Archive for May, 2011

The gazebo has consumed my life for over a year now but it’s no time to stop now. The efforts have been paying off and lots of progress has been made. With the table built and installed the structure is at least useable. The 3 remaining items required before I can officially break a bottle of champagne on it are a set of railings, a set of steps, and some paint touch ups. So let’s get on with it shall we?

 Railings are que’d up and ready to have some labour put towards them. I struggled all winter trying to come up with a unique design for the railings. I thought of some cool stuff but it seemed that almost all the ideas had a hint of “weird” to them. After viewing hundreds of images of railing designs I finally concluded that simple is sometimes the best way to go.

 The official design is this. Balusters made from .5” square tubing with spacing of 4” on center and then a top row of 4” x .318” circles. The top and bottom horizontal supports will be cut from 1.250” x .065” square tubing and the horizontal divider between the balusters and the circles will be fabricated from 1.250” x .250” flat bar. The handrail will be pre fabricated pressure treated bought from the local hardware store. I chose to top it of with a wood railing simply because I wanted to tie the wood construction of the gazebo in with the railings. I drew up the design using AutoCAD so that I could calculate my material costs.

 It took me awhile to decide how to deal with the 4” OD circles on the top row. Pre-fabricated circles can be purchased for the purpose of building metal railing. Purchasing the circles didn’t sit right with me for a few reasons. 1. I like to build as much I can “in house” and rely as little as possible on outside sources. I get a lot of satisfaction from taking raw materials and turning them into something. 2. I have spent lots of money on equipment which will probably never pay for itself. I feel better using the equipment, even if more time consuming, to get the results I need therefore I am able to justify their purchases. 3. I never priced out the pre-fabricated ornamental rings but I was sure I could do them myself for a fraction of the cost. I needed a total of 80 circles all .5” thick. I was able to pick of a 3.50” schedule 80 pipe which gives me a 4” OD with a .318” wall. The pipe cost me $18.00. The plan was to shave off circles using the band saw. It would take me some time to do it however if it worked out the circles would cost me 22.5 cents each. I am fairly certain I could not come close to purchasing them pre-fabbed for this amount.

 So as far as progress goes I do not have much in the way of exciting to show for it. I spent the week cutting circles. The circles came out nice and even on the band saw however the edges are fairly sharp. It turns out that every circle needed a clean up on the lathe, no big deal, just more time. It took me approximately 4 ½ minutes to cut and clean up one circle. With 80 circles to complete I dedicated approximately 6 hours to the procedure. In the end I think it was well worth it. The band saw performed great and I ended up with rounder circles then the pre-fabbed ones bent from square solid bar.

 With the circles complete I wanted to build one of the five sections as a prototype however I ran into a small issue. I had an uninvited guest stop in. Don’t get me wrong; even though she was uninvited she was still welcome. It turned out that a Robin decided to build a home in the gazebo. And as of the weekend she had set up permanent camp in under the shelter to sit and wait for her 4 eggs to hatch. The problem for me is that I need to get my hands on the gazebo in order to do custom fitting of all the horizontal components of the railing. Anytime I go near the structure the Robin gets scared and flies about 30 feet away and watches here nest. I do not want to disturb her until nature has run its course. So I have decided that instead of building a prototype I will spend my time in the garage cutting all the components to size and therefore complete as much of the prep work as possible. According to the almighty internet a Robins eggs take between 12 – 14 days to hatch. So it looks like I may have to put the railing project on hold for a week or two. But until then I will continue cutting balusters and railing supports.

I was in need of a mental break last night so I decided to shift gears and make some progress on my 1935 Marshall Wells Zenith CCM bicycle restoration. I have desperately wanted to get the wooden rims sanded down. I want to be able to inspect the condition of the wood, rebuild the hubs, and start measuring things up to determine the new spoke length.

 I de-laced one wheel so I could start working on just the hoop. It was a mindless evening spent sanding all the red paint off. I knocked off the majority of the top layer using my Black and Decker Mouse sander outfitted with 80 grit paper. I then went over the hoop twice by hand. First time with 120 grit and then finished it off with 220 grit. The rim came out smooth as glass.

