Legos and LEDs

Legos are great. This is a fact. I’ve been playing with Legos for years, its even what gave me the push to go into the film industry. It no surprise that I’ve never given it up.

So Lego has also shifted in the last 3 years to include a series of cars. They are making some amazing replicas of high-end european sports cars. The kits themselves are relatively cheap too, for Lego. The speed champions line has several awesome Porsche, Bugatti, Ferrari, AMG, Skudaria, Camero, Corvette, seriously some awesome stuff.

Yeah, I’ve been collecting them as they come out. They’ve released like 4 cars a year. They’re killing it with these little things.

So my father knows that I love lego and cars. He got me this year’s larger scale car kit for Christmas. Its a Caterham.

Its absolutely bad ass. Its also full ‘expert’ Lego techniques — friction fits, angles, and inverted parts. Great kit for adults!

So fast forward a few weeks… He got me a light kit for the scale Mini that I had.

These are made by Bricklink and are totally 3rd party. But, that are amazing. Super bright micro LEDs installed in the bricks. The whole thing is USB powered so it runs off a standard wall charger for a phone.

Lastly I went a little overboard and picked up the latest car kits for 2017.

The VW Beetle was a very great kit. like 1200 pieces. 6 solid hours of building. but it looks great!

Wooden File Handles – Revisited

I was looking for an easy one night build after a rough day at work. So I took stock of what all I had going on. I’ve got a deep love in my shop for hand files. I have a bad tendency to keep buying them. So needless to say, I have a pile of files. I feel bad every time I use one on my lathe and it doesn’t have a handle. That’s like safety 101. So I figured it was an easy evening project.

I took a block of cherry. I have a section of 8 quarter, I ripped a small bit off and tossed it on my old, trusty, Jet Mini-Lathe. Its the lathe I cut my woodworking teeth on when I was 10 or so. Its one of the first real power tools I ever used that let me create something start to finish. — Its a lovely machine, even still.

So I turned that cherry chunk between centers as best I could, (admittedly I’ve gotten very used to having a cross slide and carriage). I roughed the end down to size and then took it all over to my little Taig lathe.

I turned up a little piece of brass to use as a ferrule. This is critical. Its the first file handle that I’ve done with a ferrule. Its also probably the only file handle that isn’t going to split in half on my. (like I’ve had happen twice already.)

Anyway. I chucked the rough handle up on the Taig, squared and fitted the ferrule with a nice tight friction fit. Then I drilled out the hole for the file’s tang. I manually stepped it as well so it would seat better. From here it was just a lot of sanding. I ended up doing that back on the Jet lathe. I’m trying my best to limit the wood dust on my metal lathe. Don’t worry, I cleaned it thoroughly then re-lubed everything, ways, apron, lead screws, everything.

as a finish I used some Fiebang’s British Tan alcohol based dye to darken the red in the cherry and then just a hit of Carnuba wax to seal it all.

Overall, it was a nice evening in the workshop — I plan to make a bunch more maybe a full set of matching ones for some needle file sets.

Steampunk Wrist-Gauge

Whats the most important part of exploring? In any time? Boy Scouting taught me to be prepared. So when I’m out of the 33rd century I need to carry some tools to be ready to fix my gear.

I hadn’t consciously planned on using screws for everything but by this point, I thought it was a good idea to have a screwdriver.

I also needed a time distortion gauge. you know, to measure the amount of affect you’ve had on the past. Trust me, you don’t want to red-line that one!!!

The problem is that time travel can be hard on you, especially if you’re trying to carry a toolbox, so why not build it into your arm?

I started with a free hand pattern for an arm bracer. I used once again, some 5-6oz veg-tan leather, cut and dyed. I used Fiebang’s British Tan if anyone’s wondering… I bought a full pint of it for the apron project and used very little, but since have fallen in love with the color.

Well, anyway, with a few straps and snaps I got the thing attached to my arm.


I used a 1/2 inch strapping for a buckle connection at the forearm. I have a muscular arm and didn’t want it sliding off. I used snaps at the wrist for ease though.

Next up was the copper circuitry and application of my actual antique screw driver set. Its one that holds 3 smaller sizes inside itself. Super old school, super useful, absolutely beautiful.


Now I’m looking at this thinking, I need to be able to measure my time distortion!


The time gauge was then  constructed using a very inexpensive pressure gauge from harbor freight, a brass fitting kit too. I then put some of the fittings on my lathe and turned the openings up to 1/4inch to accept my copper tubing. I finished by attaching it again with a strap and some rivets. The screw driver also got a closure strap, but its got a snap so I can pull it out on the fly. and my connection wire came from some CAT6 cable. The twisted pairs are nice and colorful.

Steampunk Cane

Once again, a super cool steam project for Halloween 2016.

I needed a steam-weapon, something understated with a cool story. Steampunk is all about that story.

My character that I’ve been working is a 33rd century explorer who makes trips to the past. So, what does a gentleman do for a weapon? yep. a plasma cane.

First up was the plasma-core.


I went into the hardware store. This time, an independently owned ACE hardware that has always been really, really well stocked with odd parts. A few brass fittings acted as my vacuum tube base. My light source, which was a much cooler build that I stupidly didn’t photograph, was a flashlight from harbor freight. You know, the free ones that they basically give out every week. I ripped it apart and de-soldered the white LEDs from the board and put in my own 9-LEDs that were green. Instant plasma-power!

I then decided that I needed to show off the tube more. Its such a cool antique future part. I cut the shroud down and then built a cage for it out of some 1/4 inch brass rod.


The hard part was getting the brass rod bent at the same points 6 times over, then drilling and epoxying them into place. I used some T-66 structural epoxy and it is STRONG! very impressed with system3’s epoxy.

Now with the plasma generator built, it was time to fashion the rest of the cane. This was pretty quick. some more copper and a rubber furniture foot and boom the bottom is done.


The handle — That was the hard part. First it was lets solder all the pipe, then it was how do I get to the batteries for the light? So I decided that once again, screws would save the day.


The wiring, while extremely simple was a real bear to get fit into the pipe and working. I ended up not trying to use the body of the copper handle to conduct as I was losing too much power and I didn’t want to kill my batteries too fast. So I wired it up to a switch on an end-cap and it really came together.

Overall a super easy, super challenging project. Once again, lots of little problems to solve. Lots of fun to build. Lots of fun to build a story around too!

Steampunk Goggles

With Halloween closing in, I decided that this year was a steam-powered year!

Over about a week or so I think I went into the hardware store every day looking for parts.


First up – The eye cups!

I needed a rigid material to really work it all together, so I went brass. I found some brass end caps for 1 1/2″ water pipe. I gave it a shot and chucked them up to my lathe. They turned out to be a really hard brass alloy, I’m used to working with soft brass. But with a little time I was able to find my way through it and come up with a really cool threaded set as a base.

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The next step in the eye cups was the actual cup part.


This was some left over 5-6oz veg-tan that I had from my apron build that I cut and press fit in to test the shape. I was feeling pretty good at this point.


I then lined the leather with some black suede, stitched it together and dyed the veg-tan. I was really feeling good at this point!

Then I realized that there was no way to join the two eyes together. I scrounged around in my scrap stock and found some 1/16th hard brass plate and cut a nose bridge, shaped it on my anvil and riveted it with a few brass nails. — In hind sight, It should have been screwed together. as everything else was.


Once I had the eyes as one piece it was cake from there.

imag0504I attached the leather to the brass with some #4-40 screws, drilling and tapping as I was going. I did end up going through about 3 taps because #4 is just so delicate and I can be a bit of a brute when I’m excited. I screwed in from the inside and used some cap nuts to give a nice finished look.


The next step was the strap. The leather was very easy. 1/2 inch 5oz veg-tan with a suede liner. dead simple. Coming up with the attachment though — that was the challenge. I decided to use a plate again with screws. The plate is a 1/16th inch thick brass plated aluminum from kick plate on a door – not my favorite material, but it worked and polished nicely.

imag0507 Last step was to fit some Lexan circles into the eye cups for my lenses. I went with Lexan because its a lot stronger than acrylic and easier to work with in my opinion.

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Overall, I thought they turned out nice, and it was a fun series of problem solving!