Making Kitchen Knives – Part 9 – Starting Again

As I said last time, I am going to make multiple knives in parallel, because I think that a non-trivial amount of time can be saved just by that. I had all my steel already straightened, so I could go right away to drawing, drilling and shaping. First thing to be done was to draw and drill one blade on one half of one steel bar. That I have subsequently used as a template to drill holes in the other half and in all the other steel bars.

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For the drilling I clamped the template firmly with the drilled steel bars and before proceeding to the other side I inserted a steel pin in the drilled hole so the bars do not shift and slide. This has saved some time, despite it being a step with negligible time in the analysis, but my main hope here is that this work on multiple pieces in parallel brings better reproducibility regarding the hole positions and and that better reproducibility could save me some time later on when shaping the handle scales.

I have learned two lessons, one of them rather expensive. First lesson was that for this I have to take the 6 mm drill bits as de-facto consumable material, because I blunted and subsequently broke one towards the end despite using copious amounts of cutting oil. And I do not think it can be avoided.

Second lesson was that I really have to buy a new drill press, and preferably one with continuously regulated speed at that. My jury-rigged press with a very old hand drill has only two speeds and both of them are apparently too high for drilling 16 mm hole in 1,8 mm steel. Towards the end of the work the step drill bit overheated and it got irreversibly blunted on the 16 mm step. Ouch. That drill bit costs 40,-€. I think this investment is unavoidable, if I want to save time I cannot take the bit out and dunk it in water after each drilled hole, slower rotations would be better. And I cannot buy 40,-€ drill bit for each dozen of knives I make – that money be best saved for grinding belts. Hobby or not, at this rate I would spend the price of an acceptable small to middle sized drill press (300-400,-€) on the drill bits rather quickly.

Cutting the blanks in half and roughly cutting the outlines of the blades with an angle grinder did not take long at all. and working on multiple blades in parallel seemed to work comparatively well. But for the sake of precision, next time I will halve the blanks individually – two came out somehow too short and two too long. Not by much, but it is noticeable. The end result were three stacks of four roughly cut blades.

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Before this step took me 15 minutes per blade, now it was 10 minutes per blade (teasing out broken 6mm drill bit and fruitlessly trying to drill a hole with blunted 16mm drill bit included). So I would call it a semi-success. I learned some do’s and dont’s and I achieved my two goals – the holes in the tangs align across all 12 blades nicely and I have saved some time without even really trying to.

Youtube Video: Medieval ASSASSIN’S CROSSBOW (Balestrino) ASSEMBLED & TESTED!

I could not decide between multiple videos, as usual, and last-minute decision fell on this one. It is a nice piece of engineering and the video is reasonably short and packed with interesting information.

It might also be Halloween appropriate? I have no clue, since I originate from and live in a country with no Halloween tradition whatsoever and honestly I do not understand what Halloween is supposed to be about at all. But I read something about murderers and monsters the other day, so maybe an (alleged) assasin’s weapon might fit in.

I have a day off and I planned to do some knife-work, but I have to pass on that since I am still not well.

Making Kitchen Knives – Part 8 – First Evaluation

First thing first – today I tested the very nearly finished knife when I was cooking shrimp for lunch.

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It handles well and cuts OK, but I really suspect it won’t hold an edge as well as it should. But the cheapo wood looks way more posh than I expected it, ammonia fuming really, really improved its looks.

And now to the boring stuff.

What I am doing here is actually a small-sized DMAIC project – an abbreviation for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. It is a process used in industry to bring some logic and use of scientific method into improving manufacturing processes. Although as everything in today’s corporate culture it is used wrongly and heavily abused and misunderstood all over the place, because american-trained managers …. wheef, do not get me started on american-trained managers.

Aaaaanyway, in the first phase, Define, you should either define your problem or your goal or both. In my case, I have a specific goal – to get my manufacturing time of this type of knife under five hours of manual labor.

In the second phase you should acquire all measurements that you need in order to do something about it – in my case I have measured the manufacturing time of each distinct step in the process.

