ShopTalk Sunday: Owning Your Space

A short column today since I was too busy to write it earlier in the week.  Which runs head-on into the 6:30 AM Lawnmower Gran Prix which goes flag-down Sunday mornings…

I did want to chat with you about getting control of workspaces because as an older dolt, organizing too many projects is a continuous problem.

Sample Problem

So I’m sitting at the electronics bench and am bugged once again because my high intensity magnifier light keeps bumping into the screen of my bench computer/USB Magnifier system, like so:

This just aggravates me no end.  A light arm slamming into an LED display doesn’t have a “happy ending.”  So I study the problem a bit:

(AOC monitor? How’d I screw that up?)

“Aha!  Simple answer:  Get a piece of 1 1/2 inch diameter on eBay (*$13-bucks), cuck it up on the lathe.  Thus extending the original mount up by?  Ideally, 22-inches…”

Unfortunately, the 24-inch piece of 1.5-inch bar stock is too long to chuck up in a 19-inch lathe.

Which meant chuckling it up and cutting it into two sections:

This is the first joyful moment of the project.  Standing there with the trusty Fat Maxx tape:  It’s time to cut a piece of bar stock, but which tool?

This is where tool selection and fun occurs.  Right here.  It’s when we open the Big Toy Box (all the tools) and select the absolutely perfect one from several choices to make the desired cut.  A few of the choices included the big band saw, the metal-cutting band saw, the battery zip saw, the Sawz-All, or what I ended up going with – the Black and Decker power hand saw.

Interesting inflation story;  When they first came out, they were $39 with assorted blades.  I bought this a couple of years ago and today they are $60.  (BLACK+DECKER Electric Hand Saw with Storage Bag) Buy the best tools you can when you’re young and your lifetime “making” efforts will be enriched!

The Metalwork Begins

OK, things were moving along just swell, now.  A few minutes with the metal-cutting blade (be sure to rock it back and forth a bit) results in two “close-enough” pieces of stock for the lathe:

Next step was chucking them up in the lathe and truing up the ends:

Right about here, Elaine popped her head into the shop.  “Come here, I want to show you something…”  The shop was up to 85 F now, because I didn’t start right away after lunch.

So that’s where the project sits now.  In the lathe and waiting for more fun.

The way this will work is there will be a coupling in the middle  – a drilled hole on one side and an inch or more of thin rod on the other.

I’ll do a manual tap (or the hole) and die (on the rod part) and screw the finished piece tightly together with some 3,500 pound epoxy “insurance.”

On the finished 23″ LOA piece there will be a 2″ rod down into the original light mount.  A similar 2″ deep hole at the top end will accommodate the light.

This may seems like an amazing amount of screwing around just to move the light at the bench.  But having a light “just so” is a critical variable in all kinds of fine work.  Jewelry making, instrument and electronics repair, precision model making just to name a few.

Besides, when the market is being jiggered higher on absolute helium lately, this is what passes for “fun.”

ADA Hose  Bibs

My little sister did something really smart when she bought her most recent digs:  Went through and changed out door handles and faucets so they were all (roughly) ADA-compliant.

That’s the American’s with Disabilities Act, for able people who don’t track such things.  If you spend a lifetime driving a keyboard, though, simple “grasp and turn” things  can be a total nightmare.  Carpel injuries.

The answer (outside) is to update with modern quarter-turn ball-type hose bibs.  The handle on these run right around 4 inches, so much easier to use.

Putting them in?

I made the classic error:  Thought I could just unscrew the old and screw-in the new.

Nope.  Leaked a fine mist all over the place on both updated hose connections.

Here’s the Young Maker lesson:  When you make a male-female connection, use the food safe Teflon tape if you’re working on a potable water line.  (E.g. water line that eventually goes to something people can drink out of…)

If not potable, the absolutely BEST alternative is a $11 bottle of what in Pappy’s fire house was called “pipe dope.”  Today, the latter generation refers to Oatey 31231 Pipe Joint Compound.

