Author Archives: Deadline

Chain Saw Sharpener conversion to Hobby Chop Saw

As far as tools go the Chicago Electric  Chain Saw Sharpener is not a great tool for it’s intended purpose.  The motor is week, the arbor and nut are plastic, there is no shaft lock to hold the arbor still while you change disk, and so on. That said it seemed to me that it would make a good hobby chop saw for cutting really small stuff like brass rod, axles, piano wire, push rods and the like. Also the price is right at $29.99 for a good hack.

The big thing holding this saw back is the angle. As it was made to do just one job, they built in a fixed angle for sharpening.  I felt that could be over come. There are some other things will need to change too. The chain advancing handle would not be needed, the blade is not right and a proper vise for holding the material to be cut. So lets look at these one by one. The handle and advancing mechanism can just be removed.  We have to remove the red handle to remove the “bake handle” but it’s just a few screws.

With that out of the way we can look at the disk. They make some very thin wheels 3/64″ that have the same 7/8″ arbor. They are 4.5″ and not the 4″ that comes on it. But with a little trimming on the disk cover they will fit. They are much thinner so we will need a washer or two to make up the thickness so the arbor nut (plastic) will properly engage and tighten. Again there is no “lock” so getting a tight grip on the arbor and the arbor nut is not as easy as it should be. I don’t see an easy way to solve for this without replacing the arbor.

Next we need a good working small vice that will stand up to the parts getting hot. This simple $9 job from amazon should do.

Now to fix that angle problem. Remove the C-clip, hinge pin, and spring. Set those carefully aside for use later. Using a square to keep the 90deg angle, cut the base between 57 and 58 mm up from the bottom. Clean up the cut edges so you have the four empty holes. 3D print the replacement insert. STL print file. Use the printed part to mark a hole for a pin screw on the right back side. Use a 1/16″ drill to drill the hole. Carefully work the 3D part into the base. This is a tight fit and meant to be. We don’t want this coming out later. Put in a #4 or #6 – 1/2″ or 3/4″ screw into the hole to lock the the part in place. Re-attache the motor and disk to the base using the pin, spring, and C-clip. Refer to the image gallery bellow to follow these steps.

You should now have a good little saw for small hobby cutting. Have fun and hobby on.

Design your Workshop!

One of the classic problems in a workshop is layout. Deciding where to put things so that you still have room for materials and work to happen but be able to use each tool at it’s station with room to maneuver.   I decided to moving all the saw dust making tools to their own space. I was able to find a workshop design I liked in the SketchUp warehouse. I’ll use a simple saltbox shed design for this.  SketchUP_8 Shed File

To help with the layout problem I used my trusty SketchUp again. Using just the floor and the door of the shed for reference.  I modified it to the size I need. Then found most of my tools in the warehouse and moved them in so I could check the layout design and spacing. Using the layers it is a great tool for working out the details before you cut any lumber.  This way you can check to see that the plywood still fits through the door and can be run on the  table saw. Sketchup8 Workshop with Tools File

Dryer Box

How to build a heating Dryer Box

Plastic absorbs water. Moisture absorption (also known as water absorption) is the capacity of a material to absorb moisture from its environment. Type of plastic, temperature, humidity, how stored are all factors to how much is absorbed and how fast. When heating and then trying to mold plastic this a bad thing. Heated water turns to steam, expands 100 times it size and generally just makes a mess of the pull. So, how to get the water out of a sheet of plastic before molding?

Easy, you dry it. Yes, dry it. Heat the sheet plastic to a warm but not mold able state and bake the water out. Then mold, the now dry plastic with no problems. Polycarbonates are partiality sensitive to absorption.  So all you car body makers out there, need a Dryer Box.

A Dryer Box is easy to make. Think Easy Bake Over scaled up. Using heating duck board, a few 40-100 watt light bulbs, and temperature controller you can build a box with a few shelves that will hold your plastic the 4-24 hours it needs to dry before use. Times very based on temp, water absorbed, type of plastic, square area exposed excreta. Search for your plastic type, the recommended drying temperature and time. 

