Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

So I figured it was time to, once again, pay my respects to another individual who, in some way, has made a significant contribution to garage projects. Of course there is no shortage of people worth mentioning and this months VIP is no less significant than the others. Now this guy has a few great credits given to him. His working life began with filling cartridges at the Arsenal at age twelve and then soon moved onto a carpenter’s shop and then a blacksmith’s forge. Eventually he began training as a blacksmith. So who is this “hands on” individual? It’s none other then Henry Maudslay a British tool and die maker, a machine tool innovator and an inventor. As you may have figured out from my past celebration posts that inventor’s are at the top of my books. Turning nothing into something is fantastic. Henry was born in 1771 to a father who worked as a wheelwright (now that’s cool! (the wheelwright part)).  What Henry did was eventually turn inventor. What is interesting is that Mr. Maudslay spent a number of years working with Joseph Bramah, the inventor of the hydraulic press. It turns out that Henry, at the age of 18, helped solve some of Joe’s issue. Henry leant a hand in devising a plan to economically manufacture a lock as well has he should be given credit for inventing the hydraulic seal used in Bramah’s press. Anyway…if you want to read up on Henry Maudslay you can check him out here. What I want to continue with is giving him thanks for 3 particular inventions all of which I use in my garage. Invention #1 is standardized screw cutting. Henry invented the first industrially practical screw-cutting lathe which eventually lead to the standardization of fasteners. Who can’t like that? Invention #2 was the work he did to achieve a lathe with a three-part combination of a lead screw, slide rest, and change gears. With the invention of this winning trio he was able to lead the way to great advancements in machine tools. Invention #3 is super-cool and that was the invention of the micrometer. He built a bench micrometer to measure to .0001” of an inch. Apparently he named it “Lord Chancellor” as the tool was used to prove the accuracy of his work to anyone who questioned it. So for these three inventions I salute you Hank! You rocked the show!


Over the last few months of celebrating individuals that have made a significant contribution to my garage projects I have recognized inventors, artists, physicists, shoemakers,  mathematicians, and some great minds. Well this month, I would like to stop and take a moment to recognize an individual who has probably contributed more to my projects than any other person.

This particular contributor is not known for the same type of skill sets that individuals previously featured  possess (or possessed). By trade, this person is actually an accountant (it’s my blog so I can call it a trade if I want to) and did not spend his working years making a living using his hands. But if you think about it, accountants and building trades have one very important thing in common; they both use numbers to accomplish an end goal. With all the calculations involved in building something, you would want your virtual “balance sheet” to come out to zero. If you end up with too much or too little you’re screwed. However, it might be easier for an accountant to hide the unwanted numbers.

So you’re probably wondering how an accountant has helped me in my garage projects. Well this accountant also happens to be my dad. And although I grew up trying to learn the valuable lesson of budgeting, I was also exposed to garage projects by my dad. My dad was one who would typically tackle a problem or project on his own first. Very seldom was a “Pro”  called in to accomplish a task whether it was fixing cars, building a garage, wrenching on motorcycles, or woodworking. The guy taught me that with some forethought and planning, anyone can make something happen. As a kid, I may have been delusional thinking that my dad could do it all and there probably were times that a professional should have been called in.  But I would have never known because my dad always got through it.

My dad is the guy that taught me how to change oil, take apart 2 stroke lawn mowers, fix motorcycles, as well as implement good work habits like wiping down tools and keeping the tool box organized. Many years later I continue to practice those work habits learned from my dad.

So today I would like to say Happy Birhtday to my dad. Thanks dad for helping me get to where I am today. There is a bit of you in each of my projects.

