Video: Assembly the Harbor Freight Utility Trailer

I recently purchased the Harbor Freight 1720 lb utility trailer. So far, I really like it! It’s going to make getting sheets of drywall home from the home center a lot easier than the roof rack I was previously using. It even folds up into a small enough footprint that I can store it in the garage when we’re not using it.

I made a little video showing assembly of the unit, which took me about five hours over two days. I thought some of you might enjoy seeing the process of assembling it.

Podcast Episode 008 – Peter Bettenberg

New show! This time, I talk with Peter Bettenberg, a longtime friend of mine. Peter is an amateur blacksmith, and one of the board members of the Minnesota Guild of Metalsmiths. We talked about his journey to blacksmithing and how that connects him to his grandfather (a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II), how a Halloween costume idea turned into a quest to make an object capable of being hit with an axe by an angry Viking, and a quote from The Edge.

Listen to the podcast on this page or download it here. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or via RSS.

This episode is also available on YouTube. View it there for a transcript and subtitles.

Links and Notes

Pictures

Peter in full regalia
A Blacksmith’s Leg Vise
Image
The shave pony I built with my younger daughter.

Video: Electronic Leadscrew Complete!

It works! I have completed by build of James Clough’s lathe electronic leadscrew. It was a rather straightforward matter of replacing my 3D-printed pulleys with some aluminum ones I purchased. But I’m thrilled with the result. Not only does it add push-button convenience for turning and threading, but I learned a lot about machining, electronics, motors, and a bunch of other stuff.

See this post if you need a backgrounder on what an electronic leadscrew is and why I might want to add one to my metal lathe.

Finally, I have to thank James Clough profusely. It would have been a major challenge for me to do this project without the excellent work he has done in making his design available to the rest of us. He’s also one of my favorite YouTubers – go check out his channel and if you like it, subscribe!

Podcast Episode 007 – Clint Andera

Crass nepotism?! Why yes! Luckily, while my guest on this show is one of my brothers, he’s also a fascinating maker and learner. We talked about woodworking, music, curling, teaching as a learning technique, and a bunch of other stuff. I’m really glad I had him on. I think you’ll enjoy our conversation as well.

Oh, and I’m told we sound a lot alike. By both my wife and our mother, so it’s on good authority. If you find our voices confusingly similar, I suggest using headphones. I’ve edited the audio so we have some stereo separation between us.

Listen to the podcast on this page or download it here. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or via RSS.

This episode is also available on YouTube. View it there for a transcript and subtitles.

Links and Notes

Pictures and Videos

A family resemblance? You judge. Craig left, Clint right.
The Cajon in action, with the snare active
The Cajon again, this time without snare
A curling stone on pebbled ice
Clint, curling

Home Eng Project #5 – Trick

My thirteen-year-old and I have continued to go into the shop for “Home Eng” (read more here) even after school has ended for her and we’ve shifted into summer mode. I have been trying to focus on shorter projects, since those seem to hold her attention a bit better. I do want to take on something bigger at some point, although I’m not quite sure what that will be.

For project #5, I reached WAY back into the early 80s, when I was in what we called Junior High. Most places here in the US call that Middle School now, but either way it means I was just about the same age then that my daughter is now. Shop was a required class, and I guess my teacher must have liked a few of us okay, because he showed us how to build the simple object shown above. It’s just a tapered head attached to a notched shaft, which fits snugly into a hole in the other piece, itself with a rubber band held in the bottom by a bit of the same dowel.

These are very simple to make. Daughter #2 and I were able to fabricate one in a matter of minutes from some scrap mahogany with a belt sander and a drill press, but there are a million ways to do these. All that matters is the basic form, but we took the time to sand it smooth and apply an oil/wax finish, which helps a little bit for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

The trick starts with a demonstration. Something a little bit like this:

Looks easy, right? Well, go make one and give it a try. I’ll wait.

Difficult, right? How the heck DO you get the notch to hook onto the rubber band? Well, I told you it’s a trick, so it is, of course, impossible. The dowel leaves no room for the rubber band to somehow make its way onto the notch. Instead, what I’m doing is squeezing the tapered head of the trick so that the top sort of squirts out of my fingers, making it look like it has been pulled by the elastic. Watch the video again – I’m sure you’ll spot it now that it has been explained.

This was a great little project for a day where we didn’t have much time. I’m not sure she’ll ever get around to messing with her friend with it, but she enjoyed it nonetheless, and I think other kids would definitely enjoy pranking their friends. I sure did when we made them back in the dark ages.

I think this project would be a good one for younger kids, too, since you could make the parts ahead of time and reduce it to gluing them together, or have them do everything except the sawing, or everything except the drill press, or whatever combination you were most comfortable with given the tools at your disposal.

Podcast Episode 006 – Andrew Ehlers

My good friend Andrew Ehlers is a really interesting guy, and is someone I wanted to have on the show right from the start. I’m so glad I did. It was fun to discuss his projects both current and former, including the cherrywood dining room table we built together, and the stand-up paddle board he’s taken on as a pandemic project. The first was an adventure in making things straight and flat, and the second is an ongoing adventure in bending things. Good stuff.

But we also got to touch on the fact that he has had some of the most interesting jobs of anyone I know. To give you some idea of how interesting our conversation was, one of them was commanding the the USS Cole…and we didn’t even get around to talking about it! Well, I’ll just have to have him back on. Looking forward to it already.

Listen to the podcast on this page or download it here. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or via RSS.

This episode is also available on YouTube. View it there for a transcript and subtitles.

Links and Notes

Pictures

My kids’ treehouse, which Andrew had a big hand in

Home Eng Project #4

The 13yo did this entirely by herself. We don’t have a wheel, hence the slight irregularities.

My thirteen-year-old and I have continued to work on our “Home Eng” projects. Our latest was a pretty quick one: pottery. I recently bought a small melting furnace for use in the shop for a variety of things – melting for casting, maybe heat treating – but it works perfectly well for low-fire clay.

RapidFire Pro-LP Electric Kiln Furnace-2200F 10 Min Melt Gold - Programmable Controller
Really digging this little furnace.

We don’t (yet) have a pottery wheel, so she formed this one entirely by hand. We fired it, then she glazed it using masking tape to create the geometric pattern. She tells me she’s going to fill it with wax and make a candle of it. Should look great on her desk!

Now I need to figure out what we’re going to do next. Maybe spoon carving? If you’ve got a suggestion, I’d love to hear it. Leave me a comment or throw me a shout on Twitter.

Video: Electronic Leadscrew Progress, Part 3

It’s working! Mostly! I can use my lathe again! Unless I want to do single point threading on it, which I do. But still, I believe I am down to one problem. In this video, I show the working bits and discuss the details of said problem. Hopefully the next video is the last one on this subject, because I’m ready to button this guy up and call it done.

See this post if you need a backgrounder on what an electronic leadscrew is and why I might want to add one to my metal lathe.

Hope you enjoy!

Home Eng Project #3

A pineapple. Because why not?

My younger daughter and I have continued our periodic shop time I have entitled Home Eng. See here for a bit more information about the concept. We don’t manage to get into the shop every weekend, but we have kept at it. We also watch maker videos online sometimes, from channels like Peter Brown, Drew Fischer, and Pask, and I think that counts, too.

3D prints ready for mold making

Anyway, we just finished our third project, which was a pewter casting of a pineapple. Why a pineapple? You’d have to ask her, because I have no idea. I just proposed that we go online to find a model of something, 3D print it on my SLA printer, make a silicone mold of it, and then cast it in pewter. She picked a pineapple. You can see the results in the pictures in this post. I’m quite pleased with them.

Half a pineapple is better than none

The pewter we used has a relatively low melting temperature of around 550ºF, and so is pretty easy to work with. I bought a cheap “electric ladle” style melting pot which made it fairly easy for her to melt the pewter and pour it into the mold. We did have one failure where the metal leaked out, but the result was a pretty good mold of just the top half of the pineapple, so we kept it. And we made two molds, so we had a backup we could try on right away while the other one cooled.

School ended for my daughter this past week, so I asked her if she wants to keep going with our shop sessions. She said yes, which tickled me. Our next project is going to be doing some simple pottery, as I recently bought a tabletop furnace that can be used to fire clay. I also plan to use it to do more casting, using a lost wax or lost plastic method, in aluminum or brass.

One of my two (not so) little engineers

Podcast Episode 005 – Michael Fogus

The inimitable Fogus was on my list of desired guests from the moment I started thinking about having a podcast. He is a rare combination of humble, smart, and nice, and I have always greatly enjoyed talking to him. And he’s always working on something interesting, whether that’s making a game, writing some bit of software, or reading books on a million topics.

I thought that maybe we would shake things up a bit and this time start with the question, “What are you learning?” I am so, so glad I did, because what he’s learning kind of blew my mind. I could describe it as, “Philosophy, through the lens of heavy metal,” but that only captures some of what we talked about, which included ancient Egypt, Douglas Hofstadter, and his wondrous goal of making “an influential nothing.”

It was truly my enormous pleasure to talk to Fogus, and I’m sure you’ll find it as interesting and fascinating as I did.

Listen to the podcast on this page or download it here. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or via RSS.

Links and Notes

This episode is also available on YouTube. View it there for a transcript and subtitles.