Waterstone Saddle

I have a norton 4000/8000 grit waterstone that I use for most of my finer sharpening.  It is a good stone, but requires soaking before using, needs frequent flattening, and you have to squirt water on it often when sharpening.  I have made many messes on my bench while using the stone to sharpen and decided to try something else.  Operating it at the sink makes the most sense.  I had a long piece of UHMW plastic that would make a good starting point for a waterstone saddle.

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The plastic is rigid, impervious to water, and left over from my table saw conversion (aka free).  The tricky part was how to hold it down.  I want it to be removable so screwing it down wasn’t an option.  I went around and around thinking about it until I just printed something.

Two of these funny hook shapes sit really snugly on the top rim of my garage sink.  A dab of hot glue on top held the plastic plank in place temporarily.  I flipped it over and screwed the hooks on from the under side.  You can screw into UHMW plastic, but you want to pre-drill and not over tighten.

With a really solid platform established I printed some cleats to keep the stone in place.  I used the same hot glue trick to tack the cleats so I could drill and screw them without any sliding around.

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I have used this a few times since making the saddle and it works well.  I might add some kind of lip to keep sprayed water and swarf from dripping outside of the sink.  Otherwise this keeps the waterstone in its natural aquatic environment.

While I was working on all of that I printed a rag hook that clips on under the lip of the sink to keep an old shirt nearby but out of the way for drying hands.  Printing fixes everything.

Sharpening: Flat Back Jigs

I don’t always build sharpening equipment, but when I do I go overboard.  With a more stable work station I can get deeper down the sharpening rabbit hole and focus on doing better work.  I am trying to take sharpening from an afterthought to an everyday part of my woodworking.  This post’s focus is going to be on flat backs.

It is important to have flat chisel backs and for the last inch or two of your plane irons to be flat.  Pushing down on a small area gives me hand cramps after a while.  I always want to cut corners in this area, but need to get better.  Ideally when human frailty becomes a process issue I would advocate for robotics.  I am not that rich, so a helper jig will have to do.

I started with the idea of embedding some magnets in a block of wood sized right to fit in your hand.  Instead I found this magjig switchable magnet.  It has a lot of force when you rotate the knob and align the magnets.  I thought about woodworking a handle of some sort, but printing turned out to be a lot easier.

The magnet is be better than hands even without the printed parts, but they help spread the force over a larger area of the chisel, and makes for a better handle.

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I made a gif of it in action.  It holds really well and lets me put downward pressure across the chisel while controlling the back and forth motion.  This works well on wider chisels, narrow ones don’t take long to flatten.

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Plane blades are a lot wider and thinner.  That makes the magnet option harder.  This jig I found in a popular woodworking article won’t have that issue.  I started with a quite lovely short piece of maple.

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I used to never make a jig out of anything but the cheapest material I could find.  Now I am starting to get the idea of the jigs being tough and good looking themselves.  That having been said, I made a complete hack job of this slot.  It was an odd size so none of my chisels quite worked.  I drilled out a little pocket so my handle bolt wouldn’t spin.

A big mushroom handle on top lets me grip with the whole hand and have a lot of control and force.  The slot allows for a wide range of plane blades to be clamped.

It probably isn’t the best mirror polish the back of a plane blade has ever seen, but it is hands down the best I have ever done.  Plus, it is a jack plane, so perfection isn’t exactly required.

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I played around with the jig for a while before applying a finish.  I made a second hole on the other side to move the handle closer to the edge.  That seemed to control a little better.  Adjustment there might be nice in the next version.  The bolt that clamps down the blade was an issue too.  I could only tighten so far before the head would spin.  Sometimes the blade would want to rotate.  I thinned a scrap of maple and cut another pocket.  Now there is wood on metal instead of metal on metal (no chance of damaging the blade), and I can tighten to my hearts content.

Lastly a touch of tung oil made everything look gorgeous.  This thing will probably be black with grinding good in a month, but for now it is gorgeous.

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Bunny Defense Network

Our two renegades rabbits are always looking for exploration and adventure.  Often they try to find it beyond the barriers we put up to keep them out of certain areas.  At first, opening up their exercise pen and placing the edges against the wall corralled them enough.  Now, they realize they can shove and move the fencing enough to get beyond.  I need a way to anchor the fence so they stop venturing beyond designated borders.

I started with sort of a three way corner thing to sit on the other side of the fence.  I wanted to add weight so the brace would be harder to move.  Boxing in the one leg segment and filling it with sand made the whole thing quite heavy.  I glued on a lid to keep from spilling sand all over the house.  I left off finish because I figured the little devils darlings would figure out how to chew on it through the fence.

