Is there woodworking on mars?
I never figured the Mars Rover and woodworking would cross paths, but I was wrong. What started out as a simple jobsite table saw made of LEGO quickly turned into an overlooked attachment for NASA’s Mars Rover.
My son, Jonas, is super keen on science and any sort of engineering or building project, and this is what LEGO is all about. It was a natural fit for him to make a LEGO table saw, and then realize he could turn it into a NASA Perseverance Rover. The change from standard Rover to table saw Rover can take place in a few minutes. Pretty good, I’d say.
After he made the LEGO table saw, we happened to watch NASA’s Rover land on Mars, and that gave him a good idea. I think the visual similarities between the Rover and his LEGO table saw (especially the wheels) were what prompted him to modify his design. Jonas thought the Mars Rover should have an optional table saw attachment, and I’d have to agree. I haven’t a clue why NASA didn’t include one in their Rover. The few dozen cameras and all sorts of scientific instruments can all stay, of course, but a table saw attachment would round out the Rover’s capabilities nicely, even if the Rover doesn’t come across any forests to harvest while visiting the Red Planet.
Jonas quickly removed the table saw portion (not to worry folks, as it’s going to be an optional attachment that can be re-installed whenever the Rover comes across some wood), then added a few wheels and a mechanical arm, like the real Rover. Over the past year just about everyone’s gotten on the woodworking train, but it seems like NASA missed the memo. They were too busy planning the trip to Mars, so Jonas built the attachment, not to mention his version of the Rover, out of LEGO. My boy’s got your back, NASA!
To install the table saw attachment, two of the wheels are removed. Not a problem, as who wants a table saw moving around on them while making a critical cut with a 10″ saw blade rotating at over 3000 RPM anyways? I’ll go out on a limb and call this the most portable jobsite table saw of all time.
All this is to say: Send me an email, NASA. I’ll hook you up with a great engineer.
High into the Sky
Not to be confused with what NASA has just accomplished, there are other ways to mix woodworking with hurtling oneself into the sky. Last weekend I took my kids sledding. We got to one of the many hills in Peterborough, Ontario, and found a wood ramp someone took the time to make, then bring to the slope. I think this is woodworking at its best. Sure, furniture, millwork and small, functional items are great on so many levels, but woodworking purely for the fun of it is fantastic.
Don’t get me wrong, there was no way I was going to get any air off this jump. I figured there was a 50/50 chance I’d end up in the hospital. I think my sled jumping days are over. But my kids, and a few other kids at the hill, enjoyed launching themselves off it. My job was to encourage the excitement, and add snow on top of the jump to make the kids fly even higher. I’m glad someone spent 10 minutes on this woodworking project, as it sure brought smiles to a lot of kids as it got used that afternoon. Sometimes the simplest woodworking projects bring the most enjoyment.
Think big, everyone. Woodworking is the answer!
Take a guided tour by the LEGO engineer who built this version of the Mars Rover.
Change It Up
When wood needs to be machined the table saw attachment can installed.
Table Saw Mode
With table saw mode fully engaged an astronaut can chop any wood they come across. There’s even a lever to raise and lower the blade.
When cutting wood to size is complete, install the front wheels and off you go. The solar panels will provide lots of power, and the articulating arm takes soil samples from the Red Planet.
Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.