Display Cabinet Update

by skip

It has been several weeks since the last update on the display cabinet. Lots of other projects have taken me away from this project but I’m back at it again.

Since the last post, I have finished staining and top coating the cabinet framework, trying to give it an antique distressed look.  I planed the boards for the bottom shelf and cut notches on the corner so it would sit on the bottom framework of the cabinet.  I oversized the notches a little to allow the wood in the shelf to move.  This left some gaps which I plan on filling with black foam rubber to hide the gaps but allow for expansion.  When I had this tweaked and fitting in the cabinet, I then installed the leather veneered panels. Once these panels were in place, I set about cutting the brass rods to form a sort of molding around each panel. The addition of this metal was to complement the brass rods for the shelf supports.

The brass rods used for molding were set in place using thick CA glue.  I was going to try to miter the ends of the brass rods, but life is too short for this so I set the vertical rods first and then butted the ends of the horizontal rods into the vertical rods. To hold the bottom shelf in place, I used L-brackets underneath the shelf to connect the shelf to the bottom framework. Since I was too lazy to flip the cabinet on its side to set the L brackets in place, I used thick CA glue to set the brackets in place and when the glue had cured I could reach into the bottom cabinet cavity and secure the brackets with screws. Less frustrating than trying to stand on my head and hold the brackets with one hand while trying to navigate the screw in place!

display cabinet in progress
cabinet

I had originally thought of making the bottom shelf removable or on a hinge so that we could access the bottom cabinet cavity and use it for storage. But knowing our habits, I knew that whatever we stored down there we would never see again, so I scrapped that idea.

My wife would like to have a mirror back on the cabinet instead of wood, so I purchased some ¼ inch birch plywood to screw onto the back of the cabinet, to support the mirror back.

I called a local glass company to get some suggestions for the glass shelves. Looks like 3/8 inch thick glass will work for the shelves. I am going to install an extra set of brass bars next to each of the bars shown in the video just to provide a little extra strength for the shelf support.  I can also get the shelves with beveled and polished edges.  The mirror and glass sides will be cut to size.

The next step is to make the top of the cabinet, allowing for surface- mounted LED light fixtures.  I need to cut the molding for the side glass panels.  Hopefully by the next post, the cabinet will be complete!!

One more time—a fire ant pen

 

The last attempt resulted in a really unsatisfactory outcome, to say the least! This time, I took on a new approach.  Instead of coating the brass tubes of a pen kit with dead fire ants, I decided to mix the fire ants with Alumilite resin and then pour the mixture into a Slimline mold.  The nubs in the mold would leave an imprint on each of the pen blanks, which would provide a guide for drilling the 8mm holes required for the Slimline Pro brass tubes. Once the resin had cured, the casting was removed and the pen blanks separated and drilled. The blanks were equipped with Slimline Pro bushings and placed on the lathe pen mandrel.

I turned the blanks without incident, using a carbide finishing tool. I then sanded the turned blanks up through 500 grit.  After applying several coats of thick CA glue, the blanks were wet-sanded with micro mesh to 12000 grit, wiping the blank with a paper towel after each grit.  A plastic polish was used to finish up the blanks.

The final outcome was a very smooth, somewhat glossy surface. There were some white blushes on the surface which were probably due to areas in the casting where the fire ants may have separated from the mixture. Fire ants do float! (see our first fire ant pen blog) Also since the casting had fire ants mixed throughout, when the blanks were turned any ants near the surface would be sheared off, leaving a surface etched with small shavings of the ant bodies.  I hope my fire ant research friend can see more detail under the microscope!

In conclusion, this method provided a more conventional method of turning a pen blank. There were no blowouts and a relatively smooth and finish-friendly surface. I’m just not sure anyone can tell that there are about 1000 fire ants in there!

finished fire ant pen craftsbyjennyskip
finished pen

Three Free-market Buys that Burned

by jenny

It’s looking like both our main choices for president this fall are against TPP. I like the idea of free trade, but if the American workers get shafted, I don’t like that. I like to be able to go shopping and compare prices, and be able to snag a good-quality alternative item for a cheaper price. One bad thing about being cheap, though, is that you get what you pay for.

No thanks to advertising. They tell you all these wonderful things that make you want an item. So what happens if you buy, and then are not satisfied, do you just have to suck it up and say, “I should have been a more aware buyer”?

