At the beginning of the year my server finally decided it was too old to work properly. I milked Ubuntu’s LTS 12.02 about 6 years on an old AMD dual core system with about 1.5gb of ram. I found that I couldn’t play back HD video on plex. So it was time for a new build.
I went microITX for the first time. Its quite interesting.
This is a little ASRock system with 8GB of ram running an i5 4650k – yes its overkill. Its also got a GeForce GT 640 to drive plex. Again, overkill for video playback, but I push to apple and android so its nice to have seamless conversion.
As for the drives. you can see there are 3 4TB drives. The three WD Reds are my Media RAID. the 4TB Seagate on top is my webserve drive. And you can’t see the little 120gb 850 EVO SSD which is my boot drive.
Its up and running Ubuntu LTS 14.04 Trusty Tahr. Its been super solid, up time has been I think nearly 6 months at its longest run. It hosts quite well. That’s where the database you’re reading right now lives.
At the beginning of the year I took on a new task at work, being the actual IT support for the office. Needless to say its because we went through a major infrastructure overhaul.
We updated from our existing pushed to the limit 50mb cat6 uplink to a full 10gb dual fiber with 100mb dedicated up/down from our provider. This meant that I had to rewire the whole office. everything.
So that’s about 1/4 of the office’s connections. re-run and re-pulled to a new switch. Previously, (before me), it was direct run to the switch room. Were talking, 300ft runs on non-insulated cat6.
The new rack is much nicer. Or it was when I put it in. Its gotten dirty now, but it runs data and phones on each desk as well as our editing server connections.
Additionally, there’s a render server stuck in the bottom of this cage.
Lastly, you can tell I’ve become an IT person now.
It no secret that I like to work on knives. They’re an easy, quick and rewarding project. Well a few years ago I was on a vacation in Gatlinberg. The best thing there; The Smokey Mountain Knife Works. yeah basically the biggest knife market in the world. They have everything from super high end and rare knives to the super dirt cheap china junk.
Well, I love to pick up that china junk. Then strip it and make it nicer.
Here we have a 2 dollar junk drop point knife. So what did I do? Well I turned it into a nice shop knife that I don’t care too much about.
I stripped off the cheap string wrapping and did a full walnut handle. I re-heated the blade so its actually hard and holds an edge. I cut a new bevel so its actually sharp and precise.
Lastly, never should have a sharp knife without a sheath. Sheaths protect the blade and your fingers. I did a small Sheridan carved belt scabbard for this little guy. It just classes up the cheap knife.
Overall, for a one day build with about $3.00 invested in it, I think it came out nice.
So this was an early 2012 maker build for me. Really my first forray into building anything. Its still an on-going project as I have several razors in the que for restoration.
So lets start at the beginning
The razors that I look for are ones that come from antique stores in decent condition. I don’t care at all about the handles. The blades have a good deal of life left in them. You can see how rotten the one above was when I opened the scales.
Here you can see I’ve completely refinished the blade by hand. I sand them down stepping from grit to grit all the way to about 1200. It usually takes a few hours per side. Then I paper template out the scales to get a good fit.
Next up, fitting the wood. Here you can see I used Ambrosia Maple. Its quite a pretty wood.
Once the scales are fit and shaped I apply about 6 coats of wood turner’s finish. Its a good, hard, topcoat that polishes super well and repels water. You want to keep water out of a razor. The blades are very prone to rusting in a bathroom.
All the pieces get laid out. You can see the original scales, the new ones. The new pins and wedge.
Here’s the finished blade. From this point all it needs is to have a nice 20,000 grit hone, stropping, and its good to go!
And lastly; here’s a collection of just a few of the razors that I’ve restored and rescued. Also, yes, I do use them!
Yeah, when I need a tool, I sort of become obsessive about it.
So I actually got some rough blanks from a local bladesmith that were treated and rough sharpened. This is the first one I’ve finished. It needed a lot of re shaping. but I think its turned out well, Its nice and sharp but the bevel is a bit terrible looking, because I suck at cutting a bevel.
