The Mandatory Blog

Saturn V – A New Hope

Just a really quick one – Tammy totally blew me out of the water by getting me a resin 3D printer for my birthday yesterday.  I’ve done 3 prints so far. Firstly a Mini to compare against the one I did on the normal 3D printer – way better detail, but the 3D model I used isn’t very good and the printer really caught the imperfections too well.
Next was a Deadpool bust which is unreal in quality and detail, and finally I’ve just taken it off the printer – Saturn 5 rocket section!
It’s under the UV lamps to cure right now, I’ll add a picture when I can tomorrow.

So, so happy, this opens so many new doors for detail, but also gives me a new skillset to learn!

Sierra Pen Mini Blanks

“Mini” blanks for Sierra Pen

10 days since my last update? Not bad for me!
It’s been a constructive 10 days though.  I’ve put up some lighting in the shed above the bench and I’ve 3D printed an adjustable camera stand to give me a consistent viewing angle for doing videos.

Making the Sierra style pen blanks

I’m putting a couple of Sierra style pens together, and have gone back to something I played with around this time last year – putting images into pens.

Last year it was about making pens for the new year with ‘2020’ logo’s in them and some lucky Chinese coins.  Looking at how 2020 has worked out I didn’t miss out on much with not getting those done!

I decided this time to start off with a couple of blanks with pictures of Mini’s in them.  I knew that somewhere I had pictures of my last Mini ‘Raven’ that I wanted to use but I was having trouble finding them.  Being impatient I took a couple of pictures of a model I have of a classic rally Mini, then found the pictures I’d been looking for.  Ideally I wanted to laser print them, but my laser printer at the moment is another story, so standard printing it is, for the moment.

For some time I’ve also been working on 3D printing some pen blank moulds which all work as a set – more on that separately soon, as I’m going to offer the print files on the site. 

Each pen tube is a different size; so firstly you have to measure the length and circumference, then print the images sized to fit and cut out. 

Next you apply glue to the back to adhere it to the tube.  Not too much, you don’t want it seeping at the sides, but not so little that it won’t stick.

The tube has been primed with white primer.  Doing this gives you crisper colours than leaving the tube as plain brass.
Now carefully align the picture on the tube – it has to be perfectly straight.

Wrap the picture around the tube, making sure there’s no air bubbles.
If you got your picture size right there should be just the slightest of overlap where the top meets the bottom.

Repeat for all your pictures.

My mould set gives you silicone endcaps – a cone slides into the tube ends to stop resin from seeping inside and needing extra work before assembly.  It also reduces the need to trim the blanks as they’re the perfect size.

Now press the tubes into the moulds.  The moulds are designed to leave enough space around to give you a thick enough blank to use while keeping resin usage as low as possible.

For this project I’m using Glasscast resin.

I’ve decanted some into the little bottles you get with hair dye – I really like them as they hold enough for several small projects but give you fine control on how much resin you are pouring.

Resin mixed and poured into the mould.

I pour slowly with the mould at an angle lengthways to prevent air bubbles.  Tapping the mould when full helps dislodge any that may have got in, then heat across the top pops any on the surface.

…and the final result removed from the mould.

I’ll give them around a week to completely cure before turning.  When making the silicone mould, the master has the pen type built into the design – so these blanks come out with “Sierra” on the side to make sure there’s no mix up when a number of blanks of different types are stored together.

Sierra Pen Mini Blanks

Thanks for reading, the next update should be the making of the pens!

Website revamp

Had a bit of fun this morning, checking out popular blog website designs for inspiration and gave this one a bit of a tidy up to bring it up to date with a more modern style.
You’ll notice the circle logo is gone, the most recent posts are highlighted at the top and it’s got a side bar further down so it’s not just one long boring scroll down and the surrounding boxes on everything have been binned to make it a cleaner read.
While you’re here, why not have a browse around some of my recent posts and see what I’ve been up to?

New Gisi Blanks Nov 2020

Tidy up & it’s nearly what?!?

New Gisi Blanks Nov 2020

It’s the first of November.  In the UK we’re going into lockdown again on Thursday and after a week of feeling rough I’m pleased to say I’ve tested negative for Corona.

So, not much done this week.  I’ve created a couple of new ‘Gisi’ style pen blanks, one a colour mix and the other a bright orange, both for Sierra style pens.  I’ve also printed a new blank ready for a pen that I’ve been working on for some time, on and off.  Also created a new mould for Sierra type pens, as I’d like to get back to casting pens with pictures in them.

Had a bit of a tidy up in the shed so I can accommodate the laser  burner(s) and make a more suitable setup for filming my work.