Simple materials to come by. I got mine at Granger.  Cuts easily with a box knife and yard stick.  Goes back together with the aluminum tape. Folds nicely with V groves. You can even use the tape for door hinges. It is important to put in a vent. You want the water to escape so add a 2″ vert hole in the top. Note the step cut in the door edge above. this makes a good seal. Worries about making a box, watch some HVAC videos that cover it all for you and you will be a pro.

I mold 2’x4′ sheets so mine is bigger than 2’x’4 on the inside. Works great. holds several sheets at a time.  Is a good way to dry paints, wet molds, cure epoxy, bond solvent type glues and all manner of other uses.

This a quick build in a few evening. Wear gloves and protective gears as the board is fiberglass and will be exposed until you get it all taped up. 

The simplest way is to use a grill temperature probe from the Grill department from your big box store (about $10)  and swap out light bulbs until you find the combination that keeps the box at temperature you want. I fine 2- 60 watts and a 40 keeps the box at a nice 125-130F.   The other way is to build a  STC-100 controller. There are several videos, here is one   How to build a Temp Controller with a STC-1000

Vacuum Form Machine Enhancements -Cheaper Heaters

Building Cheaper Heaters

One of the biggest costs to building a Vacuum Form Machine is the Heaters. Right? Well maybe not.

So kits are the simple way to go. As seen in the related article you can just order kits. They come with all the stuff you need. Spend an evening or two drilling holes and forming wire and poof, you have heaters. See Kits Here. For my first 2×2 that’s what I did. It was quick, no muss, no fuss and you wire them in. Not cheap mind you easy and quick.

What if it’s not as costly as we think?

When you look at the kits you get to thinking. At a rough cost of $60+ per 6 in x 24 inch panel you start to wonder what if one breaks? Yes, folks they do break, they are like light bulbs in that respect. They are good until they’re not and then you need new wire.

here. The key information is getting the right amount on each 6″x24″ board. The magic number is 42 ohms.  For the 220 v systems you need each panel to meter out at 42 ohms. They need to be balanced to heat evenly.

So boards. The suggested material is ceramic fiber board. What is ceramic fiber board and why do we want it? Well it turns out that ceramic fiber board is used as shelves in pottery kilns. It’s cool stuff designed to get very hot (up 1500 F), be somewhat easy to cut, used a few times and when to much glaze gets on it, and it is thrown away. Yes, tossed. If you have a pottery firing place near you, you might find it there. If not you might try what I did.

So what else gets fired in a kiln and takes high heat?  Well, the ceramic & porcelain, right? What are floor tile made from? Ceramic & porcelain. Now, I can’t find any information as to what heat a floor tile is rated for but if it can be fired in a kiln a few times to put glaze on (at 1500 F or so ) then it should work for us. And it does nicely. Cheap 12 in x 24 in white floor tile from your local home supply store is much better than any Hardi-backer.

Cut it with a wet tile saw into 6 in x 24 in (or a little under so it fits nicely in the ceiling grids). Lay out the hole pattern and mark it. Drill very carefully with tile bits and water. Lots of water and very slowly. The bits won’t last, so you will need several. Drill the corners first with fresh bits! As you can see in my photos, old bits and corners don’t mix and you get a break.

One tile makes two boards so you only need 2 or 4 at $2 a sq foot. With the wire, which has been spun, measured, and stretched on the kit frame. Affix with cotter pins “loosely”. Bolt the ends down and through to the heavy gauge 220 v wire on the back and light them up. Mine sit side by side with the kit ones and have been going for a year.

Building a MSE-6 Droid

Making a MSE-6 Droid R/C Car body

The goal of this project was to build a MSE-6 mouse droid in time to take to the con.
Ok, Plan B: will be to turn a mold in to a shell and then the shell in to an R/C droid for next years con.

Droid Mold  Droid top and bottom shell   What your finish droid should look like.


