Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday musings and how to embarrass yourself with homemade gifts

This is a pretty good approximation of the hangers my mother sent
the 5 year old me to school with.
 I stole this from the internet because I thought you should see it.
 I think this is a plastic hanger though.  So not exactly right. 

This is a restrained version on a wire hanger.  Not nearly enough tulle.
And also my mother always wrapped the hanger in satin ribbon.
Photo also stolen from the internet.

          When I was a kid, my mother made "drip dry" hangers for my teachers for the holidays every year.  I don't really remember there being plastic hangers, so I'm pretty sure they were the metal ones.  She would take metal hangers and wrap tulle around them.  She also made pot scrubbers to go with the hangers.  Then on the last day of school before winter break, I was forced to carry these puffy hangers, which were approximately twice my size, to school.  

        I don't know if the teachers were happy to have these handmade gifts or just relieved that it wasn't another coffee mug.  I don't know if people gave coffee mugs then, but I'm guessing that hasn't changed.  I'm sure this is where I learned to torture my own children by making teacher gifts each year.  At least they knew nobody else was getting that for the teacher.  
This is actually a handmade pot scrubber from, and I'm not  Go there

                  So my thought with this post was this.  I would go into the local home improvement store and see if I could find some materials that could be made into something that could be given as a gift this holiday season.  I did this and you will see the results but I'm not altogether sure I succeeded.  There are a couple reasons for that.  The biggest reason is probably that I was trying to work without tools or clamps.  I mean, why would you have tools and clamps.  I do, but as I understand the world, most people don't.  Plus I might have had some sort of brain freeze creatively.  It really didn't work out the way I thought it would but it is probably pathetically funny. 

         So here we go.....oh yeah, I haven't ever tried to take moving pictures of myself doing things so I hope they don't make you sick.  Also, the phone kept falling over and moving during taping so this will probably be rough.  

All the parts of this project. 
You can take the sticker off  
          I suppose, actually, I acknowledge that this first project is cheesy but it's no cheesier than a hanger wearing a tutu and for the incense lovers in your life it could distract them from ... something.  In my memory these straps were $ .88.  Eh, I bought them more than a week ago.  This incense holder takes no tools and maybe you could make it better with a little imagination.  Start with a $2.08 (at Home Depot) downspout strap.  I don't know why they sell these in Vegas because nobody has downspouts in the desert.  We just watch the water rise from all angles as it cascades off every part of our roofs.  It's too rare for actual downspouts.  Anyway, the straps are steel, I don't know if that matters for this, and they are scored (this is the wrong word for it but it's what I've got) so that they will bend easily only at 4 points.  I overdid the bend to start and the incense stick wouldn't stand.  Don't overdo your bend.  Also it's not my incense.  I don't want you getting the wrong idea about me.  I don't own any incense. Just like the tulle pictures, I stole this stick of incense.

After I got the bend right it works ok.
I don't think the incense lovers will notice.

          I am sorry about that video, but the next one will be worse.  So the incense holder isn't very exciting but you can make it whatever you want.  Just add you. 

          For my next trick I will be showing you how to make something even less useful which is amazing because that last thing wasn't useful at all.  Honestly, this is probably one of the worst ideas I've ever had and that's after a lifetime of bad ideas. 

          I thought I was making a soap dish or something, but maybe it's just another incense holder.  Try to remember that I was trying to do all this stuff with minimal tools. 

Tie plates????
      I found these tie plates.  It's some construction thing.  I guess they use these to make wood longer or something.  They are galvanized steel so they aren't supposed to rust but I bet if you actually use them for a soap dish they might.  I guess I could have tested that for you but I didn't think of it until just now.  These things are pretty cheap and with more imagination than I was able to muster, maybe they could become something.  To bend the tie plates I used a hammer and a piece of 2x4 wood.  You could use any hammer.  I did have to clamp the wood down.  If you have to buy any of those things this probably isn't worth it.  I used the $ .88 and $ .54 plates.  That's where I got that 88 cents.  I also riveted them together.  I cheated.  You would probably need to use screws and nuts because I think most people don't have rivets and rivet tools.  The screws are pretty cheap too.  So I'm guessing you could make this useless thing for about the same amount as the other useless thing. .... watch and learn. 