And now, in this post, I am performing the Analysis of said data. Total manufacturing time: 10:46, or 646 minutes.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a picture.

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There are of course multiple approaches one might use, but in this specific case I think that this suffices ample enough – it is so-called Pareto Graph. The balks are actual times in minutes for each step, ordered from the highest to the lowest. The black line is a sum of the relative proportions of these times to the total as one progresses from left to right. As you can see, I have ten distinct manufacturing steps and from those five steps constitute 90% of manufacturing time. These are the steps where I have to concentrate on actually reducing said time, because here my efforts have the biggest payoff. That does not mean that improvements in the other five steps are not worthy pursuing at all, but they are not worth pursuing at this time.

I have done one thing that is not normally done, that is I sorted from get-go the steps into two categories – low hanging fruit, where I think I can do improvements without too much hassle and without obtaining expensive or complicated equipment, and high-hanging fruit, where I can save time only through acquiring new skill or new equipment or where I think saving time is not actually possible in a meaningful way.

Now comes the next phase, which is  to improve the process. I will try to implement some of the ideas for that I have expressed and make a batch of multiple (~10) knives with improved process. We will see how it turns out.

Making Kitchen Knives – Interlude 1 – The Little Great Polishing Experiment

I will share with you a proper analysis of the acquired data, but I just finished a little experiment and I am too eager to share the results.

Without too big analyzing of anything, it is clear at even a casual glance that polishing is the most time-consuming part of the job. It is also the most boring part, in my opinion, because not much can be done and the opportunities for a mess-up are numerous. It is necessary to go through the laborious process for fancy knives, like Ciri’s dagger, but for a kitchen knife without any ribs or facets it is a waste of time.

For over twenty-five years, ever since I read about the technique in ABC as a kid, I wanted to try a process that goes under many names, “tumbling”  being probably the most known one. I have even mentioned the device for it in the article “The Handmade Dilemma” as a “polishing drum”. It is a technique that has been in use for thousands of years, literally – for example Bohemian Crown Jewels contain precious stones that were polished this way. And it has been tried and used for knife finishing both on commercial and hobby scale. All that it takes is having the polished things in a rotating drum where they tumble over each other, sometimes with the help of a polishing medium, sometimes without. A very simple machine, and had I lived by a stream I would build a water powered one years ago. Unfortunately I do not live near a stream and wind is too unpredictable so I am stuck with using electricity, and I have not got my hands on a motor with the right properties yet.

But I got lucky, my colleague has bought small toy tumbler for his son when he was little and they do not need it anymore, so he lent it to me a few months ago. As you can see, it is not big enough to hold a knife, not even a small one, so after I let it run with a few pieces of unhardened steel with very mixed and generally unsatisfactory results, it has collected dust again.

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But here was the second stroke of luck – I have bought a slab of high-carbon tool steel and I started to make myself a set of better hardness measuring gauges than the impromptu ones I have made from an old saw blade. I have already ground and hardened these little chisels to HRc 62,  and I only cleaned the two big facets and sanded them up to 150 grit – that is the grit up to which the grinding and polishing is relatively quick and the blade does not heat up too much. I was not intending to high-polish these, since that would be silly. But I remembered the lent tumbler and checked if they fit in – and the did!

So I chucked the blades into the polishing drum with a spoon of jeweler’s rouge and half filled it wiht crushed walnut shells, mixed it all up and let it run for one day. Bugger – it got blocked after unknown time and I only found out next day. So I started it again for one day. And the change in surface was remarkable. It was not polished, but the perpendicular sandpaper scratches were no longer visible and the surface has got a very nice satin sheen to it. But I like my blades mirror-polished, so I started it for another day. I took another chisel out and subjectively there was no change against the first day, so I assumed that this is as good as it gets (but I will let it run for one more day). But I also assumed that since there are no visible perpendicular scratches anymore, I can quickly buff it to mirror polish with the three buffing wheels that I have  – and I was correct.