  • Join the yahoo group for MSE-6 mouse droids. Ask around for where to get, buy or order MSE-6 shell. Get no response.
  • Spend seven months building a home vacuum form machine (See how here)
  • Use the pdf plans from yahoo group to build form to build wooden mold. See nice photo gallery below. Invent new math to make the angels work out because plans are not complete or correct.  The mold is about 19 inches. 10.5 inch wheel base for standard R/C car components. NOTE: These are scaled! Not full size.  About 86%. If there is demand for Full 1 to 1 scale then I might build a second set of molds.
  • Use new home Vacuum Forming machine to make MSE6 shell on the molds you just built. See cool vacuum pull videos below.
  • Looking for Greeblies and Side panels!

Free Foamies Plane Plans (Fan-Fold and Depron)

This list is a compiled list of Foamies Plane Plans that I have run across. Plans of the planes are linked where available. Links to the sources in case where for sale.

Good resources for finding Foam Plane Plans:

Good place to buy your Depron- RC

Good place to buy DIY brushless motors (CD ROM motor kits)-

Good place to buy carbon fiber tubes/rods/woven –Aerospace Composite Products

Good place to buy RC motors, batteries, servos, etc. REALLY CHEAP – Hobby City

Here are some stats on other Foam Plane options I considered from their plans:

Plane Plan Motor Wing Span Prop ESC Batt Plans
ElectriFly RimFire 22M-1000 Brushless 31″ 10×3.5 8-Amp 3-cell 350-700mAh
FrogForg GWS IPS-A (5.86:1 Gear Ratio) 34″ 9×7 GWS ICS-50 2-cell 120mAh LiPo Frog_Instructions
Old timer GWS Dual IPS-A (5.86:1 Gear Ratio) 44″ 11×4.7 GWS ICS-100 2-cell 700/1200mAh Lipo
Staggerwing GWS IPS-A (5.86:1 Gear Ratio) 31.5″ 9×7 GWS ICS-50 2-cell 1020mAh Stagger_Plan
Tinabob 2 GWS EDP-50XC    Carbon Brush 24″ 3×2 GWS ICS-100/100E 2-cell Li-ion 7.2v
Pond Baby 280 brushed motor 27-32″ 6   8.4v 600 to 800mAh
Pelican GWS EPS-300c “2S” (2.80:1 Gear Ratio) 42″ 7×6  GWS ICS-300 2-cell 1200mAh LiPo Pelican_Kit_PDF
Baby Shark
Baby Shark
 Brushless Outruner 24″ 4.75 x 4.75 to 6 x 5 3 Amp BEC 700-900 mAh 3cell LiPo babyshark-plans
Nano Bi Plane


 GWS LPS-RXC-A ?” GWS 8043 2-5 Amp 450 – 650 mAh 2 cell LiPo Nano Bi plane
Fokker Eindecker
Fokker Eindecker
      LiPo Fokker_Eindecker
Micro Moth-balsa
Micro Moth
  ~9″    RFFS-100 LiPo Micro Moth
Micro Pitts-balsaMicro Pitts   ~8″   RFFS-100 LiPo Micro Pitts
Micro Pterodactyl  two hextronics 20 gram motors or other 50W motors 52″    one CC Phoenix or Thunderbird or other 10A controller 500mah – 800mah 2s -3s Li-Poly Micro_Pterodactyl
3D Fish   38″     LiPo 3D_Fish
SE5aSE5a_32   32″     LiPo SE5a 32 inch
Sea BB ESC-ELE 2100Kv
Blue Wonder 1500Kv
Suppo 2208-14
GWS 5 x 4.3
GWS 7 x 6
APC 5 x 3.8
10 amp ESC
10 amp ESC
18 amp ESC
3s 700 mah LiPo
3s 1000 mah LiPo
3s 1300 mah LiPo
Sea BB 26_34_42
SharkShark Grason Hobby Micro Jet V3 30″ APC 6 x 5.5 20 amp ESC 900-1500 LiPo 3 cell Shark Plans
Silent MiteSilent Mite   28″ 8 x 4.3   3S1P  LiPo Silent_Mite
STCSTC  IPS A / CD Rom 35″ 8 x 10   340 – 1300 ma 2/3 cell LiPo The STC
STSSTS  GWS 350 D gear 44″ 9 x 11   800 – 1500 2/3 cell LiPo The STS
Uni Fuse
Uni Fuse
Universal Fuselage N/A Any  Any Uni_Fuse

 With so many other good plane plans available to build just pick a project. Happy flying!


