Friday, October 4, 2013

While I'm cutting the second set of inboard and outboard chassis side tubes, I decided that this would be a good time to introduce a surprising 'tool' that has become invaluable to me...

That's right.  It's an every day, ordinary, and FREE paint stirring stick from your local hardware store.  This one has even been used previously for painting, so as to not be accused of any illicit procurement methods...Although with as much as we spend there, the least they can do would be to contribute a few pristine sticks to the cause.  It turns out that while the typical 4x6 horizontal bandsaw has an angle finder to help get it close and reduce the amount of time spent grinding the tube to the exact angle you wanted, it's not terribly accurate.  In an effort to reduce rework, I have been using the paint sticks primarily as follows:

First I have carefully measured and planned out my tubes on my work surface, and calculated the necessary cut angles involved.  I set the band saw as close as possible to the desired angle and cut the paint stick.

After cutting the paint stick, I can carefully lay it over the plan for the tube end being cut next, and make any adjustments necessary.  If there is a mating tube that has already been cut, I will hold their mating surfaces together and see just how close the angle naturally sits to the plan.  I only proceed once this looks to be almost perfect.

At this point, if I'm not just copying existing tubes, I should also have markings on the tube to indicate the length of either the long or short side of the angled cut, illustrated by the slightly difficult to see vertical line on the tube in the photo above.  Then all you have to do is line the appropriate corner of the paint stick up with the correct edge of the measured line, and then copy the angled edge of the paint stick on to the tube with a Sharpie.  With this line in place, and the bandsaw angle set, the tube can be cut.  Thu far this method has allowed me to cut nearly every tube to the exact desired length and angle on the first try, with no grinding required.

I'm sure that there are other ways of accomplishing the same end result, and this probably isn't even the easiest, but it has worked for me.  It also doesn't work quite as easy once we leave the 2D world and enter the 3D world, but it has already more than paid for itself in saved time, reduced effort, and improved quality.

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