OLYMPIC INSPIRED ICE SKATE KNIFE

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In this build, I decided to raid my growing pile of hoarded goods and find something quick and fun to build.

I found the ice skates in the trash in Maine, because where else would you find ice skates? The delrin was found at an old maker space I was a part of. The entire cost of this project was less than a dollar and that was just for some epoxy.

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I began the project by using a Dewalt multitool with the wood cutting blade to cut away the plastic piece holding the ice skate blade on.This was very messy and little white plastic pieces are now all over my shop.1.JPG2.JPG

Then once disassembled, I took the blade to the grinding wheel to give it the shape I found desirable. I went through several iterations until I found a shape that did not resemble a banana. Don’t forget the most important step which is to keep the blade from getting to hot or it will lost it’s temper which will soften the metal and prevent it from holding an edge. To prevent this, drench it in water often. 3

Once I had the final shape I was happy with, I sized my delrin to a basic hand width and length, clamped it up-right and began drilling out the center to accomodate the knife blade. There are many ways to achieve this result such as cutting the delrin in two, carving out the center and then reattaching the sides with epoxy. However, I wanted to maintain the integrity and strength of the delrin, so I decided to drill out the center. 4.JPG

Once drilled, I had to make room for the exact profile of the tang so I heated up the tang over a little torch and make repeated plunges into the delrin. Once hot, the delrin melts like any plastic, allowing the tang to slide all the way into it’s final resting place. A little epoxy in the hole and the ice skate blade was well on it’s way to becoming an actual knife. 4.JPG

I let the epoxy cure for an hour then got to work shaping the handle. My personal preference is for a knife handle to be geometric. It has the most natural shape in my hands and provides more surface area for grip. Everyone has their own preference so take liberties with your own handle. 6.JPG7.JPG

Delrin is magical material that shapes like wood so using it on the Grizzly belt sander gave me terrific results. Once the final shape was perfected, I honed the blade and gave it a test in the kitchen. To my surprise, the blade actually held it’s temper throughout the project and cut beautifully in the kitchen. 910

I am very happy with the final result and can see using this material in the future. While not the most beautiful knife in the world, it is a proof of concept that allowed me to utilize new materials which were 100% upcycled from the trash to make a completely useful object that will last forever.

I hope you enjoyed the read through and learned a little bit about the process. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make awesome content like this.

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On Being a Full Time Maker

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Well, it has been about 3 months that I have been a full time maker after we moved to Chicago from Washington, D.C. I knew this process would be a lot of hard work and it is so true! Coming out to a new city with no clients and big dreams has been quite the experience. I didn’t know what to expect starting out so I put my head down and hustled. Three months later and I have been swamped. I started collecting clients via word of mouth and before I knew it, I was doing handyman jobs and building custom pieces within two weeks of touchdown. I have not had a lot of time to just relax and build fun things in the shop. 6

On our way to Chicago, I picked up an entire woodworking shop from Drew Fisher of Fisher’s Shop. We bought these tools from an older woodworker who was retiring the craft. The tools are from 1989-1990 era and all solid cast iron and steel Grizzly or other similarly good tools. Drew helped me rewire them before pickup and that helped free up a ton of time for me to hop into making. As it is with older things, they break a lot and require more maintenance. The prior owner did not take as meticulous care of the tools as I would have liked and so I have spent the past three months stripping apart every power tool in the shop down to their raw components and giving them a thorough cleaning and greasing. I actually have really liked doing these tasks because I now know how to tear down every tool in my shop. So far I have stripped down the drill press, bandsaw, table router, thickness planer, and table saw. I have spent hours pouring over old manuals and using the blow torch to loosen up old bolts and replacing parts. I have loved it!

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Having different tools in the shop down at any certain point has forced me to get more creative with my fixes, forcing me to hone my circular saw and hand tool skills. All great lessons to keep me on my toes and constantly learning.

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One thing I was not quite prepared for in Chicago is the cold. I know, don’t even say it. Chicago is cold and snowy, blah blah blah. I have been told a million times like it isn’t obvious. However, if you have seen my last shop video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH6s7BIHxZQ then you would understand that my shop is an old brick carriage house that refuses to hold heat and instead, likes to maintain a constant 20 degree temperature, regardless of the outside temp. BURRRR!!! Thankfully I have a little heater that is giving me the black lung… no, honestly, and this allows me to get it up to around a balmy 30 degrees. Not too bad actually when properly bundled up.

So yes, the past three months have been filled with a ton of client work with zero time and energy dedicated to making fun builds or YouTube videos. I cannot understand how other makers do both. My hat is off to them. All I can hope for is some free time when I can focus on fun builds and not just straight client work. I am optimistic that this is the start of something new and so I am keeping my head down and trudging ahead.

Wish me luck and send advice and comments my way! Thanks for reading!

WHAT IS TRUE STRENGTH? On being a maker with muscular dystrophy.

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People who known me know that I am a maker. It sort of defines my entire life and how I live. My basic values, my mantras, my need to upcycle and reclaim. What not everyone knows is that I also am defined by something else. Something that is invisible on the surface, yet constantly reminds me it is there every minute of my life, and that is muscular dystrophy. My whole life, up until my diagnosis at age 12, I knew something was not quite right. Be it lagging behind in track or weird muscle cramps after gymnastics. Something felt off. After my diagnosis, it had a name, McArdle’s Syndrome. I found out I was part of a small community of people throughout the world, nearly 1 in every 100,000 who suffer from this disease. It changed my life. No longer was I able to wrestle, run, or do competitive sports like my peers. I would immediately cramp up and then live in a hospital bed for weeks at a time recovering. Suffice it to say, I had to find other passions to sustain me.

I took up guitar, shrugging off the constantly cramped fingers and hands that would turn into claws from twinged muscles. I took up swimming and bike riding, everything had to be low impact and low strain. Since I had always been crafty and into making things, I found this a good activity to keep me active and my brain engaged.

I built everything as a kid. Potato canons, slingshots, rockets, robots, rope swings, tree houses, skate ramps, motorized scooters, you name it! As  young teen, I even enrolled in a local junior college to learn electronics. I was hooked on a trade that would be low impact with high yield. Making was my outlet. Yet I had to be careful to not overdo myself as building supplies can be heavy and sometimes require a lot of effort. Over the past few years, I have definitely found myself in the hospital multiple times after a bad fall or accident or pulling a muscle. Thankfully nothing life crippling has happened and I continue to make every day.

While this disease affects me every second, I do not let it dictate my life. I still get into the shop to carve, sculpt, weld, grind, cut, and sand. I may go slower than other makers and my projects might take me longer to produce because I need more breaks, but when you have a passion and a drive, why let anything stop you? So when you see me rubbing my cramped and clawed hands after cutting dovetails, or sitting down because my back has seized up after grinding for a thirty minutes, know that I am happy as hell doing what I love for as long as I can do it.

For me, true strength does not come from brute strength, it never has. True strength to a maker with muscular dystrophy, comes from perseverance, hard-work, and being maker-enough to go slow and take my time.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make more content like this!

Thanks for reading.

Urban Picking- Lite Edition- Community Forklift and Architectural Salvage Shops

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Following up on one of my latest blog posts, The Secrets of an Urban Picker, I have been getting a lot of questions regarding the difficulty of finding quality things to turn into projects, so I thought I’d address this with another post.

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One of the greatest things about living in a big cramped city is the availability of tons and tons of quality curb-crap. Piles of discarded loot fill the alleys and dumpsters to the brim every week, only to be flushed away and filled back up again the following week. If you’ve read my article, The Secrets of an Urban Picker, you will understand a little bit about this problem. I will continue to write about this topic and flush out some interesting ideas in the coming posts.

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This post deals with an issue that many people have and that is they cannot find anything worth picking in the city. First, this seems impossible to me, but looking harder at the issue, not everyone can look at a pile of muddy steel and see a 1940’s typewriter table. Some people just see muddy steel. But alas, you are not alone! Sometimes you are looking on the wrong day or in the wrong locations or after a Good Will truck has recently descended upon the carnal scene.

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It is this very reason that places like Community Forklift exist. According to their website, Community Forklift is a secondhand shop selling a variety of building materials & furniture including cabinets & tables. Basically, they are an architectural salvage shop located near enough to Washington DC to be accessible to most everyone. What they excel in is bringing the hard-to-find loot to one central location and charging you for it.

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It was at this very shop that I began my journey of furniture restoration many years ago. Back then, the store was just getting started and was selling amazing antiques and salvage for super cheap prices. Since then, and with the explosion of the DIY scene and YouTube, they have seen a steady rise in customers, which in turn drives up the prices and lowers my expectations.

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To say it plainly, I love architectural salvage shops. They provide you with a great selection without having to actually dive in dumpsters looking for rusty gold. On the other hand, by scouring the city to sell their much love needed items back to me at a 100% markup makes me want to stay grimy in the alleys and dumpsters. Don’t get me wrong, I whole heartedly support enterprises like this, and I might even like to own an architectural salvage shop in the future. My one beef is that the prices have gone up to a point that making a living selling upcycled furniture has gotten harder over the past few years. So while I am happy to see such a rise in the DIY community, it also makes it harder to find the good stuff for cheap cheap and make some dinero.

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So every time that someone asks me for more advice because they don’t have the creativity or time to pick alleys and dumpsters, I tell them about places like Community Forklift, Habitat for Humanity ReStores and other local architectural salvage shops, or “picking lite” as I call it. Hopefully by diving into a world of manicured isles and presorted picker gold, they too will get “the sickness” as Jimmy Diresta calls it and will become an urban picker, foregoing the florescent lighting and squeaky second hand walmart carts for the sounds of squealing rats, of stubbed toes on nailed boards, and for the thrill of unearthing a truly godly piece of american historical tradition from a pile of road junk.

The sickness is real.

I hope you enjoyed the read through and learned a little bit about the process. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make awesome content like this.

Thanks for reading!

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