But pipe dope is magic stuff for non-potable plumbing.  Whether you’re pushing air around in the shop or laying in other fittings that you want to make sure they don’t leak?  Pipe Dope is the answer, almost regardless of what the question is.

Shop Weather Outlook

We still have a good month to go before the weather in East Texas returns to anything approaching “working weather.”

I don’t like to do hands and knees outdoor work when its 85F and the humidity is up around 80+ percent.  Elaine wandered by as I was smearing pipe dope (and giving Zeus the cat) swearing lessons.


Indeed I was.  Shirt was thoroughly soaked and the water was just pouring off me.

I can hardly wait for a day when the high is a blessed 75 and the humidity under 40 percent.  Maybe end of September to mid October if we get a cold snap.

For now, a lot of penciling and ordering plans.

Direct Wire LEDs

Several weeks ago, we had an electronic ballast go out in one of the kitchen lights.

Went with ballast-free LED update.  Simple, quick.  Highly recommended.

Over the past 17-years already in Texas?  We’ve gone through one set of conventional ballasts and halfway through a pair of electronic.  Ballast is like politicians:  Only useful about a hundredth of their useful life.  Rest of the time they don’t do much.

Next Week:  The rock polishing should be done, so time to order a jewelry hardware assortment and a chain.  Only one rock out of 50-80 of ’em really justifies the tumbling time.  But the one looked like a keeper.

We’ll inspect next week when the polishing cycle is done…

On that note, a final half cup and the 90-minute speed mowing festival begins.

Write when you get rich,

18 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Owning Your Space”

  1. A quick note from the inflation watch front: 100 nitrile gloves last year $10.50 now $33.00. Frankly inflation is getting bad.

  2. I ain’t rich, but anyway, ball valves outside can freeze and break in sub 32F. They trap water between the ball and the housing, they need to be left in the half way position to prevent breakage when freezing . Unless you have some new fangled hose bib w/ball valve for outside sub-freezing weather, that I am unaware of. I use these and just remove them from service before winter

  3. George

    It seems to me your going through a lot of unnecessary work to re-engineer your lamp.
    Why not use pipe and conduit hangers to position the lamp as you want it?
    Conduit hangers are made to be screwed to a surface and then clamp around an electrical conduit, (pipe), and hold it in place.
    As your photos did not show the lamp mounting in any detail that’s all I can suggest.
    Perhaps it the fun of it all and not the efficiency of minimal design that your after?

