Thursday, March 25, 2010

Industrial and Scientific supplies from Amazon

Amazon isn't just for books anymore! Tools, fasteners, supplies, parts, materials -- even brass gears -- can all be found in their online store.

Check out the extensive Industrial and Scientific section of their online store.

Among the many categories included:
* Abrasives
* Adhesives
* Bearings
* Cutting Tools
* Electronic Components
* Fasteners
* Fittings
* Hardware
* Hoses
* Industrial Hand Tools
* Janitorial
* Lab & Scientific
* Linear Motion
* Materials
* Material Handling
* Measurement & Inspection
* Metalworking
* Motors
* O-Rings
* Pipe
* Power Transmission
* Pumps
* Safety
* Soldering, Brazing, Welding & Heating
* Tapes
* Tubing
* Valves

Here's a link to Amazon's Industrial and Scientific supply section.

[ Thanks Caleb! ]


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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Automata-maker Dug North and his workshop

Automata-maker Dug North and his workshop
I thought it might be fun to give you a glimpse of my workshop and some photos of me in it.

The shots were taken by the talented portrait artist, Adrien Bisson who also resides in Lowell, Massachusetts. The photographs show my workshop, some parts of the wood clock I am making, and a prototype automaton that is in the works. The workshop it is actually built into a century-old walk-in vault.

To see more photographs from this shoot, check out Adrien Bisson's photography blog.

And, as always, thanks for reading The Automata / Automaton Blog!


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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Smith's PP1 "Pocket Pal" Multi-Function Sharpener

mith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multi-Function Sharpener
I haven't done a mini tool review in a while. Well, I've found something that truly deserves mention. I was lucky enough to receive the Smith's PP1 "Pocket Pal" Multi-Function Sharpener as a holiday gift. I have sharpened my share of knives, carving tools, and chisels. I've also purchased a lot of tools to do that sharpening. So, I admit, I was a little skeptical about this pocket-sized sharpening tool. My trusty Swiss Army Knife doesn't get the same attention that my woodworking tools get, so I decided to try the Smith tool on it. I ran the dull blade through the carbide slot a few times, then the ceramic slot a few times. The difference was incredible! I have yet to use the tapered diamond part of the tool, but I don't sharpen too many serrated blades. It can, of course, be used on non-serrated blades too, as well as on small gouges, scorps, and even fishing hooks. This tool is well worth the price in my book.

Here is a link to Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Sharpener on Amazon.

[ Thanks Kev! ]


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Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Complete Modern Blacksmith book

The Complete Modern Blacksmith book
I recently gave this book to a friend for his birthday. An anthology of three out-of-print books, this book is a great value. The book covers much of what you might expect from a book with this title. What makes it really cool is its emphasis on making, repairing, and maintaining useful tools of every sort. I haven't found this information elsewhere yet. Very nice pencil drawings accompany the text. If you want to take your "making skills" to the next level, you should check this book out.

Here's amazon's info page on The Complete Modern Blacksmith.


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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Make a Lathe from other peoples rubbish

Here's another cool Instructable. This one is a very complete manual on how to make your own wood lathe from a variety of recycled parts.

Here is the link to see the original Insructable on how to make your own lathe.


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Proxxon Scroll Saw for model and toy making

Proxxon Scroll Saw for model and toy making
I already own a decent scroll saw so it would hard to justify this purchase. But...maybe it's not to late for you!

