Team Tips: Build an FTC Workshop
In our first year of FTC with worked with some basic tools including a hand drill and Dremel tool along with some tin snips. While this did enable us to build a robot we really struggled with cutting metal and other items including the hardened axles. So this year we built a small workshop with amazingly affordable tools from Sears (though you can get them from a number of other sources).
We paid around $300 for drill press with laser targeting, a bench grinder, and a 16" scroll saw. We considered a bandsaw but they are expensive and dangerous. A friend suggested we buy a scroll saw because they are much easier to use and you can easily place the blade through a hole to cut complex inside shapes.
We bolted all the tools to a piece of 3/4" plywood and clamped it to a heavy table. As with all tools safety is important. We don't use the tools unless we are wearing leather gloves and goggles.
So, the challenge is that you cannot buy scroll saw blades at your local store to cut metal. However, we found a solution: Ben's Scroll Saw (http://www.bensscrollsaw.com). He has special blades that can cut soft (non-ferrous) metals. This means you can cut channels, sheets, and plastic sheets with blades purchased from Ben's Scroll Saw. Just visit their site and call Ben at 717-367-8064 to get the right blade (we ordered the Pegas metal cutting blades at the bottom of this page).
This drill has a cool laser focusing system for precision drilling.
The scroll allows for complex cuts and shapes for both plastic and soft metal.
The bench grinder makes it easy to shape and clean up cut metal.
Clamps hold the board to the table.