  4. I’m suffering from “brain-Strain” trying to keep up with you. It’s a weekend, remember.

  5. I totally love my zip saw.. it is by far my go to anymore.. the other one is an old craftsman circular saw.. when I was building my first home I needed one.. anyway I would go to a pawn shop every tuesday .. ( he was an old friend.. god rest his soul.. )his kids would get out their musical instruments and play for us over morning coffee.. it was by far the best time.. well one day I seen he had two saws I could use.. a craftsman circular saw and a saber saw.. what do you need for those two young man.. he said give me a dollar and take them to the car.. which I did and I have used both of them to build two houses and a couple of garages and sheds.. the circular saw lost its front hand hold but that is ok.. still one of my favorite saws.. since I went blind and don’t have very good depth of field..( boy walking into door frames is embarrassing as hell let me tell you. But I hide that part of me pretty good and most people don’t realize I am blind as a bat .. I am also hard of hearing.. LOL hear tones and am quick enough to put things together.. but the family is the first to tell you.. repeat what I just said LOL.. because what I hear and what you said are two completely different things LOL..I have a nervous habit to.. if I am totally not sure Or DHAFC what was said.. I have a tendency to run my hands through my hair and do a chuckle and say sure or got it…when the kids see that they go OS what did I just say.. I quit totally agreeing because that was coming back to haunt me LOL. )
    so I use my zip saw and zip snip.. another great little piece of equipment..
    This is going to be a busy week.. I just got our winters supply of corn on the cob.. well during corn week.. I defrost one of the freezers put up the corn and sixty pounds of Onions.. ( chop don’t slice.. if you slice you will take and eat one.. if you eat one a whole three months supply of freeze dried onions are gone..) I totally love freeze drying.. I built a freeze dryer before I bought these.. It was ok.. but you had to baby sit it.. then figuring out how to quick freeze that was a constant cost.. After I did the calculations it was just easier and a whole lot less labor intensive to just buy one.. totally worth it if you put up a pantry for winter or just for whatever..
    if you do try pickle chips LOL another one you won’t quit eating till your sick.. LOL.. I love to slice them real thin.. pickle them then freeze dry them.. LOL
    I also do vacuum packed pickles for snacking with cheese.. this month they have free shipping.. which is a good thing.. If you get one.. some swear by the oil less vacuum pump.. I never could see the purpose of that so I have a filter system on mine.. if you don’t put one of those on.. you do have to filter out the oil after each use.. for me that is a pain in the butt but a necessary evil.. the other thing is mushrooms.. I love freeze dried mushrooms for cooking.. I take my mandolin sliver and slice them up thin about and eighth of an inch or a little less..then pre blanch them.. the reason.. if you boil the mushrooms it gets the spores off of it.. the water turns black.. if you don’t and freeze dry them.. then the oil turns black..easy peasy.. for myself.. I just buy them freeze dried.. Sam’s club use to have them and you can get them on amazon or here..
    3 of those cans is a years supply of mushrooms for cooking in this household..
    for quick soup blend mixes. and odd dried vegitables.. I go to
    Harmony house..
    freeze dried hash browns are the best.. just put them in a container half or a third full then fill with water and place it in the fridge.. you will have hash browns ready to fry the next morning.. anyway it is time to start with the winter yearly harvest.. I am trying to figure out how to have fresh tomatoes year round.. but who knows.. I truly wish that woman wouldn’t have died and passed on her secret procedure for freezing tomatoes.. dam I have tried about everything to.. they still thaw out mushy.. freeze drying is good.. dry them then blend them into a powder.. yeah the best.. you can get that at harmony to
    The cow is almost ready for the butcher to..
    Now off to the races for me today.. I have a winters supply of sweet corn to blanch and bag..

  6. LEAKs? did the Dominion election computers have a anti-virus software installed? did the dominion employees check the user agreement box/ does the agreement give the software permission to download from said computers? did they use McAfee? just asking for a friend.

  7. “Inflation Nation” suggests that market/SPY is going Higher for Longer, While Bonds will be going Lower for Longer.

    Only one of these markets can and will be the near term – 5 years ago I would have told you the Bond market will be “saved” at expense of the stock market…boy was that call short sighted, by a long shot!

    Sure prices are doubling and worse, but compared to some “AAA” stocks – still lagging greatly..NVDA,SQ,MBD,QCOM,ITW,ROK,SWKS…

    Hell bells G, just buying and Holding a company stock like NVDA thru splits and what not – will single handily build a nice lil lifetime fortune…

    Personally if I was in Ure location/situation I would be building tenement barracks for the recently whetted by the brown rio grande river water.
    You be charging for the “housing” and they paying with labor.
    Ure back in the woods Uretopia Country Club greens would be immaculate in no time .

    E could train the women folk in art of Ball Girls..”Senor, can I buff Ure ballz for U, before teeing off?

    Burritos, refried beans, Tacos, Chaluppas, hot dogs, margarittas & cold cervezas at 9th hole snack shack.

    18th hole right outside Ure soon to be redone porche.

    I’m thinking even a lil “massage” shop inside cluhouse, ya know a side squeeze – prostitution keep the local authorities “appeased” .
    alwayz remember – a happy Ho, is a productive Ho

    Dude – no manual labor, just cold beers, new revenue streams, and happy hookers? Sounds like Pairadice, no?

