Monthly Archives: December 2015

Brand New (to us) Cold Saw!

I recently came across a used, 14″ Bolton cold saw on craigslist at a price that was too low to pass up.  I was a little skeptical at first due to the off-brand, but figured that performance is what matters.  Since the saw was powered, I could try it out and make the decision first hand.

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The 14″ saw is the largest commonly available cold saw size.  At 90 degrees, the saw can cut round pipe at 4.75″ OD and rectangle up to 5.5″ x 4″.  A 14″ equivalent cold saw by Scotchman retails for over $7,000.  Even at retail, new, the Bolton cold saw is ~1/4 the cost of the Scotchman.  For all that money we save we could buy 14 cotton candy machines (Audrey’s dream come true) or maybe even buy a used pick-up truck for staff and members at The Foundery to access…;)

Back to the Bolton Cold saw:  I went and check out the saw which is currently being used by a local artist/furniture maker.  The owner had various square tubing profiles in his scrap bin that I cut at various angles.  I tested the saw on steel tubing with wall thickness ranging from 0.065″ to 0.25″.

The saw’s performance far exceeded my expectations!  I have spent many hours on Scotchman cold saws and I could not tell a difference when looking at the cut quality.  If blindfolded while using the saws, I would not have been able to tell the difference between the Bolton or Scotchman.  When I cut two 45 degree pieces and lined them up on a flat table as if making a picture frame, the cuts were very precise along the full height of the tubing.  I could not have made as nice of a mitered cut on a band saw or abrasive chop saw.  SOLD!

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Now if you have an eye for detail you may have looked at this picture and been thinking “Corey, your driving around with a busted cab brake light. That’s illegal!”.

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Well funny story.  You see, that brake light was in perfect working condition when the seller began loading the cold saw into the bed of my pick-up.  I know, weird right?!?  I thought that since the seller had a small forklift on hand, loading the 450 lb saw would be a simple task…nope.  After loading the saw onto the bed of my truck, the fork lift was being used to slide the saw forward toward the cab when BAM! the saw slid off it’s pallet and fell right against the cab of my truck.

Because I’m a terrible blogger, in the heat of the moment I forgot to take a picture of the saw leaning against it’s impacted position and instead rushed to get the massive piece of steel of my trucks cab.  To help illustrate this fail, I used my cutting edge photo editing skills to recreate the cold saw’s resting position:

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Crazy to think that’s an edited image huh!? When you come into The Foundery to use the cold saw I hope you pay homage to the sacrifices my truck has made to the cause.

—Corey

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The Great Metal Cutting Debate

At The Foundery, we commonly have people ask what the best way to cut a piece of piping or tubing.  There’s 3 common tool choices for cutting metal tubing:  Abrasive chop-saw, Horizontal band-saw, Cold saw.  Each method has it’s pros and cons.  Jason and I spent a lot of time discussing which of these tools we wanted to procure for The Foundery to provide the best option for members.  Below is a short run-down for each method and what we decided to go with for The Foundery at City Garage:

Abrasive Chop saw

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An abrasive chop saw is the most cost effective way for cutting metal tubing and Also by far the most obnoxious and inconsiderate to fellow co-workers .  These saws are extremely loud and generate a great deal of metal dust.  The abrasive blade also leaves a terrible bur on the cut part which requires secondary clean-up on a belt sander.With average blade sizes of 14″, they can cut through 3″ x 3″ square box with wall thickness up to 1/2″ thick if needed.  The principle behind the abrasive saw is more of a grinding then a cutting.

Chop saws are very cost effective for a garage hobbyist who needs to cut a few dozen pipes a month.

Horizontal Band-Saw

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Horizontal band-saws are part of the work horse team that built America…and I’m completely serious.  That may sound like something else “Corey just made up”, but it’s true!  The band saw was first patented in 1809 by William Newberry.  Fun Fact:  Band saws weren’t really practical until Anne Paulin Crepin invented a method for welding flexible blades in 1846.  If Anne Paulin Crepin was alive today she’d be considered a “Maker” but since the trendy term hadn’t been invented yet, Anne was simple referred to as a “Badass”.

Horizontal band saws are relatively quiet and can produce a clean cut over large surface area.  Industrial horizontal band-saws can cut through a solid 10″ round bar of steel with out any problem.  Using the right blade and keeping the blade lubricated is crucial to making blades last.

The downsides to horizontal band-band saws is that the blade can drift over long cuts.  High quality saws can drift from their starting position 0.01″ for every vertical 1″ of cutting.  Another draw back is that having a mitering band-saw that can cut at various angles will add $2-3k to the cost of the saw.  For The Foundery, that’s $2-3k that could be spent on other tools which would provide expanded capabilities.

Cold Saws

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Cold Saws are amazing machine tools.  They utilize a slow spinning course tooth blade which accurately cuts through metal tubing or plate.  The cold saw cut is more of a milling process then a typical saw cut, which provides an accuracy over the full cut length of +/- 0.002″.  Cold saws have swiveling heads, which can be easily adjusted for mitered cuts +/-45 degrees.

One thing I love about cold saws is that their clamps, grab onto the work piece at both sides of the blade.  This ensures that the blade can finish each cut without leaving a burr.

Conclusion:

After lots of research into these tools and the types of projects people create in maker-spaces, we feel that cold saws will cover close to 100% of member’s needs.  Additionally, cold saws are quite, clean and relatively safe to use.  Anyone who works with metal tubing and has never used a cold saw will be really impressed with their performance and cut finish.  Once we’re open, if we feel members require larger capabilities we could add a large, non mitering band-saw to our shop floor.

— Corey

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Space — The Final Frontier

One of my earliest memories as a young child is standing in front of our B&W TV trying to guess which grainy pixel would morph into the USS Enterprise.

One of my earliest memories as a young child is standing in front of our B&W TV trying to guess which grainy pixel would morph into the USS Enterprise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We get lots of questions about whether members will be able to rent space in the new digs so I thought I’d try to address our current thought process in this post. On one hand, it would be a major pain to have to schlep materials and supplies back and forth every time you want to work on a project.  On the other hand, every square foot of space dedicated to storage is one less foot to put a tool, bench, or other shared resource. Every Makerspace wrestles with this, and there’s no magic formula to determine what the right mix is.  Although Corey’s and my natural tendency is to maximize the T/F ratio*, we do want provide members with access to several options to store personal belongings, tools, and materials, as well as temporary project storage.  There are 3 types of storage planned right now:

Lockers – lockable, rentable by the month, big enough to store items like safety shoes and coveralls, personal tools, electronic components, etc.

Racks – Shelves and floor storage, rentable by the month or longer, shelf space in increments of 2′ wide by 2′ deep by 18″ high, big enough for large plastic bins.  Floor level will be pallet sized spaces, approximately 44″ by 44″ by 36″ high.

Project tables – Rentable by the week, work surfaces 48″ by 48″, approximately 16″ off the floor. Dedicated spaces for member projects-in-progress.  Located near shop floors.

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Our footprint simply isn’t big enough to allow rental of studio spaces, but if you can wait till next fall, our friends at Open Works will be open and you can grab a space there.

Please let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.  We’d love to hear what you think about our plans.

*T/F is a technical term (that I just made up) to describe the ratio of Tools to available Floor space.  In other words, how many toys can we stuff in the toybox and still close the lid?

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Even Our Welders Go 2 11

1 of the Foundery’s 6 new Millermatic 211 MIG machines

1 of the Foundery’s 6 new Millermatic 211 MIG machines

We just took delivery of our first 2 new Millermatic 211 MIG welders, courtesy of our friends at Earlbeck Gases and Technologies.  I was blown away by the features and capabilities, especially in such a lightweight package.  Since the Foundery opened nearly 3 years ago, we’ve only used flux-core wire-feed welders, so going to a professional-grade MIG is like going from a Yugo to a Tesla.  After a few minutes practice, Corey and I were both laying down beautiful beads on some scrap steel. (OK, Corey’s might have been a bit nicer, but he had more practice). The Auto-set feature makes it super easy to dial in your starting parameters, which I suspect is why my welds were presentable so quickly.  Check it out here:

We will have 6 of these machines by the time we open our doors, so even when a welding class is in session, there will be at least 2 stations open for members who are welding-qualified.  In the meantime, we’ll be putting these machines through their paces as we build out the shop tables, shelves, and any other reason we can find to stick two pieces of metal together!

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Who’s This RJ Guy?!?

One of the first things that Jason and I acquired was a Caterpillar GP25 forklift.  This machine is capable of lifting 5,000 lbs to a height of 190″ (15 ft).  Before we got the Cat, I had never operated a real forklift before.  Shout-out to Hayne’s Antime Towing who delivered the forklift.  The tow truck driver was cool enough to give me a quick lesson on operating the Cat so I could at least drive it off the tow truck and into our shop (after some parking lot practice).  Below is a picture of the Cat…once we buff those surface scratches out she’ll look good as new!

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Buying the Forklift early in the game was one of the smartest decisions.  It not only allows us to unload all of our industrial grade new additions with ease, but it also has saved Jason multiple slipped discs and hernias.  (For some reason, Jason still thinks he’s a midshipman in his early 20’s.)

Immediately after getting the Cat in our space, Jason went out and impulsively bought a man-cage so we could lift each other up to gain access to our 25ft ceilings.  Hah!  Picture that, Jason strapping his harness to the man-cage and me lifting him up 25ft!  Christmas is coming early!!!!

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Shortly after Jason and I began using the forklift we realized that hydraulic fluid was leaking at a significant rate from the base of the forks.  Jason and I went back and forth debating who’s turn it was to fix a machine and then we both admitted that neither of us felt comfortable turning wrenches on a 2,000psi hydraulic system.  Jason and I have both been in the game long enough to be aware of the dangers of hydraulic pressure.  Do a google image search for “hydraulic fluid injury” and you will see TERRIBLE images of people getting limbs shredded from pin-hole leaks in hydraulic systems.

Lucky for us, I just met this guy, RJ, at a family cook-out.  RJ works on hydraulic systems for a living…and he’s dating my cousin Linsey.  I reached out to RJ and asked if he could come by after work and check out our fork lift’s leak.  I figured it’d be a two-for;  I get some one-on-one time with my cousins boyfriend (to check his man-card) and we get a professional opinion on the CAT.  Below is RJ checking the side-shifter cylinder on the CAT

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Turned out, RJ has a lot of knowledge related to fabrication and welding…and identified the leak on the forklift in about 2 minutes.  Seems that someone had bumped into something and knocked a fitting loose.  Took about a quarter turn with a 5/8″ box wrench to fix the leak.  And no, it wasn’t me that bumped into something and knocked the fitting loose.

I think RJ clipped a little piece off mine and Jason’s man-cards for wasting his time on such a simple fix.  RJ also went over all the hoses and made sure the CAT’s hydraulic system was in good working order, so it was a worthwhile visit for us.  I hope RJ comes by to use our tools once we open!

— Corey

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