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.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Zig-Zag and Pannier

Follow Pannier and his faithful four-legged companion on their journey throughout the beautiful Southern Australian landscape.

I'm working on a pouch for my bike lock. I have a light rack on the back of my bike that holds an Ortlieb Downtown QL3 pannier on the left side, and nothing on the right. I'm making a pouch that'll be tensioned into the right-side triangle of the rack with .125" cord and .125" 316 stainless rod. The pattern is neat; I'm not sure if it is an elegant design or not. It certainly doesn't feel elegant to stitch together. Regardless, the test sewed up nicely even though I was pretty sloppy about it. More pictures of this, my bike, and the test pieces to follow.

The tensioning cord will be wrapped in a zig-zag between the stainless rod and the stainless tube of the rear rack. This zig-zag arrangement is a theme in things I make. I think this is more the natural tendency of materials than intentional design. I do like the way it looks though. Here, I fixed my business helmet visor by drilling holes in it, stitching it together with Guetermann Tera 30, and coating it with two-part epoxy.

I also improved my LED light from ikea with zig-zagging thread. For some reason, the flexible neck that supports the light is really floppy on this one. There are two of these lamps floating around, and the other one is much better at holding its shape. That's what I get for getting the $10 light from ikea instead of the $198.98 one from McMaster. The $411.42 waterproof model with a focused beam and clamp mount is enticing to say the least, but that money is currently going towards my Australian Travel Series. With Pannier.

The 2.5" plastic support for the flexible bit was extended using McMaster packing slips cut into strips and glue. It's funny because it's true. The result is rigid and durable enough. The sewn cover is mostly decorative.

Stay tuned, more on Zig-Zag and Pannier pending.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ruler Case

The value of an engineering ruler is inversely proportional to the number of dents along its edges. One dent on one edge is like Russian roulette, but your chances are twice as bad and the outcome is better. They are made of the same cardboard as the plotter components. I bought this ruler as a get-well present for myself one day. It says GERMANY on it. I got well.

In an informal test on this material with Aleene's tacky glue, Elmer's school glue, yellow wood glue, and cyanoacrylate, Aleene's tacky was the toughest. I didn't test UHU stick or two-part epoxy because of reasons. Aleene's penetrates the fibers a bit and remains flexible, and it's nice to work with.

I know I didn't have a picture of the backside of the drafting
board; here it is.  1.6" clearance for masking tape.


I used to have a job with Hardinge CHNC/SP lathes that used cutting oil. I came home saturated in it. I decided to make some aprons to wear at work, which helped. Deburring tool bottom right, 3/16" modified hex wrench aside solvent marker in floppy pocket, 4" adjustable square in bottom left for setting bar stock in collet, pen in pen pocket, and cutting oil to fill the gaps.

The original pattern. Looks like humidity affected it.

One of my aprons, still in use.

 The center section and bias tape were originally a light cream color. After washing the fabric (before sewing), it turned pink. I wasn't tough enough to walk around the machine shop wearing pink, so I stuck the wad of fabric in a warm pot of blueberry sauce overnight. It was originally a nice bluish grey, now it's just... weathered.

Proprietary bike maintenance apron for my brother. Same fabric as my apron, just less abused.


First item I made when I got my sewing machine; a cloth toolbox if you will.

Other side

Friday, November 8, 2013

Stitched Items

I designed and made three of these wallets. They sit idle on my sewn cardboard shelves. 

Function. The sewing awl is good for making these.
 This is the wallet I use. I hacked it together two years ago, and it's so bad that it never fails.

 When my jeans get holes in them, I just patch them. Eventually they get so ragged I can't keep up and they retire. At least they can live on in internet pictures.
 I think when something inanimate is repaired, it takes on an element of life. Usually only living things heal. These jeans are probably the best example I have of that.