    • “I’m thinking even a lil “massage” shop inside cluhouse, ya know a side squeeze”

      Lol lol you know I have known a couple of caddies at the local country club that’s for the rich only.. said a lot of the ladies with husbands chasing the number are tall lonely and are willing to tip big if the caddy pulls out the right club and balls for a quick hole in one..

  8. Pipe dope has classically been used on screwed pipe for potable water. Both Rectorseal #5 and Master’s Pro-Dope are rated for it. The newest thing seems to be winding Teflon tape on the male side and then doping it before inserting and screwing. The dope fills and sets in imperfect threads where tape alone may not. I’ve tried it and I like it – especially if a particular joint is nasty to get to or can’t easily be redone. For outside faucets, I always have an inside shutoff unless it’s an underground freeze-proof cock. Unfortunately, those have a habit of leaking after a few years.

  9. ‘Not understanding the thing with the light. I installed mine behind and to the right of the monitor — no bumps ever. I can’t use the light more than about 32″ from the back of the desk, but since this one is for magnifying at this desk, I’d never need to do so anyway.

    I replaced my hose silcocks with ¾” full-flow ball valves, many years ago. Up here in 4-season country, the hardware stores sell these Styrofoam plant-pot lookin’ thingies which go over a silcock and keep it from freezing. Mine still froze one year, but my “cold” is 40° colder than George’s, and this was a 13-day, below zero cold snap. It is still worth it. The valves are Chinese, and ~$7 each, and probably best, purchased from a box store (so you can try them out for “feel.” Some are really tight. The “tightness” doesn’t affect the seal; it only affects the action.) I cannot describe the difference it makes, having 14GPM at the hose, versus four…

  10. “…6:30 AM Lawnmower Gran Prix”
    Yeah, clearly you don’t have any close neighbors.
    I am so fortunate that I do not have to go thru the agony of Ure ‘tool selection’ angst. I have one hacksaw… and I appreciate the cardio workout.

    The spin-field ferrite antenna project is coming along. I will have an 8″ ring with 55 or so rods. Awaiting some heat-shrink for the rods so they do not touch. I want to try it for 40 meters first as we have local nets interisland daily. If that works, maybe some low power transmit excitation and see what it does for NVIS.

  11. “The answer (outside) is to update with modern quarter-turn ball-type hose bibs…

    Putting them in?

    I made the classic error: Thought I could just unscrew the old and screw-in the new.

    Nope. Leaked a fine mist all over the place on both updated hose connections…”

    The function of pipe joint tape or compound is not to seal, but to make it so pipes can be taken apart. The pipe joint’s seal is supposed to be created by the taper of the threads. On pipes which carry gas, especially flammable gas at high-pressure, threaded pipe joints should always be made using a “gas-rated” pipe joint compound, which (coincidentally) IS designed to both seal the joint and enable joint separation without damage.

    Once upon a time, every hardware store used a Ridge (or similar) pipe cutter/threader and the hardware guy actually knew how to cut pipe threads. Threads were clean, tapers linear, and everybody went together as-designed. This has become a rarity in today’s world, so joint tape or compound is used as a “crutch” to make up for slipshod workmanship and the lack of caring or craftsmanship of the person who is pretending to be a thread cutter. Over the course of my lifetime I have replumbed several houses, using custom cut/threaded steel pipe. It is an artform which requires both time and patience, and it is absolutely essential to locate a person who knows how to use a pipe-thread lathe.

    Ridge lathes occasionally show up in the salvage market, often for $50 or less. I haven’t purchased one, but if I ever have to do another house in iron/steel, I will, because within a few years, locating a lathe-jockey who can cut tapered threads may become impossible.

    FWIW I learned, and now always use “gas-rated” tape (dat’s da yaller stuff) for air or water pipe — ‘seen too many concave pipe threads lately…

  12. I watched an interesting movie SARS-29 on prime.. It’s a mock docudrama… Yes / no but a thought provoking movie.. I enjoyed it..

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