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'HOW TO MAKE STUFF' by Jessie the Jeep


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Here we go again. I can see this becoming a multi-part series in the articles section, but for now I'm posting it here to get it and the 70+ pictures in order…….

 

Jack sent the heavy mob around again and threatened me with electrical problems on my Jeep unless I presented another article for HMVF! So here we go again with more ramblings, this time making stuff.

 

Many of you will have seen the BC-348 Aircraft Radio that I have recently completed and posted on the forum ( see attached ), before that the ‘Follow Me’ board for the Jeep, the ‘Flying Control’ body on Rupert’s Dodge, a light weight fibreglass helmet for Lynne, winter side doors for the Jeep and a K-24 Aerial Camera to hide my modern digital camera at events. I’ll turn my hand to making anything when the need requires it. I even made Lynne’s wedding ring! :angel:

radio.jpg

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While buying original equipment is always nice, sometimes the cost is prohibitive, especially when all your pocket money is going on petrol! Sometimes, as with my radio, I wanted the inside to be empty for fitting of batteries and other equipment ( see below ), so I didn’t want to pay good money for a piece of vintage equipment just to gut it.

 

As a result, I often make things to suit which is much more user friendly on the bank account. My radio was made mostly from leftovers from other projects; paint and a toggle switch were the only purchases. Total cost around £25, and around 30 hours work.

 

While I can’t hope to pass on 30+ years of modelmaking knowledge in this article, hopefully you’ll see some useful tips for manufacturing that may be useful to your hobby.

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Tools of the trade

 

I’ll start off this ‘How To’ article with a run down of the most used tools in my workshop. Some of you will be familiar with these tools, others may have last used them at school, while the younger members may not have had such workshops at school. While working at a college as a technician in the art department, a large number of students came in to my workshop without a clue as to how to use basic hand tools.

 

I’ve been collecting tools for all my life, so I’m not expecting everyone to rush out and buy a load of machine tools. They do make life much easier, but often you can get around this expense with hand tools and a bit more exercise. Where possible, I’ve add links to the supplier where my tools came from.

Edited by Jessie The Jeep
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MACHINE TOOLS

 

Bandsaw – The bandsaw can be used for parallel cuts, plus parts with a gentle curvature to them. The tightness of the curve is dictated by the width of the blade ( ie a ¼ inch blade can cut a tighter curve than a ½ inch ). Most of the basic parts cutting I do is on the bandsaw, particularly for the larger pieces that made up the basic box shape of the radio. A movable guide on the table will allow parallel cuts to be made. Depending on the size of your bandsaw, this will dictate how wide a strip of wood you can cut with the parallel guide fitted in place to the work table. Larger than this, you need to draw a line to follow and cut freehand.

 

If you have a steady hand to feed the wood through the saw, very little cleaning up of the edges is needed. If you’re a little wobbly, you need to cut wide of the line and sand down to the line afterwards. Blade selection for wood depends on what you are doing. You want something like 14TPI ( 14 Teeth Per Inch ) for fine cuts and something like 6TPI for ripping down thicker lumps of wood. A wide blade ( ie ½ inch ) will give straighter cuts than thin blades which are better for curved work. Dust extraction is advised for this machine.

 

Supplier – Axminster Power Tool Centre – www.axminster.co.uk

ptools_bandsaw1.jpg

ptools_bandsaw2.jpg

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Disc/Belt Sander – The D/B sander is a great tool for the fast sanding of smaller parts. The size of the disc and belt limit the size of the piece that can be worked. The bigger the machine, the larger the workpiece. My sander has an 8 inch diameter disc and a 4 inch wide belt. I usually stick to about 80 grit for both to take down excess material quickly, and then hand finish the work piece with finer abrasives.

 

The belt is used for flat surfaces while the disc can be used to trim oversized curved work pieces. Because of the very fine particulate matter that a sander creates, dust extraction is advised for this machine. The fine dust is sometimes invisible to the naked eye. If you don’t have extraction, dust will float around your workshop for hours while you breathe it in.

