Monday, 1 June 2020

8x6 Explodes Online - Again! - Day 76

It's a year to the day that I made a video that I didn't want to do and yet it's been the most popular by far.
Much preferring to make animated adventures with Stanley the Clamp or a good woodturning or woodworking project video, I kept putting off the many requests to make a workshop tour video. In the end I caved in and, on the 1st of June 2019 published one. In September that year it was featured on the American 'Hack a Day' website and clocked up so many views it pushed it to the top of the most watched on my channel. At the time I was ill in bed and had a fever so when my tablet kept pinging at me with 'you have a new subscriber' over and over again I was convinced it was something my fever ridden brain was making up and not part of reality at all. It wasn't until a friend phoned up to see how I was and confirmed my channel had gone 'ballistic' that I knew it was reality after all. It didn't take long before settling back down to average ratings when the novelty wore off. That was until about a week ago when my tablet started again repeating 'You have a new subscriber'. Had I got another fever? Was I succumbing to Covid-19? I felt OK. My temperature was fine. I don't own a thermometer so I used the temperature probe on my multimeter. No! I stuck it in my mouth, OK! It gave a reading so low (as it's designed to read very high temperatures) that I should have been dead so I knew I was OK. I logged in to YouTube and, well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs. The views were off the chart and averaging over 1,100 an hour pushing the total views to over 345,000.

Could YouTube have decided to promote it? Possibly. Has someone shared it to a group or an on line magazine. Highly Likely. Could it just be bored woodworkers shut indoors through lock-down trying to get their fix for their woodworking 'habit'? I've no idea. All I know is I've got over a thousand more comments to answer and respond to. Am I complaining? Nope! I am just glad that it's wired up to the household alarm and the 'defence system' will bite back with 230 evil pixies if disturbed!

Friday, 29 May 2020

On the Up! - Day 73

Jack and the beanstalk is not a fable, it's a documentary! With the warm weather and good evenings of watering you can almost see these guys growing. At this rate I'm going to lose sight of the neighbours in a couple more weeks behind a wall of runner beans!
The lettuce are taking over the top floors of my vertical planter and even the wild poppies are enjoying themselves! My two squash plants have settled in to their planter very well and I expect them to be charging ahead very soon.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Mother Daughter and Doll - Day 72

Another batch of 107 masks for the Community Outreach group (taking the total made to 724) but this time with a special request for a Mother, Daughter and Doll! The young lady in question is autistic and will not wear a mask unless her doll has the exact same mask so there is only one thing to do. Two masks for mother, daughter and doll because of course dolls need constant changes of clothes! Fifty plus years ago there was no such thing as Autistic Spectrum. If there had been I would has qualified for the first rung at the very least instead of being labelled 'Stupid' so I know exactly where this young lady is coming from.
This shipment uses up the remnants of cloth left over from previous batches and a recent request for more cotton and poly cotton fabric has realised a new influx of materials for future manufacture. NHS and front line services are pretty much OK for PPE in our area but support staff, care workers, childcare personnel among many others are still in need if they are to abide by the guidelines in these current relaxing of restrictions.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Blogger is Bugging Me - Day 71

My own code under construction
My own code under construction
As Blogger is obviously not an income leading application and its importance in the Universe of Google is low so piss up in a brewery springs to mind and it's bugging me big style.
Google's own blog hosting app Blogger is really beginning to bug me since their unannounced decision to upgrade it. Even the simplest of tasks such as wrapping text around pictures has gone from a one click action to a multi click operation. Margins around images decide for themselves if they are going to work or not and as you can see here it's decided on the latter! Some options have disappeared altogether and the only action I have found to regain these lost facilities is to go in and hard code the posts HTML code directly. Hey, I'm old, I haven't got time for this. I do suspect this already simple to use editing tool is being 'dumbed down' further so even a Sun reader can use it as they conform its style and likeness to their other online apps. It does feel like another hap hazard upgrade with the users of the system being the guinea pigs to test run the new application and the forums are full of upset users. Posts don't always post as they should do, pictures go missing for no reason, some entries refuse to save and no explanations are forthcoming.
When working for myself I never relied on the actions of a third party to effect the core running of my business and now in retirement I'm certainly not going to rely on a service I cannot rely on so over the last few days I've been brushing up on HTML5 CSS3 and Javascript to write and host my own blog application. I am now in the testing stage and when I am happy with it Blogger is going bye bye. When the time for exodus nears I will give good warning to both my readers so they can continue to read the mindless drivel of this doddering old git in this blogs new home.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Lab Coat On, Nothing Done! - Day 70

Another evening off mask making – Oh what to do?
Last night I thought I would disappear into the workshop and finish up the yarn bowl project which is now long overdue but I didn't want to risk losing the ability to count up to ten by using potentially life changing machinery when tired so opted instead to play in my lab for a few hours before bed. The lab -also known as my back bedroom- needed a good tidying up before I could even begin to think about actually doing something so, in between swigs from my pint of strong tea and several trips downstairs for refils and snacks, I set to. I didn't actually make anything but I do now have the tidiest lab in the street and my OCD is satisfied!

Monday, 25 May 2020

Sewing Machine Service - Day 69

After another long session of making ties for the masks I needed to let the sewing machine rest up. The Janome I use is a rugged and well built machine but is still only rated as domestic and not designed to run continuosly hour after hour with a high duty cycle. Noticing that it seemed to be running a little tight indicated to me that more than just a drop of 3 in 1 was needed down the designated lubrication holes so, after a big mug of tea was brewed, I stripped off the outer covers to give it a good clean and service.
Serving a sewing machine is relatively straightforward but replacing parts can be a brain stretcher however if it is well maintained a good machine will outlive you. I must stress though, never, never, never EVER use WD40 as a sewing machine lubricant, it's not designed for that purpose. First off it's a penetrating oil and secondly its a water dispersant (hence the name WD-40) and not designed for machine lubrication. As soon as you rev it up the moving parts will fling this thin oil everywhere except where its needed so always use a 'machine lubricating oil'. There are many suitable generic brands on the market or you can be doubly sure and buy an over priced dedicated oil from your machine makers for added piece of mind. Servicing however requires a bit more than just a bottle of oil. 

While lubricating oil is ideal for eccentric cams and drive bearings, meshing gears need a film of lithium grease to keep them happy. Even at speed this white goo stays where its put and does the job. Nearly all modern machines, especially those incorporating computer control, utilise toothed drive belts (gone are they days of robbing your hoover for a drive belt to replace the one on your machine in an emergency) but these can be sought out from your machine manufacturer or even online for out of production models as they tend to use standard sizes to reduce production costs. Having said that and with manufacturing defects factored out, they should last a long, long time. Computerised models tend to have a soft start up so you don't go from nought to sixty in no time flat, stressing out the belt when you floor the pedal! Should you need to replace a belt and your machine is obsolete, the numeric code on the old belt will help you determine its size, tooth pitch and profile and its make up (this can be anything from mostly rubber/fibre mix to 100% polyurethane) so it is not an impossible task should you wish to keep old faithful operational despite what a service engineer or machine shop -in anticipation of a new sale- may tell you. The two belts in this machine, one for the main drive and the other for the bobbin winding were in fine fettle and in good tension despite the thousands of miles on the clock.
A quick once over to check for anything loose or looking stressed and the job was done. Once I had remembered the order all the panels of casing had to be re-fitted again so I didn't have any screws left over that is. A speedy test drive confirmed that all was running sweet and smooth and I was safe in the knowledge that, at my age, I probably wouldn't need to be doing this again!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

There She Blows! - Day 68

Although the weather has been sunny and fine these last few days it has been a tad windy. Too windy to hang out the newly donated and washed fabric for the next few batches of masks I thought but I didn't want to hold up production so utilised my spring clamps from my workshop. These sheets ain't going anywhere!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Kindness of Strangers - Day 67

I have been reading in social media lately of the unkind and unthinking acts of people during lock-down. These however, I am sure, are in a minority. Since people have known of my own isolation there have been numerous packages, some anonymous, left by my door. Ranging from fruit, cakes, plants and even boxes of groceries these acts of kindness by strangers humbles me. One lady left me flowers, a cheerful surprise which now sits on my work table and b
rings a smile every time I glance up at them. Another occasion I found two tomato plants and a sunflower – brilliant! Obviously this must be the one reader of my blog (ha ha). It helps me keep in mind that the troubles we read of, awful as they are, are popularised out of context and there are more people around who care than we perceive.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Bowl Turning - Day 66

My last day of freedom before chaining myself back to the sewing machines was spent in a (tidy) workshop. 

The yarn bowl which I have been meaning to make is now underway and I'm creating lots of 'Man' glitter (shavings). The shaping is done and, apart from the final cut, the inside is shaped exactly how I want it and conducive to the needs of a wool ball. It's a long way in down there when you don't have a curved tool rest. 

I think I know what's on my shopping list when I can next visit the 'toy' shop.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Downtime - Day 65

Its taken two days for my head to reach some form of (what I would call) normality. Today was a chill out day cleaning and tidying the workshop with the growing fear of mask making burnout now feeling like a mile away. My OCD is satisfied and my sanctuary is in good order. Over the last few years this little 8x6ft workshop has been my lifesaver, my bolthole and my escape from the black dog on many occasions.

Take a short tour if you wish.