Big  Blue Saw


General Updates


As I mentioned in an earlier post, this past weekend I was at Dragon*Con, one of the largest sci-fi/fantasy/comics/gaming conventions in the world. It's about so much more than just Star Trek, Marvel Comics, and the like (not that there is anything wrong with those). Not only it is it home to the world's second oldest fighting robot competition, but there is also an event track dedicated to robots and other "maker" topics.

My convention experience at Dragon*Con began on Saturday morning with a train ride down to the downtown Atlanta location of Dragon*Con. I was due to speak on a panel at 11:30 AM in the Sheraton hotel. Getting to the hotel was an adventure. When I exited the subway station, a thick throng of people stood gawking at various zombies, Cylons, and celebrities, all marching down Peachtree Street as part of the Dragon*Con parade. It turns out that I was on the wrong side of the street and it was impossible to cross. Fortunately, a kind MARTA worker let me cross back over the subway platform through the exit on the other side, and I arrived just in time for the panel to start.

My compatriot on the panel was Peter Abrahamson, who I haven't seen since I was the Robotics Track director several years back. We talked and answered questions about how to make things using waterjet and laser cutting. I didn't see too many people sneaking out the back door, so I think we were reasonably entertaining and informative.

A few Big Blue Saw customers were in the audience, including Chris Lee who showed off an iPhone controlled steampunk costume made with parts from Big Blue Saw. His creation really deserves its own blog post.

It was great to see so many people interested in learning more hearing about the projects they intend to build. Thanks to Valerie Macht to putting together such a great programming track.

Monday was Robot Battles, an event that I've been competing in since the mid 1990's. It was great chance to see some old friends and make some new ones as well.

And I actually won something this year! My robot, which I have given the shamelessly commercial name "Big Blue Saw Presents Jaws", took first place in the 30 pound division Battle Royale. Of course, all of the custom structural and mechanical components in this robot are made using Big Blue Saw.

To see more video of Robot Battles, check out the Dragon*Con Robot Battles 2012 playlist from Mike of Near Chaos Robotics, or you can check out this channel from Dale's Homemade Robots.


A note for those of you in the Atlanta area on Labor Day weekend: I'll be appearing at two events as part of the Dragon*Con, “largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe”.

Some of you may know that I used to be director of the Robotics Track at Dragon*Con. In the years since I've left to dedicate more time to Big Blue Saw, the current director, Valerie Macht, has expanded the focus of this track to include more events for “makers” of all kinds, not just robot builders.

I'm excited to be appearing with two friends of mine whom I admire not only for their building prowess, but also for their wit and charm: famed special effects artist Peter Abrahamson and mad genius Charles Guan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We'll be conducting a discussion panel entitled “Digital Fabrication, Laser and Waterjet Cutting”. This takes place on Saturday, September 1 at 11:30 AM in the Savannah Rooms 1-3 of the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. We'll be talking about Big Blue Saw, giving demonstrations, showing off parts, answering questions, and even giving away a few freebies.

Also, on Monday, September 3 (Labor Day), I'll be competing in Robot Battles 44 with my robot Jaws at the Hyatt Regency VI-VII Ballroom. Most of Jaws's custom parts were made using Big Blue Saw.

For more information see the Robotics Track schedule at

I look forward to seeing you there.


I am constantly amazed by the things people dream up and make with the help of Big Blue Saw. Our customers have built robots, clocks, light installations, jewelry, and fashion accessories with Big Blue Saw. Now, we're helping them build powerful electric motors. Charles Guan shows us how it's done.

His Kittmotter is an electric motor that can be adapted for a variety of situations. Charles uses it to power a small electric scooter, but I can easily see these motors being used in small electric carts, toys, or robots.

Best of all, these motors can be built from Big Blue Saw parts with a few hardware odds and ends. No specialized machine tools necessary.

With Big Blue Saw, not only can you make what you dream of, you can now make it move.


Big Blue Saw is having a sale on Cold Rolled Steel A366/1008 in 0.0598 inch thickness. The sale will run from Tuesday June 19, 2012 through Friday, June 22, 2012.

It follows our usual sale format: all orders of the material on sale, no matter how small, will receive a quantity discount. This is a great opportunity to try Big Blue Saw for the first time or to order a simple piece that would otherwise just be too expensive.

For instance, our "butterfly" example part would normally cost $90.60 if you ordered just one. During this sale, you can have the same part for $9.10!

(For more frequent updates about Big Blue Saw and to join discussions with fellow Big Blue Saw customers, "Like" us on Facebook using the link below.)


Steel remains one of our most popular materials, so we've decided to add a few new options to our lineup of options in our online quoting system. The following steel materials are now available:

  • Cold Finished Steel 1018
  • Cold Rolled Steel A366/1008
  • Hot Rolled Steel A36
  • Hot Rolled Steel 1045
  • Hot Rolled Steel A569/ASTM A1011

These are available in stock materials ranging from as thin as 0.024 inch all the way up to 1 inch thick.

About Steel

We have three main varieties of steel: hot rolled, cold rolled, and cold finished. Cold rolled and cold finished steel will generally have the smoothest surface finish, and will look the best on applications that need to look good. Hot rolled steel is usually less expensive, but can have an irregular oxide coating (mill scale) on the outside.

For comparison purposes, here is a chart of the relative strengths of the various kinds of steel.

TypeUltimate Tensile Strength, psi. Higher is Better
Cold Finished Steel 1018 63,800
Cold Rolled Steel A366/1008 38,000 - 51,900
Hot Rolled Steel A36 58,000 - 79,800
Hot Rolled Steel 1045 95,000
Hot Rolled Steel A569/ASTM A1011 30,000 - 50,000

As always, if you don't see your material on our list, just ask, and we'll try to accommodate your needs.

Upload your design and get an instant quote on steel parts.

Photo by KILAM Photography