December 15, 2006

Santa's Workshop

Christmas is fast approaching, and I’m ready for it. It’s probably obvious that I prefer making Christmas gifts over buying them. Some of my best gifts from the past include a corduroy purse I sewed for my mom; it was tailored just to her to hang the right length off her shoulder & included a change pouch and a key holder in the top flap so you could find them easily w/o having to dig. I also made loops along 1 inside wall to organize ink pens, a pocket sewn to the size of her check book, and a pouch tailored to snugly fit her old Nokia cell phone. That year she also got a phone case which made the phone too big for its slot. I’m really pleased with that gift because she carried the purse every day for 3+ years until the fabric was completely worn out. Another year I made billet ink pens for everyone on a turret lathe in my machine shop class, they were a hit too. Last year I tried my hand at wood working and made a case for my parents domino set. I designed and cut out the box and a friend of mine did a beautiful job staining and sealing it. I think she turned the craft into a piece of art which will hopefully become a desirable family heirloom along with its contents. I suspect my making it will give me 'dibs' on inheireting the domino set ;)

This year we drew names and I got my dad. It was great; I immediately knew what I wanted to make for him, that’s so much nicer than when I can’t come up with a good idea until a week before the deadline. Now I have time to design and refine. I got material for it this morning and during lunch made a program on the CNC lathe with the conversational controller for 1 of the 6 different parts that will require lathe work.. Since it’s not Christmas yet I’ll say no more about it, only mention that it’s a real blessing to work in a shop where they’re cool with me doing “g-jobs”.

November 1, 2006

Keys to Success

Dear blog, today I wish I used those mood smiley faces so I could really emphasize the ecstatic/cool mood I’m in.
Check out the progress of the BoMToons keychain development!
[quoted from Google Talk conversation]:
me: was thinking of waiting till they were perfected to surprise you with some in the mail, but then I thought I really like when you show me beta versions of your games. wanna see a pic?
Nick: yes plz

Nick: whoa dude!
that looks perfect!!!!!. I want one!!!!!
me: wanna see a pic of yours?
Nick: yes plz. how easy are they to make?
me: yours was freaking hard
Nick: why's that?
me: cause YOURS is gonna be cast aluminium BABY!!!!

Nick: oh sh!t! (Nick censored this himself)
me: Ohhhhh yeeeeah!!!! we're talking lost-wax casting. 1500 degF molten aluminium
Nick: whoa awesome. that's impressive
me: thankyou
Nick: how was [the one in the first picture] done?
me: It all started with your design, I made the CAM file from it and cut out what the finished keychain would look like in machinable wax. From that part I created a silicone mold.

For my keychain I just cured plastic in the silicone mold. For yours I melted wax and poured it into the silicone. Once the wax hardened I removed it from the silicone mold, now have an exact duplicate of the original part. I repeat the wax melting process a few times till I have multiples and then make a plaster mold around them. When the plaster cures I melt the wax "investments" out - thus the name lost wax casting. I built a little 'furnace' and made a bellows (my shop vac set up as a blower). Aluminum melts at 1500 deg F so I stoked up the fire and melted down some old car parts and poured the molten mix into the plaster

Nick: did it turn out ok?
me: 1st batch I totally missed the mold when I poured. If you look at the table you see a big black burned spot. 2nd go round went better. still could be better. The aluminum is cooling too fast, so it doesn’t fill in the mold with great detail.
Nick: ah. you have plans to correct that?
me: a couple.

October 1, 2006

I've had a reoccurring feeling, or maybe I should call it a realization, not really an epiphany with the sudden "Ah ha, now I get it!". This is more something I have come to believe and am still working on implementing. What I've realized is that I don't need to be perfect before I start. Since I am all about manufacturing I like reminding myself of engineering examples; Designs are never perfect before they're released, hopefully they're close to the finished product, but when they're not that is what EOs (Engineering Orders) & design revisions are for.
One of my intentions with this blog is to practice "releasing" unperfected, or unfinished, work. With that said I'm introducing a pic of a new project I am working on for a friend.

August 1, 2006


Just finished reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. I liked it. He made a lot of good points & the reason I agree that they are good is I’m already doing some things he suggests to do and thinking the way he suggests to think. I was just thinking: I’ll spend time reading the inspiration & experiences & learning of someone else, I’d better spend time recording my personal inspiration & experiences & learning. Especially since I know better what’s best for me & what I realize is specific to my application.