Monday, February 9, 2015

Soldering Iron Stand

Took a break from tuning up my table saw to make a holder for my soldering iron. Nothing special, just some 10 gauge copper wire and scrap of ipe. This will come in handy on my upcoming WiFi antenna project.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to wire an HVAC fan motor for 3 speeds

Disclaimer, I am not an electrician or in any way qualified to give electric advice. Following my instructions may result in a fantastically painful death and/or total loss of property and innocence,  but probably not

It's man's nature that if you have a motor capable of three speeds you will want to use all of them. Such was the case when I was looking for a motor for a small shop project. My choices were between a 1/4 HP single speed motor or a 1/4 HP three speed HVAC fan motor. The fan motor was designed so that you pick one speed, wire it, and that would be your speed forever. But does it have to be that way?

Probably not but then I had to figure out how to wire it. Simple, I found a rotary switch on Grainger: off/on/on/on. Not simple, I was advised by the internet this switch would cause my untimely death or at best, burn out in short order. OR, it was perfectly okay and would only last 100,000 cycles instead of 200,000. Back and forth came the advice with lots of technical mumbo jumbo about snapping that was over my head. I had 3 people telling me it was a bad idea and 3 telling me it was fine. And all of them seemed credible. One fellow had an engineering background and had worked for a switch manufacturer so I gave his advice more credence. The only thing all 6 could agree on was that toggle switches would be safer. So I called Grainger, ’We don’t sell switches rated for ac motors. Don’t use any of our switches!’ You think I’m kidding but that’s almost word for word what they told me. It’s also a bald face lie, they do sell switches rated for ac motors. So I threw in the towel and bought toggles rated for AC motors from Home Depot. They had no problem with me buying their switches and even walked me directly to them in a rare display of eptitude. In the end, of the 6 people actively giving me advice, only one was happy I went with toggles, the other 5 were disappointed in the lack of apocalyptic outcomes.

So you want to know how to wire a 3 speed HVAC direct drive AC motor? Here’s how I did it.

1 each – SPST (on/off) Gardner Bender toggle switch
2 each – SPDT (on/off/on) Gardner Bender toggle switch
wire, motor, and appropriate electrical housing w/ cover

You should turn off the first switch before changing speeds with the other switches. If you know of a more elegant way, feel free to post it in the comments below. If you believe my way will be my doom, well I'm here writing about aren't I?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dinky Turned Box

While waiting for glue to dry on another project I was looking for something to do. Found a little nub from a previous turning and made a small box. 2 inch diameter, 1-1/4 inches tall.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wooden coffee cup experiment

A wood coffee cup has been on my agenda for awhile so decided to do an experiment. This sample cup was turned from silver maple and unfortunately cracked while turning. The cracks were sealed with super glue inside and out. Then the cup was finished with three coats of brushed on lacquer. I was afraid the cracks might come back to haunt me and they did. After only a couple hours holding tap water, the lacquer failed and the wood swelled and burst along the crack lines. If anyone has successfully made coffee cups from wood, some advice is appreciated. Next time I might try some epoxy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stanley 501A Try Square, a vintage tool review + Before and After

These ugly try squares were a bargain price I couldn't refuse, less than $2 each. I didn't buy them as show pieces but to scatter around the shop so I would have a square handy where needed.
 The order is reversed in the bottom pic. Middle is still middle but top and bottom squares are reversed. (Reminds me of this Johnny Cash song)

The Bad:

  • Numbers have no contrast and are tough to read.
  • Handles are plastic and balance is poor, they are blade heavy.
  • Blades are stamped steel.

The Good:

  • They are dead nuts square, at least to my ability to measure. I compared them against a machinist square and did the 'ol draw a line and flip test - square. 
  • They are fairly durable as you will read below. These took some abuse and stayed square.
  • Made in U.S.A.

A previous owner had spilled some kind of glue all over the blades and left it. Rust formed under the glue but luckily was only on the surface. A quick scraping, a vigorous brushing for good measure and they were clean and rust free although stained. They had been dropped numerous times and all the metal corners were bent but a file put it right in a jiffy. The previous owner also painted the handles green, probably to identify them at a glance. Through all that abuse the squares stayed true so I have to give my nod of approval.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Turning an ipe and maple mallet

Final weight: 17 oz. 
Woods are ipe & maple

The handle is 2 pieces of 4/4 maple about 2×12 inches. The head is 4 pieces of 4/4 reclaimed ipe about 2.5×7 inches.

Getting the ipe flat without a jointer was trial and error. Hand planes dull after a few strokes and I didn't want to risk my planer knives, so it was a matter of using the table saw and skimming a little at a time until the pieces were reasonably flat. “Reasonably” meant a little more clamping pressure than usual but at least with ipe you don’t have to worry about leaving marks, it doesn't dent. Not that leaving marks would have mattered since they would be turned away.

Corners were knocked off on the table saw. The band saw would have been my first choice but mine only has a carbon steel blade and ipe can damage carbon steel.

I forget to take pictures so we jump from mounted on the lathe to pretty much done.

I only have carbon steel (cs) and carbide tools (note to self: really need to get some HSS), so it was carbide on the head and c.s. on the maple. The ipe machined nicely but carbide tends to cause more tear out than steel so I had a good bit of sanding. Ipe is merely amused by sandpaper so I got the head fairly smooth but not perfect.
Tried burning a lines in the end grain but it wasn't happening.

Finished with blonde shellac. Normally I prefer oil only on tool handles, especially hammers/mallets, but wanted to keep the maple a neutral color. 

The lines were burned with a piece of Formica which produces a cleaner line than wire. 

Formica samples like these can be found in most home improvement stores.

I would change one thing, make the head larger. My goal was to hit about 21 oz. but got too aggressive on lathe and ended up at 17 oz. Still, it's a fine mallet.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Twelve-in-One Combination Tool, a vintage tool review.

Thought it might be fun to review vintage tools that are still commonly available. First up we have the Twelve-in-One patented in 1927 by Thomas Setzer Hutchison, a very interesting man in his own right but we will get to that later.

The Twelve in One combination tool is made of German silver, is approximately 12" long when fully extended, and was advertised to perform the following functions:
1934 Advertisement

  1. 12" Ruler
  2. T-square
  3. Bevel gauge
  4. Depth gauge
  5. Try square
  6. Marking gauge
  7. Inside measure
  8. Compass
  9. 30° angle
  10. 45° angle
  11. 60° angle
  12. Adjustable extension ruler

Does it? Well yes although some of the functions overlap. Hutchison's invention has two sets of grooves so that mating rulers can be locked at 90°, in the middle as a t-square or on the end as a try square. I measured these angles with an engineer square and also with the line drawing technique and found them dead nuts square. Setting the gauge for 30/45/60 degrees involves aligning one arm to lines scribed in the other, this is less precise than grooves but when checked against drafting triangles I found the markings to be accurate.

Is the Twelve in One tool worth owning? Yes. It is a lightweight, very compact tool that fits nicely in your pocket. The angles are accurate and it performs all its functions well considering it is simply two pieces of metal and a thumbscrew.  I use it most often as a depth gauge, square, and bevel gauge; in that order. The lines are a little hard to see on mine for use as a ruler but it's passable in a pinch. I've yet to use it as a compass because I always forget but it does work well as a marking gauge. The thumbscrew is easier to tighten than loosen, whether that is a benefit or detriment I'll leave to the individual. I wouldn't mind if the thumbscrew were just a tad taller, maybe 1/32". These can be found on ebay under various titles. Many sellers have no idea what they are and may be listed as combination tools, 12 in 1, twelve in one, Nashville tool, dozen tools in one, and other variations. At least one other company manufactured them, a CWS Co. based in Chicago.

About Thomas Hutchison, he was a lifelong soldier who rose through the enlisted ranks and eventually commissioned as an officer. He served with distinction in the Spanish American War and retired a captain. After the war he served as police commissioner fighting for reforms in animal cruelty and child care. Apparently life in Nashville was too tame and he volunteered for the Greek Army and fought in the First Balkan War. After finally retiring he invented this combination tool. Hutchison died in 1936.