This 20180114_162217all started when I had an idea for a simple 3D print that would hold the fence segments if you screwed them to something sturdy.  It seemed like a good idea, but eventually needed another iteration.

DSC_1037The brackets looked pretty good in wood filled PLA and held the fence well.  The issue I ran into was when it came to actually holding the little beasties beauties back.  On the first night they rattled it enough to knock two of the rungs off their hooks.  It only took them a few hours to figure out how to chew on my new creation as well.  Good thing I left off the finish.  I was going to need a deeper hook to keep them from breaking the fence section loose.

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In thinking about the design, it became apparent that the right half of that hook wasn’t needed.  The wooden upright would act as one side of the hook, I just needed to provide the other side.  I increased the hook size and stripped the part down till it was the bare minimum of what was needed.

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A few clear grippy bumpers on the bottom along with the sand mean it is impossible to shift this thing.  The new hooks ought to make it very difficult to disconnect the fence unless you are a human.  The whole thing tucks neatly next to a piece of well protected heirloom furniture.  Tyrion has been heavily inspecting and disapproving of my work since its installation.  Their hunger for items you value knows no bounds.

 

Wireless Backup Camera

I stuck an empire logo on my suburban and jokingly named it the stormtrooper.  It has the right color scheme, and I hoped the name would mean it couldn’t hit anything.  That didn’t work, and it backed into a neighbor’s car.  Nothing serious, but a backup camera would have been useful.  Here is one now!

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Finding a spot on the suburban that would let me see well, but not get broken off the first time I loaded up lumber was a little tricky.  This spot doesn’t give the best view but should be out of the way.

The unit I got was wireless.  I just needed power for the in-cab unit, and to tie into the reverse lights for the camera assembly.  I pulled the tail light off and found a lot of wires.  The green is positive for the backup light, the black wires are all common grounds, and that brown wire looks a lot like a black wire if you are too excited and cut before you should.  I used heat shrink solder connectors.  They self seal and make a nice slim connection.  I added tape to each as an extra layer of protection.

I snaked my own wire down into the bumper area before the kit arrived and it turns out they gave you 10 miles of wire to deal with.  I wrapped up the transmitter and extra wires with a lot of zip ties and stuck it in the cleanest secure spot I could find.

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I don’t know how long it will take for water to get into these electronics and ruin the whole setup, but considering the vehicle is 17 years old, a lot of other things will break down first.


Back in the cab you just need to plug the screen in to 12V power.  It will come on when you go into reverse.  Hey presto, it works!

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Now I need to find a spot to stick it and hide the 12 miles of power cable.  The kit came with a suction cup bracket that was supposed to go on your dash.  Mine is so high that anything on it would obstruct vision.  Instead I printed a wedge shape to go between this blank spot next to the environmental controls.  It angles the screen towards the driver by 10 degrees.

3M’s VHB tape will make anything attach to just about anything else.  It is expensive, but good stuff.  A layer on either side of my PETG (should survive the high heat of Florida’s summer) wedge fixed the screen in place.

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I was able to stuff most of the extra cables in a pull out ash tray below the screen.  Everything looks tidy if decidedly out of place.

Cookie Monster Box

Nothing says cookie cutter storage like a box with cookie monster emblazoned on the front.

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I ended up making a lot more cookie cutters themed after various marvel movie heroes and eventually figured a storage container was warranted.  This design features a snazzy ogee at the bottom to help strengthen the box and make it look a lot less boring.  A flare near the top helps add strength for the lid to slide in and out and adds another decorative bit of flair.  For typical storage it is much easier to buy a plastic shoebox, but when you need personalization, 3d printing small boxes is an option.  Now I just need to wait for all those sweet pressed cookie experiments to roll my way.  Link to the box on thingiverse.

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Prusa Spool Upgrade

When I got my current 3D printer, I quickly upgraded the spool holder.  The original worked ok, but was a pain to load and adjust in width.  Every spool manufacturer has different widths to their spool.  The spool support I found on thingiverse was easy to adjust and load.  Eventually it had issues though.  The black threaded shafts that held the bearings in place started breaking off.  I installed 5/16″ bolts as a replacement.  Left photo was the original installation, right photo shows my bolt mod.

As those shafts failed they caused a lot of rolling resistance on the spool, and it ended up failing a few prints before I diagnosed the issue.  The bolts help, but there is a fundamental issue.  They hold the spool at the outer edge.  Any force imparted is a long distance from the axis of rotation.  If it were held in the center, then it would take a lot more resistance to induce the same torque.  That is how the original supports worked, so maybe they were on to something.  A diagram might help.

