Tuesday, June 28, 2005

turning gold

Our friend Miche came over today, she is a jeweler who transitioned from selling at the Saturday Market to selling entirely online. I sold her a Taig lathe several years ago and she came over to see if I could help her with some jewelry operations on the lathe. We worked at milgraining and truing some gold ring castings up. It was interesting work and I think I learned more than she did.
You will note that I didn't provide a link to "milgrain", which is because there isn't a lot of info out there on the web. Basically it is embossing a decorative pattern of dots with a rolling forming tool against the ring's periphery. It is somewhat like "knurling".

Did you catch the latest episode of "History Detectives" last night? The segment on the "poison pin" showed a guy running a Taig lathe. One of those moments that only excites me.

I meant to tell my mom about this page, and it is a great resource for those of us with old-condiment-phobia

Our e-friend Lorrie started a new blog, it's funny and much better than this one, in fact you should erase my blog from your favorites and add hers.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Tales of the City

We went to Portland on tuesday, first stop was the Oregon Metro Zoo. The directions were pretty good until I got to the part where they didn't tell me I had to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get the exit. The Zoo itself was somewhat uneven. Henry had a great time of course but often you wouldn't see any animal in a particular display, or if you did it was a partial view of their hindquarters:

Those are Rhinoceri.

We had several odd experiences, one was walking into the bat "cave" and finding it full of saffron robed buddhist monks. The other was walking from the already opressive heat of Portland into the 110 degree 1000% humidity of the "african swamp", which Henry loved and wanted to stay in until my head exploded. Many of the displays needed windex. Felice and I both loved the various otters, two of whom we saw sleeping/floating against the tank window. Damn they are cute! Here is a meerkat:

Henry got to pet some goats:

After we left the zoo (open until 6:00 but they don't chase you out until 7:00) we went into the city to eat and meet up with our friend Bev, who was putting us up for the night. Bev is in the Peasants , an urban country/bluegrass/rock/soul band. The lodgings were great, although being a reborn country boy the noise of the city seemed opressive. Here's a pic of Bev and Felice wrestling with Henry:

Bev will kill me, but I should mention that she is single, good looking, and ready for marriage. She is one of the finest people we know. Or at least that will put up with us.

We woke up the next morning, drove into the downtown area, parked, went to the federal building, returned to the car, placed Felice's swiss army knife in the car, reparked in a better spot, returned to the federal building, waited with a horde of other adoptive parents and then finalized Henry's citizenship paperwork. It was a huge waste of time and a bureaucratic moment.

We then walked over to Powell's Technical Annex and I bought Henry this cool toy (the Sparklz).

We then drove home and collapsed for the rest of the day.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Henry had two tantrums today, which officially marks the onset of the full "terrible twos" (which I've herad can go on for 18 years). He refused to wear a diaper and wanted his wet swim trunks. Consistent and good parents that we are we didn't give in and endured his screaming for almost 1/2 an hour. He finally calmed down and we got diapers on him. Now of course he needs to take his antibiotics, which he also refuses to do. We managed to sneak a dose in his juice earlier, but now he says the juice is "yucky juice". I hope I don't have to inject the medicine down his throat again. He's worse than the cat, but at least he doesn't have claws. If children had claws and fangs we'd all be screwed. What if it's not the opposable thumb that marks humankind, but the lack of claws and fangs?

I finally found the perfect fathers day gift. ...If your dad was a whaler.

I spent a while on Sunday going through these inventive pages. I need to ask him how his parents nurtured his zany creativity. I came across them via BoingBoing, which I now check daily.

Friday, June 17, 2005


This is a pretty futuristic announcement!
Better get Henry to start building robots while he's young, it'll probably be a case of you building them or them building you...

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I haven't done much in the shop lately and was enjoying the visit with my parents the last few weeks. Today we took Henry to the doctor and found he has a swollen parotid gland, which explains why he's been so cranky lately. He has been waking up almost once an hour the past few nights and had a low grade fever. We are praying the anti-biotics work quickly. Of course neither of us thought to check his glands - I remember as a child my parents and the doctor were always checking my glands, but somehow it never occurred to either of us. So if your kid is sick, check his glands.

Other than that here is a cool page on shooting through drywall and other substances with various pistols and rifles. For some reason it entertained me.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Yet Another Gear

Now that I have figured out how to use the Math Plugin for Rhino I am able to draw the involute of a base circle. Here is a rendering of a gear I drew:

As you can see I'm still not very good at making a rendering look pretty, but I think a 3D gear floating in space is really cool.
Now if I could only figure out how to make cool mathematical models out of paper plates...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Brio Electric Locomotive Cleaning

We have a problem with an excess of cat and dog hair in our house (next pet will be hairless, dog or cat). A further problem is that the hair ends up tangled in Henry's Brio electric locomotive, causing balky or no movement. So here is how I clean a Brio electric locomotive.

Remove the battery cover and battery

Grind the tip of an Allen wrench so it has a triangular tip that matches the screw heads on the underside of the train. It doesn't take much and a slight taper will help it lock into the screw so it doesn't strip the screw. They do not have a lot of torque and are easy to remove.

Invert the locomotive on a block and remove the screws. Notice the "Do Not Remove" warning sticker. Ignore it, it's a $15.00 toy and it will clog up all the time. Swedish engineering does not take poor housekeeping into consideration when designing a child's toy. I guess all the engineers have housekeepers. Elitist jerks! Making poor women slave away in drudgery so that their toys will run without a hitch.

See the geartrain, upside down. Notice all the hairs wrapped up in the gear train.

The bottom half of the train. You need to move the gear clusters over to it, starting with the drive wheel axle and continuing in order from back to front. Clean each gear cluster of hair and dirt as you go. If the gears fall off of a particular cluster, thank your lucky stars that you already have a digital picture. This is a good time to mention taking pictures as you go. The gear clusters will obviously need to be revolved 180 degrees so that they are a mirror image of the placement on the top half. (In other words, don't just move them over, flip them over)

Here the gears have been cleaned and replaced in the bottom half.

Here is another view of the completed assembly of the bottom half.

The ball of hair I removed and the tip of the Allen wrench.

Henry helps put the battery compartment back on.

All Done!

Friday, June 03, 2005


Ok, so everyone is talking about the DIY revolution. As I have posted before, people who write for a living are a little behind the curve, as this revolution has been going on as long as there has been the opposable thumb, or at least as long as americans have been americans...

In this context I thought about the people in my neighborhood, I have one next door neighbor who collects Econoline pickups, another that has a nitromethane dragster, a friend about a mile away who has built his own sawmill and cementboard shear (as well as hundreds of other items). I get together on thursday nights with a bunch of guys who have made all sort of interesting items derived from their lifestyles, including my friend Kent who makes sewing accessories, cookie cutters and machine tool accessories. Another Thursday nighter, George, who "has forgotten more than I'll ever know" (that old chestnut) has just finished an electric tricycle as well as replaced most of the plastic parts in his Geo Metro with hand finished aluminum parts. All around the state there are hundreds if not thousands of people who are making things unaware that they are part of any DIY movement or revolution.
Among my customers, who span the globe, most are engaged in the modification or production of items for their own use, whether it be work, hobby, life or all three.

I'm glad the mainstream has picked up on this, and those of us who were always there say "welcome to the party!" even if you are a bit behind the curve...