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Saturday, January 26, 2013

An Adventure In Wood Turning

If you seen the bowl in my last marble machine, I had a lot of fun turning that. I've messed around here and there with wood turning as I can, but my lathe has always been the least used tool in my shop. After doing that little bowl for that project, I have been determined to change that.
This is my old lathe. It has always done what I wanted it to do, but then again, I've never really done much with it.
So I started messing around and turned my wife a bowl made out of cedar. It turned out alright, but there were problems I noticed while turning this bowl that I couldn't quite figure out.
Next I put a pecan log into the lathe. It was all I could find around the shop to start another bowl with. The further I went with this little project, the more I noticed that something was definitely not right. I'm no expert wood turner, but I've never been able to get rid of the vibration in this lathe. Then, once I started trying to remove material inside this deeper bowl, everything just seemed to be working against me.
With the bowl removed, I started doing some careful checking of everything. There was a noticeable wobble to the four jaw chuck. While you could see it, it was only slight. By the time you moved outwards to the end of a deeper bowl though, it was more than noticeable, it was getting on the verge of downright dangerous.
I am not trying to overstate it. In my opinion, anytime you have something consistently out of balance and spinning at high speed, that cannot be a good thing.
So, I tore the lathe down to find the problem. I figured it was probably some bearing issues. If so, I knew I could measure and order some bearings and fix the lathe with ease. As it turned out though, the bearings were fine. The main shaft that the spindle uses was bent.
I bought this lathe second hand. I have no idea what brand it is. Most of the writing on it is in Chinese. So I had no idea how to find parts for it. Besides, considering it is a cheaply made lathe from China with a bent shaft, I'm not sure I would have ever felt comfortable using it again anyway. I've already had a piece of wood fly off this thing and hit me in the head. It is not a lot of fun.
So I talked with some good friends in one of my wood working forums about it. A fellow woodworker, and friend, happened to have a lathe that he said I could have. All I had to do was go get it. It was a longer drive to his house than I usually enjoy making, but seeing as I'd wanted to meet this guy besides just on the internet anyway, I decided that meeting a fellow woodworker, and getting a lathe, was just more than I could pass up.
So now, thanks to my friend Eddie, I have a Ridgid lathe. After getting it set up in my shop, I don't know how I ever done anything on that Chinese made one I'd been using. This thing is a dream to use. It runs true. It runs smooth. I can't believe the difference a god lathe makes.
So, with a good lathe to use now, and some other helpful advice from another friend that is a wood turner, on sharpening, I was back in business. I was standing ankle deep in wood shavings and chips in no time.
My first turning on my new (to me) lathe will be going to another woodworking friend. I promised to send him something I turned. That is what kept this whole adventure going past the first day anyway, a promise I made to a friend.
Next I hope to get on a project I was planning on starting a week ago, before I got sidetracked with this little wood turning adventure. This has been so much fun though. You all can surely look to see more wood turning in the future. I need more practice, but I really want to get good enough to turn a lot more bowls.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Marble Machine 2.1

I have built another marble machine. This one was designed by Matthias Wandel. You can view his site here. He has some amazing plans available if you are a wood worker. You may remember his name if you seen the shop made sixteen inch band saw I built last year. He also designed it.
The one I built this time is called the Marble Machine 2.1. The designer calls this one 2.1 because the plans he has available are based on his second marble machine design. However, he had to change a few things to make the plans easier to do. So he added the .1 part.
Here's some photos.
It was a ton of fun to build, and it is fun to play with. As a matter of fact, since completing it, I have yet to find one person who is able to walk past it without turning the crank on it.
I used a lot of those scraps I refuse to throw away on the small parts of this one. By the time it was done, this project has a lot of different woods on it. Plywood, oak, pecan, sapelle, cottonwood, pine, walnut, cedar, and I am not even sure I named them all. It is all finished with two coats of Watco Danish Oil.
As with the last marble machine, it is hard to tell the whole story without a video. So here it is.
I hope you enjoy it. I hope some wood workers are inspired to try a marble machine yourself. They are time consuming, but not difficult. I highly suggest this one if you really want to do one. Mr. Wandel's plans are reasonably priced, and well laid out. With just basic wood working knowledge, I think anyone could follow his plans and build this machine.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My First Marble Machine

I have wanted to do a marble machine for as long as I could remember. I finally got the opportunity, and let me tell you, it has been a fun project. As a matter of fact, I've already ordered the plans for two more different marble machines. One day, after learning more from these built from plans, I hope to design and build one unique to me.
For my first marble machine, it is one called a Marble Chest. The plans come from Forest Street Designs and can be purchased here
It is called a chest for obvious reasons. When closed, it resembles a chest. It can be picked up and carried off just like a chest.
One of the most interesting parts of this to me is rarely seen by anyone else, because they don't notice it. This is the view from down low with the lid closed. Notice how tightly everything fits where the lid comes down and meets the body of the chest. This was one of the most difficult aspect of this particular machine, getting everything working, while still being able to fold down into itself.
When the lid is opened, you are ready to play.
On the underside of the lid is an entrapment mechanism that releases one marble at a time. It is ingenious how this was designs. When one marble falls onto the second chute, the weight of it brings it down. This raises the lever sticking up on the left side, allowing one marble to enter between the two levers. When the marble drops off that chute, the couterweighted chute raises back up, and raises the lever on the right, releasing that marble to go down and fall into the second chute, starting the process all over again.
After leaving the entrapment mechanism, the marbles go through four different vertical diverting switches, and one horizontal diverting switch. This separates the marbles to go into the different contraptions.
Towards the end of this post will be a video. It is broken up to show the different contraptions instead of showing it all at once. The reason for that is that it is difficult to show everything on a video. There is just so much going on at one time when you release a bunch of marbles one after the other.
Inside the chest though, there is a clacker run that empties into a wheel and spiral, a seal drop that has to be seen, a xylophone, a parking ramp, a curvy design that is called Lombardy Street, and a spring board that launches marbles through a hoop held by a seal and into an enclosure where it hits some bells.
As I said, a lot goes on at one time.
So, I guess the best way to do this is just to show you the rest of the photos, which are showing what it looks like on all sides, and then the video.
And for the video, I want to apologize. I do woodwork a lot better than I take pictures and shoot video. I done the best I could to show the machine though. I hope you enjoy it.