Making a stainless steel pocket pencil

Posted in metalwork, Pencils, Tool Making with tags , , on June 2, 2014 by Jim

I love advertising pencils

Antique advertising pocket pencils

The ones that say ‘Dot’s Diner 123 main,’ etc… If I see them in a box at an auction or rummage sale, they are coming home with me. My problem with them is that the erasers are rock hard and sometimes the pencil tube is cracked or broken somehow. Usually, they are simply constructed – a tube with an eraser in one end and a steel cap that holds a pencil to put in the other. The pointy cap bit is difficult to make, so we won’t do that.

But first – you can rehab an existing pocket pencil

If you don’t want to go through all the hassle of making you from scratch, you can fix up an old one that is in decent shape. On the vintage pencils I have, the erasers are mostly the same size as newer children’s pencil erasers.

TryRexGoodLight

I found a bin full of these Musgrave TRY-REX pencils at a local office supply and I just yank the eraser from the Musgrave and replace the rock hard one in my pocket pencil. I also shine up the caps on my pocket pencils with SimiChrome polish on a soft rag – only a tiny bit of polish is needed. It is foul smelling stuff but does a great job.

If you are feeling more adventurous, you can make a new pocket pencil (with a little stealing…)

You will need an existing vintage pencil for this. Find the nastiest cheap one that still has a good chrome cap on it. That is the only part we need. Take the chrome bullet end off and head to the hardware store. Looking at my local hardware store yielded this  3/8″ x .028″  stainless steel tubing.

3/8" stainless steel tube

Use the chrome end off of your old pencil and try to gently press fit it into tubing at the store until you find a piece that is just a hair too tight. If it is too loose, it will not work.

Dremel sandpaper holding jig

I use this slotted mandrel from Rio Grande that lets me put my own sandpaper bits in my Dremel or flex-shaft. I needed to remove quite a bit so I started with 80 grit, and I worked my way down to 400 grit, constantly testing with the cap from the old pencil, until it just goes in easy enough. Sand a little, test fit, sand a little more, test fit… For the eraser on this one, I found some Retro 51 Big Shot eraser replacements that fit with just a little polishing inside the stainless tube. The Musgrave ones would work, but I liked the look of the white eraser with the stainless tubing. Cut the last few inches off of your Palomino Blackwing pencil (or steal a golf pencil from the library like I did), put it in the chrome cap, and there you have a life-timer of a pocket pencil!

 

Handmade Stainless Pocket Pencil Extender

 

(Click the picture for a larger view) Happy Making, Jim

Lets make a wooden fishing lure

Posted in Fishing, Fishing Lures, Wood Carving, Woodworking with tags , , , on March 10, 2014 by Jim

Summer fishing season is Coming!

I am bringing this post over from an older blog of mine because it is time! Today, it is warm here – windows open short sleeves warm – so here you go:

I remember digging in my uncle Doug’s tackle box as a kid and being mesmerized.  I was none too fond of the smell of his catfish bait. It was home made stuff – imagine fish kimchee in a mason jar… Regardless, I  love the look of wooden fishing lures.   It is possible (and pretty fun) to make a few simple lures on your own without any expensive tools.

You will need:

  • A 5/8″ dowel from the hardware store
  • The smallest screw eyes you can find, also from the hardware store
  • Sandpaper (60, 100, 150 grits or close would be fine)
  • A wood rasp can also help speed up the shaping
  • Paint of your choice (I like the inexpensive acrylic stuff from Hobby Lobby)
  • An awl or sharp nail to poke starter holes
  • Some split rings and fishing hooks from a sporting goods store
  • A saw that will cut through a small wooden dowel

Lets get started. First, measure off a 3″ piece of your dowel and cut it off.

Not too hard so far… Next, put a pencil mark in the center of both ends the ends of the dowel, and poke starter holes there.

Put a screw eye into the holes in each end.

Next comes the shaping. Take the screw eyes back out, lay the 60 or 80 grit sandpaper on a flat surface, and drag the dowel toward you while slowly lifting the back end up.  Rotate the dowel a bit and continue.  The idea is just to round over the dowel until it looks like a cigar. You can speed this up with a wood rasp if you can lay hands on one.

After you have the ends of the dowel roughly rounded, pick it up, grab your sandpaper and get the rough off. If you want, you can sand it entirely smooth, or you can just sand a little bit.  I am pretty sure that the fish care do not care how beautiful your lure is. Use the finer sandpapers until you have the lure as smooth as you would like.

Here are two lures; the one from the pictures above and another that I sanded into a different  pointier shape.

I have the lures hanging from a coat hanger that I cut in two and bent up.  This holds them nicely while you spray primer on them. If you don’t want the fumes, you certainly do not have to use spray paint. I do, just to speed things up. Whatever paint you use, read and follow all the safety instructions…

I wanted my cigar shaped lure to have a fish scale pattern, so I wrapped it with tulle fabric.  Tulle is what you butterfly nets out of when you are little. I got mine at Hobby Lobby.

I hold the lure by one of the screw eyes with a clamp or some pliers. Next, I lightly spray paint the lure over the mesh. After the paint dries, you get a scale effect.

One other traditional way to paint lures is all white with a red head.  The trick to getting the straight line on the red is by dipping instead of brushing or painting. First paint your lure all white. I used the non-toxic acrylics for this. With the acrylics, a hair dryer can shorten the time between coats.  I would not use the hair dryer with any paints that are solvent based.

Once the lure is all white, dip the end of the lure in the red paint.

The last cool bit of the painting is the eyes. There is a great trick for painting the eyes. I use a small piece of a dowel and a small nail. You dip the dowel (or a larger nail) in white paint and make a dot where you want the eye. Let this dry and dip the smaller nail into black paint and put a dot for the pupil.

Here is a pic of the two lures after the painting is done and I have clear coated them. You can use several coats of clear spray paint or polyurethane to get that nice shiny look and help the lures last longer.  Professional lure makers use a two part epoxy to coat their lures but that is certainly not necessary. I sometimes coat mine in Devcon 2 ton epoxy I get at the hardware store.

The last step is to put on the hooks. Poke a small starter hole about 1/3 of the way back from the head on the bottom of the lure. Put another screw eye in this hole. To hang the hooks, I like to use split rings. You can get them in the fishing section of sporting goods stores. These rings let you change the hooks easily if you break them.  The split rings are a little fussy to get on.  You can buy special split ring pliers (also in the sporting goods section) or you can just pry them open with the tiny screw driver that comes in a glasses repair kit. I will say, if you are going to do several lures – spring for the split ring pliers.  They make it easier to get the hooks on without getting poked.

Here is the finished lure.

Good luck and let me know how they turn out!

Jim

You Make My Heart Spin

Posted in Automata, Toy Making, Woodworking with tags , , , on February 15, 2014 by Jim

YouMakeMyHeartSpin

Happy Valentines day!

-J

 

Wheel spacing jig for toy wooden car wheels

Posted in Toy Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2014 by Jim

Tonight, I had to make some wooden toy cars for a birthday party.

handmade toy wooden cars

I have always had a little trouble when using pre-made axles for toy wooden cars. I either sink the first axle too deep and the wheel will not turn. That, or I sink it too deep when I flip the car over to drive in the second axle. I needed something to stop all this silliness.

Tongue depressors save the day

spacing jig for wooden toy car wheels

I cut a notch in the end of two tongue depressors and laid them on the car body with the notch around the axle. When you drive the axle into the body, the tongue depressor stops it with just the right spacing. I made two so I can leave the first one in place when I drive the opposing axle in. This keeps me from sinking the first axle too deep when driving the second one.

I think that they will be well received at the party.

handmade wooden toy cars for birthday party

So, if you are making toys with little wooden axles – get yourself some tongue depressors.

Happy making,

Jim

Handwoven Donegal tweed yarn scarf

Posted in Weaving with tags , , , , on January 14, 2014 by Jim

And now for something completely different…

A few years ago, I bought a loom for someone as a gift. About once a year, as it starts getting cold out, I borrow it and make something.

This year, a scarf of Donegal Tweed yarn – felted.

Handwoven wool scarf Donegal Tweed

I wove this on an Ashford Rigid Heddle loom. It is about eight inches wide and plenty warm.

Happy making,

Jim

 

Loveless Style Hunting Knife in O1

Posted in Blacksmithing, EDC, Forging, knifemaking, Leather working, metalwork, Tool Making with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2014 by Jim

I started this knife quite a while ago. It has been sitting on my bench for over a year – until now.

Handmade Loveless Drop Point Hunter in o1 steel

I made it to be part of a hunting set and showed the smaller first knife here quite a while ago.

Here are the two knives finally together.

lovelessCopySet

I carry the smaller knife as a fixed blade edc pocket knife.

They are both 01 steel with green micarta handles and red liners. The blade on the larger one is about 3″.

I also made the sheath and to be honest – I almost enjoyed that as much as making the knife.

Happy Making and new year to you,

Jim

 

Integral Knife forged from 52100

Posted in Blacksmithing, Forging, knifemaking, metalwork, Tool Making with tags , , , , on November 4, 2013 by Jim

I recently got a beautiful integral fixed blade knife from Master Smith Ray Kirk. I like it so much that I had to try and make one for myself. I bought a couple 3/8″ round bars of the 52100 from Ray and here is what I came up with:

Hand Forged Knife

Thanks to my friend Dave from Circle H forge for the beautiful piece of stag.

Lots of folks have been helping me with all this. Ray spent an hour walking me through how to make a blade like this.

Also, Master Smith Lin Rhea is always there with an answer to anything I need help with.

I have come to find that the folks in the American Bladesmith Society are just some of the best people out there.

-Happy Making,

Jim

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