Autumnal maker school: ratchet

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This fall, I’m running the Autumnal Maker School (AMS). What’s required to be in the school, and to graduate? Make ten things between September 21 and December 21. Preferably useful things, but artistic things work too. I have made a 1) Volvelle, a 2) computer program that calculates the area of a hexagon, a 3) graphic design sample that shows how to make an Egyptian god, a 4) braiding disk, and 5) picture IDs for my school; there was also an 6) art exhibit in there, and guiding a group of students into 7) designing a manufacturing process.  The other day was 8) The Pulley Spinner.  And here’s 9) The parts for a Ratchet.

The Ratchet Gear

My goal was to build a working ratchet gear. I wasn’t sure it was going to work.  Here you can see the parts as they looked this morning (and yesterday evening) at around 7, when I arrived at school.  Some of the parts haven’t even been drilled yet; some of the drilling isn’t very good (drilling is a problem for some of my work).  Both of those square nuts/spacers broke in the process of drilling them.  It turns out that you’re supposed to drill to the correct size, and then cut them them out of the board.  That decreases the likelihood of breakage during the drilling.

Ratchet mechanism

But it still works.

…And here’s how they looked at the end of the day.  As you can see, the glue for the two legs on which it will stand upright are not yet glued and screwed into place.  But the whole assembly of parts is in place. I could definitely use and do some fine-tuning, because hot glue is not the right substance for gluing together such a marvelous creation.  On the other hand…

This is largely (actually, completely) built on the work of Dug from Cabaret Mechanical Theater.  He produces a monthly blog column, and I simply followed his design for this work. I’m not sure at this point that I know how to expand on his design, and produce a ratchet gear of a different size; or even how to get the spacing on the cranks and axles for the different parts correct.  That said, it’s a beautiful bit of design, and I’m glad it works.  Watch the video. There’s some boring bits at the beginning, but it gets good about 20 seconds into a 58-second video.

It works!  It works! Muahahahahahah!

OK, there’s a problem, though.  The cutting, the patience, the skill necessary to do this… it’s not in the wheelhouse of most of my students. They’re not going to know how to do this.  I wish they would, but I think it will be a few years before any of them are ready for it.

Me, I want to build another. A better one.  With a built in cam and cam-follower, and maybe some other movements, as well.  I’m hooked.

AMS: Ratchet Parts & Shelf

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This fall, I’m running the Autumnal Maker School (AMS). What’s required to be in the school, and to graduate? Make ten things between September 21 and December 21. Preferably useful things, but artistic things work too. I have made a 1) Volvelle, a 2) computer program that calculates the area of a hexagon, a 3) graphic design sample that shows how to make an Egyptian god, a 4) braiding disk, and 5) picture IDs for my school; there was also an 6) art exhibit in there, and guiding a group of students into 7) designing a manufacturing process.  The other day was 8) The Pulley Spinner.  And here’s 9) The parts for a Ratchet.Design lab projects: Ratchet

Frankly, I’m not sure it’s going to work. Cutting a ratchet gear is tremendously challenging, as it turns out, and let’s not go into the challenges of cutting a circular gear out of wood that will also work.

Nonetheless, I learned a few things from making these parts —

  • Be conservative with the saw;
  • Don’t force parts out of the wood;
  • keep the saw close to vertical, and then sand;
  • Think about the final dimensions of each part — they do have to fit together eventually.

Again, I’m not sure that these will work.  At all.  But I feel proud for having made them — for finding the template, for cutting them out of wood, for sanding and carving them as needed, and managing them for the last while without losing any of them.

Can I build the thing?  I haven’t the foggiest idea.

And the Shelf:

Design lab projects The Design Lab work-bench wall (half pegboard, half French cleat) has been running out of space since the day it was installed: too many tools to organize, not enough physical space to put them on display. Argh.

By chance, though, I encountered a video by Ben Brandt.  Ben is a woodworker, and woodworking instructor of some kind. He had a simple four-minute video about using pegboard and strips of 1×3 pine wood to make simple shelves. The shelves can then be drilled with holes to accommodate screwdrivers or spade-bits; built up into a rack for chisels or similar tools; or half-drilled to hold drill-bits or other accessories like punches.  It could even have slots for flush-cut saws or similar straight-blade tools.

Here’s the video:

If you bother to watch, you’ll see that mine is not particularly elegant; but then, neither is his.  On the other hand, building this shelf opened my eyes to solving some of my tool storage issues, which pleased me no end.

Peg board shelvingMine looks fairly similar to his, really. Although mine holds no tape measure.:-) And I wound up making two — one for spade bits, and one for screw-drivers.  It’s a nice fix, it gets a bunch of tools out of boxes and onto the the wall where students can see them, can visualize how they’re used, can use them, and can ask about them. Those are among the important keys to teaching tool use, really — can a student see the tools, use the tools, find the tools, be taught how to use them, and learn to use them for him- or herself.

For Me:

It was also an important bit of learning for me.  It taught me that I could watch a tutorial on carpentry on YouTube, get a little bit of training in a bit of design, carry it and and put it into practice, and then immediately transfer that knowledge to a project in a slightly different way.  That is an enormous step, I think, for anyone.  It’s one thing to watch a woodworking video, quite another to put the skills into practice, quite another to “ring changes” on that skill.  I have two more shelves in the works already, one for saws and one for chisels — and both require considerably more finesse than these two did.  But both of them are creating variations of this shelf which I have not seen before.  And that means that I’m developing my skill set more than I expected.

I do need to learn how not to punch out the board on the far side when I drill through it, though.  The back-side of these shelves is not a pretty sight at all.

Tai Chi Y4D232: extra

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I’m adjusting to daylight savings time’s ending on Sunday. Today I only slept in until 5:30 instead of nearly 6. And I had a great morning. I haven’t had this good a workout since before the art show opened. 

The workout consisted of 35 push-ups, 35 squats, the qi gong form called Eight Pieces of Silk, and the tai chi form. I got lightly sweaty.

Tai Chi Y4d243:

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Did druidry and tai chi this morning. Felt good after yesterday’s work.  I’ve had a real lack of energy from tai chi, for a few weeks; yesterday’s private and then public session together were an energy boost, and today was an increase over yesterday.

It was not a particularly long session today.  A qi gong form, a tai chi form, and done.  Off to work I go.

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