Saturday, November 19, 2016


My Grandfather's setsquare and edge gauge
Allow me a little rant on tools. I bought some extra tools for steel work, but thought all my work would be done by professionals. Little did I know.  For the steel work I bought a small inverter welder to augment my old Italian buzz box welder, and both give me good service. I have a small compressor that does everything I need it to, when I do. Mostly I use it for spray painting, but some light use of air tools are called for sometimes: A needle scaler, a small die grinder, everal pneumaic drills, a sander/polisher.

My woodwork tools are mostly manual, and I enjoy using some tools I have from my grandfather.

Circular saw being used as table saw

Saw broken

Saw fixed...
B&D belt sander, nice and small, light, but belts are not easy to find

Dead mouse, live mouse

Dear angle grinders. 
Professional angle grinder

But most of my tools are electrical, and there is my gripe. For the boat I bought a small 1KW generator, a Kippur, which has given great service, because I do not have electricity where I work at the moment. In due course this generator should be installed in a cockpit locker.

I have an old circular saw, a 500 Watt Black and Decker. It has given great service over many years. The other day I dropped it, and its handle shattered. And I can get no replacement saw under 1200 Watt. Which would not work on the generator. And those are too heavy and clumsy. Bosch does make a smaller, 800W model, but it is not imported into South Africa. In the end Superglue did the job, and the old saw is working again. Manufacturers, can you please take note: Bigger is not always better!

Sanders are essential. I use a Black and Decker orbital sander, it is good and reasonably handy, but the emery cloth is held in place by two feeble springs. I wish for a better method. I also have an old B&D belt sander that had been consigned to a crate because I could not find belts. But with online shopping I can now get belts that fit with some struggle, and last longer than the original ones did. If it goes I will have the same problem: All the new machines are much biger and stronger, heavier and over my power limit.

I also have a new Black and Decker mouse. A small sander, it is handy and very strong. I used it to clean the rusty steel, clean up the undercoat, cut the filling epoxy, and many other jobs, far beyond that one should ask it to do. It got wet and blew an internal fuse on the curcuit board, which I shorted with some copper wire. But at last, one sad day, it went "phut" and died. I now have a new one.

Working with steel is impossible without an angle grinder. I used to have an AEG industrial one, and after years of (ab)use the gear system stripped. Now the parts do exist, but I cannot get them from the agent. I found them on an Australian website, but the dealer there refers me to the South African dealer, who does not answer my enquiries. I then bought a Bosh Professional grinder, a beautiful machine. And then Ryobi offered a promotional pack with a small angle grinder in it. This has done good work, it is useful to have two machines: one with a cutoff blade and one with a grinding blade. But just the other day it went "phut" and died. Sad. Maybe the gear unit can be transplanted to the AEG?

I used to have a DeWalt electric drill, which I bought after previous hobby drills either exploded or broke. The DeWalt gave good service but the gears stripped, and could not be replaced in South Africa. The repairman recommended a Sparky, said to be a German industrial machine. My son turned up his nose: An industrial machine, and all in plastic? But twenty years later it is still going strong.

Sparky drill. A champion. 
With the Ryobi promotional pack came a small (350 Watt) drill. I used it often because it is light, but the real use is as a motor for my small Unimat lathe. It used to have a 75 Watt two speed motor that blew up, and now I have variable speed and too much power for the little lathe. In the next blog I will show how I use it for wood work.

Small Ryobi drill doubling as lathe motor. 
Woodwork is not my thing, but my ex-father-in-law enjoyed it, and left us a number of tools, including a Ryobi router. The boat work forced me to learn to use it, and it is an interesting tool, though much of its uses are beyond me. The problem is: it has an 8mm collet. Most of the tools we can get here have ¼ inch, or 6mm shanks. So there is a reducer, which is a problem. And the collet is broken, so it falls apart when you take it out. Well, the series is discontinued, the collets are not available, and I could make one on the small lathe, but a die for 1.25mm threas will cost half of what a new router will cost. We can put a man on the moon but we cannot standardise on collets? Really?

On cordless tools: I have a Bosch cordless drill/screwdriver, passed on by Alexander. The battery pack has gone south, amd a new battery pack will cost what a replacement cordless drill would be. Since it is a 12 volt machine the drill goes into the boat; with a little rewiring it will run off the battery system.

Ryobi router, but the collet cannot be replaced!
I am also looking into a cordless vacuum, as my present hand-me-down vacuum uses 1800 Watt, so the alternative is hand cleaning...

Slave labour: Cleaning by hand

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bunk beginning to look like something

Front bunk design in place
And the woodwork continues. The design and building of the bunk in the front cabin is taking shape. Keep in mind that it has to be removable, and has to go in through the main hatch, and you will relise that the think has to be made in sections. I had a lot of help from Shahnaz, and also from the dogs, who were not at all reassured that I know what I am doing. Of course I do not, this is an organic design process. I am reminded often of Doug Jackson's saying: I learnt so much from my mistakes that I am planning to make some more.
Are you sure the thing is set for 35mm?

What are you doing there?
My grandson, Diederick, came to help, and thought I am maing a mess inside, so he started cleaning. Much appreciated! The first time he came for a visit he was not quite as helpful.

And we are looking at bow art. My artistic abilities did not impress many people, so Sharon made up a few dessigns. I am inclined to this one. Coments are welcome.

Semi-final concept. 

Oupa, this place is a mess!
On his first visit he slept on the job. 
Sharon's bow art. Comments?