I hope this is in the right place for this post - if not, Moderators please move.
Hullo everyone, my name’s Andy (“AES”), I’m an expat Brit living in Switzerland. A couple of months ago I passed the “big seven-oh” milestone and as I’d just decided to finally retire from being a free-lance aircraft engineer, my better half bought me an Excalibur Ex 21 to celebrate. (NICE lady!)
Over the last few years I’ve been slowly but surely setting up a small shop in the cellar at home and with that new scroll saw I’m now just about fully equipped apart from a table saw for which I have no space (though I’m thinking of converting a small Makita hand-held circular saw to cover that lack).
I much enjoyed woodwork back in dim & distant school days but I’m not much of a woodworker really (going up a VERY steep learning curve!), but having a technical background plus the benefit of a decent engineering apprenticeship does help – even though none of the aeroplanes I’ve ever worked on were made of wood!
I play about with both metal and wood and joined a UK-based Forum which is primarily for woodworkers a couple of years ago. I’ve learnt a huge amount from that Forum and as I’m interested in toy making I followed a tip from a member there which led me to this group. I’ve spent some time looking at past posts before making this first post and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot here.
I don’t really see myself setting up to do “production runs” of particular toys, but I do take a point from one of the previous posts that building 2 (or even 3) of a particular toy can actually speed things up as compared to making just a 1 off. We’ll see how I go with that, and I’ve already down loaded the free Mercedes tipper truck plan and bought the Mega Wrecker plan, both very attractive looking toys in my view.
And neither do I see myself as wanting to spend time and effort in selling toys at craft fairs and such, though if I can turn out a few decent toys and word gets around it may be that I’ll get asked to make a few toys to sell. That would certainly help to supplement the workshop budget.
Right now I’m finishing off a large pedal car (much larger than the plans here) which is based on the post-WW II MG TC Midget (Brit 2-seater sports car). It really is a very attractive little car, especially with those swooping front mudguards (“fenders” in US-speak I think?) but at my (low) level of expertise, things like that distinctive radiator grille (and those darned mudguards – ply cross-laminated ply on an MDF former no less!) it’s taking me much longer to finish than I had anticipated. But I AM getting there and if there’s any interest I’ll post some pix when it’s finished (which MUST be before Christmas anyway – this year that is!).
As already said, I’m by no means an expert but to finish off this lengthy post and in response to some previous posts here, if anyone is still awake out there I’d like to pass on a couple of tips:
Handling both Imperial and Metric dimensions:
As you can imagine, as a Brit who first learnt the Imperial system for engineering use, but now living in a firmly Metric country (and with a Metric wife to boot!) I do have more than my share of problems. Add to which, when buying ply, MDF, and ready-planed timber I often find a mixture of both Imperial and Metric sizes – sometimes even on the same piece of wood!
My solution is two-fold – companies like Stanley make excellent steel spring-retracting tape measures with both Imperial and Metric sizes on the same side – their “yellow series”. They’re tough, accurate, not expensive and come in various lengths up to 5 Metres (16 feet).
Also not hugely expensive (I paid the equivalent of about 20 bucks, mail order from UK), there is a digital vernier calliper which at the press of a button will read Imperial dimensions (EITHER as decimals OR as fractions) plus Metric. I would suggest that no one be put off but such a “high-end, engineering” tool. I find that very often it’s only a matter of setting the calliper to a particular piece of stock (the tool has a locking screw) and then transferring that dimension to the next piece to be cut, or to a fence, etc. That's fast and accurate and there's no need at all to worry about the actual reading. But on those occasions when working from a plan it’s very easy to transfer Imperial (fractions or decimals) to Metric, or vice-versa. And again it’s accurate (to 3 places of decimals actually – not that this degree of accuracy is needed), but it is very useful for checking stuff like actual board thicknesses, dowel diameters, etc.
I imagine that with a bit of a web search one can find this tool in the US, but if anyone wishes I can provide the URL of the very reliable UK Company I bought mine from – usual disclaimers.
Finally I have a pocket calculator which not only does the usual functions but which is also pre-programmed with all the Metric/Imperial/Metric constants for converting all the usual (and some not so useful) stuff such as lengths, areas, liquids, volumes, etc, etc. Again less than 20 bucks and I would imagine easily available in the USA. Mine is a Sharp brand though I guess other manufacturers have suitable models too.
I hope the above is of some help and that this “epistle” has not led to everyone nodding off in boredom.