Sunday, November 22, 2015

Moving the Workshop.2


We rented a “ Oom Jan built this place!” type of cottage.


You know, the type that everything functions despite the plans coming off the back of a serviette.

The washing machine blew up.

It made such a fucking noise that I phoned the owner up and told him I’m not switching it on again.

He replaced it a couple of days later, at the same time he also brought new prospective future renters for a look see.

Thanks dude.


Nice view.

Don’t laugh at the fire.

Anne and I had just come out of Dusseldorf where it was not easy to have a braai.

You had to schlep everything with to have a braai there and though we had some memorable ones, carrying all the stuff was a drag.

So having one right outside was cool, as was the weather at the time, like 10C


The kitchen that Oom Jan built.


I hate sleeping in hotel beds.

We lived in Elephant hotel in Vic Falls for five years, three days a week.

It cured me sleeping in strange beds, so we brought our own mattress and duvet and cushions and turfed the room mattress at the foot of the bed.




I hung a red cloth on the stairs, because I just knew that I would bash my kop on it.


Anyway, we were still looking for a place.

We like industrial places, not mom and pop suburbia.

Difficult to find in NL.

Trust me, living in NL is a bit like living in a toy train set, everything on time and Oh So regulated.

Then we hit a luck.

We got a semi pan handle.

The owner made us pay the usual self employed ‘I don’t trust you tax’, but we were cool with that.


The back drive way wasn’t the best, but not difficult to get tidy.


As was the court yard.

The courtyard is one of the big plusses with this place.

NL is small, you don’t get free space for free.


We first painted the place out, before we moved our stuff in.


The first thing we fixed was the bedroom and from there we expanded the fixing, cleaning and painting outwards.

We just crashed on the floor for the first while.

I still had to build a bed.


Serious cleaning.

I own a beautiful cleaning machine, just in case you didn’t know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Moving the Workshop--- Part 1


We needed to move out of Dusseldorf and change our business plan.

After four years we were not going forward.

So the first thing was to find a new place in NL.

That is not easy and we started by driving around the Maastricht area ( a 250km round trip) and simply looking at areas we liked and then phoning up maakelaars ( estate agents) and asking to see the shop or apartment we were interested in.

You think?

Before they even let you make an appointment, you have to give your bank account number, your pay slip, your previous rent agreement and copies of you ID/passport etc. etc.

Some even make you pay an entry fee ( and then never come back to you)

It then became apparent to us that the Netherlands discriminates against self employed people—they don’t like you and they don’t trust you.

We were told we had to pay a three month deposit and six month rent in advance, because you know, we were missing that all important pay slip from the boss.

This is basically the first time that we are living in a socialist state where  the government takes 40% of your income in taxes.

And taxes are an anti-business joke. The amount of regulation and legislation borders on the offensive, and exists only to maintain bureaucrat job security.

And winter was coming and there was no way I was going to move in snow.

We found nothing and Anne spent hundred of hours trawling the web, finding potentials and then we would drive over and go look.

Eventually we decided OK, let’s first organize a storage space and then we maybe can get some temporary accommodation while we look for something suitable.

That would cut out the crazy amount of driving we were doing.

So we rented a space at Sureguard just outside Maastricht and started the moving process.

If I tell you that moving a jewellery workshop is a tough job, trust me it is tough.

EVERYTHING is heavy.

When we went from St Martin to Europe, other people moved for us and the result was horrendous.

Every piece of glass was broken and we had big damage.


Like this

So we did it all ourselves.


We hired a trailer and started lifting stuff.


We would park it outside on the pavement during the night with a sign that if it needs to be moved please phone us.

Even so we were hassled plenty by the stassi traffic cops and we even picked up a fine for loading on the pavement.


There was a lot of stuff.


Which we schlepped to Maastricht.


and packed in our storage.


Until it was all gone


And we were camping in our old shop.


This was the day we left Dusseldorf.

Inside Arnold ( our car’s name) were our two birds and the equivalent of Noah’s ark.

I was waiting on the pavement  (again) anxiously watching out for cops while Anne went to deliver keys and do final account stuff.

Our next stop was Bremelen, where we had scored some temporary holiday accommodation (At 600EU for a week).

Friday, November 6, 2015

Vice Stand fitted on the Bench.


We just finished moving the workshop from Germany to the Netherlands.

So that meant that I had to tune my workbench in more finely, because at my old workshop, I had my roller and vice stand separate from my bench.

The new workshop has tiled floors, so I didn’t feel like drilling large holes in the floor.

So I decided to make the vice stand in such a manner that it could be attached to the bench and removed when I move the bench to another location.

This was always my intention anyway, but Dusseldorf was very drillable, so it was easier to set them up separately.


My old stand with the roller and swivel vice attached to the floor.


I cut the stand apart.


First I mounted the roller on the bench

This was how I had designed the roller to be when I first built the bench in 2007.


Once the roller was mounted, I figured to use the other half of the stand for the vice.


So I made two ‘L’ shaped brackets and screwed them onto the bench frame.

I used screws first to see if they would be rigid enough and to leave the option open for welding them on later.

As it was, once the bottom was attached, the stand is very rigid.


This is the underside of the vice plate.

I threaded the L shaped brackets so that I just have to bolt it to the bench.


