Workshop shelf (by )

As part of my tireless service to the village of Cranham, I'm now a member of the Cranham Village Hall Committee (and so a trustee of a second charity!)

This has its perks. In particular, when they renovated the hall, a big thick solid shelf was torn out, and I saved it from the skip to put it in my workshop. It's a bit battered, so not very pretty, but as a workshop shelf it'll only get more scarred, so that's fine.

After some trials and tribulations, I managed to mount it on the wall:

My workshop shelf

Mainly, I had to cut gaps in the brackets to let them fit over the black power conduit (while maintaining their structural integrity), despite the conduit being level with the wall but not level with the shelf, as the line of the blockwork in the wall is not level with respect to gravity. No surprise when you consider that the building had shifted somewhat since it was built.

So, for the record, despite the shelf looking quite wonky, it's level:

The shelf is level. It's the wall that's wonky.

I also had the choice of 75mm or 50mm screws. 50mm screws would have only protruded about a centimetre into the wall, which would not bode well, while the 75mm screws had a good centimetre spare, so I cut little blocks of wood and ran 75mm screws through them, then through the brackets, then into the wall. There's something really satisfying about screwing a long, thick (6mm), screw tightly into a fresh, virgin, wall plug.

The 50mm screws were perfect for screwing the horizontals of the brackets to the undersides of the shelf, mind.

Finally, I mounted a strip of angle iron under the shelf, for clipping my set of clamps to:

Under my shelf is a bit of angle iron to clip things to

Much nicer than having them languishing in a bag...

Some brief proposals for how to make the OpenPGP encryption standard more widely used (by )

The OpenPGP standard isn't perfect, but it's good enough - and it's sufficiently widespread (in geek circles) already that it might be possible to push it into widespread usage.

Here are some ideas on things we could do to push it beyond the realm of geeks emailling each other to become a more pervasive security infrastructure.

Read more »

Jean’s Third Birthday Party will be the 30th of August (by )

Jean will be a whole three years old at the end of August so sue to demand we are celebrating it by having a party on Saturday the 30th of August. The party will start at 10 am and go on all day 🙂

There will be the BBQ's out so if you want to bring something to slap on there feel free - we will obviously be having seperate meat and veggi BBQs! There will be cake and I have a few drinkies left over from other events but you'd might want to bring something yourself aswell as budgets are a bit tight as always!

We have floor space and space to camp for those who need it.

If you could let me know wheather you're coming or not that would be helpful too 🙂

For those of you who didn't make it to the last party we have the candy floss machine, chocolate fondue, pop corn maker and the doughnut maker!

Weather and time permitting we'll get the pool out as well so bring a cosy/wetsuit or what ever 🙂

At the moment Jean is keen on Colouring in, trains and being outside for those who tend to ask.

IF anyone wants to know about B'n'B's let me know.

Infected Finger (by )

My Manky finger 🙁

manky finger

About three weeks ago my nervous habit of worrying the skin around my nails resulted in the area around the cuticul of my fourth finger (the one next to the little one) on my right hand, becoming red and sore - I stopped picking it but it then started to feel really saw and ooze greeny/yellowy/baige stuff. I cleaned it with TCP and washed it alot but a crusty layer appeared around the base of the nail and this would break each time it was prodded and more pussy stuff would come out.

I cleaned it with detol and Al germolined it to high heaven and plastered it as I needed to do gardening and washing up and deal with potty training and the like. I was letting it air over night and it appeared to be getting better - not being so painfull and swollen as a raised lump just under the nail had appeared but this now just looked a bit like a burned area.

Then I was due to go to London for four days and Al dressed the area as the skin had 'pulled' away from the bottom of the nail but it looked like it was getting better. On the way back from London the dressing came off and lo! An apporximatly 2 mm thick line had appeared at the base of the nail - the finger had also started to hurt again the day before but now it felt like I had caught my nail with a hammer at the same time as having a huge splinter in there!

