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Goings on at the Because We Cannery

In production for the Hattiesburg Zoo

We are in full production right now for a project that finished design phase last fall. Our design of the Galapagos Tortoise enclosure and adjoining "Discovery" Area for the Hattiesburg Zoo in Mississippi is coming to life! Here Joel, from the BWC fabrication shop, puts together the final pieces for the exterior interactive gear wall. IMG_5872

For scale, BWC Designer Be stands next to the main attraction of the exterior interactive gear wall. The whole thing will be painted and then final assembly and rotation testing will take place before it is shipped out. IMG_5885

More gears for an interior interactive wall that will be in the main event space. IMG_5964

This rendering of the exterior hallways of the zoo building shows the design for the window frames and arches that span the walkway. 005 copy

Here is the design for the window frames and spanning arches for the inside of the main events room. 001_copy

The final exterior arch. Each arch has a center medallion that is specific to that arch. IMG_4721

The medallions are all different animals set on a gear scene. IMG_4643

The final assembly will happen onsite, with stainless hardware and slotting made for the various widths of the walkway. IMG_4716

The window and door frames are also made of durable exterior materials. The stainless hardware of the arches matches the stainless details and hardware on the window and door frames. Pictured here is the smallest window frame, fully assembled. IMG_5439

The decorative carving details added to the brackets once again define our company, which I guess we could have named 'Why not', but settled instead on 'Because We Can'. IMG_5442

Jillian Northrup
See us at Autodesk University 2013

Proud & honored to say that we'll be both presenting and attending at this year's Autodesk University. You can catch us on Tuesday at the panel we've organized, What Fabricators Want, or at our talk later that same day on using Project Dynamo and 123D Make together for fast digital fabrication.

We'll also be at the CASE Hackathon and generally out and about (cough Frankie's Tiki Room cough). Follow us @becausewecan where we'll be posting updates.

Hope to see you there for a great week of learning and networking.

Jeffrey McGrew
Fall 2013 BWC Open House, this Friday November 22nd

It's time to celebrate the recent addition of a new CNC Router to our robot army. So stop by and join us in the fun!

We are opening our doors for Because We Can's Fall 2013 open house.

We'll be starting early at 5PM and going until 8PM-ish.

We'll be dancing, drinking, snacking, talking, and showing off great projects recently completed and some currently underway. It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us, too, if you want to learn more about what we do and how we do it.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, November 22nd

5PM - 8PM

Just around the corner from Brown Sugar Kitchen, we're not hard to find.

All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

Jeffrey McGrew
Ships, more ships and a Kraken

We recently had the opportunity to work with the wonderful independent game company, 1st Playable, in Troy NY. They needed some solutions for their large modular space, to define walkways and give the place a cohesive look that was fun and in their company culture. We created these free standing screens to delineate walkways

There are screens of different styles and sizes to accommodate how they move their desks and teams around

And of course there is a Kraken!

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We gave each ship screen stats, in case it ever needed to go into battle....

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Little boats were made with tall adjustable sails to shade the desks and computer screens from the powerful sun coming into the office

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And graphics were applied to the all glass meeting room to help with its privacy issues.

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See more on this project on our full project page here!

Jillian Northrup
Meet us at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire

We'll be at this year's East Bay Mini-Maker Faire. Very excited to be included in a panel about Digital Fabrication and the future of building. We're honored to be joining the amazing Smith|Allen Studio and Sheet Metal Alchemist in the Maker Skills room at 2:30 PM.

We wanted to do something for East Bay Mini-Maker Faire, because it's such a great local event, but have been too busy to organize something of our own. So when they asked if we'd be on the panel, we jumped at the chance! Hence the short notice, as the event is this Sunday. Fun fact: all the Makers on the panel will also be 'Maker Couples' as Smith|Allen & Sheet Metal Alchemist are both run by a creative couple, just like us.

So come and see us at the Faire!

Jeffrey McGrew
We Use and Support Open Source Software

We here at Because We Can are big fans of open source and sharing. We love Blender, the open source 3D modeling software. We donate money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We release almost all our work under a creative commons licence, even our business plan. But one area you might not know is that we directly fund the development of modules for Drupal, the open source content management system.

While Drupal runs this public site you're reading now, we also use it 'behind the scenes'. We rolled our own agile production management / project management / Lean-ERP system using Drupal. Drupal, being very modular, can be extended and configured into whatever you need it to be. While we call this system "The Wiki" it's so much more than that. It's become a cornerstone of our business and how we work. And a big part of how we work is keeping track of time.

In the best traditions of Open Source, we reached out to one of the maintainers of a Drupal Module that's critical to our in-house system: Time Tracker. We hired Chris Hertzog of Codework Designs to help add some features we needed to the module. These features are then shared with everyone, given back to the Drupal community, so everyone wins. Which we really dig, as it's our goal to make the world a more interesting place.

Time Tracker is a nice, lightweight system that lets you track and log time on whatever Drupal Nodes you wish. Using it, we made a system that shows everyone in the company exactly where we are on all of our projects, how much time has been spent, how much time is left in the budget, and who's doing what and when. And it's all woven right into the same 'wiki page' that we use to manage and track information about the project. One lean, powerful place to help keep us on time and on budget so we can focus on what we love to do: making great things for great people.

Jeffrey McGrew
Flat Pack Lanterns

Before it gets too much later, we really need to show off these lanterns and camp decorations we made for Burning Man 2013! Our camp for The Serpent Twins project has grown, and with it, our camp facade. IMG_2706

The winged benches, axes and medallions we made for last year's camp. This year we went much larger with the light up camp sign and flanking solar lanterns.

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The solar lights inside the lanterns were able get a good charge all day, and then shine all night showing off their lattice patterns.

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Because of the overlapping panels, the lattice carvings threw really neat designs onto the ground.

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During the day the lanterns acted as a tall perimeter marker to the entrance of our camp.

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Dust collecting on the cut outs created a nice softening effect.

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Before the dust was able to get them, the lanterns looked like this in our shop.

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With fun designs, the lanterns are a pleasure to look at from afar or close up.

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Standing over 10ft tall, they give a grand presence!

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And, of course, we designed these to be flat pack for easy transport & assembly!

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Jillian Northrup
Shopbot Acquired. Bonus x1000. Again.

So just a hint over eight years ago, we ordered a Shopbot. Bragging about it is actually the very first post on this blog. We got it running, named it Frank, and started making stuff. First we made stuff for ourselves, then our friends and family, then friends of friends, and next thing you know a year after Frank arrived in our lives we quit our day jobs and jumped in with both feet. The last seven years have been very busy indeed! Since then we've delivered on many wonderful projects for some really great people and companies.

So I'm very proud to say that we just ordered another Shopbot. Slightly larger than Frank, but twice as fast, twice as strong, and much stiffer and more accurate. Technically, it's a PRS Alpha 96x60x12 with a 4 HP spindle. Shopbot has been one of the best vendors we've ever worked with, and we've very excited to get one of their new awesome machines!

Frank is far from being sent to pasture, however! He's busily cutting a job as I post this, and after eight years is still a wonderful, capable, dependable machine. We're going to run them side-by-side, in parallel. In time, we'll probably convert Frank into something that's even better for big 3D carving, maybe even convert him into a 4 or 5-axis machine maybe.

Now the only problem we have is what to name the new robot. If you've got a great idea for a name please let us know!

Jeffrey McGrew
Kid friendly additions

Making a home that is a perfect fit for it's owners is what we do. And children are no exception! We outfitted a home renovation we recently completed with some fun and attractive kid friendly additions.

First off, the back yard sandbox desperately needed a cover in this Bay Area weather prone to daily fog and drizzles.

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These durable and weather resistant covers allow the sand beneath to ventilate, and can more easily store toys with their domed tops, that keeps water from pooling.

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In the basement we've added a screen to cover the exposed pipes and knobs necessary for a modern house. Now the basement is more usable for storage, prettier to look at and safer for the kids.

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Already a part of the project were these acrylic window guards we did around the house.

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With fun designs carved into the acrylic, they added some non-overpowering whimsy to the utilitarian acrylic guards.

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And, of course, everyone needs a chalk board of house rules. This one cleverly hides a utility panel near the kitchen.

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Jillian Northrup
Tinker Stations and Shelving for an Oakland School

For a small private school in Oakland, we recently completed the first phase of a revamp of their front hallway area.Now to be used for displaying the students' art pieces and holding "Maker" classes.

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The shelving is a shadow box design with cork backers for hanging the students art, and runs the length of one side of the hallway.

