Friday, October 24, 2008

Sand casting emotions

I am trying to sort out my thoughts about this video on Youtube. First there is amazement because he is doing something in 1 minute and 12 seconds that takes me well over an hour. Take a look, he is filling a mold with green sand, preparing a part that will be cast in the foundry. There is an economy of motion that comes from doing the same thing a zillion times. There is a big stack of molds and when he finishes this one, he will do the next, and the next, and the next.

The filled mold he tosses around weighs 50 to 60 pounds yet he is really hustling. Maybe for the camera but more likely because he gets paid by the piece.

If you do not know any better it looks easy. However if the sand is not just right it falls out or compresses too much. If the sprue is not inserted just right then loose sand winds up in the wrong place and ruins the final piece. When he plonks the final mold down at the end the cavity does not collapse because he has done this so many times the acceptable force is embedded in his muscles.

Sixty times faster than I can do it, sixty times. True, he has a machine to compress the sand, and an air blower for the loose sand whereas I do everything manually. True, everything is set up for efficiency; sand in an overhead compartment so he does not have to shovel it into the mold and the riddle and spruing tool are at hand. This is part of the explanation - but still - the years of repetition and experience are the real difference.

I have done that kind of manual labor in my life but it was a long time ago and I was never as skilled at that job as he is at his. I look at him with admiration and envy although I know he would switch jobs with me in an instant. At the end he looks at the camera as if to say, 'You got that bud'? I have to reply, 'No, I don't think I do and I don't think I ever will.'

Sunday, October 19, 2008

75% off

In the never ending project to clean up my shop I completed the cabinets I was building under my workbench. I got a bunch of magnetic catches from eBay. Now what to use for handles? They are pretty expensive and I did not want to take the time to make some.

Thenmy wife and I were in a hardware store and passed a bin filled with cabinet hardware. $2.00 each but 75% off! That is a perfect price for a shop.