08 July 2014

Knives: EDC knife usage

After presenting his everyday cary (EDC) Adam Savage worked at his Leatherman holder on youtube. So yes those shiny pocketable knives and multitools,  I think I need them,  but what for?

Every day use like opening packages and letters,  cutting fruit, ... and many other things, I hear. So I went for youtube in search of the 'many other things' as  there are many EDC knife demonstrators there, carrying up to five blades.  Listing what I heard the main usages for a knife are: showing one more knife, fast one handed opening, tactical use, cutting paper and battoning. Yes, and on youtube the main usages of a plane are making thin shavings from a perfectly flat scrap of fine wood and setting them on display shelves.  So the knife usages:

Showing knives
To do that I ransacked my storage and came up with some, and for good measure bought two extra online.
From the seventies, my camping knives: A non locking folding knife (a nameless hippekniep),  his Opinel n° 8 replacement, a second thoughts Opinel n° 10 (4" blade),  just to be able to cut bread decently. I added now a new shiny stainless Opinel.
A pocketable-keychain leatherman, pink for a good price, but then I have to find a use for pliers.  Maybe it's more something for fishing.
Two pocketable Victorinox.

Fast one handed opening
I can one hand open my Opinel in maybe 4 seconds (with and without usage of the Opinel knock),  but that's way slower than American knife slingers and the closeness of my thumb to the edge would get too much attention of the youtube safety brigades.  Although ... there is no such thing, having seen so many people slide their fingers over blade edges. It's sharp or it isn't, there is no try. I found sharp with my first, factory sharp, Opinel, using just the weight of the blade (0.5 oz).  Sharp is safe,  whatever safe is.

Tactical use
The stab and slash jobs. Many American knives have a tactical look and are categorized as such,  but apart from that I do not hear much self incriminating talk or demonstrative tactical usage on EDC youtubes.   Personally I had some formal knife fighting training,  but in practice I am even too slow to run away. Anyway what I can carry here are knives as a tool not as a weapon.

Cutting paper
I am not so good at sharpening but yes it's not a problem if the paper is thick enough.  Shaving is another story, although I like to quote the following "I have found the diameter of human hair to range from 17 to 181 µm" to explain part of my problem. I expect the thickest hair to be 1000 times stiffer and way easier to cut than a thin hair.

I made many campfires without any knowledge of battoning (that's using a knife as a froe) even if I have to believe youtube, it is the main bushcraft® knife skill together with the use of ferro rods on the back of the knife. On the other hand splitting wood to make a Swedish torch seems a good way to make a smokeless, low maintenance fire. [edit]Seeing later on a Mors Kochanski presentation I was pleasantly surprised to see more than the bare bushcraft® basics.

Eating fruit
Rather not.  I can of course, and for example an Opinel does a decent job.  But I usually cut fruit and vegetables with a low angle blade (7+7=14° micro bevel), so a more standard edge, even razor sharp, doesn't cut it.  The added problem is the need to clean the blade before closing the knife.
A Japanese knife person, Virtuovice made an illustrative video of the apple problem on youtube.

Opening packages
I receive my packages on a predictable place and that's close to my kitchen knives. The only way for a pocket knife to enter the competition is a fast one handed draw.  Speed is what Adam Savage was going for, with his multitool belt holder.

Cutting ropes
As a boy scout we did extensive amounts of rope joinery.  The only tool needed is a saw and a knife to cut rope.  Cutting rope with an ax was the alternative,  but things can and will go wrong with an ax and then the whole joint needs to be redone.

A good use of a knife,  I think that cutting meat is one of the main traditional reasons to carry a knife, but it is not my problem.  Surprisingly some hunters say to have worked with mid sized, and even out of necessity with the smallest Victorinox knives.

Is seldom mentioned as an EDC knife usage, but it's a good reason to carry a knife.

