Friday, November 29, 2013

Rebuilding The Basement Workbench Part 2 - a video tutorial from Old Sne...

The teardown and recycling of lumber from the old bench. More to come.

Rebuilding The Basement Workbench Part 2 - a video tutorial from Old Sne...

Archimedes is our friend. Give me a place to anchor my crowbar and I shall move the world.

Rebuilding the basement work bench part 1 - a video tutorial from Old Sn...

Step one in setting up the South Bend 9" Model C in the basement workshop is rebuilding the bench.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Method For Drying Turned Wooden Bowls

A question came up on the Old Tools List concerning preventing peach wood from cracking and checking after turning. The discussion worked it's way around to Steve Russell and his method for boiling wood to prevent such problems. After the usual rollicking and rambling amongst the denizens of the porch, boiling was given the Grandstaff stamp of approval and except for occasional flare ups peace came to the peach wood thread.

During one of the bouts of commentary, a person who felt the practice was beneath the dignity of the august body in attendance, remarked that boiling was to be considered equal to the heretical practice of microwaving wood to dry it. I can’t provide any insight on boiling wood but I did do a run of bowls that I microwaved.

SWMBO worked as the Marketing VP for a local zoo. The zoo was creating an Africa exhibit to go along with the giraffe exhibit they were building. They needed multiple bowls to be used as displays in the huts to be visited by the guests. Of course they needed them within a few weeks and dear SWMBO knew that I had made her a 12” sugar maple, salad mixing bowl. With the utmost belief that Old Sneelock would pull out another miracle she said I would be happy to help.

I didn’t have carefully dried turning blanks set aside waiting for such a project. Laminated bowls would not fit in the motif. I had few alternatives. I had read a magazine article about drying wood with a microwave and decided that this was the time to try it.

I went over to Mom and Dad’s woods and cut down a cherry tree that had gotten hung up after the last storm. I cut the trunk into approximately 20 pieces varying from 15” to 8” in relation to their diameter. After splitting I had about 30 usable billets. 

I turned the first bowl that night. After roughing the bowl to about 3/4” thickness I put it in the shop microwave. Yes I know, why did my shop need a microwave? That's a story for another day. The article said that I had to use low power and short cycles. If I recall correctly the microwave was 1100 watts and I ran the bowl through 3 or 4 cycles of 2 minutes each at the #3 setting. I think that would work out to 330 watts. I checked the bowl after each run and the surface didn’t get warm. The first 3 times there was moisture escaping the bowl and condensing on the glass plate of the turntable. After the 4th the plate was dry. I finished the bowl out, sanding and waxing it like I had the salad bowl.

The next day SWMBO came home and said the bowl was very nice. Too nice. They wanted bowls that looked like they were made by hand. Despite my protests that no self respecting turner would make ugly lopsided bowls, no matter where they were,  I finished out 20 of the least satisfying, ugliest, clunky, bowls I have ever made. I still dried them with the microwave. With the usual variations the process worked. Within the two week window, after some long nights, they were completed and delivered. 

In payment for the wood following the same process I made a bowl from the best chunk and gave it to my mother. When she passed I got it back. It’s holding apples in the kitchen. Still in good shape after 17 years.

A note of caution. During the rush to make ugly bowls I left a spigot on the bottom of one that was about 2” thick. When I microwaved it I ran it a little hotter and a little longer, without apparent effect. When I remounted it to turn off the spigot, there was a 1” diameter burned hollow in the middle of the spigot. I think if I had gone another few seconds it would have burst into flame when the pocket opened to the air.   

PS. When I visited the exhibit on opening day I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a single bowl in any of the displays.
I haven’t turned a bowl since. I turn handles for myself. I even use the pretty ones.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Warning - Minor Rant

About 2 months ago a gentleman named Mike Butler posted the following on a friends Facebook page.
"Down with government!!!! Let's fire everyone. Let's start with firefighters, then police officers, then those who put on military uniforms and serve our nation as citizen soldiers, and while we're at out let's fire all the teachers and close all the schools, because what this nation really needs is more dumbshits out there who blame the government for everything they think is wrong with us.

Here's a radical suggestion--read the first words of the Constitution. it begins, "We the People." I am so tired of the negativity toward our nation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should be silent when there are problems and concerns we must face, but come on folks sometimes we need to shut up and instead step up and be the "people" of " We the people."

Ask yourself, "how have you made your neighborhood better today? How have you made your city better today? How have you made our nation better today? Turn off "Fox New Complaints Everyday" and go do something positive for your neighbors.

Oh yeah, I forgot one thing, I'm proud to live in a nation that can elect a President whose name is Barack Obama"

I am never one to let a turd float in the punchbowl so I replied.

