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Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Gross Examination

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The Billy Mays of Advanced Math?

Still fiddling with math and physics.

I’ve had the strangest sensation lately. I feel like I’m inside RLM, the math/physics/astronomy building at the University of Texas. This is the building where I worked and went to classes when I was hoping to get a doctorate. I guess I spent 20 hours a week there.

The people were really dreary. I’m not the most outgoing person on earth, but I could not make friends there. Could not do it. Everywhere I go, I manage to make friends with at least one person within a month. Not the physics department.

The guy who shared my desk in the TA office was okay, and there was a Navy guy who became an experimental physicist. He had a harder time with the work than I did, and I thought he was going to wash out, but he made it and I didn’t. There was also a guy I sort of talked to occasionally. He had a thing for Asian girls So much so that he planned to move to Japan to teach English.

Oh, my God. I just Googled him, and he’s a physics professor. In Tokyo. He has been busy.

I never made a dent socially while I was there, and I suffered pretty badly, but I miss certain things. I miss teaching. The kids I taught were not as odd as the grad students, and it was nice to know that I was good at something.

RLM is named for Robert Lee Moore, a famous mathematician from Texas. I Googled him the other day and found out. I’m sure I saw his name on a plaque whenever I entered the building, but I don’t recall.

Moore is famous for math, and also for racism. He refused to teach black students back when UT was forced to accept them. They still named a building after him. If you wear a Dukes of Hazzard T-shirt to your quantum mechanics class, you’ll probably be told to turn it inside-out, but you will still be expected to sit in a building named after a maladjusted, hateful, racist crank.

I looked around on Youtube for some complex analysis lectures, to help me remember what I used to know so well. I found Herbert Gross. If you’re a student, you have to check this guy out.

He appears in old black and white videos published by MIT Open Courseware. The video quality is about like old Andy Griffith shows, so I figured he was filmed in about 1960, but the videos are from the early 1970s.

He’s a magnificent teacher.

I don’t know for sure, but the impression I have from all my years of study is that teaching pedigree means a lot.

There are certain things people who study a given subject should know; things they will be expected to know, even though you don’t have to know them in order to be good at the subject. You can make up a series of lectures and teach a subject well without referring to other people’s lectures, but you are likely to miss various characteristic anecdotes and examples that are commonly taught.

I think this is because many instructors can trace their roots back to instructors who were seminal, just as piano teachers claim they can trace their roots back to Liszt. Wolfgang Pauli, or whoever, included this or that bit of information in his lectures, so his students went on to include it in theirs, and so on.

Studying under people whose lectures conform to common standards is helpful, because you will run into instructors who expect you to know things that are commonly taught, and they may put these things in assignments on on tests.

I guess that was a long digression, but the feel I get from watching Herbert Gross is that he developed right in the thick of the math/physics/engineering community in the northeast. He seems to know exactly what’s important and useful, as though he has heard it himself via a long practiced tradition.

He’s apparently still alive. Either that, or he died and no one remembered to remove his website. He was still around last year.

I don’t know if my guess about him is right, but I think it’s definitely smart to try to learn from people at places like MIT or Harvard or the University of Chicago when possible, before taking a chance on people whose pedigrees are unknown.

His videos are wonderful. He really flies, but he is exquisitely prepared, so everything he says is clear. If your instructors stink, check him out. I wish to God I had had Youtube back in my day, when I was watching my Japanese professor point at different expressions and say things like, “Jees one, jees one, all same.”

If you don’t understand what that means, we are in the same boat.

One nice surprise is that I don’t struggle. I guess that makes sense. After all, this material used to be easy for me, and it should be in my brain somewhere, waiting to be reactivated. I fast-forward a lot. But I do have to do problems, because understanding is not the same as remembering with the kind of familiarity required for actual work.

I don’t know why math was easy and physics was hard. Maybe it’s because math is easy, and physics is hard.

He refers to vector analysis (multivariable calculus) in his complex analysis lectures, so I am checking that out, too. Luckily, he has lectures on both topics.

I don’t know where this is going. If I can just get back to the point where I can look at a graduate physics text and have some understanding of what it says, it will be a huge relief. I feel much better about my brain. I am starting to feel smart again.

Life isn’t about self-confidence, but you shouldn’t doubt yourself wrongly, especially in your heart.

I hope the videos are useful to people. Forty years’ worth of MIT students can’t be wrong. Totally. Not about everything.

Weird Science

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

My State is Solidifying

What interesting times I’m having.

I keep getting deeper into physics and electronics. It’s not something I expected, and it’s not going the way I would have predicted.

For years I’ve had dreams about my time as a physics grad student at the University of Texas. I hated these dreams, but I couldn’t stop them. I would find myself returning to my apartment north of the city. My things were still there. The apartment was different in the dreams. It was gigantic. It was disorderly, too. The kitchen was a mess. Not dirty, but stuff was out on the table and counters. There were messy rooms with all sorts of tools in them.

I would wonder why the company that owned the apartment complex hadn’t thrown me out, since I hadn’t been paying rent.

I would find myself walking around campus, attending August meetings in preparation for the new school year. I wasn’t really part of it, though. I was like a ghost, observing but not really joining.

I did not like the dreams. I knew things weren’t right. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. I hadn’t planned or made arrangements. I was just there, with no warning or preparation. I didn’t feel that I could make it work. I was on my own.

I prayed for God to take away the dreams.

Losing physics was the most painful thing that ever happened to me. I spent three years in Texas, and I didn’t make a single friend, except for a girlfriend. The students in the department were very disagreeable. They were cold. Many were arrogant and snotty, as you would expect boys to be after a twenty-odd years of having their mothers show their brains off to their relatives and friends. The instructors didn’t care at all about the students. The administration was like a machine in a far-off country that transmitted its decisions over a cable. Completely impersonal.

I arrived in Austin in 1994, about three years after returning to college. I had gotten tired of trying to sell houses, and I had tried to enroll at the University of Miami. Because of my problems at Columbia University, they made me go to Florida International University, a local school, to prove I was serious.

When I first decided to go back to school, I figured I would be a lawyer, because it was an easy job that paid well. Then I saw the horrible classes pre-law students took. Boredom epitomized. I decided to become an avian vet, so I signed up for calculus, chemistry, and physics.

I had problems in calculus, and then I remembered that I had failed math in high school. I didn’t really know algebra. I started studying algebra and calculus at the same time, and I went from a 40 on the first test to a 100 and an 97 3/4 on the last two.

UM admitted me, and I started taking courses very quickly. I took courses at the same time as their prerequisites. A guy who taught my second physics lab course ended up sitting next to me in classes, because I progressed to the point where I could study with grad students.

I got burned out in the last year, not surprisingly, and they put me on Ritalin. By the time I got to UT, I had adjusted to the drug, and it didn’t work as well. I was taking huge doses. Up to 120 mg a day. They put me on other drugs which drove me crazy, and I could not make myself study. I had to drop a class.

The department wanted me gone. I guess they were used to seeing people wash out. They didn’t care at all. They did almost nothing for me. They made some small accommodations, and the impression I got was that they were just trying to avoid an ADA suit. They had already been in trouble over that.

I was more alone than I had ever been, and I was losing the thing I thought would save me. A couple of infantile grad students gave me a hard time. I put up posters advertising my services as a tutor, and one of them got in the computer, changed the posters to make me look like a fool, and put them up all over the physics building.

I lost to people I should have beaten, and there was nowhere to turn. The drugs kept me awake for days on end, even after I quit taking them. I had thought I had found my place in society. I thought physics would save me. I was really good at it, and I had every reasonable expectation that I would get much better, but I wasn’t going to get the chance, no matter what I did.

I had test anxiety. I remember taking a test in graduate quantum mechanics. There was a simple problem I could not solve to save my life. After the test, I walked back to the T.A. office, which was shared by various students. I wrote the problem on the board and solved it, just like writing a grocery list. It took a couple of minutes. It was simple. I could do it in the office, but not during the test. Imagine the frustration.

When I prayed, I felt as if the prayers bounced off the ceiling and reverberated around the room. God refused to help me. Or rather, he helped me by turning away from me.

I was trying to do my own thing, with virtually no prayer life. Without submission or confession. In pride.

I never walked in the door of a church in Texas. I only prayed because I was miserable and wanted help, and I did it rarely.

When I returned to Florida and went to law school, it was failure. Anyone can be a lawyer. My family is full of lawyers. It was the dreadful default option, like hell. Other people were proud to be in law school. I was ashamed of it, but there was nothing I could do.

Law turned out to be pretty pleasant, but that didn’t erase the pain of losing physics. I never cared about law. I never wanted to do it.

Over the last few weeks, strange things have been happening. I’ve written about it already. I’ve been watching solid state physics lectures. That’s the class that killed me in Texas. For a long time, I’ve wished I could beat that class, even on my own, just to know I didn’t lose permanently.

I’ve been watching Sandro Scandolo’s lectures for ICTP, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics. I ordered a gray-market copy of the Ashcroft-Mermin book, Solid State Physics. The worldwide standard is a terse book by a guy named Kittel. Ashcroft is easier to understand. Yesterday I found a book of solved problems. It’s not easy to find solved-problem books for graduate-level physics. If you Google “Mihaly,” you’ll find it.

Suddenly, I feel different. I feel like a scientist again. I have the same feeling I used to have when I walked the halls of RLM, the physics building at UT. I can’t explain it. I feel as though I’m there, doing what I used to do. I feel like I can pick up a few things and regain my competence.

UT made me feel as though I were incapable of doing physics. I know that’s not true. No one can start as a math illiterate and end up in a top-tier graduate school in three years without the ability to handle the material. But you know what the Bible says: “A crushed spirit, who can bear?”

Law is easy. I’m sorry if that offends lawyers, but it’s true. If you have an IQ of 110, you can be a lawyer. If you have an IQ of 120, you can be a good lawyer. Those are not high scores. As my evidence professor used to say, to pour water on the burning egos, “You’re just smarter than the average bear.”

Law was just something to do to bring checks in the door. There was not a lot of dignity in it, given the way it entered my life.

I hope I can get through one semester’s worth of solid state. I think that will stop the dreams.

I feel like God has taken his foot off my neck.

Before I go, something I machined. My dad broke a tripod he bought for his laptop, and he asked me if I could fix it. I checked, and they don’t sell the part he broke. I had to make it from aluminum. It’s not beautiful; making it pretty would have increased the time expenditure from half a day to a day and a half. But I had no problems making it, and it’s much better than the plastic it replaced.

09 30 15 laptop tripod part installed with final operations done

Nerd Tools

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

If You Can’t Learn in 2015, You are Beyond Hope

Today a few things about my progress in various areas.

First off, I found an incredible circuit analysis video.

As I have mentioned before, I have been trying to get back into (“back” is a kind exaggeration) electronics. I started watching MIT’s free online course, 6.002.

I found the book pedantic and tedious, and the professor didn’t explain things all that well. I started using other sources and compiling a notebook.

I came to realize that the MIT guy was not doing a good job. He taught things that were not useful, and he omitted things that were very useful. He may have a brain the size of a Subaru, but he is not the perfect teacher.

When you study electronics, you want to know what people who work with circuits actually do. You don’t need to learn a bunch of crap that only manifests in the real world in the homework problems of students.

Over the last week, I started writing my own method, and yesterday I checked Youtube for resources. I found this video:

You won’t believe it until you watch it, but this guy sums up six weeks’ worth of college lectures in 90 minutes, and he does it slowly.

The MIT guy taught me things that I can’t use. He told me about the “lumped matter discipline” and…other stuff I don’t remember. You don’t need to know all that. It’s filler for pedants. If you take out the junk he incorporated and you add some great things he left out, you get the video above.

Take a look. If you learn the material in the video, it will make any other class you might take make sense.

I’m sure there are huge benefits to the MIT course, once you have your legs under you, but you have to start with a solid foundation.

The video guy recommends LTSpice, which is a free program that lets you draw circuits and then run them in a virtual…space or whatever. Easier than breadboarding. I have the program, and the learning curve seems pretty flat. I was able to turn it on and draw a circuit without studying. You can find it by Googling.

I’m also enjoying a graduate-level solid state physics course. This is the course that killed me as a physicist. Well, this and quantum. I got burned out, and they had me on ADD drugs that made me nearly crazy, and I got a D in solid state.

The professor who taught the course was awful, and the department at UT Austin was not helpful at all. It was a horrible experience, losing physics. A slow-motion trainwreck on a locomotive with the brake lever welded open. Of course, even though UT was not exactly nurturing, it’s my fault. I was out of God’s favor because I chose to be.

It would be wonderful to master this course and do problems successfully. Just a closure thing.

I found this guy on Youtube. It’s easy to find undergrad physics on the web, but graduate stuff is less available. Someone uploaded his videos, and they came up in a Youtube search.

His name is Sandro Scandolo, and he teaches at an instution called ICTP, in Italy. Even if you don’t know physics well at all, if you’re technically inclined, you will enjoy the first lecture. His style is wonderful. Patient, conversational, and very organized.

ICTP has a website, and if you burrow around in it, you can find other graduate courses. You can download them as flash or Apple movies. I leave finding them to you.

I plan to watch the whole course, even if I don’t do problems. I am smart enough to understand this stuff even if I don’t take the time to put it to work. Simply understanding it will make me feel better.

If you want technical texts for home study, I can recommend two resources. First, Scrib’d. You may have moral qualms about it, so caveat emptor. It’s a site with zillions of PDF uploads. You pay nine bucks a month. Much of the material is not copyrighted, so you can read it without feeling bad. Another resource is Amazon Marketplace. When you look for a hardcover text that costs $200 in the US (they have gone up that much, believe it or not), you will often find links to people who sell gray-market paperbacks for under twenty bucks. Same books. No infringement. I have two of them, and a third is on the way.

