Saturday, August 11, 2018

Refined Baldor 7 Inch Bench Grinder

I've really wanted a nice bench grinder since 2010, when I used the baldor in the high school shop. I bought one nearly two years ago, but didn't get to it until now. I put together a nice belt grinder with VFD, but a belt grinder is just not as refined. Grinding cutters on a quiet and stable bench grinder has to be one of the most relaxing activities.

The Baldor came pretty rough from the factory and I resolved to make it nice. The tool rests were crooked and wobbly, and the wheel flanges/bushings weren't very accurate. The shaft was pretty concentric through, so it was worth fixing. For accurate grinding of drills and cutters, a solid and flat tool rest is helpful. I set mine 1/2" below wheel centerline. I can put spacers beneath the item to be ground to accurately set a grind angle.

I made the rests of 1/2" mild steel using hacksaw and file, and the Taig lathe to mill the slot and drill the screw holes. I machined the bushings all on the Taig lathe.

I used the Oneway balancing kit to balance the wheels. It works alright; the balancing stand is not very sensitive but the flanges are nice and accurate.

You can see it running here.

I set up a fixture for sharpening a drill, and for the first time I split the point on a twist drill effectively. Sharpening drills freehand is a controversial topic because people have such wildly varying ideas of what a twist drill should be able to do.

I've had many US-made machine-sharpened drills which are sharpened worse than I could do by hand. Obviously, machines can do a much better job than I can do freehand too. You basically get what you pay for--a $25 twist drill is bound to be alright.

For accurate drilling in home shop, I like Chicago-Latrobe screw-machine length drills. They have a super crisp split point and their short length can actually take advantage of a rigid setup. They don't tend to make lobed hole during start unlike jobber-length bits (when used without guide clamped to surface).

Next challenge is grinding a brad-point bit for sheet metal :)

Longboard Wheel Truing Mandrel

Made this mandrel for a friend to help him turn the flat spots off longboard wheels.

The fixed bushing is held in place with a taper pin.

When I dropped it off at the skateboard shop, the guy there was interested in making a gang arrangement on a dedicated lathe to true up four skateboard wheels at a time. I doubt he'll actually go through with it, but I'll share it here if he does.

A conventional shearing cutter used for metals doesn't work for cutting the wheel, a slicing tool is needed to cut off a band from the outer surface. I didn't bother to grind a special tool, instead I just flipped a thread cutting tool upside-down to see if it worked. A dedicated cutter wouldn't be too hard to make and would do a lot better than this mess:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Crossbow Roller Nut

I got a crossbow kit from Alchem Inc. when I was about ten. I never finished a crossbow, but I hung onto the parts for... 14 years now. I finally sold them for peanuts to an excited SCA member.

As a token to my fifth-grade self who didn't have the tools or knowledge to make a decent roller nut, I made a blank to send with the rest of the kit:

I didn't have any metal adhesive, so the steel parts are just a tight interference fit with the aluminum body. I hope the recipient puts it to good use :)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Composite roping palm

My leather seaming palm has served me well. I don't know how I sewed heavy stuff before I had it, but I imagine there was a bit of blood and something to do with pliers. Paired with the needle it's such a capable and portable tool. A picture is worth a thousand words: pre-sewing-machine, this was the tool behind the needle as people sewed entire suits of sails. Sailmakers still use them to reinforce parts of sails. I use them to fix my clothes and make bags-

(photo by Shannon Gallagher)
Sails have changed a lot. Sailmaker's palms ought to have a chance at modern materials and production methods too.

I'm having a go. I started a few days ago, making different designs of foil, tape, and sheet steel. A sturdy palm that fits the user well is rare. My current plan is to distill three sizes of palms, that will accommodate the majority of hands.

These prototypes are kind of homely, but I want to be certain of the shape and general design before I clean out my wallet to have the first mold machined. They need to be comfortable, tough as heck, repairable, and easy on the eyes. I'm working with a friend to make the composite base, the rest will be up to me and maybe a machine shop.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

New Website/Blog and Momi-Giri

Hey everyone!

I've started a new website for my drawings and paintings-

I'm also shifting to a new career--my goal is to make a living as an artist. For now, I am putting my time towards improving my skill and connecting with people.

I think I've mentioned my immune disorder now and then on this blog; I don't like to talk about it much. Like making things in a minimal shop, it doesn't feel like a restriction most of the time. Instead, it inspires me to try things I haven't done before. This blog itself was a product of that inspiration.

In short, I can draw, design, blog, and edit video 20-40 hours most weeks while remaining healthy and strong. Almost no other contemporary jobs come close to allowing me to do that.

I'm putting all I can towards this new career and will see where the wind carries me. Fundamentally this pursuit is not about me, but you, the reader. I'm excited to see what we make :)

For all of my die-hard fans (thanks mom), fear not, I will keep posting the objects I make on this blog-

This is a "yotsume-kiri", or four-sided japanese gimlet (momi-giri). It is used to make holes in wood for wooden or bamboo nails. I made this one to see how few tools I could make one with. The bit is made of annealed spring steel key stock, which I hammered and burnished to harden slightly. It is very sharp and accurate.

And a name plate for my girlfriend's friend, an elementary school teacher. The feet are bridle jointed to the face, glued, and wooden-nailed. The water-based finish makes it look a bit plasticky, but as C. said, "a kid will probably puke on it" so it's probably a good choice.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Oyster Knife Handle II, Coat Patch

The friend that I made the first handle for asked me to make a second in time for his friend's birthday party. A bit of a marathon yesterday night to get the halves epoxied together. Laid this one out from the inside out to save time, which was a bit intimidating but I got away with it. The stick of ebony I made these out of has all sorts of surprises in it. It is such a tough wood--I had to sharpen my tools a few times as I went.

As I left it last night:

I also patched the thin fabric of my sister's down jacket. It doesn't look very good in the photo, but she was happy with it. I've repaired two down jackets on this blog before; the thread wants to pull the down out of the jacket through the exit holes. If anyone know how to avoid this...

Friday, March 9, 2018

Tripod Based Drawing Stand

Sometime towards the end of last year I started drawing more. At first it was polite doodles on printer paper before I fell asleep at night. It has since spread to most hours of the day, not that I can draw that often, but the lines and weights and colors of everything absorb most of my attention. Maybe this is a result of introducing quinoa into my diet. In any case, I want to be able to convey their presence!

I assembled a tripod easel thing to aid me on my quest. This has been done thousands of times before, we all have our own little nit-picky needs to fulfill. I think there are even commercially available pochade boxes that attach to a tripod, and french easels, and tripod easels. I wanted something stout and that enabled me to rotate the paper.

Below, I made this aluminum mounting plate which has a piece of HDPE sheet screwed to it. If it's damp out I'll probably use this work surface. Maybe I'll screw something else to it if I have any ideas.

Here is a larger wooden surface with a beech dovetail that fits in the slot on the tripod head just like the other mounting plates. I will use this for large sheets of paper, 11x15" or so.

Lastly, for supporting the habit of drawing bedside, I attached a mounting plate permanently to the aluminum clipboard with solid brass rivets:

Here is the tripod ballhead in all its beaming whiz-gizmo. I'll inform you and the governor if I ever use the bubble levels on it.

Bonus content for your persistence. When looking out this window, through the bug screen, at the chain-link fence nearly a block away, an interference pattern is formed. The pattern is the same as the chain-link fence, but magnified! If the observer has good vision, it's not noticeable, but by blurring the eyes (or setting the camera to focus at ~50cm and turning the f-stop up) it becomes visible. The image is distorted corresponding to the inaccuracies in the screen mesh; the weft is not perfectly level and straight (if you will). The mesh also magnifies other patterns.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sailboat Window Covers

I made these window covers for my brother's sailboat. The perimeter of the windows has a little slot in the extrusion, which holds the covers in place. The slot is about 8mm deep and 6mm wide. The fabric has interfacing sewn into it to give the covers enough stiffness to hold themselves in place. Each window was traced onto clear plastic to obtain the pattern. There are two more small windows I made covers for, not pictured.

These replace a curtain which hung from the taut cord with the clothespins on it. By making the covers instead sit flush to the window, the inside of the boat feels a bit bigger!

Oyster Knife Handle

This is an oyster knife my neighbor was gifted. He liked the shape, but the sharp handle end of it dug into his hand when he pried apart oysters. He hired me to make a handle for it. I knew it would be difficult because the handle tapers in two directions; the handle would have to have a complex mortise to receive it. I drew a handful of ideas, and he liked this version:

I decided to try to make it in two pieces, out of ebony. I roughed out the shape with the milling machine, which didn't have to be super precise as the epoxy would fill the gaps. However, I wanted to keep the fit very tight where the knife protruded from the handle, to make for a clean seam. I reduced the size of the milled slot there, so that I could hand-file the opening to fit the profile of the handle. This was made more difficult because the knife was not symmetrical; it was ground by hand.

The knife fitted snugly in the milled slots. I put a little bit of oil on the knife, pressed it into the opening, and filed away the neck where the knife contacts it. Bit by bit, I work down until the two halves close tightly around the knife, always minding the ebony blocks are mated to their corresponding sides of the handle.

Below you can see the reduced neck of the opening where I am filing:

And here they are closed:

I was cleaning as I went, but there were so many tools involved! It was a challenge projecting all the faces of the knife into the handle. This is probably a third or half of the tools I used-

I shaped the front face of the wooden handle before epoxying them together. After it was glued into a solid block, it would be difficult to shape the front face without scratching the oyster knife. Here it is being glued together:

After a couple hours of shaping and sanding:

Here it is in comparison to the original drawing:

In hindsight, it would have taken less time to make a knife from scratch. The result is special though; it looks and feels nice, and it retains the sentimental value of the oyster knife.