Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: NASA Spacesuit Parts!

Adam dons his replica Apollo-era spacesuit, made by replica spacesuit builder Ryan Nagata. As part of their ongoing collaboration, today’s One Day Build entails milling parts for the spacesuit, including a radiation dosimeter and aluminum knobs. But all doesn’t go right as Adam has to overcome a maker’s slump.

Shot and edited by Joey Fameli

Comments (60)

60 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: NASA Spacesuit Parts!

  1. You guys should have Adam engrave his signature in the failed pieces and have them auctioned off on ebay for charity,. Bet you 10 to 1 that it would bring in a boatload of cash. (maybe with a signed photo of Adam as well to sweeten the deal?)

  2. Hi, guys:

    Just wanted to thank you for the words of wisdom at the end. I’m between jobs at the moment–I’ve been writing professionally for 30 years–and I have to deal with those dark moments every once in awhile. It’s nice to hear someone as accomplished in his field as Adam admit that he has those days too. You know it in your head, but sometimes the heart just doesn’t want to go along. Thanks.

  3. Let Adam know that he switch to a carbide insert parting tool. I would recommend Kennemetal or Iscar. They make parting a 1000x less scary and the cut feel much much better. I will never go back to a parting blade, if your good at resharpening great but they just dull too fast.

  4. Hi everyone at Tested,

    I haven’t watched this build yet but I just wanted to thank you all so much for bringing back the long format one-day builds.

  5. oh man, what a day! i feel your pain.

    this year, i actually managed to do a full inktober: one ink drawing per day for the whole month. october 8th was such a dark day for me. nothing would work. i’d throw out sketches by the dozen, and even scrap a finished drawing because it looked crappy.

    it’s the most absurd feeling: you know you can do this kind of thing because you have done it countless times before. and yet, for no apparent reason, it just won’t work. first it’s annoying, but eventually i got so angry at myself for screwing this up sketch after sketch. it’s exactly the feeling you described: you doubt that there is any justification for you sitting there pretending to be able to do stuff.

    i contemplated just going to bed and not do a drawing that day. but i had such a ball of anger in my stomach that a) i wouldn’t get any sleep worth a damn. b) i’d break a week of a drawing a day for a completel yunacceptable reason. and c) by leaving this unresolved, i’d just get reminded of the anger when i sit down at my drawing table the next day.

    so i powered through, made a ridiculously mediocre drawing, but i did my day’s work. not the best i’d ever done by a long stretch, but i did not leave out a day, and i could make peace enough with myself not to contaminate my workspace with memories that’d draw me right back down this black hole.

    sometimes, borderline acceptable work still is a success.

  6. Might be a strategy to begin to make two knobs up front. If you screw up you don’t have to reset all the tools to start over. Of course if you screw up twice… (Hindsight is lovely.)

    I’ve never tooled aluminum on a lathe/mill. Brass, yes. And as I recall (it was 25 or so years ago) machining brass was like butter. None of that “crumbliness” that aluminum can present.

    It looks like on the second attempt at the knob you saw to leave a little extra of the rough stock to allow for the lack of clearance with the saw. So there was that benefit….

    Besides all the hassle of adjusting the machinery to use the saw, it looked to my eye like the slots were going to be too wide anyway. I think the small milling bit was clearly the way to go. With my router I have a V bit — perhaps the mill has that? I couldn’t tell if it was a V or just a very small end mill.

    Third mistake! Is it possible you don’t work as well in front of a camera/crew? 🙂

    Ha, ha, you made four blanks for the dosimeter! Bingo!

    I don’t have a mill, so I would probably have gone with a wood chisel to remove the material for the numeric display on the dosimeter. I like the rounded inside corners you are able to get though.

    The final pieces are lovely — make it all worth while.

  7. Loved this video! I imagine Adam knows some really skilled machinists, some instructional/informational videos about machining would be amazing.

  8. I’m located in Sweden and the prototyping material we use that look extremely similar is called “Cibatool”. Just FYI.

    The cheaper (and lightweight) version for milling is the more dense insulation board you put under your floor. Usually 70-100mm thick, alot cheaper if you just need to knock ut some prototypes superfast.

    I sometimes even use the floor insulation as a prototyping material for renshape/cibatool just for checking my g-code… We have a tiny 4 axis cnc mill (roland mdx-540) at the workshop and the insulations cuts suuuuper fast.