Mike Butler makes a point that we should just soldier on. I'm hoping he's going for the shock value of fire the firefighters etc. because that's looking at the wrong end of the problem. Rather than shouting that we should do patently stupid actions like firing everyone, close the White House to tours and serve cold dinners to men in the field, maybe we should just park AF1 and the limo for a couple weeks and serve bean soup to the several thousand support staff. That would save us 100 million or so. Drop half the IRS and pay them welfare. Instead of $80,000.00 a year to harass the citizens they would only cost $20,000.00. each. That's a savings of hmm.... just how many people would that be? 88,203/2 equals 44,102. Multiplied by $60,000.00 that equals $5,292,180,000.00 that's 5 billion with a B saved each year.

Since posting the response I have tallied up a few additional things that I can be proud to live in a nation willing to:
1. Figure out a way to harass and subvert any political opposition to the current regime. By using the IRS to audit the tax exempt status of any subset of the Republican and Libertarian parties the Democrats, under their fearless leader, have been able to stifle any attempt to defeat them politically.

2  Set up the worlds largest spying operation since Stalin. The NSA has spent untold billions of Black Ops money to be able to listen in and record every cell phone, internet, email, broadcast, or carrier pigeon message that anyone in the world would have need of. Freedom of the press? Not on their watch. Fox News doesn't play ball so we will have to sick the NSA on them. Congress too. They might be calling Fox News.

3. Close the national monuments. No small task as it takes far more people to keep the public out of an open air monument to the soldiers who fought and died in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the three current wars we are fighting in Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria, than it would to let the gates be open. Oh wait they had to put up gates to keep people out. The monuments were never designed to be closed.

4. Close the national parks. Yosemite, Mount Rushmore, Blue Ridge Parkway. Not only close them but block the roads so you can't pull over and see Mount Rushmore with binoculars.

It's late and I'm tired. Tired of wondering what this ragtag group of refuges from the 60's counter culture are going to cook up next. Maybe just something small like screw up health care. No Way. Not even they would stoop that low.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A discussion developed on the Old Tools List concerning a problem one of the guys had.


The items to be soldered are copper sheet and brass rod.
How does one solder without melting the adjacent seams?
Is a heat sink in order, if so, is there one that doesn't require  clamping?
Is using conventional supplies such as lead free solder and flux,
handiman propane torch typically used to sweat copper  acceptable?
If anyone can help maintain my status, I know its you folks.
Bowing and scraping in advance...
Bob in Ohio

James Thompson

A bare soldering iron doesn't transfer heat well. It needs liquid solder on it, and the liquid solder is what transfers the heat. The solder will flow easily onto a closed joint if the joint is clean and fluxed. Open joints require  you to add a little solder, wait for the heat to dissipate, then apply more solder, repeat, etc. Dress off any lumps later with a file or other abrasive.

And if you are making a continuous joint, do not lift the iron up off the joint when you are done with that joint. Move the iron back a short distance and drag it sideways out of the puddle. Sounds strange, but believe me, it is the right way to terminate a solder joint.

Troy Livingston
You might try Tix solder, almost the same strength as soft solder but
with a much lower melting temperature.

Taking a bit from both James Thompsons and Troy Livingston posts I have been in a similar situation in manufacturing and hobby work.

I used to work for Borg Warner at their Coldwater, Michigan plant. We made radiators and heat exchangers. Most of the work was short run and or prototype so the plant was equipped to build every part of a radiator, tubes, fins, header, frame, everything.

The tubes were soldered with higher temperature 40/60 solder. In other words, more lead in the mix. To keep from causing leaks in the tubes the headers were soldered to the tubes with 50/50 solder with a slightly higher tin content, and a lower melting point.  If there were repairs needed they were done with 60/40 a mix with even higher tin content.

Finding lead solder is difficult anymore. To prevent lead contamination, plumbing solder is now made from tin and silver 95/5. It has most of the desirable properties of the old 60/40 without lead.

The website below lists different non-lead alloys and their melting points.

Home experience has involved repairing a little galvanized bird house that SWMBO had purchased at a garden supply store. As always she had a plan for how the arrangement was to work and when the bottom broke free from one of them the plan was disrupted. With parts in hand she came out to the shop and asked if there was anything I could do. The bird house was 3” square and strictly ornamental. Using a large dual range electric soldering gun on low, I was able to heat the joints just enough to fuse the existing solder back together without heating adjacent joints to failure.  A quick overlay of 60/40 solder from my stash and SWMBO was ready to complete her plan.

37 years of marriage and now you know why. Happy wife, happy life. 

PS. When I go through smaller towns I always shop at the local hardware store. I occasionally find caches of lead solder because everyone is using the plastic and hose clamp crap now. My shop is a haven for out of date supplies and materials.

Dave N.
aka Old Sneelock