Monday, March 31, 2014

Another Busy Weekend

That was another busy weekend, with lots accomplished.

Friday night I got another 3 or 4 little square soft pouches ready to lace. 

Saturday morning we temporarily misplaced our marbles, and went to Ikea for a bench for the not-yet-purchased proof press. It was busy. Fortunately, we knew what we wanted and where in the warehouse it was, so Ron dropped me off at the door, I commando-shopped, and he met me at the loading area. 

While Ron put the bench together after lunch (preceded by a stop at the grocery store),  I messed around with bottles - I figured out the dimensions for the parts for some triangular bottles I got ages ago, and modified the design for the square, spherical, and cylindrical bottles so the straps come down and are independently riveted to a bottom piece, instead of all 3 or 4 being attached together with one rivet. Yes, it uses more rivets, but they'll sit better this way. Drew the new parts in CAD, cut out the parts, assembled, did a test-fit, then adjusted the designs slightly, re-printed, covered the new patterns in clear contact paper, and cut them out. 

Coming up with patterns is tedious. Really tedious. After that Ron and I went into production mode. I cut and marked pieces, Ron punched holes and cut points on strap ends (with an end punch), and punched out 1-1/2" circles with the biggest self-centering punch, I put rivets in place, and Ron set rivets. I think we got the parts cut and assembled for a dozen spherical bottles in the same time I did coming up with the parts for two triangular bottles and modifying/making the new designs for one each of the sphere/square/cylinder. Or maybe faster.

After that we went out to Emmett's Brewing Co. in Palatine and had drinks and snacks. 

Sunday morning we repeated the process for a dozen of the cylindrical bottles, and put snaps in everything from both days. So now one of the Max's drawers is fairly full of bottles that need their leather collars hand-stitched and trimmed. That will finish them off. Of each dozen we did 8 black, and then 4 browns (2 golden, 2 red-brown). It seems like an awful lot of bottles, and a lot of black ones, but we think they'll go well at ACen, and we usually sell more black of whatever than brown whatever.

Then we worked on hanging pouches. We knocked the corners off of edges of the backs, dyed the edges, and then used the new cordless Dremel tool to round off/burnish the edges. I started while Ron cut leather and thinned it for belt loop-ish tabs, then Robin cut tabs out with a die on the big press. Mark and punch holes in the belt-loop-ish tabs and the places where they go on the backs, attach studs (which hold the parts together, then I went out to the machine and sewed them together, and sewed the flaps onto some. We did the edging and put tabs on 8 hanging pouch backs, and flaps on three of those.  

Then we did some more shopping, looking for an easier way to trim hard pouches, after gluing the fronts and backs together. We looked at Ace Hardware, then went to Menard's. We narrowed it down to oscillating saws, like this one from Dremel, or this little Dremel scroll saw, which packs down into a carrying case and can clamp onto a workbench. We decided we'd have more control with the scroll saw. The oscillating saws are big and chunky, even to Ron, and there's not a lot in the way of guards near the blades.  

Got it home, Ron tried it with some scraps while I glued hanging hard pouches together, then turned me loose, after warning me the saw pulled to the left. I did a couple little test cuts, then had at it. 

Not the best idea. Results were not good. Let me clarify - the cuts were fine, not any rougher than a knife cut, but control was the problem. The saw did indeed pull left, probably exacerbated by me trying to cut to fast. Ron did better than I did, and probably will be taking over sawing pouches. We should have practiced more. One of the pouches was salvageable, and will be laced. The other two were cut too close to the body of the pouch for lacing, but they can be hand-stitched. I got all three ready for stitching/lacing (marking and punching holes, marking and setting latch locations), which included fussing around with the cleaning up and burnishing the cut edges (hello again, Mr. Cordless Dremel) on the two that will be hand-stitched. 

Got the lacing about 2/3 of the way around the pouch that wasn't a complete cutting fail. Fortunately, lacing hides a number of sins, and cleaning up the edges on the stitched pouches helped them a lot, too. I think all three will be fine. 

I found a flap for another hanging pouch that I'd missed when sewing yesterday, and finished lacing two more flaps today (which I'd started last night by doing some fussy bits on), so maybe Ron can try the saw again tonight. 

So, the total for the weekend was:
  • Bottle wraps re-designed
  • 29 bottles mostly-done, necks to be stitched up over several evenings soonish
  • Cordless Dremel bought last weekend used for an extended period, definitely approved
  • Dremel scroll saw bought, tested, operator skill found deficient, but tool should work
  • 8 hard hanging pouches worked on
  • 3 or 4 soft pouches ready to lace
  • Bits of lacing done in odds and ends of time  

A shorter set of bullet-points than last weekend, but we weren't any less busy. 

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