Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Making Tunable Tubular Wind Chimes

If you want to make a really personal gift for someone or create something special that will give your garden or porch your own personal flavor. Really pretty wind chimes can be really expensive to buy, but they can be really affordable to make yourself and it doesn't take a whole lot of special skills. If you can handle a drill, tie a knot or operate a saw, then this project should be a breeze!

You can build your chimes out of anything tubular. Even solid hardwood can make a lovely sound, like marimbas. You can also make your wind chimes out of tubular metal, bamboo or even plastic - virtually anything that makes a musical sound when struck by metal or wood. You can even tune your chimes to play the notes of your favorite tune - not necessarily in order, but enough that when the wind blows, you'll almost recognize the music. It's really quite fascinating to here the sound.

Tools You Need:
  • Drill and bits
  • Saber Saw, table saw, band saw, radial arm saw or any saw that can cut the material you are working with and wood. You'll need the right blades, of course.
  • Electronic keyboard (if you are tuning the chimes)
  • A roll heavy of 80 pound monofilament or multi-filament fishing line.
  • Tubing that sounds pretty when struck (metal, glass, wood, plastic, bamboo, etc.)
  • Nylon cord
  • Small boat hook for hanging the chimes
  • 1/2" hardwood board - enough to make a 6 to 8 inch disk.
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Oil stain (wipe-on)
  • Varnish/polyurethane
  • Brush and paint thinner
  • 3/16 hardwood - 2-1/2 inches by 6 inches 
  • Five small eyelet screws
  • Medium sized hook

Step 1:
Mark off a six to eight inch circle on the half inch plywood. Cut the circle out with a saber saw or band saw.

Step 2:
Sand the edges of the disk, top and bottom rounding all the edges. If you have a router, you can do some fancy edgework.

Step 3:
Draw a 3-1/4 inch circle in the center of the half inch wood circle you just cut and cut it out leaving the circle a donut. Sand the edges round and smooth. Sand the 3-1/4 inch circle's edges smooth and drill a small hole in the center.

Step 4:
Drill a pair of 1/16th inch holes 3/4" apart halfway between the inner edge of the donut shaped disk and the outer edge. Space other pairs of holes so that there are a total of six pairs or holes, each 1/6th of the way around the disk from each other.

Step 5:
Cut the tubes. Stagger the lengths for visual effect or, if you are tuning them, cut each tube to whatever length gives you the note you want. You can do this by using an electronic keyboard or piano to sound the notes as you gradually cut down the chiming tubes. Cut the tube so that the note is a little lower than the note you are going for.

Step 6:
Next drill small holes large enough for the monofilament line to pass through the tube very near the top. Suspend the tube by running a foot of line through the holes so that the tube swings freely when struck. 

Step 7:
Then, gradually shave off the other end of the tube a bit at a time till the tube  sounds the note you want when struck. You can tune the tubes to a chord or to a six note sequence. I know a friend who tuned his notes to the opening of the Harry Potter theme. In a wind it plays variations on that theme and it's quite lovely. Set the keyboard to a chime that sounds close to the material used in the chime.

Step 8:
When finished making the chimes, tie the tubes through the pairs of holes in the O-ring and tie them off. Drill four small holes evenly spaced in the top of the donut and screw in four eyelet screws.

Step 9:
Run nylon cord from the top eyelets in the donut together about 8 to12 inches above the donut and tie them to the boathook. Now you can suspend the donut and the chimes and it will be easier to work with.

Step 10:
Tie a single cord to the boathook and let it run through the center of the donut down through the center of the chimes. Cut it off about a foot below the longest chime.

Step 11:
Drill a hole through the center of the 3-1/2" wooden disk large enough to accommodate the nylon cord. Thread the cord through the disk and tie a knot below it so that it hangs just above the bottom of the shortest chime so that the cord swings freely and the wooden disk striker swings equidistant between all of the chimes.

Step 12:
Drill a hole in the 2-1/2 by 6 inch 3/16 inch hardwood board near one narrow end. Attach the paddle about 6 or 8 inches below the sounder. This paddle will catch the wind and knock the sounder against the chimes when it catches the wind.

Step 13:
Stain and varnish all the wooden parts and hang your chime in a place where it can catch the wind. If you didn't get the chimes perfect they'll still sound good. If you did get them tuned right, the sound will be amazing.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give Your Hound Dog Something to Celebrate on Thanksgiving.

Everybody should celebrate on Thanksgiving including your faithful hound. Here's a neat trick for giving your dog a happy Turkey Day and for getting rid of all those horrible bits and pieces of turkey and those giblets you never use.

First you need a Kitchen-Aid Mixer with the box of attachments. This is essential equipment for any kitchen and a lot of people have all they need for this project in a box shoved in the back of their cabinet that they never use. Drag it out. It looks like this:

Your attachment box may not be as torn up as my box, but it looks like this inside:

This link covers assembling and disassembling the grinder mechanism. Reverse it when your done to clean it out. It's all pretty simple to put together.

Step 1:  Assemble the grinder mechanism as shown in the pictures below. Once you've picked the bones of your turkey and put aside the meat you want to keep, gather up the scraps and bits and pieces, the skin and other edible parts your dog may enjoy. Remember it doesn't have to look tasty to you. It's going to be ground up and unrecognizable.

