Nov
29

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Simple Plywood Jigs for Welding

Jigs are commonly used in industry to speed production of repeated assemblies, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using them in your own shop to make your life easier too.

Plywood jig for welded T's

Plywood jig for welded T’s

Now one of the key things whenever you are undertaking a project is to assess the tolerances required – I think that’s becoming less of a factor in industry with computer controlled equipment, but if you shop is like mine – pretty manual, then tolerances are a key factor.  Keep that in mind when you produce the jigs.  In this case I’m welding up parts for an iron and oak shelf for my brother and sister in law.  It has to be square but doesn’t need to be super precise – so a quickly put together jig made from scraps of plywood is just the think to make the repeat assemblies quickly and accurately.

Plywood Welding Jig for table legs

Plywood Welding Jig for table legs

While there are six T’s those are fitted into two larger leg assemblies – while there isn’t a whole lot of repeatably required with only two assemblies quickly assembling a jig to ensure that the parts get put together and are square and in the right spots is well worth the ten minutes it took to screw the plywood pieces together.  The end result is that the leg assemblies were identical – and I ended up saving a lot of time and cursing because they made holding the elements in the correct space without having to double and triple check.

Tack welded table leg, making sure it stands square before final welding

Tack welded table leg, making sure it stands square before final welding

Now, wooden jigs for welding are not necessarily long lasting given wood deteriorates when heated to a temperature that will melt metal.  Sure, but you probably aren’t turning out hundreds of assemblies so this is a bit irrelevant, and the speed, ease and low cost offered by using wood more than offset the limited life-cycle of flammable jigs.

So, next time you have a welding job consider using jigs in your setup if it’s appropriate.

https://youtu.be/gYuXsY6IUVA

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Nut Milk Press Concept

I was recently asked for a proposal on how to increase the amount of nut milk expelled from a mix of the remaining nut pulp after the free liquid had drained off.

Nut milk press concept

Nut milk press concept

Here’s my first go at a design formulation.  The key here is to apply pressure to the pulp to force out the remaining liquid.  There’s a couple of ways to go about that but a lever is probably the easiest and most sanitary with out special provisions.  There are alternatives though – you could for example use a car jack for greater pressure – but I’d tend to want to strip off the regular grease and then grease the screw up with a food grade product.

First I’d start with the press basket – a tall stainless steel container.  Tall containers offer the same volume as wider shallower ones but because the press disk will be smaller in size the pressure applied to the disk will be greater.  Think Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) – bigger disk more square inches therefore less pressure for the same force.  There could be some tall mixing bowls or maybe one of those stainless steel kitchen cutlery containers.

Now the press basket needs holes in it to allow the expressed liquid to leave the vessel.  Holes can be a pain to drill on a round surface –  a much faster route is to use a dremel type tool with the small abrasive disks to cut slots along the side of the basket – I used settled on this technique when building the electric countertop brewing system after struggling with drilling.

A press disk – preferably some good hardwood – oak or maple would be my choices.  Cut the disk so it fits into the press basket – shouldn’t be a tight fit.

Then the frame for the press – probably 2x4s – two frames held appart with other pieces of 2×4.  A press pin in the back – probably 3/4″ steel pipe.  A lever – preferably hardwood but for a start go with another chunk of 2×4.  have the lever press on a block – probably  a 4×4 (or two pieces of 2×4 screwed together) that sits on the press disk.  You may need a couple of lengths of these depending upon how much you get your material to compress and the travel of the lever.

The press basket should sit in a pan or pot to catch the expelled milk – maybe on a wooden riser, and that pot should probably be supported with some pieces of 2×4 between the press frames.

The only question here would be if the unit would move too much with the pressure from the lever – I don’t know how much effort would need to be applied.  If the lever didn’t work I’d move to a car jack from the junk yard cleaned up.

Good luck.

 

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DIY FirePiston Fire Starting

Fire Piston cylinder (L) and piston (R)

Fire Piston cylinder (L) and piston (R)

There are loads of different ways to start a fire – but one of the neatest ones has to be with a fire piston.  Matches and lighters are well known, using electricity…  well that isn’t that unusual and flint… well that is pretty well understood too, but starting a fire with compression – especially the compression that you can generate with only your own force – well now that is different.  That latter method – compression is exactly the means that a fire piston uses.

If you’ve got a few tools you can easily make your own setup in a couple of hours.  I used an aluminum round for the body and bored it out so that a rod fitted with an O-ring to improve the seal would just fit.  The piston has a small cup machined in the end to hold char cloth and that’s it.

For those not familiar with char cloth it’s cotton that is carbonized to become great tinder.  It’s simple to make too.   Wash out a tin can put in some old cotton material – like bits of t-shirt, put the top in if you have it and then cover it all with aluminum foil.  The idea here is to keep air out – you want to char not burn the cotton.  Put it on a BBQ burner or in a campfire and keep heating it until smoke stops emanating.  Then cool it before removing the foil.

Notice cup in the end of the fire piston for the charcloth

Notice cup in the end of the fire piston for the charcloth

Now when you use the fire piston you’ll put a bit of the charcloth in the cup of the piston, slide the piston just into the cylinder and then holding the cylinder slam it down on a hard surface to drive the piston up.  Quickly remove the piston and you should find the char cloth has an ember ready to be gently fanned into the start of a fire.

It’s a cool way to start a fire, and a good way to come to appreciate the value of a lighter!  Have fun and safe machining.

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Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

Home Pasta Machine

Home Pasta Machine

Fresh pasta is a feature of high end Italian restaurants – and with good reason its flavour and texture blows away the dried competition.  Underlying that foundation to a great meal though is the reality that making pasta at home is easy, quick and fun.

You’ll need a pasta machine – here we’re making rolled pasta not the extruded sort (that’s for another day).  These are low cost, I picked up one recently for the cottage on special for $20 and generally come with the main rolls whose gap can be adjusted as well as spaghetti and linguine making rolls.

To use whole wheat flour – I grind mine in the homestead mill for the freshest flavour – you’ll need to increase the hydration compared to using most commercial flours – so this recipe adds an additional egg to the dough.  While you can do the kneeing by hand a stand mixer makes life very easy and I would find it hard to go back to living without one in my kitchen.

Homemade whole wheat pasta with garden fresh sauce

Homemade whole wheat pasta with garden fresh sauce

The other thing to bear in mind is that while the overall process doesn’t take much time from you (particularly if you have a stand mixer) it can’t be rushed.  For the dough to be rolled out easily it needs to be left for a couple of hours in the fridge.  So make the dough in advance and toss it in a ziplock in the fridge – for a few hours or a couple of days.

When you are ready for your fresh spagetti or linguini put your salted water on the stove to boil and generally I find that by the time the pot is boiling – under ten minutes for me – the pasta is ready to be dropped in.

Cooking time for fresh pasta is significantly less than for the dry version so keep that in mind when timing the other components of your meal.


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Chinese style slow cooker pork

Chinese style pulled pork

Chinese style pulled pork

I love the slow cooker.  It makes great meals incredibly easy.  If you are busy you need a slow cooker, or a couple.  There are many great recipes producing tender melt in your mouth meals from cuts of meat that would otherwise be tough.

With garlic, ginger and Asian sauces this is a great take on slow cooked pulled pork and it goes great with Chinese steamed buns.