 

Supplier – Axminster Power Tool Centre – www.axminster.co.uk

ptools_disc_belt_sander1.jpg

ptools_disc_belt_sander2.jpg

ptools_disc_belt_sander3.jpg

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Scrollsaw – This saw is better suited to small tightly curved work pieces, though with practice, straight lines can be cut. The blade on this saw vibrates up and down, so the work piece must be held firmly, but the very fine blades allow cutting of very tight intricate curves. Blades are usually about 0.5mm wide and 1.5mm deep which gives a very fine cut. Spiral cutting blades are also available which have abrasive edges all the way around allowing cutting by moving the work piece in any direction.

 

Normally there is a ¼ inch hole in the work table where the blade passes through. This can result in grain on the rear face of the work piece tearing downwards. As you can see from my saw, I have a piece of plywood mounted to the table. A cut was made half way through the wood before it was attached with double sided tape. This results in a very tight fit around the blade reducing rear face tearing. Every so often it needs to be replaced as the hole wears.

 

Supplier – Machine Mart - www.machinemart.co.uk/

ptools_scroll_saw1.jpg

ptools_scroll_saw2.jpg

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Jigsaw – The Jigsaw is a reasonable, cheap alternative to the bandsaw. It can be used for straight and curved cuts, though not as tight a curve as a scrollsaw. Being hand held, it won’t be as accurate as a bandsaw, and the work piece will need further work to clean up the cut edge if truly straight is what you are looking for.

 

Supplier – Most DIY stores

ptools_jigsaw.jpg

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Lathe – A lathe is invaluable if you have one, but not essential. Mine came from East Germany before the fall of the wall, and prices of this machine rocket up after the re-unification of Germany. My lathe is just a small hobby sized version with a 3 inch centre to bed height, and so not as flexible as larger machines, but it is fine for the size of stuff I work with. Some also come with a milling attachment to further expand their range of abilities.

 

While some of my radio parts were turned, the similar results can be achieved by other means with a bit more time and patience. One method I’ve used in the past with more easily worked materials ( resin, foam etc ) is to drill a hole through a square section of material, put a long bolt through it and tighten a washer and nut on, trapping the material on the shaft of the bolt. This bolt is then mounted in the chuck of a power drill, and the drill clamped firmly in a vice. A piece of wood is then used as a tool rest and a chisel used to turn down the material as you would in a wood lathe.

ptools_lathe.jpg

ptools_turning.jpg

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Pillar Drill – A pillar drill is another useful piece of workshop equipment, but again, not essential for modelmaking uses. A powered hand drill will do if you take your time aligning the drill and working patiently. My Pillar drill has a cross vice mounted below it allowing limited machining of softer materials. Both the drill and cross vise came from Machine Mart.

 

Supplier – Machine Mart - www.machinemart.co.uk/

ptools_pillar_drill.jpg

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Powerfile – If you are going to buy any powered hand tool, buy a powerfile. Mine is years old made by Black & Decker, but I believe others are on the market by Bosch, and probably others. It has a ½ inch wide sanding belt in a machine that resembles a chain saw and is held and operated in a similar way. Belts for wood, metal and ceramics are available, and it is a fantastic tool for trimming wood and thin metal down to the line after cutting on any type of saw. Its protruding sanding belt can also be used to fit into difficult to reach places. One guy I heard of uses it for cleaning up the holes in doors when fitting letterboxes.

 

Supplier – Most DIY stores

ptools_powerfile.jpg

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Part 2, we'll move on now to hand tools

 

HAND TOOLS

 

Apart from the usual hand tools you find in workshops such as steel rules, pliers, screwdrivers etc, here are some of the other useful hand tools I have.

 

Clamps - I have a range of small clamps, including spring loaded, ratchet and ‘G’ types. The smaller clamps are often useful when working with more delicate materials or in small workspaces.

 

Supplier - General DIY Stores

htools_clamps.jpg

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Permagrit Tools - Permagrit is a range of Tungsten Carbide tools in a range of sizes, shapes, and grits. They also produce a range of small rotary tools to fit drills such as the Dremel and Black & Decker Minicraft range. You can buy a complete sanding block or just a sheet of steel coated in Tungsten Carbide which can then be cut to make your own sanding tools.

 

They also produce a range of small needle files which are very useful for shaping of small details. Once they get clogged, a few minutes with paint stripper on them brings them up like new. I’ve had one sanding block used regularly for 14 years, and while it is showing signs of wear, it still has a usable surface of grit.

 

Supplier - Permagrit - www.permagrit.com/

htools_permagrit.jpg

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Hassunme Rip Saw - Sometimes you come across a tool that makes life so easy it changes your life! The Hassunme Rip Saw is one of those. It is a Japanese design, and manufactured to cut on the back stroke, because traditional Japanese woodworkers didn’t use workbenches. The saw was designed to cut on the back stroke where it could be firmly held on the ground with your free arm.

 

Because the blade is in tension when cutting, it can be much thinner than a standard European saw, and so cuts less material resulting in less effort. The tooth form of this crosscut saw leaves the most incredible finish on end grain, almost like a planed surface, and can make light work of even large lumps of timber like a 4x2. Featuring a replaceable blade 0.5mm thick and 250mm long, this saw will produce cuts to be proud of. Some Japanese saws have blades so fine, they can cut a pencil line in half down its length. The picture also shows a close up view of the teeth on the blade.

 

Supplier - Axminster Power Tool Centre - www.axminster.co.uk

htools_hassunme_saw.jpg

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Squares - Many people will have some form of set square, ‘T’ square, what have you. I’ve also found that an engineering drawing adjustable square is very useful when marking out parts or supporting them while being glued at odd angles.

 

Suppliers- Graphics/Art Supplies Stores

htools_squares.jpg

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‘V’ Nailer - As with the Japanese saw, the ‘V’ nailer is a fantastic tool. Made for picture framers, it has a magnetic tip, and holds a small ‘V’ shaped nail across the corner of a picture frame ready for tapping in with a hammer. I use is when making boxes and framework in conjunction with glue to hold a joint firmly while the glue dries.

 

Supplier - Axminster Power Tool Centre - www.axminster.co.uk

htools_v_nailer.jpg

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MATERIALS

 

In this section I will look into the various materials that I commonly use when modelmaking. These range from things you will already know, and some that may be unfamiliar to you.

 

Chemiwood - Used widely in the commercial model making and tool making industry, Modelboard (commonly known as ‘Chemiwood’) is a solid resin based material with no grain, which is an ideal material for use in modelling. It can be worked easily by hand, and can be sanded, carved, drilled, tapped, & machined with ease. This material is ideally suited for the manufacture of small vac-forming moulds and ‘patterns’ for glass fibre moulding, as well as small parts for scale detailing due its ease of use. No special preparation is required for painting, other than a smooth sanded surface.

materials_chemiwood.jpg

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ZAP Cyanoacrylate - Better known to the rest of the world as ‘super glue’, ZAP cyano is a very useful adhesive, and a much more affordable way to purchase super glue than the tiny tubes you get in DIY stores. ZAP-A-GAP has the ability to bond virtually anything to anything with consistency unequalled by any other brand makes it the favourite adhesive across many varied disciplines.

 

Widely used throughout the hobby industry, it is the best and most consistent performing glue for model building. Wood, plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, fabric, rubber, fibreglass, carbon fibre, or any combination of, ZAP-A-GAP can help solve many tough bonding problems. I often use it in conjunction with PVA woodworking glue.

 

When making the radio, PVA glue was spread along most of the joints, but every few inches I left a bare area that I applied ZAP to. This fast setting glue holds the joint in place as the longer cure PVA sets giving a firm joint without the need for dozens of clamps and waiting for hours for glue to set.

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