If you go crazy and decide to study solid state, get Ashcroft. I also found a book by a guy named McKelvey. Very nice. Kittel is a torture device. Naturally, it’s the book UT used. I still have my copy. I should waterboard it.

People say Kittel was a genius, but that doesn’t mean he could write books people could actually learn from.

CAD is going well. I have no complaints about Fusion 360. I’m sorry I paid so much for Alibre and Dolphin, but I did my best to find good programs, and that’s what I came up with in my first attempts. I’ll post a jpg of a part I’m making.

09 22 15 Fusion 360 Lathe Tool Post with extraneous crap removed

I’ve always sneered at 3D printers. Now that I can do CAD and send files to a printer, I sort of wish I had one. I checked into them last week, and I found that I was right to sneer. They’re still toys, and they make rough parts made of weak materials. If you have $500,000 you can get a really nice one that makes things you can use, but I think I’ll pass.

Maybe I should get a crummy one now just so I’ll get to know the technology.

The Autodesk Fusion 360 forum is a lifesaver. That, alone, makes it worth downloading and using. I tried CNCZone when I was struggling with Alibre and Dolphin, but the kids on that forum tend to be nonhelpful and self-absorbed, and they can also be rude.

I am back to music study. I returned to Sightreading.com. I recommend it. It produces random pages of music for practice. They’re not tunes. Just notes. It’s helpful because you will involuntarily memorize tunes as you work on them, and once that happens, it’s not sightreading. You can’t memorize random junk, so it keeps the proper area of the brain working.

That’s all I have right now. I hope it will be useful to someone.

One Bad Turn Deserves Another

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Exploring the Habits of the Chinese Woodchuck

I know I am a renowned CAD/CNC genius, so you probably think that’s all I do. WRONG. I’m still working on my plan to become a woodturner.

I used to look at guys who had lathes and think they were mentally ill. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I thought they were kind of silly compared to men who did regular woodworking. Whatever you call woodworking that isn’t turning.

I thought, “These are eccentric old coots who drive around stealing stumps out of people’s garbage so they can make bowls you can’t actually use and Christmas ornaments their relatives throw out.”

That was actually correct.

Nonetheless, I had to use my metal lathe to make an oak bench dog the other day, and I realized I was wasting half of the machine’s potential. And woodturning produces useful things as well as strange crap. Often people who don’t turn wood use flat or rectangular parts in places where round parts will work better.

I started looking around and asking for advice on forums. The forums where I haven’t been preemptively banned yet for asking stupid questions.

I found out that a metal lathe will work quite well for wood. In some ways, it’s vastly superior to a wood lathe. It’s a billion times more ridgid. You can use the carriage to make precise parts. You can make threads with it.

I think I’m out of things it can do better.

Anyway, the pluses outweigh the minuses, so it’s definitely worth doing.

In order to make it work, I needed a tool rest. This is a thing that clamps on the lathe’s ways. A T-shaped “T rest” sits on it, and you rest your turning tool (“chisel”) on the T rest when you cut wood.

On a metal lathe, you use a heavy steel or iron tool post to hold tools for you, and the carriage moves the tool. On a wood lathe, you slide the chisel back and forth on top of the T.

There are chintzy ways of using a metal lathe tool post for a rest, but they’re stupid, so I decided to make a banjo.

Now you wonder what that means.

A banjo is the actual base of the tool rest. I’m pretty sure. It’s the part that sits on the ways.

Don’t ask me why they call it a banjo. Maybe it gets on people’s nerves and repels women.

I had some live oak trash lying around, and I decided to try to make the base of the banjo out of it. I sliced open a fairly green log and cut some pieces out on the table saw and band saw. Then I turned some pegs on the lathe and stuck them in one of the big parts. They go through two holes in the other parts, and they line the base up with the clampy thing that goes under the ways.

Some photos may help.

09 11 15 live oak for lathe banjo

09 13 15 live oak lathe clamp with pins added

09 18 15 lathe tool rest in progress after machining flat banjo deal

That last photo is a piece of angle iron I worked on today. I will fix an upright tube to it, with a set screw in it. The T rest, which I don’t have, will sit in the tube. I will run a 1/2″ bolt through the wooden base, and when I want to move the metal bit, I’ll loosen the bolt. Then I’ll clamp it down to fix it.

The live oak surprised me. It’s supposed to be garbage. They say it cracks and warps, but it hasn’t split since I cut it, and it doesn’t appear to be moving. It’s like titanium. I have to wonder if it’s stronger than aluminum.

I think the pegs are red oak. Not sure. I needed dowels, and Home Depot was out, so instead of a 36″ dowel that cost five bucks, I bought a 72″ roller handle for six bucks. The wood in the roller handle is really nice. Do they have red oak in China? I don’t know.

I’m planning to rig up a base for the T rest tube tomorrow, and then I’ll install the tube and start thinking about a rest. Maybe I should just buy one.

Chisels are not expensive. I learned a few things about them.

First, there are two main types of chisels. The first are carbon steel, also known as “crap.” That’s not exactly true, but carbon steel dulls fast. It will give you a nice finish, but you have to sharpen it a lot. The second type of chisel is high speed steel (“HSS”), which is what metal lathe tools are made of. It’s a lot harder, so it holds an edge better.

Second, there are two types of HSS chisels: Chinese and not Chinese.

You can get fairly good Chinese HSS chisels at Harbor Freight, or you can buy a brand called Benjamin’s Best, which is probably the same thing. People say they work okay.

I read some disturbing things about Chinese chisels, so I decided to look for some old Murican jobs. I found that old HSS Craftsmans were not hard to find, and they didn’t bring much money, so I sniped a set of 12 on Ebay. They will do unless and until I decide I need something else.

I also ordered a Supernova chuck. This is the biggest expenditure, by far. It was $175. That hurts a little, but consider the cost of a good metal lathe chuck that isn’t a Chinese compromise.

The wood chuck (woodchuck?) is probably Chinese, too, but I’m pretty sure that, unlike the Chinese metal lathe chuck, it’s not a compromise. It’s what a real lathe guy would use.

Anyway, for maybe $400, I should be totally tooled up, apart from minor elective doodads. That’s not bad at all.

I don’t plan to get heavily into this. I just want enough junk to do whatever little jobs come up. And I might do a little artistic turning. I may join the herd of eccentric garbage pile thieves. I already scoped out a pile of sea grape wood in front of a vacant house.

You can use a wood lathe to turn stone. How cool is that?

Here’s a guy whose work I really like. Don’t watch the video if you are a man, unless you’re immune to temptation. You might find yourself on Ebay in a day or two.

Wood lathes sell cheap on Craigslist all the time. Not trying to pressure you or anything. You know you want one.

I’ll post an update if I ever get this working. Something might happen as early as tomorrow.

Con-Fusion 360

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Behold my Box

I got some comments on the post about CAD problems, so I am here to tell about my progress.

The basic problem was that I had a good CAD program, a good CAM program, and no way to move files from one to the other. Alibre Design 2012, my CAD program, has a built-in upgrade incentive: you can’t use the files for anything. The formats will not export to CAM. My other CAD/CAM program, Dolphin, apparently has a CAD module which people consider nearly worthless. This is like having a jet with a blind pilot and a navigator with no tongue.

I went to the forums and got two suggestions: Onshape and Fusion 360. These programs are free.

When I checked the programs out, I learned some things, and I ruled Onshape out pretty quickly. Both programs have cloud storage. I do not like “the cloud.” There is no cloud. There are only servers, and if your stuff is in “the cloud,” that means it’s on someone else’s server, and that person, not you, controls it.

If you want to work on your own, without involving the cloud, you are working “offline.” Onshape does not support offline work.

If you work for a big company, and you have a T1 connection at work, or whatever kind of connection it is that they have now, and your Internet connection never goes down, AND you don’t mind having no privacy and no control over your data, then Onshare is probably great. On the other hand, if you live in South Florida, and the Internet goes out every time it rains, and you might want to design things without effectively submitting them to DHS for approval every time you work, then maybe Onshare is not for you.

I’m sure DHS can see anything it wants in my PC right now, but the idea of simply giving up all pretense of privacy is unsettling. And what if they decide my new pressure cooker design is a bomb, and they decide to confiscate it? What if I decide to design gun parts for 3D printing? What if they decide I’m not allowed to use the Internet because I refuse to eat new Gay Pride Rainbow-Colored Doritos (a real product)?

I just don’t like it. I don’t like the cloud.

I downloaded Fusion 360 and tried it out. It appears to be pretty good. So far it’s more intuitive than Alibre, and at $0, it’s cheaper by $400. It supposedly has CAM as well as CAD, but all I’ve done is draw a box with a hole in it, so I couldn’t tell you anything about that.

Fusion 360 is made by Autodesk, and it’s absolutely free, with all the bells and whistles, unless you start making money with it. Even then, you have to make $100,000 before they start charging you. I think I’m safe.

When you make a design, you can export it and put it on your PC, and you can use the program without an Internet connection. The files you create can be used by other programs, so you’re not an orphan if you somehow lose the use of Fusion 360.

I hate to show off and make people feel inferior, but here is the box I made. That only took like 3 hours.

09 17 15 fusion 360 box Capture

A couple of commenters suggesting Draftsight. I’m sure it’s wonderful. I can only master one CAD/CAM program per day, but I will try to look it over.

The people at Dolphin seem very nice, but I am not yet seeing the value of their program. Perhaps I’m wrong.

I will update if I get anywhere with this. Right now I have to go arm the pressure cooker and smoke some Cuban cigars.

Oh, wait. Those are legal now, right?


Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

I Should Have Taken up Knitting

I’m having fun today. And by “having fun,” I mean, “pulling my hair out and fantasizing about beating software engineers with a two-by-six.”

I have been trying to get up to speed on CAD and CAM, and it has not gone well.

A long time back, I bought Alibre Design, which is a modest CAD program. The interface is nice, and the learning curve is not terrible. They offered it for a low price, like a hundred bucks. I forget.

I learned how to draw parts, and then later I made a CNC lathe. And I found out that Alibre Design does not produce drawings that can be used for CNC.

You can imagine how crazy that is. We are in the midst of a CNC/”Making” revolution, and the primary reason for the existence of CAD is to tell machines how to make stuff. Creating a CAD program which doesn’t work with CNC is like creating a bladder with no openings in it. It is a recipe for suffering.

Last year I went crazy and bought Dolphin CAD and CAM. This is a set of programs that will take you all the way to the lathe or mill, pretty much. And because they have a special module for lathes, I figured it was the way to go. And the price was merely exorbitant, not astronomical. A lot of CAD and CAM programs have four-digit price tags, which is why people torture themselves with open source crap that takes ten years to learn. Dolphin was three digits.

I did not realize how annoying Dolphin’s CAD interface was. Alibre has 2D and 3D in the same window. You draw a part in 2D, and then you view it and rotate it, easily, in 3D. Dolphin is just 2D, unless I missed something. It’s not that easy, looking at a 2D drawing and visualizing a 3D product, especially if you can’t draw more than one side of the part.

As far as I can tell–and I may be wrong–Dolphin forces you to make a different drawing for each side of a part. Imagine doing that for a complex part. Highly aggravating.

Alibre only exports drawings in AD_PRT and STL format, and these formats are dead ends. I found a way to convert STL to DXF using a program called Blender, and you can import DXF into Dolphin. I’ll show you why that was a waste of time.

First, an Alibre part I drew.

stepper mount Capture

Now the drawing that came out when I exported to Dolphin.

stepper mount dolphin CAD abortion Capture

That’s all you get. That side. The other dimensions are gone.

I had to call Geomagic (the Alibre people) today about a licensing problem, and–this will shock you–they wanted to sell me new software! Yes, I was amazed, too. I asked them about the crazy format problem, and the lady said they used to have a program add-on that allowed file conversion, but it was “no longer available,” meaning, “We do not want to give it to you.” Great. I never heard about it.

She said the latest Geomagic Design (successor to my program) was only $400. Yes, because to me, $400 is like three cents is to ordinary mortals. It means nothing to me. I scoff at it. But I let her send me a download link so I could look at it.

I fired it up, converted the drawing to a format Dolphin likes, and imported it into Dolphin Partmaster 3D.

Again, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I think PM3D is useless for CAD. I could not find any CAD tools in the program. I believe all it does is import files, let you view them, and export them. I opened the part file, and PM3D allowed me to export 2D drawings from it. I chose a view that would work for a lathe, and I sent it to Partmaster CAD, which is the 2D program. Here is what I got:

dolphin CAD stepper mount 2D Capture

That is actually useful. I would have to trim it a little, because you’re not supposed to use both sides of a lathe profile in a CNC program. After all, the lathe only makes one cut, and it affects the entire surface of the round part. But it would work. I think.

Now I’m highly annoyed, but at least I can see a way out of this mess.

I don’t know what to do, but one thing is for sure: for the 15-day duration of the trial period, I will be using Geomagic to export everything in sight. Maybe I can find a cheaper solution before the time runs out. That would be nice.

If I can get this working, I’ll put the CNC lathe on its own cart and see if I can actually use it once in a while. That would be great.

After I give in and buy the new program–probably 10 minutes later–someone will tell me about a free program which does the same thing.

That can’t be helped.

Shelf Actualization

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

I am Lathe to Complain

I feel like I need to put up a picture. I am finally almost done with the lathe shelf. Here it is.

09 07 15 lathe shelf on lathe still needs touchup

Don’t ask me why, but the camera picks up imperfections that are barely visible to the naked eye and makes them look huge. If you were here in person, you would think the shelf looked pretty good. Or at least you would say that, while backing away from me slowly. If you were smart.

