Saturday, 23 May 2015

Making knifes on the barbecue - what's not to love?

Here's one I made earlier - A first attempt at forging - a cheeky little utility knife. Would be great for fishing, (but pretty nifty at slicing onions and deboning too I have found).

The blade is stainless steel from a broken bicycle D-lock, the handle is yew carved green from a log found in a Chilterns forest after treeworkers had been at their thinning work.

And here's a second attempt - a very smoooooth carver. A lovely weight, a good polish and a solid oak handle. This one used another portion of the same D-lock for the blade, a piece of thick oak floorboard plank for the handle (found in a skip) and rivets made from old brass screws. Feels real good in the hand.

The blades for both of these efforts were forged from the steel rod of this old broken D-lock. How cool is that? I'm not sure what the composition of bike lock steel is, but it is obviously stainless and presumably is hardened, so should be good for a blade.

Here is an offcut fro the D-lock being heated to red hot on the barbecue, using BBQ briquettes. These are formed lozenges of charcoal. Real coal is probably a lot better for heat, but also is pretty oily and you can't cook food on it after forging. Of course, barbecues don't normally get this hot. There's a fan acting as a bellows.

Here it is - a camping airbed inflator fan. They are reasonably pokey and can handle being left on for a while. A typical smithing session can take an hour. This one copes with prolonged use. I have seen hairdryers used. They are used normally for quite a long time continuously, so should be good too.
The pipe is domestic water piping sealed at the far end with lots of holes drilled to spread the airflow evenly.

Here, you can see the holes and the end that has been hammered over as a cleat to seal it.

This is another piece of the old D-lock being heated
Some big hammers were used in the making of these tools. Last time I counted, I own at least 13 hammers. That is funny. Here are two heavy ones on the anvil.

The metal should be red hot at least when hammering. Here's the smaller knife being formed from the bar.
And here is the larger carving knife taking a hammering.
Which turns into this. The original size of the bar can be seen clearly.
Eventually it will end up like this


or like this afer some smoothing


The handle was carved to a rough former shape. The chisel and round mallet are tools I made previously... Proved handy to test this


Then rounded off on my beloved 50-year-old industrial-grade, belt sander. Sigh, how lovely...

The sander is used to shape both blade and handle

Here is the large carving knife, ready to fit the handle.

To get the handle to fit required a lot of fine handheld routing with the dremel





These bad boys are brass screws, shortly to be rivets!



And the finished lovelies...

Carver...



Utility knife...





Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Making a great pie by making an awesome pie mould!

As a lover of pies, I have long craved one of those awesome victorian pie moulds like this...
























BUT they are outrageously expensive, so as I also like making stuff, I made one myself which looks like this...





























This was made from stainless steel cut from an old IKEA waste paper that originally looked like this...


Here it is expanded...


And here is the awesome result, shown next to two standard sized pork pies. Truly fabulous!






Thursday, 12 March 2015

Cloudenstein - an animated face controlled with javascript


Cloudenstein is an attempt to move Twitter controlled avatar Tweetenstein froma  desktop application using Python to a cloud-hosted web application (also usimg Python, but importantly being accessible over the web, not just on a local machine running the Python script..

It is available here:

http://cloudenstein.rosemarybeetle.org/fpi 

On the left is a screenshot of the face with all the parts on screen.

Most of it is pulled together as intended using CSS, except obviously, the mouths...

NB - this prototype is a button-controlled face that is testing facial expressions controlled by data. It is a test dummy for a FACE API

Although there is no animation showing here, the mouths are intended to be used to creat lip sync to match text to speech, so that Twitter data can manipulate Cloudenstein to talk.

They are traced from pictures of mouths showing the limited number of mouth shapes in use when speaking.

Monday, 22 December 2014

A great big pantomime egg

Technically this is the egg of the Roc from Sinbad, the 34th annual staff V&A panto (really!)
I went for a Gigeresque/Invasion of the Body Snatchers alien vibe.


It is hinged and open's up like a pod...


I was quite pleased with this as I only left myself one day (like, the day before the performance!) to work out how to make this from stuff in the shed and garden.

Here's how it came about...

Step 1 - make two matching hoops

Matching in size at least. One is an old bendable curtain rail I've had in the shed for more than 13 years, the other is a hula hoop, found languishing in the garden.



Step 2 - Hinge them at one end

Pop rivets - what a great invention. They work surprisingly well, even with a PVC tube.


Even easier into aluminium curtain rails of course. Here are the two halves suitably hinged...



Step 3 - build up the ovoid shell form

I started with plastic strips, cut from corrugated roofing PVC sheet. This proved too rigidly planar - it only easily bent in one direction and tended to distort the shaping.


Building using this material was also too slow, so I abandonded that...

Luckily I have a semi-coppiced hazel in my garden. This had enough young shoots to cut some whippy sticks.

Ideally, these should have been withies (willow shoots). Willow is much bendier and springy as it has an interlocking grain. This is why it used for cricket bats.
But, I don't have a willow. But, hazel worked.

I started with the basic shape using three sticks, with a view to triangulate into a geodesic dome...



This was not clean Buckminster Fuller geodesy though :)

The joints are simply tape bindings. This is a faster and simple technique.  The edge joints and certain key joints required stronger insulation tape but masking tape is good enough for most simple crossover joints.


The joints don't need to be pretty. Just as well really...




Eventually, with some triangulation starting to emerge, the egg halves were built up. This provided a surprisingly strong frame. Triangulated domes? It couldn't go wrong really.








Step 4 - padding the frame

Whilst strong, the skeletal frame was both way too angular and quite hard-edged. It needed to be rounder and softer to handle. As it is quite large, it also needed not to be too smooth and hard. The egg had to be used by the panto performers, so needed to be handleable.

To get a rounder shape, the frame was roughly padded with scrunched newspaper, held into place with masking tape...



Eventually it looked like this




Step 5 - skinning 

This was OK, but needed a smooth outer coat. Conveniently, I had a load of 3mm foam sheet, used as packaging protection. This was applied with hot glue to stick it on, and stick down seams - where arrows had been cut to shape the foam sheet to the ovoid frame.



The left half here shows some of the jointing. It is much like tailoring. Flat sheets have to have darts cut out and jointed. Obviously, I'm no tailor, so it's rough, but as it was due to be seen from 15 - 100 feet away when in use, this was fine.

Here's the underside...


Hot glue guns are awesome, but handmade means burnt hands. Each innocuous blob of glue seen here on my hand represents a burning searing pain-moment. Happily, these were all I got. Land a big blob of glue on the hand and you're in trouble. It burns and it sticks and it insulates, keeping the burn going  - not ideal.







Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fitting out a new work bench

Once you have a nicely expanded shed, you obviously need more workspace. And so, a good 9 foot of extra workbench seemed appropriate...

This starts with some pretty sturdy frames (reclaimed timber of course)...


Joints here don't need to be cut. Simply screwed with BIG screws


and an existing workbench recycled...



then some gratifying drawer building...



A cheap-end counter top added...



The drawers could then be fine-pruned to fit. This was crudely done with the reciprocating saw (grey thing on floor), then fine-edged with the smoothing plane (just behind the orange box on the counter)...


And then some handle-hole drilling.
















Screw on some handes. This is particularly satisfying, as I have had these for about 20 years, wondering what to use them for...


Very nice. The three drawers: Left...



Middle...


And right (this drawer came with the frame...)


And finally a classy low shot of the three of them...