I wanted to take a different angle with celebrations this month so I figured I would do a complete 180. In continuing with recognizing individuals who have made a significant contribution to garage projects I thought it was time to acknowledge those who have helped out with the design aspects. Any project, no matter how small or large, takes some sort of planning or engineering. Nothing turns into something without first a plan. As projects get more complicated the planning required typically involves a lot more mathematical calculations. There have been all sorts of computer programs developed to assist with the math, programs such as AutoCAD. Well there is one mathematical formula that I use more then any other calculation when designing projects. This formula is so versatile that you can perform the basic calculations in your head and at the very most you would need a calculator capable of the square root function. The formula I speak of is the Pythagorean Theorem. And who gets credit for this one? Well it would be Pythagoras of Samos who lived from 570 to 495 BC. Now there is some debate as to who should actually be credited with the discovery of this formula. Some say that it was actually the Babylonians that first discovered the details and others say that it may not in fact been Pythagoras of Samos but instead his students that came up with the theory. In any case I am going to give Pythagoras the credit. If at a later date someone proves this wrong then I will be sure to update this post. Anyway…the point is this; the guy is credited for coming up with the formula to calculate the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle. The simple formula is a2 + b2 = c2. Carpenters know it as the 3 – 4 – 5  rule when calculating a right angle. I am not going get into explaining the formula and the theory behind it, plenty of others already have. The point is this; Pythagoras rocked the show when he let this calculation out of the bag. The number of opportunities that I have been given to use this equation is countless. As far as I am concerned this should be grouped in with basic arithmetic. So if you are building with straight lines and you want to come up with something more then just a box then may I suggest you add up your A squares and B squares and pound that square root key. Pyth you get 2 thumbs up today for lending a hand to planning projects.

In keeping with the theme of acknowledging those individuals who have made a significant contribution to my garage projects, today would be a good day to stop and recognize Mr. Nikolai Nikolaevich Benardos. This particular Russian was born today in the year 1842 in the village of Benardosovka. It is worth giving Nick credit for a number of fine qualities he possessed. First he was an inventor and for me that makes you number one in my books, nothing is cooler then creating something new with some lateral thinking. Second this guy was diverse. While many individuals concentrate their efforts in one specific area Mr. Benardos was all over the map. Within his life time this guy patented more then 100 inventions ranging in the areas of electrical, agriculture, and transportation. Makes me wonder what this remarkable Russian would have been capable of if exposed to the technology we have today. The third thing that makes dude the coolest is that he was the originator of carbon arc welding. In 1881 this was the first practical arc welding method. You would be a fool to think this isn’t worth celebrating. So Nick today is your day and so instead of lighting a candle in your honor I will in choose to go out to the garage, light up the TIG torch, and strike an arc in memory of you. Thanks for making my metal molten. Happy Birthday.

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 I got to thinking about all the individuals that have made a significant contribution to all the aspects related to garages and garage projects. Everywhere I go I am always intrigued by how something was built, how it was engineered, the methods and tools that were used, the skills that people possessed, and the planning and organization that went into the project. All of these things have been done by people using principles of nature. On some level, I experience all of these things in my garage.

I like to take complicated ideas and relate them back to the fundamentals and the basic principles that make those ideas come to life and work. Much of what we enjoy today stems from principles and physics that have already been discovered long ago. I find that to take a basic idea and manipulate it into something is much easier then coming up with the basic idea in the first place. I think the vast majority of what we are exposed to in these “modern times” that are considered technologically advanced are simply a conglomeration of the real advancements made by people long forgotten. I think some recognition is in order!

I decided to start a new theme on the blog. I am going to pay tribute to these individuals whom I appreciate and  from whom I benefit from as a result of their contributions to the things that bring me joy in my life. It’s a celebration blog! I’m not going to write a highschool essay on their lives but I think a simple mentioning that these people exist, or existed, will suffice.

So the first birthday celebration post goes to Leonardo da Vinci. This awesome Italian was born 559 years ago today on April 15th1452. He is also the man whom I need to thank for the title of today’s blog posting. I thought the title quote was fitting for the inaugural post as it is birthdays we are celebrating and with birth comes death. And as a result of their lives being lived, many of us have gained. I appreciate this guy for his engineering and inventing talents. He had a ton of pretty cool garage projects going on in his time. I highly suggest taking a moment to reflect on what this dude was capable of. Check it out here.

Anyway…Happy B-day Leo! You rock the show!

I’ll finish this post off with some of my favorite L da V quotes. Enjoy.

All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.

Experience does not err. Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power.

I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.

Learning never exhausts the mind.
Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.

Nature never breaks her own laws

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding

There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.