From the product description
This is the ideal machine for that delicate project: model building, toy manufacturing and precision work. It cuts soft wood (e.g. bass wood) up to 1 3/16" (30 mm), hard wood up to approx. 25/64" (10 mm), plastic (including circuit boards) up to approx. 5/32" (4 mm) and non-ferrous metals up to 5/64" (2 mm) with standard scroll saw blades. The machine has a very stable ribbed die-cast aluminum saw frame with 11 13/16" (300 mm) throat. The blade guide is equipped with an integrated blower. The patented head-part is height-adjustable in 3 positions and offers numerous advantages: The lifetime of the saw blade is tripled after shortening it twice (teeth in the middle part of the saw blade are finally used, too). With the head in the lowest position, working with a blade shortened to 2 23/64" is even more precise. The machined worktable of die-cast aluminum has a size of 6 19/64" x 6 19/64" (160 x 160 mm) and is equipped with an adjustable longitudinal stop and graduated miter gauge (0-90°). The ABS plastic body provides a very practical sliding door on the right side of the housing for the removal of saw dust. The saw is powered by a 110 - 120V motor (85 W) for prolonged use, low noise performance and even supported by a quiet and wear-resistant toothed belt drive, running in a ball bearing assembly. The machine offers an electronically controllable stroke rate from approx. 150 - 2,500 strokes/min.

Here's the link to the Proxxon 37088 DS 115/E Scroll Saw


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to make a super accurate vernier protractor

How to make a super accurate vernier protractor
Check out this cool DIY article by Steve Garrison on how to make a protractor accurate up to 0.1 degree.

How it Works (from Steve's site):
Since this protractor uses a bubble level it can only measure vertical angles. The bubble is zeroed up on a reference surface by rotating the disc that the vial is attached to until the bubble is aligned with a mark and the front wing-nut is locked down. Then the protractor is placed on a tilted surface and the larger disc is unlocked (using the wingnut on the back) and the disc is rotated until the bubble is again aligned in the same position, then the rear wingnut is locked back down. The angle is read to a degree where the long line on the left side of the vernier points to the degree scale - read the smaller number. The angle is then read to a tenth of a degree by seeing which of the vernier lines matches up best end-to-end with the degree markings and added to the degree measurement. The markings on the vernier are 0.9 degree apart.

Here is the link with details on how to make your own compact protractor accurate up to 0.1 degree.


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Friday, August 14, 2009

8" slow-speed grinder on sale to end of August

8 inch Slow-Speed Grinder on sale
Woodcraft is offering this 8-inch slow speed grinder on sale from now until the end of August, 2009. Regularly priced at $110, it is now on sale for $95. The grinder comes equipped with 120 grit and 60 grit white aluminum oxide grinding wheels.

From the grinder description:
This quiet, smooth 1/2 HP, 1725 RPM slow-speed grinder is great for sharpening tools without generating the tool destroying heat that you get so quickly from 3450 RPM grinders.

Here's the link for more info 8 inch slow speed grinder.


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Proxxon MICRO Woodturning Lathe

Proxxon MICRO Woodturning Lathe
Makers of precision miniature power tools, Proxxon offers this very small-scale woodturning lathe.

From the manufacturer's description:
Proxxon Micro Woodturning Lathe DB 250. This compact size machine is ideal for turning pens or doll house items such as cups, plates, pots, vases, columns, also for model railroad items including power or signal posts and tanks, doll and marionette limbs. Thousands of classical model building items may be turned with ease. Adding final touches with paint to your work piece at lower speeds, easily done through the electronic speed control. the tool rest is conveniently adjustable in height as well as it turns through 360° allowing for centerless turning. Overall length 15-3/4 inches by 3-3/4 inch height. Weight: 5.5 pounds

Here's a link with more info on the Proxxon MICRO Woodturning Lathe. If you've already decided this is the tool for you, you'll want to pick up the Proxxon 5-Piece Turning Tool Set at the same time.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sand tight spots with the Proxxon Pen Sander

Sand tight spots with the Proxxon Pen Sander
If you sand really small wood, metal, or plastic surfaces, this pen sander may be a HUGE time-saver.

From the product description
Proxxon 12-Volt Pen Sander sands linearly where space is at a premium. This superfine sander with linear sanding motion operates at 8,000 strokes per minute with a 3/32" stroke. Superfine finishing of wooden, plastic or metal surfaces can be done in less time hands can do without big efforts. It is ideal for surfaces, slots and tight corners. Included are four sanding attachments with straight shanks and four with angled shanks -four different shapes per shank style- as well as three sheets of pre-profiled self-adhesive sanding pads. The sheets are 180, 240 and 400 grit with 5 of each shape per sheet.

