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Chapter 2. Active Deskchop: - Pg. 33

MAKE: PROJECTS Eccentric Cubicle 2 Active Deskchop: Your Personal Guillotine I started building guillotines by popular demand. I guess the trebuchets I'd built got people thinking about launching severed heads over castle walls or something, but within a six-month period I had at least a hundred people say "Dude . . . you gotta build a guillotine" to me. It was actually getting a little creepy, so I did, just to shut 'em up. There's a lot to be said for heeding the voice of the people: guillotines turned out to be my most popular product line. Go figure. What We're Building As specified by the French, a guillotine was 14 feet high, with an 88-pound blade and a razor-sharp 45-degree cutting edge. All quite . . . er . . . revolutionary in its time, as it was the first scientifically researched device for the administration of capital punishment and all. "Crude but effective" is a phrase that springs to mind. Early records show guillotine-like devices (or gibbets) in use in Ireland in the early 1300s. By 1792, the guillotine had evolved to the form we're now familiar with and -- unbelievably -- was used sporadically until 1977. It's still pervasive imagery, which speaks volumes about humanity's fascination with killing machines. As attractive as the proposition may be, fabricating a full- sized decapitation machine in your backyard is impractical in all but the most enlightened communities. Scaling the guillotine down to desktop size still presents a few challenges. Forty kilos of blade plummeting from a giddy height is gonna take your noggin off, regardless of edge sharpness, but at 1 / 12 th scale, you're dealing with exponentially reduced potential energy in the blade, which means getting creative if you want to produce a device that can chop the end off a cigar or dismember vegetables with any degree of authority. Creativity, in this case, manifests itself as a block of lead bodged onto the blade. ! CAUTION: Yes, you are going to be fabricating a device with a heavy sharp blade that has the potential to cause grievous bodily harm. The tools you will be using to make this have the same potential. Do not forget! Now, truth be known, I've fabricated a lot of guillotines and I'm getting a little sick of 'em. I designed the first one on the bench from a fairly conservative viewpoint, and the majority of the subsequent pieces were variations on that basic theme: I build to order, and clients tend to want something familiar. Keeping the builds interesting is always a challenge, and is particularly frustrating when you're working with a mechanism that can be executed (pun intended) in so many different styles that just aren't in demand. Fortunately, the form factor we're using here is infinitely flexible from an industrial design perspective, and can be adapted to just about any potential deployment. By all means, feel free to adapt, modify, hack, repurpose, and improvise. After all, it's not like we're dealing with an overly complex mechanism. Let's look at the subassemblies involved. There's the stuff associated with the chopper (blade, weight box, trestle, and pulley), the stuff associated with the choppee (the lunette and the bed), and a nice solid base to hold the lot of them in position. 22