Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Crochet Hook

The title of this post looks completely bizarre. What, JRC taking up crocheting in his dotage? Not at all. But I do use crochet hooks in my weaving. When a stubborn warp thread is having a wild affair with its neighbor, and refuses to pull out as a good warp thread should, I reach for a crochet hook and assist it to conclude its amours. This is one prong of the fork in the road to crochet hooks. The other is a very interesting discussion on Bodger's forum on making crochet hooks (Beginner's corner, How thin can you go?). Person wanted to know how thin you could go on a lathe, because she makes crochet hooks by whittling. Well, said I, you get down to 2-3 mm -- but not on a lathe. When you turn real thin stuff it tends to whip. If you can support it with a steady-rest you are in better shape, but even steel will whip without tailstock support and/or a steady. My suggestion was to use a drawplate, which you have already met. Drawplate is now at version 2.0, because for my sheet-metal drawplate got reamed out by my lilac dowels. Lilac is iron-hard when it finally dries; never mind the poetic stuff about "perfumed with lilacs." Here is v2.0 drawplate:
It is a piece of steel about 4mm thick. The turned-up corner was an attempt at mini-forging a square corner; it didn't work (not with a propane torch) but it makes a useful handle! The rest is drilling. When you drill steel, by the way, you step drill. That means drilling a very small hole first. Then a slightly larger one, and so on until you are at the desired size. Failure to do this can ruin your drill bit (and your day). Tough stuff, steel; even unhardened "mild steel."

So today I meant to post on something else, but this afternoon I was tired of that and I said -- hey! Let's try a crochet hook!
So I had this piece of lilac branch. Cut it about 20cm long. Cut it into quarters with tiny froe, at left. Hammered it through the 4 mm hole in the drawplate. Then I took out my favorite crochet hook and measured it. Hmm, about 3.8 mm diameter at the thick part. Not bad, I'm at 4.0. Tapers... but perhaps that is too much detail. Anyway, I took my smallest knife (it is sitting in the still life above) and roughed it out. At the end I had to use my swiss files (beween froe and knife) to finish the hook. But I did it. Still a bit rough. More swiss file work needed, I am afraid, even tiny knife (or maybe it's me) can't quite do those 1 mm radius turns in the hook. But I am pleased with it. Not bad for a beginner, I think. It goes very well with my Navajo loom.

Oh, and speaking of whipping on a lathe. At the right is a homemade pin punch made out of a derelict screwdriver. The pin is 2.6 mm diameter. This is metal, so it was done on the Taig lathe. But due to a combination of the length of the piece and the configuration of the Taig, I couldn't use the tailstock. The 2.6 mm was as far as I could go before the whip got out of hand. The pressure of the turning tool causes the piece to bend (whip). This is steel! Wood would whip at twice that or so. I use Mr. Pin Punch to drive the wood out of the drawplate when I have hammered it through.

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