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The extruder will pull at roughly the same angle and with the same force in either setup.  A full spool will be heavier and require more force to spin, but the filament will be at the outside edge, far away from the axis of rotation (red cross hairs).  This produces higher torque.  Think of putting a pipe on a wrench, you can push further away from the axis of rotation, which makes more torque.  My old setup (left) held the spool at the outside edge (orange dots), far from the axis of rotation.  My newly devised holder (right) runs through the middle.  Even if it doesn’t spin well, it can’t impart that much torque on the spool.


I heard Adam Savage give a good talk about how everything you try involves a lot of failure and trying again.  He was suggesting maker spaces nail to the wall (literally) the progression of projects to show that it takes effort and that nobody gets it right the first time.  I wanted to show some of my work on this one.

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First I needed a way to hold the spools.  I decided a center hub (for reasons explained above) was best.  After measuring all my spools I set the outer lip just small enough to pass through the hubs, then made the center area a little smaller so the spool can’t walk off the hub.  Pressed in bearings mean it spins really effortlessly.  I had a bunch of red filament, so I started with that.  It was simple and worked right the first time.  So much for showing progression!  The next task took an extra try or 4.  I used jam nuts to hold the two spool halves (they are identical) together.  Don’t tighten the nuts against the hub, the bearings spin better without side loading.  To make handling easier I printed a handle with internal 5/16″ threads.  The first one was too short for my hand, so I cooked up a longer one.  The threaded rod goes 2.5″ into the handle.

This hub system will need some kind of support to keep it up high on the printer.  I took some measurements of the printer frame and started with a thick test piece to make sure it would clip on and be secure (far left).  I thought it was good enough and went forward with a full spool support (second from left).

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This worked but was a little too thin and wobbly.  The odd rounded rectangle cutout is for my LED strip.  It was too close to where the spool will be.  I couldn’t have the light and spool installed at the same time.  Next I made a few minor adjustments to the frame clip and printed another test (middle).  That was more snug.  I moved the LED strip to a reasonable location and tried again (second from right).  I ran with this one for a week or two and liked the results.  The only changes to the last version was to increase the thickness for slightly less wobble, and an extension of the hub shaft holder.  My current spools fit, but a future spool might be larger in diameter.  The final design was printed in Prusa orange (right).

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Everything fits together nicely.  The large flange on the handle keeps it from sliding up your hand, and aids in alignment.  My LED strip slides in its slot with a little wiggle room.  The uprights can move if need be, but are in a good place.  The center hub is wide enough to accommodate a large range of spools.  I think this will be a great holder for a long while (until 5 minutes after this post when I run into an issue with it!).

This should be compatible with any of the Prusa i3s.  I think the MK1, 2, and 3s all have the same size and shape frame.  If I am wrong on that, then this only works for the MK2.  I uploaded it all to thingiverse.


As a bonus, it is holiday time, and that calls for cookies.  Cookies that come in fancy shapes taste better than normal ones.  True fact!  Add some pizzazz to your holiday gathering.

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Continued Jerky Lessons

This is my 4th round of jerky and I feel like I am still learning a lot every time.  My co-worker uses a 3/8″ nozzle, where as my jerky gun came with only a 1/2″ nozzle.  Thankfully the sell these little road cone looking things that you can cut to size.  DSC_0937I switched jerky seasoning brands because I had run out of the original stuff and wanted to try something different.  They recommended mixing their seasoning with water first, then mixing with meat.  This is a great idea, it helps ensure that the seasoning and cure are well mixed and distributed throughout.  I am feeling confident enough to wager 5 pounds of extra lean to make this happen.  In retrospect the seasoning should have been mixed in the big metal bowl before adding meat.  It saves a bowl.

Loading can be tricky.  One clean hand, one dirty.  You ball up a small wad with the dirty hand and load while holding the barrel with the clean hand.  They make a tool that helps tamp it all down.  Which hand holds that?  My new 3D printed hand of course!  I came up with this clip to hold the barrel while my clean hand tamps.  The overnight print came complete with a really good game of filament chicken.  About 2 wraps left before I would have been in trouble.


The mix and extrusion went well.  I used every tray I had and in 5 hours was able to dry a pretty good looking batch of jerky.

I weighed the final product and came up with about 2.5lb.  That is probably at the low end of dry enough, but it shouldn’t go bad in the 4 days it will take for me and everyone around to eat it.  It occurs to me that I could monitor the progress of my jerky simply by taking the initial weight and weights throughout the process.

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