"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Fanning the Coals

It’s no secret one of my lusts is machining in metal and wax. Actually, machining any material is fine with me. Wax became my favored material because it machines so well, especially with very small tool bits. Primarily, jewelry CNC carving for lost wax casting (LWC).

But I have also machined wax for LWC casting in brass, and that also works very well. I am not involved with casting large objects. At least not yet. But I don’t have an interest in doing large scale sand mold type casting. That’s a whole ‘nother sideline.

My light weight Taig equipment is perfect for machining wax. Taig tools also do an admirable job on small metal cutting as well. I have milled everything from stainless steel to cast iron. I have had no problems with brass, at least the types I have machined. Like most metals, there are many alloys. I choose the easy to machine.

I recently viewed a railroading model project (a hand-car)* made by an old friend Ed Hume. It got me re-considering my old lust for live steam engines and locomotives. They are machined directly from metal. That fanned the embers again and created a bit of remorse that my metal shop hasn’t been productive as was intended, except for the LWC silver work.

*Don’t know how long this link will last.

I designed my shop and machine equipment size specifically to create model train and model engine components. Not (what I consider) full size, or real life-size components. The term often used is “Model-Engineering” workshop.  

I recently dusted off one of the machines, the Proxxon PD400 mini-lathe and turned down some leaded steel stock into a mandrel and cap for my wax carving. That effort really felt good, experiencing those perfect cuts and shavings (chips) coming off the steel. I didn’t even mind the stinging burns on my arms from the hot chips. Enjoying pain may be a bit deviant but goes with the work. Also reminds me that I should wear burn proof long sleeves in the shop. Hard to do when my garage shop is 90 degrees+ in the Texas summers.

So, I mentally struggle again for a direction for my future activities. I became very serious with my LWC silver casting. I believe I create very professional silver cast jewelry work. But I am realizing I am not going to move up to the level of a manufacturer. I dislike making multiples of the same thing on a large-scale production. I do love specialty designs and very limited runs of multiples when there is a reason. I don’t want to build stock just for inventory. I’d say I am always a Hobbyist at heart.

My problem is I get bored once I have something mastered. I want to move on to new challenges. That has me looking back at the one-off model maker. Every part is a new experience. Sometimes there are multiples, but they are a part of a single creation. Like wheel sets on a train car or locomotive.

Will I fan the coals, and re-stoke the fire? I’ve said that before. Just check back in the archives of this web site. All I need is a little push and I’ll be over the edge again.

I have the machines and the workshop. I have the time, that is if I manage my time wisely and don’t try doing too many things at once. It’s called maintaining focus. It’s one of my moto’s I really have to practice. “One perfect part at a time.”

At my age I remember the Ed Sullivan Show on TV and the act where the fella has about a dozen plates spinning in the air on long vertical sticks (The record is 108). The big job was keeping them spinning so none fall off. Probably a visual metaphor now lost on today’s young folks, about doing too many things at once.

My brother and I each had one plastic plate and a stick as manufactured toy. The only thing difficult was keeping a lot of them spinning.

For me it is too many hobby interests at once. When I turn one off, I want to add another plate.


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