 Since I spent the evening staring at every square millimetre of the rim I was able to get a good idea as to its condition. I am very pleased with the condition of the wood, very few nicks and no major gouges. The rim joint looks to be in good condition as well, no signs of separation. The rim sanded up great.

 I am unsure the type of wood that CCM used for these rims. I had talked to my uncle, a carpenter, and he thought it may be Maple (at least I think that is what he said) I am sure I will find out the species before the project is complete. I really like the grain of the bare wood so at this point in time I think I am going to clear finish the rims in order to maintain to natural wood look.

Well I am pleased to say that I have seen completion on my metal lathe stand project. The bulk of the work had already been done and all that was left were the finishing touches. I am actually not too sure what I can say about it all.

 The fabrication was complete except for the light mount. I had an extra flexible light holder left over from a grinder so I thought I would weld up a mount for it and attach it to the lathe stand back splash. I cut a hole through the back splash to allow the cord to exit on the rear of the stand. The 2 lower trays were lined with some expanded metal I had leftover from the BBQ project.

 I still needed to close the sides in. In the past I would use G1S plywood however I am growing tired of using the stuff in the workshop. I opted to go with more of a “metal shop” look and picked up a section of aluminum checker plate. This stuff is awesome! Easy to work with and looks great…I think. It has me thinking that I may need to recover the milling machine stand and the work benches with the checker plate. I am envisioning a new garage theme however it will need to wait till the 100 other projects I have lined up are completed. The checker plate was plasma cut to size and riveted into place.

 The stand then received 2 coats of Tremclad gloss black paint. Once dry the stainless steel got a polish and the toolbox was slid into place. The stand then got moved into place and levelled. All that was left was to transfer the lathe to its new home.

 In the end I am pleased with the results. The project somewhat cut into time that I set aside for other things. The only reason it actually got completed was because I stumbled upon the tool box deal. Anyway…I am looking forward to working with the lathe set a few inches higher, my back will thank me. The majority of this post is mostly pictures of the completed project so enjoy the visuals. Time now for me to regroup and get set for the next job, hopefully I will fill you in next week with the details. BTW the title picture of this post is a shot of the thread pitch guide on my Craftex B2227L lathe, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it the guide tells you how to re-gear the lathe to cut certain thread pitches.

In keeping with the theme of celebrations today is a good day to take a moment to recognize William Sturgeon. This English gentleman was born on this day in 1783 in the settlement of Whittington,Lancashire. So what is so significant about Bill? Well, in my opinion, he has a few fine qualities worth mentioning. He apprenticed under his father as a shoe maker. This is cool thing #1, he built things, yeah ok they were shoes but handmade shoes are cool. I respect the shoemaker for his talents just like I respect the seasoned body men for their sheet metal forming talents. Leather forming and sheet metal forming are 2 mysteries to me. Cool thing #2, he was an inventor. He took his thoughts and ideas combined with talent, effort, and persistence and came up with some pretty significant inventions. Cool thing #3, he taught himself mathematics and physics to the point where he would spend much of his time lecturing. Where most of us only have a couple of cogs ticking away in our cranial cavity he had a complete epicyclic gear set with helical cut gears and the works running his show. Cool thing #4, the dude invented the DC electric motor incorporating a commutator. This is where the ultimate praise comes in. William, in my books, is given credit for making my garage, and projects, what they are today. If I sit back and contemplate just how many electric motors I have in my garage I would being picturing in excess of 28 and I probably have a lot more. So may I suggest that if you have a moment today, go find a tool that has an electric motor in it and raise it in recognition of Mr. Sturgeon. I know I will be going out into the shop and giving my air compressor, milling machine, lathe, and my angle grinders a pat on the back of their stators. Bill you make my world spin! Happy Birthday.

So some completion happened to be in the cards for me this week. The finishing details have been put on the gazebo table and it has finally reached its resting place inside the summer structure. I have to say that I am happy with the finished product. I think the whole leaf concept worked out well and the visual is great.

 The final steps that needed the attention included the support base, paint, installation, and the finishing touches on the leaves. Starting with the support base I decided to implement the same method the city uses to install their lamp posts and larger street signs. It is simply a system that would allow me to support the table on 4 threaded rods that will allow for solid installation and leveling. I needed a base plate to bolt to the wooden gazebo floor joists. I used a 3/8” thick steel plate and plasma cut it into a hex to match the hole I left in my gazebo floor. Then I drilled nine 5/16” holes in the plate to allow me to bolt it solid to the floor joists using 2” lag bolts. I cut 4 studs from a section of 5/8” threaded rod, machined the threads off the bottom sections of the studs, inset, and welded them into the base plate.

 I still needed a way to attach the table to the support plate. My solution was neither pretty nor graceful but it is functional. I used four sections of 2” angle iron and drilled a 5/8” hole in each of them. They got welded to the inside of the center table pedestal. The angle iron is what will actually allow me to bolt the table to the base plate. Just look at the pictures, you’ll figure out what I am talking about.

 Next up is paint. Okay…I learned a lesson here but first I need to provide some history. I have always struggled with putting the final finishing touches on projects. I am not a very competent painter plus I believe that there are a lot of complexities involved when applying a proper finish especially if that finish involves paint. I lack proper resources and proper knowledge. As time goes on I think more seriously about building a modular paint booth in my garage. I would like a booth that is collapsible, will allow for some ventilation, and allow me to use a HVLP gun and therefore get a good proper finish. I’ll add that to the list of projects. Usually I just use the brush on Tremclad oil based paint. I think it is the best bang you can get for your buck. The stuff is thick, it covers great, the flow in is fantastic, and the durability is better then any spray bomb you can find. The only down side is that it takes over a week to dry properly, for me that is not a big deal. Anyway…this is where the lesson comes in. Tremclad has added a new line to their paint products. It is a water based paint that you can get mixed in a multiple of Tremclad’s custom colors. I needed a very specific brown for the gazebo table and none of Tremclad’s stock oil based colors would work. They did have a custom color so I decided to go for it. First problem; apparently Tremclad screwed up when producing this paint. When the pigment is added to the base tint someone, at Tremclad, got the ratios off. The can does not have enough volume to allow for the pigment addition therefore the pigment overflows from the can when it is added. This is not a problem for me but it is for the store mixing the paint. So…what I think Tremclad did was they modified the pigment ratios to try and prevent the addition of too much pigment by volume. This does not work. The colors that are advertised now do not match the actual custom color. Eventually, after a couple of tries, I (actually the wife) just accepted the color brown that the paint turned out to be. Next lesson was how the water based Tremclad actually performed. I followed the instructions on the can and applied a Tremclad base primer coat. I then proceeded with the top color coat. This stuff covers horribly. Some of my steel was marked with a felt pen and even after 3 coats (1 primer and 2 top coats) the felt pen was still visible and bleeding through. The table eventually got a total of 4 coats and could have used 1 more. In the end the water based Tremclad does not provide the coverage, provide the flow, nor does it have the durability of the oil based product. I will never use this paint again. If I need to Tremclad something it is going to have to be whatever color is available in the oil based product line up. I spent a weeks worth of time painting only to achieve a substandard finish.

 Let’s move on shall we? The time had come to move the table from the workshop into the gazebo. I am unsure what I was happier about; seeing the table installed or freeing up my workspace. The base plate was bolted down to the floor joists and the table settled onto the threaded studs beautifully. Leveling was a piece of cake and the table is now situated solid with no wobble.

 Onto the finishing touches, in my original table build blog post I had mentioned that I was mulling over a few different ideas on how to finish the table off. After coming up with some ridiculous ideas I finally settled on something practical. I made a trip down to a local aquarium supply store and obtained 3 bags of aquarium gravel. My plan was to fill the leaves with natural looking stones and then install a glass top. I was able to find 3 different shades of gravel that fell into line with nature’s colors. Next was trying to track down a glass top for it. I started by getting an estimate for a custom cut piece of 6mm tempered glass, 49 inch diameter, with a polished edge. $425!!!!!! Forget that. So I started hunting for cheap patio table that would have the right sized glass. Couldn’t find anything. I jumped online to the IKEA catalog and found what I needed…almost. IKEA sells a 6mm tempered glass table top for $39. Awesome! Except…it is 46.5 inches in diameter which puts me at 2.5 inches short. Can I make it work? I brainstormed ideas but the only one I could come up with, that I would be able to live with, is redo the table to make it fit the IKEA glass top diameter. No way! Plan 2…started price shopping a custom glass top. The best I could find with $298 which is better the original $425 but still a long ways from Ikea’s $39. Deep breath…ok no choice…either rebuild the table or cough up the dough. Well let’s just say the dough was coughed. Custom table top it was. I did it, I don’t want to think about it anymore, I don’t want to talk about it.