Someone suggested there would be a problem changing chucks, because the key that turns the cams is obstructed. This is the one thing I didn’t think about. The one thing I didn’t think about that I know about as of today. But it turns out the key has enough freedom to open and close the pins, so I’m good. I can’t change the headstock oil without removing the shelf, but I knew that going in.

Fitting the floor tile was interesting. I learned that the upright parts of the shelf are not totally straight. Or the sides of the tiles were not totally straight. One or the other. I trimmed the tiles using a #4 hand plane. It works great.

Another interesting thing to be aware of, if you ever try to lay tile or anything else in a corner: you have to round off the corner of whatever you’re installing. The inside corners on the shelf are not sharp, but outside corners of things can be very sharp indeed, and they protrude and cause problems. In this case they would have lifted the corners of the tile up.

I am not totally happy with the adhesive that came stuck to the tiles. The wood under the tile is bare, so you would expect a good hold, but in some places it seems to want to rise up. I may have to look into an additional glue.

This will be great. It will get a lot of crap off of the floor and the table saw extension, and it will keep things where I can find them in a hurry. Notice the Allen wrenches. I drilled deep holes into the side of the shelf, just big enough for the two wrenches I use most. I may add new doodads to hold tools such as chuck keys. That would be helpful.

Some day I may sand the shelf down and improve the finish, but right now I have to get on with my life. I can’t dedicate another week to this thing. I still hate painting. I don’t know how anyone manages to do it right. I can sort of handle a spray gun, but brushes are beyond my comprehension.

Home Depot never has fasteners stocked or sorted correctly, so I could not get M8-1.25 x 65mm bolts to hold the shelf down. I had to buy 70mm bolts and grind them down with the bench grinder. Annoying. I had to modify fender washers for the bolts on the left side so they would not bang against the side cover. I made them D-shaped using the belt grinder, which is one of the three or four greatest tools in the universe.

Now I have to make a rolling cabinet for the CNC lathe. After that, I may pick up a few items and try woodturning.

I leave you with a clip from Tiny Trailer Workshop. If you don’t love this, you must not have a Y-chromosome.


pinocchio seed gift wife shoes

Shelf Improvement

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Painting Isn’t for Everyone

I am sitting here waiting for paint to dry.

I have been struggling to get the garage workshop working, as you know if you keep up with the blog. I believe it’s a metaphor for my own inner transformation.

When you get involved with tools, you have to accept a bitter truth: before you can use the tools to do stuff to other things, you have to use tools to work on your tools to get them ready.

I guess it sounds discouraging, but there is no way around it.

There are a number of things you can buy at the hardware store and then use without preparation, but it’s surprising how many things don’t work until you fix them up.

Consider chisels. You can buy a set of perfectly good ones today at Home Depot, but they won’t be sharp enough to use. Also, Home Depot doesn’t sell the tools you will need to sharpen them. Can you believe that? What could be simpler than a chisel? You would think they would be plug-and-play.

To sharpen a chisel, you need some kind of abrasive tool, and you need at least three levels of grit. You can use a bench grinder to do the rough sharpening, if you’re highly skilled. Then you have to go to a water stone or a diamond stone. Then you have to go to a stone with a grit rating somewhere above 4000.

In order for a Home Depot chisel to be considered ready to use, it has to be able to pop tiny hairs off of you, just like a razor.

I don’t know why Home Depot doesn’t sell decent sharpening tools. Probably because the average chisel user does very crude work.

I have lots of tools, but I haven’t been able to use them as much as I wanted to, because I didn’t prepare them or myself. So now I’m working on it.

On a spiritual level, I’m doing the same thing to myself.

People love to say that Jesus said, “Judge not,” meaning, “Never criticize anything anyone else does.” That’s not true. What he really said was that we should judge ourselves first, and he made it clear that once we did that, we were supposed to judge others so they could benefit from our advice. He didn’t say we should take the logs out of our own eyes and then go home. He said that when we took the logs out of our own eyes, we would then be able to help others take the splinters out of their eyes.

When you beg God for correction and humility, you’re taking the logs out of your eyes.

You shouldn’t expect things to go all that well until you begin accepting correction. Before God straightens you out, you will be led by the flesh, not the Spirit. You will not want to do God’s will. You’ll want to do whatever Satan tells your flesh to do. You will not have the spiritual fruit of self-control. So God will not have much interest in helping you. It would be enablement.

As you accept correction, the spirits that have controlled you your entire life will lose their power, and the Holy Spirit will gain ground inside you. Then you’ll start to have strength and success, because you’ll be doing things God supports.

Prayer in tongues is a constant flow of correction, so it’s vital. We are surrounded by stupid voices all day, every day. Prayer in tongues is God’s answer to that.

One of my shop problems is a lack of provision for lathe tool storage. I have a bunch of heavy lathe tool holders, plus two huge chucks. I also have Allen wrenches and other junk. I need to have this stuff near the lathe, and I need it to be handy, but tossing it on top of the headstock and dumping it on the table saw extension have turned out to be poor solutions to the problem.

I knew that other people had created extended wooden shelves to enlarge the tops of their headstocks. I decided to create a box with a shelf on top. The box would hold whichever chuck I was not using, and tools would go on the top shelf.

You can’t imagine the nightmare that began when I started work on this.

First of all, the thing needed to be about 17″ long in the shortest dimension. Trees are very skinny these days, so you can’t just walk into a store and ask for a board 3/4″ thick and 17″ or more wide. You have to use plywood, which looks crappy, or you have to make your own boards. Like an idiot, I chose the latter route.

To make a wide board, you have to take two narrow boards and glue them together side by side. This is more complicated than it sounds. You have to use a jointer on the edges that mate. Then you have to use a hand plane to put slight indentations on those edges, to create a spring joint.

A spring joint is what you get when you put glue on two concave surfaces and clamp them together forcefully so they touch. You remove a few thousandths of an inch from the edges of two boards before you glue them up. You can’t even see the concavity.

When I made my first board, I did not understand the purpose of spring joints, but now I get it. If you have two boards that aren’t concave, when you push them together, you may get a gap at one or both ends. It will be a tiny gap, but it will show up when you sand and paint the wood. If you make a spring joint, the boards will touch at the ends, so you won’t get gaps there.

It took me days to make enough boards for the shelf thing. I guess the reason is that I don’t have a lot of clamps. I would use three long clamps to make a board, and while it set up, I would be idle, because I couldn’t clamp a second board together.

Once the boards were made, I had to use planes and a scraper to get rid of the microscopic lines where the boards came together. I learned a great deal about plane marks.

When the boards were made, I had to use the table saw to cut them to size, and then I had to use a shooting board and a plane to make them truly square. In the process, I found out that my Incra table saw miter gauge was not square, so I had to fix that.

After all of that, I had to do some routing. I needed tongues and dadoes to fasten the boards together. My mistakes drove me nuts.

For one thing, a router bit in a router table will push wood away from your router fence if you push the wood from left to right. I did not know that. I thought that if I used a little force to hold the wood against the fence, I would be fine. That was totally wrong. The boards would move away from the fence a sixteenth or so, opening up the dadoes. It was infuriating.

Thank God, I was making the dadoes narrower than the boards that went in them. This makes the joints harder to see. That meant the big router gouges were covered when the boards went into the dadoes. But it was still annoying.

I also learned that you have to plan the way the grain of your boards runs when you design your piece. If you have end grain against long grain, you can’t glue it, because the end grain will suck up all the glue. It’s okay for joints that don’t receive stress, but other joints will require some sort of joinery, such as dadoes, to provide new gluing surfaces where long grain meets long grain.

I learned that soft wood is horrible. It’s harder to work than hardwood.

If you use a chisel on hardwood, it will cut it cleanly. If you use a chisel on softwood, going across the grain, the wood may compress and tear instead of cutting. It’s like using a bread knife to cut a stack of Kleenex.

If you use a router bit in hardwood, it leaves a clean edge behind. In softwood, you may get a furry edge that needs to be sanded a lot.

Scrapers, which are incredibly useful, don’t work very well on softwood. That’s annoying, because they’re great for cleaning up glue lines and erasing plane scratches.

You also have to be careful about making grooves, slots, and dadoes in softwood, because if you get too close to the edge of a board, you will have a very thin wall of softwood on the outboard side, and it won’t support your tongue very well. Also, the router may kick the wood completely out when you’re making the dado.

I learned that poplar is stupid.

Poplar is a hardwood, but it’s not hard. It’s not a softwood, but it’s a soft wood. It’s about like pine in its consistency. I used some in the shelf because I thought it was the cheapest hard wood available, but it turned out to be a bad buy. It’s more expensive than pine, and it’s actually softer than the better pine grades. It’s very ugly, so it has to be painted. And it has all the problems pine has when you start trying to shape it.

I’m not sure what poplar is good for, but you can get clear pine for the same price, and it looks better.

It took me forever to get the shelf together, and then I had to deal with painting it. That’s where I am right now.

I wanted to use a tough blue paint that would shed oil. I decided to go with oil-based Rust-Oleum. I really wanted to do it right. But it looks pretty bad right now.

First of all, even though the primer I used is supposed to work fine with oil-based paint, there are little places where the paint just does not want to stick. I’m going to have to give it like 10 coats in those areas. Second, this paint is the farthest thing from self-leveling. It leaves huge ripples behind, and sanding doesn’t seem to budge them. Third, it drips like crazy.

I’ve also had problems trying to get up to speed with the art of painting, itself.

I’ve never been able to get a grip on cleaning brushes. I’ve generally thrown them out. The paint always goes way up under the ferrule, and you can never get all of it out. It takes a huge amount of thinner to clean a brush, and it’s a pain to deal with.

I got some instruction. It turns out you’re supposed to prepare a brush for painting by soaking it in mineral spirits. This goes up under the ferrule and takes the space paint would otherwise occupy. It will keep the paint from going up there and hardening. I can’t believe I got this old and didn’t know that. No one told me! And you can look at websites all day and never see this information.

I found a video that explained it, but the guy in the video took the brush straight from the mineral spirits to a container of varnish and started painting. I had to ask about that. Obviously, it’s wrong, because the thinner on the brush will thin the paint you’re trying to apply. So you have to get the excess thinner off the bristles. Something he should have mentioned, right?

No wonder people consider brushes disposable.

I have been working on the paint for days, and it’s still not done. I finally decided to settle for a garage-grade finish. Maybe once the shop is working properly, I can make a new shelf. But I have to get this thing done and use it, or I will lose my mind.

I would really like to do things right, but I’m going to have to start accepting my limitations. Once in a while, “okay” will have to be an acceptable substitute for “perfect but unattainable.”

09 01 15 lathe shelf ready for paint

In other news, my new old church is getting weirder.

They have a prayer line. I used to be part of the prayer team. They’re supposed to call a conference line three times a week and pray for the church and so on.

I quit the team months ago. I felt like they were praying in an ineffective way, without solid guidance from the Holy Spirit. You’re not supposed to pray for two seconds for everyone on earth. You’re supposed to let the Holy Spirit choose your battles. You pray for the things he tells you to pray for, the way he wants you to do it. They were taking kind of a shotgun approach. Also, most people weren’t showing up. Usually there were only three people on the line. The pastors and the “house prophet” didn’t participate regularly, which makes you wonder what the pastors were being paid to do.

A lot of people wonder what the pastors are being paid to do. The impression many people have is that during the week they do absolutely nothing but go to the spa, travel, and visit restaurants.

I didn’t say anything critical when I left the prayer line. I just quit and said I felt like I should be doing something else.

I have a friend from the Panhandle, and she has been very good to the church. Although she wasn’t a member, she helped them financially and drove down to visit from time to time, and she was a hard core prayer line warrior.

Last week, the pastor’s wife changed the prayer line number and didn’t give it to her. Something about wanting to confine participation to church members. To be clear, she was deliberately cut out.

You have to realize, this woman was not my puppet. She wasn’t calling the prayer line and telling them how bad the pastors were for rejecting me. She was just praying. But now she’s out.

They cut another person out. She’s a young woman with some type of mental retardation. I don’t know what the proper name is. It’s not Down Syndrome. She’s very sweet, and she is a very sincere Christian. She has visions. She sees angels. She wanted to be on the church’s dance team, but they wouldn’t allow her to perform. I don’t know why. It’s not the Bolshoi Ballet. It should not be hard to qualify. If you’re not good enough to dance for God, at a tiny church which is currently failing, where, exactly, can you expect to be accepted? You can’t shoot any lower.

She and her mother eventually left the church. But the young woman continued with the prayer team. Sometimes she was one of only two people who called in. Now she’s out!

How a preacher can want FEWER people to pray for a church is beyond me. That’s a new one in my experience. The church is sinking. They are losing dedicated people. Their planned moves to bigger buildings got squashed. The air conditioning in the tiny room where they meet is out, and knowing the landlords, it may be another two weeks before it works again. It appears that their orphanage in Haiti has gone nowhere. The prayer team is nearly gone. Is this really the time to ramp up the ostracism?

I don’t know what to think about it, but I’m glad I got pulled out.

My plan for my own life is to keep asking for correction. It’s working beautifully. It makes life easier, except for painting. It’s what we all need. It’s what Jesus died for.

I can’t do anything for people who are convinced they’re already perfect. If God’s methods of improving people involved grabbing them against their will, opening them up, and replacing parts, it would be easy to help others, but unfortunately, most of it relies on their willingness to listen.

As for me and the people close to me, we keep getting new revelation, and things keep improving. I feel better. I have more success. I worry less. Doors are opening so I can get out of Miami.

I have learned that when there is an area where I fail consistently, God is trying to teach me a lesson, and when I finally learn it, he will let me move forward and succeed. This is what happened to the Hebrews under Moses. They walked in circles and died in the desert, but the ones who had not rejected God’s counsel were allowed into the Promised Land.

