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Showing posts from April 26, 2009

Made to last - My Top 5

How many of your tools have reached the 10 year service mark? The other day I realised a number of the items on my workbench have hit this vintage. Some I can remember buying when I was still in highschool. That makes them at least 15 years old. Apart from a few cosmetic wrinkles, these tools are still going strong. Costing these purchases out over this sort of timeline makes the prices seem ridiculously cheap.


1) Dremel Multi-tool (1996)
These have gone through several evolutions since, at least as far as the body design goes. The ability to cut tiny amounts of material at incredibly high speeds has proven useful in countless situations. The wafer thin abrasive cut-off wheels are just magic when you want a fine clean cut into hardened metals. Whatever it lacks in sheer grunt it makes up for in triplicate with precision.The tungsten-carbide cutters have also proven themselves in many tight spots.

2) Maglite - 3xD Cell Krypton Flashlight(1993)
Its been dropped, lost, forgotten, mistreate…

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The Great Step-Stool

It began with a friend deciding his mother needed a basic timber step-stool. An offer of help by a friendly cabinet maker soon followed. What unfolded was one of the most enjoyable learning exercises I have taken part in. We ran well over-schedule, but we learnt a lot:

1) Improving on the basic design (aesthetics)
Original design was just a box. But, it was argued, if we are going to go to all this trouble, why not make a nice looking box. This meant more than just polishing it up, it meant incorporating design elements that would be visually appealing. Clean lines, curves, and so forth. Drawings became necessary (we had no drawing to start with, as it was just going to be a box) ... soon measurements were being taken and pencilled in. Tape measures and rulers were being applied to timber and body parts. Ideas were forming.

2) Timber selection and preparation
The timber had to be sound and dry. But as we would be joining boards side-on, what about matching the grain as closely as possible…

The magic of silicone

A reader pointed out the other day I had neglected to include silicone rubber in my list of low cost consumables for your toolbox. I have to confess it took me a while to warm up to this as a product. Probably for the same reason that I have since been taught to love it. This stuff is about as non-bio-degradeable as you can get. It is one of those mysterious products brought to us by modern science that can endure the extremes of weather, temperature and moisture and still hold a watertight seal for 20 years. It doesn`t react much with other chemicals, insects don`t like eating it and bacteria and other microbes are not terribly fond of it either.

On the downside, even when it has eventually given out and you scrape it out of your shower recess and replace it with a fresh bead, the stuff you laid down 20 years ago isn`t going to disappear just because you want it to. Who knows how much of this stuff is in our garbage tips now but odds are its going to be hanging around the planet for a…