09 June 2011

Workbench upgrades

I made the workbench height kind of low on purpose, both to accommodate Lemontree and to make it easier to work on tall things sitting on the bench. One drawback to this was the (lack of) height of the grinder, which I use to make and sharpen toolbits for the lathe. I had some scrap plywood left over from making the tool bench, so I sawed a few chunks off and made a grinder riser/storage box:

The box's dimensions were largely dictated by the size of my scrap. It holds a "dressing stick" and a cup of water. The grinding wheel is a mixture of abrasive and an ablative material; after a time, it stops grinding and just rubs on what you're trying to grind. The dressing stick has abrasives of it's own which strip off this glazed layer of ablative and gets you back down to fresh abrasive. The cup of water is to cool the toolbits periodically -- otherwise scorched fingers result. You might ask why I don't wear gloves? Well, you never, ever want to wear gloves when working around any kind of rotating machinery. Gloves might sound like a good idea to keep your fingers from getting scorched or scraped, but in reality you have less control of your toolbit with gloves and worse, the gloves tend to catch between the wheel and the toolrest or guard which grabs you and sucks you in. Ugly.

I also got to use my new drill press for the second time today. Yesterday was the first; I have a little motorcycle lock key that had a big ugly plastic handle. I broke the plastic off and drilled a tiny hole in the metal key shank so I could put it directly on my keychain:

Much better.

My second use of the new drill press was to drill and countersink the strip of steel that I just put across the front lip of the work bench:

I probably can't call this an upgrade, because I had planned to do it all along but it got put on the back burner until the Jetta was done. The strip has three functions: 1) protect the wood edge when humping large, heavy, hard objects like transmissions up onto it; 2) to keep round objects from rolling off the front of the work bench, never to be found again; and 3) to provide a durable surface for pushing or banging on things to put them together or take them apart.

I used a countersink bit so the screw heads sit flush and don't stick up above the metal strip, but unlike a drill bit that makes neat little curly strings of swarf, the countersink makes thousands of tiny sharp needles. Nasty. I used a rare-earth magnet to pull most of them out of my skin. Again, no gloves around rotating machinery, so that's about the best I could do. Hopefully countersinking is not something I have to do often...

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