I still have no interest in joining a new church. Maybe some day.

If I get this crazy shelf put together, I’ll put up a photo. I can’t wait to see it on top of the lathe, with all my junk stuffed into it.

Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Dogs of Bench

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Wood That I Could

Today I learned something disturbing about hand planes.

A while back, I found that I had the ability to hand-sharpen stuff with remarkable accuracy. I proceeded to fix up the blades of my old hand planes. I made edges that were either perpendicular to the length of the blades or, in the case of a blade that was originally sharpened way off perpendicular, nearly so.

I was happy. The blades looked pretty good, apart from the gouges my early efforts made, and they were literally like razors. I planed with them and felt great joy.

Then I saw this guy.

His name is Richard Maguire, and he goes by “the English Woodworker.” Good luck getting a trademark on that in the USA.

When I watch him, I keep expecting Eric Idle to pop out of a refrigerator.

He uses hand tools and does lots of neat work. He makes a living making workbenches. He knows a great deal about weird old tools.

A week or so back, I heard him say something about “cambering” plane blades. This means that instead of a straight edge, you create a convex arc. When you put the blade in the plane, the center is slightly lower than the edges, so it hits the wood first.

I waved my hand and decided to write him off as an eccentric. Because I had done so much work on my blades.

Today I was reading up on planes, and I read some credible stuff that said that it was necessary to camber plane blades. Not optional. Not optimal. Necessary.

The problem is that if you don’t do this, the corners of the blade will be level with the center, and they will cut just as deep. Where the blade ends, the cutting stops, so you get a tiny rabbet. Not the kind you surprise your kids with at Easter and then turn loose in a park when no one is looking because you’re tired of cleaning the cage. A rabbet is a straight cut in a piece of wood with a 90-degree wall.

I guess calling a miniscule gouge a rabbet is an exaggeration, but you get the point. You’re trying to make a piece of wood smooth, and you leave long scratches in it.

Today I removed my vise from my bench so I could flatten the top a little. There are six boards in the top, and the third one in was pretty warped. I started planing it, and I saw the scratches, and that’s when I started reading up.

Then I read up on how to put a camber in a plane blade. Some people call plane blades cutters or irons. I am not that particular.

It turns out that if you sharpen by hand, using whetstones, you have to push really hard on one side while you sharpen it, and then you push really hard on the other side. Over time, the sides get cut more than the middle, and you get a very wide arc.

So I spent like 3 hours resharpening my blades. I found that once you start to get close to the arc you want, you can perfect it by switching the pressure from one side of the blade to the other during each stroke.

You can buy jigs and machines to do this stuff, but then you’re a loser and a girly man, and I wasn’t having that. And I don’t want to have to drag the woodworking equivalent of the Electrowhocardioshnooks out every time I want to do something.

So here is the bench now. The last two boards are covered by important woodworking tools such as my computer monitor and CNC lathe, so they’re not flat yet.

07 17 15 workbench flattened with hand planes

My big project for the weekend is to put the vise together. I am hoping UPS came through on its promise to deliver the acme screws and nuts today.

I also ordered some holdfasts. These are bent pieces of wood, like the hooked ends of crowbars. Dang…I just realized I could have bought crowbars and sawed them in half. Anyway, you drive them into holes in the top of your bench, they get wedged in, and pads on the ends of the hooks hold your wood down.

I will have to make holes for these things. Unfortunately, the bench top is only 1.5″ thick, and that’s half an inch too thin for holdfasts, so I will have to attach a board under the bench to make the holes deeper.

Once this is done, I will be able to hold wood down properly while I work on it instead of sitting on it or holding it down with my face.

The bench is getting surprisingly nice. You wouldn’t want it in your living room, but stuff no longer rocks when it sits on it. I could build a new top in two days, but I like doing modifications. It allows me to get practice without screwing up anything expensive or important.

I plan to use the holes for bench dogs, too. These are little cylinders of wood that sit partway in the holes, held up by friction, and keep wood from moving sideways. You can put a vertical thing in your vise’s moving jaw, put a piece of wood against it, and tighten the vise until it drives the wood into one or more dogs. This holds it in place. You can also use a bench dog, a holdfast, and a batten. But I am too lazy to tell you what this means.

I have learned an amazing thing, which I already suspected. Human beings have the ability to detect things their senses can’t really pick up.

For example, when I was sharpening the blades, I was creating deviations from straight that amounted to maybe four thousandths of an inch. To be really sure what was happening, I would hold the edges up to a machinist’s square and look for light between the rule and the blades. But before I put the blades up to the square, I already knew, pretty much, what I was going to see.

When I was planing, I had a carpenter’s square, which I used to check the wood for flatness. But I found that when I ran my hands over the wood, the high places, which were maybe five or ten thousandths high, felt positively swollen. They were very obvious.

Don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t.

Let’s see. What else?

I made a router plane. A router plane is a tool with a blade that projects down from a flat body. You use it to even out the bottoms of dadoes, which are like two rabbets facing each other. In other words, a dado is a slot with vertical walls and a flat bottom.

07 16 15 homemade router plane with set screw added

There are a million router planes on the market, and none are cheap. I was very confused when I shopped. Then I saw this guy.

That’s Paul Sellers. He is merely AN English woodworker. To be clear. Anyway, he says you can make a working plane by driving a chisel through a board. So I bought a chisel and gave it a shot. But I found that making a chisel sit level in a round hole was iffy, and on top of that, I expected the hole to open up quickly with use, so I decided to make a board with a flat hole through it.

In order to do that, I had to make a slot half an inch wide, at 35 degrees to horizontal. Then I had to fill the slot most of the way with a piece of wood half and inch thick. The finishing touch was a set screw, which I made by cutting a quarter-inch lag bolt in half. I can move the chisel back and fort to adjust the depth of the cut, and the screw holds it in place and forces it to level itself against the flat bottom of the hole.

I cheated in the worst way possible. I used the milling machine to make the slot. Doing it with woodworking tools would have been a nightmare. I finished with planes, butchering the wood in the slot pretty badly, which proves my point.

I almost killed myself making this infernal object, but I did finish.

Does it work? No idea. I don’t have any dadoes at the moment. That’s not the point. I wanted to make it, and I did.

Now I may have something that will function while I either choose or make a real router plane.

07 16 15 using milling machine to cheat on router plane

I know you find this fascinating. Let me just say this: you’re welcome.

Bench Trials

Monday, July 13th, 2015

A Certain Amount of Bleeding is Good for You

I have been fiddling around with my workbench.

I built it in maybe 2007. I did not know what a workbench should be like, so I guessed. I used pressure-treated four-by-fours for the legs. I put horizontal two-by-eights in several places for added rigidity, and I covered it with two-by-sixes laid flat.

I did not know much about joinery or routing, so I made an interesting choice. I took a router and made tongues and grooves on the boards that made up the top, and I shoved them together. The outermost boards had screws holding them down, and they held the other boards in place. I put one additional screw near the end of each inner board.

The tongues and grooves were not too good. I think I didn’t understand the importance of milling wood to make it flat and straight. When you have boards with curved edges and various types of warpage, they don’t mate up all that well. Now I have a few cracks that things fall into. Screws and drill bits, mostly.

The irony is that I thought the joinery would prevent things from falling. I didn’t want stuff to fall down between the boards and go right through so they landed under the table. Now it falls and gets stuck half an inch below the level of the top, and it tends to get covered with sawdust and other crap.

Yesterday I dug around between two boards and found a drill bit I had been missing for weeks, plus an unusual screw that fell out of a rotary table.

The workbench has its issues, but it’s very solid. You could literally park a car on it, if you could find a way to fit it.

It’s not a real woodworking bench. It’s just a general-purpose bench. I stuck a heavy 5″ mechanic’s vise on the left front corner, and I didn’t add any features that would help me work on wood. No dog holes. No wood vises.

Much later, I learned what woodworking benches were like.

Internet hobbyists are probably not the greatest guys to ask for advice when it comes to benches. Most of them have never had to make a wooden item in order to put food on the table, so they don’t know a whole lot about efficiency or what really works. They like benches that look fancy and have lots of cool joints in them. And sometimes they use hardwoods, which is apparently a mistake.

I’ve been studying up on this. Evidently, crummmy wood like pine and fir is the best choice for a workbench. It’s cheap. It’s relatively easy to work. You can glue long pieces together and make huge laminated boards without quality jointing; the wood is soft enough to deform when clamped, closing any gaps caused by warpage. You don’t need to run it through a jointer, which would be a chore.

Also, you should not sand a workbench top and make it super-pretty. If you do, stuff will slide around on it because it has no grip. Professional woodworkers will actually fix their benches when they get too smooth. There are planes made for this purpose. They have toothed blades. You take the plane, and you deliberately rough up your gorgeous surface so cabinets won’t slide off and shoot across the shop.

Hobby woodworkers tend to make benches with tops that are way too thick. When a top gets more than 3″ thick, you will start to have issues when you try to use holdfasts. A holdfast is a bent rod that goes through the top. It has a flat clamping surface on one end. The other end is straight. You push the straight end down into a hole in your bench, and it gets wedged and holds your work down flat so you can butcher it. If the hole is too deep, it won’t want to wedge.

On the other hand, a thin (1.5″) top like the one I have is bad, because it won’t work with many vises. An example is the Eclipse 10″ vise, which is a Czech copy of a vise made by Record. This thing is supposed to be screwed to the underside of a thick bench, with over a foot of hardward projecting horizontally underneath. The fixed jaw goes against the edge of the bench, and it’s pretty deep. If the side of your bench is 1.5″ high, you have a problem. Also, if you have a vertical board under the edge of your bench to support the top, you will have to cut holes in it for the vise hardward.

I have two vertical boards a few inches apart.

Seemed smart at the time.

I am not planning to make a new bench right now. I can’t think of an excuse, so I will just admit I’m lazy. Over the last day or two I’ve learned things that make it less intimidating, but during that time I made a choice to work with what I have, and I made substantial modifications, so I want to see how far I can go with the existing bench.

In my Google-powered research, I learned about something called a Moxon vise. This is a fat board maybe two feet long, with two acme screws in it. You put a screw through each end and mount a dial on the outside, and when you want to hold something, you put it between the board and your bench and tighten the screws.

It’s not rocket science, but it has a following, and to me, it looked a lot easier than performing major surgery so I could install an Eclipse.

Usually, these vises have screws that don’t move. The dials are threaded on the inside, so they move toward the bench as you tighten the vise. That leaves two huge bars of metal hanging out of the bench at waist level at all times, waiting to gouge you every time you walk by.

No. That will not do.

I decided to make a version with screws that turn. That would move everything close to the bench when the vise was closed.

To do this, I needed a fat fixed jaw pretty much flush with the side of the bench, and that meant hacking off the ledge that hung over the side. Here’s a photo of what I did with an ordinary saw from the hardware store, followed by a flush-cut router bit.

07 11 15 bench with cutout for wood vise

I am not great with a router, and the bench top (my reference surface) was not all that flat, so I got a few gouges. But I had to fine-tune it with a scraper and plane anyway, so to a large extent, the gouges went away.

I needed wood for the hole. I had a couple of really ugly two-by-sixes rotting in the backyard, so I cut usable pieces from them jointed and planed them, and glued them together to make one board.

07 11 15 cheesy pine glued up for bench vise jaw

I drilled some holes in them and made recesses for screws, and then I attached them to the bench with lag screws. The result is really nice. I can’t stop looking at it.

07 12 15 moxon vise fixed jaw attached to workbench

I wanted a hardwood moving jaw, for some reason I don’t recall. I paid good money for three feet of maple and then cut it down, removing all the cracked and useless wood that always seems to come with lumber yard items. I plan to drill screw holes in it and add it later.

I also picked up a piece of 36″ threaded rod and two nuts. The usual choice is acme thread, but that’s not available locally, and I saw a piece of 3/4″ 60-degree threaded rod just staring at me at the hardware store, so stupidly, I bought it. Then I found out it won’t work.

I mean, yes, it will work, but the pitch is much finer than the pitch on an acme screw, so it will take a billion turns to open or close the vise a few inches. Also, 60-degree threads don’t work well with half-nuts.

A half-nut is a piece of metal with threads inside it, but they only go 180 degrees. If you took a nut and sawed it in half across the opening, you would have 180 degrees of threads, and you could drop it directly onto a threaded rod and get it to engage. You wouldn’t have to screw it in, because the nut would be open.

If you have two half-nuts, you can close them around a threaded rod in order to get a nut that works. When it’s closed, you can move the rod back and forth through the nut by turning it. When it’s open, you can move the rod freely without turning it. You can use half-nuts for quick-release devices. Open the nut to move the vise jaw (for example) quickly. Close it when you want to use the screw and apply force.

Lathes use half-nuts to move their carriages when machinists thread things. You turn a lever, the nut closes around a turning screw, and the carriage moves as the nut moves up the screw.

A 60-degree thread is sloped, obviously, so when it’s in a half-nut and you push or pull it, some of the force will be transferred outward, and the half-nut will try to open. Acme threads are pretty square, so they are less troublesome.

So now I have 36″ of useless threaded rod. I found acme rod online, and three feet of it are on their way to me now, complete with nuts.

This is too bad, because I had all sorts of neat ideas for a half-nut quick-release mechanism. But if you have acme threads, you don’t need a quick-release mechanism all that badly, because the coarse pitch makes things move pretty quickly as you turn the screw.

A famous woodworker named Paul Sellers has a series of Youtubes showing how to make a workbench top. It’s really not that bad. You plane a few pieces of cheap pine or fir just enough to make glue stick, and then you clamp them side-by-side. Eventually you get enough solid wood to make a benchtop, which you can plane and adjust.

