Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PSI's Shock Absorber Kits

Well, I finall got some time to work on the lathe, and thought this would be a great opportunity to try PSI's new Shock Absorber pen kits.

First off, these look more like either coil-overs or McPhearson struts to me. But that's neither here nor there. ;)

Fit and finish appear to be decent. Plating looks good. My only real complaint about the quality is the choice of refill. They used @#$%^ mini refills! That pen is pretty large, and there's no excuse for using the mini refills. They're crap, and I'm pretty bothered they made that choice.

The pens are very much a gimmick. They're not comfortable to write with, and don't have a pocket clip. This is something a mechanic or gearhead has laying around to look cool.

And they do look cool!

The barrels are my black/silver swirled poly resin.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No posts for a while...

We had an emergency move in October 2011. Sold most of my tools and such to facilitate the move from CO to CA.

I'm keeping this blog up, but won't be posting for a while until I get settled somewhere that I can start making stuff again.


By most I mean that I only kept:
Rikon lathe
Cman 10" bandsaw
Delta 12.5" planer
Cman grinder (to sharpen lathe tools)
Hand tools
Casting stuff

Everything else was sold, including my table saw, miter saw, compressor, etc etc etc...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Rikon 70-050 Midi Lathe

I recently sold my Delta 46-701 lathe. Two primary reasons:

  1. Too bloody big for my one car garage.
  2. Needed the money (I've been out of work).
But I use a lathe a lot, so I needed to sell the Delta for enough $$ to buy a smaller replacement as well as have some cash.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Making a pen using a CYOC blank (Part 6)

Carefully press the furniture into the polished barrel.

And the end result, a beautiful pen!

As you can see, the red showed through the clear areas beautifully. And it influenced the black areas to create what I call "Red as Night".

I hope you enjoyed this little peek at my process for making pens. There are, of course, many steps I didn't discuss. You'll already know about most of them if you're a penturner. If not, feel free to ask!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Making a pen using a CYOC blank (Part 5)

 This is part four of the series, "Making a pen using a CYOC blank".

Now the blank is turned to size. You know about this stuff.

Like any other poly resin or acrylic blank, sand through the grits with your Micromesh, or use wet/dry sandpaper to at least 4000 grit. Then buff.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making a pen using a CYOC blank (Part 4)

This is part four of the series, "Making a pen using a CYOC blank".

Once the drilled out holes have been smoothed with acetone, it's time to "reverse paint" the blanks.

Reverse painting a blank is to paint the inside of the drilled hole, as opposed to painting the tubes that go inside. Reverse painting avoids problems like glue showing and color/texture changes at glue boundaries.

In the first photo you see some red spray paint, two part epoxy glue, and nitrile gloves. I hold the blank in my hand while spray painting, and hate getting paint on my hands. The gloves are awesome.

Really could have used a helper here to actually focus the camera...
I generally apply two coats 30 minutes apart. that's enough time to make the first coat sticky. One coat would probably be OK, but you won't know if there's a problem until AFTER it is turned and polished, and the pen is ready to be assembled. That's too late to fix it easily. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Once painted, the blanks will rest for 24 hours to allow the paint to cure. If the paint doesn't cure fully, it can come off when inserting the tube. So be patient!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Making a pen using a CYOC blank (Part 3)

This is part three of the series "Making a pen using a CYOC blank".

The way I get rid of the drilling marks, scratches, scuffs, and so on, is with acetone.

Soak a cotton swab (aka "Q-Tip") with acetone, and rub vigorously inside the drilled holes. It'll probably take several soaks to get everything smooth. You will end up with the hole being hazy white. This is OK, because the paint will saturate the haze, making it disappear.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Making a pen using a CYOC blank (Part 2)

This is part two of the series "Making a pen using a CYOC blank". 

Drilling on the lathe makes it far easier to get high precision holes than with a drill press.

Now to drill the holes for the brass tubes. I prefer drilling on the lathe because of how easy it is to get precision. Fiddling with the drill press to get a perfectly aligned table, then mounting and holding the blank, all take too much time. But with the lathe, it's "mount and go".

Because the walls can get pretty thin with the El Grande kit, going slow and pulling the bit out frequently to clear the waste from the bit and allowing everything to cool are very important.

The end result is well drilled holes, with some scratches and such from the drill bit. I'll clean those up in the next installment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Making a pen using a CYOC blank (Part 1)

This is part one of the series "Making a pen using a CYOC blank". 

CYOC = Choose Your Own Color

A new pen blank design that allows the penmaker to choose the contrasting color when making the pen, rather than when purchasing the blank.

CYOC uses a swirl of one color and clear poly resin. Reverse painting the drilled holes permits the penmaker to choose any contrasting color he or she desires.  

Using a sled on the tablesaw makes cutting small parts like pen blanks safe and easy.

First, cut the blank to a smidge larger than the tubes. In this case, I'm cutting the blank to match the tubes for an El Grande Elite kit.

The blank is left a bit larger so it can be trimmed square to the tube later.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Resin Design: Choose Your Own Color!

These two pens are made from the same blank!
In honor of the 80's juvenile books that I loved so much, Choose Your Own Adventure, I have named this style of resin, "Choose Your Own Color". (CYOC from now on...)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Diablo Framing Blade

I don't use my circular saw very often. I usually prefer my table saw or my miter saw. But I *do* use it occasionally.

