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I was out of bed and had done the supermarket shopping by 7:30 this morning. I still needed to collect the prescription from our local pharmacy after yesterdays failed attemp.
To reach the pharmacy up the village I have to drive past our local school this school on the narrow lane so I daren't drive past the school unless the car has vertical take off whilst the kids without legs and feet are dropped off in the 4WD; it's highly dangerous; so now it's already 9:15.
Entering the pharmacy just one lady behind the counter; sorry the pharmasist isn't here is it a prescription you want; yes so I gave her the name and she confirmed the prescription was there but she couldn't hand it over; collect later today? Possibly in six months?
If I collect after dinner today I've got to time it before the kids are collected from school and will I succeed.
stringy; you kindly mentioned flu jabs can be arranged at the pharmacy; our pharmacy can't even hand over a prescription. I've still not received a reply to my "Contact" form I completed yesterday so still no flu jab appointment.
My life in retirement is increasingly nothing but hassle; I can't do the simplest of things without lots of trouble and wasted time; I can only dream of workshop time and even whilst in the workshop I get called upon to sort out our neighbours problem she having lost her garden hut key ending up with me attacking the lock; hasp & staple with my angle grinder; she blamed the magpies for stealing the key; they are amongst us.
Bron and I live quarter of a mile from the main Penistone Road; Geoff the luthier I visited on Wednesday lives about half a mile from Penistone Road the total distance between us 19 miles but this involves a 45 minute car drive each way.
I've now aborted attempting to get into the workshop today I'm fed up of all this hassle. Please don't hold your breath hoping I'll be doing a quick job of violin making.
Sorry if this sounds like a good moan but it's my usual life now almost 21 years into retirement and still dreaming of workshop time.
I've bought through eBay this morning a digital infra red temperature gun reading up to 626F costing £13.88; I'm determined to make a top job of the violin knives but I'm finding it difficult to settle down and to concentrate; if Bron and I moved to a remote desert island I'm sure there would be a ship wreck during the night and we'd get up to feeding and building shelter for 2,000.
I can't get into the workshop but it's not stopping me doing a bit of research; the blacksmithing I did all those years ago involved heavy tooling like hardening and tempering cold chisels and the "steels" the coal miners used in their air tools underground.
At the age of 15 I was making good progress with Norman the blacksmith in the pit (coal mine) work started at 6am after a four mile cycle ride even in mid winter; Norman had shown me and my fellow apprentice Roger how to use the forge; my first job every morning was to start the big electric motor to get the line shaft running and to get all the flat belts tracking these on fast & loose pulleys then I had to light the forge fire at first with oily rag and coal then introduce coke.
One morning as usual Roger and I were at the forge but Norman hadn't arrived which was most strange; about half a dozen miners were waiting to have their "steels" sharpened; time was marching on so one of the miners asked me if I could do the sharpening; just as taught by Norman I heat treated the steels by firstly hardening then tempering; these steels were at least 1" diameter and about 15" long their point was a four sided taper; they were never shapened on a grinder just handed over after the forge work; what Roger and I didn't know was how seriously ill Norman was; he sadly died and we never saw him again; I thought the world of Norman who not only taught me so much but he was a trusted friend; I was in tears when I was told so for my remaining time at the pit I sorted out the steels but reaching 16 years of age I was then allowed to use heavy machinery so was sent on a six month training course during which time the pit closed and I was transferred to what is now "The National Coal Mining Museum".
I've never made a knife blade and am already finding lots of differences to heat treating a knife blade than heat treating large tooling; the tooling I treated was pointed so I could plunge the tool into water and quickly withdraw it whilst it was still hot then rub the end with a piece of broken grinding wheel which then allowed the colours to be seen running to the point before quenching this being the tempering. I'm colour blind but the miners watched the colours for me and they never complained.
Edit; WOW on the third attempt I finally collected the prescription this afternoon; I feel emotional.
Will I make it into the workshop tomorrow?
Kind regards, Colin.
