I spent 3 hours today with John at the MIT hobby shop, and a few hours before that collecting pieces and parts.
We’re using marine plywood, it’s just like regular plywood except the glue is waterproof and will not warp, and it’s more expensive. There’s this fantastic plywood place in Somerville, Boulter Plywood. They have everything and were very happy to cut into strips at our specifications. Clean and fast job. Entire bill was around $300 (one tenth of what aluminum stock would have been.
At the hobby shop we cut these to length. The (often grumpy but very helpful) guy who runs the shop, Ken Stone, saw that we were measuring each length. “No, no, no, he said, you just set a stop. You can’t measure 150 separate pieces.” I say, there’s no other way. He says “just tell me how many of each length.” I say: “1 of each length.” So then he goes and finds another guy in the shop and laughs at us, “can you believe it, they have a design that requires measuring every piece.” And some jokes about “design for manufacture,” and what idiots we are.
Of course John and I both know that the pieces are all different length for a reason. You don’t get the graceful arc we’re aiming for any other way. But these guys are useful, so we’ll take the punches quietly.
We do set up stops on the drill press, and it goes very quickly. We get all pieces cut to length with holes cut before the shop closes (about 2.5 hours of hard work).