Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I found this package of needles in a treadle sewing machine base my grandma bought at a yard sale. I felt like I should photograph the package before it gets torn up in my sewing kit. They've made it a long way.

I also made another paper patterned piece with the ruling pen:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I haven't been posting often lately because I'm about to move again. I packed up my tools and am avoiding getting too deep into projects. I'm still making things, most are pretty simple though. Here is a felt lightbulb I made. The pattern was sketched out in maybe two minutes. It might show, but it's fun to look at anyway.

Yesterday I tried making honeycomb paper cells like they use for lightweight laminated structural panels. I cut out a plastic glue stencil which would alternate positions on strips of paper to produce the honeycomb. It didn't work. The glue quantity must be very accurately regulated, and an $0.68 paintbrush wasn't the tool for the job. I thought about airbrushing it on, but I really wasn't keen on the idea of putting glue in the airbrush. Also, If it was thin enough to spray, it would be too thin to fill the gaps between paper fibers. I'll leave honeycomb production to bees and machines.

I decided to make the next closest form I could. I'm sure it has a name, but I don't know it. It would probably produce a very strong panel, stronger and heavier than honeycomb. An automated machine that could make this by forming would absolutely blow my socks off. It must be possible, but unless I've overlooked some beautiful elegant solution, it would be a very complex machine. It's a lot more fun to play with when not sandwiched into anything. I drew the lines by hand with a ruling pen. The drafting machine will be perfect for this sort of thing.

A math professor by the name of Will Webber at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington pioneered shapes based around this construction, if I remember correctly. I met him when I was about ten, and he showed me how to make it.

I don't have any large sheets of paper, so this is it for now.

After I move, I will likely have space for oxy/acetylene apparatus, a bandsaw, a drill press, and a table saw. There are bigger things on the horizon. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Phone Case

There might be a rev. 2 which will eliminate the bare fabric end on the inside. It was cut on the bias though, so it probably won't fray. I tapered the seams on the shell inwards because the seams on the corners of previous versions were awkward and bulky. This works well.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Birthday Box

Birthday box for Mom:

I used the awl to stitch the chain to the cardboard. Since the chain and the jewelry piece probably won't be crushed, it prevents the next worst thing, scratches. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Head Drawing

The idea is to put the scales on, hold the square to them and snug them up. Then the rules can be adjusted for parallelism with the axes with a reference point on the board and the thumbscrew on the bottom. The hinge part allows work up to about 1cm thick. I keep imagining using a dial indicator to true the rules, but some things you don't want to know. I'll probably just tape a stick to the board.

There's a little screw on the bottom (I forgot to draw in) which will make sure the rules aren't canted up off the board by the weight of the hinge. I worry that it might want to catch or drag on the paper, so I will put masking tape over it if I have to. See, tape is already a theme and I haven't even built it yet.

The parallelism adjustment thumb screw is sitting in spherical washers. So I can sleep at night.

There are two stainless ball knobs. The big one on the left locks the Y axis; the small one on the right locks the parallelism. I don't think there will be a lock for the X axis, since it will be sticky enough as-is.

I can feel the late hours filing already... two A.M., the awkward space in the notch by the top is looking back at me, and I'm wishing I would have used 303 instead of 304 stainless.

Update: "Machinable" 304 SS, what I used, isn't half bad. It does seem to work harden a little bit, but it only got in the way of the jeweler's saw. Stick wax lubricant helped with the hacksaw. Sawing 1/4" plate is not typical jeweler's saw work anyway.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bed Frame

I made this for Dad. I used a router, a block plane, a handsaw, and a drill. The slat assemblies are from Ikea.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Drafting Machine Sketches

I don't think I'll be able to make this for another year. I'll have to tolerate the floppy t-square and out-of-square drawing board for a while. If I'm still as enthusiastic about it next summer, the design will be further refined. I will make some better, more detailed drafts to make sure things don't collide.  They will look nice on the wall too. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Drafting Machine

I use my drafting board so much that I decided it is time for a drafting table with machine. Commercially available ones are too much expense for not enough precision and rigidity. Aluminum extrusions in precision machinery make me feel cold and weak inside. I'm building my own.

Useless mock-up for giggles

I started the design two days ago. I probably won't get restful sleep for two weeks until things start to settle down. It will be overbuilt and glorious. It will be accurate. How accurate, I don't know, but it's going to stay that accurate.

Also, no CAD. That would curse it, no doubt.

Posts might drop below three per week as the engineering team slaves away with the .7mm DRAFT/MATIC and sketch book. There will be graphite, eraser shavings, blood, sweat, and McMaster will request that I Login to Continue Browsing at least three times. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


This is it. I rode a few cross races in Bellingham, WA (hometown) on it before it became a commuter: my primary, often only, mode of transport. Besides my feet. The fork, frame, and seatpost are the only original remaining parts. For a while it had bullhorn handlebars, a red chainring, and 23c tires. This required a messenger bag, which is fine in the Northwest.

I moved to Southern California, and the heat made the messenger bag annoying. The handlebar bag came a year and a half before the rear rack. It's an Ortlieb Ultimate 5 classic M. They have a new version that seems even better engineered, which is hard to imagine. I used to keep the lock, cable, and the misc. in the handlebar bag, but it was a little too much weight for the mounting bracket. It slipped down over time. The weight doesn't really adversely affect the handling of the bike though, from a commuting perspective. It feels like a different bike without it though. 

Below is the repurposed lock holder. It now holds whatever I want to be able to grab while I'm riding. The first one I made of canvas was pretty dilapidated after a year, so its replacement was made of doubled-up cordura stitched until the awl wouldn't stitch any more. More zig-zag on the cord.

I made a muslin liner for it because I was tired of cleaning up all the flotsam that accumulated at the bottom. So the liner doesn't become one with the flotsam at the bottom, I added a cardstock frame. 

This is the Ortlieb Downtown Commuter pannier. The people at Ortlieb don't mess around, but what else is new? I've also had two Chrome bags, a backpack and the aforementioned messenger bag. Ortlieb and Chrome approach the same problem in two very different ways. They both have their places. The Chrome backpack has had my back covered (hoo hoo) a few times when I've gone to get building supplies. It has carried big sheets of cardboard, small boards, scraps of metal, and many other things I wouldn't/couldn't put in the pannier.

Below it is shown open. It can hold a lot this way in a pinch. The volume seems to be nearly cut in half when it's closed, which is still enough for a helmet and a pair of shoes. For a grocery run, it often falls short on space though. Chrome backpack and cool weather to the rescue, hopefully.

The bike didn't come with any rack mounting eyelets. The Tubus axle adapter was going to be expensive, and I wouldn't even get to use the QR axle it came with since the hub is bolt-on. So, I replaced the hub bolts with stainless threaded studs. Onto the threaded studs went shortened coupling nuts that I filed to length and perfectly square. On the outboard/unoccupied end of the coupling nuts went threaded inserts that brought the M8 thread down to an M5. The fancy little legs were hand-sawn and filed of 303 stainless. The spacer washers are unmodified (thanks, McMaster). I really like the look of the button head bolts; they're evocative of little metal bubbles. 

Lock Bag Mk. I

Here it is. The days of balancing the bike on my toe while I fumble around for the lock are over.

I was not expecting to get away with it on the first attempt. I didn't have to pull a single stitch. This pattern felt more dependent on elbow grease than repetition. Stitching the little loops was repetitious though.

Red goes faster. Not sure what the red brake pads do for performance though. I'm going to make another blog entry right after this just about my bike. The rack is made in Germany by Tubus, called Fly, and made of 10mm stainless tubing. The welds are clean. The little connector leg you can see on the top left was not part of the rack, but I'll explain that more on that in the next entry.

Here is the pattern sans loops, with two sewing... sketches. The upper left corner of the pocket piece should have a sharp point instead of being clipped like it is. That is the one mistake I made; not a big deal. The tiny pocket was to double check that I would put the hems the right way before I inverted it. I have a couple little pockets like that floating around. Slightly too nice to throw away, but still completely useless.