The 3D printer has been a pain in the neck. Unfortunately Saturn V didn’t work the way I wanted so I went down to the finer .02mm nozzle, but it still didn’t work out too well, and since then the printer has been a nightmare. After going back to the standard 0.04mm nozzle it blocked up, I’ve had banding appearing in my prints and a complete lack of layers sticking together.  The bed has been cleaned, I’ve re-levelled it half a dozen times, changed the Bowden tube (the pipe that carries the filament to the hot end) and re-tensioned the Y belt.  I think it might want a bit of time on the desk and a bit of deep cleaning and TLC.
Needless to say, Saturn V is back on the shelf. 

Oh, and apparently is nearly Xmas.

Saturn V and general update

I’ve been playing with some finer settings on my 3D printer, and think that maybe the Saturn V pen idea is worth  visit. As I type (11:20 25/10/20) I’m trying a print of the rocket base.
Because of the layer lines in 3D prints, I didn’t think I was going to get a decent enough result from this printer and it would need to stay shelved until I can afford / justify a resing printer….. but I’ve just had a play about with settings and have it printing layers a LOT thinner than I’ve played with previously. Fingers crossed!
(If it still doesn’t quite work, I’ve got a printer nozzle that is .2mm, so half of the current size.  It means some painful playing with printer settings if I have to go down that route, but again increases the quality.)

The Italian Job – I’ve dismantled the Mini. It obviously needs the paint stripped, but I think I’d like to find someone local who can sandblast it clean instead of going through the messiness of using paint stripper.

Camera Dolly – I’m quite excited about this one.  I’ve tested the parts, and they were generally very close fits.  A little re-design was needed, parts re-printed and a quick test using the drill attached to the threaded bar showed the idea itself will work.
The problem is the pitch of the thread is so tight that movement is going to be painfully slow.  I’ve ordered some Z-Rod for 3D printers to use instead which should be much better.
Yes, I’ll have to do more redesign but it’ll be worth it.
I’m using the same basic Arduino idea that I used in the cup rotator, but I’ve had some help on the code to let me run 2 motors together from the board. (Yes, my Arduino programming is that basic!) I’ve uploaded the program, but had to order some circuit board to allow me to distribute the power between the Arduino and 2 motors without burning the Arduino out.

Custom Bead Assembly Jig

If you’ve read my last couple of posts, you’ll know that I’m working on creating custom Pandora style beads that I can put items such as pet hair into as a keepsake.

This is the mould used to create the beads……

… and holding it popped out would allow the hair to be wrapped around.

Personally I think this would be impractical, as one hand is constantly holding the mould – which wants to spring back to shape.  Also, I’m not sure about the effect this would have on the mould long term in weakening it or causing it to lose shape over time.

The solution?  To have something to wrap the objects around / stick on to UV resin.  I can’t use anything 3D printed for this, as the resin will adhere to it.  Ideally it should also be silicone, just like the mould.

This is the shape I came up with, allowing for different diameters to be made. The little lips just help in holding whatever I’m adding in position.

So, how to make it in silicone?  Well, I can’t make a silicone mould of this to cast a silicone mould, as the new silicone would just stick to the old. I could very easily just make a 3D printed mould of the shape by virtually ‘cutting it out’ of a solid block and printing that.  But no, that would be too easy…….  

The route I’m going down is to use dental alginate.  You know the gunk that the dentist make an imprint of your teeth with? That.

It’s quite commonly used in the hobby world to make plaster casts – babies feet, couples holding hands – you know the type of thing.  It sets quite fast and silicone doesn’t stick to it.

So here it is all mixed (it has a nice minty smell!) with the shape pressed into it.
It’s a really fine powder (think cornflour), hence the mess.

When set after just a few minutes it very easily pulled out with a satisfying ‘pop’

And you can pour in your silicone.  The rubber band was to help pull it out, I didn’t know if the alginate would grip onto it at all and didn’t want to have to rip it apart if I could help it.

But it actually came out really easily.

And there I had it! A silicone mould to make the wrapping process easier, which can easily be held in the hand.

But hold on…… surely one of the reasons I was doing this was to free up my hand?  I mean, I could stand it on the desk top and work sideways, but again it’s making life awkward.

Time to get creative!

So here’s the answer! a quick printed design to make life easier.

It’s been a busy couple of days, but I’m more than happy with the result, and quite look forward to the next stage once I get something to work with.

Thanks for reading!

Euro beads (Pandora type beads)

Just a very quick update. It's quarter past 11 at night, I've been playing with a couple of things. One is the first test models for a camera jig idea (currently printing) and the other is one of the essential steps to creating the custom Euro Style beads that I want to do.

Yes, adding something like hair can be done directly into the bead mould, which I suspect is how most people do it. I can see that as being quite fiddly with the potential to weaken the mould and shorten its lifespan.

