Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hydraulic Die Forming Experiment

I did an experiment to see if I could make a die, which would blank and form an earring in one pressing, out of 6061 aluminum.

Milling the outline of the die.

The outline is the cutting edge.

The pattern engraved in the die.

Pressing some .01" (30 ga.) copper sheet. There is a rather thick 1/2" slug of 80 durometer rubber beneath. Containing the rubber in a shallow pressure vessel would certainly add to the force of cutting, although I didn't feel at any point that I didn't have enough pressure.

The die was able to cut and form about 5 pairs of earrings until the cutting edges and indeed the forming face of the die started to degrade. So the experiment tells me several things:
1) Steel would be better than aluminum for a die that cuts
2) This will work for one or two pairs of earrings, and certainly for a test of pattern before making a steel die.
3) I need to find some 7000 series aluminum and see if it works better for this than the 6061 that I used. I should also try some brass.

Copper and Sterling 30 ga. earrings

Soon to be on Etsy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Snakes Eat Worms

Henry said "Daddy, there's something happening outside!"

A snake eating a worm, right by the back deck.



Almost all gone!

It took the snake another 5 minutes to get the whole worm down. The snake was pretty plump afterwards, and then it slithered away under the deck.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Machining a Stainless Steel Ring

I machined a stainless steel ring today. I want to make some more interesting designs on the lathe but figured it would be a good idea to see how much work was involved in just making a simple band out of stainless steel. It took about an hour from start to finish. I probably will use my South Bend lathe to do production in the future, as it can take heavier cuts, but figured this little photo essay would also be good for my Taig Lathe pages. So I did the first one on the Taig, and now I'll have something to add the next time I update the pages.

Indicating a chunk of scrap 316 stainless 1" rod true in the 4 jaw chuck, on the Taig lathe.

Facing the rod.

Blurry drilling of a pilot hole for the boring bar.

Boring the inside diameter to a large ring size, 10-1/4, or .786"

Turning the outside diameter to clean up the surface.

Filing to get a nice finish. 316 isn't that bad to machine, but filing can't hurt.

The ring, parted off the rod.

Held in soft jaws to debur and smooth the face and the transitions between the OD, ID and face.

The finished ring. Now let's see if anyone on Etsy needs a size 10-1/4 stainless steel ring.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hydraulic Die Forming

It was time again for me to be chained to the hydraulic press so I could mass produce some earrings, using the technique of Hydraulic Die Forming.

My hydraulic press. 1" thick steel plates, 1" dia. rods held with 5/8" bolts. Hi-tech vise grip platen stop. 20 ton Harbor Freigh bottle jack.

Our oval daisy die. Felice hand carved it and I milled the channels to hold the blank.

The blank placed in the die.

A piece of 1/8" thick 80 durometer rubber placed on top.


The back of the piece after squishing.

A pile of daisy earrings. I then had to punch the holes and put them in the tumbler. I made about 50 assorted pairs while listening to two CD's I bought with my Amazon referral money, The No Comprendo and Cool Frenesie by Les Rita Mitsuko. I don't buy a lot of CDs, so I rarely get to listen to anything but Sirius radio. That really has nothing to do with making earrings, but allows me a gratuitous Amazon link, plus I really love the music.

Once they are out of the tumbler (filled with stainless mixed shot), then into another tumbler filled with walnut shell and rouge, then they get earwires (or are made into pendants) and a listing in our Etsy shop's stamping section. Tumbler is an antique word, as both are vibratory mass finishers...

This is the bible of Hydraulic Die Forming.

Here is the Hydraulic Die Forming Forum.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My name is Nickel-less

I managed to make the keyrings that I posted about earlier. Nickel is possibly the worst material I have ever machined. I will never, ever, make anything out of Nickel (pure Nickel 200) again. Maybe I'll do some Nickel Silver as it should be easier to machine, but we'll see. I'm somewhat traumatized by the experience. Nickel is hard and gummy, how the heck can something be hard and gummy? I wore out an endmill on each one I made. The copper wasn't that much fun either, but at least it's soft and gummy... I thought I could just use the double stick tape I use on the earrings, but the nickel got so hot that it just melted the adhesive and let go...even when using coolant it was turning it to steam at points. I did learn the virtue of climb milling when machining Nickel, as a change in the program made it a bit easier, conventional milling just made it work harden that much faster. I didn't mention that it work hardens? Yes of course this demon material would do that, wouldn't it?

