Wednesday, October 31, 2012


More of the same today. I made an error yesterday cutting off a workpiece from the bar before I had drawn out a section. I had a choice of either welding a section of bar on to it to act as a handle or take up another old plan and turn some rusty old snips into tongs. The tongs seemed like an item it would be good to have, so I now have a weird little crossbill type creature that has already been very useful. Not the type of thing they sell on amazon, but perhaps there are birds or fish on the river that have similar features. I bought a couple of pairs of the snips at the junk shop so the ones still in rust show how their smaller sibling evolved. The air hammer also in the picture along with some of the items which will next be twisted and bent about to form L shaped arms.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Apparently it was not the door pictured yesterday but the door on our truck that was in danger of falling to bits. The driver side door handle decided to leave go of its functionality and hang loose. Fortunately I am fond of tinkering, so it was a satisfying half hour I spent removing the internal skin and figuring out which bit of the door latch had suffered chronic failure.
Most of the day was spent on ironwork, using some pneumatic hammers to upset the ends of another set of stair handrail brackets as well as doing some drawing out on the same parts.
I also revisited a chisel I had drilled with the aim of drifting a hole in to turn it into a hammer. That may have been a few years ago, anyway I wanted a larger version of a hammer I am fond of using, so I took up the long unfinished item and had a go at it.

The object of my fondness on the right and my effort on the left. Not the worlds most beautiful instrument, but it is now of use and it actually has a nice balance to it. I find that despite the unwieldy appearance of hammers with a longer head, they do in fact hold their course better and somehow seem to require less effort to swing. If I find another cold chisel lying about I will make another with a different set of faces on.
One reason for the return to drifting was a small bit of slitting I did on the recent chair project. A chipping hammer had proved a useful aid as a kind of hot cutting chisel with a handle. And I used that again as the drift to make the rectangular mortise in the ,"hammer" head.

Monday, October 29, 2012


For the past three years or so I have been asked to act as a sort of informal commentator at an annual event where children's artworks are displayed in a park. It is about an hour and a half of fairly solid chatter walking among the various pieces with the teachers who worked with the kids. I invariably find something to say, but it does leave me somewhat drained of creativity.
On the way back home I took a very minor detour to visit the first of the series of entry doors I have made over the past few years. I was not responsible for any of the ironwork on this one, just the wooden parts, the glass and the copper and brass plates protecting the lower regions. The owners seem to have left the steel to rust and not refinished the door, the weathered look is not unappealing, but there may be some shortening of the life expectancy with no maintenance work. I didn't feel particularly comfortable lurking on the doorstep, but I did take a quick snap, perhaps I should have moved the jaunty umbrella awaiting the return of the inhabitants, but it might be the only thing holding the place together.
The exhibition of kids work is a good thing, but it confirms how little place for creative work there is in the school curriculum today. I wonder if there will ever be a solid place for activities that cannot be evaluated on a points system but that have intrinsic value as somehow managing to open doors for at least a few of the developing minds that participate.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Almost a case of wastebasketball for today's scribble. I decided to allow myself a day of boys own electronics fiddling. Baby steps throughout the day towards linking up several units in the solar panel rotating mechanism that had been on the shelf for a while. Today's challenge started out with getting five volts out of twelve to feed to my amplified sensor array, that was then combined with some limit switches to shut off the feed to the motor when the panel reaches its limit of travel at east and west. Holding up the array to a lamp here to light little indicator leds and get the motor running, then clicking the switch to make sure that the motor stops promptly. The last piece in the puzzle is a device to return the panel to the eastern limit after night has fallen, something like a photosensor light switch i guess. The last attempt at all this was using a microprocessor, but this time I am trying to keep it analogue. The H bridge on my last attempt was not strong enough for the job and the technique of wiring it up left it prone to burnouts. This time I think I have oversized everything sufficiently and it should last a while.
Lots of mistakes and failures along the way, but soon I should be ready to pop the circuits in the box and probably get annoyed by the occasional blurt of movement from the panel when it eventually starts to follow the sun.
A day of solid rain that was good for little other than this kind of desk work.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Having planned to draw most days on the blog my life force was somewhat drained by an episode of playing silly buggers on Wednesday leaving me with little but the energy to push the shutter button on the chair for a few days.
I had ordered a couple of cylinders of gas and thought I would try hoiking the empty oxygen tank up from the shop. The back and legs were fine, but the thing was so slippery I really had to hug it tight to lift it at all and that popped a rivet somewhere in the personal rib work on the starboard side. Thankfully general healing seems to have begun and the item is giving me only whispered hints that it will require gentle treatment for a bit rather than screaming blue murder at every jolt. Aside from the obvious blessing of painkillers I also recommend salt in the bath as a healing agent. A bit like salt in the spaghetti water I guess it helps the water warm the necessary portions.

Friday, October 26, 2012


The chair is just about up together, so another object has emerged from the flotsam. I am still debating whether to add some kind of concealing element to the cylinder strut, perhaps some kind of wooden cap structure to make it a little less utilitarian and straight.

Some of the structural elements surprised in a moment of detachment. The three long nuts welded to the base plate are engaged by three allen head bolts countersunk in from below the seat. The backrest has threaded inserts that are engaged by four Allen head bolts just visible in amongst the tracery. The base plate is recessed slightly into the seat.

The nature of Zelkova grain causes intertwining as the tree grows and as I may have mentioned it is often easier to try and chop the wood at a tangent than try to chop it across the diameter. This also makes it a bugger to plane properly as grain goes every which way. The survival of the backrest depends on this strength in the wood as it is basically an arc from the outer rim of a disc cut from the trunk of a tree. In this case the tree had suffered some problem leaving it hollow, so the arc shape was already suggested and several chairs I made back in 2008 (from march if the archives are of interest) from the same trunk are still going strong, so I have high hopes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Inevitably spending more time in company with the stove as the temperature drops. Minding the fire in the evening to make sure it starts up properly, as yet we haven't needed to light it in the mornings. The dome greenhouse is a little warmer than the outdoors and there are still tomatoes, aubergines and peppers trying to ignore the coolth. Condensation seems to be a constant feature where in the summer it would evaporate during the day it just clings on right through now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I received a mail from a friend the other day which made mention of a query as to whether I was currently involved in making anything aesthetic. I had to think for a moment as most of my activity seems to be related to clearing up years worth of accumulated flotsam, but then I remembered this little project, which although functional does seem to fit into the category.
It seemed a shame to throw out the cylinder from an old office chair adjuster, so I am incorporating that into a chair for home use. There will be casters on the new curvy feet. The back rest struts are made from old car springs heavily adjusted under heat and hammer. The plate parts had already been part of an agricultural implement like a large fork, I presume that had been made during the war as it still bore the signs of where the shape had been cut out of a large leaf spring.
Working with this high carbon steel is much more work than mild steel, but it is rewarding and the finished item has much greater intrinsic strength. There is something about the denser material that causes it to shape in a different way, and also to hold detail that would normally be lost in later workings. It is also necessary to keep it hot under the hammer whereas a lot of work can be put into mild steel even when cold as long as it is annealed as it gets work hardened.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wood gathering

Most evenings we are lighting the stove now. Sammy and I went on our first run to the driftwood stockyard by the dam today. Lots of picking up throwing and stacking.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do over

A collation of small windows from demolition sites had accumulated at one corner of my wood shed, so I decided to glaze two of the pentagon sections of the dome. One triangle and two halves from each small window, or so I thought. My initial intention was to use an acrylic caulk for the job, but the weather gave out on me and the rains ruined my plan, so I lost a couple of panes that lost their grip. The job is now redone with rather more half panes than intended and silicone caulking instead of acrylic. Evening jobs each time squeezing something fairly simple into the last bit of daylight.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Greenhouse update

I was impressed by the reaction to an app called ipano I installed on my ipad. In the early naughties I took quite a few panoramas stitched with the panotools set of software that was developing then. On this app they looked quite good and gave a sense of being in the space as the image moved in sync as one panned about with the pad. Sadly I am now a little less friendly with my ipad thanks to ios6. I am utterly astonished by how this update has interfered with my usage of the device. The map issue is a big one, but there are many other issues that really make one rather peevish.
There is a free app called pixeet, which makes it quite easy to stitch together fisheye images, the above is an image of the greenhouse interior as it was today. There are a few other assorted panoramas hosted on the pixeet site, tap on the image icon in the bottom left corner and choose another image from among those that fan out on the screen. I may add some of my original images as pixeet does allow one to add ones own panoramas to the hosting site.
I have been pottering away at the greenhouse structure fitting a door and filling up holes here and there. I hope to get it draught proof by the time the cold sets in.
I am not so keen on the logo inclusion for pixeet images, but it is very easy to feed it images while my ancient panotools technique needs quite a lot of messing about choosing control points. Anyway, it is a little move towards including something interactive and helps take my mind off of how sour it is to have ones sweets snatched away due to petty commercial rivalries.