Wednesday, June 22, 2016

brandon russell

A young man from my hometown community, named Brandon Russell, posted this video on Facebook recently. I worked with Brandon's mother and with Brandon for a period of time at my factory job at Casey Tool and Die when I was going to college. I also went to school with Brandon's older brother Jason who was very talented at art. Brandon just graduated from EIU with a degree in Art; specifically Ceramics. I own a few of his pieces thanks to family members who purchased work from Brandon and gifted them for Christmas. Brandon was just awarded a prestigious internship at St. John's. Congratulations, Brandon I know your work ethic and dedication will serve you well in this new learning environment.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

lathe: poor man's indexing head

Today I was working on the forge that I'm building. I thought I would share my poor man's indexing head with you all so you can see how I layout holes on the fly when I don't want to "get all technical". I've been feeling that my own need for perfection can sometime get in the way of making progress. I believe is was Salvador Dali that said "have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it"; just something to think about when you're not getting work done due to the perfection issue... 

The forge requires four evenly spaced holes around the circumference of the DOM tube to hold the burner. This creates a kind of "Christmas tree stand" that grips the burner securely. I needed to make many of these burner holders since I'm machining these inlet tubes for Chad and John as well as myself. I didn't want to spend time doing individual layout on each tube so here's the technique I use:

I use masking tape to create a flexible ruler.

I figure out my spacing on my holes based on the diameter of the DOM steel tube and then I create witness marks on the tape to represent that spacing. An extra mark is made to help line up the tape later (you'll see what I mean in a second).

My little 9" South Bend Model C has a smooth spindle adjustment nut on the back end of the spindle. I clean this nut off (as it usually has some oil on it from the rear bearing surfaces on the spindle) and then carefully wrap my flexible ruler around the smooth spindle nut. I make sure not to stretch the tape when I'm applying it. The final extra mark should line up with the first witness mark on the tape as you overlap it. If it doesn't then your spacing will be off. Make sure to get this right!

The old South Bend has this small gap between the bearing caps. This become my stationary witness mark that aligns with my flexible ruler when I rotate the spindle. In the past I have secured a sharpened paperclip to the lathe headstock if I need a thinner, more accurate "pointer".

I had already turned two grooves at the proper location that would allow me to align the marks along the length of the DOM tube. All I needed to due now is align my flexible ruler mark with the slit in the bearing cap and then I can use the lathe toolkit to scribe across the turned line to create a crosshair. I simply position the lathe bit and feed a little pressure into the workpiece using the crossfeed. Then (with the lathe off obviously) I just move the carriage of the lathe back and forth a bit to create the cross mark.

I lighten up on the crossfeed, move to the next groove, and make another mark. Just make sure your witness mark is still aligned before making this mark.

I rotate the spindle manually, align the next witness mark on my flexible tape ruler and repeat the process.

Now I remove the piece from the lathe; It now has four equally spaced witness marks that I can use to center punch the hole locations.

I used my digital calipers to make sure everything was equal before center punching the marks.

I used my automatic center punch to create a nice deep divot to guide the drill bit.

After all the marks are center punched, I'm ready to drill.

My friend Ian made this long section of wood v-block when we were in grad school. I just used the table saw to make this, but I use this ALL the time to hold round stock. It's not precious so I can drill into it and cut off sections for various jobs.

In my opinion ever serious maker should own a machine lathe. My students all know that I harp on this all the time. 3D printers get hyped, but the lathe is the original tool that we should all be singing the praises of (well besides maybe the hammer and the screw). Do yourself and find yourself a 9" South Bend. I guarantee you'll make more useful objects/tools than you can shake a stick at. You can use it to make more accessories and actually improve itself with (sound familiar 3D printer folks?; that's right the lathe was the FIRST tool to improve itself). You'll become more accurate, and you can use it like this, to speed up your productivity without getting too obsessed with accuracy. Go get a lathe!

I'll try to start posting details on the forges soon. We're all trying to get all of the various components made before we blog about them. We should be able to create a massive series of how to posts on the forge build in the near future.

bret hartman

Adam Meurer (pictured with his motorcycles above) and Katie Martin Meurer introduced me to their friend Bret Hartman several months ago and he came over to the DCRL to shoot some photos. Bret is an amazing photographer. It was cool to hear about his his day job; taking photographs for TED. It was also great to hear how he got into photography. I always love hearing about the paths that people take to find their true passion. Check out Bret's site so you can see the other photographs that are a part of his amazing portfolio...

Monday, June 13, 2016

hot pipe bender

I made a post about Vincent Edwards a few weeks ago. You might remember that Vincent makes furniture from bent wood pieces. I had inquired with Vincent about his wood bending technique and he sent the images above and the text below.

Here's the hot-pipe setup I used to make the coffee table. For heat, you want water dropped on the pipe to ball and roll quickly off and not just explode in steam. 

Start with 1/4" thick air-dried white oak and don't forget to soak overnight first. 

It’s basically just a 8in length of 1/4” wall steel pipe with angle brackets welded on so you can bolt it to a board with a hole in it and leave some space.

I use a propane torch supported by a wooden-jawed clamp for heat. 

The really important thing is that you need air-dried lumber. Wood bending involves softening the lignum in the wood (essentially connective tissue between the tubes that make up grain structure)

In kiln dried lumber, the cells harden and collapse, and can’t be softened again with heat and steam. 

2nd, I soak the wood overnight (I use a plastic length of gutter for this) so it’s really saturated with water. The heat creates steam inside the wood that softens the lignum to allow it to bend.

When you hold the wood on the pipe, it will feel stiff and resist bending for about 5-10 seconds, then soften. Once this happens, you have a little time to shape it before you cook all the moisture out. 

You can spray or re-soak if you need to adjust a bend further. 

This method works best with thin wood- 1/4inch or less- and some species are better than others. White Oak, Ash, and Hickory are among the best.

dad's forge

I'm currently building a few gas forges with John and Chad. I'll have a big blog post coming soon about this. While I was home, I thought I would grab some pics of the forge my Dad built a little over 20 years ago. You might notice that even after many hours of use, the paint fairly burned off of the tank it was made from.

thomas lincoln burial site

In between the parties for Liv, we stopped at Abraham Lincoln's father's burial site. The cemetery and the 1840's home of Lincoln's parents in within a few miles of where Jill and I grew up. I don't believe we had ever visited this cemetery though. We had fun reading the information and discussing things with the kids even though it was a super hot day in Illinois.

liv's 3rd birthday

Livvie turned three years old yesterday. Since we were home for the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Jill's Aunt and Uncle Kincaid, we were able to celebrate with our families. We had two small get togethers with my family and Jill's family. I think Liv enjoyed spending time with her cousins.