Vacuum Form Build part Fourteen


Here we are at step 14 and Operation.

To make it possible to plug in the vacuum form machine, I needed to install a very large Over/Dry size outlet.  For me this meant running 35 feet of #6 copper, wiring into new outlet, and adding the largest breaker in the house power panel I have ever seen.  Not at all a little scary. That done, I now have the power I need to operate the vacuum form.  We used an oven plug rated at 55 amps. It won’t run the whole 2 x 4 but it should handle the a 2 x 2 or 2 x 3. It will in fact take two different circuits to power both zones of the 2 x 4. Each zone needs about 30 amps. Remember this is like running two kitchen ovens at once.    

With the house wiring done, the build is over and now begins the testing and operation. For this we now need a mold and a huge sheet of plastic. It’s been almost 6 months since the start of this build. It’s time to find out if the effort we have put in will pay off or burn the house down. This is always a good time to double check everything. Have that buddy come over and double check your work or stand by with the fire extinguisher.

First test: The goal will be to use the Vacuum Form machine to turn these new sheets of 4 x 8 plastic, a new mold (see Building a MSE-6 Droid) into an R/C car body. Here’s the plan.
4’x8′ sheets of ABS   + Droid R/C car body mold  + Vacuum Form Machine  = MSE-6 Mouse Droid?

+ + = ?The Droid you want

We will see.

Vacuum Form Build part Thirteen

The Holding Frame

I wanted the flexibility to use the vacuum form machine in whatever size configuration best fit the job I was working on, 2 x 2, 2 x 3 or 2 x 4.  So, my lift frame is a simple 2 x 4 angle iron design with some added easily moved cross braces. Two screws and I can quickly adjust the lifting frame size to match any of the three Platens. Then just swap the Platen and you are off. To do this I will also need top frames in each of the 3 sizes. This set of photos shows the 2 x 2 setup with the top frame clamping to the lifting frame. The top frame is oak with neatly screwed corners and a very tight fit. The side slots allow for large size paper clips/clamps to hold the plastic sheet in place. You might think this would not be enough to hold the plastic, but the clamps do a great job and are easily replaced for a few bucks a box should they get tired.

Vacuum Form Build part Twelve

Top Cover

The heater box is covered with a vented cover. The cover is important. It is over lots of hot 220v wire and the heat from the back of the heat tiles must escape. It’s also important that things ( spiders, cats, mice, etc.) and dust don’t accumulate on the back of the heating panels. This could cause a dangerous fire hazard.  If I let the machine set for anytime at all I remove this cover and blow all the dust off both sides with the air compressor.

I revised the design a little adding support and for efferent use of materials. My design is made of 4 pieces allowing the top cover to be made from two 2′ x 4′ sheets of ply instead of requiring a full 4′ x 8′ sheet. The end to end size is 52″, just over the 48″ width of a sheet. I couldn’t see buying a whole sheet for just 4″ so I added a 1×6 seam down the middle with from some scrap from one of the earlier steps. This makes the top stronger and saves half a sheet of 1/4 ply. My hope is the added strength will prevent sagging. Since the cover is over lots of hot wire and exposed to heat be sure to seal the wood on both sides and use Hi Temp paint on the vents. 

Vacuum Form Build part Eleven

The Plumbing

In this step we show how the Vacuum lines get hooked up when using the Two Stage systems with two tanks, two gauges, a selector valve and a main vacuum valve. These photos don’t show the check valve but there is one, right on the pump line.

Again this is a step that I thought shouldn’t take long. But it does. Working out what connects to what, how long that hose is and which fittings are needed where is all on you. There’s no parts list of what to buy and what size pipe thread fits where. This took several trips to several plumbing departments to find all the right fittings. And no I didn’t guess right the first time and yes I have a few parts left over. 

I start here with the pump and tanks I used and deciding where to place them. There is lots of room to work with. I moved the the tanks to under the valve to try to keep the hose lengths as short as possible since longer hose means less vacuum.