Pen knife
When I asked my father he said that he carried one in the thirties, he used it as a pencil knife as sharpeners where not common then.  Pens where already in metal so no real pen-knife-manship.  The other reason given was tradition, as a part of 'formal' wear.

Sharpening and such, the Lincoln way:  The art of knife maintenance.   There is for example a Japanese who thinks that all Opinels even the old ones are shiny, he calls it To assembly from degradation of OPINEL it's not only poetic but also very thorough. Me it's all about nicks (I call them serrations) and stained steel.

I decided to try it out by adding to my EDC a smallish Victorinox (with pen) in my pocket, I think the flat screw driver used for prying is more useful than the knife.  Technically: it's the Signature Lite,  where I had the tinner Signature (without light) in mind. I already used each of the five utensils once.  Yeah! ... but mostly at home

On my desk I already had, not a multitool but, multiple tools like screwdrivers and scissors,  I added a shiny Opinel blade to see if it can be useful.

31 March 2014

Number magic

I read the first half of By Hand & Eye,  that's the  George Walker  part, the second half is by Jim Tolpin. I was not too happy with it.  That's the information part of this post,  the rest is sort of a rant.

After some thinking I focused my dislike in three parts - it's sort of a long rant:  American taste.  Whole numbers,  there is no harmony in drawing.  Classical order in columns.

... that was it,  we are a few months later now,  time to create and finish that post.

Whole numbers,  there is no harmony in drawing.
I liked George Walker post about the Golden Rectangle where he exposed that the close relatives of the golden rectangle: 3:5 and 5:8 feel just as right. But as I discovered through the book, for him it is about the exact whole number proportions,  where for me it's about the ballpark of the golden rectangle.  And that's where for me drawing differs from music.  If in music proportions 2:1 (octave) 3:2 (quint, violin tuning) 4:3 (quart, guitar tuning) ... can be very precise,  I don't know if we need or can achieve a similar precision of proportions when just looking.

American taste
Even if we share much in common with USA-Americans,  it's for example difficult to not see the Simpsons every day - even dubbed in French, sometimes there is a difference. The book uses three pictures of a high boy to ilustrate design.  For me it's a good example of weird looking furniture.  It looks as a semainier, a small seven drawer chest.  The square body  is set on overly curved legs,  probably animal legs,  going for a baba yaga style.  With its legs the top drawers stand too high and are inaccessible.
To finish there is a top that makes me think of a French pre-revolutionary hair piece, unsurprisingly as the periods agree.  The whole can be seen as anthropomorphic,  with its legs, waistline, round faced central top drawer and hairpiece. And with anthropomorphism we go Disney style.
To be fair we have here in town also an overdecorated period (17th century) thing,  probably never liked by everyone. Specifically in may 1944 a keen eyed pilot followed tram tracks towards the church and led it's bombers flight into hitting the church (hitting the center preserving the front) and many other things,  missing their target, the large railway station covering a surface of over 40 football fields, 1km east. The google earth picture shows the narrow street and church on the left and a small part of the railway station right.

Classical Order in columns
Classical fronts are uncommon here, classical columns as discussed in the book, are nearly inexistent.  My house is an exception it got a neo-classic redesign and front in 1830+ without columns. But things changed overt time, in 1950 for example the first floor lowered it's ceiling from 4m to 3m, impacting the appearance of windows. So it's not a pure classical form anymore.
As far as I know there is only one example of columns in town,  also dating back to neo-classic tastes of 1830+.  And as the picture shows it is preserved architecture,  as the building has already been recreated a few times and this time only the front was left to stand. But if I measure the size of the building - order depends on size,  I could check if this is the classical order of Vitrivius or Alberti, Serlio, Palladio, Vignola, De l'Orme, ... ,  but then and now a building is more than exact  proportions.

Being me, I am more interested in the origins of the Doric order rather than its standardized proportions. Certainly the functional wood origins of what would become later decorative aspects.

