Saturday, February 26, 2011

Update: Wooden Chalkboard Compass

The compass prototype needed an improvement on its original non-slip tip, which was the eraser end of a "My First Ticonderoga" pencil. After a little digging at the local hardware store I came out with some rubber stoppers that I thought might work.

To fit the compass, the stopper had to be screwed to a short section of 3/8" dowel. I drilled a countersink just larger than the screw head, and then a smaller hole just larger than the shank all the way through the stopper. In the dowel, I drilled a pilot hole a little smaller than the shank.

I was worried the screw might split the dowel, but I guess I got the sizes right, as everything worked just like it should. Here's a picture of the final product.

You can also see the plowed guide channel for the wedge that tightens the chalk side of the compass. The dowel with the rubber tip is just a friction fit.

I tried it out last week and it works much better. It will still slip if there is a lot of chalk on the board. Or if my technique is sloppy...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wooden Chalkboard Compass

We're starting a Geometry block at school and I needed a chalkboard compass. I know I could buy one online, but where's the fun in that? So I whipped up a prototype late last night and early this morning (pre-coffee even - living dangerously!).

I tried it out today and it works pretty well. So well, in-fact, that it is probably destined to join my long line of prototypes that become users. The only complaint is that the pencil eraser is a little too slippery. I'll probably need to replace it with something that has a bit more grab on a dusty chalkboard. I don't know what that is yet...

Here's a shot of the compass with the tool kit:

And here's a shot of its first "bench test":

Quick, fun, and useful - ahh, life's good!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Granite Tile Sharpening Station

I think I've mentioned a couple of times that I am setting up a hand tool woodworking shop at my new school. So far, making our workbenches has been the dominant project. My students have been learning how to saw and glue up the bench tops. We're about ready to start planing the tops flat and smooth, so it's time to sharpen up some planes!

We'll be using the Scary Sharp system, but since space is at a premium in the school shop, I decided not to make a dedicated bench station like I have at home. I also didn't want to use glass plates. What I needed was a movable station, that could temporarily sit on a bench, with granite tiles to hold the abrasive sheets.

Here's what I came up with, as well as the tool kit used to make it:

So far it has worked great! The tiles might not be as flat as glass, but I haven't noticed a difference in the results. I'm also experimenting with a non-toxic spray adhesive for bonding the abrasive sheets to the granite. I've always used, and hated, the standard spray adhesives, which work very well, but are extremely nasty. I'm hoping this new product works out (it bonds well, my only concern at this point is how long it will last).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Battery Box

This was a spontaneous project - created to address one of my silly habits.

We use a lot of rechargeable batteries in our house. Whenever I recharge batteries, I take the freshly charged ones and sit them on the desk by the computer - where they instantly start mixing with the uncharged batteries that also sit on the desk by the computer. Hmm. Not too bright.

Last weekend, after yet another round of trying endless combinations of batteries in the camera in an attempt to come up with a charged pair, it occurred to me that maybe what I needed was a little organizational help.

So, a quick visit to the shop yielded "The Little Battery Box." Just a small, rabbeted box, made from a resawn chunk of 1x scrap. The bottom is beveled to fit into the grooved sides. The divider is housed in dados cut with saw and chisel. It has one side for charged batteries, and one side for depleted batteries.

It looked a bit too plain after it was finished, so I gave it a hint of Tramp Art with a knife. Beeswax and oil finsish (none on inside bottom - no oil on battery terminals) completed the job.

A short, useful, and fun project. Perfect.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More From Hancock Shaker Village

The woodshop (set up in the Tannery):

And two giant workbenches, one of which is "the" workbench, the one featured in "The Workbench Book" by Scott Landis:

In a comment about the previous post, Wesley mentioned the research being done into the Shaker's use of bright, colorful paint. When we visited, one room in the Brick Dwelling had been restored to this original paint scheme.

Here are some photographs:

And apparently, the early Shaker preference for bold colors was not limited to architecture and furnishings - as you can see below...

Man, those Millennial Laws went a bit too far!

Finally, here is an interesting article with more information on paint restoration at Hancock.