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April / May 2015
Kitchen Knife PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shane Minnear   

How to make a forged, integral-bolster kitchen knife

How to make a forged, integral-bolster kitchen knife

I’ve been forging blades that incorporate an integral bolster. This is technically quite challenging to do but I have found a way that gives good results every time. The forged bolster has a few advantages. It has no join between blade and bolster which removes the opportunity for material to get trapped. It offers a smooth transition for the thumb and finger to rest on. It also highlights the steel layers as they ebb and flow up onto the bolster and through in to the full tang…this is a beautiful effect and can be quite startling.

I love to make kitchen knives. This is because a kitchen knife is an everyday knife…I get to use them frequently, see them displayed on our magnetic wall holder and learn to refine and modify designs. I see how they function for specific tasks and can make different shapes and sizes accordingly. My wife Jade is my strongest critic and my staunchest ally. This makes me a better knife maker as I hear her honest feedback and make adjustments to the design, fit and finish.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Getting real PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stuart Johnston   

Moving on from toys to models

My earlier article “Kaizen in Wood” (December 2014/January 2015, page 88) explored my early learning journey in wheeled toy/model making, producing items of interest mainly for grandchildren and friends. These were all pretty basic with assistance from various magazines, books and internet sources. My interest gradually progressed to develop a greater degree of detail and sophistication in my work and in fact I found myself moving towards modelling rather than toy making.

Searching the internet I found a couple of model trucks that took my fancy and settled on two plans from Gatto Plan Supply ( ), a “Cab-over tractor” (Peterbilt or Kenworth) plan#21 and “Tractor Rig” (long-nose Mack) plan #14. Both have steering systems, engines, suspensions and drive trains; the running gear of each being constructed in quite different ways. I felt making them would provide some interesting learning.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Nutrient Meter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vik Olliver   

Nutrient Meter

Hydroponics is all about growing without soil. In many ways this simplifies the lot of the gardener, but it gives them added responsibility for providing plants with the right level of nutrients. As water with nutrients tastes, feels and looks much the same as plain water, a testing instrument called an “EC meter” or “CF meter” is used. The hand-held ones tend to look a lot like a truncheon with party lights down the side and indicate the nutrient level in EC or CF units (.1 EC unit = 10 CF units) .The way they work is a bit complex, but we've figured out how to replace a lot of the esoteric circuitry with an ordinary Arduino. Not only can you build a CF meter cheaply, but you can also easily modify it for a garden automation project.

All the meter does is measure the resistance of the water. Lots of nutrients means a lower resistance. If you just use an ordinary resistance meter, the current passed through the liquid changes the nutrient's chemistry and your reading goes inaccurate very quickly. So CF meters measure the conductivity in short pulses, swapping direction each time they make a measurement to reverse the chemistry.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Welding Stainless Steel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Greg Holster   

Welding Stainless Steel

I get so many people asking me what is the best way to weld stainless steel. There are many different versions of the best way. Hopefully this article will give you Sheddies a few helpful hints on welding stainless. For the sake of simplicity, I will stick to the common 300 series stainless steels.

One of the things I like about welding stainless is that the welding machinery is generally the same amperage and has the same material thickness capability as mild steel. Within reason, you could say they were cousins.

However, there are a few differences with some of the physical and chemical properties of stainless steel compared to mild steel and this can affect your welding variables. And, no, I am not going to give you a chemistry lesson.

Austenitic stainless steels are the most common types that we come across in day-to-day life. Marine fittings are normally 316L; the likes of kitchen benches, shower trays, etc, are often 304L. You will notice when purchasing MIG wire, TIG rod and arc-welding electrodes that the wires have an “L” designator, indicating that the material or consumable has a carbon level that falls in the low end of the carbon range. You will find that most consumables also have an “Si” designation which means that the consumable has a higher silicon content, which provides more weld pool fluidity and controllability.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

A model life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Feltham   

A model life

If the phrase “small but perfectly formed” can be legitimately applied to a shed, then Bruce Geange's Palmerston North workshop certainly fits the bill. In a space of about 2 by 5 metres he creates Lilliputian machines that mimic their full-sized cousins in everything but size. An exquisitely detailed D8 1940 bulldozer is 40 cm long and completely hand-built. Bruce says it took about 900 hours to complete and is completely functional.

Born in Taumarunui in 1935, the eldest of four boys, Bruce was raised on various farms in the Manawatu area, which may explain his predilection for tractor models.  A life-long love of modelling started at the age of 11 when he received a No 1 Meccano set for Christmas. As finances permitted he began collecting Meccano, building up to a No 9 set after he began working. He reminisces about looking at a model mechanical shovel in the June 1947 Meccano Magazine and wondering how he was going to get the parts to build it, as trips into Palmerston North were infrequent and limited to school holidays. His collection has now burgeoned to fill several cabinets. In 1989 he helped found the Manawatu/Wanganui/Taranaki Meccano Club. This is a loose association of people interested keeping Meccano alive as a hobby and valuable educational tool. He remains very active in the club and the wider national body.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Turning black and blue PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bob Hulme   

How to achieve a black oxide finish

How to achieve a black oxide finish

Putting a durable finish on steel components is usually the last step in a project, but it is one which needs to be thought out at the beginning. The thickness of the coating may have to be allowed for when machining, holes may have to be incorporated to hang the part from during a finishing process, etc. The particular process we are looking at in this article does not effectively alter the dimensions of the part as it etches into the surface rather than deposits on top. Black oxide finish is sometimes called parkerizing and it is common on components such as gun barrels because it does not involve high enough temperatures to cause distortion and there is no dimensional change.

While strictly speaking not an anticorrosion coating on its own, it does perform well due to its microscopic porosity. The final step in the black oxide process is to wipe the part liberally with oil which soaks into those pores and tends to stay there even after the excess is wiped off. Just don’t put it in the dishwasher!

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed