Here's My Stuff!
by Robert Clark Rutkowski
I’ve always had a love for, and affair with machinery; this is one thing I know and perform with
well. I build machines out of any
material, including the
that was posted on your site awhile back.
Everyone always teases me that all of my projects and décor look industrial, so when I had nearly
filled my room I rent from my friend with shelving, a shoe rack and other convenience and
utilitarian accoutrements (including the laptop stand shown above and in the pictures below), I had
thought about doing something over the bed. My friend who owns the house made the mistake of
jokingly asking me one evening when I would be going overhead with something so I thought about it all
night and this is what I came up with. Naturally like many designs and creations, I came up with
the basic idea and modified and improved [got out of control with] it as I went along.
Being that it is so industrial in essence, I decided that it really needed something mechanical
to dramatically bring it to life, so I decided on the beam trolley since I had beams. Since I know
machinery and technology/engineering so well, I am able to get this effect to come out in my
It was fairly straightforward building it notwithstanding my limited tools and shop area in the
basement of my friend’s home and my residence. On occasion I’ll actually adjust the design to
coincide with the tools I have available and being on a very low fixed income and materials with
which I work. My grandfather and father would have had a conniption fit if they knew that I referred
to these materials in the context of ‘woodworking’, but I like them for the type of things that I
build because machinery is an entirely different art than the fine cabinetry and sash and door work
that they were capable of and did.
Having no grain, these materials are appropriate for mechanical components. It is a continuous learning
experience working with them though due to the binding resins and the varied weaknesses of the
material in drilling and fastening them with screws, for example. For instance, MDF is really nothing
more than compressed cardboard with a resin or some sort of adhesive, so drilling into the edge of it
and running a screw in can easily split it wide open if the countersink drill is too small or the
hole not adequately deep to accommodate the length of the screw.
The resin is really hard on cutters particularly hole saws and circle cutters. With the hole
saws, the fine powder builds up in the annulus of the cut and the ensuing friction causes burning
and wears down the cutting edge. My tinker toy creations have a lot of sawed circles on them to give the
effect of bosses to appear more like real machinery. The materials are hard on Forstners too.
I have a serious terminal illness and therefore a very low fixed income so I am not able to
purchase a lot of the really nice sophisticated tools and fixtures that I would like to have,
therefore it requires that I create special machining methods and jigs and fixtures to perform these
functions. It’s challenging and tries even my love for and patience with machinery sometimes but it
is fun and keeps my mind focused away from some of the more troubling things in life.
I hope you all like my tinker toy bed canopy and laptop stand and got some positive moments in your lives viewing