Big  Blue Saw


General Updates

CAD without CAD? No, it's not a Zen koan, it's maker.js, an open source project from Microsoft Garage that lets you create CAD designs by just tweaking a few settings. For example, the ring designer shown above lets you make rings or washers of any size by just entering an inner and outer diameter. Best of all, it outputs DXF files compatible with Big Blue Saw's online quoting system.

Here's another useful tool from maker.js: a sign creator with support for stencil fonts, rounded corners, and mounting holes.

There's also double pipe clamp builder. I'm told that this was inspired by the custom clamp from our articles on designing for waterjet.

Check out more things you can design on the maker.js demo page.

If you're ready to join two waterjet or laser cut parts together at 90 degrees to each other, you have a few good options.

Welding will work, but comes with its own difficulties, including the fact that it requires a welding machine and the skill to use it.

To join flat parts at right angles using only fasteners like nuts and bolts, read on.

The first technique is the t-nut techique, optionally using tab-and-slot for additional strength. Read more about it in our article on corner braces and the t-nut technique.

This technique can be done with common hardware store nuts and bolts. It occupies little space, except where the nut protrudes from the plate. The hardware is partially exposed, which can make assembly easier, but is less elegant looking than using nutstrip (described below) and leaves the hardware vulnerable to being bumped out of place.

Another popular option for joining plates at 90 degrees is to use nutstrip. This handy hardware is a square bar of aluminum with tapped holes at 90 degrees to make it easy to stick two parts together. You can cut it to length with a hacksaw to get just the right amount of hold.

One disadvantage of nutstrip is that it does occupy some space in the corners where your plates come together. On the other hand, it is very handy for lids and access panels, as you don't have to worry about the nutstrip falling out while you screw it in from the outside as it's held in place to the other panel. Read more about using nutstrip.

Got any other ideas for joining flat parts together at 90 degrees? Let us know!


From James T. Kilroy comes a video review of Big Blue Saw's waterjet cutting services. He uses Big Blue Saw to make custom panels for NEMA enclosures, among other things. In the video linked to below he talks about our services and shows you some of the parts he's made. His YouTube series Shop ADHD features discussions of a variety of machine shop and maker topics.

Mr. Kilroy also shared with us this lovely custom pulley he made a little while back with help from Big Blue Saw.

Ghost Robotics, one of our customers, has been in the news lately because of their Ghost Minitaur robot. What makes this robot special? It's the first first direct-drive, legged robot, and it's available for purchase!


Gavin Kenneally of Ghost Robotics told a little bit more about the Ghost Minitaur via e-mail:

The motors have custom motor drivers and a microcontroller to control them. The legs each work in a plane (2 degrees of freedom), but the body has a sprawl angle, so the left/right pair are not in the same plane.

There are lots of gaits that it can do, and this is ongoing work. So far, bound, pronk, trot, and crawl are possible.
You can see some of the details of the robot below, including waterjet cut parts from Big Blue Saw.

It can even open doors despite its small size.

The video shows more of Ghost Minitaur doing a variety of other tricks like jumping and climbing a fence!

Big Blue Saw's biggest sale ever runs from Monday, September 19 through Wednesday, September 21 thanks to 3 of our most supportive communities of customers. Big Blue Saw is offering discounts on the following THREE materials:

  • 0.1875 inch (4.8 mm) thick aluminum 6061
  • 0.06 inch (1.5 mm) thick stainless steel 304
  • 0.125 inch (3.2 mm) thick aluminum 5052

Each of these materials represent something special to 3 online communities who have helped Big Blue Saw grow over the years.

0.1875" Aluminum 6061

This is the material of choice for the waterjet cut parts of the FarmBot Genesis. Interest in this robotic gardening machine is growing, and Big Blue Saw can help you build yours by cutting the brackets from aluminum.

Of course, this material is useful for a variety of other things as well: electric cycles, lightweight tools, aircraft parts and bottle openers to name a few.

0.06" Stainless Steel 304

This decorative and tough material makes an excellent keyboard plate for enthusiasts assembling their own custom mechanical switch keyboards. This group needs their keyboards made THEIR way and Big Blue Saw's online quoting and ordering system lets them easily order one off parts.

Stainless steel is renowned for its luxurious appearance and corrosion resistance, making it a great material for decorative pieces like jewelry, charms, and outdoor signs. And recently I read in the RioBotz Combat Robot Tutorial that stainless steel 304 has outstanding mechanical toughness as well.

0.125" Thick Aluminum 5052


The Astromech community is dedicated rebuilding and re-imagining the droids of the Star Wars universe. We first started to see some sales from this group back in 2013, but it wasn't until 2014 when CAD designs for various droid parts became publicly available that sales really took off. Word spread that if you wanted foot shells waterjet cut, Big Blue Saw was the place to go. We waterjet or laser cut a number of different designs over the years for individual hobbyists who want to bring their robotic creations to life.

The uses for aluminum 5052 extend way beyond robots, though. Its high strength, weldability and formability make it a great choice for lighting fixtures, control panels, and costumes, plus many of the other things on our list of waterjet cutting applications.

The Sale

During the sale, all orders placed online for the sale materials will automatically receive a quantity discount.

Let's take a look at what this means for some of our loyal customers.

A set of farmbot brackets, waterjet cut from 0.1875" thick aluminum 6061 is normally priced at $178.00 in quantity 1, but during the sale will be just $142.70, or 20% off.

The Astromech battery box, waterjet cut from 0.125" thick aluminum 5052,  normally costs  $112.80 in quantity 1. During the sale, this will cost only $77.50, a savings of 31%.

The sample 60% size openable Alps-compatible keyboard plate, waterjet cut from 0.06" stainless steel is usually $92.10 for quantity 1, but during the sale is just $42.00. That's 54% off the regular price!

Order real parts made from your designs by uploading them now to the online quoting system. Remember, the sale runs from Monday, September 19, through Wednesday September 21.