It would be even easier for me, because I have a jointer and planer. I don’t insist on doing stuff by hand.

Nonetheless, I feel I should keep working on the bench I have, because it’s great experience. And if I have a bench that works, it will be there to use when I make a better one.

I have ideas for filling the cracks. I have an idea for a swinging TV arm to move my monitor out of the way when I need to use the whole width of the bench. A tail vise would be nice. Dog holes. A thin hardwood covering for the pine, to make the holes slower to open up and become useless.

It keeps getting better. To add the vise jaw, I had to move my power strip down low, where it should have been to start with. Putting a power strip at waist level sounds smart, but then you bump into it all the time, and you will step on the cords and pull them out.

The vise jaw is really beautiful. It goes to show that you can make very nice things with cheap wood. It looks much better in real life than in the photo. Makes me want to make more things out of inexpensive pine.

The photos show a lot of bright-looking areas. Those are places that have been planed. My planes are amazing; even the cheap one I restored. They whiz along like nobody’s business. I can actually do useful work with them. I am thinking of driving strips of wood into the bench’s cracks and planing them fair with the top.

It’s nice to have tools. It’s even nicer to be able to use them and get results.

If this project goes anywhere, I’ll post more photos. In the meantime, quit watching garbage on TV and eating Cheetos. Turn on Youtube, open a book, and learn a few things.

It won’t kill you.

What’s Worse Than a Dull Saw?

Monday, July 6th, 2015

A Dull Saw Cutting in the Wrong Place

The Garage of Shalom has significance that goes beyond tools.

I turned back to God because I was suffering the consequences of my own mistakes, not because I cared about his kingdom. I wanted to change–a little–but that wasn’t the main thing that motivated me. Mainly, I felt that I was losing when I should win, and I was tired of it.

It wasn’t all that long–maybe a year–before God made me understand that human beings were ruled by iniquity, and that I needed to rid myself of mine. But I still thought a lot about money and succeeding at the things I wanted to do. I believe I saw cleaning myself up largely as a means toward that end. I didn’t see correction as the end.

I would not say I was a mercenary person. If I were, I would be practicing patent law right now. But change was not my top priority.

What I have found is that the more I focus on internal correction, the more things around me become ordered. They matter less, which may seem odd, but they fall into line anyway.

I had a bunch of tools. I had tried getting into tools in fits and stops since about 1985, and things had really taken off in about 2007. I got a big table saw that year. I got a MIG welder. Before too long I had a lathe, and I was thinking about a mill.

I couldn’t really use these tools, though. I hadn’t laid the groundwork. I didn’t have enough storage. I hadn’t spent enough on accessories and dust collection. I spent money on the relatively glamorous stuff and skimped on the boring things that made it all work.

Over the last year or so, correction itself has become the thing I want most, and suddenly, the garage is coming together.

I fixed my planer so it produces almost no dust. I made new parts for my jointer’s fence and finally connected the dust port correctly. I shimmed up my table saw extension so large parts don’t jam when they slide over it. I ordered new wheels for my drill press and band saw so the defective ones that were on the mobile bases wouldn’t cause me problems. I added a new rolling tool box. I got a proper shop press.

Things are moving right along.

Last night I sat in here watching tool Youtubes. This is probably the best use there is for a television set. The educational potential of the Internet is unlimited. It sure beats slumping on a couch with a giant bag of Cheez Doodles, watching imbeciles pretending to be vampires or superheroes.

The thing I love about this place is the peace, and you can’t have that without order. The floor is relatively clean (and I can see it). There are horizontal surfaces around me which are not completely covered with junk. Almost all of my tools are stored properly. The mess is mostly confined to one small area I call “the devil’s corner.” But that corner looks better and better with time.

It’s really something; sitting in a shop I ordered (with God’s help), having total strangers teach me for nothing. It’s so much better than being in the house, thinking about all the things I would be doing with my tools if only…

For a long time, I have been wary of becoming a person who works ON tools instead of working WITH them, but the truth is, you have to work on the tools before you put them to use. Otherwise, you end up working on them while you use them, and in the process, you waste time, damage the things you work on, and get off-mission. Learning as you go is desirable and unavoidable, but when it makes it impossible for you to do the thing you originally showed up to do, it’s too much.

If I say I am a tool, I invite sophomoric remarks, so I will say that I am an instrument. I was created for a use. I can’t do what I was created to do unless I have been aligned and sharpened and cleaned. If I go right to my mission without preparing myself, I’ll do a terrible job, and I am likely to do more harm than good.

To use tools well, I have to fix the tools before I approach the work, and to accomplish my purpose, I have to be repaired and armed to a sufficient degree before I begin. I don’t have to be perfect, but I have to be serviceable.

This is what Jesus meant when he said we had to take the logs out of our own eyes before trying to take splinters out of other people’s eyes. He wasn’t saying we should not judge people. He was saying that we needed to judge ourselves first, so we would see clearly when helping other people.

The “judge not” crowd doesn’t really care about self-righteousness or love. They have two main motivations. The first is to be excused from the conflict that arises when we stand up for what is right. People want to hang around with their ungodly friends and be accepted, so they want an excuse to chicken out; they don’t want to have to speak when someone else is making a mistake. They crave popularity. The other motivation is a desire to keep sinning. They see salvation as a license to use drugs, engage in every type of sexual sin, and generally lead ungodly lives, and they don’t want that taken away from them. They want God’s approval AND a life of sin.

Avoiding conflict, in and of itself, is not a worthy motivation. It’s cowardice. I know; I’ve done it many times. Clothing it in God’s word is even worse.

We are expected to examine ourselves continually and confess our imperfections to God. If we don’t do this, we will have problems. We will get diseases. Many of us will die. We will be defeated and dominated by ungodly people as a matter of routine. We will be like woodworkers who came to work with dull tools. Useless and weak.

Here is what Paul said:

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

The reason communion is called “communion” is that it is an opportunity to become like God; to have characteristics in common with him. To be one with him. It’s not about salvation. You can’t be one with God if you are ruled by iniquity. You can’t be free of iniquity unless you confess it and ask him to rid you of it. When you take communion, you’re supposed to judge yourself so you can be improved. If you don’t, God will do it for you, and you don’t want that.

Every one of us has a workshop inside him, and we are supposed to put it in order. We are not supposed to do this alone. God does most of the work. Most of our work is humility, honesty, and faith. You will have a hard time finding anyone in the Bible who impressed God by working hard.

The more work you do on your shop, the more you can do with it.

People who aren’t ready for money beg God for money and try to force his hand with moronic prosperity offerings. People who aren’t ready for spouses beg God for them. Women who have no business having babies beg God for children. We don’t spend much time asking God to make us ready for the good things we want. We practice the Miley Cyrus version of Christianity: give me money and power while I’m still a child, so I can destroy myself and become a notorious idiot.

Peace doesn’t come from money or achievement. It doesn’t come from marriage or raising kids. It comes from submission to God. You should put inner correction at the top of your wish list, if you want to receive the things that are on the top of it now. Otherwise, they will be curses to you.

I look forward to seeing the good things that come from accepting correction, but what I really want is the correction itself. If I have that, my other needs will be taken care of, because I will be the kind of person God can trust with good things.

If you look at scripture, you will find that this advice lines up with it, so quit sending money to TV preachers and practicing positive thinking. Those things don’t work in the long run. Do what God actually told us to do. That ought to work, shouldn’t it?

My church is about to rent a new building. I think it’s a terrible idea. A big house in Miami will have an electric bill of four to five hundred dollars a month. It costs money to mow grass and trim hedges. Everything costs money. The new church is probably as large as five big houses, and our attendance is getting smaller. I know of a big family that won’t be with us much longer. Where will the cash come from? You don’t move to a bigger building when attendance is shrinking. Someone has to pay for it.

On top of that, renting is slavery. You’re paying someone else’s mortgage. You’re buying someone else a building. You can’t leave. You can’t stop paying. You serve the landlord and his property manager.

People think mortgages are unavoidable. Is that true? Does that sound like faith? Is God unable to give us money to buy things outright? Perry Stone has a huge ministry, and he pays for things up front. Is his God better than yours?

I know an excuse when I hear one. A lease is better than nothing, but it is far from optimal, and it should be considered a sign that you’re doing something wrong.

We want the big building, but we don’t want to listen to correction. The music needs to be turned down. The services are too long. There isn’t nearly enough prayer. Very few people are praying in tongues. There is no discernment. There is no self-judgment. We have no foundation, but we think we can build a big temple.

Yesterday we were told that we will have to give more. Actually, we don’t have to do anything. And we can’t. Most people in the church are poor, and because they accept the prosperity gospel instead of God’s keys to prosperity, many are going to stay poor. How are they going to pay a four-figure electricity bill plus rent plus salaries? We have services where about forty adults show up. Something like forty percent of the church’s most devoted volunteers tithe. Can sixteen or twenty people of low to moderate income support a big building?

We don’t have the kind of gifted speakers who can pack churches. We don’t have a music team that can keep people happy for ninety minutes. A churchgoer may not mind listening to certain speakers with rare talents talk for two hours, but we don’t have anyone like that. Our music team doesn’t rehearse much, so, to be brutally honest, they’re doing a C job, and the volume level gives people headaches and tinnitus. We don’t examine ourselves, so we keep doing things that hurt attendance. But somehow we expect people to fill a new church. They’re not filling the one we have!

Is that unbelief? No, it’s honesty and clarity. Yes, Moses and the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea when things looked impossible, but they didn’t jump in on their own initiative. They waited for God to send them. You can’t expect God to support you when you’re wandering around in a place where he never sent you.

Imagine what would have happened had Paul disobeyed the Holy Spirit and gone into Asia Minor to teach. He probably would have been tortured to death, and no one would have been converted. You can’t draft your own mission. It doesn’t work that way.

We don’t examine ourselves, so we’re walking into a trap. Maybe God will pull us out of it in spite of ourselves, but I almost hope not, because that would encourage us to continue being proud and unteachable in the future. If you want to hurt a wino, don’t drive past him with your windows up. Pull over and give him a hundred dollars. He’ll be lucky if he survives the night.

I can’t reach everyone. Maybe I can reach you. I know it will pay off for you. It’s paying off for me.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

But if You Don’t Try, You Can’t Even Get What You Need

The workshop is really taking shape, and that’s good, because outer order is a reflection of inner order.

What to talk about first?

I got a jack plane. This is supposedly the most versatile hand plane there is, and people say this is where the “jack” name comes from, as in “jack of all trades.” Don’t ask me if the story about the name is true. Google for yourself.

I found it on Ebay, because buying tools in South Florida is about as easy as hiring people who speak English. You can pretty much expect to pay $75, including shipping, for a decent old plane, so I bit the bullet and found one. It sounds bad, but a new plane of similar quality will be in the low three figures.

The plane was in great shape, but it was impossible to make it work, because the edge was not square to the side of the blade. You can move a blade around in a plane to level it, but if it’s off by more than a few degrees, it won’t help. I had to sit and shape this thing with a diamond stone, after trying to do preliminary roughing on the belt grinder.

The good news is that I’m good at hand sharpening, so it came out swell. Next time, I think I’ll get creative and use my oscillating belt/spindle sander. This is a woodworking tool, but there is no reason why you can’t use it for crude metal jobs, and it happens to be very easy to hold things parallel to the belt or spindle.

Thought of that after I was already done.

Here’s the jack plane doing its thing. I am quite pleased.

06 18 15 stanley 5 plane with corrected bevel making shavings

I also fixed my jointer/planer.

When I started trying to do woodworking, I bought a DeWalt 735 planer, which I discussed here recently. This thing is wonderful. Buy one. It doesn’t really plane wood. If you have a piece of wood with one side that has already been planed flat, you put the wood down on that side and run it through the planer, and it will give you another flat side parallel to the first. If the bottom is wavy, it will give you a wavy side parallel to it, and that’s why you can’t really say it planes things. Planing means flattening.

To plane things, you need a jointer. It will put one flat side on anything, and if you already have one flat side, it will give you another one at an angle to it. Generally, that angle is 90°, but if your planer has a fence that rotates, you can get other angles.

I was able to do surface jointing on the planer, using a homemade sled. I was able to do edge jointing on the table saw. But that was not ideal. So I invested in a new jointer. As it happened, the jointer I bought will also work as a planer, but I don’t need that function, so I don’t use it. It’s a Rikon 10″ combination machine, based on an old model made by the Inca company. It’s very small and light, but it will handle boards 10″ wide, which is incredible. Ordinarily, a 10″ jointer is a giant cast iron beast that takes up half a garage. My machine is a little over 40″ long, and it weighs 140 pounds.

I had never set the jointer up correctly, because I used the wrong manual. I am too lazy to get up and look at the actual paper manual, which may very well be correct, but the PDF manual I had was wrong or at least useless. Last week I downloaded a newer one, and I found out I had the dust collection hooked up hilariously wrong. I fixed that, and then I decided to adjust the fence. When I tried to do that, the little bracket that holds it broke. It’s pot metal. It’s also about 0.090″ thick, which means it’s about as sturdy as a saltine.

I’m a machinist! I’m not scared of broken parts! I machined a little piece to fix it. Then I tried to reattach the bracket, and the other side broke.


I decided to make a new bracket out of 2 1/2″ aluminum pipe and some crap I had lying around. It was a fascinating ordeal. I found out how hard it is to cut pipes accurately on a milling machine. But I succeeded. Here are some photos. Mind you, it could be improved in some obvious ways, but it works perfectly as it is, and I am not eager to get back to work on it right now.