When I was editor of a local union newsletter, we always ran the “Buy American” filler ads and cartoons, which were very popular with our readership back in the 1980’s and 90’s. No wonder, we were a local of the great UAW.  But people today aren’t as loyal to the Buy American campaigns.

Here are 3 incidents in which I’ve yelled at myself for not being a more aware buyer:

(1)  The Rotadent fiasco. Husband did it. He bought a fancy electronic toothbrush at the dentist’s. It worked very well for a year or so, then all of a sudden it quit. Luckily it had a lifetime warranty, so  I just called up the maker in Arkansas, like the dentist said to do, and furnished them with the serial number and the purchase date. Instead of me mailing it in to get it fixed, they would send me a new one, because it was now made in China. So not in 3 weeks like they said, but in about 6 weeks I got a new one that looked pretty much the same as the old one. Except the new one had a different brush that hooks on to the handle with the flimsiest little catch, so that the brush head falls off about 20 times during the course of one 2-minute brushing session. It’s just a bad design.

defective toothbrush
brush head and its flimsy little catch
(2)  Fake coach purses. Yes, I succumbed to the Facebook advert that popped up right next to my news feed, and promised I could buy some genuine Coach purses from this company that sold them for cheap. I had been pining for a sweet, buttery leather Coach bag ever since I saw them at the City Creek mall when I went to Roots Tech  last year. However, I sure didn’t want to pay that exorbitant price! But when I sent in my order, I got an acknowledgement email that was written in very poor grammar. It had the Coach logo. Still, a big mistake. So this is what I ended up getting in my order, a far cry from the glamorous gear of my fondest dreams:

phony Coach
cheap phony Coach purses

Counterfeit Coach purse
Fugly Fake Coach purse
And when I went to a Counterfeit Coach web site to report the fraudulent transaction, guess what results I got? Nothing! No further communication at all.

(3)  Schwarzkopf hair dye, made in Germany. I was telling my friend about this, and she said “Black Head.” I said, “Pardon?” She said, “That’s what Schwarzkopf means in English, Black Head.” OK, I saw this pretty package in the grocery store, in the hair dye aisle. I’d never used the brand before, although I’ve been dying my hair for the last—oh well, never mind that little detail. And I’ve never had any problem with allergies so I’d stopped with the recommended allergy tests they tell you to do 48 hours prior. Bad idea! The day after I applied it, I had hundreds, thousands of little pimples on my back. A week later they were still there, and had gone all the way up my back and were partly under my right ear, and getting very itchy, as well. I finally went to the doctor and he said it was Keratosis Pilari, and wrote me a couple of prescriptions.

Our current president is all for TPP.  So if one of the two main candidates is elected, what changes can we expect when shopping, during the next 4 years? Wondering if any of the other “fringe” candidates for president are for or against free trade.

 

 

Another 3-D Printer Pen

 

The last pen we built, using a couple of cylinders printed  with the Dremel 3D printer, was treated with red gilt. I did not sand the pen because in previous attempts, the plastic overheated and softened. This time I decided to wet sand the plastic cylinders using a range of micromesh pads. This produced a very smooth surface. My grandson wanted a pen with a gold color so I used an antique gold gilt. He seems to be happy with the appearance even though the gold is not shiny gold, but antique gold. I applied several coats of thin CA glue, to add extra protection for the gold finish. I did make another pen for his mother leaving the white surface with no added color.

So,  I am happy with the surface produced with wet sanding.  The next attempt I would like to make, is to use the 3D software to design more interesting surfaces.  This may have to wait, while I work on another fire ant pen.

 

3D pen craftsbyjennyskip
3D printed pen blanks

 

3D printed pen blanks craftsbyjennyskip.org
antique gold

Fire Ant Pen Fail

 

After our last blog and YouTube video on a fire ant pen build , a follower of ours from Australia asked if we could make a fire ant pen for her.  This was several months ago, and we have just gotten around to finding the time to try this pen build again.

 

I had forgotten how I successfully completed this project last time.  Since it took me two tries before, I was hoping I could get it right the first time, this time!

