Engineer & Entertain

Ideas I grapple with

Archive for the tag “Tinkering”

Burning Rubber

Rangers light the way

I used a section of old 700×23 cc bicycle tube to create a waterproof sleeve for a mini Bic lighter. The design was completely stolen copied peer reviewed from Gearward’s Ranger Bic.


  • Old 700×23 cc bicycle tube
  • E6000 glue
  • 1/4″ Grommet


  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Spring clamp
  • Hammer

Rangers light the way

The tube was cut a little longer than the length of a Bic mini lighter.

Rangers light the way

The lighter was placed in the tube to provide some structure. Clear E6000 glue was squirted into the tube and a spring clamp was applied. Wax paper was placed between the jaws of the clamp to prevent glue squeeze out from sticking to the clamp.

The next day a hole was punched and 1/4″ grommet was installed. The grommets used were incredibly cheap from Walmart. One of the grommets came loose after installation. It may be worth it to get better grommets or to use a flaring tool. I used a deadblow hammer and an anvil. I also tried replacing the anvil with a piece of scrap wood. Results were the same. Your mileage may vary.

Flimsy grommets aside, I am pleased with the result. Put the lighter in flint first and it is waterproof. The grommet provides an attachment point which is always convenient when camping.



Get off your high horse

Traditional Japanese woodworking is performed while seated on the ground. So as to not cut into your tatami, saw horses low to the ground are used.

I do not frequently crosscut while sitting in seiza, but I have found many uses for the horses

  • Several sets of them on the floor of your shop make it very easy to break down sheet goods
  • Take a pair and a saw when you go to purchase lumber. Yes, most places will cut the lumber for a small fee, but where is the fun in that?
  • Use them on your workbench to lift work off the bench.
  • Push up bars. Crank out a few push ups while you contemplate your next saw cut.

The low horses are also a great project to help you bootstrap your wood shop. They are cheap and easy to build. Also, they can be built with only hand tools.

I largely followed the procedure laid out by Make Skill Builder: Building Woodworking Low HorsesI cut four legs at 8 inches long and two beams at 22 inches long.

Some assembly required.

I found the center of the beams’ thickness. I also found the center of the legs’ length. These marks allow for dead-on layout for the Lincoln log notches which will be sawn out.

The notches are 1/2″ deep. I did not measure their width. I marked where I wanted the notches and then used the connecting piece to mark the width. Measurement is the enemy of precision. I used a coping saw to cut the walls of the notches.

I then used the coping saw to remove the waste from the notches.

Cut as close to the line as you can. It will make for less clean up with a chisel & mallet later.

A chisel will clean up the notch. Like an electron killing psychopath, I used a trim router with a straight bit to square everything up.

I cut relief with the coping saw in the bottoms of the legs to create feet. Again I used the trim router to tidy my cuts, but a mallet and chisel could be used.

I applied glue to the notches and clamped everything together.

The other one looks exactly like the first. I love a good set of twins.

I skipped cutting any design into the legs. Despite my aversion to aesthetics, sawing curves into the horses provides practice for curved cutting and makes them easy to identify as yours.

Router Table Saw

On Router Forums (there is a forum for everything just as there is adult content for everything) a user posted an insert made for the extension on his Ridgid table saw. I have a different router and table saw, but the same desire for maximizing utility in a small garage workshop.

The router table rests on 1/8″ thick angle iron (made of aluminum). The router table has 1/8″ thick flat bar running across a 1/2″ thick plywood bottom. The top is 3/4″ melamine.

The 1/8″ + 1/8″ + 1/2″ + 3/4″ brings the melamine flush with the table saw top. The router top being flush with the saw top allows me to use the table saw fence and miter gauge.

The angle iron was cut to 21 15/16″ in length. The extension arm has a depth of 0.617″. 1/2″ wide piece was removed from both ends of the aluminum angle so it sits in the extension arm groove.

Holes were drilled in the 1/8″ thick flat bar with a step bit. The bars were screwed to the 1/2″ thick plywood. The plywood was mounted to the melamine with screws as well.

A fitted recess was cut in the bottom of the melamine using a straight bit.

Toggle clamps hold the trim router in place. A 1 3/8″ hole was drilled for the router bit.

The space savings and ability to use the tablesaw’s fence & gauge do not make up for the fact the router shifts in use. The torque of the router shifts the table top ever so slightly. Fine if the project has loose tolerances, but not so for something more exact. I may try to remedy this with a heavier router or locking the router top down to the table saw or the angled aluminum pieces.

Maker Camp

Using the magic of the Internet you can attend a geeky summer camp run by Make.  You’ll learn to make rockets, robots, and more.  It is free and starts today.

Leatherman Micra Key Mod

Several years ago I had the notion to take an old bicycle multitool and replace some of the tools with my house keys.  Due to laziness and a lack of mechanical know-how, I never did it.  Recently I saw the work of someone who had a similar notion.  The journeyman replaced the blades of the Leatherman Micra with his house keys.  Having a spare Leatherman around I decided to replicate his work.

Using two sets of pliers, the screws which the tools pivot around were removed.  Each screw was gripped and twisted until they came loose.  It took a decent amount of torque as the screws are superglued together as well.

After removing the screws and carefully retaining the tool blades, washers, and backsprings which came out, a tool was used as a template to determine how much of the key handle would have to be removed.

Initially I used a Dremel rotary tool to remove the material, but a hacksaw proved to be much faster.  An 11/64 hole was also drilled into the key.

The hacksawed areas were filed and then the tool was reassembled with the keys in place of some of the tool blades.  Initially, I had a key on each side, but this only allowed for one tool on each side. The keys were just a little bit thicker than the tools; enough to prevent two tools and a key from residing on one handle.  Ultimately, there is a tool handle and a key handle.

There is no blade on the tool because I typically carry a separate pocket knife and because the retained tools are generally allowed in areas where knives may be prohibited e.g. government buildings, airports, etc.

The process was straight forward and now I have a small complement of tools with my keys.  If any one else attempts to replicate this let me know how it goes.  The best piece of advice I can offer is to retain the order of the tools and backsprings.  The constraints are rather narrow facilitating need to reorder things carefully.

There is possibility of bending the already hacksawed and damaged key, but if I ever broke it I would not be too concerned.  There are keys everywhere, they are just in the shape of rocks.

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