Thursday, January 28, 2010

Final Product (almost)

I didn't have my camera the last few days, so I'll have to rely more on the narrative. I made another saw on the waterjet, modifying one end slightly to look better with the handle I chose. This saw also has same mounting holes as the handle for mounting the hardware.

In thinking about saws, and the possibilities of what it means to obsess over the saw as an aestheticized object, I thought of paint. I wanted to experiment with paint as way to make the saw a saw, while simultaneously as an object that enters into another dialogue with other highly designed objects, and in doing so loses its saw-ness as a functional object, ie: the saw that never makes it off the wall. However it is embedded with a deep narrative behind its function, to which it can certainly perform to its expectations, but may never have to actually be tested as the design will be convincing enough. I thought that painting the saw would confuse the distinction between utility and art object. And certainly the handle enters into this game of oscillation. It sheds superfluous ornament, and unnecessary curves to be a simple handle, yet intentional. There is a single hole for the index finger, referencing a 'trigger', but also providing ergonomic comfort, as a hand gun should.

I was eager to test out the saw after I had finished it, however in my rush to complete it I forgot to make an attempt at tempering it. I had planned on using the oxy-acetelyne torch at school to get it red hot and let it cool again, which would be my best shot at hardening the metal. I called a bunch of metal shops that do heat treating and found one in Pontiac that will temper 4 saws for $28. Anyway, the saw cut like butter until I go about half way down the kiddie pool ice sculpture, when the teeth started to bend ever so slightly at the tips. I'll give a proper heat treating to the first saw I made and see how it performs as a result. That saw will get a t-shaped metal and wood handle, making it a more traditional 'ice saw'.

Next project is hacking the winch to make it lock, and building a bigger gantry crane. I loaded up the justy with 2x10s, which barely fit....I had to chop about 3 feet off the ends of the boards so they wouldn't drag on the ground.

Routing the handle

I've been working on a few different handle designs in Rhino, and wanted to make them out of a nice hardwood. I bought a 5' length of walnut from the re-use center. The wood comes from a group called urban hardwood, which is comprised of several small, local saw mills that reclaim trees the city takes down. All of the trees the city takes down are chipped into nothing, which I witnessed first hand when they took down a huge oak tree in my front yard that had died years ago.

The board I bought was pretty cheap at only $12. I used the CNC router to cut out the handles, and drill the holes for the hardware. I can use the same drill hole geometry on the next saw I cut on the waterjet, so the two pieces line up perfectly. I made 5 handles and still have half of the board left.

I made a few 'country' handles, and couple 'modern' versions. In the end I went with a modern looking handle, sanding it and finishing it with lacquer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Setting the saw teeth

Here is the steel ice saw I made using the waterJET cutter (notice the variable tooth size and rake angle generated in Digital project) I also made a jig using the CNC router to set the saw teeth of my ice saw (which determines the amount of kerf in the saw blade). The jig allows the teeth to uniformly hang over the edge of a 12 degree ramp. Using a hammer, I tapped each tooth until it bends all the way to the mdf. And then flipped the saw over on the other side to repeat the process. It actually worked really well, but this is a long, drawn out method to perform a simple operation. There is a 'saw set' tool that accomplishes the same task. You can buy vintage saw sets on ebay for under $10. I have a bid on one that should win tonight. Then I can ramp up saw production for varying sizes.

Next, I filed each tooth, making it a 'cross cut' saw, which gets a different tip than a rip saw (flat chisels). I think I took too much off the teeth, making the tips pointy and weak, but nonetheless I think I (roughly) figured out the technique. The real test will be trying it out on the ice, but since today's high is 43 degrees, that will have to wait to until later in the week when it gets cold again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winch Locking Mechanism

This is my idea for a winch lock to retrofit to my existing ATV winch, which is a fine specimen at only $59 from northern tool. I need to get this more fleshed out, and make a proper drawing. Then I'll waterJET cut the steel components and attach it to a bracket that I can mount to the new gantry crane.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hand Saw

These are a couple of screen shots from Digital Project showing the 40" hand saw I'm making to cut ice. I used digital project to draw the saw so that I can easily go back and change the dimensions by entering a few new parameters. I've also drawn the saw so that the teeth are variable in size and pitch. My thought was to have the saw capable of cutting in both directions, and taking the most bite during mid-stroke. I have yet to test the theory as I've only cut the first version out on the waterjet. I still need to set and sharpen the teeth before I can put it to use.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Cut

I made my first real cut on the Nudie Pond (this name dates back to my childhood when the quarry was a popular nude beach destination, and on any nice day one could look over the edge of the gravel pit and see a dozen naked sunbathers.)

I bought a chainsaw from Lowe's that turned out to be too weak for the job. It kept bogging down in the ice, which was about 7 inches thick. I made the cut roughly 4 x 10 feet, thinking that I would be able to rotate the piece 90 degrees and have it rest on the bottom knowing that the winch would freewheel until it hit something solid. The wooden gantry held up fairly well, but I never could get the slab to stick to the bottom. It was either too deep, or the ice became too buoyent down there, and kicked out. Nonetheless, it was good to see that I could raise a really big chunk of ice from the water, now I just need to resolve the winch issue. I either need to find another winch that has a locking mechanism built into it, or rig up some type of clamping device.

I was able to get part of the slab to stick out the water, and by that time it was getting dark. I figured this would be worthy simulation of the real thing, and left it for a couple days. I went back this morning to inspect.

It had frozen over very well, and I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting effects going on when the sun illuminated the slab, and the difference in color from the existing ice on the pond and the negative from where the slab was cut.

Next, I need to build a bigger scaffold so I can handle larger slabs, and figure out the winch / locking mechanism. I should also mention that my the test gantry crane is now frozen in 2 inches of ice. I need to devise a better system for the base, which will always get flooded when I cut a slab of ice. There is quite a bit of water pressure under the ice, and when the slab is liberated from the frozen pond, it sort of pops up dispelling a bunch of water.

I'm also working on some drawings for ice hand saws to try out as an alternative to the chainsaw. These will be made using the waterjet cutter at school.

Liberating the Kiddie Pool

The kiddie pool has taken on many roles as a tool to study ice cuts. First it was the lake, when I filled it with water and let an inch of ice freeze over it. I cut a sheet of ice out, rotated the piece, and hung it from a board propped up above the kiddie pool.

That test worked. And then it got really cold...single-digits cold. And the whole kiddie pool froze solid. This served as a near-scale model of a slab of ice I hoped to cut from a pond. I built at miniature gantry crane out of scrap wood, and bolted an atv winch to to the cross beam. I was able to successfully lift the chunk of ice in the air, and pull the kiddie pool out.

And back to the kiddie pool as the lake: with the frozen chunk lifted up, I refilled the kiddie pool with water, and let it freeze the suspended slab of ice in position. This test also worked.

I had two frozen kiddie pool casts bonded together, and wanted to get the plastic pool out. Lifting both of these hunks of ice almost killed the gantry crane, and the weight causes the winch to freewheel back down if it stops getting power (to lift up). I was able to lift everything up and quickly yank the pool out from under the ice. Here is a video of it.