Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Jig for sizing lids to fit drilled boxes
I became curious about a saying referred to in Forster's "the Machine Stops." The character Kuno,  had learned from his own tentative exploration of the real world that "Man is the measure." His hands and feet gave him definition of space. But the phrase also refers to a quote attributed to Protagoras, that "Man is the measure of all things," which was interpreted by Plato years later to mean that:
"there is no absolute truth, but that which individuals deem to be the truth. Although there is reason to question the extent of the interpretation of his arguments that has followed, that concept of individual relativity was revolutionary for the time, and contrasted with other philosophical doctrines that claimed the universe was based on something objective, outside of human influence or perceptions."–from wikipedia
Boxes ready to drill with a Forstner bit.
There is a chance that Protagoras was not as bad as what Plato had in mind. He said,
"Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not or of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life."
The word measure suggests action. It implies involvement in measuring, not making stuff up and to simply believe whatever you want. He was likely not implying that truth was relative, but rather that it required examination, not blind acceptance of that which we are told by others.

The Machine Stops is a fascinating story published in 1909 by E. M. Forster. It eerily predicts our current era, and immersion in virtual relaity. His name should not be confused with Benjamin Forstner, the inventor of the large drill bits bearing his name that can be used in forming the inside of a box.

The jig shown above is for routing lids to accurately fit holes drilled to form boxes. Years ago, I had made a box for a friend to carry two tablespoons of her father's ashes to India, that she might sprinkle them into the Ganges River. I needed a very precise lid, so that the contents would not be lost through many miles of travel. This jig gives me a way to make boxes with precise fitting lids, so tight they snap on and make a popping noise when you take them off. The clamp holds the lid stock tightly to the jig, but allows it to be rotated counter-clockwise against the spinning router bit. The stop clamped to the surface of the router table controls the diameter of the spigot formed on the underside of the lid.

Make, fix and create...

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