06 23 15 rikon jointer fence with aluminum pipe mocked up

06 24 15 aluminum pipe being milled in half for jointer

06 25 15 rikon jointer with new fence support installed

I fired it up, and it’s fantastic. Unlike most wood machines, it’s quiet. It works well. It’s very safe, as jointers go, which is like saying it’s like the least-crazy Kardashian sister, but still.

Now I can joint wood.

I also fixed the dust collection on the planer. Someone told me she collected the shredded wood using a simple burlap bag, so I ordered one on Ebay and tried it. I paid five bucks. I could not find a burlap bag around here without spending that much on diesel.

I attached the bag and did some planing (not really planing), and when I picked the bag up, there was a pile of dust under it.

I gave up and ordered a Powertec 3-micron dust collector bag, model 75006. It arrived a day or two ago, and it’s wonderful. I fastened it to the hose with a hose clamp, and when I ran the machine, absolutely nothing visible escaped, except for the bits that inevitably fall out of the machine itself. Those are no problem to deal with.

The Harbor Freight stand I bought is wobbly, so I Ebayed some M6 hex bolts to replace the stupid Philips screws that came with it. I replaced 16 of the 32 screws yesterday, and I will finish the rest this week. You can tighten a hex bolt more than a Philips screw, so I expect the added friction to put an end to the scissory motion of the stand’s joints.

Now the workshop was all fixed, right? WRONG, sliding table saw breath.

I miss Carnak.

I was fooling with the wood band saw, and I tried to resaw something with a 3/4″ blade. Crud came off the blade onto the wood, leaving black stripes. There was something on the blade. I looked inside the saw and noticed (I almost wrote “saw”) black goo on the tires. I tried to scrape it off, and I used various solvents, but it seemed to be very deep. Eventually I noticed that one tire had a big gap in it, so the goo was the only thing holding it on the rim.

I ordered two Grizzly tires for it (OEM parts), and when they arrived, I took the wheels out, figuring the old tires would come right off. No, sorry. They had turned into some kind of cheese which was stuck to the iron like rat paper on a particularly sticky rat. I had to scrape them off in crumb form, and then I had to rub the wheels with lacquer thinner to melt the bits that wouldn’t come off. Unbelievable.

06 26 15 cheese instead of tires on band saw wheels

When I was done and the wheels were back on the machine, some guy told me Grizzly tires were worthless, and that I could expect them to turn into sponges. Great. But for now, they work.

Today I used the tools. I am determined to make a box, just to prove I can make something. I used the jointer and the table saw, which now has new caster brackets AND a new dedicated dust hose. It was like heaven. The jointer ran perfectly, and the dust collection sort of worked. The table saw hose was much easier to deal with than the old one. Things just fell into place.

I have a bunch of little rough mahogany boards I cut from fresh wood I found in a trash pile, and I also have some leftover walnut from a guitar body. The mahogany has a lot of figuring in it, and I was trying to find a way to use it. Finally I decided to try to add visual interest by making the box from boards which were, themselves, made from strips of contrasting wood. If you joint wood nicely, you can glue strips of it side by side, and they will be as sturdy as a homogeneous board.

Here is what I have right now.

06 28 15 striped board being glued together from mahogany

I have to come up with four more sides. The bottom can be plain.

I can’t tell you how great it is to see my tools work correctly, without aggravation or explosions. I know this comes from learning to love inner correction. I was held back because I didn’t get it. If you don’t love correction, don’t expect God to give you success. You may have something that looks like success to you, but it won’t be. Not unless God has completely given up on teaching you.

Two nights ago while I was trying to fall asleep, I saw a bunch of answers to my organization problems. I saw a way to hang my lathe chucks from the shop trusses, on a gadget I can turn on the lathe, from a piece of scrap I just happen to have waiting. I saw a way to build a box to mount on the lathe headstock, to hold the tools I use most often. I saw a way to build a rolling cabinet to hold my CNC lathe, the control box, and all the lathe’s tooling. All this stuff just came to me. Some of it may even work!

Determination is better than nothing, but the best success comes from being blessed. If you want to apply determination to something truly productive, apply it to prayer.

I still want a few more doodads. Maybe a router plane and a tongue and groove plane. Bench dogs; I think I have a design which would be a lot better than the ones they sell online. I can use a few more items, but I am aware that the biggest profit will come from maximizing what I already have.

If you have a Rikon joiner/planer, get rid of the fence bracket before it blows up while you’re using it. My design will work for you, and it’s fairly easy to copy from photos, but you can do just as well by clamping a piece of aluminum extrusion to the table, after cutting a cavity on one side to accommodate the cutters.

If…WHEN…I get somewhere with the box project, I will post photos.

I guess I should add that I quit my church’s volunteer team. I am not a deacon or armorbearer now. People are noticing a change in the church’s direction; I’m not the only one. Unlike me, they won’t say anything, so when the crisis comes, it will seem sudden to the people in charge. Nothing I can do. I have been withdrawn, so I am not permitted to counsel anyone, and if I did, no one would listen. Which is why I’m not allowed. God will not let me do it. He pulled me back to a peaceful place, and I am not going to mess that up by running back to the front line.

I mind my own business. I arrived after worship started today, and I left at 1:15, after two hours. I checked at 2:00, and church was still going.

The volunteers had a meeting at 7:00 a.m., so had I not quit, I would have been there for at least seven hours!

I’ve been to these meetings in the past, when church started at 10:30. We were told to come at 8:00. I would wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 in order to have time to pray, so I would have to go to bed on Saturday by 8:30 p.m. I would be at church at 8:00 a.m. Almost no one else would come until 8:30, because the volunteers had no respect for other people’s time. The meetings would start at 8:45. We would talk in circles for an hour, or the pastor would give the people a very long lecture which a lot of us didn’t need. For example, he would lecture us on responsibility, and the responsible people had to sit through it. Or he would lecture people on punctuality and attendance, when the only people who were there were the ones who didn’t need the lecture. They were there, after all. Then we would sit around and do nothing.

One thing that extended the service today was a very long appeal for money. The church is trying to start an orphanage in Haiti. They’re nagging people to buy tickets to a banquet. I think this is a dead end and a waste of time. The Mercy and Sharing Foundation has a great orphanage going already, and they spend 100% of contributions on the kids. They pay the administration costs themselves. I would rather send the money to someone who already has buildings, employees, contacts, and a track record.

The pastors brother in law showed us a video and begged us to give money. I mean begged. To me, it seemed like a guilt trip. Charity is very important to me, but I never, never respond to guilt trips, because manipulation has been a source of great pain in my life. I don’t mean to be obnoxious, but this is the same man who runs the men’s ministry, which isn’t going anywhere. He runs the church’s building drive, which isn’t going anywhere. We have an Indiegogo page and some T-shirts. When God wanted Nehemiah to build the temple, he didn’t have him sell T-shirts. He sent a man to pay for it. The way to get a new building is to show love and consideration to people who come to church, and to teach them to pray. It seems like they hope a millionaire will walk in and write them a check. That’s not how it works. They don’t need a millionaire. They need two hundred ordinary people who give steadily, and they need to manage the money correctly.

Some people in the church seem to think I’m rich because I’m not on welfare and my used pickup truck is paid for, and sometimes I sense that people want me to wave my magic checkbook and buy them what they think they need. I bought a used organ, and the head deacon asked me when I was going to give it to the church. I said, “never.” When I located it on Craigslist, they couldn’t get it together long enough to chip in and go get it, so I bought it for myself. I did the work. I paid. My organ. They had some sort of need a while back, and one of the deacons said I should handle it. I asked why, and he said, “Because you’re the man with the money.” Oh, really?

That’s how poor people think about money. They think other people get it magically, and they’re supposed to give it to everyone who has less, on demand, because that’s fair. That’s not how it works. God is fairer than I am, and he doesn’t do that. God is an investor. He doesn’t give money to people who can’t handle it, and neither will I.

The organ was never a possibility. They’re killing attendance with noise already. I don’t want to make it worse. I was going to make them another guitar amp, but I’m afraid to let them have it. They would injure everyone in the church.

At the end of the service, they honored the pastors with free dinners at Tejas de Brazil (a very expensive and mediocre restaurant) plus tickets to a spa. The people at my church love spas. They’re always giving the pastors spa tickets. I don’t get it, personally. I think it’s odd to let strangers rub grease on you and put things between your toes, and it’s boring to sit and do nothing, but they’re entitled to like what they like.

I think the presentation was a bad move. The pastors’ daughter and son in law came down recently for a week of recreation, and then the pastors went with them to their home in Buffalo. A week later, they came back, and then they took off for Chicago. Now we’re pampering them as though they had been working too hard.

The church is only open a few hours a week, and the rest of the time, we see social media posts showing that the pastors are taking it easy. No one is at church.

People are complaining that they work long hours and then see Facebook posts about the pastors taking trips, going to restaurants, shopping, and walking on beaches. We don’t see them repairing the church, evangelizing, or doing whatever it is you expect pastors to do during the week. People ask where the money for tickets and so on come from. Attendance is bad, and that’s to be expected when the pastors aren’t around.

Sorry to see it happen. I can’t save the world.

So far I have missed one Sunday service and one Tuesday prayer session. People keep coming up to me and asking where I’ve been. They think I’ve quit. I’ve been there more than the pastors have! We have a house prophet, and he’s the most honored person there except for the head pastors. Over the last year, he has probably missed a third of the services, and he routinely comes late. It’s very odd that people are so alarmed when I miss two events.

Usually there are only two of us at the Tuesday session, so of course, everyone else thinks I’m AWOL. They didn’t see me because they didn’t come.

I don’t think I’ll go on Tuesday nights any more. If only two people are going to pray, I might as well pray at home, save 36 miles of wear on the truck, and avoid an hour and fifteen minutes of unpleasant traffic.

I feel very free. I feel like I was trying to do an impossible job and my boss told me to let it go. People are worried about me, but I sleep better, I’m losing weight, and I no longer have to drag people who refuse to walk. Sometimes churches develop a cult mentality, and they think that if you disengage, your life must be screwed up, but this time, the problem is on the other end.

Today someone talked to me and said she had been praying for me. She said, “We need you.” I know she meant to be nice, but that’s a pet peeve of mine. When people left my old church, they always sent people after them to tell them how much the church needed them. They never asked the people who left what they needed. She’s a wonderful lady, but she said exactly the wrong thing. Let the organization burn. The people are what matter.

I agree; they need me. And when I was a kid, I needed vegetables and exercise. But I chose ice cream and TV.

I could be helpful to the church, but they would have to listen, and that’s not going to happen. So telling me they need me isn’t addressing the important issue. I don’t care what they need. I care about what they are willing to receive. I’m not a Gitmo guard. I don’t force-feed people. I can’t.

Things get better and better. It’s all about humility and correction. I’m thrilled that I managed to share this to a few receptive people. The rest…what can you do?

Face Front

Monday, June 15th, 2015

No Seconds on Vomit

Lots of interesting things are happening.

First off, my Woodriver #92 shoulder plane arrived, along with an offset router wrench.

06 13 15 woodriver plane and router offset wrench

Routers connected to tables are hard to reach with wrenches because the collet nuts are below the tables’ surfaces. What you really need is a wrench with two 90° angles in it. The first angle puts the head of the wrench below the table, and the second one makes it horizontal so it engages the nut. I was going to make my own wrench some day (right), but Woodcraft has prefab offset wrenches on sale, so I got one. It’s amazing. I love it. For around ten bucks, I saved myself a day of aggravation.

As for the plane, I have already told my sad tale regarding the Stanley 92 I bought. The blade was too narrow. The only safe bet is a new plane from a reputable maker, and they are not cheap. Lie-Nielsen makes insanely expensive stuff that works perfectly. Veritas makes excellent stuff that is slightly less expensive. Woodcraft’s Woodriver brand is very good, but it’s Chinese, so it’s cheaper.

I went Chinese. What the heck.

The plane is magnificent. It’s ground from solid lumps of iron. Everything is square. The grinding is much finer than the grinding on the Stanley, which looked like I made it myself. The blade is a tiny bit wider than the body. It’s great. I love it. I’m sure spending more money would have paid off in some way or other, but this is a beautiful tool.

I’ve been thinking about workbenches. My current bench is something I threw together from plywood, two–by-fours, and four-by-fours, before I really knew what I was doing. It’s extremely sturdy, but the top isn’t flat, and it’s not optimal for woodworking.

I considered ripping the top off and putting a real woodworking top on it, complete with a woodworking vise, but I think that’s stupid. I can put holes in it to hold bench dogs for various operations, and I have a Rockwell Jawhorse to hold wood for planing and other stuff, so I don’t really have to have a perfect woodworking bench. I think.

In other news, I am now capable of hand-sharpening things.

When I was a kid, I loved playing with knives, and my parents didn’t care, so I got good at sharpening things. This weekend I had to deal with planes and chisels, and I tried to find the best way to tackle it.

A lot of people use jigs. If you Google “General plane sharpening jig,” you’ll see an example. These things hold blades at precise angles to stones, so the edges produced are straight and accurate.

Other people use bench grinders and align things by hand.

I have a grinder set up for lathe tools, with a white aluminum oxide wheel. This thing is wonderful for its purpose. I put a little homemade jig on it, and it works great. But when I tried to use it for planes and chisels, it gave me crooked results, and little bits of the edges turned blue, meaning they had gotten hot and lost their temper.

Frustrated, I got out my DMT diamond stones. I have them in fine, extra-fine, and 8000-grit. I found that if I held a blade down carefully with my bare hand, I could correct and sharpen edges pretty quickly, without buying jigs and megadollar Japanese water stones.

A long time ago, my dad borrowed a chisel. God only knows what he used it for. Maybe scraping paint off a brick. He left it out in the rain for weeks. Yesterday I decided to fix it.

