Monday, October 31, 2016

Acorn Pendulums v1.0

Well, I don't know about you, but I think it's about time that some actual craft items were posted on this blog. So, what do you say we do that.

Here we have three turned wood pendulums, just finished, in the shape of acorns. Shortly, they will be hung from a nice chain and sold in my shop. If you are unfamiliar with pendulums, they are a tool for divination, much like tarot cards or runes, but simpler. They are great for finding lost items, finding locations (used over a map), and answering yes/no questions. They are a popular tool for determining the sex of an unborn child.

There's nothing in the photo for scale, but they are about an inch and a quarter, maybe a little less, in diameter, and about two to three inches long. They are a lot larger than the pendulums I usually sell, but the smaller a turned piece is, the more delicate it is, and the harder it is to make. I will dial the size down a bit once I get back into practice on the lathe.

The one on the left is made from poplar wood, the two on the right are from reclaimed wood, probably douglas fir. The two on the left are natural color and have a CA finish. The one on the right was stained with light mahogany stain and given a light coat of water based polyurethane. I don't like the sheen of the one on the right, so I'll probably give it another coat of poly, with a glossier finish.

 I went back the next day and made a fourth one. The one on the right in the picture above is made from a small birch log that someone gave me. It is my favorite so far. Birch is a dream to turn and the finished wood is beautiful.

 After they were finished, I took them into my shop and fitted them with chains and pentagram charms. The charms are pewter and about an inch in diameter.

 And here they are on display in the shop. The dark stained one got a second coat of finish and is still drying. The bowl sitting next to the pendulums was another project that I just finished, my first turned bowl. I'll have a post on its construction in a few days.

These pendulums are fun and quick to make. I was starting to get burnt out on making wands, so I was staying away from the lathe. I'm hoping that a change of pace will get me back to it.

So, you may be asking, why did you not make any out of oak? They are acorns after all. Well, because I kind of don't like working with oak. It is hard and splintery, and gives me problems with tare out. The grain is very porous, and I don't like the smell of oak sawdust. To me, it smells like cow poop.

Alright, alright, I'll make some out of oak. Sheesh...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Shop Cart Air Cleaner

When doing woodworking, air purification becomes a big deal. Go on YouTube and look at any of the woodworking vlogs and you will see that even hobbyist woodworkers go to great lengths to control the dust in their shops. Here are some examples.
April Wilkerson
Jay Bates
DIY Tyler
Matthias Wandel

I have barely done any woodworking as of yet and already the dust levels in my dad's workshop are becoming intolerable. Unfortunately, most dust collection and air purification solutions are rather costly, so you see a lot of people going the DIY rout.

I tried using the 20x20x1 furnace air filter taped to the back of a box fan scenario, and while it did capture some dust, it was just too inefficient. I have seen several variations on this theme that claim to improve efficiency by creating more filter surface area, and thus more air flow. So I thought I would give that a try. But I didn't want to make a large box that would take up valuable floor space. I thought about hanging it from the ceiling, but that seemed like a lot of effort. So I decided to build a box out of the wheeled parts cart that we already have in the shop. We never use the lower level anyway, so I could just box in the lower level with air filters and a box fan and create a movable air cleaner cart that doesn't take up any more room than was already being used.
First I had to measure the cart to see what sized air filters I would need. I concluded that things would fit just about perfectly if I used a 25x25x2 inch filter on the front, a 16x25x2 inch filter with a 16x25x1 in pre-filter on the one side and a16x25x1 inch filter with a 16x16x1 inch pre-filter on the other side. I would have liked to use two inch thick main filters with one inch thick pre-filters all the way around, but the math didn't work out that way.
 When I say pre-filter, I mean those really cheap blue fiberglass air filters that are not pleated. They don't catch much (something like 50%) but they don't impede air flow much either. I am hoping that they will catch the big particles before they get to the good filters, hopefully making the good filters last longer. And by good filters, I mean the $3 economy brand pleated filters. I'm not paying $10+ for a HEPA filter. I'm far too cheap for that.

 The filters fit like a glove. I just needed a small wooden spacer at the bottom to hold them up, because they were just about an inch short, but I'm working with standard sized filters, so I had to take the closest thing I could get. I sealed the edges with some masking tape, which will cut down on air leakage, and help to keep everything in place.
 The filters went in very quick and easy. The fan was going to be a little tougher. I'm using a super old box fan. It's probably from around the late 1960's. I took off the covers and gave it a rudimentary cleaning as it was already covered with filth. I also took this opportunity to re-rout the cord to come out the front grill instead of the back.
 I attached two strips of scrap wood to the bottom of the fan, with a gap that would fit over the lip of the bottom shelf of the parts cart. This would help keep the fan stationary. I attached these with some 2P-10 CA glue. It doesn't need to be terribly secure. Who knows if this thing will even work. Until I assess its effectiveness, I'm not too concerned about making this thing a permanent fixture.
 I used the same CA glue to add a strip of wood along the top of the fan. This would fill the gap and jam the fan under the top tray fairly snugly. I added two tabs to keep it from pushing in too far.
 This left me with just a small gap on one side of the fan that I filled with a piece of cardboard and some masking tape.
 I couldn't find a 25x25x1 inch pre-filter for the front, so I bought a roll of the fiberglass filter material and cut off a piece. I attached it to the front of the cart with masking tape around the edges.
All the parts were already in the shop except the air filters, which cost me about $20 total. The whole project took about an hour and a half to build. I turned it on and it seems to work. It will take me a little while to assess its effectiveness at cleaning the air, especially since I don't have an air quality meter. I will just have to use it a while and see how I feel about it. At least it doesn't take up any additional space in the shop!

