Category: Metalworking

Compressed air distribution in the workshop (by )

Up until now, I've just plugged flexible hoses into my compressor to run tools.

I've got a bunch of things that need clean air (spray guns, tyre inflator, the plasma cutter, and a blow gun), and a bunch of things that need lubricated air (nailer, drill, impact screwdriver, sander, angle grinder, chisel, and impact wrench), so I've standardised on using PCL connectors for clean air and the ones that come with cheap air tools from Aldi and Lidl (what is that interface called?) for lubricated air:

Aldi/Lidl airline fittings

To convert from one to t'other, I have my handy compressed air tool caddy. On the front is a regulator, filter, and oil injector, with a PCL plug on the inlet, and on the outlet a springy hose with a shutoff valve and a socket for oiled air:

Air caddy front

At the rear is a storage box with my bottle of airline oil, the key for my air drill, the spanners for my air grinder, and a box with a pipette and funnel for putting oil into tools:

Air caddy back

Now, this setup is OK, but it's a bit fiddly to go the compressor and plug things in; and I've been making something that needs compressed air as part of the building infrastructure (there will be a blog post focussing on it later so I won't go into detail now, but it's a pneumatic vacuum ejector):

Vacuum ejector

So, it was time to run proper pneumatic plumbing around the place! I had a bunch of copper plumbing pipe left behind by plumbers as we've had a lot of building work lately, so I had some 28mm, 22mm, and normal 15mm tube lying around. I decided to use all the 28mm tube for the long run across the ceiling, all the 22mm tube I had to extend that to make the distance I needed, then 15mm tube for the rest, because larger tube means easier air flow - and because all that volume inside the pipes gives me an extra litre or so of air storage...

To combine them, I had to buy reducers of the appropriate diameters; I went for solder-ring fittings because I'm well equipped with blowtorches. Plastic pipe clips hold it securely to the ceiling beams:

15mm 22mm and 28mm pipe

And the 15mm plumbing terminates in things like this:

PCL Compressed air outlet

To convert between the world of plumbing (15mm copper) and the world of compressed air lines (1/4" BSP threads), I searched on eBay and found adapters with 15mm compression fittings on one side and 1/4" BSP on the other end:

The PCL fittings, ball valves, and other hardware came from Airlines Pneumatics.

Now, at various points, I needed to interface to flexible hoses - to connect to the compressor or the plasma cutter, for instance. To do that, I needed to get adapters between barbed hose fittings and 1/4" BSP threads or PCL fittings, as appropriate (all from Airlines Pneumatics). Fitting these correctly needs to be done with care, or they'll leak, so I've made a video explaining the process:

(you can also watch it on YouTube)

Although the fittings are depressingly expensive, it's been very rewarding setting this up - I love working on infrastructure, and now it's a lot easier to use my compressed air equipment πŸ™‚

Loki My Hammer (by )

Loki my new hammer

This is Loki my hammer - it is a Thor number 2 copper and raw hide mallet and is one of the hammers I always paw over when we go to the welding gas shop. I kind of wanted a hammer for the workshops I am preparing for the Aethelflaed Festival in June so it seemed like the right time to actually take the plunge and buy the thing.

This will be used for leather, metal and wood projects - the guy in the shop asked what I wanted it for and I started to explain about the impression work I have been doing - he suggested that I call the made things Loki Impressed which is kind of fun πŸ™‚

Expect to see it a lot on the Salaric blogs πŸ™‚

These hammers are awesome and have been used for all sorts of things including the Royal Engineers during the second world war as it meant they could assemble last minute bridges at night in enemy territory without making loud hammering sounds. They are the mainstay of engineers who need to be gentle whilst hammering their machines or miners who need to avoid sparks (well did graduate from the Royal School of Mines!) and of course jewellery makers love these things!

I wish I had the old one shown on the Wikipedia page - just look at it! Look at the mushroom wear on those hammer heads - this in an instrument that has made many things!

It is a bit of a faff but you can replace the heads when they get too worn so I am hoping that Loki is with me for life! I may well have hugged it all the way home whilst grinning - I think it disturbed Alaric slightly πŸ™‚

You can even watch how they are made πŸ™‚

This one has audio commentary πŸ™‚

You can read up on the manufacturing history and techniques on their website too πŸ™‚ Since our visit to Makers Central I have been interested in where my tools actually come from - so am very pleased I can trace my hammer like this.