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On the other side of the hallway, the tinker stations line up in a row. We took design references from the original Julia Morgan building & furniture, integrating them into the stations.

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The stations have a full cabinet of storage in their interior, and peg boards and white boards inside either door.

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The work surface has a grid pattern carved into a sturdy maple top.

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And small drawers for supplies line the top.

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Happy Making, kids!

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Jillian Northrup
We're hiring!

Hear ye, Hear ye!We are hiring to fill two positions asap.... A Fabricator position and a Jr. Designer position.

If you have a passion for great architecture, interior design, furniture and digital fabrication, please check out our new BWC careers page to see the postings. And come make things with us and with a robot!

ROBOT

Jillian Northrup
West Oakland in the news

We are so proud that our local area of West Oakland has received some great press this last month.Celebrating the custom fabricator and "Maker" scene that has been growing here for years. It is nice to see some thoughtful pieces being written about this area and it's future!

Metropolis Magazine wrote a cool piece on our local area, focusing on two large community based fabricator establishments, The Crucible and American Steel.

Make Magazine and Tech Hive wrote a pieces on what the future holds for the area, and how it has changed into a thriving custom fabricator mecca, with plenty of room to grow.

We are, and have been, excited to be part of this exciting and growing area!

Jillian Northrup
Vintage Modern home renovation, San Francisco

This home renovation we completed recently in San Francisco freshened up a historic home from the 1900's, while keeping and celebrating its vintage details. UpstairsKitchen_BeforeAfter

The woodwork now pops into view with its white paint job and the dark floors in the entryway, and all over the home.

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The kitchen and bathrooms were heavy and dark from their last renovation in the 1970's. We lightened and brightened and opened up walls were we could, even taking out some load bearing walls and replacing them with steel overhead to create a better living space.

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Raising the ceiling in the main living space and taking out those walls made such a difference!

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And, or course we could not resist a little BWC fun.... with this porthole window in the kids room. IMG_3937

See more photos and descriptions on our project page here.

Jillian Northrup
Summer 2013 BWC Open House, this first Friday August 2nd!

Summer has been amazing, so we're celebrating. So stop by and join us in the fun!

We are opening our doors for Because We Can's Summer 2013 open house.

We'll be starting early at 5PM and going until 8PM-ish.

We'll be dancing, drinking, snacking, talking, and showing off great projects recently completed and some currently underway. It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us, too, if you want to learn more about what we do and how we do it. If she's brave, you might get to meet the new shop kitty too!

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, August 2nd

5PM - 8PM

2500 Kirkham St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 922-8846

Click here for the Google Map.

All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

Jeffrey McGrew
Brian Eno Designing Sound and Light Installations for the Long Now Salon

We are overjoyed (and kind of freaking out) to announce that Brian Eno is going to be doing the ambient sound design for the Long Now Salon project. He has also dedicated a light-painting installation for the space!

Brian Eno has been a longtime supporter & board member of the Long Now. We are HUGE fans of his work and couldn't be more excited! If you'd like to support this amazing project, then help us build it!

Jeffrey McGrew
Shopbot's new Handibot!

Shopbot, makers of our beloved and tirelessly working robot Frank, have launched a Kickstarter to fund the development of their awesome new little CNC machine, the Handibot!

If you were at Maker Faire this year, you got to see this impressive little portable CNC router. Perfect for jobsite work! I'm expecting a big future for this little guy.

Great thing is that if you know how to use a Shopbot at all, you already know all you need to use this new robot. And if you don't, Shopbot is looking to team up with various app developers. I can see lots of small apps for this; apps to route door latchset pockets without having to take the door off its hinges, cutting perfect circles for bathroom fixture install (like they show in this video), and a whole lot more!

So you should help back their Kickstarter and put these empowering CNC tools into more people's hands!

Jeffrey McGrew
Small Business Success Award!

We have the pleasure to announce that were awarded the "Small Business Success Award" from Autodesk.

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To promote the award, they made this cool video of our office & work shop....

The way this was edited implies that we fabricated the Serpent Twins completely here in house. Which could not be further from the truth! It was a whole crew of lovely people that help make the Serpents. We did made the tails & some details, which we have a nice project page on if you want more info. Other than that, it is a very nice video, and we thank the people at Autodesk for putting it together!

Jillian Northrup