My belt grinder has served me well, and for a hobbyist, it would be probably good enough. But since I am inching my way towards knife making not being just a hobby, I needed some significant improvement on it. And an opportunity luckily arose.
One of the good things about my previous employer was that there was an internal process for employees to get obsolete materials and equipment either cheaply or completely cost-free. I have used this opportunity quite often and got a lot out of it – I am well stocked in graphite and alluminium, I got precise analytic scales completely for free, and one of the last things I have managed to get was a variable frequency drive.
I was not able to haggle this one down to zero, it was a bit pricey even though used, and I also had to pay a bit to a professional electrician to connect it for me. I could get a new one for a bit cheaper if I capped it at the 1,5 kW that my motor has (this one can handle 5,5 kW) and took the cheapest one there is, but it was still a good deal even if it was not exactly a bargain.
And it works like a charm, even when I am not able to use anything more than the manual mode yet. Finally, I have the ability to change the speed of the motor as I need it, I can even reverse the rotation. I have tested it already and it is exactly what I hoped for- finally I can work wood without burning it and I can sharpen tools and have a bit more time before the edge starts overheating.
I hope it continues to work well – I have great plans for the future. Multiple grinding wheels, a polishing attachment and, maybe, even a lathe attachment. The belt grinder shall not rest!
In the space of a week, we’ve gone from this,
Today marks the third time in January that winter has come and gone. It’s expected to rain all weekend, and the creeks and rivers are already running high and fast. They’ve issued flood warnings. In January. In Canada.
Freezing temperatures have finally arrived in central Europe, we had -6°C a few days ago. Unfortunately, it was not accompanied by any snow whatsoever, not a single flake. However the rapid onset of frost after relatively warm weather has covered every stone, every piece of plastic or metal and every blade of grass and tree twig with ice crystals, so I took my camera and made a few quick pictures.
When I was a kid, usually there were at least twenty cm of snow outside at this time.
It was a splendid day here, so Jack and I decided to spend it going for a slow walk in the woods. Lately, Jack’s been walking beside me on the path because of all snow, but today he was off in the woods almost all the way around. He caught up with me at the last bench before the car park, and he seemed a bit out of sorts, so I asked him why the sad face on such a lovely day.
“I can’t tell you. Well, I shouldn’t tell you” he replied.
“Shouldn’t tell me what, Bubbs”
“It’s about the little folk. They don’t like for people to know their business.”
“I see,” I said. “But, it’s ok for dogs to know their business?”
“Silly Mummy, of course, dogs know their business. We can hear and smell everything they do. They’d prefer most dogs didn’t know about them, but they trust some of us.”
I was getting very curious, but I know that if you ask Jack too many questions, he wanders away, so I let a few quiet moments pass when Jack spoke up again.
“Mummy, what would you do if your home wasn’t safe anymore?”
“Well, I’d fix it if I could, and if I couldn’t fix it, I guess I’d move to a new place.” I let a beat pass, “Does one of the little people have a problem where they live?”
“Oh, Mummy, they all do. It’s terrible!” Jack had a catch in his voice, and I saw worry in his eyes.
“Can you tell me what the problem is, Bubbs?”
“It’s the ground, Mummy. It isn’t staying frozen long enough for them to go to sleep.”
I had to think about that for a bit, then I asked, ” Why can’t they go to sleep if the ground isn’t frozen?”
“They can, but this year the snow keeps melting, and it’s been raining, and everyone is worried that their tunnels will collapse. Usually, the meltwater comes in the spring when the flowers and trees can help drink it, but the trees don’t drink much in the winter, and so the ground gets soggy, and their tunnels get mouldy, and their food spoils faster and then sometimes the tunnels cave in.” Jack stopped and looked around before adding, “that’s why they can’t do their winter sleep.”
“That’s awful, Jack. What are they going to do?” I asked, but I could see him wander off the path and knew that to be a sure sign, he didn’t want to talk anymore.
“They have a few ideas, but not everyone agrees.” Jack said, before adding “Can we be quiet now, Mummy.”
“Sure Bubbs,” I said, but I was brimming over with questions. Who are these little folk, and how many of them are there? How big is their tunnel system, and where do they hide the entrances? Do they live there all year, or only in the winter? Do they all bunk together like at camp or do they have proper rooms with furniture and books. What sort of food do they eat, and what do they store down there? How long is a ‘winter sleep,’ and is that like hibernating? What ideas do they have to deal with their soggy tunnels and is there anything we could do to help?
I could see that Jack wasn’t going to say anything more about it, though, so I let the questions lay silent for today. Hopefully, he’ll tell me more, and if he does, I’ll be sure to pass it on to you.
Sometimes Jack and I amuse ourselves by playing a game called “Tree See.” We invented the game, and the rules are simple. You look around the forest until you find an image hidden in the branches or on a fallen log and then you point and ask the other person what they see. If you both see the same thing, the point goes to the person who found the sculpture. If you both see something different, the point goes to the second person who was asked for their opinion. It’s a silly game, really, but it helps pass the time, especially on a winter’s walk when there isn’t much to look at. Jack is better at the game than I am. I think it’s because he’s lower to the ground, but today Jack tells me that it’s because I’m a slow-witted human who lacks imagination. Ouch, Bubba, that stings. ,