Here you can see four pictures taken with my digital microscope (courtesy of our quality department who tossed it away because they lost the installation CD – so I took it home and downloaded free software). Each picture represents a section approximately 10 mm wide in reality.

After 150 grit belt – parallel scratches perpendicular to the blade are very clearly visible.
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After one day, scratches from the sandpaper are no longer visible with the naked eye, but they are still visible under the microscope.
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After two days, the scratches from sandpaper are no longer visible even under the microscope unless you really look for them.
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And after just a few minutes with the set of buffing wheels the scratches are no longer visible and the surface is so polished that the microscope photographs itself.
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Making Kitchen Knives – Part 7 – Assembly and Finishing

After leaving the handle scales in the ammonia overnight, I took them out the next day,  washed them in running water and quickly dried them. First by letting them for an hour above the stove in my workshop and when they were nearly dry, heating them carefully in 10 sec intervals in the microwave until there was no steam coming out. I do not count this time into the manufacturing time, because I have been doing it this way only to be able to proceed quickly and get the knife done this weekend. Normally I would let it  dry by itself.

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When dried, the scales had to be fitted to the handle – that is done by carefully sanding the faces that are glued on the tang on a flat stone as long as it takes to get them nicely flat. Then I screwed the handle scales without the blade together again and sanded and polished the two forward facing facets, because once the scales are on the tang, nothing can be done about them.

As far as the metal goes, I cleaned most of the scale from the tang with 80 grit sandpaper and then I cut two pins from 6 mm brass rod, hammered them through the holes in the tang and tried whether the whole assembly fits together without unseemly gaps. I was prepared to eventually sand a bit here and there, but it was not necessary, it fitted nicely. So I slathered generous amount of quick drying epoxy cement on all adjoining surfaces and squeezed the whole assembly gently in the vice. I cleaned the epoxy that got squeezed out, first by scraping of the excess with a piece of wood and second by washing the blade with paper towel soaked in alcohol. A piece of epoxy on the back and belly of the handle are not a problem, since those areas will be sanded anyway, but a real care must be taken in cleaning the blade and the forward facing facets of the scales thoroughly, because again, any mistake there cannot be easily corrected.

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The epoxy that I was using was hardening quicker than I was happy with, but our local Baumarkt has “optimized” its wares selection a few years ago and they are only selling quick-setting epoxies now and I will probably have to order some slowly setting epoxies over the internet. I got lucky and I managed to get everything important clean before the glue set, but it was a race with time. That means I could not make any pictures of that process, so what you see is status just before applying the glue.

After the epoxy has hardened – in this case about 15 minutes later – I have made final shaping and polishing of the handle. I did not go above 150 grit sandpaper though, because that would be a waste of time with this wood.

Because the used wood was extremely porous, I had to stabilize it. Marcus has already mentioned the recent fad in knifemaking that consists of infusing the wood with resin. That would be ideal here.

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Well, I lack the equipment to do that. But I wanted at least somewhat stabilise the wood even so. And I wanted to use the same finish that I have used on my mother’s knife, because it has proven itself to be very resistant. So I took the boat varnish and diluted it with acetone at a ratio approximately 1:4. You can see on the picture that the undiluted varnish is a lot thicker than acetone and it has sunk to the bottom of the jam-jar. However after mixing it did not separate again for a few days by now.

For the first dip I have put the handle in the heavily diluted varnish and I waited approximately 20 minutes until no visible bubbles were rising. Ideally It would be better to do this in a vaccuum-chamber, but acetone is very good wetting agent and this should be enough for at least a few mm penetration. After that I took the handle out and cleaned any varnish from the blade immediately with acetone. Then I have let it dry in a dust-free and well heated room. All that is left now is this week each evening after returning from work giving the handle a slight polishing with 150 or 180 grit sandpaper, dipping, cleaning, leaving it dry again until I am satisfied with the surface. I am not going to measure this time exactly because it is scattered a few minutes each evening over a few days. Lets say it is 30 minutes overall, including final signing of the blade.