My idea is to have a small silicone moulding to cast the object(s) around which can then be inserted into the bead mould. Unfortunately I'm adding this from my phone and it's not uploading the pictures, so I'll have to add them later, but my idea was to have a silicone cone shape to start the moulding around. I 3D printed it, but needed to be able to actually have it made of silicone.... Whereas normally I would cast a silicone mould around the printed model.

Yes, I could have printed it in negative and filled the 3D printed mould, but I felt that this would be more difficult to remove and really wanted to try something new. That dental alginate I was talking about yesterday.

I created the alginate mould (a little messy, the powder is very fine but has a nice minty smell). It doesn't have much work time, so when set I had to get the silicone in there quite sharpish. The good news is, it worked. I'll get the pictures on here tomorrow.

Mini bought from ebay

New projects

Wow, so yet again I’ve taken ages to do an update on here. Sorry guys…. hold on, does anyone actually come here and read my drivel anyways?!?

Well, if you do, I’ve got a few ideas and projects lined up / started! 

1.  Pandora bracelet style charms

I’ve recently bought some moulds for resin casting Pandora style charms, and the silver centres.  At the moment I’m still in the early experiment phase, but want to try putting things like pet hair into them for keepsakes.

2. The Mini

No, not a real one.  As much as it would be nice to have another one, it’s too expensive to buy one that doesn’t need work, and I don’t have anywhere to store and work on one that does.
So we come to the Mini in the picture – it’s a standard Corgi model which is in poor shape.  It’s the same as the ones that I’ve got a few of already, but I want to try a resin casting project and didn’t want to sacrifice one of my existing ones.

I know as a rule I’m not very forthcoming with project details before they start – but considering very few people will read this, it’s a good place to pop my personal notes on it.
The model needs work – especially that front grill. It just needs one that is in place visually, it doesn’t have to fix in like a proper model one, so I’m going to create a mould from one of my existing models and cast a new one in resin. It’ll need the paint stripped off and repainted, then I’ve still got some waterslide decal paper hanging around somewhere to made the bonnet stripes and turn it into an Italian Job Mini.
The gaps around the wheels will be filled in, probably with UV resin (resin which hardens under UV light) just to make it airtight / watertight.
Using a small pop bottle I’ll cast some black resin around the outside of it to make the inside of a tube (can you see where I’m going with this yet? 🙂 ). A smaller stream of blue resin will be cast on the inside of the bottle.  With the bottle removed, the outer pipe will be on its side, with the stream place in the bottom.
The Mini will then be on an angle coming out of the water (with a few UV resin splashes, hopefully) and then filled with clear resin around it (probably using the inside of another pop bottle).
This can then be turned to clean it up and polished to recreate the famous Italian Job escape scene.

3. Mini Pens

I’ve got some Seirra style pen kits on order.

Most of the cast pen blanks I have sitting around are the size for this style of pen, but it’s also about the most popular pen for people putting images into the body.  It would be nice to create some pens with people’s Mini pictures in them, and it someone wants to actually part with cold, hard cash for me doing so, well I won’t be arguing 🙂

4. Pens

Yes, I’m trying to get back into doing pens.  Since the move, I now have most things set up again and I’m currently in the middle of a coconut wood one which last week was a pain and split while turning.

I got some new kits in January which are a bit posher and really nice, but didn’t realise I didn’t have the right bushings for them until last week.  I’ve now got those. Let’s just see how this goes.

5. Laser Engraving

Since getting the slightly bigger 3D printer over 2½ years ago, the original one (Ender 2) hasn’t seen a lot of use.
I toyed with putting a laser on it at one point, and created a cradle for the laser head which made it’s way onto Thingiverse and I think a couple of people have tried out.  Because this used modified 3D print files, it kept the 3D printer as it was with the original board etc.
Stupidly I used a laser head from my little Neje laser – that runs at 5v. The 3D printer puts outs 12v, which means I burned the laser out.
I decided to use it as an opportunity to revamp the whole thing, and replaced the 3D printer board with a popular development board called Arduino, which now has a motor controller board attached. I took the 3D print head off, bought a slightly higher power laser and 3D printed a cradle for it to sit in instead of the print head.
Frankly, I jumped into it too quick and didn’t understand what the heck I was doing. I had several disappointing hours trying to configure it and ended up falling out with it for a few months and since moving it’s sat rather broodingly on the shelf.
Recently I did some more research and got hold of a much better program for the computer side of it, and I’m actually now in the position of having it up and running with some successful test prints.
I need to design some sort of jig to print on round/cylindrical objects, but I see a bright future for it.

I’ve got a project in mind called Project Phoenix, which will involve laser-cut wood veneers. That’s quite an intensive project, so that one IS under wraps for now 🙂

I think that’s it for now.  Let’s see if I can try to keep this updated again, huh?

Take care!