Weekly Twitter Round Up for The Aethelflaed Quest (by )

It is 1100 yrs since Warrior Queen Aethelflaed was buried in Gloucester - one of the new minsters she founded, Gloucester is therefore having an epic festival to highlight this forgotten woman of history - I have somehow ended up involved - I am very excited and have even designed and with my parents made a new puppet and workshop materials for Cuddly Science/Cuddly History.

Here is the week in tweets about my adventures πŸ™‚

The Festival itself has it's own twitter handle Aethelflaed2018.

The Quest for Aethelflaed Hots Up!!! (by )

This year is the 1100 yr anniversary of Aethelflaed, the Lady of Mercia and Warrior Queen's death - living in the city she was buried in means that of course I have become involved with the celebrations to mark the occasion!

Here. is a little summary - though it does not yet mention everything that is happening πŸ™‚

There is so much AWESOME going on for this event - I'm taking Cuddly Science's Histories to the event and have been researching and amassing much stuff for workshops including metallurgy, textiles, music, a new puppet, mud squishing, art history, wood work and more!

I have been privileged to work with the people at the Museum of Gloucester and have been pestering historians everywhere - I might also have high jacked the family holiday and various story telling gigs to slip in some extra research. I've reached the stage of trying to track down copies of various Chronicles (in translation) and have revived my interest in Viking/Saxon et al poetry.

Last year I decided it was time to move Cuddly Science onto phase 2 - Cuddly Histories and so found myself at the Archaeology Festival and even at some digs <3 Being a geologist by training this reminded me of my love for archaeology and history - I went on to take part in the History festival with a talk on Cave Art and so on...

I'd already decided to make the Aethelflaed puppet for this year when the chance of being involved in the festival came up and so my Quest for Aethelflaed and Search for All Things Anglo-Saxon started - I have taken photos of rocks and statues and medallions and fallen down rabbit holes of Norse language roots, I am using my science, technology, art, and craft skills, I am researching and learning and this makes me very happy - I am also meeting lots of interesting people on the way.

I am also learning so much about the city I live in - things I just didn't know.

With only about a month or so to go before the festival it's time to turn the heat up on my Quest - can you work out what I am up to with this little piece of kit?

Silicon mould

My first aluminium welding project: A projector protector (by )

The Scout group I help out with meets in a hall with a projector suspended from the ceiling, and because of that, we're not allowed to play ball games; the projector's pretty exposed, and one whack from a ball would probably finish it.

So, I offered to make a metal "cage" to go around it, and decided that this would be a good project to learn aluminium welding on. Aluminium doesn't corrode, and is light for its strength; light is important for a thing that will be suspended in the air above children.

Welding aluminium is a bit different to welding steel. It's much more conductive of heat, and has a lower melting point; so when you have the bit you're welding hot enough to melt, that molten puddle spreads quickly. You need a lot of heat as it's being rapidly conducted away from the actual weld, but if you linger, the entire thing you're working on will melt... So, the result is that aluminium welds tend to look rather larger and chunkier than welds in steel, and you need to work quickly!

My plan was to make a wireframe cuboid, out of 10mm aluminium square tubing. I made the top and bottom rectangles, then joined them with verticals. So my first welds were the outer corners of the box, and I quickly found that it was all too easy to melt the entire corner into a puddle - but thankfully, I could then just build the weld metal up again and use my belt sander to flatten the result back into a decent corner. So you can't really tell, but the corners are pretty much solid aluminium now...

I finished it, but then spent quite some time worrying how to actually fix it up there. In the end, I made some L-shaped brackets (with a diagonal brace inside the corner). We fixed these to the pillar supporting the projector with hose clamps, and the bottom of the vertical arms rested nicely on the plate at the bottom of the pillar so it can't possibly slide down. The long arms were then drilled, and holes drilled in the corners of the top rectangle of the cage, so they could be joined by M5 bolts. This arrangement gave us some scope to adjust it as we installed it, which was essential as I didn't have exact measurements for the pillar...

Here's the end result:

Projecter cage side Projecter cage front

Projecter cage back Projecter cage wide

The yellowy string stuff is some paracord we added at the last minute, just in case a smaller ball manages to sneak in from the sides.

I grabbed a bit of video of myself and another leader (I was way too nervous to stand up on the wobbly scaffold platform!) figuring out how to attach the thing, but I need a more powerful computer to run Kdenlive so I can properly edit videos into a decent enough state to publish!

WordPress Themes

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales