Sunday, May 16, 2010

Boring Head - doing it right (for me)

I decided to stretch my machining skills by making a boring head that would extend to bore up to 3" diameter holes. I found the plans on the web created by Joe Worthy for an engineering program - unfortunately I have lost the link.

As a learning experience it was a success and the good news was that the many mistakes I made -- several of which are part of the final result -- do not interfere with the function.

The first issue encountered was figuring out how the boring head actually works, something obvious to the designer but not to me. Next up were improving my techniques for centering, for measuring, and for milling dovetails and removing broken taps. Then there was deciding when a component had so many mistakes it should be discarded and redone rather then fixed. Painful but not too difficult because it is something done in sculpture all the time.

The most creative challenge, however, was modifying the plans to fit the materials I had available. I well understand that it is not in my character to be a good machinist but I have been trying to do the best I can. It was a kind of breakthrough to successfully figure out how to change a design and make my machining skill limitations work for me rather than try to overcome them. Working with strength rather than overcoming weakness is something I practice as well as teach and, as is so often the case, seeing it in yourself is much harder than seeing it in others.

There is someone who posts on one of the lists I read with the signature, "If you can't do it right then don't do it at all." There is a truth in that however there is also a truth in getting it done even if you can not do it right.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I love it when a plan comes together!

I wanted to make a set of fire place tools and was inspired by some parts made by King Architectural Metals. They are called baskets and are traditionally made by blacksmiths to demonstrate their skills. These are machine made and I thought they would make nice handles. The photo shows all the ingredients; some sheet metal, a basket, some 1/2" EMT left over from a project, and a steel ball which is also from King.

Although EMT is galvanized and one needs to take care of the fumes when welding the inside dimension is 1/2". This works nicely with the basket which is designed to fit into a 1/2" diameter.

I had the design pretty firmly in mind and so did not make any plans. The next photo shows the results, exactly as I had pictured it. While my welding still needs a lot of improving my grinding has gotten pretty good to compensate.