  9. Great build video. I love that you share your mistakes and the last bit is a nice reminder that we all have that confidence demon that likes to try to keep us down. I love watching you work on the lathe and milling machine, there is something satisfying about those machines. Love Tested!

  10. Perfect vacation day break from my own work. It is nice to have the reminder that you can’t finish after a failure unless you start again, even if its not the first re-start. Thanks Adam.

  11. Great to see the process of figuring out a build through the mistakes and picking yourself up after a frustrating day.

    I remember being taught the basics of machining on my engineering degree. I was told creating a piece was like solving a puzzle in how to make a shape with the fewest number of steps while always working from a consistent datum point.

    It took a day of loose fitting parts and wonky cut threads for those words to sink in.

  12. I see you’ve added pneumatic drawbar to the mill, and a 90degree drive, and an indexing rotary head… – any more toys? It seems about time for a new “shop equipment tour”?

  13. I feel your pain too, Adam. A couple of months ago, I spent all Saturday in my shop machining one piece of aluminium. Around 22 operations, IIRC. 8 1/2 hours in, second to last cut, saw the finish line and got complacent… didn’t clamp the piece properly in the vice. Half inch roughing cutter snagged the piece, pulled it out of the vice and hogged lumps out of it along one side and threw it across the shop. And smashed the cutting tool.

    Next day, started again from scratch. This time, thankfully only 7 hours in when I forgot to offset the radius of my edge finder before drilling a hole. Irreparable. I was pretty fricking pissed off. Whole weekend wasted. Well, I say wasted, but apart from the cock-ups I did actually enjoy the time in the shop, making chips.

    Next weekend, decided to do some of the more intensive operations first and it all went without a hitch.

  14. Love that you finally did a machining video, Adam! I could watch people machine parts all day. My favorite is the ClickSpring YouTube channel (linked below). Not only his he machining a skeleton clock from scratch, but he also makes a lot of his own tools and fixtures. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he’s doing most of his work on small, bench top Sherline machines.

    Also, thank you for leaving in your mistakes.

  15. Nice one Adam, really like your comment that every one can drop down in a bad zone, but then after a good day you are up again, i think this applies to all kind of work.

    Keep posting builds, it is so nice to see you build stuff.

    Thank // Jos

  16. Those words at the end really hit me. As a Junior Anim at Weta Digital I often get that feeling of having no right to be where I am, especially when I think about how I just stumbled into the place while plenty others cross oceans to work there. Adam lifted my spirits and made me feel better about it.

  17. Interesting. For all Adam’s machining skills he works like a craftsman not a machinist. A journeyman machinist does not do a lot of eyeballing and approximation. It’s all precise edge finding and working to drawing dimensions. For Adam’s stuff, as long as it looks good and a few moving parts work it’s good. Quite different from how a production machine shop operates.

  18. So, Adam, are you really that calm and collected, or did you edit out all the “son of a bitch”s, “damn it”s, “fuuuuuck”s and throwing shit?

  19. WOW! This is my favorite video and sits up top with the tour or adam’s shop and the sortimo video. I love to see some flairs of creativity in the camera operating, composition and graphics. Love it dudes! And I think its totally fine to have a “One Day Build” take more than one day. Happens to me all the time! haha

  20. Really enjoyed this video, the amount of times I have had to redo a machining job because I stuff up my order of operations! Trying to teach kids to think though there order of operations in the beginning is so hard.

    I really love this long form one day builds, it really makes me want to get building.

  21. that pneumatic drawbar is awesome. as a short person who has to stand on an apple box to reach to the top of the mill having one of those would be amazing. perhaps i’ll petition my work to get one 😛

  22. Although I feel the pain throughout the video, it was reaaaaaaally awesome to watch! Excellent stuff and I wish I had these kind of skills. It really gets me energized in finally building my astronomy-box for my telescope. 🙂

  23. Wow I think this is one of my favourite One Day builds yet. It was really interesting seeing Adam work through his mistakes. If Adam could make mistakes more often that’d be great. 😛 jks

  24. Adam kind of loses me when he decides to make the lower knob out of delrin instead aluminum. It’s really not that much more challenging to machine it of aluminum & you would have a proper part to use on your RCU. I know he never reads comments, but why delrin Adam? I guess these are just being used as masters for resin casting?

