Monday, May 1, 2017

A Summary of Small Things in the Shop

  I got a wonderful photograph this week, it shows my grandson with some of the ships we've built.  There isn't an admiral of the fleet anywhere that is more proud of his ships. 

  The submarine support ship needs further work, helicopter pads and radio towers I think.

  A while ago my kids gave me a plastic bottle cutter.

Reuse and recycle plastic bottles of all kinds, turning them into convenient universal handy ropes.

  At the time I knew that it was a cool thing, but I really didn't have a clear notion of what I would do with the plastic string that it creates.  I also found that the string was tightly wound and fairly difficult to handle.

  There are a few things that I have learned about bottle string:
  a. the string has sharp hard edges.  If you want to soften the edges put the string into boiling water for a while.

  b. if you hang the string for a few months with a light weight on it the string will straighten out quite a bit.

  I  hung the strips in the back of my shop under the stairs after the Christmas holiday intending to use them in the garden this spring. I found that a 2 litre pop bottle made about 25 feet of string.

c.  Another thing that I learned from the internet is that the pop bottle string acts like "heat shrink wrap.

  I put a couple of wraps of the string around each end of these bundles of re-claimed wood and tucked the end in.  All it took was the briefest blast from my heat gun to fuse the knot together and shrink the string tight.  Bundles of wood are neater and easier to keep organised in my shop than loose boards.

  Yesterday was rainy and cold.  I'd been fairly busy during the week and my back had been punishing me.  Usually when I am working on a project I work until it hurts and then abandon the shop for my easy chair or laying on the floor.  Using this method there is no energy left to clean up the shop or to do all those little maintenance things that should be done at the end of a work sessions. Since it was not a good day for gardening or riding my motorcycle I used the time doing maintenance.

  After I wrapped up the wood and put it away I spent an hour taking planes apart and stropping their blades.  I've found that frequent use of a leather strop has reduced the amount of actual sharpening I'm doing by at least half.  After touching up the blades and waxing the soles of my regularly used planes I turned my attention to my chisels and shop knives. I believe that stropping away the tiny burrs that develop during use helps the edge last much longer.  
  It was a relaxing and productive afternoon as I did some of the those little jobs that make life in the shop go more smoothly.  I washed my various glue bottles and scraped some of the glue bumps off of my bench, two things that get over looked until I am in the midst of a project. I collected shop rags and put some to soak and some to the trash. I like to have clean rags handy.  Another  job was using steel wool and wire brushes to clean up putty and glue application knives.  A clean blade spread glue smooth and evenly and a clean handle is nicer to hold.

 Today is as cold and rainy.  This might be the day for a Zen like sweep and vacuum

cheers, ianw

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