Archive for October, 2010


When I decided to use a center mounted scissor jack to support the cross beam for the rotisserie support I figured I may run into a balancing issue. The cross beam would teeder on the jack and then bind when the scissor jack was used to raise or lower it. I had made guide tubes, in the end frame assemblies, hoping that would have controlled the situation. It turned out the guides weren’t enough. I needed to fix it my balance issue. I had set certain criteria for the solution. It needed to be inexpensive, simple, not look obtrusive, and preferably be unique. After some brainstorming I came up with an equalizing cable set up.

I spun some aluminum pulleys out of 2″ aluminum stock to fit 3/32″ aircraft cable. I plasma torched pulley mounting brackets out of 1 1/2″ x .250″ flat bar. For the pulley axles I used standard grade 3/8″ bolts that I drilled out lengthwise on the lathe, and then cross drilled, tapped, and installed grease zerks in order to lube the pulleys. The cable ends are going to be secured to the cross beam using cross drilled 10mm Allen head bolts which will pinch the cable once the nuts are tight.

The cable tension and adjustment will be handled by a set of purchased turnbuckles. The adjustment will not only take up slack in the system but it will also allow for leveling of the crossbeam.

Once the pulley brackets were welded in and the cables strung, tensioning and leveling was performed. The initial test runs proved positive. The cross beam no longer rocks and feels as solid as though it was welded. The guides now work smoothly for the height adjustment and the binding is no longer evident.

The total cost for the repair was less than $14.00, not including the steel stock I had lying around. 

All that remains is cleaning up of the welds and trimming up the bolts. Once that is done I can move onto finishing up the main frame then start on the rotisserie set up.



An avid cycling friend of mine approached me about building some bicycle parts. The bicycle manufacturer Niner produces a patent pending stem cap called the Top Cap. We liked the unique idea of being able to snap a bottle cap onto the stem cap but we needed a slightly different angle. We thought we may be able to cater to the single speed and retro bike fans by producing a stem cap with a cork in it.

My first try turned out fairly chunky and ugly. A few more runs got the product fine tuned to what it is today. The clean look is what it’s all about.

The cap is machined from solid stock 6061 aluminum rod and features an actual wine cork. The threaded stud is made from A2 Stainless Steel. To set the headset preload there were two 2mm spanner holes drilled in the side of the cap in order to allow an allen wrench to be used for pre-tension. Each cap takes me about 2 hours to machine plus the time it takes for the finishing.

 The finishing process involves Type II anodizing in my garage. After a few tries the caps started to turn out quite well.  I still have yet to come up with a clear sealer to help protect the cork, I’ll get around to figuring it out someday. If you have suggestions then send them my way.

The only modification required in order to fit the caps on standard 1 1/8″ headsets is to set the star fangled nut a bit deeper into the fork tube. I machined an install tool to allow for quick setting.

As far as weight goes the cap came out to 28 grams. Some standard aluminum caps with the cap screws that I weighed were in the 17 to 19 gram mark. The cap was not built to compete with the weight weenie market


Some of the trim work are going to be stainless steel accents. I’m on a budget so I need to limit how much SS I use. For the handle I am going to weld on supports made from 4 inch flat by 1/4″ steel. The stainless steel handle will get ends with threads welded on in order to bolt it onto the supports. The supports are quick and easy to make and only take about an hour from design to layout to fabrication and completion. These are the steps I use when I make smaller items. 

I start by designing the handle shapes using Autocad. Click on BBQ handle to view a PDF format of the Autocad design. I print the design off using a 1:1 ratio. Any items that are bigger then an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper I need to run off as multiple sheets. In this case the handle is small enough to fit on 1 sheet.

I cut the template out, lay it out on the metal stock, and trace the pattern.

I run a staight edge and plasma cut all the straight sides first.

I then drill a 3/8″ hole for the handle to bolt to. The hole placement was determined in the Autocad drawing. Once the hole is drilled I can then bolt in a washer as a plasma guide and trim up the rest of the support.


I clean up the edges and the face with a hand grinder and the support is complete. Once I have the handle ready to go I will bolt the assembly together before I TIG weld the supports onto the main frame.



Spent the weekend fabricating the adjustable rotisseire, laying down beads, and cleaning up the welds.

The rotisserie height is adjustable with the help of an automotive scissor jack. The jack is located in the center bottom and has a x-member which supports a couple of 1 inch pipes on each end. The pipes run through guides on both the boxed ends of the BBQ. The scissor jack height adjustment range is approximately 9.5 inches. Since the BBQ has to accommodate a variety of different types of meat that require different heights in relation to the coals I incorporated a second adjuster on the ends of the jack crossmember. If I have confused you this will all come clear in the end.

I spun up a few bearing supports out of 5/8 inch mild steel rod on the lathe.I cut grooves in the rods to allow for external snap rings to secure the rollers. I then TIG welded the roller supports into the main frame. The rollers will allow for easier movement of the ash drawers.

The skeleton is 95% welded up, I will now start to concentrate on finishing up the height adjuster as well as the trim work on the main assembly. After this is complete I will start on the rotisseires.

The drawers will be getting handles yet which will fall into line with the rest of the trim.

 I typically try to TIG weld all the visible welds, I love the clean look of a TIG bead.



A friend of mine whom I work with asked me in spring if I would be interested in taking on a BBQ project. 5 months later I am finally getting around to it. Out at his families cabin they use a couple of steel drums cut in half to roast the occasional lamb. He thought it was time to change to a more user friendly piece of equipment. I have no  experience with designing or building a lamb roaster however the project sounded fun. It will allow me to combine some welding, machining, and creativity to come up with something unique. My friend supplied the basic design, I am supplying some sort of method of putting it all together.

The roaster is 6 feet long by 30 inches wide. It will feature a height adjustable spit for roasting a 50 pound lamb. It will also feature a lower non-adjustable spit for roasting some sort of Greek delicacy featuring stuffed intestines? The BBQ gets it fire power from BBQ briquettes. It’ll have a couple of removable ash drawers for catching and cleaning out the burnt briquettes. It’ll also be sporting an adjustable stainless steel cooking grate. If I can stay on budget the set up will also be getting a full removable roof to help with the wind protection.

Right now the unit is in mock-up phase. Once the base is built the time-consuming task of machining the rotisserie set up will begin. Hopefully the project will be ready for their Easter celebration.

Well the window of time that nature gave me for my summer project has come and gone. The past 5 months of work spent in evenings and on weekends, combined with lots of math and the occasional wrong cut, has produced a Gazebo in the backyard.

Not completely done with only the railings and steps to go…they’ll have to wait for sunnier days. Typically I prefer to dabble in metal work, if you make a mistake with metal you can just weld it, fill it, cover it, or modify it. I find that wood is much less forgiving and even after measuring 3 times I still only get one shot at a cut.

The basic specifications of the gazebo is a 12 foot diameter hexagon. There were seven 10 inch by 8 foot deep piles poured for the support. The floor was built using a concentric pattern therefore the floor joists had to be designed to allow for the circular pattern.

I wanted to make the roof something enjoyable to sit under. I decided to go with exposed roof joists and then backed them with cedar planks. The only welding on the whole projet was the key block for the peak where the common and jack rafters meet the peak. The roof exterior was finished off with No. 2 grade cedar shingles.

I used Smartboard to trim up the bottom of the posts as well as used it for the fascia. I’m unsure what I will do for a railing design, I’ll use the winter months to ponder over some ideas. I plan to build a center pedestal table for the inside, I’m hoping to have that project completed this winter.