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Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm just a drilling, sawing, grinding, sanding kind of gal!

Last night I took the Metal Shop Basic Safety and Use class at TechShop as part of my education to build my little travel trailer. In the 2 hour class we used six machines to make this aluminum bottle opener. I'm not even sure if it works but I think it's the bees knees because I made it! :D

We started with a piece of aluminum that we'd traced the opener pattern on with a small Sharpie, then cut each of our openers from a longer shared strip using a cold saw.

The funniest thing about the cold saw was that because I'm shrimpy I had to use both hands lifted high over my head to pull down the black handle to the right to move the blade down to cut my metal. I felt like I was on a tv game show spinning a wheel or pulling a giant lever. LOL

Next we took our projects to the drill press and drilled a hole to create the inner curve that fits over the bottle cap. Sorry, I didn't take photos during the class because I was too busy learning. I took all of the machine pictures after we were done.

Next we went to the vertical band saw which was the only machine out of the six that I found scary. Your fingers are moving your project towards the blade and if you slip you could seriously hurt yourself. But if you focus and move slowly you shouldn't have a problem. We used it to make two straight cuts removing the rest of the metal around the hole we'd just drilled.

Next we used a horizontal band saw to cut off the other straight edge at the end of the handle. This was a more safe feeling machine than the vertical band saw. Here you place your project into the machine, set the proper settings, hit a button and wait for the machine to lower the blade and cut through your metal.

Next we took our projects to the disk sander to remove the burrs along the edges. Some of us used it to also round the exterior corners which were still squared and rather pointy.

And last but not least we had the option to finish using a tungsten grinder to further buff off small burrs and to remove the oxidation from the surface of the metal making it look more shiny and new. This is when my hands got filthy dirty but it all washed off with regular soap and water.

Safety tips when working with any type of rotary tools:

Do wear protective goggles or safety glasses
Don't wear long sleeves
Don't wear loose or fitted jewelry like necklaces, watches or rings
Don't wear gloves

Especially for the ladies, I want to say that if you have a TechShop or something similar where you live, go and learn your way around the equipment and build some stuff! I think the thing that keeps us (as women) from using machinery like this is societal norms. Well guess what? Industrial arts are not just for men! Believe me, you can do it too. After making my trailer I'm looking forward to making some of the cool things I've seen on Pinterest with my new found skills.

To follow the entire build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

*Disclosure: Because we invested in the San Jose location of TechShop, hubby and I are now lifetime members.

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