           It's a bit harder to make the bend between holes than it is to make the bend at the holes.  Sponge, soap, whatever.  Candle? 

I don't know why I do angled pictures. 
If you decide to try either of these projects, or if you are inspired to try something else after wandering the isles of your local home improvement or hardware store, send me pictures.  I know you can make a pipe fitting lamp.  There are about 70,000 YouTube videos of that, but these little things can be fun because you actually make the metal move.  I'm all about moving metal.  

Enjoy your holidays, and if you like incense, I apologize for my insensitivity.  It's just not my thing,  

Now back to work

Monday, November 13, 2017

Anchors Aweigh

                Back before I had devised many clever ways to avoid it, I was often roped into installing the hardware I make.  I don't really enjoy installing hardware.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but as an illustration of the hazards of installing hardware I give you this story.  

               I had made a house full of drapery and bathroom hardware for a large new ranch house about 30 miles outside of Santa Fe.  By coincidence, the contractor on the house had his office in the same complex where I had my shop.  We were sort of vaguely familiar with each other.  When installation day rolled around, I loaded all the hardware and installation tools into a truck and my crew and I set out for the house.  I hadn't seen it and I believed the designer when he said that there was wood framing in the wall where the hardware was to be installed.  There was no reason for me not to believe him.  Approximately 14 seconds after I got there the contractor told me there was no wood framing.  Plus the walls were polished adobe.  You can't just Spackle and shoe polish over a mistake in polished adobe.  I was pretty sure I didn't have the tools or the anchors to install the hardware.  The contractor who had lied to the designer about the framing decided to come to my rescue.  He had a hammer drill and anchors that would work and he would install the first bracket just to show me.  Okee dokey.  We went into the first bedroom and the designer measured the drapes and said exactly how far off the ground the bracket should be.  So far so good.  Then the contractor scurried up the ladder and started drilling.  ummmmmm.   The center bracket needs to go in the center.  Not seven inches left of center.  On the upside, I wasn't the one who had totally messed up the wall.  I took over the installation and used his drill and anchors to put the brackets where they were supposed to go.  He went off to find one of the adobe guys to repair the wall.  Sadly that wasn't the worst problem of the day.  Somebody, the contractor, had incorrectly measured the width of the window in the main room.  The rod was too short.  That I could solve, but it was annoying.  The strangest part of this story, though, is that I still have that hammer drill.  I spent months trying to give it back to the contractor and he wouldn't take it.  I think he blamed it for his mistake.  It wasn't the drill that made the mistake.

                Often the key to installing hardware is having the right anchors.  Also drilling the holes in the right place.  Most people won't have polished adobe walls and if they do, they can probably hire an expert installer to put up their hardware.  So I thought I would give you some of my experience with installing hardware.  And maybe hanging pictures because that's something we all do.  The anchor, and therefore the screw, depend on the type of wall you are hanging on.  This is a continuation of my last post about getting the screws to work with your iron hardware. 

               Block, brick and cement take a different kind of anchor than drywall, paneling and plaster/adobe.  Then within each category the anchors are classified by pullout and shear ratings and sometimes type of screw.   It's possible to lose an entire day in the anchor isle of your hardware store while you try to figure out if you really want to punch holes in your freshly painted wall.  Remember always have Spackle and shoe polish.  Unless your walls are not white.  Then you need paint.  

                If you have cement, block or brick walls, you have some options.  In most cases you can use a light duty anchor.  I prefer a plastic plug anchor.  These should work for most drapery hardware and hooks.  They also should work for bathroom hardware although I have found that people yank on their towels which causes bars to pull out of the wall.  So for a heavier duty option I would go with a larger diameter screw that is also longer.  You can go with a heavier duty threaded anchor, but they leave a really big hole in your brick.   

               This chart is for the type of anchor I use for brick or cement and , I will admit, tile.  It shows how much more resistance you get from a larger or longer screw.  When you install with these anchors you need to drill the hole a bit longer than the anchor, then push the anchor in until it's flush with the surface of the brick and use a screw that is the length of the anchor plus the thickness of whatever you are mounting.  The screw should run the full length of the anchor.  This is why the hole needs to be longer than the anchor. Go longer rather than shorter with your screw.

