Grease is the Word

I never thought I would start baking bread again but working from home, isolating from the world due to Covid19, and triple digit heat which prevents me from working in my shop, has left me with too much time on my hands. Yes I’m even making sourdough. My starter culture is a couple of months old so it’s not matured yet but it’s getting there.

I’ve been running our KitchenAid 4.5 qt. mixer more in the last couple of months than I have in any given year since we bought it almost twenty years ago. As you may know, bread dough can put a lot of strain on a mixer and I typically let it run for six minutes with the dough hook per batch (2 – 12oz. loaves per batch).

KitchenAid 4qt stand mixer
Model# K45SSWH

The mixer has held up really well. Purchased in 2001 for $249.99, it’s seen a lot of use, and a lot of idle time. There may have been a year long period or three where it just sat covered on a counter.

A couple of weeks ago after a mixing a batch of dough I noticed some dark grey grease running down the spindle onto the dough hook. It had also been sounding “fatigued” when I mixed some dough, much more than it usually did anyway. I was afraid that this fine old machine was on it’s last legs, but once again a little time on Google and the YouTube gave me hope that it would survive a little longer.

It turns out that the grease packed around the gears was just old and breaking down. An $8 tube of food safe grease delivered the next day by Amazon Prime, a little elbow grease and it’s running like new again. Maybe I’ll get a another twenty years out of it!

It was messy as hell but worth it. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the process. There are a lot of YouTube videos that show you how to do it covering about every model there is out there. This is the one for my model:

The Stinger Wet/Dry Vac

The Stinger Wet/Dry Vac

I really don’t remember what prompted me to buy this little vacuum. It was pretty inexpensive. Maybe I had a store credit I needed to use before it expired? Maybe I was thinking I would use it for dust recovery on my orbital sander?

Who knows, but it was small enough and powerful enough, to use on my mini CNC machine so I dusted it off and got to work.

The Stinger Wet/Dry Vac

It was $30 at Home Depot and came with a few essential accessories:

The Stinger 2.5 Gal. wet/dry vac is a compact and portable vac for wet and dry applications. Expect the suction to be just what you need for your home, garage and renovation cleanups. Included vacuum attachments allow you take on a wide variety of surfaces and applications that would be harder to clean with the hose alone. Uses replacement vacuum filter bag VF2000.

  • 1.75 peak HP, 4.0 Amp motor for any home, garage or renovation mess
  • Easily converts into a blower to help clear work areas of debris
  • Included bag filter traps dust and debris
  • Dent-resistant plastic tank provides durability for care-free maneuverability
  • 10 ft. power cord provides an extensive reach
  • 4 ft. hose with car nozzle and utility nozzle help you tackle a variety of cleaning jobs
  • Peak horsepower represents a level at or below the maximum horsepower output of an electric motor tested in a laboratory using a dynamometer
  • Gallons indicated reflect drum volume, not necessarily collection capacity, actual capacity dependent upon type of debris collected, condition of filter and other factors
The Stinger Wet/Dry Vac

The biggest issue I had with this thing was that it was loud. Really loud.

I have pretty severe Tinnitus. It was caused by standing next to roaring chain saws from approximately the age of 5 to 14. Followed by decades of working in restaurant kitchens.

If you go here and play Tinnitus sounds 3 and 6 simultaneously at about 42dB you will hear what I do, non-stop, 24-7. Sometimes it’s seems louder, on rare events I’ll hardly notice it.

The worst part about it is that the quieter the environment around me is, the louder it sounds in my head. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but I cannot go to sleep without something to drown out the noise in my ears. Unfortunately and as much as I’d like to, for various reasons I cannot use music. So for the last few decades I use a TV. Fortunately most TV’s now have a sleep timer so it doesn’t have to run all night. I can set it to shut off after 90 minutes or so.

Anyway, getting back to the vacuum. I needed the machine to serve as dust collection and a blower to keep the bits cool on my CNC machine. For efficiency’s sake it had to be fairly close to the CNC machine. Which meant it would be close to me when operating the CNC. The CNC was already loud enough the combination of the two was beyond deafening.

The Stinger Vac alone is 93-95dB, pretty loud for such a small vacuum.

