I have to admit to myself that I have run amok and spun off into the rocks along the shore of the barren hobby/craft islands for a while. Of course, that is figurative. I think I am still pretty much sane.
I am referring of course to my workshop interests and making tangible and valuable art and crafts. It was the song of the mythological siren creature that lured me off course. Maybe put me asleep. Its name is “3D Printer”. Ha!
Yep, I fell victim under its spell. I love design and making things and doing that with a 3D printer is very enticing. Continue reading
Gosh! Haven’t posted here in a while. Got derailed and off track by playing with the demon of three-dimensional printing. You know, push a button and out pops a three-dimensional PLASTIC component.
Pretty much a sit back and watch effort. Similar but different than CNC machining. No chips flying around, or mist cooling required. Additive rather than subtractive manufacturing. It has its place but IMHO not for durable goods. Great for prototyping and making plastic models.
It is not the printing that is the most value. The printer is just another tool. The most value for me is the amount of CAD drawing (and mastering) acquired in designing parts for printing. The same skills that instantly transfer to good old fashion CNC machining.
The point is Plastic 3D printing is here. I have learned how to use it at a hobbyist level. But for making real, functional items, subtractive machining is still holding its own.Continue reading
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… Continue reading
Maintaining steam but not building speed on the A3. I am coasting at the moment. A honey-do piano stool restoration has taken over the workspace in my shop. Staining, shellac and urethane require a fairly pristine atmosphere. With the cool temperatures and now (finally) a bit of rain the drying process is slow.
Staining is over but I am looking at about three coats of shellac and then a coat or two of polyurethane. Sanding between coats of course.
The teardown and rebuild is the easy part but finish work is laborious. Metal chips flying soon.
I am catching up on my Kozo Hiraoka Pennsy A3 Switcher project reading. When a project has been on the shelf for a while, I find it good to revisit everything I have done in the past and refresh what lies ahead in the project. It’s all good.
Building a project like this is very detailed. Each step is not all that bad and Kozo has a very good process of explaining the how-to. My enthusiasm is increasing as I can clearly see that nothing (yet) seems to be beyond my current shop tools and my abilities. It’s all now just having the materials and doing.
A project like this is not inexpensive. But since I am doing my best to make it enjoyable and not a construction race to finish, I can spread material cost over any time span with which I am comfortable.
I am still doing my silver work which has now become self-supporting and in fact providing some cash flow. I should probably be building the A3 with sheets of Sterling silver. Uh… No, maybe not.
OK, it’s all about the parts. Making all the bits and pieces. I just love how all the parts fit together and that I have total control of turning raw materials into something totally relevant to the project.
There is a certain aura of enjoying the process of using the tools, a gut feeling, something visceral. It’s like driving a sports car. There is a feeling of knowing what your car can do and being able to use that multiplied ability that such a machine provides. Same as using a screwdriver or a vertical milling machine. It’s that ability and control of power to use tools to make things, that is so much of being human.
Whoa! Spinning off into… Continue reading