Mr Pricklepants The Video!

So here it is, the thing you didn’t even know you were waiting for!

A little montage video from the garden camera, with an audio track featuring a song written especially for it! (Not by me, but by a great guy called Euan Bennett who turned a couple of simple ideas into a tune and I’ve mashed together to make as long as the video itself.)

pricklepants hedgehog

Meeting Mr Pricklepants

Wow, over 2 months!  Sorry for the delay in getting back on here, it’s been a busy time!
We’ve now moved into a fabulous 200-year old cottage with a lovely garden.  I’ve got my hobby room about 75% sorted (so basically it’s in as much disarray as the old one) and I’m working on getting the woodworking gear set back up.
The garden has also brought some new things, not least of all an abundance of nature.  Pictured above is one of our nightly visitors, Mr Prickpants, who is a decent sized ouchmouse.  We didn’t know if we’d have one, so bought some hedgehog food and popped it out – lo and behold, Pricklepants showed his little face and went for it.  After a few nights of watching him in the dusk I bought a nature camera and got a few great pictures, which have now progressed to videos. I’m trying to get to grips with the video editing that I had started to learn, so expect to see something soon!   

Having to sort and pack everything I’ve realised that I’ve actually tried quite a few things with my designs and attempts over the last 3 years.  I’ve made frame for binding books (which I made a few of and sold), made a frame for a wheelchair user to use a Nerf gun (unfortunately the parent I was working with didn’t participate much and the idea fizzled out near the end of the design), took up the lathe side of woodworking, resin casting to go with the pens which led to playing with resin in general, the 3D designs and prints in general….. my list seems to go on!  And I’m adding to them… we’ve now got a vegetable patch up and running, and I’m thinking about taking up some winter nights with traditional art, which I used to be quite into.
With so many things, I’m toying with the idea of getting a few of them onto video…. let’s see how far that goes.

Ok, that’s enough words for now. Have fun, and stay safe!

A small delay

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that for a little while we’ve been unhappy at our home since new neighbours moved in.  We’ve found a new property which is absolutely amazing and suits our calmer, peaceful lifestyle a bit more…. but like everything of this nature that has meant about 3 weeks of mad panic ahead. I’m having to sort out the cellar (long overdue) and get everything packed up, so I can’t see much work going on project-wise. 

I guess what I’m trying to say, is I might not get the chance to update here, and if I do it won’t be brilliant content of amazing new ideas 🙂  Sorry, you’ll just have to bear with me!

Stay safe out there!

About time for an update….

So, we’re into June now and 11 or so weeks from the start of lockdown in the UK.
I’m in a bit of flux with everything at the moment – the pen making has taken a back seat for the moment, as has the resin casting.
I’d like to be able to do better videos of my work and progress, so I’ve been learning a bit about video editing software.  Hopefully I’ll be able to show the results of that over the coming weeks.
The 3D design and printing has continued.
At the moment I have 2 main projects on the go, both laser related.
Up until now I’ve been using the small Neje laser unit with the pen jig, as detailed in earlier posts.  This unit has a working size of around 8cm square, so quite small.  In order to engrave larger items I’m converting my older “Ender 2” 3D printer into a laser engraver – I’ll cover that in another post.

The main picture and sketch above are my other project – another jig for the Neje laser, but this time for something much smaller.  This has brought about it’s own challenges and even though the model shown has all of the final pieces in place, the printing hasn’t finished and testing still has to take place.  Hopefully the idea that I have in mind is a unique one, if a little gimmicky and possibly even getting into the realms of being tacky. I’m not going to say exactly what it is just yet, just in case someone is watching who’ll dive in first and rob me of my millions! 🙂 

Bug Fix

Visitors may have noticed before now that my website has been showing in the address bar as unsecured and hasn’t had an https: prefix.
I’ve previously spent some time following guides online, but hit errors and just couldn’t get my head around them.
While playing around on YouTube, someone I was watching mentioned Fiverr, which I’ve never been on before. For those of you who don’t know, Fiverr is basically like Etsy but for services offered by people worldwide.
A search brought up quite a few people who offered fixes, but I was a bit wary as the most economical ones (ie, cheap) were all overseas.  However, I picked one who had a good number of high rating reviews and took the plunge…. was I going to regret this?
Now, I’m not completely stupid – I knew they would need access to the admin rights of my WordPress and Cpanel (basically the technical bits that run the site), so I changed my passwords to temporary ones so as not to reveal mine.
Well, barring any future security problems (which judging by the reviews aren’t going to be an issue), it was a 100% positive experience. The guy was beyond helpful, due to my old site logins still being in Chrome auto-fill settings, I had issues getting the right information to him… he even sent a little video of the error to help me get around it, and sorted the problem quickly and easily.  Actually, he also found a few errors I was unaware of that he fixed too (which I hadn’t realised were actually showing up in the WordPress control panel).
The long and short of it is that I now have my site secured (you’ll see the little padlock in the address bar) and I’ve totally enjoyed getting it done, all at a bargain basement price. Why so cheap? Well, being in a country with a MUCH lower cost of living and wage rate than the UK, the guy actually made an average 2 days’ wage for just over an hours work. My passwords are restored and to be honest, from the reviews and the money he must be making from his Fiverr work, I can’t see my website being any sort of target for hacking. Fingers crossed lol.

