Saturday, July 28, 2012

An angle gauge for a wet grinder

I have always admired the Tormek (q.g.) wet grinders, made in Sweden. These things use a 25-cm synthetic sandstone wheel running in a water bath. The water makes it impossible to overheat the tool, which is the curse of the high-speed dry grinders. Tormek has an extensive online presence, with many useful instructional videos. They also have a large number of extremely useful accesories. The drawback is that they are extremely expensive.

So some time ago I acquired from (q.g.) an Asiatic knock-off of the Tormek. I call this a TSO (Tormek-Shaped Object). It is about a quarter of the Tormek price. But their accesories leave something to be desired. Of all these accesories by far the most necessary is their angle setter. It is necessary to grind tools at precise angles. My grinder comes with a clever, but basically inferior, gauge, which broke when dropped, rendering it useless. The Tormek WM-200 (q.g.) is far superior. So I downloaded the instruction manual for the device, a PDF file, thinking maybe I could emulate it. Lo and behold, on page one of this PDF file is a full size (maybe) drawing of the thing. If it isn't full-size then it it close enough for Chalupy work. Hmmm. What have we here?
What we have is page 1 of the aforesaid instructions. Close scrutiny will reveal that the gauge is a sort-of rectangle with two moveable widgets. At right, the angle setter. At left, an extremely clever cam that allows you to compensate for wheel wear. As you grind, so does your wheel shrink. Do not be deceived by the knobs. They are not at the pivot point of either the setter or the cam. Obviously the widgets pivot somewhere else. You can find the pivot points with a ruler by very carefully extending the graduation marks on the drawing. You do this on the paper copy. So then you have a pivot point. Then you take some clear plastic which I happened to have, and basically trace the outlines of everything on to the plastic. Be sure to mark the pivot points on your cutouts. Cut it out any old way. I used a jigsaw. Cut oversize. Then I started filing. Note that the important things are (1) the angle setter point and the pivot point must be aligned. After that you can shape the angle setter any old way. (2) The cam profile is important. Trace it carefully. It may not be circular. Then drill holes at the pivot points, and use small screws (I used 4-40 hardware store screws) to assemble. By tightening up on these screws, I did away with the original's knobs.
When all was said and done I realized I had cut the angle setter undersize, so I remade it. Plastic, after all, is cheap; especially when it is found. I have traced out the angle and wheel diameter scales onto the plastic. So when you use it, set the cam to the measured dimension of the wheel. Mine is still at 250 mm close enough. Then set the angle to what you want. Here 25 deg.
And now it's all downhill. Set up your jig so it exactly coincides with the underside of the angle setter. Any questions? Refer to the WM-200 literature! It's online. Today I sharpened a rounding plane blade (25 deg) and an axe (45 deg). Without this gadget I would have been lost in space. Most useful gadget I have made in a long time.

And now, to forestall the patent Nazis: It is true that the WM-200 is patented. It is also true that under US patent law it is perfectly legal to make a copy of a patented thingamabob so long as you do not offer it for sale, i.e. for your own use. Please note that I am not in any way, shape, or form offering this thing for sale. So there.

But there does remain the question of what to call it. I don't want to violate trademark laws. So I will call it the angulometer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The garden grows apace

The gardening season in Alaska is extremely short. End of May to somewhere in September. When the lower 48 is planting, we have snow on the ground. But there is a compensating factor. We have an enormous amount of sunlight. When it's dark in say, Iowa, we can still get around at midnight without a flashlight. So what we do is plant stuff that grows very, very, quickly. This year we planted (for instance) turnips from transplants. My daughter did the actual transplanting. She gets the Golden Turnip Medal.

Day before yesterday I was about my usual chore, weeding. If your plants can grow so can the weeds, so the chore is never-ending. Anyway I pulled off some weeds and beheld a turnip above ground! Large. I pulled it out and took it inside.
The knife blade in the picture is 25cm long, for a scale. With it is some Swiss Chard. Good stuff. Note to self: plant much more chard next year. Nice turnip, very tasty chard. Now today I completed some more weeding and found a lot more turnips.
I also watered the greenhouse. I have two small (and green) tomatoes. But I also found the largest zucchini I have ever grown. It is visible at the right of the picture. A monster. I have a lot of radishes, too, but I didn't pull any up today. Amazing. Chard and radishes can be seeded. Plant in May, ready in July! Cheers for chard and radishes.

On the debit side of the ledger, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli seem slow-pokey this year. We shall hope, and make a few sacrifices to the Garden Gods. I am sure my neighbors would be highly offended if I suggested one of their goats might be a suitable sacrifice! Maybe I'll burn garbage instead. Two goals witn one burn.Got to get rid of garbage, after all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A trip to Denali

I had a recent visit from a friend, and for the occasion we went up to Denali National park. Denali is an Athabascan word, meaning "big mountain," more or less. Your atlas refers to Denali as "Mt. McKinley" after a deceased U.S. president. But we do not use that term in Alaska, because we like Denali better. On a good day Denali, about 6000 m high, can be seen from Willow and indeed from Anchorage. On the event of the trip, we were clouded in (grrr) and did not see the mountain at all. Poets call this "veiled in cloud." I say fie on poets. I want to see the mountain.

When you get to the National Park, you proceed to the WACC. This is the Wilderness Access Center. You buy a ticket and you get on the shuttle bus. This is for all intents and purposes a school bus, painted green. It takes you where no private vehicle is allowed to go. The scenery is quite spectacular.
With any luck, you will see wildlife. In our case, we were lucky enough to see a bear. This guy was a real ham. He posed for us and thousands of dollars of expensive cameras clicked away. This is one of the times I wished I had something like a 600mm lens (in 35-mm format old film tech).. Old Ursus was most impressive.
A blond(e) bear, no less. This is a grizzly. Well, we went along. We were climbing the sidewalls of a canyon or valley and the scenery became even more spectacular.

There were times when the bus seemed to overhang the road. The drivers are very skilful, however, and we did not fall off any cliffs or I wouldn't be posting this. After a while you get tired of the ride. The complete trip is perhaps six hours one way, 12 hours total. After about 4 hours we got off, and waited for a bus in the opposite direction. Eventually we got one and rode back to civilization, encountering moose in the process. There are plenty of moose photos in this blog; I will not bore you with them. But Denali NP is really (as the younger generation says) awesome; I urge anyone and everyone to take the trip.