  25. Nice job, Adam, though I was puzzled at you not doing 3 knob blanks to start with. And *thank you* for showing your mistakes, and the words at the end – it’s valuable to see that even those we admire aren’t perfect, and that they take it more-or-less in stride and keep going 🙂

  26. Re: The epilogue. Yes. Sometimes it’s worth it to give up for a day. Spending 8 hours today doing it wrong isn’t productive, when you could do it in 1 hour tomorrow.

  27. Thank you Adam. I love hearing that everyone feels this way. It’s maybe the most valuable lesson you have.

  28. Interesting video with good editing. The pace of the build was about perfect. I find it fascinating to watch Adam work, probably because he solves problems in a different way than I would.

    Towards the end of the video, Adam mentioned he wasn’t going to spend 15 minutes to tram the milling vise. Done properly, it’s only a few minutes job. I found this video to be very helpful:

    It’s a very early video from Tom Lipton, but still a goody. You can learn a lot from his channel.

  29. I always make at least two of everything, if I can afford it. Mistakes are simply inevitable, and getting the chance to work through the process of how to perform an operation with the freedom to make a mistake and not have to start from scratch or try to figure out how to salvage a piece is very, very nice.

  30. Thanks for sharing Adam, sometimes it is the fear of making mistakes that keep us from even starting a project. I am not a machinist but you have inspired me to look into purchasing a small lathe and milling machine for my home shop. Persevere and carry on!!

  31. Bless you for those last comments Adam. This sort of open, honest and essentially universal sharing of such humanity is one of the main reasons I love your videos. That and the fact you built a spaceship in your wardrobe? when a boy .I thought I was just a weirdo ’till I heard you mention that.

  32. Got to see Adam’s panel at NYCC this year, and he’s just as nice as he appears- brother, when days like this happen in the shop, remind yourself how awesome it is to do this for a living 🙂 You’re absolutely spot on about backing away and rethinking, it’s saved many a project.

  33. This was another great build video. I really dug the cinematography and close up shots of Adam’s hands at work.

    The failures and the message at then end really made the video. Adam, if you haven’t already, you should consider giving a talk about failure and doubt with regards to your projects.

  34. Holy smokes – thanks for the tip on the indexing head! I’ve been trying to drill 4 perfectly spaced holes on the end of a small bit of aluminum tube today… making a to-scale replica of the Matrix tracker bug. A couple tries in & i’ve learned blueing fluid and some patient measuring only goes so far.

    What brand is yours? Couldn’t seem to find the mark in the video. I’m seeing a few shaky reviews on a couple china-made versions…

  35. Dear Adam, i just want you to know how much i appreciate you talking about how you have the blue days. I am buisness owner, high level sales in a high quality industry. i am an elitist arrogant dick on my good days (not saying thats a good thing, just know myself) but i constaly have those thoughts about how im terrible at what i do and wonder why im paid when i fail so often.

  36. Great video. Apart from the fact that I love watching Adam work in these longer video’s, it was great to see him screw up and get disheartened about it. We all know how that makes you feel like a screwup that has no business doing what he is doing (whatever that may be). It’s great to see we all have those times, and that we should maybe just stop for a bit, play a video game, have some tea, and try again later 🙂

  37. Just what I needed to see – I came to as a mental break from a MAJOR SCREW-UP in my own shop. A 1 hour job became a 2-day cleanup and rebuild disaster. For some reason, seeing someone else go through the same thing is therapeutic….. Thanks Adam!

  38. Love the mechanical work. If you have all these lovely heavy duty tools this is so much more fun compared to just 3D printing these parts.

  39. Most interesting. But – even with modern hardened prescription eyeglasses, you should be wearing additional eye protection – getting one of those aluminum fragments in the eye would be painful and could threaten vision.

  40. Loved the video as I do all the one day builds.

    Can you share the brand of of magnifying glasses that he is using? I have been looking for something more minimalist than the flip down style which seem to be very common.


  41. I tried to look up Cibatool, but had very little success with that. What I did find was a very similar seeming product called SikaBlock, which comes in several different densities from 0.08 kg/litre to 1.35kg/litre.

  42. Yeah for some reason cibatool isn’t very google-friendly. I just order it from one of the schools workshop (where I work part-time) usual suppliers… But SikaBlock looks extremely similar!

  43. Yeah for some reason cibatool isn’t very google-friendly. I just order it from one of the schools workshop (where I work part-time) usual suppliers… But SikaBlock looks extremely similar!

  44. Yeah for some reason cibatool isn’t very google-friendly. I just order it from one of the schools workshop (where I work part-time) usual suppliers… But SikaBlock looks extremely similar!

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