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That makes it 1:30 or 90 minutes for all of the work described here. That also makes the knife done for the purpose of measuring the time of my actual manufacturing process, so next time we can look at the data and look what (if) can be done there to make it more efficient.

Making Kitchen Knives – Part 6 – Basic Shaping of the Handle

I have decided to make the handle on this knife from an old piece of wood I have cut from a palette that stood outside for quite a while. I do not know what wood it is, I suspect birch. It is extremely weathered and looks kinda crap. But there is a trick to make such old wood look very fancy.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have done most of the work per hand, first splitting the piece of wood along the visible crack, then cutting it with small hand-held saw to very roughly the final shape and drilling the holes for pins. So far this work was pretty uneventful and straightforward.

As you can see on the picture on the right, I have fixed the two halves with screws to make the final shaping. This is where things stopped being uneventful. The wood was not overly hard, but it was very tough and I could not shape it on the big belt sander because that is running too fast and the wood tended to gum up the belt and burn. So I have been stuck with using handheld tools. I thought that it is not a problem because I expected to do it quickly even so.

I was wrong. It took me 1:50, or 110 minutes, to get the handle scales into a nearly finished shape. I should have used my small belt sander, it has slower running belt and is better suited for wood.

Of course it would not be nearly as long work if I have made ordinary rectangular handle and not this ergonomically shaped one. However I consider the handle shape to be an important, even defining, component of this design. Simplifying the handle shape in the name of saving time would in my opinion strip the product of its uniqueness and I see no point in hand-made completely generic knives.

I think that I could reduce this work significantly by working on multiple knives at once, cutting the outlines with band saw and rough shaping with the small belt sander. Due to confined space in my workshop I need some time for setting those two devices up so it is not always worth for a one-off action. But should I prepare say 20 handle scales in one go, It would certainly be worth it.

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Before proceeding to finishing the handle I had to use my magic trick to improve the looks of the wood. That trick is called “ammonia fuming” and consists of putting the scales into a big jam-jar with a bit of ammonia solution and leave them in it overnight of for a few days, depending on what your goal is – the longer the wood is in the ammonia, the darker it will become.

In this specific instance I have left the wood sit directly in the ammonia solution, letting it to soak it up. It is also possible for example to only let the wood above the solution in the fumes (hence the name).

I have experimented in the past with multiple solution treatments and I have at my disposal a few such processes to alter the wood to warying degrees – from mild color change to actually making the wood compacted and a lot harder. The advantage of these methods over staining the wood with a dye is that the color change goes deep into the wood so it does not get scratched off. It also looks a lot more natural in my opinion.

However, to wrap up, this step took more time than I expected it to, but I think I can put it in “low hanging fruit” basket, because I expect working in bulk should reduce time here significantly and I already have the machinery necessary for that.

You live, you learn…

Well, my latest resin project didn’t go that well. I wanted to created little snowglobes using wooden deco elements. The idea was to pour the lower half of the moulds, wait some time until the pot time is over, push the elements into the resin, let cure, add the top half, add a wooden base, be happy.

Assorted wood deco

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As you can imagine, reality had other plans. First of all the resin was still too soft to hold up the deco elements. The right moment would probably have been 5 minutes in the middle of the night.

I tried to stabilize them with bamboo skewers, but it was less than optimal.

half poured resin

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The next day I added the top half. The hole is pretty small so I needed a syringe to put in the resin. Usually the two half separated a few times during the process and were a pain to put together again.

First of all, that introduced way too much air, second of all, I added too much glitter.

The results are sad. Very sad.

failed snowglobes

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But I’m not giving up just yet. For the next trial I’ll do the following: I’ll cut off part of the top half so I get a bigger opening. I will then glue the halves together so they won’t separate. And I already glued the deco to the wooden platforms. I’ll pour the globes in one go (with less glitter) and then push in the elements and just let the base close the mould.

 

But in the meantime I had fun with the kids and my friends and we made many nice things.

Selection of resin objects

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My favourite one is the under water scenery, which I promptly turned into a necklace:

resin necklace with seashell and plants

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The plants are some fern which I collected and dried last week.

