Tools of the Trade

Posted: December 5th, 2023 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: | Comments Off on Tools of the Trade

Enriched Mystery

Posted: December 29th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Enriched Mystery

Looking for an intrepid reporter’s quest into the noir-tinged underworld of Big Pasta: What the Hole is Going On?

SW File Types At-A-Glance

Posted: October 16th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Solidworks | Comments Off on SW File Types At-A-Glance

My file conventions are always a bit in flux, but the one constant I’ve kept for several years now is this: For help with visually locating the drawing and assembly files in Windows Explorer, I put a “_D” and “_A” at the end of the file names. I know there are already icons and file type descriptions but for some reason this is much more effective for me.

Fini-Key Boards

Posted: October 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Solidworks | Comments Off on Fini-Key Boards

Apple keyboards are very finicky. I’ve just purchased my fourth one. The first two met untimely ends because of cat vomit. I have forgiven Apple this because of the obvious fact that cats are here to wreak havoc. But last week the third one died suddenly and unexpectedly while I was away from the computer. I have no idea why it stopped working (there were no liquids within a 12-foot radius), but the <esc> key and <F1> through <F7> stopped working. Because I use these very frequently, I was not able to keep using Solidworks with the Cupertino keyboard and was forced to use my backup keyboard, a black behemoth that shipped with my Dell. After only a few days, my left hand began to cramp up. Not only is the Dell keyboard way too high for my comfort, but the F-keys are placed too far away from the rest of the keyboard. So I headed over to my local big box store and bought myself a Magic Keyboard with Extended Keypad. In a way It seems foolish to purchase the same item over and over again, but the layout of the Apple keyboards is perfect for what I do. I like the layout of the new keyboard over my previous USB Apple Extended Keyboards – the <esc> key is bigger, and the F-keys are not smaller than the rest of the buttons. (I cannot over-stress how useful this is). The apple keyboard also has  more of the F-keys than any other keyboard I’ve seen, from <F1> through <F19>. This means more keys to use with custom keyboard layouts for my Solidworks workflow. I am looking around at some of the custom keypads made for gamers, but haven’t decided to get one yet.

So I’m happy again with my keyboard, Until it breaks again. This time though I purchased some insurance from the big box store so this time I don’t feel as foolish.

* For those wondering how I can use the apple keyboard effectively with a PC – I re-map my control keys using a shareware app called “Sharpkeys.” (I do this with my Dell keyboard as well – because who in their right mind put the control key so far away from the space bar?)

UPDATE: It is late 2019, and I am still using the same Apple Magic Keyboard I bought back in 2017, so I only have good things to say about Apple Keyboards now!


Posted: March 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Links | Comments Off on Links!

Great story behind the NASA logo. (I always love the use of “Meatball” as a non-pasta descriptor)

– I’ve really got to try this paper blade in the Dremel thing! (Also: read the comments for some really useful thoughts on the use of abrasive disks to cut non-metallic materials)

– I always like to keep things in perspective -so I loved seeing this post which reduces smartphones as simply a 5th-order elaboration of Maxwell’s Theory, which is the true work of wonder which propels our modern world.

– Apparently there are only 5 things to look for when drawing.

– For those nerds wanting to go deep into a radioactive rabbit hole – here’s a heady analysis of plutonium found in a Soviet-era smoke detector.

– For you zombie apocalypse types: How to make gunpowder from urine.

This experiment reproduces some of the challenge to growing plants on Mars. The best part – you can do it while still here on Earth.

– This Nespresso Capsule Detector caught my eye.

– Never knew that UPS trucks never turn left. Does this apply even in NYC with all its one-way streets?

– Tips for those of you going on international flights but who don’t want to relinquish your personal data at the US border.

– Wow. The founder of Atari also created Chuck E. Cheese! Great article here at Fast Company about the legendary Nolan Bushnell.

– I still have not bought a 3D Printer, but I am always curious about how they are developing. This article is a little dated but still very good.

– Yay Drones! They’ve discovered new ancient earthworks in the Amazon rainforest!


Posted: March 10th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, IG | Comments Off on IG

Space….. is still the final frontier. Our stuff will replace the plastic. #nyc #manhattan #metal #metalwork. #rush #steel #snow

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Choosing Hardware (the fancy kind)

Posted: March 6th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Choosing Hardware (the fancy kind)

Weight is the quickest gauge of value.”   This 2004* NYT article by Marco Pasanella about shopping for home fixtures & hardware had me at this fourth paragraph opener. I do this ALL the time – I pick something up and if it weighs heavy in my hand I am halfway to being happy with it. Whether I can afford it is something else entirely, and that’s why the article is very useful by giving some clues to getting quality items without overspending.

I have a little experience with the making of nice things, and I am very picky about buying things. For me, a lot of the choosing is tactile – it comes down to whether the “thing” is pleasurable in the hand. Does it have a good weight? If you drag your fingernail along the edges, does it feel smooth or a bit pitted? Is the finish consistent? Are the little nooks & inside corners smooth? Do the “hidden” faces feel nice? Besides weight, quality mostly comes down to finish** – which is responsible for a lot of the sticker price since the best finishing is done manually by experienced craftsmen (suck it robots!).

*As to the question of why I was reading such an old article – the answer begins with the letter “G“.  I have been recently working on the designs for a set of 9 custom steel-and-glass doors for a penthouse in lower Manhattan. The architect specified some gorgeous Nanz Hardware for all the locksets & hinges in his hardware takeoff. Sadly there wasn’t the budget to go this route, but it would have been SO nice to be able to hold some of those Nanz pieces in the hand.

**This is true for non-mechanical items at least (Door pulls, etc). Once you start getting into things that “do work” – hinges, latches, faucets etc – things get a lot more complicated. Generally speaking though, if a piece has first-rate finishing & material, its pretty likely that the mechanical design is reliable.

Drawing Circles

Posted: March 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Drawing Circles

Sometimes I think that if i could draw better I wouldn’t need all this fancy software. I know it is wishful thinking but nevertheless I’m still hungry for drawing tricks. Recently I found this neat video with 7 strategies to help draw clean circles. I like the rubber band one most of all.


Posted: February 26th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, IG | Comments Off on IG

Finally got to take some install pix of this 4-story penthouse stairway I detailed for a client. Our job was just the steel structure – sides will be clad with ply & fancy plaster. Treads with stone and (if you can believe it) upholstered wood. Or so I am told. I’m just glad our stuff went in smoothly. #metal #metalwork #nyc #penthouse #construction #detailing #solidworks #cad #autocad #steel #stairs.

A post shared by Marshall Wilson (@wilsonbuilt) on

Land Lines

Posted: February 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Land Lines

This Google experiment called Land Lines is really fun. When you draw lines or make gestures on your screen the software finds satellite images which match the shape you’ve made. You end up with kind of a make-your-own collage map. I wish it had a feature to match to constellations in the sky too…