Anyway so today I get to see the dr having phoned up Monday - the Dr was erm thats a nasty infection you need antibiotics - then she asked how long it had been infected over all and I said three weeks - she winced :/

Its most definatly an antibiotics case and I left it far to long to go the drs with it and I am probably going to lose the nail - a new one should grow back and if it becomes too flappy or loose then I might have to go and see the nurses and have them help the situation along.

So I am now on antibiotics which i have to take four times a day :/ It needs to show a stark improvement within the week or I have to go back again. When I went to the drs today there was a red aura around the white - and there appears to be a gap at the bottom of the nail where there is no nail - I don't know how clear that is on the photo!

Learning basic manual metal arc (stick) welding and MIG welding (by )

A long time ago now, when this blog was in its infancy, I wrote about how I had picked up a cheap manual metal arc welding set from B&Q since I needed to make some tools that would survive within the environment of the furnace. My existing metal-joining technology, silver soldering (aka brazing) would produce joints that would melt like butter at 600 degrees Celsius or so, which is a far cry from the thousand-degree environments I play with...

But as I mentioned slightly earlier, arc welding is easy to get wrong. I learnt from a book, so had only written descriptions to go by, and I was hard put to know what I was doing wrong that made my welds all messy.

Well, today I attended the Insight into Welding course at the Rural Skills Centre, which is near Cirencester, a short drive away from where I live. I had been looking for a welding course for a while - most of the courses I saw advertised at local colleges were formal affairs that took several days and ended up with you taking some kind of assessment, and ending up with an NVQ. All rather formal and constrained.

The Rural Skills Centre, however, does lovely little one-day or several-evening informal courses in all sorts of useful workshop skills. My welding course began with the instructor asking what the seven participant's past experience was, and what they hoped to learn - and then taught us just what we wanted to know, starting at the right level for us. Rather than having a fixed syllabus to be assessed against, we were basically paying to spend a day in a workshop with an experienced welding instructor. Which was perfect!

He quickly sorted out my arc welding problem - I held the electrode too far from the work, so it spattered all over the place and didn't heat the metal properly, thus creating a weld consisting of lots of little blogs sitting on top of the metal rather than bonding into it. Easy once you've seen how it's done properly 🙂

So having already got my money's worth before lunchtime, I practiced with the manual metal arc machine for a while, then moved up to try MIG welding - Metal Inert Gas. This is a much fancier setup than arc welding; the machine feeds a metal wire and shielding gas into the work for you when you pull a trigger, rather than you needing to manually control the distance between the end of an unweildy electrode and the work to within a few millimetres. As long as you have the voltage and wire feed speed controls on the machine set correctly for the wire you're using, the metal you're joining, and the kind of join you're doing, it's point and click - just hold the tip of the tool to the metal, pull the trigger, and keep the tip moving along smoothly, and you end up with lovely nice welds. Of course, knowing how to set the controls up right is the hard part, but we were taught foolproof techniques to home in on the correct settings.

So I spent much of the day practising with that, producing various kinds of joins in various thicknesses of mild steel. I'm quite taken by MIG welding - the equipment is a bit more expensive to buy and run than manual metal arc kit, but it produces vastly superior welds, and can be used on aluminium (manual arc can't do that).

But the best process for aluminium is TIG welding. A TIG welder doesn't put any metal out at all - it just produces intense head by driving an arc from a tungsten needle to the workpiece, while spraying the area with shielding gas like a MIG welder does. You have to feed your own extra metal in by hand to make the joint. But it's incredibly neat; the arc is tiny, and still - in the other processes the arc always seems to jump about a bit. The TIG arc was like a little flame a few millimetres long, and underneath it, the metal melted into a shiny puddle. Since it was so small you couldn't go very fast with it, but it produced incredibly neat welds! However, sadly, the TIG welding equipment is quite expensive, since the power supply needs to do some quite specialist regulation to create that easy-to-control neat arc!

So I'm going to keep practising my arc welding - but I'll be keeping my eye out for a MIG welder if I find one cheap or if I get rich... and I certainly wouldn't say not to a TIG if I somehow manage to find one I can afford!

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