It was reshaped with a 1 inch belt sander from 1990’s and a few hand files.
I fitted it with a nice walnut handle and some brass pins.
I finished the handle by buffing it on my Beal Buffing System. It really brings out the shine. It could probably stand to be buffed again as its had lots of use.
Its a very sharp knife and it cuts quite well. Very happy. The sheath is a 10oz veg tanned leather, just a slip on. Sadly I don’t spend a lot of time on my tool’s sheaths.
As mentioned in the previous chapter there was some pattern issues with the second head knife. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with the third iteration of my head knife.
So above you can see my paper pattern sitting next to my cut out blank. This one was much easier to cut and shape because it was cut out of a piece of dead soft low carbon hardware store steel bar.
The finished knife turned out looking amazing. I’m super happy with the way it looks.
I even went ahead and tried a nice set of mosaic pins too. It all worked out really well. The only problem I seem to have run into is that I very stupidly made it and handled it without heat treating it. which was a terrible mistake. Its dead soft. It does not hold an edge. none. at all. So It doesn’t cut…. It looks good though. I’m impressed with what I can accomplish with just hand tools. So the next one will be hardened…
So I was getting really into leather and I had some decent tools but it was time to get another knife together so I didn’t have to keep stropping in the middle of projects. So, I decided to make one from scratch.
I went and found a design on a blog that I liked and copied it.
transferred the hand drawing to an old rusted circular saw blade and went to town blowing out several blades on my band saw, because it was super hard tempered high carbon steel.
Then it was just a matter of continuing to work the blade until it was shiny. It really wasn’t that hard to do.
Then once I got the blade nice and cleaned on both sides I cut some nice handles and used some brass rod for pins.
And the final knife:
It turned out really well. It cuts fantastically. Its super comfortable. Not the prettiest thing on the planet, but amazing.
Turns out though, the blog I found the original on was in German… I didn’t see that it was a specialty design and I basically ripped off another maker. Its not a big deal, but I felt bad so this knife doesn’t see the light of day any more and I’ve replaced it with new completely original designs.
For the last year or so I’ve been getting really into leather work as a hobby. Its a fun and pretty rewarding little venture. The hardest part of it all is to get properly tooled up for it. Properly cutting leather doesn’t require any real special tools, but there are knives that are made for it and work better than others. The main problem with those knives is that they are either very rare or very expensive. Most of the time they are both. When you consider that there’s really about 2 people and one company that still produce the knives wide-scale for people it makes it harder to come by. Well, I hit the jackpot, again while in an antique store, and found a head knife, or round knife, or leather knife, its really what ever you want to call it.
The handle was super loose though so time to do some rebuilding!
In all of my infinite wisdom at this point I thought going at the blade in this for with sand paper and grinders was a good idea. The blade its self, didn’t really care. The tang though… That was a different story. You can see clearly in this photo the tang is a bit bent. So I bent it back straight. The only problem is that this older than dirt tool had a nice hardened blade and not properly tempered tang. It snapped right the hell off. Shit.
So lets get out that welder that I’ve only used twice in my life and never been trained on…
Ok, its not terrible and I bet you I could have sanded it flush and you not known it had broken. Or even put a new tang on it. But, it actually held really well, and the Curly Maple handle that I turned for it is amazing. Its about an inch and a half shorter than the original handle. It lets me get more leverage on the tips.
Additionally I got the edge razor sharp – Actual razor sharp, honed to 20,000 grit. All I need to do is maintain the edge with a strop and its one of the best cutting knives that I own.
I was tasked with making my company’s Dana Dolly portable so we could travel it for location shooting. So I did a bit of research. I found some DJ lighting clamps and some 1/2 inch steel tube stock and built a new collapsible track. It uses 1 1/4 conduit which we source and cut when we get to the place we’re shooting and discard when we’re done. Its a cheap and easy way to get some great shots!