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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Here And There

I hope every one of you had a great Christmas. It is now a new year and I am running here and there trying to catch up enough just so I can get back to actually making something.
Let's start by showing a couple of things that I was not able to get into my last blog entry before Christmas.
This is an example of the new boxes I started making during the Christmas season. My old design, with the hinges and magnets, were costing me several dollars per box. That doesn't sound like a lot. If you sell enough pens though, and a lot of people want you to throw the box in with the price of a pen, that can eat into any potential profits pretty badly. These cost me little more than time. I always have some small blocks of wood around. It has a plexi-glass cover. I usually have cutoffs of plexi-glass around from other projects. Even if I have to buy a sheet though, it will still come out a lot cheaper than the previous boxes.
You can see in these other photos how the clear lid slides out to allow the pen to be removed from the boxes.
These are chain pulls I made for a friend to be given out as Christmas gifts.
Starting at the top, they are in two piece sets of purple heart, blood wood, and sapelle.
These are bottle stoppers I made for the same friend to give out as gifts.
The top one is sapelle and the bottom one is rosewood.
I've seen several people make the wooden handled multi-bit screwdrivers. Some are made from kits and some are made from cheap hardware store screwdrivers. This one was made using the cheaper version.
I bought a three dollar screwdriver from Home Depot. I used an old chisel to break the plastic handle off of it. Then I turned a handle for it and glued the little metal piece in that holds the reversible bit holder.
The handle is made from eucalyptus.
That was all I got done leading up to Christmas. Since then, I have been playing catchup. For starters, with all the pens I made leading up to the holiday, and wrapping, and a number of other going ons, my shop was a mess. I took a couple of days just doing a major shop cleaning.
Then I had to get to the Christmas present dance after Christmas. For any of you out there who do not yet have kids, or your kids are still babies, I'll let you in on a little secret that you learn the hard way as a parent.
When buying presents for kids, there are some phrases written on boxes that you need to pay close attention to. Two of these phrases that are quite common on toys will take a lot of time away from your happy life.
Allow me to explain.
Batteries not included can and will give you a headache. There is nothing like having your child unwrap that special present you bought, that you know they will love and you can't wait to see the joy in their eyes when they play with, only to realize that batteries are not included and you did not notice it. Then there is that crazy mad dash to the closest place to buy some batteries. The problem is that it is Christmas. There is nowhere open except convenience stores. Convenience store batteries are overpriced. Then there is the fact that, because they are overpriced, they have sat there on that shelf for a year and may or may not have enough juice left in them to actually run the toy. Add to all this the fact that even the convenience store batteries are getting scarce because of all the other caring fathers who also did not pay attention to the batteries not included printing on the toy package.
Some assembly required is the worst of the worst of the most aggravating worst though.
Some assembly required is actually translated exactly to:
 "we have provided a poorly written manual to assist you a half a percent in putting together this overcomplicated piece of childhood toy and father torture device that will drive you absolutely insane and pull your hair out in frustration while we sit and laugh at the thought of how we, collectively holding the power to stop Christmas all over the world in one fell swoop of a poor design, have made life a living hell for millions of people all over the world assembling this piece of plastic that will be torn up within forty eight hours anyway"
Who writes these manuals? Who designs these things? These holes go this way. However, we have added some other holes on the other end that actually are there for no other reason but to confuse you because, if you use these holes, something else will not line up correctly in a later step. So flip a coin and we hope you the best of luck. You read english? Good. Then we'll intermix the english text with other text in chinese, french, german, spanish and russian to make it more interesting for you. We know you have nothing better to do on Christmas.
Seriously folks. Next year I think I am going to do something I done a few years ago and make all my kid's presents. It was easier and a lot more enjoyable.
Anyway, I survived the mad dash for batteries and the assembly from hell. Honestly, I only had one present to assembly this year, because I learned my lesson years ago, but who knew they could make a basketball goal so complicated to assemble?
With all the fun and festivities going on, I have just started trying to get back into the shop in the last few days. Before diving back into any projects though, I decided to take this time to do a couple of tasks that have been on my mind. Besides that, a couple of my boys who have been out of school for the holidays just love helping Dad. These side projects are easier for me to keep them busy helping on than my normal projects.
For some time there has been a shelf on my lathe stand that I put odd and end things on. The problem is that, when I installed it, I did not think about the fact that it would fill up quickly and often with shavings and chips from turning. Anytime I needed something from the shelf, I had to sift through fifty pounds of wood chips to find it, all the while making sure I didn't throw out the exact thing I was looking for while moving the chips.
So I boxed it in and put a door on the front so I can access things there easily, while keeping the chips and such out.
When the door is closed and latched, it is completely enclosed so all the unwanted stuff stays out.
There has been several occasions that I needed a steady rest. I've seen many designs online, both for commercially available designs and shop built ones. I took what I've seen, gathered materials that I thought would work well, and started building.
This was the first design. I like the design I came up with. The problem is that, when I started, I had less aluminum channel that I thought I did. I had cut the plywood ring to a size that this, with the aluminum channel, did not allow it to be adjusted down to a size for really small diameter turnings, which is something I will be needing it for in the future.
The base for the ring I made out of two blocks of wood that are cut to run along the ways on the lathe bed and be clamped tight to hold in place.
This photo, with it off the lathe, makes it easier to see. I made a wooden handle to hold the nut that gets screwed onto a bolt that runs through it all so you can tighten it down, sandwiching the two blocks tightly on the lathe bed.
I thought about scrapping the first design until I could order some longer channel. I decided I would keep it though for larger things I may need it for. My thinking was that I may have a need on an odd weighted bowl or vessel one day. So I would keep that one and make another one for smaller turnings.
So I made a smaller version for smaller turnings.
The aluminum channel easily transfers from one ring to the other, depending on what size steady rest you need. I also figured I only need the one handle since I won't be using but one at a time.
This will allow me to use the stead rest for turnings from an eight of an inch in diameter all the way up to twelve inches, the maximum my lather will turn anyway.
On both rings, the aluminum channel is held in place in slots cut into the rings. When you tighten the black knobs, it pulls the channels tight into these slots, holding them rigid in position. On the other end of the aluminum channel is skate board bearings.
I now have these completed and hung on the wall near the lathe for next time I have one of those pieces that wants to chatter and vibrate so bad that I can hardly turn it. I will let you all know when I use them, but I think they'll do just fine for taming those bad vibrations.
Until next time my friends, happy turning!


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