ABS TO THE RESCUE
Last night I dreamed of a magical material
that would be bendable like metal, as
easy to shape as wood, and would never
warp, split, or splinter. It would be washable, would never need painting, and
would last almost forever.
This morning, when I sat down at my desk, the stuff from my
dream was right in front of me. It fact, it had been there for
several months, ever since I made a pen rack from ABS.
ABS is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a plastic that really
does have dreamlike qualities. If you’ve ever picked up a Lego
block, you’ve handled ABS. Car stereo installers and model
railroad buffs sometimes use it, but craftspeople and hobbyists
generally have been slow to adopt it. You can saw it, drill it, sand
it, whittle it, and drive screws into it, and it never warps, splits,
or splinters. Best of all, you can bend it quickly into complex
shapes by using a simple gadget that costs around $200.
To acquaint you with its pleasures (and a few quirks), I’ll
describe how to build a page stand — a simple work aid that
facilitates copy-typing by holding pages upright beside your
video monitor. After that I’ll describe a portable CD caddy
and a pen rack, and will suggest more projects you can make.
Photograph by Sam Murphy
Set up: p. 103
Make it: p. 104 Use it: p. 108
Charles Platt is a frequent contributor to MAKE, has been a senior writer for Wired, and has written science fiction
novels, including The Silicon Man.