Doing my bit

It’s been a crazy week! Here in the UK it’s (for me at least) been week 2 of the govt instructed lockdown, week 3 of working from home; a week of Free Joe Exotic meme’s and possibly the funniest Facebook group I’ve ever been in, and a week of being…well, useful.
I think I know my audience here, and that means you probably know me personally. So you’ll know I’m not a big follower of internet fads, don’t forward that message you sent me offering riches if I pass it on to 15 people. You know I don’t go in for following things as a rule, but this time I’ve made an exception. 
The 3D printer has been working on making some of these retaining straps for some medical professionals  in my area – they hold the elastics of face masks so they don’t get uncomfortable being held in place by the wearers ears.
50 so far have gone to nurses in a maternity unit, and another 30 to a local hospital.  I’ve got more filament on order and will make them until I kill the printer with over-work or they’re no longer needed.  Hopefully the latter 🙂

It hasn’t all been that though, I’ve still managed to make the new rotating frame.  The new design went together well, all fitted first time and is a better unit all around. 
Assembly was a bit of a learning curve, with a couple of minor changes on the fly (I had to design and print nearly 20 little spacers to take up some slack) but when I powered it up, a real surprise was in store……
What? how? I filed the gears to make sure they were smooth, the bearings allowed everything to spin freely, I had printed stressed parts more densely to make them stronger. It was jumping as the top went down into the first swing, just like the original.  Then I had a thought – the whole design is a little top heavy due to the gearing. What if gravity was affecting it and pulling it down?  A few minutes in my design program, a few more minutes printing, and I’d made a counterweight for the bottom. 
And guess what? It only flipping worked! Yes, there’s still a small jitter, but not enough to be bothered about.  I set it going overnight with a test casting strapped in.  Came to it in the morning….. it was sitting clicking.  The frame was catching the side support.  After the set of 30 mask straps had finished I printed a newer support which gave some extra clearance, and that’s it – it’s done.  It works.

I love it when a plan comes together!

I’ve managed to finish the prototype Rotoframe, and it actually works!
Ok, it’s a little jumpy at 2 places in the revolution, but it turns the way it should.  The outer frame rotates, with the inner frame rotating at 2 times the speed in the opposite axis – like a gyroscope.
What’s it all for , and why am I going to such effort?
Well, I have an ultimate aim of something to try – I haven’t seen it anywhere else yet, on YouTube or in facebook groups – so either it doesn’t work, or no-one has tried it yet.  I find that hard to believe, but live in hope!
That’s why I’m not going to reveal the exact goal on here – I know I don’t get many of you reading this drivel, but just in case someone gets the idea and is quicker/more determined than me, I’m keeping it to myself for now 🙂
However, it has got something to do with making a hollow resin shell – which is where this all comes in.
You put a little resin into the mould, pop it into the middle of the frame (I’m using elastic bands to hold it) and set it going.  The resin sets quite slowly, so the rotoframe turns it through each plane as it sets so that it coats the inside of the mould with a thin layer as it cures. This should result in a hollow object.
As you can see from the video the first one is a bit jumpy. I’ve spent today re-designing it so I can use some little bearings which should make it all a bit smoother.  That new version is printing now.
Wish me luck ! 

A new idea in the pipeline

Just a very quick one before I call it a night tonight.
I’m currently into the 6th hour of 3D printing my next little project piece – using the same motor and circuitry as the Cup Turner (Which I haven’t tried yet, btw), I’m working on something that I haven’t seen anywhere else yet.  I guess that means I might have to video document it a little bit and maybe it’ll be my next YouTube video…..
Anyway, this picture is a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of the 3D design process, and how much complexity it can involve.  This exploded design is after I designed it all together as it will eventually be assembled.  If I think on tomorrow I’ll show it as a temporary assembly, it’ll probably be the weekend before the final build.  

Keep safe and isolated everyone!

Update – 03/04/2020 – 00:38

The printer has continued working today, turning that design into reality.  These are the bits that had been printed a few hours ago, now I’ve made a few updates and little size adjustments which are printing for the next hour or so, then the 2 final small connecting pieces need to print and it’s done.  That circular bit in the middle with the long stick coming out of it has already been re-designed.