I was at the BORG (Big Orange Retail Giant) a while back and they had a two pack of these Freud Diablo Framing blades for $9.95 so I grabbed 'em. My cheap $3 Harbor Freight blade was getting dull.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More on the Delta 46-700 Lathe

The top photo is the "before" shot. You can't tell, but the pulley half closest to the motor is warped. The thing was CAST warped! The bored hole is not square to the face. Grrr... It caused some vibration as mentioned in my previous post about this lathe.

I ordered a new pulley half and belt from ($50 for the two with overnight shipping!)

I installed the new pulley half and found I have to practically disassemble the headstock to replace the belt. ARRGGHH! I decided to see what the new pulley would do with the old belt.

I gave it a quick run through the gears and was happy with what I saw. Much improved. But something that bothered me the last time I did this got me again. The two pulleys are not aligned! As you can see in the top photo, the tail half of the headstock pulley is further upstream than in the bottom photo.

I loosened the set screw and the pulley slammed south. That spring is pretty darn strong. I stuck a large open end wrench between the casting and the pulley to lever the pulley back north. I did this several times, tweaking the alignment, as it changes a bit depending on the RPM setting. I decided I wanted it rock solid at the highest setting, when I'm taking my finishing cuts. So it's aligned for 2500rpm and a bit off at 500rpm.

I'll tell you, this made a HUGE difference. I can still feel some vibration, which I attribute to the belt, but it's very minor, and doesn't seem to translate to the spindle at all.

I've read about others who have used link belts with this lathe. I was surprised, as I thought the pulleys would crush the link belts. I may have to give one a try and see how it goes. If a link belt works, it may solve both the tiny vibration that's left, and the tear-the-bloody-headstock-apart-just-to-change-the-belt issue.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Harbor Freight Circular Blade Sharpener

The final result.
I ordered this before being let go from my job. I suppose I could return it but...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Whimsical Shelf

This is a quick and easy project.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Antler Handled Pizza Cutter

My latest toy is antler. I picked up a couple racks from Craigslist over the winter, but it wasn't until today that the weather cooperated enough to work with the garage door open.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Harbor Freight Pressure Pot and Compressor

My gold and silver leaf blanks sold very well. I was shocked. So I was getting ready to make some more, but the temps have been VERY cold here. Keeping the resin warm during the mixing and pouring was a challenge. That means the possibility of air getting trapped and not able to escape the resin, resulting in bubbles in the casting.

I'm not excited about having bubbles in my casting, but I'm not about to cast polyester resin in my house either.

That's when I decided it was time to work with pressure casting. Lots of folks have written about how they used a Harbor Freight paint pot (item 66839) for their pressure casting, so I figured I'd give one a try.

I had an ad from HF with 20% off any one item, plus what appeared to be a decent air compressor at $99. It was the 2HP 8Gal horizontal compressor (item 67501). Checking it out in the store, I was happy with it for the price.

So, for well under $200, I came out with a compressor, a paint pot, and an accessory kit (hose, fittings, etc).

I got it home and started with the compressor. Super easy to assemble. Filled it up with 30w compressor oil and did a 1 hour break-in. A little bit of sparkly stuff came out with the break-in oil, but not much. I'll change it again in a little while. It had no problem getting up to 100psi and held it overnight. Nice!

I then tackled the tank. There is a single mod that *has* to be done, and some testing as well.

The pickup tube inside the lid needs to come out. Otherwise it would be in the way of anything I placed inside. The write-ups I've read said they had a lot of difficulty removing the tube, and ended up just cutting it off. I twisted it by hand and the thick wall aluminum tube came right out. It was 3/8" NPT threaded. I headed to Lowes and for $2 bought a brass plug with the same thread. Taped it up and put it in from the inside. The outside shows an open fitting, but it's sealed from the inside.

A mod that's been suggested is to add a brass elbow to the air entry point. But my model came with a deflector that keeps from shooting the air right into the resin inside the tank. So that mod wasn't needed. I lubed the lid seal to let it wiggle and settle into place. Lubing also prevents it from gluing itself to the lid or the pot.

I connected everything yesterday and ran up the pressures. First to 20psi. The gauge on the pot and the gauge on the compressor matched within a pound. Nice! I did that a couple of times, releasing the air and then refilling. Once I was happy with that, I ran it up to 40psi.

The seal popped out at 40psi, I think I didn't clamp the lid down evenly. I reseated the seal, clamped the heck out of the lid, and did it again. Much better! I left it overnight, and when I went into the garage this morning it was still holding just a whisper less than 40psi. Sweet!

Today I built an insert to allow me to cast pipes standing up in the pot. I made two round boards (one from particle board, one from plywood). I screwed them together and used the trim bit on the router to make them exactly the same. I then used a forstner bit (7/8" I think...) and bored through the plywood and halfway into the particleboard. 16 holes fit in that frame. I then bored three 3/8" holes for the legs. I used 4" lengths of 3/8" dowel in the holes and used CA to put it together. (It doesn't need to be strong, just present.)

The insert fits nicely into the pot and holds my pipe molds upright.

Tonight I'll do my first cast!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Buy my Precious Metal Blanks

I'm on Exotic Blanks!

You can buy my blanks there. They seem pretty popular, so I'm making more!