Little Magnets vs the Bubble of Babble

I’ve recently moved offices at work, and am taking the opportunity to do a pretty ruthless cleanup at the same time. 10 years of accumulated junk really builds up fast. Lots of items that were kept on the assumption (or hope) that they had residual value, that they would prove useful down track.

In my case, this is 10 years of accumulated IT related items, so the half life on it is only 12 months or so, not a decade!

If an office is a junk magnet, then a shed is a neodymium magnet for it. Talk about a junk attraction! We actively seek stuff out to be stored out there ‘just in case’, and when we don’t (or we finally throw something away, despite the code violation that it is) we curse the day it would have proven useful after all.

Even today, when I had a chance to get out there for a short stint, I found myself locating new niches to store the ever important objects without a current purpose. It is a hard step to take, but I have to start to ask myself some hard questions:

Not whether an object is useful now (or potentially in the future), because the answer to that is inevitably “absolutely”.

The question to ask is “given the cost of the real estate this object will occupy, is it worth keeping based on its value?” If you have a box of odds’n’sods, the individual items may not occupy enough space to sway the balance against then, but the box of unfindable objects as a collection might be a different story!

I have made a decision (hopefully I stick to it!), the next time I am out there, I am going to be ruthless with my undefinable collections and see just how much I am left with at the end. Could be fun (?)

Perhaps I should bag it up and donate it to a more code complying shed (or drop it off at the local Men’s Shed).

Alternately, throw a handful into each Stu’s Shed showbag for the next Melbourne wood show!

Have a barrel of it at the wood show as a Woody’s version of a ‘lucky’ dip! (A lucky dip that requires the participant to have an up-to-date tetanus shot……hmm – perhaps not!)

The MagBroom (Prototype)

“This amazing, fabulous, incredibly versatile broom can be yours for just 5 equal payments of $19.95.  And if you buy in the next 10 minutes with your credit card, you get a second one for free!”

Yeah, whatever.

Back to reality, and here is another (prototype) jig I came up with ages ago for the MagJig.  Course I didn’t get around to building one at the time – was hoping MagSwitch would bring out a commercial one!  I did suggest it to them 😉

Anyway, it took a total of about 20 minutes to fabricate my own.  The idea of course, is for when you invariably drop a whole bunch of screws/washers/bolts/ferrous whatevers all over the floor, and need to pick them up, lost in the drifts of sawdust.

You can use a magnet if you wish, but scraping the findings off the bottom invariably leads to metal splinters.  And just sweeping it all up conventionally leads to a lot of wasted, frustrating times picking through the sawdust to find the small, elusive items.

My idea then was to use the switchable convenience of the MagJig, and its strong magnetism to make the job a breeze – or a clean sweep!

To start, I took a block of wood to carve into.  After cutting to length, I used a forstner bit to make the initial angled cut so the holesaw I needed had a good platform to bite into. (If I had the right size forstner bit I could have skipped that step).

Broom Handle Hole

Broom Handle Hole

Having the drill press laser made aligning the hole so much easier (and the pro drill press table’s clamping system).

Broom Body Cut

Broom Body Cut

This is the resulting broom body, with the broom handle hole tapped, and 2 forstner holes cut for the MagJigs.  I could have simply used a 19mm thick piece of timber, but instead this gave a much stronger joint for the handle.

The MagBroom

The MagBroom

I’ve also added a couple of wooden wheels to each side, so the magnets are held off the ground at a fixed height, relying on the strength of the MagJigs to pick up items, rather than having to actually contact them directly.  It also means I can roll the broom over the ground, picking up items without those items then causing problems – catching sawdust, getting knocked off the magnet etc.

Broom Head

Broom Head

The wheels provide approximately 5mm clearance.  There is no real reason for wooden wheels – they are from the toy wheel cutter, and just happened to be available, and the right price.  This is a prototype after all.

The Pickup

The Pickup

I gave it a test drive by throwing a few screw hooks on the floor into the sawdust.  A couple of passes with the MagBroom picked them all up without a hassle. I then placed the broom over the storage container, and turned the magnets off, allowing the parts to fall away.

This photo gives a better view of the wheels, and the end of the broom handle (which was sanded flush).  I chose 4 wheels rather than 2 so the whole bottom was kept level.  Not so critical when just using the 2 magnets, but I was (and may still intend) to add a full ferrous plate to the bottom of the broom.  The only problem was the plate I originally chose seemed to drop off the magnetic strength significantly.  Not sure why – either I know a lot less about magnetism than I thought, or the metal plate I chose was not the right material.  More research required.

Or perhaps not – like so many prototypes, if it works too well, it never gets beyond the prototype phase, as the jig then becomes version 1.0!

Toy Clock Design

I’ve just been playing around in AutoCAD designing a toy clock for the Holmesglen Toymaking course that I am running end of November.

Here’s a quick look at progress so far:

Toy Clock

Toy Clock

The idea is that each of the removable numbers will have a number on them – possibly carved – haven’t decided!  They will be made from a piece of dowel, and the holes cut with a forstner bit.  The overall clock cut out on the bandsaw using a circle cutting jig, and at the rear of the clock there will be a stand that folds away so the clock can either be used flat on a table, standing up on a table, or hung on a wall.

Overall dimension is 300mm diameter for the clock, with each number being 20mm diameter.

One (good) suggestion is to fit magnets underneath each number – definitely sounds like a good idea (so long as they are affixed strongly enough – do not want a child eating one – or rather eating more than one – that is very dangerous.  However, if mounted properly, this isn’t a problem.)

I’m also now thinking about how I could have a removable mechanism so when it is not being played with, and is hanging on the wall, that it actually works as a real clock.

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