Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From the 'Oh Cool' File

A little while back, I wrote about Joe Harmon for work. Joe is a grad student at North Carolina State University who is building a wooden supercar , The Splinter, for his grad project. His site is pretty well done, with webcams, photos (like the computer render above of the final product), videos, etc. He even blogs about the process of building the car here.

The car looks frickin' sweet, and it will debut at IWF, which is North America's largest woodworking trade show, and I think the second largest woodworking trade show in the world. The car will be ready for show at the show, but it won't be road-ready yet, there'll still be some work that needs to go into it.

I was all psyched to see the car, as usually the company I work for sends all the editors in my division down to the show, but alas, this year they're only sending the more senior editors due to budgetary reasons. The publishing industry, as with much of the rest of the country, as been hit pretty hard by this economic crunch thingie I keep hearing rumors about. :(

According to Joe, the car will weigh less than a traditional car made from steel, and the wood has a better strength to weight ratio than steel or aluminum. And it just looks so cool. He's found some innovative ways of using the different woods and getting the wood to do what he wants. For instance, instead of traditional metal leaf springs in the suspension, he used osage orange, which is used in bow making. The panels of the car are made from cherry wood veneers that are cut into strips and woven together into big mats that can be properly shaped. Did I mention that the car looks really cool? (and I'm not a car guy) One of the things that he had to think about while building and designing the car, that he told me about during the interview, was figuring out a way to house the engine without having the car start on fire.

The show is just 8 days away, and I can only imagine the amount of nearly around the clock work that must be going into the car to get it ready. Joe is probably getting very little sleep about now. My fellow editors have promised to take pictures for me. I'd like to meet Joe in person, maybe he'll be around at some other show in the future with some equally impressive and massive project.

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