Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tiny Tools

Ah, winter is here. Your friendly mercury, or its digital equivalent, hit -22C today. So we go skiing, but that leaves a lot of hours in the day. So this sourdough makes, as you are well aware, miniatures. But making miniatures requires miniature tools. I have some I have bought; I could not survive without my miniature Japanese saws from Lee Valley. Mainly I have learned to make them. I have posted on miniature planes before, but here's a hitherto-unposted bunch.
You will recognize, in the northwest and southeast corners, the tiny planes. New fellows, on the SW-NE diagonal, are the try square, used of course to square things up. The blade is sheet metal, and the top needs some more filing to get it truly square, but it is already useful. Above him is a very small froe, used to split, for example, the ribs on Tip the canoe. The yellow thing is a 45 degree triangle, useful for the tiny planes, which are all bedded at 45 deg. Above that, an awl made from a broken needle (it broke while sewing up Tip Canoe, which prompted me to rebend a needle). Useful for clearing out Morse #50 drill holes, for instance. And above that, my pièce de résistance, the tiny clamp. It is made on the pattern of a machinist's clamp. The jaws are wood -- same wood as the plow plane in the SE corner. I found out that I could tap it as if it were steel! I went to our Willow hardware store and found some longish 6-32 screws; the nice circular handles are made on the Taig lathe out of hardware store rod. I drilled the the handles on the Taig with a tailstock drill, so they are concentric with the cylinder. Tapping small holes is a nail-biting exercise. Taps are very hard. Have to be; they are cutting steel most of the time. That's like glass -- very hard, but shatters on impact. So it is very easy to break a tap. The smaller the tap, the easier it is to break. But I tapped the handles. Now I need to find my thread locker goop so I can lock the handles to the screws (which are hardware store, beheaded). And this brings up al kinds of possibilities; I could use aluminum instead of wood to make clamps, for instance. We will see. It is fun to make a tool; you feel independent. But I'd love a micro bandsaw to resaw my planes. Proxxon makes one, but alas, it is very expensive.

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