Sawdust…

Well I’d love to say I accomplished everything I’d hoped to this week, but the reality is I didn’t…  I did make a ton of sawdust though.  Which leads to my next point, apparently sawdust can cause sinus infections, which might relate to why I didn’t get much done this week.  After a couple of days in the dusty workshop (no dust collection set up in my temporary space) and my lack of a dust mask seems to have given me a sinus infection.  I did get a lot of headway on one project, but another two seemed to have problem after problem and might best be abandoned.

 

Next week there will be something to report, which project gets finished first is anybody’s guess.

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52 Create – Flat Pack Stool

52 Create – my weekly creative project for 2011.  Last week I brought you the wildly popular Flat Pack Rocking Chair, which is up on my Etsy store, and getting huge traffic (don’t worry I will put up more chairs as they sell).  So this week I thought I would continue on the flat pack idea and make a small stool for a toddler (ie. my daughter).  Anyone with kids in the 12+ month range knows how much they love to sit on things, so why not make a little piece of furniture her size?

The stool is made out of 1/2″ baltic birch, I was going to use 3/4″ but at the last second opted for the thinner stock.  I’m quite glad I did as it is still plenty strong enough (I can stand on it) and it keeps it nice and lightweight (my 18 month old daughter can lift it easily).  It’s 8″ x8″ x 8″ and is just perfect for your average 18 month + child.  I really like the design and may enlarge it to make some end-tables for our living room (I’d use 3/4″ and likely 16″ pieces).  The entire stool collapses into a pile of wood 1/5″x8″x8″ so very easy to ship and even easier to put together (no glue, nails, screws, or tools required).

 

I want to tweak a few design aspects on this one before I list it on Etsy, but I think it will be a hot seller just like the Flat Pack Rocker!  I’ve got a couple of commissions coming up so the next few projects may be a bit scaled back compared to the last couple of weeks, come back next week to see what’s coming out!

 

My other 52 Create Projects

My Etsy Store

52 Create – Milk Crate Prototype

52 Create, my weekly creative outlet for 2011.  I’ve been wanting to make some wooden boxes that look like milk crates for quite some time now.  Ideally I’d like to make them with a CNC, but until I build one, it looks like I’ll be making them by hand instead…

The box is made out of my favourite, baltic birch, with 1/2 inch sides and a 1/4 inch bottom so it is very sturdy.  The final version would have handles cut out and possibly some design in the sides and bottom to more closely resemble a milk crate.

 

I was a little frustrated with the joints on this project.  I used the table saw for accuracy, but found the joints didn’t line up perfectly, and some cuts were not as straight as they should have been.  I feel like I was very careful with my measurements and set up, so perhaps it is a case of  a low quality blade or improper set up of the fence, I’ll figure it out eventually.

 

Renos are pretty much finished at my house and the weather is starting to warm up so I hope to tackle some more ambitious projects in the upcoming weeks.

 

Other 52 Create projects.

52 Create – Wooden Ring

52 Create, my weekly creative project for 2011.  While I spent a lot of time on various projects this past week, I really don’t have much to show for it.  I had many issues with the projects that pushed back their finish timeline by days, weeks, or even ever in some cases.  So with all the bad luck (or lack of planning), I was quite happy for this little project to turn out so well.

 

In the picture you can see my latest creation, a man’s ring out of Baltic Birch plywood.  Why plywood? Well I honestly didn’t have much for wood in the shop this past week, and due to issues with grain in making wooden rings, plywood is actually a pretty good choice.  I picked the wood mainly because I had many scraps of it lying around, but I was very impressed with the way it turned out.

 

Wood has grain that runs in one direction, and that means that on a ring, parts of it would be very weak if you only used one solid piece of wood.  The solution to this would be to laminate two pieces together, keeping the grain at right angles.  I meant to do this, but in one of my many screw-ups, I managed to glue them with the grain parallel, which doesn’t really help with the strength much…  I then realized that Baltic Birch plywood is basically many thin layers of Birch that is laminated at right angles to each other, making a very strong piece of wood for a ring.  The only issue is that the layers are so thin that the outer ones have a tendency to chip off if you aren’t careful.

 

How did I make it? well I took a scrap of wood, drilled out a hole with a forstner bit (3/4″ fit my finger), then I went to the bandsaw and cut a circle around the hole.  Then I took the beginnings of a ring back to the drill press, put a bit of masking tape on the forstner bit to widen it a little, and then forced the ring onto the bit.  Turned the drill press on and proceeded to sand it round.  I made the bevel with an old round file I had.  I then sanded it up to 600 grit, although I had a large gap between 220 and 600… but you work with what you’ve got, and new sandpaper wasn’t in the budget this week.

 

I’ve never been a ring kind of guy, but I really like this ring and the way it feels.  I’ve been wearing it almost daily, and it’s incredibly light and comfortable.  It’s amazing how thin it is and yet is still strong (it’s less than 2mm at it’s thickest).  When you hold it up to sunlight you can actually see light through the wood.  I haven’t finished it yet, so I’ve been very careful not to soak it.  I’ve read that Cyanoacrylate is the way to go for a durable waterproof finish.  While this was only meant to be a trial run with scrap wood, I’m extremely pleased with how it went, and will try a few more out of Baltic Birch.  I do now have a small piece of walnut and maple that I’ve laminated together, so I might post another version of the ring for next week, we’ll see.

 

My other 52 Create Projects

52 Create – Router Boxes

52 Create, my attempt to make one creative project per week for the entire year of 2011.  So far the bulk of the projects have been wooden, and this week certainly continues the trend.  I’ve never worked with Walnut before, but I saw this board lying against the wall at Black Forest, and I simply couldn’t resist taking it home.  I brought the 6 foot long 8 inch wide board to the cash and when the chatty owner asked what I was going to do with that great big slab, I replied with a perfectly straight face “salad tongs”…  Now honestly, I am planning on making some salad tongs at some point, and obviously there will be much wood left over for other projects, but I just couldn’t resist the joke.