I took the brass tubes from a slim line pen kit and coated them with thick CA glue before rolling them in a pile of dead fire ants. After coating the tubes with fire ants, I placed the tubes in a 7mm pen blank mold.  Using Alumilite resin, I covered the brass tubes and fire ants using the 7mm silicon pen blank mold.

After the resin cured, I removed the pen blanks, and squared off the ends with a disk sander.  The blanks were placed on a pen mandrel set in a minilathe.  Using a carbide turning tool, the blanks were turned down to the bushings for the Slimline pen kit. The blanks were then sanded through the grits to 500 grit sandpaper.  The sanding was followed by several applications of thin CA glue. Following the CA glue application, the blanks were wet-sanded with microbes to 12000 grit.

The pen kit was assembled using a pen press. I sat back and took stock of the final product….. it was dog ugly!! (I can say this since I have cats).  I’m not just saying this because it is made of fire ants..it really is ugly.  The Alumilite didn’t cure properly, probably because there must have been some moisture in the fire ants. I’m not sure that is the reason, since the fire ants were cleaned with ether and dried.  Besides the white streaks, several pieces of the Alumilte and fire ants broke off the brass tubes while turning.  I tried to patch the voids with thick CA glue mixed with the turnings, but with little success. The final cylinders left the lathe, looking lumpy and ugly.

So what have I learned?  Probably to never try this again!  But I will. Next time I’ll paint the brass tubes black before adding the fire ants. I’ll saturate each layer of the fire ant applications with thin CA glue. I might also use sandpaper to finalize the shaping of the blanks after a rough turning with a skew.    Hopefully this will reduce chip-out during the shaping.

Watch out for a follow-up blog/video on another  fire ant build. This pen will not find its way to Australia!

The Venerable Shopsmith Gets a New Home

For the last 20 plus years, I’ve had an old Shopsmith (Model ER, serial number R67374) in  my shop. I may have used it a couple of times when I first got it, but for the most part, it has sat in my shop against a wall, covered with miscellaneous stuff, basically serving as a shelf.  Two days ago my wife noticed the Shopsmith and asked me what it was.

Skip's shop smith
The Shopsmith

Now, she has had to walk by this thing every day throughout our whole married life…

I explained what it could be used for, and I shared with her its history.  This tool belonged to one of my neighbors, Mr.  Allen.  As a child (I think I was about 10), I was fascinated by his woodworking skills, especially since he had only one arm.  He had lost his arm as a soldier in WWII.  My Dad was also fascinated by woodworking: he had taken shop in high school and made this wonderful tilt top table which still finds use in our home.

Dad's table craftsbyjennyskip.com
Dad’s table

My Dad and Mr. Allen shared many woodworking experiences. When Mr. Allen passed away, he left his Shopsmith to my Dad. When my Dad passed away, I inherited the Shopsmith.

So my wife asked if we could move the Shopsmith into the dining room next to the antique Stanley workbench.  I ran to the bathroom to grab some Qtips and check my ears for ear wax interference.  But she repeated the same request!  I know my wife loves to talk to our cats, but I suspected that she had finally lost her mind.  After the idea settled down, I bought into the project. The move would free up shop space for more tools!

tools craftsbyjennskip
Space for new tools already filled!

I called two of my grandchildren into service.  We muscled the Shopsmith into the house and finally got it into place.

jenny skip Shopsmith
Shop smith in its new locale

I must admit that it creates a whole new ambiance in the dining room!  I will never question my wife’s mental condition  again!

Remember the Old NCIS episode The Namesake? The one where Gibbs finds a Shopsmith (and a Congressional Medal of Honor) in a pawn shop? For a refresher of that episode look here.

Practice Quilting

by jenny

Quilting in the 21st Century is an art form. I’m fascinated by what exactly influences a person to become a quilter, and to find out from them what keeps them interested. Some quilters love to enter their quilts in competitions. Others say the competitive arena turns them off. Some love to teach others. Some love to make gifts, those that document history. My grandmother and mother were quilters. Sometimes I think of sewing as an albatross across my neck, sometimes as a badge of honor.  People have all sorts of aims and reasons for engaging in fabric manipulation.

Irish Chain craftsbyjennyskip.com
Irish Chain quilt top–will wait till I get better

I’ve enjoyed quilting on a regular domestic sewing machine, but it does have a few draw-backs for me.