NOTE: To operate, this unit requires a 12-volt transformer such as the Proxxon 38704 Heavy Duty Transformer

Here's a link to more info on the Proxxon Pen Sander.


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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Proxxon hand-held minature belt sander

Proxxon Hand Held Belt Sander
Designed for sanding in spots where there is limited space, this little power belt sander works on flat surfaces, corners, and curves. The sanding head tilts to provide access to difficult spots. The belt speeds may be adjusted from 300 fpm to 700 fpm. The sander features a quick and easy belt change system and belts that come in 80, 120, and 180 grit.

Here the link for the Proxxon Hand Held Belt Sander


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Proxxon's Miniature Bench Drill Press Machine

Proxxon Miniature Bench Drill Press Machine
More Proxxon goodness for you (me) to ponder...

From the Amazon Description
Proxxon Bench Drill Press TBM 115 - This 3 speed drill press excels at drilling micro holes down to 1/64 inch (0.5 millimeters). The unit offers a high quality machined work table of ribbed die cast aluminum, 8-1/2 inch x 4-3/4 inch in side. It provides an adjustable parallel fence with scale. The solid high chrome steel column is 11 inches high and is 4/5 inch in diameter. The powerful motor is built into the super stable die cast head of the machine, runs very quietly and has a long life expectancy. The power transmission by 3 step aluminum pulley and flat belt provides 3 spindle speeds of 1800, 4700, 8500 rpm. This allows triple torque and lower speeds.

Here's the link for more information on the Proxxon 38128 TBM Bench Drill Machine.


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dremel 220-01 rotary tool work station & press

Dremel 220-01 rotary tool work station & pressThe Dremel Work Station allows you to use almost any Dremel rotary tool as small table-top drill press.

You can tilt the Dremel Work Station in 15-degree increments from 15 to 90 degrees horizontal. It can also be used as a telescoping FlexShaft tool stand. Finally there is a little tool caddy for holding a few bits, collets, and wrenches. Comes with the accessory nest, mounting wrench, and instructions.

Here is the link to the Dremel 220-01 Rotary Tool Work Station


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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Proxxon model-maker's power tools store section

Proxxon tool model-maker's power tools store
I am the proud owner of two Proxxon tools -- the miniature table saw and the miniature mitre saw. As someone who works with small-scale pieces of wood and metal, I am a big fan of this company's products. The Automata / Automaton Store now features an entire section dedicated to Proxxon tools. If you are serious about model-making and are looking for high quality power tools that are the right size for the job, look no further.

Check out the Proxxon Power Tool section of The Automata / Automaton Store.


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Thursday, June 04, 2009

23 Piece Hobby & Craft Tool Set for under $15

23 Piece Hobby & Craft Tool Set
I'm a little smitten with this hobby knife and tool set offered by Woodcraft.com. It contains all the things you would expect from one of these sets such as assorted knife blades, handles (3 actually), and a saw blade. But it goes beyond the norm with a inclusion of a tiny spoke shave, block plane, balsa strip tool, sanding block, and tweezers. It comes in a plastic case designed to fit each item. For $15 USD, this looks like a nice starter set for model making or working with any type of wood miniatures (model railroad, planes, boats, carving, etc).

Here's a link to this 23 Piece Hobby and Craft Tool Set.


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Proxxon Micro Band Saw with optional wet cutting

Proxxon 37172 MBS 115/E Micro Band Saw


From the Amazon.com Product Description
A solid, ribbed die-cast aluminum housing (not a tubular or sheet metal construction) ensures the necessary stability. The machine has double ball bearing aluminum pulleys, a sturdy machined table with a slot for the miter gauge as well as the coolant trough. The worktable tilts up to 45° for accurate miter cuts. The low noise 110-120V motor (high quality, for quiet, prolonged use) operates via toothed belt. Electronically controlled speeds for exceptionally accurate cutting (no subsequent finishing necessary) are available from 395 to 820 ft/min. A practical table at the outside of the machine housing indicates the recommended speed for various types of material. The blade size of 13/64" x 1/64" (5.0 x 0.4 mm) is ideal for fine work, allowing to cut even smallest radii. The machine is equipped with a vacuum-cleaner adapter to help you work in a dust-free environment.