I’ve also managed to roughly assemble the outer frame and link it up to the motor – it’s working ok, so the size is right, but the parts that are printing now should finalise it. It’ll definitely need fixed down during use!

So what is it?  I’ll let you know when I’m happy that it’s working, because after that Phase II needs to take place!

…sneak peak….
As I’m fortunate enough to have a screen/tablet, sometimes I do my working out on the computer too….. this makes sure I remember all the changes I want.

Quick Update

Nothing major to update this week.  Obviously like everyone else in the UK it’s been an isolation week with just a couple of essential shopping trips and staying in the house.
While everyone in my FaceBook pen making groups seem to be ploughing through projects, suprisingly I’ve done very little.  I’ve got a couple of projects I’m still working on, but again haven’t gone past the basic steps with them.  Let’s see what happens tomorrow…..
In the meantime, stay safe people, stay indoors and lets look after each other by keeping away from each other 😉

Actually, no, I lied!
I completely forgot that my new Arduino Uno board and CNC Shield arrived during this week! I’ve got my Ender 3 3D printer that does most of my work these days, and the Ender 2 (which decided a while ago it was going to just start being a pain for no reason) has been sitting there – so I’m going to utilise it’s hardware to make a larger laser engraver than my little Neje unit.  So I’ve had some interesting(!) fun trying to learn how to do that. Just waiting for the new laser to arrive and I’ll be trying it out!

OK, as you were, nothing more to see here 😉

Modified Slimlines

You’ve seen plenty of my slimline pens where the kit is made as-is with the centre band in place.
There’s an alternative way to make them where the body is a single unit without the centre band, which I quite like personally.
This week I bought the longer drill bits that are necessary to be able to make them, as you’re drilling right through the full length in one go.

Making them is a little more complex than a normal slimline – after marking the length required you don’t cut them down and drill them on the drill press.  Using a chuck to hold it on the lathe you use a long drill bit in the tailstock to drill through the length and cut it to length while on the lathe.  The tube for the clip gets glued into place as normal, but the lower tube just pushes in and sits there.  You pop it on the lathe and then turn as normal.

When assembling, you take the lower tube by itself and press the front piece into it, followed by the twist mechanism in the top end. The ink is inserted, then the whole lower section pushed into place without gluing – this allows it to be removed for replacing the ink.  The endcap and clip are then pressed into the top and it’s finished!  

The first one I made was the red and blue swirl one below; I’ve had the blank for a while and just haven’t found the right project for it until now.
I’m quite happy with the way it came out.  

Next came making one from wood.  In my box I found I had a couple of the black hardware sets, and remembered doing the mechanical pencil some time ago in Sapele – that also had black hardware and is a long, slim one piece.
Picking out another blank of Sapele, it drilled out nicely and turned down well also – as the top was quite narrow to match the pencil style, I gave it a nice bit of support for holding at the bottom.  Sanded down, cleaned and buffed with Yorkshire Grit, I finished it with my new friction polish mixture.
Fully assembled, it looks great as a set with the pencil!

Noble, Gisi Blanks and Simple Wood

I seem to have developed a few nemesis pens that just won’t go right for me; the custom pen I’ve been working on for a friend for a while, the Saturn V pen and all of the Noble style pen kits.
The Noble kits just aren’t a lucky one for me; I’ve had tubes stick halfway in when gluing, lost kit parts, numerous blank failures when drilling and turning… the list seems endless.
Until today! A simple Black Walnut design, I glued the tubes of this one with a slower setting glue that expands slightly as it sets.
I also used a new sealing finish on it which is a home-mixed one that’s quite popular at the moment; a mixture of denatured alcohol, French polish and Tung Oil.
Tung Oil alone dries quickly but gives a matt finish.  French polish dries glossy but takes a while to dry.  Mixed together, the denatured alcohol works to help them combine.  Left alone it separates, so needs to be shaken before usage each time…. but I like the finish it gives 🙂 

Gisi Blanks

There’s a particular style of blank called a Gisi blank – I believe I’ve mentioned these before when I did a white one.
That last one followed a long route, where I 3D print the blank outline, cast it in silicone to make an outline mould, cast that in resin then filled the outline with different colours.
This time around I’ve printed five new designs – these two are very similar and would probably work well as the body and cap of a single pen.  I’ve filled the 3D prints directly with the same colour scheme and I’m quite looking forward to turning them.
Obviously the first image is the actual items, the second is a 3D simulation of them turned down.

Simple wood slimline

I’ve had a few new things that I’ve tried go wrong lately, so did this nice slimline just to lift my spirits and to try out the new polish described above.
Can’t remember which wood it is, I just picked one up and worked it 🙂

Hello YouTube!

Well, it’s finally happened – I’ve uploaded a video onto YouTube!

It’s hardly exciting, but it’s a start… my assembly of the 3D printed mug rotator that I made.


Coffin Mould

I’m playing with the idea of adding videos on here, and had to start somewhere.
I’ve recently made a black resin coffin trinket box to try out a different colouring technique, and yesterday cast the lid.
In the resin casting community on Instagram, demoulding videos are quite popular, and because it’s a short process I decided to go down that route for my first attempt…. and here it is!
at 30 seconds long with no sound it’s not exactly ground-breaking, but it’s a new first for me!

The Sparkly White One

In my last update I mentioned the white sparkly pen that I made the body for then realised I didn’t have silver hardware to go with it.  Well, the new pen kits arrived, and now that it has been received by its new owner I can post this picture.  As usual with anything sparkly, the photo doesn’t do it justice! 
I like it so much I can easily see a similar one coming in a different pen design quite soon.

The Harlequin Progresses

I’ve now cast the second set of cubes for the Harlequin pen.
It’s a terrible photo which was taken in a hurry – when I got it into the computer I found it was out of focus and overly bright. (Note to self : wear glasses when using camera!)
But it gives you an idea, and I’m quite looking forward to getting the cubes sanded down and glued together. 

Insomnia Coffin

Last night I woke up in the early hours, for some reason just wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep.  4am probably isn’t the best time to start a resin casting, but that’s what I ended up doing.
I’ve never cast in this mould before and went for a technique of dusting the inside edges and all of the bottom with Purple dust and pouring in a flat black with just a touch of charcoal powder.  Quite pleased with it, although on one edge there was a tiny air bubble. (You can see it better in the photo than in real life – on the leftmost top edge in the picture).
It’ll make a nice trinket box somewhere in the house 🙂

Shoehorn, Harlequin and gift pens

It’s been a busy couple of days with some good results!
For some time now I’ve been wanting to do one of mans’ greatest inventions – a shoe horn.  You can get the kits, but frankly I think the price of them would force the price of the finished item past what people would be willing to pay.  However, while out shopping yesterday I found some with tacky handles which I knew would be perfect and bought a few to try.
This morning I got to it and using a section of birch from a wood bag I have, cut it down to size and gave it a shot.  It was a nice bit of wood, had a bit of a twist to it that had split it slightly but gave it good character.  When I turned it down, the split had to be filled (CA glue and some of the sawdust from the turning itself) and the result is… well you can see for yourself!  Finished with sanding, Yorkshire Grit and Danish oil.

Harlequin Pen

As you may have saw with my Valentines pen, sometimes a lot of prep work goes into a pen long before it hits the lathe.
I’ll often design sections in 3D which are printed and then used to make silicone moulds; the resin is then cast and sometimes some real assembly work takes place before more resin is used to make the actual blank.
I’m in the middle of one of those type of pens at the moment.  It’s not for any special occasion, just something I want to do.
This is a harlequin style pen; a simple design at the moment with just two colours (Pirate Gold and Blue).
The 3D model needed to create the silicone mould is a set of 12 cubes in 2 sets of six.
They are then cast to make a set of the first colour (as in the photo) then the same again with the second colour (currently setting in the mould).
They’ll be assembled and tubed as per the second design picture, then should end up like the final design picture when turned.  I’ll update as we go!

Gift Pens

In my post of 16th January I talked about a pen where I matched the font on the laser engraving to the hairdresser shop font; the Chantelle pen below is the finished item. The photos really don’t pick up the nice speckling in the black upper section!
The second pen is pinecones cut down and set in blue/white resin, and is a custom order.  Terrible picture, I’ll take a decent one tomorrow when I hand the pen over. I had to mess in Photoshop to get it to show the patterning, so the colours aren’t quite accurate.

What else?

I’ve finally gotten around to doing a white glitter pen body for a colleague that I’ve been promising for some time.  This is also a “version 2” pen, as last time as well as the white glitter I added some bigger silver glitter bits which went dull and looked like grey splodges. I was hoping to complete that today, but found that I was out of the silver version of that pen so have had to order some more :-/
Last week I thought my cup turner design was complete.  When I came to disassemble the old one, I realised a little change that would make assembly easier (simply a grooved hole in the top to pass the wires down) and while I was on added some outriggers to the base for stability. That was it, nothing else needed!
Or so I thought.  When going through a quick dry run for assembly, I realised being able to hide the smaller circuit board inside the tower would make it look so much better.
That’s now re-designed and printed so I can get down to it and make an assembly video.  It’s been so hard making myself wait and do that, I just want to get it made now that I have a couple of mugs to try it on. 🙂 

Contrasting wood and metal

Yet again I seem to have left it a couple of weeks.  I’ve been busy casting a new pinecone blank, making a cup turner for resin (more on that below) and this pen – Make from contrasting woods (Black Walnut and a wood from a selection pack that was listed as Kiaya, but I can’t seem to find that wood on Google) and some metal trim as per the detail pics.
To get the rounded ‘V’ metal shape I used a 3D printed jig for my bandsaw which lets me cut perfect 45° angles. I carefully marked the halway point down the vertical axis of the blank, cut from one side down to my mark, then the same from the other side to split the blank in two with the V.  A thin sheet of metal is then prepared with glue and placed between the 2 pieces as they are pushed back together in a clamp, bending the metal and gluing it in place in one go.