My final setup for milling the keyrings.

Copper milled ok. I should have probably used milk as a coolant, that's what the old-timers suggest.

Two copper keyrings held by the sheet.

I programmed the toolpath to leave 4, .01" thick tabs spaced evenly around. I snipped those to free the keyrings.

Sanding the keyring to give a brushed finish. That granite surface plate was a bargain at an auction and had a few dings so I don't feel bad using it as a flat lap.

The Nickel keyrings. Compounding my hatred of nickel was the fact that the plate I bought had pits, and the sheared edges of the piece I bought distorted the material.

The copper keyring.

I didn't really make any money on this except that I have a large piece of copper left over.
I think any element keyrings I make will be available in any metal the customer wants, as long as they want lovely free machining brass. Brass? Have I mentioned how much I missed you? I'm sorry I left you for a more exotic metal, baby, but I'm back and I love you all the more for the experience. Just give me another chance, you golden hued, wonderfully machinable alloy, you...

Here are two different .pdf files about machining nickel: one, two.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Coffee Grinding

We used to live in a house that had a freeloader "guy on the couch". I loved grinding the coffee in the morning as I could see his sleeping frame jump when I started the grinder. Now I don't want to wake any sleeping children (Max's room is next to the kitchen). USually I wrap a towel around the grinder to muffle, but we were out of towels so I put an oven mitt over it. That worked perfectly, reducing the noise to a dull whirr...

Koreans of Kazakhstan (and Russia, generally)

This has cool geometry.

Here's a rocking video of a guy using a Taig CNC mill on some panels.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Latest in a Theme

I received an email from a professor a few days ago asking if I could do a keychain in the style of our atomic element earrings as a parting gift for a student. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner, and it's a great idea.

This is a rendered Rhino model of the Ni (Nickel) keychain. The Nickel (and some copper) is on order from McMaster Carr (and hopefully on it's way).

Besides Ni, he wanted one in Cu. This is a test of the toolpaths I did in brass as I await the materials. Too bad brass is a molecule, or alloy, rather than an element. The key ring (fob?) is 1" wide and 1/16" thick. Look for these to become a regular item in our Etsy shop. Spurred by his interest I finally made a pair of Cu element earrings, in the same style as our others, for which I had ordered in some 20 ga. copper weeks ago.
I'm reading "The Secret War, 1939-1945", by Gerald Pawle. Here's a review. It is a fascinating book, especially for fans of Nevil Shute's works, and fills in details that "Slide Rule" did not cover. (I found a cheaper copy on Abebooks than those on Amazon...)
If you are trying to figure out what to get me as a present, here's something cool.
Here's an interesting article about comedian Bobby Lee.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hippitus Hoppitus

Forgive the South Park reference in my title...

Henry looks right at it, but doesn't see it...

Max is delighted. Note the authentic Easter Jack-O-Lantern basket.

Max, Ethan and Henry eat too much candy and eggs out in the field.

This is a wax component I milled for our friend Miche.

Here is the ring she made with it.

I'm addicted to Davinci's Inquest, the boring yet fascinating procedural crime drama from the Great White North (Vancouver). The show is just so darn Canadian, when was the last time you heard the phrase, "looky loos", on CSI? (is it "looky lous", or "looky loos"? The web consensus is "looky lous"...)

This article explains why it's so hard to make a living as a jeweler.

The mystery of Korea's first aviator.

Kent bought a pool table for his shop, so Thursday nights we've been recreating Pleasure Island, complete with cigars, I'll bray when the transformation is complete. Here are the rules for 8 ball, in case your memory is rusty, ours was...

This is a great font site, I just need to figure out how to incorporate "Frak" in the Battlestar Galactica font into a piece of jewelry.

This guy's ornamental turning is incredible.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

20 Years!

Well, April 1st is our anniversary, we met 20 years ago in Panajachel, Guatemala and have been together ever since. This picture was taken in Toronto later that year as I was working towards finishing up my BA at the University of Toronto.

The picture was taken by our old friend Heather Marmura, who now lives in New Brunswick and doesn't have a web page I can link to.

We could use either some China or Platinum, but as yet we have received no gifts, nor are any expected. Heck, as those of you who are married know, marriage is it's own reward!