval process is simultaneously simple and a bit difficult: the kingdom marshal (head referee for a region) declares something new to be legal for experimental use, people try it in controlled settings (in practice and not in tournaments, with the foreknowledge and approval of you opponent, etc) and then six months or so later decide if it is approved, needs more data, or not allowed. So I need to have more than a single prototype created *before* it can be approved.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:38 am
by Knight
It is long winded, but that last post is really just an example.

At this point, I looked at all that I had done and said, "Am I satisfied stopping here?" and the answer is no. What would be the minimum? My short term goal would be I would like to hold the prototype in my hands and use it - and I mean a complete prototype, not something cobbled together from almost the right shape or almost the right materials.

I would like to have the validation of having my design officially accepted, but I don't need other people's validation if I could handle it and verify for myself that the design is good. I would like to design them to be affordable and perhaps sell a few, but making money (beyond not getting stuck with a pile of them) is also not "the" goal.

I can find engineers to answer specific questions about production and this is not the right forum for that. The reason I posted here is that I realized more generally I like problem solving. I like identifying needs and coming up with solutions. I realized right before I made that first post that if you could set me up in a big shop with all the equipment I would need to make anything, I would happily putter around in there for the rest of my life.

The more general goal is the one I would like to address on this forum. Is it possible for somebody with no money and background in engineering or CNC machines or plastic molding or anything 'blue collar' skills-wise to create a job like I've described?

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:55 am
by Knight
Knight wrote:Is it possible for somebody with no money and background in engineering or CNC machines or plastic molding or anything 'blue collar' skills-wise to create a job like I've described?

In other words, can a nearly fifty year old parent, store manager and mattress salesman become Tony Stark?

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:53 am
by SquarePeg
Sorry for this "post-n-run"...

Have you heard of Maker Spaces? These are large offices or warehouse rooms in which all manner of equipment, machinery, workstations are set up for artists, inventors, engineers, consultants, etc. They may typically have machining equipment (milling / lathe / drilll press), pottery wheel and kiln, 3-d printers, soldering stations, perhaps even piles of spare parts with which to work.

If you lived near Austin TX, and you saw signs (or headlines) that read "Make Austin," you have one near you.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:57 am
by SquarePeg
Oh, the thing that makes a Maker Space special is not just the space or the equipment. It's the wonderful mix of people that use them. Collaboration and cooperation are the norm in a good Maker Space.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:59 am
by Knight
SquarePeg wrote:Have you heard of Maker Spaces?

I have heard of them, but generally only as a California thing. It is an excellent idea that I am glad to see expanding.

I live in Louisville, KY.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:15 pm
by Kim
Cool! I searched the web, found a few links for you on the maker space thing. Tried to include links I found, but am not allowed to so will past fragments so you can search the web on the text.

Article by Jessica Lynn
A group of engineering students from University of Louisville (who are also members of the nonprofit maker space LVL1, LLC) are trying to participate...

New MakerSpace Opens at Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft
February 7, 2014 - 3:59pm

Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is all a buzz today. They had a grand reopening of their space, which they call Maker Space, in their museum space in downtown Louisville. KMAC (for short!) is located near Kentucky Science Center, along Museum Row on Main Street.

Looks more art-oriented at first sight, but go take a look if you haven't yet. Ya never know.

Louisville Enjoys its First Mini Maker Faire.

By Divinity Rose
Posted October 2nd, 2013 12:00 pm
Louisville, Kentucky got to show off a bit of smarts and creativity this past Saturday with its first Mini Maker Faire, co-produced by Louisville’s Maker Space LVL1...

I hope it helps!

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:22 pm
by Knight
Thanks Kim and SquarePeg!

I wrote the folks in Austin and here is what they had to say:

hi dan,

thanks for reaching out to us!

there's a website called 100k garages, that has profiles of different maker spaces (and people who do custom fabrication) around the world. hopefully you'll be able to find something close to home.

we know there is at least one thriving hackerspace in chicago (we met the founder recently, but don't know the name). may also be able to direct you to something nearby.

sam alaimo is the makerspace coordinator of (based out of chicago), and might have some insight into spaces near you.

there are a lot of terms that folks use to describe workshops like ours: makerspace (maker space) and hackerspace are among the more popular, so searching for those terms might yield something fruitful.

good luck with your quest!

all the best,

eve + kristen

{ a membership-based design and fabrication workshop } / 512-522-6253 / hours / classes / location

// custom orders // //
// member bookings // //
// other inquiries // //

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:54 am
by tui
Leaping sideways: there seems to be a fair number of knife makers in Kentucky. They will definitely be aware of tangs and hand-guards, profiles and forms, as well as working with natural materials as well as metals.

As you're working in a branch of cutlery, with very specific requirements, then, as fellow crafters, they may be able to guide and suggest quite specifically - including for marketing and promoting.

Good luck with this.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:00 pm
by SquarePeg
Umm, Austin was just an example. I chose a US city at random. Not really random, though, because I wanted one that was medium to large in population with few letters in its name. After throwing out Ohio and Utah because they're states, I settled on Austin, which I heard is very nice, and is easier to type than San Antonio. ;)

Anyway, I've had my eye on a particular Maker Space near me for a few months now. I might join and spend my 6.5 weeks vacation time there.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:23 am
by Knight
SquarePeg wrote:Umm, Austin was just an example. I chose a US city at random...

It was a clue I could run with, regardless of how you arrived at it.

... and I was correct in guessing that somebody in the industry would know more than I about finding other people in that same industry, which is why I emailed them to ask that.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 8:18 pm
by Knight
Kim, you are my hero (at least today). More details soon after I have more results.

Re: I want to invent things

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 11:15 am
by Elaine Glimme
Now I know why your user name is "Knight."