Making Kitchen Knives – Part 5 – Grinding, Polishing, Buffing

I was expecting this to be the most time-consuming part and so far I was not surprised – it was. You have seen my collection of abrasive belts during my Rondel Dagger series. Because the protective coating has proved itself to be way too persistent, I had to start with the coarsest Zircon belt all over again – that is what I meant when saying that I could have spared myself the trouble I have spent with finer belts before hardening. I wanted to give this blade the best surface finish that I can achieve purely by using machinery, so I went thoroughly through all belts, not switching to a higher one unless all scratches from the previous one were removed. Although towards the end of the line with last two Trizact belts I was not too fussy about this, because those leave so fine scratches that whilst they are barely visible, but they will always be somewhat visible unless I go with hand polishing afterwards – and that I did not want to.

So when finished with the finest Trizact belt I went straight to the finest buffing compound and gave the blade a few passes on the buffing wheel.

An important note – this is a knife without secondary bevel, with so-called “convex grind”. That means that during the polishing process the blade is also sharpened to very nearly final stage. Therefore towards the end it becomes a bit dangerous to handle it, because it can actually become completely sharp in places. I do not know what process other knifemakers use for achieving this grind, I am doing it with the slackbelt/hardbelt setup on my belt grander, that way I can do it in one go during polishing. The knife will need some sharpening when finished, but not too much. I like this grind because in my experience it cuts best and also looks best – but your mileage might vary and there is no accounting for personal taste.

speaking of taste – one of my friends when I have shown him my mother’s knife thought that I have made the tip round either due to laziness or because I botched it and making a round tip is easier. If you have such thoughts, forget them. Making a round tip is not easier than making it pointy-stabby. And the round tip is entirely intentional. This time around I actually consulted with my mother what she prefers for this knife design and I discussed with her the work in progress when it still had a point, and we agreed that to us this knife looks better with a round tip. Further, there is no point in having a point on an all-purpose kitchen knife like this, since needing a sharp point is actually a rare occurrence (the only one that I remember from the top of my head is gutting fish and poultry, and even there an actual point is used only briefly).

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Enough rambling  Here you can see the blade before buffing to get a measure of how well the knife is polished after only Trizact belt grinding – after buffing it reflects a lot more.

That picture shows also that the grind is acceptably flat. The fact that the edges of the mirror on the wall are straight-ish and that my face is still recognizable despite being reflected back through a mirror 1,5 meter away is a good sign that the grind is flat.

However that comes at a non-trivial price. The whole grinding and polishing process took me 4:20 or 260 minutes. Buffing was mere 10 minutes from that. As I become more experienced this time will probably go down significantly, but some of that part of learning curve I have already done, so I do not think it will be too drastic. In order to shave-off a really significant amount of time here, I think I would have to either use completely different process (I have an idea there, but it will need a lot of MacGyvering), or be content with a less-than-mirror finish. So in next step I will experiment with different finishes and decide which is the best compromise between time spent versus looks. The problem with polishing is, that whilst it has zero negative impact on the function, it has 100% positive impact on the looks of the thing and negative on the price. And people are buying with their eyes but deciding with their wallets. Talk about contradictory requirements…

Making Kitchen Knives – Part 4 – Heat Treatment

This is when things did go a bit pear-shaped, although I learned that only today. You have seen my “equipment” before, but not in detail. Now you can see it in detail. An IR thermometer on the left, small insulated chamber with gas burner in the middle, a can of sunflower oil, and of course gloves and pliers.

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With a blade this thin I have to somehow prevent carbon loss, because I cannot simply ground away a few tenths of a mm afterwards. There would be barely any blade left if I did that. So, as you can see on the last picture in previous post in the series, I tried to coat it with an experimental solution to prevent said carbon loss as an alternative to the rather expensive stainless steel foil. It worked and did not work at the same time and the knife is now in a stage when it will be crap no matter what I do. I am going to finish it anyway, just to get the measure of time, but this step was a definitive flop. Which I did not expect, because I heat-treated two knives from this steel without problems.

