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Sure, the music is a little bit moody for my taste, but (even without sound) this video does a great job of documenting the making of an axe from forging, heat-treating, and sharpening the head down to cutting, spokeshaving, and finishing the handle — all in about six minutes. There’s some great cinematography, too. Enjoy, and we’ll see you next week.

 

In a quest for better ergonomics, YouTube videographer pocket83 designed a simple and creative mod for the handles on his drill press by hollowing out a few golf balls. He removes the original plastic nubs on the rotating handle, drills out the rubber cores of a few Wilsons, and replaces them with threaded nuts to create larger handles with a smoother rotation.

I can’t help but wonder if there are common concerns people have with big shop tools, the way 1990s Grand Cherokees seem to usually have transmission problems, A/C failure, and a creaky driver door hinge (ours was a ’97 and I still miss it).

Are there known issues with your favorite tools, and if so, do you have simple modifications you recommend to keep them running smoothly?

 

It’s pretty easy to think that modern tools and techniques are the only way to reduce a piece of stock to size. In fact, methods handed down since edged tools existed are still extremely effective. One perfect example is riving — taking a chunk of log and reducing it to the rough size and shape for your project by using a stick and froe.

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The Predator has been around for a while. It weighs over 500 lbs., has a reported 300 hp, and can cut a big-ass log like the one you see in the video in under two and a half seconds. No one needs a v8 chainsaw; it’s not cost effective, not gas efficient, and (we’re guessing) not the easiest machine on the ears — but man, is that thing cool.

It seems to be humanity’s collective nature to take things too far. Often it doesn’t work out that well, but in some cases, like monster trucks, jet powered kayaks, or v8 chainsaws, it is something to behold.

Predator 2.2 Second Run [YouTube]

 

When this video starts off, you think, “Wow, look at all those great tools.” By the time it’s done, everyone I’ve shown it to is quietly thinking about the importance of this one idea and this way of thinking about the tools and who uses them. And it begins to dawn on you that Skip here is a genius and a treasure.

It’s amazing to me that places like Liberty Tool exist at all. It would be easy to be cynical and say he’s just selling tools, but I don’t believe that’s all he’s doing. Whether they mean to or not, Liberty Tool is preserving a history, promoting a level craftsmanship, and giving artists and workers a focal point to leverage their skill upon — both now and in the future. It’s a simple but powerful concept we don’t see much of today, and for that our hat is off to you, sir.

There’s No Place Like Here: Liberty Tool [Vimeo]

 

Happy Friday, everyone. Sean sent me the video above, and I had to share. What you see is the making of a John Neeman axe. As others have pointed out, the sale of handmade products — especially bespoke products — put food on the table of artisans. So we love to see the process, and we also like the idea of spreading the word about their products. The forge has always struck us as pretty primal, and watching someone use one to make one of the oldest (and most useful) tools around seems like a great way to end the week.

Enjoy, and we’ll see you next week.

UPDATE: Apparently the original video owner decided to make the video private on Vimeo. Thanks, Aleksejs, for pointing out an alternate YouTube link in comments. I swapped it out above.

 

A disclaimer up front for this week’s video find: After all the difficulty I’ve been through in the last few years — and the far, far worse crap I’ve seen friends and others go through — I freakin’ hate conspicuous consumption. Seriously; there are FAR better ways to express one’s identity than buying some damn expensive and unnecessary item. So please forgive the absurdity of paying $200k+ for a car that doesn’t functionally do much more than a Malibu.

I chose this video not because of the product these people are producing — but rather because the individuals who produce them and the surprising facts about the way the cars are made really caught my attention. Specifically, Bentley factory staff tells us in the video that woodworking represents the most complex task in building the cars, and therefore is the first task they start when building a car. (Apparently all Bentleys are custom-order, not built on spec.) Despite the assembly-line appearance of the factory and the application of automated tooling whenever possible (note the CNC laser-cutting of veneer, for example), Bentley employs a ton and a half of skilled woodworkers to craft the interiors of their 7,000 cars made each year.

Those look like interesting people. I’d love to meet them.

Have a good weekend, and drop us a line if you get a chance to let us know what you’re doing out in the shop or on the jobsite.

 

According to the YouTube poster, this is a clip from the show The Secret Life of Machines. In the video, the host describes the concepts behind the electric light — specifically the idea of resistance heating to create light. Here comes the fun part, though: he demonstrates with a welding power supply and some good old wire and carbon filament.

As you might imagine, it gets a little messy. I love the first YouTube comment: “Molten metal? I’ll just brush it aside with my tweed jacket cuff.” Heh.

Anyway, don’t try this at home (obviously), and have a good weekend (doing safer things in the shop).

 

The Boeing 777 is an amazing piece of hardware for a number of reasons. It’s one of the first aircraft to heavily incorporate computerized design to reduce testing time. It’s a two-engined aircraft that’s proven so reliable that it’s been certified to fly previously four-engine-only routes. It’s pretty amazing. But did you know each one (like previous Boeing aircraft as well) are hand-made — like a Ferrari, or a Lamborghini?

We leave you this week with the above video, which was created by Boeing to tell everyone a little bit about not the 777, but rather about the people who build it. In roughly seven minutes, we get a little peek into what makes those thousands of people go, from their childhood dreams to their introduction into the mechanical world. All of this comes together in carefully-coordinated teamwork — and a product that many cross-continental travelers bet their asses on every day.

What I see are a bunch of folks who like what they do and care to do it well — whether people are watching or not. That’s just awesome. Enjoy.

 

Despite TV’s focus on the motorcycle craze, a number of folks pour their souls into building bikes of the human-powered variety. This video tells the story of Ricky Feature, a British bespoke bike builder who “started with little more than basic materials and rudimentary tools such as a file and torch” and proceeded, driven by his own “personal perfectionism,” to establish “an impressive reputation for his handcrafted bicycle frames.”

For what it’s worth, if I had zillions of dollars to spend on a bespoke product, I’d visit a guy like this instead of heading to Savile Row.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to spend some quality time in the shop!