Darkly Labs Community

Doonie's new project

Howdy guys, you may have seen a couple of my projects in these pages but today I want to talk about my latest one. I am volunteering to go to a local Care facility to talk with a group of residents about building a model of some kind. I was asked to do this by a person close to the care facility who despaired of the few things to do for older men.

I propose to offer them something from the Make CNC extensive list of projects. The problem is that the men are not allowed to use sharp tools like knives etc, so I have to come up with something where the cutting is already done. Obviously a laser cut project would be excellent. Commercial products although outstanding often involve complex assembly, small parts and are expensive. These blokes don’t have a lot of money although I believe the care facility will try to come up with a way to cover material costs.

I have a laser but cutting parts for ten projects will be very time hungry so I’m here today to ask if any of you people would be interesting in taking one of these old fellows under your wing and cutting out some parts for him.

I expect to build whatever they choose over several weeks, once a week for an hour or so. That means the parts don’t have to be all cut at once. The parts could then be mailed to the men, a nice surprise for them, as they are cut.

I would stay in touch with any person who is willing to help and orchestrate parts required etc.

Please post any interest here.

Hi Doonie,
I am impressed that you are involved with this activity!

I don’t know your background, so, please excuse if I make suggestions, that you already know of, from my own encounters with disability across some ages and degrees of disability…

The people…
My main struggles are:

  1. To meet the strength and dexterity issues of the recipient. That could mean making slots wider to ease joining, or tighter, to keep bits together while glue sets.

  2. Estimating the interest and imagination of the recipient. Often my grandson, who has a strength-physical disability, will come up with ideas for projects and construction methods I had never thought of.

Equally, my own passions for model planes, trains and buildings did not always match his… or his sisters…

  1. Finding out their intetests and needs in an activity; not always easy, where there is a communication issue.

  2. Concentration span of the recipient will determine what is possible and not.

The stuff…

The MakeCNC range includes plenty of plans that require no sharps to complete. Some are very simple, some are highly complex (have you seen their more complex Lancaster?? !!!

There are orher ideas out there that I want to explore that use slot & tab, with a hooked tab to give a slide-lock construction with no need for glue, at least initially.

I have found masking tape, rubber bands and small bulldog clips to be invaluable when constructing.

PVA exterior glue sets quicker and stronger than interior.

My hands shake a bit, so many models get sub- parts painted before construction.

Using thinner materials speeds up cutting. Just reduce the drawing by a percentage so the slots suit the new material. I found Darkley’s laser plies excellent for this, but the smaller model may not suit the dexterity issues of your people.

Use of jigs, to hold bits in place during construction, makes things easier. Sometimes it is as complex as a pre-made standard plate with some short dowels / skewers / pegs protruding to hold bits that have matching holes. Other times I have put register holes in parts that stack or connect so I can align them with skewers or a bit of piano wire.

I will watch your posts with intetest!


Darkly Labs is more than happy to help where we can.

Let us know the details when you have them.

Thanks Michael and Dominic. Thanks for the long post Michael. It is early days yet, I am just trying to see how I might go about getting a few models cut, a few parts at a time. When I have access to the care home I’ll know the abilities of the gentlemen there, how many and what they might like to do. They might choose to make individual items or one complex one between them with my assistance. I’ll find out when covid allows me in. Thanks again.

You’re welcome!

Doonie, I’m already involved in making stuff for grandkids,with and without a disability, so your concept interests me.

I guess the issues are, once a few people find they/ we are able to take this on,:

Copyright, especially of bought plans, but also of amateur’s plans that have taken many hours to perfect.

production timetabling; especially for people with work etc commitments.

materials costs

shipping costs ( e.g. I am on the age pension. By no means hard up, but I choose carefully which extra commitments I make.

Like I said, I’m interested,but need to consider carefully what extra I commit to.


As I understand it, Make cnc plans purchase allows you to make and sell a small number. Customer pays for the plans.

I will work the timetabling out to suit.

Customer pays for material.

Customer pays shipping costs.

I am also retired and make nothing out of this. Customer, either the care facility or the poor old bugger in care, pays. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. I’m asking for a bit of time from some people with laser cutters who might be up for something different.