Step 2: Place a bowl under the grinder outlet to collect the ground turkey. Then just start feeding the
turkey scraps and giblets into the hopper. The corkscrew mechanism inside will force the meat forward past the chopping blades and out through the holes in the front. Just catch it as it comes out. Just make sure not to feed bones into the mechanism. It might simply grind up smaller bones and cartiladge for extra calcium. Your dog can eat it without harm. Might even do her some good.

Step 3: Finish grinding up all the meet and stuff, then take the grinder apart and clean it out good.

Step 4: Bag up the ground turkey in small sandwich sized bags or any size zippered freezer bag you've got.

Step 5: Freeze the bags of turkey. You might want to mark them for the dog, although it probably won't hurt you if you make turkey burgers out of it. It's likely you've eaten worse in turkey franks from the store.

Preparation:  Just take the bags out of the freezer and heat in the microwave for a minute or two. It's already cooked so you don't have to worry about cooking it. I mix it with dry dogfood and the dog loves it.

Note: If you have lots of turkey left, you can run the good bits through the grinder and make turkey burger out of it. Season it and stuff it into sausage casings you can buy at kitchen supply stores and you've got homemade sausages and weiners.

The beauty of doing this is how fast it clears off turkey leftovers and puts them into a convenient storable form that you don't have to worry about going bad or drying out on you. 

© 2014 by Tom King

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Jogging for the Busy Writer

Exercising the Vocabulary: Skill-Tweaking Strategies for Would-Be and Professional Writers

We all get bogged down writing stuff for profit that may or may not be something that's totally in our wheelhouses. Sometimes you just need to do something for yourself. I'd like to invite you writers out there to sign up with Blogspot. This website builder lets you easily build your own weblog. I have six going now. If you want to make a lot of money at blogging, go to Wordpress, but that's not what my Blogspot blogs are for. What I do with them is use them as a personal place for my creative non-commercial stuff and as a dumping place for things I post on forums or on Facebook that I think are particularly erudite and that I hate to just fire off and then forget that I wasted an hour working on that incredibly clever answer to someone's snarky question or comment

Sometimes others' posts and comments can kick you off into a nice essay. So, don't waste it. By creating a humor/philosophy blog, a political blog, a religious blog, a how-to blog (my most popular), a top 10 list blog and a poetry blog, I have a place to put all those bits and bobs I would otherwise waste on mere "comments". Plus, I have a Google Adsense account and have posted their ads on my weblogs. I make a couple of hundred dollars a year off my blogs and the more entries I post, the more money I make on ads. Just make sure to share your new posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. You'd be surprised how many people will read your stuff that way and get to know you as an author. THEN when your book comes out, they're more likely to invest in a copy AND you've got a place to advertise your new book.

Much of the content I post, I make deliberately "evergreen" except in the political blog. If a post is tied to a subject, an issue or a solution to a problem, people will keep visiting it. One of my most popular blogs ever was one on how to unstick a sticky piano key. I was looking for instructions on how to do it myself and found that no one had ever written one. So I did it and photographed the steps and wrote it up. I've had more thank-you notes on that one blog than you can know. My build-it-yourself canoe rack for pickups is another one that's done well. People send me pictures of the ones they have built and I post them.

Ever so often I post a link to an old blog on Facebook to generate traffic. I've had a couple of my posts go viral without my name on them. One, a skit based on Abbot & Costello's "Who's on First" bit has Lou buying a computer from Bud. You can look it up on Youtube. Several folk have posted comedic versions of the skit "Lou Costello Buys a Computer" on Youtube. I had to really work to get my name credited as the writer. I retained the copyright but still give permission to any acting teacher that wants to use it for teaching kids comedic timing. It's pretty widely used.

Anyway, you'd be surprised where your work may wind up or who may see it. You may not make a lot of money, but who knows? A pet interest of yours, turned into a blog, just may take off like Michelle Malkin's political blog or Brett McKay's "The Art of Manliness".

The sidebar to the right has links to some of my more popular blogs on this and other blog sites I write and manage. There's no telling what bit of your recycling may catch fire on the Interweb, but if it's not put out there, you'll never know.

At the very least, when you pitch face forward into your keyboard, you won't just leave behind a long string of random letters on the screen and a lot of debt. Your kids, your grieving spouse and your inquisitive grandkids will be able to read all your old blogs and see what is in reality, a personal memoir of you that will hang there in cyberspace for who knows how long after you're gone? (so be careful what you write, that is if you don't want your tombstone pushed over by a lot of angry relatives).

- Tom

P.S. I originally wrote this for a writer's forum and then posted it here on my How-to blog. I guess that makes me a literary recycler.
P.P.S  My poetry weblog is the one where I practice my wordcraft. I highly recommend poetry as a writing exercise. Writing poetry is like jogging for the vocabulary. I have in mind a workbook I intend to do on using writing exercises in poetic forms as a way to hone your vocabulary and sentence structure skills to sharpen your communication. If you'd like to check out my poetry blog, here's the link.