PUNXSUTAWNEY — Jim Rouse is a man of many talents and hobbies, and can be found in his workshop creating all types of custom creations with his many tools and machines.
Rouse remodels houses by trade, but has found more and more opportunity to incorporate his custom work into remodeling. Once his clients learn he can do it, they often have requests for him. His current project was a custom bathroom cabinet and vanity sitting off to the side of his workshop, but his creations can get much more ornate.
“I do like doing the one-of-a-kind custom stuff. My Facebook page, I don’t put any personal stuff on there, I just put stuff that I make on there,” Rouse said.
When he first began making custom works, he used a Craftsman CompuCarve, which is a miniature computer numerical control machine, or CNC machine, which automates the control of tools through computer programming. He had already wanted a CNC machine, so this was a good test of what he could do with one.
Rouse decided to do what anyone would – learn how to build his own CNC laser cutter in his workshop. Rouse said he watched hours of YouTube videos, learning how the machine worked, and how he needed to build it.
“I built one out of wood, and it worked. I had to learn all that stuff, YouTube was great for that, but I had to figure out a lot of it on my own too. Because it was made out of wood, it rapped too much as it was cutting, so it wasn’t as accurate,” Rouse said.
He left that project for a couple of years, then a friend gave him some metal rails, which would hold tight better than the wood had. This is one of the machines he uses today for laser cutting.
Rouse designs the pieces he wants cut in the computer program, and the machine cuts them out. It can move on three axes while cutting, and always knows where it is on the piece of wood. He said it took him about two weeks to build the machine.
“But it’s a lot of tweaking before you get it to where it’s actually running,” Rouse said.
He uses these cutout pieces to make intricate wooden clocks as his main focus. Some of the smallest pieces have to be cut out on his second machine to ensure the small details aren’t accidentally broken off. He makes joints in the pieces so they can be locked together, and built into the clocks.
He picks different animals and themes to give the clocks. He had groundhog clocks made for Groundhog Weekend, which his friend included on her table at one of the vendor shows that weekend. He also has eagle and elk clocks, and will take personal requests as well. Rouse has also begun experimenting with steampunk style creations recently.
Rouse said he can’t work forever, and would like to start taking the clocks and his other creations around to vendor fairs in the future.
He also recently started working with a 3-D printer as well. Another skill he turned to YouTube to learn. He likes 3-D objects because they are hollow on the inside, giving him more possibilities with them. He also saw this as a way to print the inlays to carvings that he does for custom details in houses.
“That was my initial thought when I got into 3-D printing, but then I realized theres so much more. There’s files all over the place that you can download cool stuff and then print it out. Of course that was another trial and error,” Rouse said.
Today, Rouse makes custom creations with his two laser printers and a 3-D printer in his workshop. He still considers his custom creations to be a hobby, but is hoping it can become more than that when he’s ready to leave the remodeling business.
He also shared that he is a cake decorator by trade, and used to DJ on the weekends. He has also made other creations like faux stone walls out of foam board, and some decorations for his own house. He has many talents and interests when it comes to making unique creations.