Here's the link to the Proxxon Micro Band Saw


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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Acra Mill Plus - create your own mini machine shop

Acra Mill Plus - create your a mini machine shopThe Acra Mill was designed to help model makers perform a wide range of tasks from sanding, grinding, and polishing to machining small pieces to with precision tolerances. The Acra Mill holds a Dremel or similar rotary tool. The Acra Mill comes ready to use. There are many configurations and accessories. If you are tight on space and work with small parts, this is an option to consider.

Here is where you can learn more about the nifty Acra Mill Plus (Warning: ALL CAPS AHEAD).


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Proxxon precision mini-lathe - 30 lbs of awesome

Proxxon 34004 PD 230/E Lathe
The Proxxon Lathe PD 230/E can be used to perform precision turning on plastics, steel, brass and aluminum. It boasts a lot of very nice features for such a small lathe.

From the manufacturer's description
Comes complete with automatic feed, thread cutting capability, headstock chuck, live center and top slide for taper turner. It may be used to part, turn, and cut tapers. The numerous optional accessories add the versatility you need to complete all your miniature projects. Weight approximately 30 pounds and dimensions approximately 21inches by 9.8 inches by 5.9 inches. Has features of full sized lathe and can be packed away after each use. Practical hand wheel with zero adjustable scales 1 division = 0.001 (0.025 millimeter) 1 revolution equals .04 (1 millimeter). Combination of 3 speeds and additional electronic speed control allowing speeds from 100 to 3000 rpm are among the many features standard on this precision lathe.

OK, so I'll add this to my wishlist: the Proxxon 34004 PD 230/E Lathe


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Building a real woodworker's workbench

Here is a great Instructable on how to build a high-quality woodworking bench based on a set of plans originally published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (the best magazine of its kind, in my opinion).

The design used here is simplification of a bench from Sam Allen's book Making Workbenches.


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill: small, green & awesome

Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill
Oh, make no mistake: I want one of these.

From the Amazon.com Product Description
Proxxon micro mill MF 70 - This small and beautiful unit is ideal - the accurate mill for lab, optician, jewelry, electronic and model building projects. Mill is made with a cast iron base. The vertical column and compound lathe are treated, high quality aluminum. All axes are play-free and have adjustable slides. The headstock, made of die cast aluminum, houses 24 pole balanced special motor and provides stability even at high operating speeds. This stability facilitates the use of the finest cutters.

Here's the link for more info on the Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill



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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool

Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool
While most of us are familiar with the versatile rotary tool, we tend to equate it with the Dremel brand name. I have owned many, many Dremel tools and do not have any serious complaints.

Still, this Proxxon profession model appears to offer some noticeable improvements. The manufacturer claims that this model can be use for extended periods when polishing, grinding, cleaning and engraving -- without becoming overheated. That is one problem I have had in the past, but I think I pushed the poor Dremel too far.

Like the better models of Dremel rotary tools, this Proxxon can be run at a range of speeds from 5,000 to 20,000 RPMs. Variable speed is a an important feature in any make of rotary tool.

Finally, the Proxxon features a die cast aluminum head which serves as a study housing for the steel spindle, running within a ball bearing assembly. This strikes me as more robust than most Dremel tools.

The unit comes with six collets (sized 1/32", 1/16", 5/64", 3/32", 7/64" and 1/8") and is compatible with a number of Proxxon accessories such as a foot switch, flexible shaft, and drill stand.

Here is a link to the Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool


Note: Those of you who know you will be using a rotary tool a lot, should consider something like the Foredom rotary tools that jewelers and serious woodcarvers use.


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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Husqvarna's semi-automomous sleath Automower

Husqvarna's semi-automomous sleath Automower
In case you missed this over on the BoingBoing Gadgets blog the other day, you've got to check out the latest totally stealth-looking autonomous robotic lawn mower from Husqvarna. I wonder if it can be detected by radar.

From the product description
The Automower 260 ACX is designed for semi-professional use in business or public environments as well as for demanding consumers. Like all Husqvarna's robotic mowers, it charges and operates itself without need for supervision. Should anything disturb the operation, 260 ACX sends a text message to your mobile phone. Thanks to 6000 sq. meter (1.4 acre) capacity, low noise level and no requirement of labour, Automower 260 ACX is perfectly suited for use in quiet environments such as hospitals, hotels and leisure facilities, and office locations. Day or night, rain or shine, it simply gets on with the mowing, leaving you free to get on with managing your business.

Here is a link for more info on the Husqvarna Automower.


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Friday, April 17, 2009

Carving tools sets with interesting handle design

Carving tools sets with interesting handle design
I've used the traditional carving knives, chip carving knives, and palm carving tools, but I can't say I've ever used a carving knife with this style of handle.

I gather that the handle design is meant to serve two purposes. They can be held fully in the palm for larger, forceful cuts, or griped by the narrow part at the neck -- rather like a pencil -- for finer cuts. It sure sounds like a good idea.

Woodcraft has a seven piece set (shown here, $50) and a a five piece set ($40). Both come in a storage box of some sort.


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Micro carving tools for very small wood carvings

Dockyard micro carving tools for small wood carving
The other day I mentioned the Rick Bütz woodcarving knives I use. While about 70 percent of the time I use either the standard carving knife or the detail knife, there are times when a specially shaped carving tool is just what you need. For a long time, I struggled with a mediocre set of palm carving tools. Mine didn't hold an edge very well and were just too big to be very useful.

A few years ago I discovered these unassuming little micro carving tools. They may look simple but they are hand forged, tempered, and tested for a correct edge profile. Not only that: they come sharpened and ready to use. Hallelujah!

They offer sets like the one shown here in three different sizes -- 1.5mm, 2mm, and 3mm. I went with the 2mm and am very happy with it. The micro carving tool set I bought has single and double bevel chisels, a skew chisel, a 90 degree V-shaped tool, and U-shaped gouge. All in cherry wood handles.

Here's the full line of Dockyard micro carving tools.


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to build your own plan holding stand for $10

How to build your own plan or pattern holding stand
If you make models, miniatures, or work from plan drawings of any sort you can spend good money on a plan holder. This one is the product of a great do-it-yourself guide. For about $10 you can make the plan holder shown here. This is a good way to get those sheets off your workspace and into plain view.

Here's the link on HOW TO BUILD A $10 PLANS HOLDER.

[ Thanks bilagaana! ]


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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rick Bütz two-knife woodcarving set on sale

Rick Butz two-knife woodcarving set
If you are a wood-carver or interested in learning, I came upon this deal from Woodcraft Woodworking Supply. This is a set of Rick Bütz carving knives -- the same to I use to carve the figures of my wood automata.

Rick Bütz wrote the book on wood carving. No, really...he DID write the book called How to Carve Wood. He also wrote a great book on How to Sharpen Carving Tools. Both are excellent.

The two knives shown are a standard carving knife (bottom) for most roughing out and carving and a detail knife (top) for doing fine cuts. Together, they should be the only knives you'll ever need. Now...other carving tools...well, you may want/need those in time, but this is a great start. Don't mistake these knives for the ones you find at your local arts and crafts chain store: these are much better. I learned this the hard way.

Woodcraft offers either knife individually, or will give you a great deal on the two -- saving you 33% -- through March 31, 2009.

Here's the product page for the Rick Butz two-knife woodcarving set.


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