After about a week of use, I'd say it seems to be working pretty well. I've vacuumed off a good amount of dust from the outside of the pre-filters, maybe three times so far. I haven't taken the pre-filters off to look at the main filters yet, but I suspect they are still pretty clean. I've been doing a lot of turning and sanding this past week, and I leave the cart running while I am in the shop. There is still quite a lot of dust that settles over everything in the shop, but I do feel that the air in the shop seems a little cleaner.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Vertical Pipe Storage Rack

When designing the vertical sheet goods rack I built for my father's shop a few months ago, I had intended to put a pipe storage area on the end, but left that part of the project for another time. I like the idea of storing pipe and conduit, and similar long narrow objects, vertically. I think they are more space efficient that way, and they are less prone to warping or sagging. Well, I finally got around to finishing it.
I wrestled with the design for a while before settling on a sheet of 3/8 inch plywood with 12 inch pieces of EMT conduit sticking out of it, and laying on a slight angle. The conduit will keep the upright pipes organized into bays, and keep them upright. The plywood will give the pipe support while it gently leans against the end-cap of the sheet goods rack.

My ceiling is 10 foot high (and most of the pipes I put here are 10 feet long), so I needed to turn an 8ft sheet of plywood into a 10 foot sheet of plywood. I did this by butting up a 2 foot section at the end and splicing the two together with a scrap strip of plywood about 5 inches or so wide. I used wood glue on the splice (which was placed on the underside of the plywood) and clamped it all together under weights until the glue was good and cured. Since the majority of the weight of the pipes would be on the floor, this splice should be plenty strong enough.

Unfortunately, I seem to be missing some of the photos of the early stages of the project. If I find them, I will edit this post and add them.

To keep the pipes upright, I cut 3/4 inch EMT electrical conduit into 12 inch sections. I planned to use a forstner bit to drill holes through the plywood in three rows of four. The EMT would be fitted into these holes and stick out from the plywood to create arms that would keep all the pipes from falling over, and keep them separated into bays so I could keep everything organized.
My forstner bits were either too large or too small to make a good fitting hole for the outer diameter of the EMT, so I went with the closest size that was on the small side, and cut a slit in the end of the EMT with an air grinder and a cut off wheel. By removing this little bit of material, I could pinch the end of the EMT so that it could fit into a smaller hold for a snug fit.
The 3/8 inch plywood would not give the EMT enough to anchor into. Any pressure along its length would cause it to either pull out of the plywood or lean significantly to the side. To combat this, I added strips of "2-by" dimensional lumber across the back of the plywood. I used scrap 2x8's recycled from an old bed frame, which I ripped in half, making boards that were approximately 2"x3.5"x48".
I used wood glue and some screws to attach the 2-by across the back of the plywood, width-wise. I spaced these out to try to accommodate the lengths of pipe I expected might be in the rack.

Once the glue was dry on the strips of 2-by, I started drilling the holes for the EMT. I didn't want the EMT poking out the back, so I set the depth of the holes to stop just shy (maybe 1/8 of an inch) of going all the way through. I used a piece of masking tape on the drill bit to help gauge when to stop.
 I would need four EMT posts (plus the wall the rack would be butted up against) to make four bays for my pipe storage. I made the two outermost bays slightly smaller, and the last bay slightly larger.
Next, I started inserting the EMT posts into the holes. I used a generous amount of 5 minute epoxy both in the hole and on the end of the post before ramming the slotted end of the post into the hole with a small sledge hammer, making sure that each was as straight as I could get it, and that each was bottomed out in the hole.
I needed some kind of base to keep the bottoms of the pipes separated and to keep them from kicking out along the concrete floor and letting them fall. For this I used another piece of 3/8 plywood, 48"x 22". To create a short lip around the edge to keep the pipes from kicking out, and to create separations for the bays, I used some more of that recycled bed frame. This was glued in place, and a few 2 inch brads were added for good measure. As you can see, the bay separators do not run the entire depth of the base. This is because the plywood panel will not be straight up and down, but will be sitting on a slight angle.
To keep the whole unit from possibly sliding away from the sheet goods rack, should it get bumped by something, I added a small lip made out of plywood. The lip would be screwed to the bottom edge of the sheet goods rack, keeping the new addition anchored. The lip was also added to the base with glue and brads.
Here, you can see the base has been installed on the end of the sheet goods rack.
And here you can see the upright plywood panel with EMT posts has been installed, with the top leaning against the sheet goods rack (with a couple of screws securing it) and the bottom is kicked out about 6 inches. I found a perfectly sized 2x6 that fit beautifully in that space at the bottom, locking the upright panel in place. I didn't do anything to secure the 2x6. It was just laid in there, so it can be removed easily.
And finally, here is the rack all finished and loaded up with pipes and conduit, and a little lumber.
Some of the pipes are a bit of a tight squeeze. The base takes up just a little bit of the height I need. The pipes are 10ft. tall, and so is the ceiling. being on a slight angle gives me just a little extra room. If I had it to do over, I think I would make the rim around the base a little bit shorter. That would make it easier to set some of those really long pipes in place. But over all, I am quite happy with how it turned out. My pipes are much better organized now, and I think they take up less room in the shop. Well, make more efficient use of the space, as technically they still occupy the same volume of space.