The Resin Cup Turner

Sometimes when browsing the internet, Pinterest or my Facebook groups I get an idea into my head of something that I want to try in the future, and this usually ends up in me buying something.  One thing that’s really caught my interest lately is resin-coated travel mugs – there’s some great designs out there!
The way it’s done though, is that the mug is coated in resin and then turned very slowly while the resin dries to give it an even coating.  You can buy little motorised machines which turn the cup at around 2-5rpm but they’re not so cheap for what they are, especially just to try it out.
While I was playing around with putting new software into my 3D printers a couple of years ago now, I bought two little Arduino computer units.  These are little computer boards that you can plug other things onto (like motors, sensors etc) and then you connect them to your computer and put the programs into them which they then sit and run themselves.  For a couple of quid I bought a little stepper motor and controller board, then connected it up to one of these Arduino’s and programmed it to turn the motor at 2 rpm. 
I then measured up all of the pieces and designed a holder for them, a little connector for the motor to hold a length of bamboo and a Magic Sponge.  The first design (printed in red) was more of a test to make sure my measurements were right. The second (with modifications to the base) was functional, but looked a bit strange and was a little unsteady.  It also had an extra join in the tower where I wasn’t sure of the height and so made the column and the motor holder in 2 pieces (that way if it was wrong, I didn’t have to reprint it all). The third one (in black) is much more the finished item – it has an extra length for stability when it’s free standing, but also mounting holes to screw it down.  The motor column is one piece too and a much neater design.  I have a 4th and final version planned which will just include an adaptation of the motor mount so I don’t have to pull all the electronics apart when moving them from one assembly to another, and another outrig for even better stability without needing to screw it down.
When assembled it certainly does the job!  Now to buy a couple of cheap travel mugs and start playing! 

Pen Press and stripping it back

Not much time in the cellar this weekend – yesterday was spent helping the eldest daughter move into a new place, and today I’ve working on the blank for a friend that has been bugging me for a while.  The main problem with it is that it’s quiet important that the hole gets drilled perfectly down the middle – even doing it on the lathe I’ve had a few non-starters with that, so I’m currently printing a jig for a drill guide that I’ve found that I bought a few years back and never used.

The picture today is a pen press – when making pen kits, you literally press the hardware into the tubes. I’ve previously been using the jaws of my Workmate because I’ve been too stingy to pay £50 or so for a proper pen press.  Well, with some hardcore printing, a toggle clamp from ebay and some wood I’ve made one of my own.  The handle is turned on the lathe with guitar string used to burn the lines in, and the base is some nice solid chopping board.  The rod is a 10mm bamboo knitting needle.

If I get the chance (and inclination!) I’ll upload a video sometime of it in use. 🙂

This is a pen I made last year – it’s a hair scrunchie set in white resin.  The photo really does it justice, as it doesn’t show the imperfections in the pen – I added some glitter but it was too sparse and the colour was too harsh and wrong for the pen.  The white colouring I used had dried bits in it which made it into the mould and ended up as white dots.  I really wasn’t that happy with it, and it never made it onto the Pens For Sale page for that reason.

The pen making world goes through fashions just like everything else.  Someone comes up with a new idea, it gets copied like wildfire and suddenly everyone is doing it.  One of the latest things is giraffe pattern pens.  Not to be left out, I printed a mould mould (a 3D printed mould to make a silicone mould), made the silicone mould, then cast the blank. It wasn’t great, I didn’t seal off the bottom of the blank enough so the colour I used to fill the white sections leaked out through the bottom leaving the level of resin about 3mm too short.  Doesn’t sound much, but it makes for a bit of size difference in a 20mm blank.
Anyways, back to the scrunchie pen – today I finally got sick of it, popped it onto the lathe and stripped it back down to the tubes. Cut down and drilled out the giraffe blank, popped the tubes in and started re-doing it.  Nope, not my day today! The cap blank ended up being too thin to be of any use and the resin chipped off the end of BOTH of them – lost the piece for the cap one, found the body one and glued it on only for it to chip off in the same place again. I sanded it down and turned it around to the good side just to get a picture where it looked ok, but then stripped both of them off the blanks again.

Photo’s to follow.

Let’s see what I come up with next….