This weekend I made a machinist's hammer on the lathe. The handle and head are made of aluminum, and the two ends of the head are made of brass and Delrin (a machinable plastic). I had to learn some new techniques for this one, including tapping holes and cutting threads with a die. I've got a little bit to learn there, in terms of how to keep everything straight and lined up. I also learned how to get a better finish on aluminum - these have a sort of "brushed" finish, and look pretty good if I do say so myself. If I had to do it over again, I think I'd beef up the handle a bit more - it looks a bit delicate for that top. But I was struggling to figure out how to hold it to turn it down, so I kept making mistakes that I needed to turn off - so it just kept getting skinnier and skinnier. :)
First project on the metal lathe! This weekend I made a pair of scribing tools for use in the metal shop. They are made of aluminum with a sewing needle for a tip, and are used to scribe layout lines on stock. They should help me a lot on future projects. They gave me practice drilling holes, tapering (for the tips), knurling, and using the auto-feed for getting a good surface finish on the bodies. Although I still need a little practice on that last one - the surface looked a lot better when I used the auto-feed, but I still think it could be better.
In the old house I had my makerspace/tinkering workbench in a corner of the basement. It worked, but was a little space-limited. Plus, the kids would often want to hang out down there with me but they didn't have anywhere to sit or any space to do their own stuff - so they would hang out for five minutes, get frustrated, then wander off. But the new house had a finished room in the attic, so I built a bunch of work benches up there and now we've all got our own space to work. The family computer is up there too, plus a bench for Lori to do puzzles. It's been great! Sean especially loves it up there - he's actually camped out on the floor a few times since I finished it.
One other great thing about the new house is a small finished room in the basement with a concrete floor, which I can use as a metal-working shop. I've wanted to get into machining for a while, but didn't have the space in the old shop to add any more tools - plus mixing a metal shop with a wood shop is a recipe for a fire once I start grinding or welding. So now this little room has a brand new Grizzly mini-lathe! I'm hoping to learn a lot about it, and maybe add a small benchtop mill to this room in the future. I'll bet this little lathe will be the source of many new project posts in the near future.
I know these photos aren't going to look much different than the old workshop, but it really does feel different in person. Because the new house has sort of a third garage bay (it's not car-depth), I no longer need to share my woodshop space with bikes, generators, snowblowers, etc. It lets me spread my tools out a lot more, and makes the shop a lot more fun to work in. Plus a little natural light coming in through the man-door between the garage doors is a great bonus.
It's been pretty quiet here on the blog, but I've got a good excuse - we moved! It's only a couple of miles from the old house - we wanted to keep the kids in the same schools. But it gives us more space, plus a neighborhood that we can actually walk around - and the kids have friends in this neighborhood too, which is a big plus. Here are a couple teaser pics of the new place.
Finished the workbench today. I flattened the top, drilled the dog holes, and put on two coats of a tung oil finish. Both vises are installed and working, and I made some bench dogs to use with the dog holes I drilled in the top. I also found some handmade iron holdfasts on etsy. I still don't know what I want to do underneath it, but for now I am calling it done!
I've started working on a traditional, Ruobo-style workbench. It's made completely of red oak, and weighs over 300 pounds - it's a beast! The top is over three inches thick, and the legs are about four inches square. The bottle of sarsaparilla is there for scale. It's got a traditional leg vise, and a full width end vise. I still need to install the end vise, flatten the top, drill the dog holes, and apply a finish to the whole bench. I may install a shelf or some drawers underneath, but I'd like to use it for a while first and figure out what would be the most useful. I'll post another set of photos once it is done.
Back in August of 2016 I posted about all of the pins the kids and I had collected, and how we were sticking them into the wood of the shelves near my electronics workbench. At the time we probably had about 30 or so. We figured it was time to post an update - there has to easily be over 80 there now.
Another project I've forgotten to post - I made these shelves in the spring, to hold the growing collection of toys that keep showing up in the Loot Crates. My favorites are the larger Firefly figures on the middle shelf of the largest unit. The box all the way to the left is my new solution for organizing my wire spools - so far it's been working out great.