 Onto the final fun part of filling in the leaves. The most satisfying parts of the projects seem to always be so short lived. In about 20 minutes the leaves were filled and the glass top was installed. I still need to place some rubber support feet on the glass. In the end I think the table worked out very well, I’m quite pleased with the effect the natural stone has, it suites the atmosphere and is calming to sit by. It’s time to call this project complete and get ready to move on to more.

So here is a small job I did for an automotive shop that was in need of some replacement knobs for their tire changing machine. The knobs the machine came with were plastic and the threads eventually gave out over time. The only replacement knobs available were the OEM ones. The stub thread for the knobs to screw onto was an odd ball 5mm x .80 pitch so buying better replacement knobs were hard to find. I spun 4 knobs out of aluminum in hopes that they will last longer. For those of you who may have struggled with the title of this posting I am using DOB as “date of birth”. Was that one stetching it? Hey give me a break ok? It rhymes.

My main motivation for machining them was purely selfish. I had recently upgraded some lathe tooling and was now the owner of a new indexable cutter. I shelled out some dough for a Sowa .500” SCLCR tool holder part #146-784 and outfitted it with a CCGT-AP 146-024 carbide cutter. I was itching to give it a go. The cutter cuts like a hot knife through butter. I was giggling the whole time I was using it.

Anyway…I thought I would do this post up as a play by play and throw my methods out to the masses for criticism. The following is a picture post showing the steps I use to machine knobs. Please remember I AM NOT A MACHINIST, I figure things out as I go. If I am doing something wrong I am not surprised however I would love to hear about it.

Keep in mind that on this blog posting, as it is with all my postings, you can click on the images to get a full size view.

Let the show begin.

My new Sowa tool holder with an AP CCGT carbide tip for aluminum

Starting off with .625 6061 Aluminum round stock trimmed to 1.400" lengths. Four in total

Step 1: Face the end to clean it up

Step 2: Turn down the circumference just enough to clean up. Lathe speed of 265 SFM (1620 RPM)

Step 3: Chamfer the edge at 45 degrees to give the knob a smooth edge

Step 4: Remount knob in the chuck in order to machine the lower half and then face the end to clean up

Step 5: Using the part off tool make a cut .350" from the bottom to a depth of .075" reducing the overall diameter by .150". Lathe speed set to 19 SFM (115 RPM)

Step 6: Turn lower half of knob's circumference down to equal diameter of the part line

Step 7: Performing the trig. calculation an angle of 12 degrees is required to join the upper and lower halves of the knob. Set the compound angle to 12 degrees and cut down until the upper and lower circumferences join flush

Step 8: Using a number 2 center drill bore a starter hole in the bottom of the knob at a lathe sped of 350 RPM

STEP 9: Drill a .500" deep hole using a #19 (.166") drill bit

Step 10: Chamfer bottom hole to allow for clean thread starts

Step 11: Tap the .166 hole with a 5mm x .80 metric bottoming tap. Tapping was done manually and not under machine power

Step 12: Put a 45 degree chamfer on the outside of the bottom edge to give it a more clean look

Step 13: Cleaned up the finish by first using 320 grit sandpape, then Scothbrite, and then finishing it off with 0000 steel wool

Step 14: Flipped the knob around in the chuck and then cleaned up the top half

Set of completed knobs

So I continue along with my previously projected timeline. The gazebo table and the lathe stand builds stalled out while waiting for the bending brake. Now that the bending brake is useable the table got some attention paid to it last week so it is only fair to give the lathe stand a moment in the sun. I am starting to get the overwhelming feeling that comes from overloaded projects that need doing. With the sun shining and the snow gone I now have to start sacrificing some of “budgeted building hours” I set aside each week and give them up to yard work and summer fun. It’s times like this where it becomes evident that working for a living really gets in the way of my progress. How is a person supposed to change the world at this pace?