Using a long-arm sewing machine with a frame is different, and in my mind, better in some ways.  1) You can stand up while quilting.  Sitting down for hours every day can be a drag, when almost everything you like to do must be done sitting down.  2) You don’t have to insert 200 or more pins in the quilt with the longarm. The rollers on the frame keep it together pretty well, and it has bungee clips for keeping the layers taut while they’re being quilted. 3) You don’t get as hot quilting with a longarm as you do on a sit-down machine, because the quilt is on the frame, not drifting around on your lap, and you don’t work up a sweat moving the heavy thing around under the needle. 4) It looks like the quilting goes faster using a longarm.

We looked at lots of brands and types of machines, and ultimately chose the Qnique because it was certainly the lowest-priced longarm, although it does come up in lots of online searches for “mid arm.” I’m understanding that the term “mid arm” usually refers to a “sit-down” type long-arm, one that you put on a table, and move the quilt around underneath the needle as if you were using a big ol’ domestic sewing machine. The Qnique is more like a petite little longarm machine.

We got a good deal on it, and actually developed a rapport with the company before deciding to buy.  Since there are no retail outlets in our vicinity that we could buy from, we wanted to know what sort of maintenance we might need, and who could work on the machine if it needed fixing or parts or if we couldn’t figure out how to put it together. They have lots of You-tube videos for all the various questions a customer might have. We did have to wait about a month to get it delivered, because there were lots of backorders for this machine.

practice quilting craftsbyjennyskip.com
practice quilting
practice quilt stitch craftsbyjennyskip.com
practice stitching

I’ve been doodling around on practice fabric–you know, the fabric that you don’t really like but would feel guilty throwing away because someone important gave it to you. And it needs to be solid-colored fabric, so you can see what the stitches look like. The first few things I’ve done have a few ugly bobbin-tension-challenged stitches on the underside, so I will have to nip that little problem in the bud. I must say, though, the top stitching looks pretty good.

After checking around the net, I’ve been surprised to learn that most quilters do free-motion quilting on a longarm. Some use templates to create geometric quilting patterns. Some quilt machines use a laser stylus to trace patterns, and some are controlled by a computer, making the quilting process automated. Thus, the 21st Century has wrought technological advances to the formerly time-consuming task of making covers out of smaller pieces of cloth. The modern quilts may not turn out more beautiful than the ones our ancestors made, but we can finish them quicker.

The Day After May Day and How the Knitting People are Different

by Jenny

May 1 has been a holiday for quite a few different reasons.  If you’d care to get into a study of them, check here at Infoplease and go over the list. But, to name a few, it’s been a labor holiday, a celebration of spring, a saint’s day, and a Druidic holiday. But for knitters (Northern Hemisphere knitters, that is) it ushers in a change in the type of projects one favors.

Since the temperature has been in the 90’s this past week where I live, I’m not as much into knitting sweaters, scarves, hats and mittens. And I’m not the only knitter who has changed. I recently had dinner with some knitting buddies, one who moved away and was back in town with some knitting projects to show (Tina.) She had some beautiful yarn she’d gotten in her new locale, in the eastern part of North Carolina. The other knitter (Ethel) said she hasn’t been knitting as much, as her arthritis has been getting in the way.  Also some of my favorite knit and crochet bloggers have recently written posts about de-stashing, about finishing up the UFO’s with no excuses, and about only working on projects they LOVE.

I looked at my current project, the My Mantra Wrap from Summer 2016 Love of Knitting, and thought, seriously, do I love this?

yarn craftsbyjennyskip
yarn for my current project, the My Mantra  stole.

The yarn I chose from the yarn stash isn’t summery, but I do like it. We’ll see how it turns out…

I went crazy a few weeks ago and started looking out for a certain type of yarn that I’ve worked with before, and I truly LOVE. I won’t tell you what it is exactly, or any of the convoluted things I’ve done in the past few weeks trying to track down a few stray skeins of it, but here’s a pic of some of the pattern books I’ve been hoarding…


er, collecting…that exclusively feature said yarn.

Martin Storey pattern books
Luscious Martin Storey books

The crazy that I went resulted in an addition to the yarn stash, making it stick out like a sore thumb.

yarn stash overflowing
Oops! Ahem.

I went to the Yarn Stash database to add some updates and sort the entries, curious about what exactly I tend to reach for in the stash, what I LOVE to knit with. When I have finished a project, I change the text color of the yarn entry in the database to red. When I am working on a project, I change the text color of the entry to green. So everything I see in green in the chart is a UFO (unfinished object). The rest of the entries, the part of the stash that is just sitting there waiting like wallflowers at a middle school dance, is in regular black ink in the database. Surprise, surprise! My all-time favorite brands of yarn (the most in red text, signifying  “finished objects”) are Berroco, Red Heart, and Universal. Not the outrageously expensive art yarns, and not the super cheap-o big box brands. I’ve favored worsted weight and super-chunky way over fingering and sock yarns.

So, I conclude that May Day has brought a shift in yarn thinking. I’m not ready to de-stash yet. But I’m not reaching out to take some off-loaded skeins off any fellow knitter’s hands either… unless it’s maybe some cut-rate Tissington or Scree or Mineral…do you know what I’m talking about? Just put your two index fingers into your ears and go “La, la, la, la, la !” and what you don’t know won’t turn into a UFO!

 

Riding the Coat-tails of my Jacket Success…

By Jenny

After my successful jacket project with Craftsy I decided to do another jacket, this time on my own, with another pattern and no online instructions or lifeline to help me out, in case I got in over my head.

This was a remnant project in that I used mostly fabric remnants from JoAnn’s clearance bin. Since remnants at JoAnn’s are typically 1 yard or less, I counted myself lucky to find 3 matching remnant rolls, which added up to enough fabric to make a jacket. Incidentally, I was looking at the wrong side of the fabric and picturing that as the final finished article.  When I opened the fabric rolls, I saw the right side of the fabric: it was shiny like satin and about twice as vivid in color as the underside! I used a synthetic suede remnant for the skirt, and a 4-way stretch remnant for the top.

In the end, I wasn’t 100% happy with the results, but I learned a lot.

suit craftsbyjennyskip.com
jacket, top and skirt

I chose a Butterick suit pattern with the name Connie Crawford as the designer [B5336], thinking that the Sewing Personality Connie Crawford’s touch would make this a hot pro project. I was very impressed with the procedures and details, but also found some deep disappointments.

Good thing #1: The pattern comes in a plethora of sizes! You can even get it in a size 6X (that’s 42 – 44 W). It says on the front “Modern Fit with Ready-to-wear Sizing”–I guess that’s true, the size range I bought came in Xsm to Xlg.

Good thing #2: Two jacket views, one with lapels and one without. Both views look like a classic suit jacket. You can have patch pockets in front or not. Both jacket and skirt were lined, so they looked rather tailored.

Good thing #3: There’s a big section in the pattern for fit adjustments if your figure is in need of some; like fuller arms, larger or smaller bust cup, pear or apple shapes, or slanted shoulders.

Disappointment #1: There was a missing piece. I guess they decided at some point to combine the waistband piece instead of having it in 2 pieces, 21 and 21A as shown in the pattern. Or maybe the 21A is only included in the larger sizes? I tried to go online and look up the pattern to see if there was any explanation but couldn’t find a jot anywhere.

Disappointment #2: In step 15 it talks about the jacket front lining (piece 15) but labels it piece 3, which is the same size and shape, but nevertheless had me utterly confused.

Disappointment #3: In step 20, it says to under stitch to the break point of the jacket (what is the break point? I couldn’t find the term anywhere else in the directions.) And I had trouble with the previous under stitching from step 13. It was extremely awkward to under stitch the way the instructions described.

Disappointment #4: The whole lining was sewn to the jacket with right sides together, so that a seam had to be opened up in order to turn the jacket right-side out. So in step 22, when the sleeves were sewn to the sleeve linings, it said to match the back seams to avoid twisting. But it didn’t elucidate on just how to do that, so I ended up doing it the way it seemed to me to be logical to do, but it was wrong more than once, and I had to rip it out both times and sew it again. A hassle!

Disappointment #5: This was the skirt waistband. Other skirts I’ve made call for an elastic strip to be inserted into the waistband through an opening that is later slip-stitched closed after the elastic end is sewn to the beginning. Then you can stitch in the ditch on the side seams to anchor the elastic to the fabric. In this pattern, the waistband is sewn to the top of the skirt with the raw edges of one side of the waistband even with the top of the skirt, then the elastic is sewn onto the seam allowance of the waistband, then the waistband is folded over and stitched to the skirt. It was a bad move because the waistband and elastic were very bunchy and the fabric got rippled and puckered. It was just a bad look. Then I had to hand-tack the hem up, and the synthetic suede fabric (called sueded knit) was pretty hard to pierce with a hand needle. Now that the skirt was lined with a woven lining fabric, it had no “give” to it like a knit, and was actually a little tight-fitting. Looks like I’m going to have to lose about 5 or 10 lbs before I feel very good about wearing it.

Disappointment #6: There were mondo pattern pieces; 21 to be exact. However, quite a few of the 21 had to be cut not only from fabric, but also lining and interfacing as well. That was a lot of cutting to do! I had to rest for a week. Would you believe that for this project I used 6 different types of fabric? Two linings, 3 fashion fabrics (the top wasn’t included in the pattern; I used another pattern that only had 3 pieces), and one large amount of interfacing.

Disappointment #7 but Good thing #4 to save for later: The finished outfit has much more of a Fall vibe to it than a Spring one! My fault because I looked at the underside of the jacket fabric to begin with. And the outside temp was already up to 90 degrees this week. So I guess this outfit will be ready to wear in about 6-8 months…

cats cratsbyjennyskip.com
The cats were in no way disappointed

Another 3-D Printer Pen, Following up on Some Viewer Suggestions

If you saw our previous YouTube/blog on my 3-D printer attempt to make a pen blank, you know it was a complete failure. I had hoped to be able to produce a conventional-sized pen blank and then turn this blank into a unique shape.  I had used a variety of tool types but with no success. I also found that trying sandpaper was not a good idea in that the friction heated up the plastic to the melting point.  Several viewers suggested printing up various other types of blanks, so  I decided to try printing a cylinder to match the required barrel size for a pen.

The pen kit I selected was a PSI Woodworking Products #PK-PENXX “Slimline – Pro” Gelwriter Click Pen.  I also used a #PK-PENXXBU 3 piece bushing set. The two barrels for this pen are each 2 1/32-inch long with an 8mm hole for the brass tube insertion.  The outside diameter of the bushings is about 10.7 mm.  This would set the turn down diameter for the ends of the pen barrels.

pen project craftsbyjennyskip.com
designing the project

Using the 123Design software supplied with the Dremel 3D printer, I designed a 10.7 mm diameter cylinder 2 1/32-inches long with a 8mm diameter hole. I exported this to the Drexel 3D printing software. Using the white filament, I printed one set of pen barrels.

3D pen craftsbyjennyskip.com
3D printed pen barrel in white filament

The 8mm holes appeared to be too tight to insert the brass tubes so I decided to take an 8mm drill bit and ream out the holes to the proper size, BAD IDEA!! The friction of the bit generated enough heat to reduce the barrels to a white plastic blob hanging off the drill pit. So I took a set of barrels and tried to press-fit the brass tubes. It worked!! And the fit was so tight that glue was not necessary.  Using two barrels with brass tubes inserted, I built up one of the “Slim-line Pro” pens. This was a test, so I made no attempt to apply a finish to the plastic. I would not recommend this otherwise.  The texture of the plastic barrels is not mirror-smooth and would be easily stained under normal use.

3D pen test craftsbyjennyskip.com
test pen complete

On to another pen build… taking two more barrels, I press-fitted a brass tube into each barrel. I then used the bushing set to mount the barrels on a pen turning mandrel and set the mandrel into the head stock and tail stock on my lathe.  Using Tulip Red Gilders Paste Wax, I applied two coats of wax, wiping off the excess and buffing after each coat.  Following this step, I applied nine applications of thin CA glue.  After this glue cured, I took Micro-mesh wet-sanding pads and sanded the CA finish from 600 to 12000 grit. I followed this up with a plastic polish.  The final pen build is satisfactory but the surface of the barrels has a slight ripple that can’t be covered over with thick CA glue.  In the future, I may try some different colored filaments.  I have also air brushed 3D builds with some success. An air-brushed design protected with CA glue might be a good option.  More on this later.

tulip red pen craftsbyjennyskip.com
red 3D printed pen project

Here’s the You Tube video of the process:

 

Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts