Monday, January 18, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

I was reminded of this story from decades ago while I was rigging an electric chainsaw motor for a bench test; securing it in my woodworking vise so its start-up torque reaction could cause no trouble.

One day at work, one of my co-workers didn't show up in the morning. I soon got the story from my boss of what had happened to him.

It seemed he'd been repairing an electric lawnmower the previous evening. He had it upside down on his workbench, unsecured. He hit the switch to start it, and start it did. The torque reaction of the motor and blades sent the mower careening off the edge of the workbench, the blades raking his thigh as the mower descended. From what I was told of the aftermath, the words 'cut badly' don't begin to describe the injury he sustained. I can't recall if he ever returned to work, but I don't think I was there much longer after that. (The place was a hell hole, but I digress.)

Anyway, there's a story to take to heart and file in your 'don't let this happen to you' folder. The start-up torque reaction of powerful universal motors is a force to be reckoned with. Never be lackadaisical about protecting yourself from it.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

LED Flashlights

My son gave me a small LED flashlight two Christmases ago, and when I started using it in the workshop I had one of those, "Where have you been all my life?" moments.

The uniform, icy-white light beam from the thing makes it the most amazing little inspection light for the nooks and crannies and orifices of machinery I've ever had the use of. Battery life is pretty good. Don't hesitate to get yourself one; they're not a gimmick.

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Removing Labels From Pill Vials

Whether for the sake of information security, or to have the use of an empty vial sans label, there's an easy way to get the labels off.

Get an empty metal coffee can with a snug-fitting, plastic lid. Wet the label completely with WD-40 and stand the vial in the bottom of the can. Close the lid and leave it overnight. The next day, the label will peel away nicely. The muck it leaves behind cleans away with methyl hydrate and a paper towel. Neither the WD-40 nor the methyl hydrate has any ill effect on the plastic vial.



I tried the same thing with Varsol instead of WD-40, and that worked just as well and with less residue left behind to clean away. One of the vials I did was a perfectly clear one, and the Varsol fogged the bottom of that vial after its overnight treatment. That vial may have been made of polystyrene. The vials that come clean so well without harm from the solvent have all been the amber/orange coloured ones made of polypropylene, recycling number '5' (PP).

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

CA (Cyanoacrylate) Adhesive

Commonly known as Krazy Glue or Super Glue, CA adhesive is indispensable in the workshop. Following are a few brief points about it:

a) It bonds skin instantly. The stuff can be dangerous.[1]

b) Dollar stores carry it. I've found the dollar store stuff to be perfectly good for my purposes, and considerably less expensive than the brand name products.

c) There's a gelled version available, but I really can't imagine why.[2] One of the adhesive's biggest virtues is that it's extremely runny. It will wick into the tiniest gap or crevice.

d) Runny though it is, it can be made to 'build' with repeated applications. That can be very helpful in the restoration of rusty old machinery; small unwanted crevices can be filled with it. The resultant fill can be filed or sanded, is impervious to water or oil and can be painted.

e) Further to its use as a filler, I've read that you can fill a larger gap with baking soda, then apply drops of CA. I've yet to have tried this myself. I suspect that pungent fumes result when it's done. Some types of applications result in fumes, and this is likely one of them.

f) It's not terribly heat resistant. LePage's website advises that immersion in boiling water can soften cured adhesive, so it's likely unsuitable for any application that will subject it to temperatures approaching 100° C. That said, you can safely use it as a threadlocker, or for any machinery assembly application that may need to be taken apart again. Just as with threadlockers, sufficient heat will soften it.[3]

g) Its water and chemical resistance is impressive. I've read that acetone will soften it. Apart from that, though, the stuff seems to stand up to just about anything.

h) Keep it in the fridge. Heat, light and humidity all tend to thicken it. Kept in the fridge, a tube of it will stay fresh and runny; you'll get the use of all of the tube's contents.

i) I've read that if it gets on cotton, it generates a lot of heat as it sets, enough heat to be dangerous.

j) There are many specialized versions available, but you have to go to industrial supply houses for them. So far, I've gotten by fine with the common variety. There's much more information about the material available on the web.

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[1] There's an upside to this.

If you're plagued, as I am, by splits in fingertip skin through the winter months, CA adhesive is a therapeutic. The instant you acquire a fingertip skin split and notice the attendant pain, seal the split with CA adhesive. The pain stops. The split is cleanly sealed against infection and can heal from beneath undisturbed.

I've read that some individuals may find the adhesive irritating and consequently useless for this, but it works for me.

[2] A Bit Of New Information -- SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2013: Since this post was first written, I've learned what the gelled version of the material is good for -- it's a great boon to model makers. The gel's thickness helps to hold tiny parts in place until the adhesive 'takes'. That feature can greatly simplify many steps in the construction of a model.

[3] This post illustrates a useful machine shop application.

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