Anyways, back to the project.  I made a square template out of some scrap 1/8″ plywood and used a router with a straight bit to cut the hollows of the two boxes.  I did this on the full board and then cut the outside shape afterwards as this seemed much simpler.  All sides were rounded with a 1/4″ round over bit.  The outsides were coated in shellac (roughly 2 lb. cut), and then I painted the insides bright yellow. Tops are made out of some scrap Maple I had lying around.

I was a little disappointed in the cut out.  I think it was a combination of a crappy router bit, which was also dull, and I may have tried to take too much wood off at each pass.  The inside was quite rough and I ended up having to use some filler (after lots of sanding).  I had always wanted to try the painted interior, but the only thick glossy and durable paint I could find was some no-name tremclad paint which took about 24 hrs to dry between coats.  Both boxes need 1-2 more coats of yellow, and there are a couple of places where I’d like to touch up the shellac.  A fun project, and the cutouts could really be just about any shape you could dream of.

My other 52 Create Projects.

Yashica TLR Light Seal Repair

I bought a Yashica 124G a couple of years ago off of Ebay.  It was an amazing deal as the seller spelt Yashica incorrectly, so I was the sole bidder (he also listed it in the “film” section, not the “film camera” section).  The camera arrived in absolute mint condition except for a small scratch on the back and a non-working light meter.  On a Yashica TLR, the light meter turns on when you open the top.  Upon taking the top apart, it was discovered that the switch was simply sticky from having sat closed for many years.  It’s always nice when it’s a simple repair!

I’ve taken many rolls of film with the Yashica, both 120 and 220.  Something I could never figure out was that I often got strange red stripes across my pictures.  This only ever happened on colour film.  I initially suspected the film as I had some rolls of 220 that were recently expired but always cold stored, as well as some rolls I got off ebay that were incredibly cheap.  I asked around and a few mentioned xray damage, but nothing conclusive.  Finally I posted the question on the I Shoot Film group on Flickr.  For those of you who have never used the groups on flickr, I find they are an amazing resource as you get answers to your questions from across the globe.  As you can see, 8 replies later and the problem was solved!

Turns out the colour film I was using was all 220, meaning there is no paper backing for the majority of the film.  The red streak was actually because of a light leak, likely on the top hinge.

I compared the light seal in my Yashica (what was left of it) to my Seagull (used in the Pan-o-gull experiment).  The Seagull actually uses black yarn as a light seal, leading me to believe that I didn’t need to buy a special Yashica light seal kit.  A search of the net brought me to this site which suggested that you could replace the seals with some sticky back felt which I just happened to have left over from the Pin-Cube.

Using a cutting mat and straight edge, I cut strips of black felt.  I then set about cleaning out the old left over light seal off of the camera. What was left of the seal was bits of sticky black foam.  There wasn’t much left but it still made a mess.  The professional light seal kits come with a “special tool”.  It’s basically a slim piece of wood to help push the seal into the grove. I simply took a bbq skewer and with a chisel shaved the end flat so that it would fit in the grove.  To remove the stickiness I used mineral spirits. Not sure if this is the best thing to use, but I had it lying around and it seemed to work ok.

It was a bit tricky getting the new felt into the thin groves around the camera, but with a bit of patience, I was able to get it all in in under 15 minutes.  Once finished, I realized how bad the old seals were and I’m sure the new felt can only be a huge improvement.  Looking back at some old 120 BW negs from this camera it was obvious that it was actually leaking along both sides as well, not enough to affect the pictures, but it was only going to get worse.

As far as DIY camera repair goes, this was a pretty simple job, highly recommend anyone with this issue to try the repair themselves.

DIY CNC machine? Build it yourself!

A CNC machine is basically a router  that moves in all three axes over top of a material to carve out the shape that you desire.  The router is controlled by a computer so that very precise and consistent cuts can be made.  I have wanted a CNC machine for about 10 years now, so what’s stopping me? Well they cost about $10,000. So until I have a lucrative furniture design business, this isn’t likely going to happen.

Unto this Last makes all of their creations using a large format CNC machine. The materials are plywood or other sheet goods and the computer optimally cuts out all the pieces.  This is a key element to their products as they can arrange the cuts so as to not waste any material whatsoever.

In the last issue of Make magazine, they had an article about DIY CNC machines. These very precise instruments were something that I had never dreamed were possible to be made at home, however the author assured the readers that they are not only possible to make, but fairly simple in their construction. I was absolutely hooked, I read the article about 10 times…

My next step was to visit their website where they had vast tutorials and how to’s involving DIY CNC machines.  The site is being constantly updated and has tons of helpful stuff on it.  It’s nice to see feedback from other DIYers saying what works/doesn’t work on their machines and simple work arounds.

Finally I couldn’t help myself, I went online and bought their newly written book Build Your Own CNC Machine.  I’ve read it all the way through already!  The book is well laid out with easy to follow instructions as well as helpful suggestions on where to buy some of the more hard to find parts (motors, etc.).  The design in the book is for a 2’x4′ machine, however the website shows bigger versions as large as 4’x8′.

So what’s my next step? Well, I obviously can’t get started on this till after our Parisian excursion, but I’m planning on building this in the fall. I’ve already set aside some money for the electronics, while I have most of the wood already laying around the garage.  I’d like to see if I can upscale the design to build it for a 5’x5′ sheet so that I could use sheets of baltic birch.

Over the summer I plan to do some reading and playing with CAD programs as well as work on some designs to test out the new machine once it’s built.