I really don’t need to damage my hearing any more than I already have so I decided to build some sound reduction for it.

My first attempt was less than stellar, dropping the noise level only a little over 10 dB.

The add on baffle I built for it made it much more bearable with an over-all drop of 30dB.

Spatula Part Two

The compression rivets got here about a week sooner than expected so I was able to get this project done, with the exception of some fine tuning. It’s just getting too hot to work out in the shop any more today.

My Fave Spatula

So I’ve had this spatula for nearly forty years, since shortly after I first moved to Tucson. I haven’t taken the best of care with it that last few years. Running it through the dishwasher without treating the wooden handle regularly has desiccated the wood.

I’ve removed the the wood and compression rivets. Unfortunately I could not salvage the stainless steal compression rivets but I’ve ordered new 3/16″ x 3/8″ rivets from:

They will arrive in a week or two. Oh yah, I also had to order a new 3/16″ brad point bit to countersink the rivet heads.
My plan is to use some scrap African Mahogany for the handles, but that’s it for now . I’ll update when the rivets come in.

Router Insert Update

Oddly, since I have been able to work from home I have gotten very little done in the shop. I did manage to round over the edges of the handle for the router lift mechanism though.

Router Lift Handle
Here’s how it was for months prior to this weekend.

Sharpening Jig/Station

I had to use my adjustable height bench for my work at home desk so I bought a Workmate 225 as a temporary substitute for a workbench.

I made my first jig for it last Saturday, sharpening jig that holds down my diamond plate at one end, and a glued on strop on the other end.

Work from Home

For obvious reasons I am now working from home. I spent 2 days re-arranging, and cleaning, my home office so I could add a second workstation.

I decided that for now I would use my Husky adjustable height workbench. It has a couple of advantages:

  1. I can use it as a standing desk
  2. I wouldn’t waste time, and money, looking for something new, online or in person.

Vacuum Upgrade (part 2), The Baffling

I use a vacuum to keep my CNC bits cool and clear of sawdust in addition to vacuuming up the dust. The vacuum I use is a little shop vac that is really loud and as I explained in the previous Vacuum Upgrade post the exhaust was too powerful. I just wasn’t getting enough negative airflow for the suction at the back of the hood.

I hoped to solve both problems with a sound baffle that I could mount to the top of the vacuum housing. I decided to add a 2 inch baffle to the lid of the vacuum enclosure.

Some weather stripping and caulk sealed up some air leaks and a couple of coats of paint finish the project.

I took some measurements along the way with a decibel meter app proving this project was worth the time and effort put into it.

The shop vac outside of the enclosure was particularly loud even for a shop vac at 93-95dB.
With the enclosure but before the baffle it was 80-83dB.
With the enclosure and the new baffle it dropped to 63-65db.

I consider this 30dB drop a major success!

Note: I realized long after creating this post that I never discussed the vacuum I was using.
Well here is a separate post about it.

The Iron Rocking Horse pt. 3

Here’s where production slowed big time. I kept fine tuning parts and the ways to mount them but the big problem was designing the base and the way I was going to mount the motorcycle to it.

Eventually I asked a neighbor to weld a piece of 2″ angle iron and 3/4′ black pipe into a kind of inverted cross. I used a long 3/4″ boring bit to drill out the hole vertically from the bottom of the chassis and epoxied the black pipe in to the hole. The angle iron ran perpendicular to the bike and was sandwiched in between some 2″x6″ pallet wood.

I had pallet wood I was going to use for the runners but they were badly twisted so I bought a 14′ long 7″ LVL and shaped them into the runners tied together with more of the 2″x6″ pallet wood I had.

There was a lot more sanding and fine tuning, then it was time for paint…

I really love the way this turned out despite how long it took to make and the fact that I pretty much designed it on the fly.

The Iron Rocking Horse pt. 2

I wasn’t at a complete standstill though. While I was endlessly debating the sissy bar , the fork length and the handlebar rise (not to mention how i was going to attach the handlebar) I was making progress on the other parts.

The seat
I made a couple of patterns and laminated the seat out of some pallet wood.

I decided to mortise/tenon in a different kind of sissy bar.

The Iron Rocking Horse pt. 3