I held it down on a stone and ground it until it lined up with a machinist’s square. I used WD40 to keep the stone from loading up. Surprisingly, it sharpened easily, and I got a great result. I lapped the back side, and I finished it on the 8000 stone. When I was done, it was shaving-sharp.

06 14 15 Buck Brothers chisel sharpened on DMT stone

I don’t have to buy a bunch of junk and store it. I don’t have to worry about conditioning waterstones whenever I use them. Hooray! Very nice.

I fine-tuned the Woodriver plane blade, which was already fairly sharp. I stuck some wood in the Jawhorse and started using my planes. I couldn’t stop. It was so neat, seeing wide, clear curls coming off the wood. This actually works.

I’m getting a few other things. I watched a DVD by a guy named Frank Klausz, and he made dovetails using hand tools, very quickly. That opened my eyes. Most people use a router. You can also use a bandsaw. Honestly, power tool dovetails are a big pain, and when you use power tools, you always have to worry that something is going to jump out and damage you, the work, or your other tools. If I can dovetail a drawer in half an hour using a hand saw, I’m all for it.

Klausz showed how to take a fairly cheap dovetail saw and tune it up in a few minutes. You can’t use them the way they come from the store. I thought that was neat. But then I learned about Zona tools!

Zona makes small tools for model makers. One of their tools is a tiny dovetail saw. It costs around ten bucks. You don’t have to fettle it. You take it out of the box and start cutting. How can you go wrong? I ordered one. They also make excellent coping saw blades, so I ordered a coping saw. CHEAP! We’ll see how that works out. Why spend a hundred or more bucks on a fancy saw that isn’t any better?

On the spiritual side, I had an interesting experience yesterday.

As I believe I’ve said, I quit serving at my church a while back. I got off their Facebook groups, because they kept typing things like, “PLEASE DELETE THIS POST!!!” They didn’t call or text. They didn’t come to me privately. They just typed things like that, in front of kids and people I’m supposed to lead.

Mind you, I am older than most of the church leaders. I have much more education. I never remind them of those things, but come on.

One post was about a new rule. I was guarding the office door when they counted the offering, and someone made a rule saying no one was allowed in unless I let them in. This offended people, so I went to the church’s FB page and explained it. Nicely. Really, there was nothing wrong with what I said. Trust me. But later on…”PLEASE DELETE THIS POST!!!”

When things like that happen, you realize something supernatural is going on. When you absolutely cannot please someone, a spirit is involved.

Yesterday, I came in and sat in the back. I was in God’s presence, and I was worshiping, but I realized something was bugging me. I looked around, and I realized that in front of me, in various parts of the room, at eye level, women’s rear ends were waving at me. They do that. Many of the women wave their rear ends when they worship, and some wear really tight pants. It’s a bad idea. Obvious?

You can say it’s my fault for being lustful, but that’s stupid. Being tempted is not a sin. If it is, then Jesus is in hell, because he was tempted. You decide. No heterosexual man, holy though he be, will be unaffected by a display like that.

In fact, our pastor’s wife agrees with me. A while back, she posted this: “Ladies: tights are not pants.”

Anyway, I posted this observation:

If you sit in the front row in church you look proud, but if you sit in the back you see all the women dancing in tight pants.

Now, you can decide whether that post is offensive. It’s not, but you will have an opinion. It’s obvious. It’s a problem men deal with. Paul talked about it, saying a woman should even keep her head covered in church.

A lady piped up and said this, revealing that she had no comprehension of what I had said:

I strongly believe this post is not edifying to anyone. Mature christians know how to refrain from speaking this way and instead pray n ask God to guide your own eyes. In shock

“In shock.” That’s what I get. I don’t have the authority to say women should not display their rear ends in church. I don’t have the authority to mention the office rule, so I guess this is not a surprise.

Here is what the pastor’s wife said:

Can’t believe this conversation during our worship time !! Amazing !! Pastora

You have to think about this. I quit bothering them on their page. I quit sharing testimony and revelation on Facebook, almost entirely, because God told me I was wasting it on people who didn’t care. That was great. It was relaxing to be freed. But yesterday, people came to me. Withdrawing from their area of control and showing them respect didn’t make any difference.

Someone said it was interesting that she was on Facebook, criticizing people for being on Facebook. The truth is that everyone Facebooks during services, including worship. The pastors are no exception. This is normal. So the problem wasn’t the Facebooking. It wasn’t even the content, since modesty is something she is also concerned about. The problem is me. It’s who I am. The fact that it came from Steve is the problem.

Remember the Holocaust? The Jews blamed themselves. They tried to assimilate in Germany, even before Hitler came to power. Then when things got bad, they pleaded and tried to please the Nazis. They tried to work within the system.

The restrictions and persecution got worse and worse. The smart Jews left. The rest were shot or sent to starve and burn. Why? Because they were greedy? Because they were arrogant? Because they were successful? Of course not. It was because they belonged to God.

When you become one of God’s favorites, you become a favorite of the devil, too. You may get God to cut off his favor, but you will probably never be able to get the devil to stop working on you. God pulls back from useless people, but the devil loves cruelty and death, so once he gets you down, he keeps kicking.

If people are angry at you because of your anointing, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Stop looking at yourself when you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not your fault. You didn’t cause it, and you can’t fix it. It’s normal. It is how the rest of your life will be.

The problem isn’t the way I say things. I’m not rude, and besides, you can say things to humble people any way you want. The prophets were unbelievably blunt and harsh, and they are revered. In their time, they were murdered and beaten, but now they’re revered. The problem is the pride of the people I tried to talk to. I’ve had plenty of harsh, rude, criticism from church people–much of it wrong and misguided–and I have not responded the way they have.

Our church has a heavy-duty pride problem, so God has pulled me back. Most people there won’t understand, because, hello, they have pride.

Putting an end to my public revelations won’t help them. That’s not God’s intention. His intention is to help me. It will be harmful to me to keep casting pearls before swine, and I will be wasted on them. It will make me bitter and frustrated. Iniquity is contagious, like mold.

We’ve had a number of false prophecies, and the church is not growing. The branch churches we opened disappeared, and there has been no public admission. Things that should be explored are covered up. That’s a recipe for failure.

After three years, it’s obvious that I won’t be used there, and there are definitely people in the world who will be able to benefit from what I have to offer, so I’m not allowed to strive with the same old crowd any more.

I’m a deacon, or I used to be. Here’s what I did: every Sunday I stood outside the office door. That’s 98% of what I did. It’s not like they were getting a lot of use from me. I didn’t teach. I wasn’t one of the people who is called up to pray for folks in services. I was on the prayer line for a while, but that’s open to anyone who shows up. Whatever it is that I was put there to do, it has not happened.

I did not fight back at all on Facebook. Some of my friends were mad, and they stuck up for me, but I behaved pretty well.

My natural instinct is to start posting correction, but I was in prayer about it today, and God did not like that idea. It would be rebellious.

For weeks, I’ve been praying for God to take the proud people out of my life and bring me humble people. I was proud all my life, and I shut God out. Now I’ve finally learned to love correction, but I’m surrounded by people who are just like I used to be. I deserve it. I sowed for this. But now I want out.

I prayed for God to take proud people away from me, and look what’s happening.

I never used to think of these people as proud. It blew right by me. I did not understand what pride was. But now I see it. And a friend called me to say God had given this word in private, regarding the church: “Arrogance.” The friend was disturbed. It was not what the friend wanted to hear. The friend wanted to believe the best. But this is what God said.

If I go on social media and start yammering, I will be saying, “God, you did exactly what I asked, and now I feel like fighting you. You very graciously showed me the proud people in my life, and you came between us, and now I want to go back and work on them, because I know better than you do.”

If I do that, why should he ever do anything for me again?

When I was a kid, I knew a battered wife. I felt terrible for her. But even then, I knew that she chose what happened to her. When she got away, she went back. If you keep going back to people who have no respect for you, you are your own enemy. You are even more guilty than they are, because you, more than anyone, have an obligation to be on your own side in life.

So I said nothing that could be construed as engaging the Facebook attack.

When God generously, graciously, patiently frees you from something counterproductive, you do not go back. You do not. How many times do you think he will save you?

I don’t put much of anything on Facebook, unless it’s about tools or food or trivial stuff. It’s a complete waste of time. What I wrote yesterday was an exception to my new pattern.

I’m writing here, though. This is my domain, literally. Anyone who comes here uninvited and makes trouble is intruding on my authority. I will not be stifled here, and I will not let anyone comment stupidly.

Posting things here is like writing them on paper and hiding it in a drawer. No one from Miami reads my blog. They’re not interested in what I say in person, so they won’t come here to read it.

I hope God keeps sending me people who will benefit from what he tells me. It is not possible to bless proud people. It cannot be done, because all real blessing comes through listening. Only humble people can be blessed.

I’ve done a lot of slimy, disgusting things in my life. I am not a good person. But it is not right for younger people who are unaccomplished and have limited prayer lives to treat me like a child, especially after telling me I’m a watchman and a prophet.

I plan to keep going to my church, sitting in the back and leaving after a couple of hours so I won’t get worn out. Sooner or later I’ll end up in a new church, and I will not volunteer for anything. I will not speak in front of people. I will not accept any office.

God doesn’t really run churches. They are extensions of the world. It is pointless to try to fit in. I’m sure there is an exception out there somewhere, but I have not seen it yet.

Keep praying in tongues. If you can’t pray in tongues, keep praying for God to show you how. Keep asking for humility. Keep asking God to destroy your pride and help you to be honest. These are the things that will fix your life and heal your heart and mind. The other stuff–the money and houses and so on–will only be curses to you unless you become the kind of person who can receive a blessing.

Forget transferring your worldly ambition and work ethic to the church. Those things are for Satan’s children. Our tools are faith, honesty, love, and humility. Don’t listen to foolish blowhards who think God has chosen them simply because they’ve managed to get people to come listen to them every week.

When God removes toxic people from your life, thank him and get with the program. Do not go back to your own vomit. If you didn’t like it the first time you ate it, the second time will be even worse.

Life is good, and it will keep getting better. I can’t take everyone with me. I accept that. Jesus couldn’t do it either. I will be happy with whoever shows up and takes the right attitude.

The Truth Can’t be any Planer

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Something New: Tools That Work

You’re probably wondering how to handle the chips and dust from your DeWalt DW735 portable (HA!) planer, now that DeWalt has stopped making the dust collection attachment.

I wondered, too. I bought my DeWalt years ago, and I have used it very little because it was inconvenient. It weighs over a hundred pounds. To use it, I had to pick it up off the floor and lift it onto my Workmate. After clearing seventy or eighty pounds of junk off the Workmate. Then I would turn it on and go deaf, and chips would shoot all over the place.

A responsible person does not buy tools without the required accessories and storage. I know that NOW. I needed a stand and a dust system.

I still don’t have a dust collector. I am not sold on them. Yes, obviously, it would be fantastic to have a bunch of 4″pipes running all over the garage, connecting to every tool. But that is a gigantic amount of work and expense, and it looks like it’s not necessary. The table saw does just fine with a shop-vac. So does the router. So do the bench grinder and oscillating spindle sander. The drill press is impossible to rig up for dust collection. That leaves the vertical band saw, and I’m not sure a dust collector would fix it.

I don’t think I need a full-blown dust system–feeble pun not intended–but I should make some sort of effort. And the planer needed to be on a moving platform so I would not have to risk ER visits by lifting it from the floor.

I have become convinced that bench tools are stupid. For the most part. Think about it. You buy a bench drill press to save space. Where do you put it? On the bench. Where it takes up space. Or you put it on the floor. Where it takes up the same amount of space as a floor press, but you can’t use it without getting down on your knees.

Bench tools take up just as much room as floor tools, so you might as well buy floor tools or put bases on your bench tools.

DeWalt makes a nice rolling stand for the planer, but I didn’t like it. It would cost over $150, for 12 pieces of Chinese steel, four wheels, and a slab of MDF. And it had no bottom shelf for a dust bag or whatever. If you rig it for a shelf, you have to put the pedal that unlocks the wheels out where it takes up room. I opted for the He-Man’s choice: Harbor Freight. They make a table that costs $40, plus a mobile base that costs slightly less.

Don’t do what I did. The table is wobbly, so if you want it to be rigid, you will have to add additional steel, which is a pain. The base requires four pieces of 1 1/4″ square lumber to connect the four corners, and because that’s a weird size, you will have to cut the wood yourself. Big mess. The instructions are horrible. I hope the guy who wrote them also writes documentation for China’s nuclear weapons.

The table has no top, so you have to buy plywood and make one, and that’s also a pain. The sanded plywood from Home Depot is sanded in the same sense that club soda is pre-sweetened, so you will have to go back over it, and then you will have to hit it pretty hard with Danish oil or something.

Just buy the DeWalt stand.

Anyway, after three days of work, I got the stand assembled and mounted the planer on it. It works, but I can’t get the wobbles out of it, so I know some metalworking is in my future.

I got the idea for this project a few weeks after I finally threw out the old hose from my shop-vac (I had upgraded to a nice orange hose), so I had to pay $20 for a new hose. Never throw anything out, because the minute you do, you will need it or someone will offer you a thousand dollars for it. On the other hand, grow up and throw things out, because clutter is unhealthy.

You can’t win. I know I haven’t.

If you have the same planer, you will benefit from my dust-collection efforts. I found a 2″ flexible pipe coupling at Home Depot, and I used it to connect it to the 2 1/2″ port on the DeWalt’s dust attachment. You may wonder why a 2″ connector fits on a 2 1/2″ port. I do, too.