Light Duty Anchor for Block or Brick.  These work really well.

Light duty anchors for block and brick  --  high strength twist resistant plastic anchors
Screw size
Drill bit size
Pullout rating
Shear rating

No. 4
40 lbs
No. 6
180 lbs
No. 8
220 lbs
No. 10
250 lbs
No. 10
1 1/2"
370 lbs
No. 10
520 lbs
No. 14, 1/4"
300 lbs
No. 14, 1/4"
1 1/2"
420 lbs
No. 14, 1/4"
570 lbs
I apologize to those of you who are in countries that use the metric system.  I'm pretty sure these sizes can be translated into metric without a problem and the basic information is still valid.  These are color coded for size  when you buy them.  I didn't include the colors in the chart, but it's useful to know.

              For a Sheetrock and plaster walls, there are a whole different set of options and some of these really depend on what you are comfortable with.  The easy to install anchors have a lower pullout rating.  The anchors that are a pain in the butt have a better pullout rating.  There are walls where I have lived that are  filled with anchor bits because I can't get the anchor in the way I want it so I just push it through.  I don't recommend this but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Generally the anchors you get when you buy a coat hook from the decor store are not pullout rated.  That means it doesn't really take much to pull them out of the wall.  I will say that the problem with drywall is that it really can't hold that much weight..  But here are some options and my thoughts on them.  

It's useless as far as I'm concerned.  When you open the package of hardware that comes with your purchase.  Throw these away.

This is the toggle that ends up lost in the wall.  I don't like them, but the pullout rating for 1/4" bolt is 50 lbs.  I don't want to explain how these work because I hate them.  Ok fine.  Drill a huge hole in your wall.  Close the toggle and push it through.  Hope there is room on the other side for the toggle to open and then stare at the giant hole and wonder how you can mount anything with this.  Pull out the screw and lose the toggle in the wall.  Go get a different anchor.  Wonder how you can use this anchor with the giant hole.  Get the Spackle.  Wait 2 days before trying again.  You can also struggle with what you are mounting already attached to the anchor and screw but that's even more painful.  Just avoid these. 
This is a plastic toggle anchor for drywall.  I use these.  They are easy to use and work well for light duty.  Pullout rating on all screw sizes is 30 lb.  Use a sheet metal or wood screw with these.  After you drill the hole fold the anchor and push it through.  You want the toggle to spring open on the other side.  The screw going through should press the toggle tight.  One of the nice things about this anchor is that you can use a lot of different size screws with the one anchor.
These come in plastic and zinc but I use the plastic ones.  They are easy, you don't need a drill bit, and they work pretty well for very light duty.  Pullout rating is 5 lbs.  I have used wood screws or sheet metal screw with these.  The screw should be shorter than the anchor plus the whatever you are mounting. 
I've not used this anchor, but I like the way it looks.  You don't need a drill bit to install it and you can't lose it in the wall.  The pullout rating for a No.10 screw is 30 lbs.  The screw comes with the anchor.

This is the anchor if you are worried about pullout.  After drilling the correct size hole you put the anchor in the wall and tighten the slide cap.  It stays in place.  Then you use a machine screw with the toggle.  No. 10 - 24 screw has a 200 lbs. pullout rating and a 200 lbs shear rating.  You do have to drill a 1/2" hole.  Remember the Spackle.
               I hope this is helpful. It's always good if you have wood framing to anchor into.  That is easier than any of these anchors.  I have never successfully used a stud finder so I usually just drill the holes I need with a pilot bit and if I hit wood framing that's good.  If not, go with an anchor.  Some of these anchors may be a little hard to find.  I'm sure they can be found online. 

               I did say I was going to tell you how to hang a picture.  This is where I wish I could draw better.  You don't need a fancy picture hanging kit with hooks and stuff.  If you drive the nail into the wall at the same angle that you would through one of those hooks, it should hold a picture without a problem.  Drive the nail down into the wall at about a 45 degree angle.  That's it.

Back to making things. 
Peace my friends