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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Product Design Lab by Snively '11

Wakka wakka wakka

If you’ll remember, last week was the Latke vs. Hamentaschen debate. That wasn’t the only eventful thing that happened that day, there was all sorts of goings-on beforehand on the 3rd floor of building 35.

What’s on the 3rd floor of building 35 you ask? Well there used to just be a normal little classroom, but that has changed as of late. You see, there’s this class at MIT that designs toys, have you heard of it? It’s hard to build toys without a shop, so the powers at be went out and bought a multitude of new tools, woodworking equipment, and supplies to convert an ordinary classroom into a better-than-average shop.

Before the debate Maddie and I headed over to help set up the brand new shop and check out all of the new tools. We spent about 45 minutes cutting leather, opening sets of drills, zip-tying power cords, sorting different types of wood, and helping with odd-jobs around the shop. I, being the eternal tourist that being a blogger obligates me to be, of course took pictures.

There is a drill press, belt sander, and band saw at each table

We also have a little alcove that is home to a laser cutter and a 3D printer (I can’t wait to use these!)

When we first showed up I was assigned to unwrapping and opening various templates and drill bits.

I finished opening up the templates and some normal bits, but then I got to the next set of bits to open. I don’t know how many of you work with wood or are familiar with different varieties of drill bits, but if you are then this next picture should mean something to you.

That’s right, those are sets of Forstner bits. Sets. As in multiple. For those who may not be familiar with these types of drill bits, let me put this in perspective for you. My family back home has ONE Forstner bit and it cost $50.00. These things are EXPENSIVE! Not for MIT I guess, because I unwrapped 6 cases of bits, each with 12 bits. That’s 72 Forstner bits. *drool*

Oh, by the way, Maddie was really excited about the Forstner bits.

One final element of the Toy Building Heaven that is this little shop is the shop vac. You may think that shop vacs are lame, but let me tell you, this is one IMPRESSIVE shop vac.

Just look at that thing, it’s a beast! And it’s so quiet and powerful, I’m not quite sure I could live without one now that I’ve tried it.

Alright, so that’s the shop, but now you have a whole class full of kids that may or may not have ever used these tools before. Therefore, we needed training, and what better way to train than to build a toy? Our assignment in lab the next day was to build a pull toy. You know, a small wooden toy with wheels and a string attached so you can pull it along the ground. We had 15 minutes to design a toy and the rest of the lab (2 and a half hours) to build our toy. If you know me at all then you can probably at least guess the theme of the toy I decided to make. After waffling for a while I decided on a video game classic.

I grabbed all my wood, attacked the band saw, sanded and sanded and sanded, drilled a bunch of holes, dry fit axels, stained my pieces and oiled my wheels, and grabbed some googly eyes. 2 and a half hours, lots of sawdust, 3 near-death experiences, and some dead brain cells later I was left with a shiny new pull toy!




I’m now the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind PacMan pull toy. Now before you argue about inaccuracies, the ghost doesn’t have to be blue in order for the PacMan to chase it (it just helps). The blue stain wasn’t dark enough to look good, so orange it was.

40 responses to “Product Design Lab”

  1. Nihar says:

    A 3D printer?? WOW~!…can anyone explain how that works??

  2. '12 says:

    we got scared that you weren’t going to post today :O

    nice post though.

  3. Snively says:

    @ ’12

    I know, I got the e-mail.

  4. Laser says:


    I so want to take this class still…
    And I’d buy your Pacman toy! (My cats would have a lot of fun with it).

  5. pmoney says:

    sounds eerily reminiscent of project runway, or something of the sort… only it’s at MIT so i’m sure its exponentially better

  6. Anonymous says:

    So are you going to cover the Star Simpson trial or not?

  7. Karen says:

    I love power tools.

  8. Becca says:

    Awesome! That class looks amazing. Where else can you get a lab just to build toys for the heck of it? (okay, so it is a class, BUT still).

    Keeping my fingers crossed for Saturday.

  9. Danny says:

    Maybe I will get a chance to play with that PacMan toy someday *fingers crossed until Saturday*.

  10. boredman says:

    I’d buy your Pacman!!

  11. yukiko says:

    wow so creative!

  12. Lainers says:

    MIT built a lab. For one new class. A fully outfitted lab with multiple full stations and a laser cutter. My eyes steadily grew in size for that entire post. It looks wonderful. And I am truly jealous of that assignment. “You have 2.5 hours to construct a pull toy. Anything you could conceivably need is in this room, somewhere. Ready, go.” What could possibly be better?
    I really have nothing constructive to say. I was just too amazed to say nothing at all.

  13. Chris says:

    OMG I’ve built lots of sets for our plays at school, and when I saw that orange box I thought “are those Forstners?! OMG!” that’s quite a bit of money right there. Your pac-man pull toy is epic.

  14. Anonymous says:

    i want to take this class

  15. Libin Daniel says:

    Aeronautical.Astronautical.Aerospace.Course 16..Someone blog about it before March 15th Noon EST…please.

  16. Shruthi says:

    Pacman FTW!! :D I liked Clyde too :D He looks adorable smile

  17. That class is so cool! Build toys, get into top secret toy shows, build stuff and taking a break from the normal MIT work load… seems to good to be true! raspberry

  18. Anonymous says:

    The stupid drill bits are not expensive if they are not made to the highest standards. What about the trial?

  19. Rachel'12 says:

    Hahaha that’s amazing (although, you know, blue ghosts)

    The mini vertical bandsaws are so cute! I’m used to the angry, whirring, 7 foot tall industrial beasts.

    @Nihar: 3d printers lay down fast drying plasticky stuff one layer at a time and build it up to form the final 3d model. So it’s sort of like integrating cross sections. In plastic. Pretty cool =P

  20. Aditi says:

    power tools !!!

    the pull toy is adorable!

    Did you get those lab coats? smile

  21. Snively says:

    No, I won’t be covering the Star Simpson trial. Also, I had no way of knowing what quality drill bits those were. I saw 72 Forstner bits, I could only assume that MIT spent a good deal of money on them.

    Rachel’s got the right idea. There are several types of 3D printers, but the basic principle behind it is to fuse a powder/plastic together in the shape of a cross-section, lay another layer of powder/plastic on top, fuse that, and continue your way up. Do a search for “3D Printing.”

  22. Javie says:

    Absolutely cool!

    Is that shop open 24/7? lol

    (i mean the keys)

  23. Paul says:

    Each set costs 45 bucks on Amazon. For six sets, plus shipping, that’s about $300.

    Maybe not a ton of money, but still significant. I certainly don’t have $300 lying around to spend on drill bits.

    Then again, I’m not really sure why this is even an issue. Snively and Maddie are more than allowed to get excited about drill bits if they want to, why is it such a big deal to you?

  24. Matt says:

    Every post about some awesome thing like this makes me want to go to MIT more and more. I guess I’ll find out if I’ll have the chance in 3 days and about 7 hours and 16 minutes.

    And there is a movie coming out about the MIT blackjack scheme. I saw something on it a few years ago on TLC or Discovery or some channel like that, and from this was first introduced to the wonders that originate in Cambridge.

  25. Michael says:

    Wow, this is quite the shop. That 3d printer and laser cutter look amazing, too.

    Also, great shirt Maddie! I loved SPLASH every time I did it.

  26. '12 hopeful says:

    That seems like a really great class……thanks snively for all the pictures…..that just might be the closest that some of us will get to MIT…all you guys are doing such a great job showing us what a great place it is that it’s going to be tough to read a “we regret to inform you…” on saturday….anyway may be best group of students get admitted…..grin..

  27. Anonymous says:

    An awesome example of the “mind and hand” motto of MIT.

    I wonder if more such toys could be produced to share with an orphanage nearby:-)

  28. OmarA says:

    I want that toy. If I get in, will you make me one Snively? hehe grin

  29. Chris says:


    To be fair, I don’t really know the price range for those bits, I only know that of all the bits and pieces (pun!) we had to use in shop,all the forstners were in a separate cabinet, and you had to ask our tech teacher to use them, which was generally followed by :”These are worth more than your life, break it and save me the trouble by killing yourself” so I assumed that they must be expensive. The box we had was made by Irwin, I don’t know the quality compared to Porter Cable. I just know I was led to believe ours were expensive.

  30. Anonymous says:

    One more time, people:
    Lower quality tools, less expensive.
    Higher quality tools (of the same type), more expensive.
    I apologize for calling the drill bits stupid.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I was responding to Chris on March 12, 2008 12:10 AM about the drill bits, and I was not being sarcastic when I wrote “if they are not made to the highest standards.” Either your family got ripped off, or they have a very high quality drill bit.
    You were the coolest MIT shill blogger before you wrote that you were not going to cover the Star Simpson trial, although hopefully there will not be a trial, as there is a dismissal hearing coming up.

  32. Isshak says:

    Wow that class looks so cool, so practical ! I love it. Hands on learning. Snively ? You could make plenty and sell them for charity !

  33. Brett says:

    Hey Snively,

    What does jzzsxm mean?

  34. Nihar says:

    @Snively and Rachel’12

    Thanks!………now I can’t wait to use one of those!

  35. Snively says:


    Way back when, when I first got AIM, I wanted to create an SN but couldn’t think of anything. Luckily there was this little tool that said “Enter three things you enjoy and we’ll make you a screen name!”

    I entered “Jazz” “Sax” and “Music”

    Does that makes sense now? I realize that it could stand for many more lewd things but it really just stands for JaZZSaXMusic.

    Oh, and for those of you who are completely clueless, I still use jzzsxm for screen names and user names on most websites, which is how I’m assuming Brett found it.

  36. Sceth says:

    [This has no relevance to your blog but let me say it.]

    I clicked the “wakka” hyperlink, looked at the picture, wondered if it was poetic, considered a poetic possibility, and almost cried.

    Sunset on Mario? NOOOOOOOOOO!