 Where the lathe stand build got left off was at the point where the chip tray needed to be fabricated. I wanted angled edges on the tray in order to contain the chips plus if I ever decide to add a coolant system I wanted to ensure the tray could withstand a flood. On the milling machine stand I ended up welding on the chip tray lip. It was a pain. This time the tray and lip get bent from a single sheet of 10 gauge steel. The design is nothing complicated. The tray dimensions were determined and then an inch was added onto 3 of the sides to allow for the angled lip. The sheet was plasma cut out, clamped down in the bending brake, scribed, then slid over and the bends were made. A couple of welds at each corner sealed the tray up.

 Next up were the supports that would do the actual supporting of the lathe. After hunting around the scrap pile I came up with a couple lengths of 2” x 4” rectangular tubing with a wall thickness of .300”! A little on the overkill side but what else would I ever use that stuff for? When in doubt build it stout! Measurements were measured, cuts were cut, and the supports got welded into the main frame assembly at the points where the lathe casting had the “bolt down” holes located. The .300” wall thickness gave the TIG tungsten a fairly good work out. In the end the welds flowed like butter in a hot pan, joined for life, divorce is not an option.

 Okay so the crucial stuff was done. Now it was time to play a bit. I like it when I can build off the top of my head. So many projects need to be designed first, materials collected and then executed. I like it when the build need is not crucial and I can make things happen that feel right. I wanted some shelves to hold the bins that hold the sandpaper that hold the secret to making shiny metal parts. Who doesn’t like polished machined work? I figured I would continue the bending brakes initiations into the shop family by bending up a shelf for some basic plastic bins I am already using. Again I used chunk of 10 gauge sheet metal. I wanted to give the shelf supports a bit of flare. I took a scrap piece of sheet metal and plasma’d out a template using some circle templates I had laying around. Once I had a template trimmed up I was able to use it as a plasma guide to cut the shelf supports so they were identical on each side. I should mention that the shelf was getting constructed out of a single piece of steel. The only other allowance I needed to make was a 1” overhang for the front of the shelf to help give it a more refined look. With the shelf cut out in 2 dimensional form I then let the metal brake do its thing and I was eventually left with a straight and square shelf. Sweet! Beats having to weld all the individual pieces together. To keep the plastic bins from sliding, or vibrating, off the shelf I took a chunk of .375” 304 SS rod I had left over from the BBQ project, tossed it in the Hossfeld clone bender, and gave the ends a 90 degree tweak. I then drilled a couple of holes in the shelf, slid the SS rod in and tack welded it from the underside. The shelf then got tacked onto the backsplash.

 So I have a place to keep the plastic bins but I would love to have a spot for the cutting oil. No problem! A couple lengths of 5/16” 304 SS and a short length of 2” flat bar could be morphed into a smaller shelf. No sense in boring you with the details, just look at the pictures. The complete mod was done using, again, the clone Hossfeld bender. On a side note, whenever I use a rod that would normally require a butt weld I like to drill holes in the main frame and slide the rod in then just tack it. I find it is not only stronger like this but the look is way cleaner.

 So as I stand back and watch the stand taking shape I run over in my head the other needs I have for the stand to fulfill. I already have built 2 lower shelves to allow me to store turning stock up to lengths of about 38 inches. I figured I needed to incorporate a rack that would allow me to store longer metal. Again I dug through my metal and came up with enough steel to allow me to build a side storage rack to allow me to stand the long lengths of steel up vertically. With the grunt work provided by the Hossfeld clone and the plasma I was able to transform some 10 gauge sheet metal, 2” flat bar, and some SS 304 rod into a vertical rod holder with 3 separate sections on the right side of the lathe stand. Pretty good for a quick evening fling in the shop.



So I think I am getting to the tail end. What’s left? I need to fill the sides of the stand in with something. I used wood on the milling machine stand simply because I wanted it match the work benches. In the case of the lathe stand I am just not feeling the love for our flammable friend Mother Nature provides. I’ll think it over and see what I can come up with. Other then that a couple coats of paint will get this unit one step closer to going into service.