 

Firstly the gas burner has trouble reaching the necessary temperature of 1.050°C that this steel requires. It can reach them with success (the blade that I have given to my mother was hardened this way), but it takes a long time and it is difficult to heat up the blade evenly. I thought that I have reached the right temperature and quenched the blade OK, which was confirmed by subsequent scratch test with my impromptu gauges. However, as it turned out, the scratch test only passed because the protective coating has made a thin but hard layer on the surface that was bugger all to remove.

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I hoped it would dissolve in hot water – that was the intention – but it did not. It was extremely difficult to clean off in the following step and after I measured the hardness on polished blade (properly – I found out we have HRC measurement at work), it had only about 50-51 HRC. That is weaksauce for a kitchen knife, although it would be OK for a machete. The blade is hardened, just not to its fullest potential. It will cut fine, but it will require more maintenance, so I will probably keep this knife for myself and not give it to anyone. Bugger.

In addition to above mentioned quality problems, this whole step took me more than 1 hour, and I am not counting the 1 hour in baking oven at 150°C, because that does not require my personal presence and thus does not de-facto cut into manufacturing time (and I can load the baking oven with 10 knives at once should the need arise).

At this moment, I do not see any way how to reduce that time. Making more knives at once might help a bit, but for that I would need to set-up heating with charcoal. If I do that, I  estimate that I could harden about 5-6 knives in one go, but that one go would take probably about 3-4 hours of constant work. So a saving of 15 minutes, or 25% time per blade could perhaps be reached on this step, but it is questionable.

A heat treating oven would of course completely change this whole equation, but that would be a big investment – they start at 3.000,-€. Should I ever have to produce knives for sale, a heat treating oven would be a definitive must, or I would have to simply send knives for heat-treatment. Right now I will try to do the heat treatment again by myself, and the next batch of knives will be split 50/50. One half hardened with the use of stainless steel foil, one half with modified coating, and I will either set-up a bigger gas burner, or use charcoal.

This step is put in the “high hanging fruit” basket. There is potential for significant time-saving here, but it is very difficult to reach with my current equipment.

Making Kitchen Knives – Part 3 – Basic Grind

This is the part where work on more blades in parallel is no more possible, but I have tested an improvement that I have hoped for to both save time and increase precision. Grinding symmetrically free hand a blade mere 1,8 mm thick would not be easy. My previous knife of this type was made from 2,5  mm steel and I messed up the grind. I have spent more time correcting my messed up grind than I liked to and in the end I had to opt for a blade without a clear transition between the blade and a ricasso.

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I wanted to do better this time, so I have built an experimental jig. As you can see on the picture, it is a simple 30×50 mm block of hardwood (a leftover from building the belt grinder). Two screws hold the knife on the smaller side, and three screws are right on the edge opposite the knife. Those three screws pop out a bit out of the wood and by how much they pop out is how big an angle I have between the blade and the platen on the belt grinder.

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I did not make a picture on the belt grinder, but you can see on the right the jig with a blade put against a machinist’s square. The advantage of this setup is that if I want, for example, ~0,3 mm thick edge before hardening and with the blade being ground all the way to the back, I know that I have to set the jig so that there is ~0,70 mm between the square and the back of the blade. Which is exactly what I have done, only without measuring, only eyeballing the gap and deciding “yup, that is what I want”.

The jig is set up so that I can screw the blade in two mirroring positions, but I did not bother too much with precision, because I did not know yet whether it will work or not.

It worked, but the imprecision was abit of a problem, as well as the way the blade is fixed. Two main problems occurred:

  1. The tip of the blade lay on the supporting table. That proved to be a problem, because it got snatched by the belt and dragged into the gap between the belt and the table. It messed up the grind in split of a second and I have spent no trivial ammount of time correcting it.
  2. Changing the blade on the jig took way too much time, even with accu-screwdriver. Part of the problem was the imprecision, because I had to monkey with it each and every time to get it right.

So a more precise jig that allows fro quicker change is required, and it also should hold the blade at least a few mm above the supporting table for better control. As a proof of concept it worked, it did indeed improve precision, but there is potential

During the grind I have made one time-wasting mistake, but I did not know at the time it is such. After I have established the grind with ceramic belts which go up to 120 grit, I continued to 240 grit on Zircon-carbide belts. As it turned out,  I could have spared myself those zircon belts alltogether, but more about that next time.

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I forgot to make a picture of the ground blade, but here you can see it as it went into the next step in the process. You can see that I have managed nice clean line all the way to the back of the blade, which I was previously not able to do free hand.

The time spent with this was about 1:15, or 75 minutes. From that time I have spent approximately 10-15 minutes monkeying around with fixing the blade on the jig, and another 5-15 minutes changing belts on the grinder. I also wasted some time correcting messed up grinds. I think that a better jig and above all not going above the ceramic belts should cut this time in maybe a half, but probably not more – it is fidly work and probably the biggest factor is experience. I remember Walter Sorrels saying in one of his videos that he manages this in 10 minutes, but only because he has been doing it for years.

Right now I am putting it into the “low hanging” fruit basket, because I think I can easily get a significant 15-20 min improvement through better jig and not going too fine with the belts. The rest is, unfortunately, entirely dependent on how fast I will scale the learning curve.

Progress

I poured another batch of resin last night.

I stirred it, and I stirred it, and then I stirred it some more and it went much better.

First you can see my prepared wood pieces. I wrapped some laminated foil around them and secured it with tape. That was a good idea.

Wooden dowels

Beech and fir, broken off and wrapped.
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My workspace all set up before the pouring. I used the little cups from a sweet to dye some resin.

work surface with equipment for resin

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That’s waht it looked like afterwards

Messy workspace

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Oh, wait, did you want to see the results?

[Read more…]

Verschlimmbessern

Verschlimmbessern, verb, German: Making something worse by trying to improve it.

I tried to somehow righten the mistakes I made with the first bracelet, but instead made matters worse, though I think it would have come to this eventually anyway. But I learned quite some things.

bracelet with matte top

Cut off top section

bracelet

Sticky front

I tried to cut off the sticky top section, round the edges and then polish it up to shine again. This didn’t work well for several reasons.

Most importantly:  If your resin didn’t cure properly, there’s not a lot you can do. Reflect on what you did wrong. Do better next time.

The soft spots were all over, and when I cut off the top, the fine dust stuck to the soft spots and made them matte. And since the whole thing isn’t as hard as it should be, it moved quite a lot so the resin and the stones separated in places, leaving more matte spots.

Another lesson: you cannot get around very fine wet sanding paper. All my mats and polishing stuff were still way too coarse to make it shine again. This will be very important since one of the projects that I’ve planned involves makeshift moulds* and requires grinding and polishing.

*Resin Obsession can speak many words to the wise about not being too ambitious in the beginning, but nobody ever accused me of being wise.

Even When Not in Doubt Marcus Knows

Yesterday Giliell posted about the wonderful gift of acrylic casting supplies that she received from Marcus, noting that she’d been considering trying this art form.  Well, I received the same gift from Marcus last week and I wasn’t even thinking about trying resin casting. Marcus just knows. He knows that I have a large collection of seaglass and that this is the perfect medium to pair with them. I can’t wait to try it, but I’ve been rearranging my cabinets and my work table is buried under a ton of paper crafting crap right now so I haven’t gotten past the gazing in wonder at it all yet. Well, I have watched a few how-to videos (link below) that have given me lots of ideas for using seaglass and more. I love the bracelet Giliell made and it’s made me even more anxious to try it. Alrighty then…time to clean up the mess and play. Tune in over the weekend to see if I can make something as pretty as Giliell did. Thanks, Marcus. You definitely spread sunshine.

Resin Obsession (a very good site)

Wow, Thank you Marcus

Yikes! The bigger picture (my work table is under there somewhere)