I connected the other end of the coupling to the vacuum hose. Then I put a hose clamp over the other and of the hose. When I finally get a dust bag (still working on it), I will slip the dust bag’s collar under the hose clamp and tighten it. The planer has an incredible fan in it, so it will blow the crap through the hose, even though it’s narrow, and it will go into the bag.

One guy on the web uses a pillow case to catch the chips. Supposedly the planer doesn’t make much fine dust, so you can use a crummy filter bag. But I am trying to find something better. Might as well get rid of as much dust as possible.

I will want to put a lower shelf in the stand, to hold the bag. After that, I should be in business.

A planer is a wonderful thing. You can’t use the wood you buy at the store until you plane and joint it, and a planer performs both functions. You will need a planer sled to make it joint, but that’s no big deal. If you put a Wixey DRO on it, you can thickness (“planer” is really a misnomer) wood with great accuracy, and you won’t have to do much sanding at all. If you don’t have a planer and jointer, you will need to get very handy with hand planes, which is not a bad idea, but still.

Speaking of hand planes, as noted in an earlier post, I rehabilitated one last month, and I am adding some new ones to my collection. I seem to have the skill to get old planes going, so I might as well pick up a few.

To make a plane work well, you need an edge like a razor, so you will want water stones or, if you’re a hack like me, a super-fine diamond stone. Anyway, if you can get planes to work, you can avoid a lot of dust, expense, and noise. Machines replace skill and effort, but they come with their own problems.

For jointing, you want a #7 plane or bigger. I don’t have one, but I do look around on Ebay. It’s also nice to have a shoulder plane. It fine-tunes tenons, and you can cut slots with it. IF you can find one that works. Stanley makes one that seems okay until you try to use it. I am referring to the #92. The problem with it is that the blade is narrower than the body. That means you can’t cut all the way to the side, so you can forget cutting a slot, which has to be cut on both sides. I bought a Stanley, and the blade was 0.007″ narrower than the body, so there was no way to make it work. I sent it back, and now I’m waiting for a Woodriver medium shoulder plane. This is the cheapest new shoulder plane that actually works.

You can buy ordinary planes (smoothing, jack, jointer, and so on) used without much fear, but shoulder planes are a pain in the butt, so you might as well grit your teeth and spend for a new one.

I don’t actually know how to USE these things, but I am going to put in a little effort, now that I have learned how to obtain them and make them function.

I guess I went down a rabbit trail there. Sorry.

I got the planer set up tonight, and I am really happy about it. Having stuff is fine, but if you’re not aligned with God’s will, your stuff won’t work, or it won’t bring you pleasure. Now that I’m getting with it, things are going more smoothly, and the things that are happening in the garage are exemplary.

Correction keeps pouring into me, and I am more grateful for it every day. I know, and feel in my heart, that inner correction is the blessing we are supposed to be seeking. We clamor for money, houses, and even sex, but we reject the opportunity to become like the God we beg for favors. No wonder he doesn’t help us.

The devil was cursed for saying, “I will be like the most high,” in his own heart. The funny thing is, we are blessed for saying the same thing. Satan wanted to be like God in that he wanted to be admired. He wanted to be all-powerful. He wanted to punish. We are supposed to be like God in that we love and forgive. We are supposed to have his humility and kindness. If you want God to do things for you on earth, you have to say, in your heart, “I will be like the most high.”

The idiots on TV are trying to convince us that power and wealth will come just because we go to church, send preachers money, and recite Bible promises. If you were God, would you subsidize that garbage? Of course not. It would be like continuing to send your college-student son an allowance after he told you he had become a dope dealer.

You don’t get blessed because you’ve changed. The change IS the blessing. After that, the other things–money, houses, and so on–can’t hurt you. They can’t spoil you. So God has no reason to withhold them, and you just might get them. After all, Jesus gave us instructions for getting wealth: seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. He didn’t say anything about buying Creflo Dollar a jet.

I still can’t write about these things on social media. Today I wanted to say something. I at least wanted to warn people. I wanted to say that the reason I quit sharing things was that I was no longer allowed to, because no one listened. But I wasn’t even allowed to say that. So here I am. Saying it to twelve people.

Today God showed me that trying to warn people who have already had multiple chances is like trying to rekindle a bad relationship. If you’re out, be grateful. Don’t return to your own vomit. So I’m not pushing it.

Here’s a photo of the planer. I am determined to make something out of wood in the near future, just to see my tools do what they’re supposed to do. Maybe a box. I have a great DVD about box-making.

06 11 15 DeWalt planer on HF table with hose attached

Last night after I got done working in the garage, and after I had cleaned up, I turned around to walk out, and I felt as if I had turned too fast. Suddenly I saw the garage with new eyes. It looked new to me. I saw tools that could actually be used. I saw increased order. It was very strange.

External order comes from internal order. There is no other way to get there.

Tools I’ve Helped Renew

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Don’t Buy What You Can’t Store

Things are going well here. I am getting more done with tools than I used to. Below, you will see an example.

05 27 15 Rockwell grinder with lid installed

That’s a Rockwell 1″ x 42″ belt sander/grinder. I found it on Craigslist. The owner wanted 30 bucks. I could not pass that up, even though I did not want the tool.

I drove up to a borderline-ghetto area to pick it up. The owner was a young man with tattoos. He took me to his backyard, where he had a small shed set up. It was immaculate inside, complete with a two-tone paint job on sheetrock walls. He had a Logan lathe, a Rockwell drill press, and several other old machines set up. I was startled. You wouldn’t have expected anything from the outside.

He couldn’t get the grinder to work, so he removed it to sell and kept the stand.

Because the motor was in the stand, I needed propulsion. I decided to try a treadmill motor.

These motors used to be real bargains. They run on DC, and DC motors are usually expensive, but because there are a lot of old treadmills out there, treadmill motors have been easy to come by.

Some, at least, are controlled by boards that can be removed along with the motors. One of the most common boards is the MC-60. It has no transformers or power capacitors on it, but you can plug one end into a wall socket and the other into a motor, and it will make it run.

I found a 3/4-HP motor and an MC-60 on Ebay. I don’t recall the total cost. Somewhere around a hundred bucks. I made a mistake and fried the rectifiers and thyristors on the MC-60, so I had to put new ones in, but other than that, it worked.

The motor came with a cast-iron wheel for a flat belt, and the wheel had vanes in it so it sucked air through the motor. It wouldn’t work for my purpose, so I made a new aluminum pulley with vanes. I bought a plastic junction box at Home Depot to hold the control and switches. I mounted the whole mess on a piece of thick plywood, and I applied rubber feet.

The grinder needed to have crud cleaned out of it. It was also adjusted incorrectly, so things were rubbing. I got it clean, and it turned out to be in good shape. Even the wheels were okay. They are notorious for falling apart.

I ordered a few belts for it, and now it works. Very nice. A belt will cut non-ferrous things without exploding, and it produces less heat, so it can be very useful. If you’re grinding aluminum on a wheel, you need to be aware that aluminum can melt into the grit, expand when hot, and then make the wheel explode. This can lead to unpleasant events such as having large chunks of wheel imbed themselves in your facial bones.

Bench grinders are extremely dangerous, but almost no one knows that.

I put a reversing switch on the grinder so I can use the lower wheel for thicknessing parts. I will put some sort of table under it, and then I’ll be able to raise and lower the table and shove parts under the wheel, against the rotation. If you grind with the rotation, the belt will try to yank the parts away from you, and it will try to pull your fingers along with it, breaking them if necessary.

Right now I have an Accu-link belt on it, but I think I should get a normal v-belt, because Accu-link belts are not made with reversing motors in mind. It only takes a few seconds to reverse the belt, though.

While building this thing, I learned a lot about DC motors and belt grinders. Now I’ll be ready if I go on to build a 2″ x 72″.

A while back, I found that things were rusting in one corner of my shop. Eventually, I started to suspect that muriatic acid was to blame. I had a jug of it stored in that area. I investigated and found out that muriatic acid will make things rust even if you keep it capped. I moved the acid to another location and started polishing and oiling things. One of those things was a neat old Stanley #6 plane I got from a tool restorer.

The plane had some rust on it, but it wasn’t actually damaged. It got me thinking about another old plane that was in the garage somewhere. I dug the other plane out and looked it over. The sole was deeply pitted on one side. I mean, maybe twenty thousandths deep. I didn’t know if it was worth saving, but online tool people assured me it was worth a go.

I had to grind off maybe an eighth of an inch of pitted and dented blade, but I eventually got a good shaving edge, which I did my best to polish with a 6000-grit diamond stone. I used sandpaper, WD40, and a flat surface to clean the plane’s sole. I found myself a crummy two-by-four to use for test purposes, and eventually, I got the results you see below.

05 29 15 Stanley 4 plane sharpened and cleaned making shavings

It’s not a desirable plane. It was probably made about fifty years ago, when Stanley was making dubious products, but with effort, I got it to function, so now I can’t throw it out.

I’m considering getting a big rolling tool cabinet to organize things. I already have a really nice 26″ stainless Craftsman combo, but it’s not enough. I want something I can put the CNC lathe on, so it won’t be on my bench any more.

It’s hard finding good boxes now. I got very lucky with my Craftsman, because their stuff is mostly junk. So is Husky. There are a lot of used boxes out there, but I don’t think $1300 for a used Snap-On with rust and flaking paint is much of a deal.

Supposedly, the best stuff comes from Vidmar and Lista, but I will never find that locally, and if I did, it would cost a ton.

I made a surprising discovery. Harbor Freight makes very nice tool boxes. Not the best, but much better than Craftsman. You can get a 44″ roller for $369. I took a look, and they’re not bad at all. I also discovered Extreme Tools. Their boxes are supposedly better than Snap-On and Matco, but they’re considerably cheaper. For $900, you can get a 44″ box with 18-gauge steel in the drawers.

You can order from their website, but that’s a bad idea. If you do that, you have to deal with the shipper, and shippers are idiots. They ruin things all the time, and you have to jump through hoops to get things fixed. The best route is to order from Home Depot. The price is about the same, and delivery to your local store is free. Home Depot will then have to eat any shipping problems, and they will also collect the local sales tax so you don’t have to send a check to your state.

It’s a tough choice. I would like to use credit card points, and if you use them to buy Home Depot stuff with a gift card, you get 100% of the value of the points. If you shop at Harbor Freight, you only get 60% of the value. What it boils down to, for me, is about $360 more for the Extreme Tools box. Might be worth it. But then I’ll get hammered again if I buy a side cabinet to go with it.

I see tool organization as part of God’s pattern of correction and ordering. I bought a lot of tools without much thought for storage, so I have stuff all over the place. A second rolling cabinet would make a big dent in the problem.

Speaking of God, things go well in that area. I feel like a fool for taking so long to understand how wonderful correction is, and that it’s the main purpose of our walk with him. I wish I had seen the obvious sooner. I knew it was important, but I didn’t realize it was the biggest blessing available, after salvation.

You can know things without really feeling them in a way that motivates you.

Unfortunately, things are not going as well for people around me. My church is shrinking, and enthusiasm is waning. They insist on loud music and long services, so people come a few times and then get tired of it and move on. I can’t recommend the church to people any more, because I know they won’t stay. Everyone at the church has been made aware of the issues, but they have made a firm decision not to change, so there it is.

Every morning I wake up and spend hours in prayer, and until recently, God gave me revelation which I shared on social media. That’s over. I still get revelation, but I am not permitted to share it. When I consider sharing it, something stops me.

I realize what’s going on. I have been striving to convince people, and they have decided not to listen. I have been wasting my time. God required me to do it for a while, but for my own protection, he has told me to stop.

This is how the Christian life works. The only reason God allows us to remain here in this filthy mess of a world is to reach other people. For that reason, we are required to pray for them and talk to them. But we aren’t supposed to overdo it. We can’t force people to listen. We can’t choose God’s children for him. When people reject us consistently, we are supposed to pull back and let them receive the harvest for which they have sown. That’s where I am now.

If you keep pestering people, your relationship with them deteriorates, and you run the risk of becoming bitter and angry. You also become frustrated, because you feel you’re not achieving anything. When I stopped prodding and encouraging, I felt as though I had put down an anvil. I had been carrying lazy, proud people on my shoulders. It wasn’t until I put them down that I realized they were wearing me out.

It’s a great feeling, but I would rather see people listen and change.

Even God doesn’t get that wish. He can’t change people, and neither can I. He likes to put us in positions where we suffer what he suffers, so we understand what he goes through. Now I know what it’s like to have my time wasted by people who don’t listen. That’s God’s life. The entire Bible is about mankind’s failure to listen and the destruction that followed.

God told me this a few months back: hell isn’t full of sinners; it’s full of people who don’t listen. Sin can’t keep you out of heaven if you are willing to listen. A humble, repentant serial pedophile is better off than a missionary who thinks he knows everything.

Pride is THE worst sin. I know Jesus made it seem like all sins were equal, but he was talking about their effect on salvation. When it comes to destroying a person’s progress with God, pride is IT.

A small number of people have been affected by the things I’ve shared. That’s all I think I will get. Again, I am learning how God feels. He never gets the majority. It’s always a small remnant.

I don’t think the church will be around long. We started churches in Winter Haven and Georgia. The Winter Haven church disappeared, and I’m pretty sure the Georgia church is also gone. There haven’t been any announcements. Things are not going well in the main church. The other day I counted 50 people in attendance, excluding babies and small children. That’s not good. Back when we were moving forward and experiencing revival, attendance was a lot better.

I’ve had a lot of great experiences in the church, and I’ve made some wonderful friends. We have seen each other change for the better. Now I will wait for the next chapter in my life.

I may hop in the truck and check out a flea market today. I’ve never tried it, and they say you can find cast iron skillets and old tools at good prices. If not, it will be a nice outing.