What I do share with the book is a liking of classical sophisms, here I think to have found one:
"Ornament and mouldings must have a function. While we think today of function as primarily a structural element (a way to meet a physical requirement), the craft idea of function was much broader, because the definition of function included visual appearance."

 Next time I hope it will be about a book I do like.  But then maybe I prefer books I don't like.

05 March 2014

System D

Looking at Pierre Ricaud's  Comment construire en bois (1985 for my edition, although most of it looks like 1960), I see only one page dedicated at the construction of a workbench. A French workbench by nature, even if I have seen  different models that are just as French.
The dimensions are mentioned,  more or less 200cm long, by 50cm deep and at least 6cm thick. The possible wood species: oak, hornbeam (is he from the Mulhouse area?), beech. Breadboard reinforcements (2) and (3). That's it,  where the book title states it's about how to build with wood, the rest of the text is about accessories. 
So? The right leg has a shadow,  are the legs not flush?  The joinery? The dimension of the legs? Can I go for archaic Roubo joinery? The height?  How do I fix the breadboards? Can I laminate the top?  ...  
All these questions are for the reader to answer,  they probably fall under System D (système D).  The D stands for démmerde or débrouille.  Démmerde is, I guess, the main action after the shit hits the fan and débrouille is to untangle,  but more specifically: you're on your own,  solve it . Here, up north we rather say tirer son plan (draw or pull your plan)
Système D (systemed.fr) with D from débrouillard is also or is it before all a DIY magazine since 1924.  Although, seeing the umbrella holder on the first cover, it's more likely the D from Dadaism.  Duchamps is it you?

The second holdfast (10) on the picture is interesting,  it's an hinged holdfast with a cammed handle, allowing to unlock and raise the holdfast in one movement.

A second page describes some extra clamping add-ons and two saw sharpening jigs,  one for band- and frame saw blades the other for circular saws; and a Zyliss.

10 February 2014

Hand cranked drill press

Touched by envy after seeing Chris (from Chop With Chris) making a dog sled without power tools, I refocused my envy from his telekinetic abilities to the tools.  So yes, a post drill,  what about that.  Looking on a second hand web site I found one, or rather something close: a hand cranked drill press with closed gear box, unknown to me but the price is probably lower and it's faster (up to 600 rpm).

The first impression is that it has much in common with a standard two-gear closed-gear-box hand drill.  Too much in common, my first reaction was to search how it works, as no separate depth setting is visible. After opening the drill and some trials this is more clear. Surprisingly apart from the extra high speed crank axis, gear by gear the drill is similar to a post drill.  It just lacks two extras: the lateral flywheel and a freely rotating depth setting threading.

So the main difference is that for depth setting the axis is directly threaded and and not through a threaded cap on top of the axis.  The situation is then similar to a bolt and nut where the axis is the bolt and the depth setting wheel a nut.  The moment the drill is cranked, it lowers fast.  When the material is reached and the drill engages, there is a pressure build up on the nut until it starts slipping like nuts do when a bolt is tightened.  When through drilling the pressure lessens, the axis is pushed deeper until the nut fully slips again. To make slipping more easy the nut is set on a ball bearing. And as the nut turns mostly together with the axis it is also build as a flywheel for added comfort.
Some extra fun is that when drilling is done and the crank is stopped, the flywheel will continue turning, pulling the axis back up.  If this is not enough raising the drill can be done by cranking backwards.

There are two bolts at the top of the gear box.  The left one presses through a spring (and a missing part, probably a bearing ball) on the flywheel to increase friction and by this the downward pressure.  The right one needs probably to be filled with grease (it was dry and rusted) to keep everything slippery and wear free. Slightly tightening the screw injects some fresh grease.  I hope that greasing will lessen the friction over time as it is rather high when using second gear,  but that's probably the way it is.
Is it usefull?  With it's automatic pressure control it's maybe too brutal for small diameters on wood.  But as the seller told me it was his favorite tool in his grandfathers workshop fifty years ago.