In trying to keep your mind on creativity, instead of chores and errands that eat up your day. (lol)
You might enjoy enjoy this thread.
Btw, in case you don't already know - I'm easily sidetracked. (lol)
The only way I got projects done that required intentional cognitive work and focus, was to let everything else fly out the window!
- Ask someone else to help with errands... maybe a neighbor or friend is going out anyway.
- Look into having groceries and other products delivered. Nowadays you can usually pay for groceries online & have them left on your front porch. If you don't want contact, prearrange it. You can pass an envelope, with a tip, to a delivery person - wear a mask & wash your hands after.
- Choose ONE day a week, specifically for chores and errands.
- Ask for help with chores during your project. People do like to help.
- Put off things you don't want others to help with - the Earth won't crack in half if you do.
Of course, if you follow any of this you won't have a project that lasts all Winter!
In apprentice training school we were taught to do it slightly differently;
- Heat to cherry red then quench fully
- Clean up the end (e.g. with emery cloth)
- Reheat in the flame (an inch or so from the end) while watching the colours move along and quench when the light straw reaches the tip.
Possibly a bit safer for us young lads than cleaning it up while still hot.
I'm sure Bron would be your 'colour watcher' if necessary.
We've been through Penistone quite a few times on our way to Buxton from the M1 - we used to rent a place in the town centre (of Buxton that is) and use it as a base for exploration. It's quite a rural place as I recall.
Many thanks Emily; I too am easily sidetracked as in the links you kindly post leading to interesting and useful websites like the site explaining violin making and now the site with the clever cat warming it's head under the lamp; wonderful isn't it; the lovely cat isn't making much progess paddling away at the snow either?
Unfortunately Bron and I are on our own never asaking for help; Bron doesn't drive a car so I do all the supermarket shopping on my own Monday & Friday mornings very early as the stores open; I could shop online with Morrison's supermarket but I visit three supermarkets because I'm tight; Aldi fresh Soya drink is about half price of Morrison's Soya fresh drink; we use lots of this because I'm dairy intolerant and just driving round to Aldi saves over £300 per year on just this one item; I then visit Home Bargains where I buy Whiskas cat biscuits at £3.99 per bag round at Morrison's they cost £5.75 per bag for identical brand hence a huge saving is to be had and all three supermarkets are within a short distance of each other.
Our neighbours like to take but not give even though over the years we've gone well out of our way to help them; our former neighbour who lived on her own in the detached bungalow next door needed help erecting a fence; she's fit but retired; I sorted out the list of materials and when they were delivered we arranged to make a start on the fence on Monday morning; I went round with the tools as arranged but suddenly she had a golf tournament that week; it took five full days of sheer hard graft and I finished just as she returned home Friday afternoon. This same neighbour needed help with mouldings in her front room which couldn't be matched after having work carried out; I spent hours machining the wooden mouldings and installing them.
Later the same lady neighbour had said she was paying a lot for her electricty so I told her how much we paid. About a week later our mutual supplier npower arranged to visit us to install a smart meter; the neighbour had complained to npower stating I was using big industrial machinery in my workshop but paying a lot less for electricity; this was the last straw being stabbed in the back after using some of the power to help her; no more favours to anyone because whenever we need help we're on our own.
Family are even worse; a set of vultures who live for money and possessions who did their utmost to prevent me marrying my wonderful Bron; when I announced I was to be married it meant I wouldn't be handing over quite a lot of money each week hence cutting off a lot of booze to them; it was terrible they saying they wouldn't attend our wedding hence a good start with my inlaws who didn't know how many to cater for; they did arrive and completely ruined Bron's special day. It didn't improve as the years passed by; my father had died and my mother died in 2013 leaving a detached bungalow; as I say a family of vultures; to this day not a single penny have we received from the estate and I've not seen my sister or two brothers since the funeral; losing my inheritance was a small price to pay to be rid of the lot of them; they'll never know what it's like to be happy and Bron and I are still married 45 years on.
Sorry to divert but just a little story as to why we are on our own and we don't employ tradespeople either doing everything but working on gas ourselves.
Yesterday morning I didn't get into the workshop to resume making violin tools instead I did repointing of paving flags; if left over winter water could get under the flags then freeze thereby lifting them causing a lot more work; I then strimmed the meadow and just before dinner checked the car over in readiness for winter. After dinner I did an hour in the workshop making a scraper but then felt too tired to continue and it now starts getting dark outside around 4pm.
Thanks for your information @Jim Dunleavy; I should have mentioned only the end of the tools were heated to cherry red and not the whole tool but like you I too was taught to temper tool steel to light straw colour.
Bron would be happy to help with colours but I like to find ways around problems;
This is the temperature gauge I've bought and expect delivery of shortly; as I say Bron would be more than happy to help but it would mean her visiting the workshop and hanging around; at under £14 it should be a good investment.
One thing concerning me is tempering the knife blades; a number of blades run to very sharp points so although I can easily harden at cherry red heat how can I accurately heat to straw colour from the widest part to the point; I thought this part would be so easy but as I said earlier I've never heat treated a knife blade so yet another learning curve. Knife makers on YouTube use ovens for tempering which I've tried but now need to test for hardness; I like learning so it's not a problem at all.
To finish the day yesterday I enjoyed my now usual 30 minute violin practice after tea time. I'm slowly gearing up to making a violin being fully committed to the project.
Kind regards, Colin.
Yes Colin, I only had to harden and temper the end of some screwdrivers and chisels, so only a small area.
Possibly you need some kind of annealing oven to get the whole blade at the correct 'tempering' temperature, then take it out and quench it immediately. I'm not exactly sure how you could set up something like that, but I bet google can help.
Many thanks @Jim Dunleavy I only needed to do blacksmithing at The Grange Ash Colliery until I reached 16 years of age then after a 6 month training course was transferred to what is now The Mining Museum and at this colliery there were two full time blacksmiths so I never needed to use a blacksmiths forge again. Looking back I recall the two blacksmiths were brothers who seldom got on well together; one I liked and he was friendly the other I disliked; when they argued it made a bad atmosphere in the workshop; even now I can't understand why some people are so unfriendly. In the colour chart at post #101 knives are tempered at 216C; I daren't run our domestic oven higher than 200C; at top setting 220C the oven overheats and something then has got to give.
I like to experiment and I've got a 240V 1,800W DeWalt electric heat gun which has a range between 50/600C; I'll try heating one of the knife blades back up to cherry red and fully quenching to harden it but immediately after use the heat gun to reheat for tempering but use the new digital temperature gun and at correct 216C fully quench hopefully this will then be near enough; everything takes so long to accomplish these days; I'm sure if I tried I could rig up an heating oven for tool tempering using an electric automatic adjustable sensing temperature gauge coupled to switch the DeWalt heat gun on and off but it means yet another learning curve not that it really matters because this is how I learn so much.
Prior to adopting a violin as an hobby I was already heavily involved in heating tooling but this was to braze Tungsten Carbide tips onto very long handled metal spinning tools for a friend who owns a metal spinning company; I don't mind spending a bit of time explaining alternative ways of heating because it's related to this topic of knife making.
An idea copied from YouTube but modified by me to suit my needs. A commercial 1950W Microwave oven transformer used as a power source giving 975 amps of power.
This is designed by me to have 12VDC low voltage switching controls for safety through relays also it has both manual and timed control; not the sort of project for a novice because it could easily prove lethal and I'm only adding this for information; please refer to YouTube for more detail.
The circuit diagram I drew using "emachineshop" free CAD; it took a number of attempts and failures until I got components in correct order but it was worth the time and effort; the machine is virtually a spot welder.
Here's a second machine this based on a bought 2,500W induction heater from China coupled to a rack type power supply giving 50VDC at 50A; this worked until I upgraded the heating coil when the power supply decide to expire in a cloud of smoke; not a problem because when I get a bit of spare time (?) I've plans to use my industrial oil cooled arc welder as power supply this puts out 180A at 48VAC; I'd need to convert it to VDC and I've got the full wave bridge rectifier and suitable capacitors to experment with; I know I'm barking mad but I'm never ever bored.
Not in sequence but here's the brazing machine heating a length of tooling to cherry red.
I've wanted a violin for many years but now finally have two; not only do I wish to learn to play a violin but as is usual when I start a new hobby it takes over my life; perhaps I should have got this violin making project well underway with all the tools made and any equipment I'll need but by starting right at the very beginning lots more information can be added which could prove useful and to let other would be violin makers understand what could be involved.This is my winter project but I think it's not only going to be an interesting project but I think a lifetime enjoyment to look forward to.
Kind regards, Colin.
Thanks @Jim Dunleavy; I enjoy making tools and equipment as much as I enjoy using them and all done for little by way of money.
WOW almost a full day in the workshop today; I'd done the three supermarkets shopping and back home by 8:30 this morning then a session clearing leaves with the Makita blower.
I decided to make the scrapers shown in the book today. The book states use files but I've a selection of cabinet scrapers and these are already hardened and tempered so if I'm careful I can retain the temper saving lots of work.
Four scrapers are needed and I had a heavy duty cabinet scraper just the right size so I added double sided self adhesive tape then attached the paper templates these templates to the exact sizes in the book.
I used an hacksaw with a fine tooth blade fitted and supporting the cabinet scraper between wooden packing I roughed out the blanks.
I then used my home made 2" belt grinder and engineers files to bring the blanks to correct size as seen; I've not attempted to sharpen them but I've made all four without losing the temper which pleased me.
Another small step forward ticked off and a nice day too.
Kind regards, Colin.
It seems every time I want to get into the workshop I'm diverted. Yesterday a member of another forum contacted me asking for my help; he needed a copy of my rare German Aumann Coil Winder manual; this manual is on PDF running to 92 pages. It took until 3pm before he finally replied with a thank you letting me know he finally had the copy; I'd tried sending it by email but after many attempts thought it could be the file size blocking it although as usual I was left guessing. I then copied the PDF to CD and emailed for his home address in the Czech republic and I'd post with my compliments; he kindly replied saying it would cost me too much and he sent me a link to a program "Sharemygadget" so rather than waste my time on this violin project I was on a learning curve but as I say finally at 3pm it was fully sorted. I don't begrudge helping because I like to add a bit back for the generous help I receive but as it starts to get dark at 4pm the day was over and I didn't fancy heading into the workshop.
Last night a terrific storm swept through; Bron said there were two massive thunder claps and lightning which lit up the bedroom whilst up to 100mph wind blasted up the valley; I slept through the lot; this morning I was clearing heavy wet snow from our patio it being highly dangerous to walk on. It was so cold and miserable I decided to catch up on mail.
This afternoon I wandered up the mountain and looking back I was pleased to see the bungalow roof still in position then I cleared snow from the car and WOW I actually did a bit of work in the workshop cutting out the wooden blanks I'll be using to make the knife handles so all wasn't lost today but as I type it's already getting dark outside and the breeze is bitterly cold. This project hasn't stopped but it's slowed down although I keep nibbling away at it.
The wood I chose is very old and dry and it's rock hard and heavy; I don't know what it is but I've had it many years and it's ideal for making the handles from.
Kind regards, Colin
Sometimes it's one step forward two steps back. I thought I'd done a decent job making the knives but back to the drawing board regarding hardening and tempering. I tried using a brand new file on a knife blade after tempering but it just skated around indicating the knife hadn't been tempered after all.
Yesterday I heated each knife once again to cherry red and let them cool slowly in order to anneal them. Once again after the file test they are still hard so this morning I placed them in the kitchen oven for over an hour at 200C then quenched fully in warm water; I've yet to test them with the file but I'm finding out the hard way making knife blades isn't as easy as I thought it would be; I did manage to drill 1/8" dia holes for the handle rivets on each knife blade with the exception of the purfling tool which remains glass hard; I'll win in the end.
Heating to cherry red then allowing to very slowly cool is the problem with my very basic heating set up; immediately the knife blade is removed from the heat it rapidly starts to cool hence annealing doesn't have the required softening effect. I really need a high temperature oven to heat these blades evenly then leave them to cool slowly in the oven.
The shapes of the knives are the problem the thin parts of the blade cool much more quickly than the thicker section towards the handle.
I've been hampered by bad weather with a storm passing through a couple of nights ago; thousands of homes are still without power; we've had snow and ice which at the moment has now cleared but today is only 5.5C so rather cool to be pottering around hence I'm not making much progress at the moment.
Kind regards, Colin.
Have you any refractory material around you, such as fireclay, kilnware or firebricks? If you could prepare something like two small slabs of such material to encase your blades, heat them to setpoint and then soak for a couple of hours before removing them to ambient to slowly cool (still within the refractory casing) you will have a much slower and more uniform dT/dt.
Just a thought.
"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less" - William of Ockham
"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great
Thanks Peter for your useful suggestion. I do have fire bricks and have made a small heating oven but I'm unable to maintain the high heat (cherry red) for a long period due to using MAPP gas canisters. When I turn the heat off the small oven cools quickly also pulling the blades out from the heat the very points of the blades rapidly cool hence the problems I'm experiencing; I did try heating the blades to cherry red then as quickly as possible place them between two fire bricks but the problem remains of the point's still being glass hard; this is fine as sharpening goes and should give a razor sharp knife but the points will be brittle and prone to breaking. I'm up to date on what's needed but in my home workshop I don't have the needed facilities.
Thanks Fiddlerman; I've actually bought a good selection of brand new files for making the knives from but being a mechanical engineer I thought I'd also try using "Gauge plate" which these knives are now made of; this gauge plate is the correct material for tools etc but as explained I've no problem hardening but have lots of problems tempering; I've been giving this some thought and if I try using gauge plate again I could simply cut out rectangular knife blanks then heat treat the blanks before shaping into knife blades but then I'd need to be carefull not to overheat the metal and draw the temper but doing this would give the mass allowing slower cooling? my biggest problem is getting into the workshop and being able to work in comfort; a huge storm swept through a few nights ago leaving well over a million homes without power even tonight on TV it's said there are still over 20K homes without power and the army has been called in to assist; fortunately for us we didn't suffer any such damage but the weather is all over the place; one day it's -5.5C the next day it's 10C; last Monday morning I had great difficulty getting into the car at 7am it was frozen solid; I'm not complaining but explaining difficulties. Today I wanted to wander down to the workshop but the TV died on us again and it's cost me over 8 hours to get just partial service on; I've tried phoning Virgin Media but I think I've more chance of contacting the dead by joining hands; problems never leave me alone to do as I want to do.
Thanks @Gordon Shumway (Andrew) Yes two violins to practice with and a possible third due anytime soon but as explained it's getting uninterrupted time to do anything with my violin playing or violin making; whichever way I turn there's a wall in front of me; I now need to sort our TV out unaided by Virgin Media; I'll have to do as I've previously done; search online for a solution; we've been NTL/Virgin Media customers for over 30 years and when our current contract expires in 18 months we'll be ex customers; their customer service is rubbish and getting even worse.
I'm determined to make a violin hence all the trouble I'm going to just to copy knives as shown in the Stradivarius violin making book; I have full sized patterns and I'm so stubborn I'll stick with it.
I think I'll put handles on these knife blades but like Fiddlerman's luthiers I'll convert files into knives; it just takes lots of time and the book states to use files; I was trained blacksmithing but these lightweight knife blades are tormenting me a bit but I'll win in the end; I've many months of winter ahead of me to carry on with the project so I'm not in a hurry in the meantime I'll keep fighting all the problems thrown at me.
I've bought a microphone and it was another learning curve to set it up then even another learning curve to record for playback; I'm now interested in adding sound recording to the new studio; the microphone was only a partial success it picked up lots of computer hum and volume playback was very low even though I had reccoded at highest volume setting; if all the silly problems stopped scrambling my thoughts and taking so much of my time then I could make quicker and better progress; never mind I can carry on tomorrow fighting the unsmart TV and clearing leaves etc. Another day slips backwards into the abyss.
Kind regards, Colin.
That is very interesting about hardening your own knives.
Some of our luthiers (we have 8) make their own knives out of very hard metal. For example, one guy likes to pick up files at flea markets and make his knives out of those. Not sure if anyone actually heats the blade to harden them. I know we buy expensive knives for them from Dictum Tools.
They spend a good deal of time sharpening their knives as well.
So did jack the ripper.
In order to not start the day tomorrow with another problem I've just tried phoning Virgin Media again 9:21pm; this time I got as far as receiving an automated voice I couldn't understand. Not to be beaten I've just been onto Virgin Media website "TV Code" lo and behold a major problem which the engineers are trying to resolve,
How strange that I've been trying to sort our TV and broadband problem out for over ten hours only now to find this after searching; the broadband and emails are working and our TV is working but with few channels; YouTube etc is still down; a communications company that couldn't add a simple message on the TV which would have given me a day off from yet another problem; it would help if Virgin Media employed people I could understand on the phone; tomorrow will I get into the workshop; I doubt it.
Kind regards, Colin.
Light rain with moderate breeze forecast for us so why is it pouring down mixed with snow and a black hole. £millions spent on electronic weather gear when it would be much cheaper and highly accurate if the forecaster looked out of the window; I've just got wet coming up from the workshop.
I'm fortunate in spite of this because a million homes have been without power so I'm not complaining but it does put me off visiting the workshop.
After lots of problems here's my first home made luthiers tool it's a purfling tool made to exact size shown in the Stradivarius violin making book; four knive still to have handles fitted and when these are done other tools need to be made but in spite of the dire weather I keep making progress even if it's very slow. Now I know the knife making procedure I can speed up. 12:33pm as I type and I can't see the key board unless the desk lamp is switched on. Just another winters day.
Kind regards, Colin.
Thanks for asking stringy. It's actually a very narrow chisel and is used to remove the waste from between the purfling scribed lines. Here's a full description;
I'm still making the tools I'll need so I'm still a long way away from doing purfling but I've done similar work on vintage valve radio cabinets; here it's called stringing.
I made my own stringing by laminating veneers of contrasting colour. I made a jig and cutting tool as shown to cut the strings accurately to width.
A TV cabinet side set up for routing the stringing groove; this was a nervous job.
I'd already veneered using Sapele Pommele for the inner panel and striped Sepele for the cross banding; one slip adding the grooves would have been rather distressing.
Having made the stringing I needed a correct sized router cutter so I made my own cutter and tested it for fit before doing cutting the stringing groove; it worked very well indeed. The cutter I made from high speed steel it resembling a "D" bit.
Stringing added ready for finishing. Hot hide glue used throughout this restoration.
It was a long project but I got there in the end as I'll do in making this violin. The finish is french polish (Shellac). It's a 1957 Valve TV/radio I also fully restored the chassis and it still works.
For the tight curves I decided to make a pair of formers and having just glued up the veneers I quickly inserted them into the former and used clamps to tightly secure everything; when the clamps were removed I had perfectly shaped strings.
The formers were accurately made of softwood.
Having glued the stringing in position it looked incredibly rough as I used a cabinet scraper to bring the stringing flush.
I hope the violin turns out as well as this cabinet then I'll be pleased but it's going to be a long interesting project. I've just come out of the workshop having glued the handles to the four knife blades. It's unpleasant due to being so cold but I can't control the weather; I switched on the fan heater though because I dislike being cold.
Kind regards, Colin.