Then I cut some threaded bar the right length and positioned two nuts on the end.

Then I welded the nuts onto the bench frame in situ.

That way they were perfectly positioned.


Once the nuts were welded on, I trimmed everything to the right length and covered the threaded bar with some aluminium tubing.


The bench weighs about 300 kilo’s, which is more than enough weight to keep it firmly on the ground without having to bolt anything down.

So by default the vice stand is also very stable.

Another addition that I had to make to the bench is my melting system, because in the old workshop I had a separate melting bench, but in the new one, I wanted to keep everything on the bench, as per original design.

So behind the blue sliding door are all my ingots, crucibles and various powders and fluxes needed for melting.


The door slides upwards and there is plenty of room for everything.


The swivel vice holds my home built draw bench.

I have a free tutorial on how to make one here.


All the systems, rolling, melting, polishing, and fabrication are working.

One last thing to do is to finish of the soldering system properly.

Another post coming.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Making a Mobile Workbench



My second mobile bench. Full of hippy paintings. It was destroyed in a fire.

If you want to see more of it click here.

I have moved a lot in my life and I got tired of building a new workshop every time so I started making a mobile bench about 26 years ago.

The first one I made I sold to a partner in business to get rid of her.

That and my Harley Davidson--- that was hard.

The next one I built ( the one in the link) I made with a jig saw and a welder and electric drill and the rest hand tools.

That also was hard.

I built it so that it would fit into a VW Combi camper.

We did shows where I would make jewellery on demand.


.The current one---made out of 30mm hollow steel tubing.

Two shapes like this, one top and one at the bottom.


I made small pieces of tubing so that the top and bottom can be taken apart.


The corner struts are fitted in and later I bolted then together.


The basic frame coming together.

I made the entire bench so that everything can be taken apart.


With the center struts also in place


Here I am welding the table top  strip supports.

When I fit the melamine wood, I want every ‘cell’ to lie lower  than the steel frame.

That way, nothing can roll off the bench.

So basically, the steel is 30 mm square and the wood is 25 mm thick, leaving a 5 mm ridge around the three ‘cells’ of the bench top.


I made a potent wheel system so that it can be raised and wheeled to another place.

The square bar at the side is lifted and locked into place.


I can lift the bench fully laden with the roller in place.

When it is lowered it sits tight on the ground, because it is so heavy.


Frame with the drawer guides in.

This bench works on the KISS principle


I painted the frame metallic blue and fitted the roller.


Building the extraction and filter system for the polishing motor.


Fitting the rotary extractor fan.


At the top is a removable filter. It really sucks well.

The machine is called Linda Lovelace—I’m not saying why.

At the bottom there are two input plugs for electricity.

The middle brown part has a drawer that stores all the polishing buffs.


I used an Abbot and Ashley motor to polish and grind.

At 2800 rpm, it’s got serious grunt.

Behind the buff is the detachable filter unit.


The other side has got a 150 mm grinding wheel on.

On the side so the grinding stuff doesn’t interfere with the polishing buffs.


The front of the bench has drawers for drawing paper, polishing buffs,and a Gravermax access door.

Trust me, you need clean drawing paper and stationary.


When everything is closed, nothing sticks out.

The holes are the handles—you stick your finger in and pull them open.

Rare earth magnets act as catches to hold everything closed.


I use sliding everything.


This is my acid station.

Bi-carb on the left, sulphuric acid in the rear and Sodium-bisulphate on the right.

It has a sliding cover over it.

The inside is glass and silicone.

It doesn’t mess at all.


The black square is my melting area.

It has a steel top and a soldering pad underneath for insulation.


This is the front access door to my Gravermax.

The picture was taken while I was wiring everything up.

The gold  square at the top left is a quick connection for the Gravermax’s air compressor.


Just because I can, I made a brass fitting.


The front of my Gravermax is underneath my sliding gold tray.

I think pouches suck and they waste time and space.


I made a detachable side panel.


It slots in like this.

The two switches at the left bottom are the master switches for the polishing system and the rest of the bench.


It hangs all my most used tools.


Below my melting square is space for my oxygen and propane tanks.

I am using external tanks at the moment.


Door closed.


Everything slides.

This is my soldering pad

I have two third arms, (GRS) one of which I made a third ball joint so it is more articulative. ( new word)

My solder holder is on the right.

It has a flip up lid so that my cockatiel does not eat the solder pieces.


This is my burr tray.

Everything has it’s place.

The burrs fit into a clear 6 mm sheet of Perspex.

Below  the Perspex is a sheet of paper which annotates the size or type of burr that goes into the correct hole.

This is not an OCD thing.

It is simply that I don’t waste time looking for a burr, and It cuts my work time down to the minimum effort.

Bench 1 (22)

This is my slide out for all the immediate tools needed.

Pliers, files with the handles marked to indicate what file it is, five hammers and my main triblet.


This is the bench as it stands today.

I have been working for four years on it already.

This picture with the gold tray removed.

I added the microscope a bit later.


The top drawer contains buff sticks and Gravermax and hand setting tools.


The second drawer beading tools, pens and setting stuff.


Everything can be broken down, including the hanging motor support and the lights as well.


Here with the gold tray in in place.

The second and third drawers contain gold and silver stock like plate, bars and wire.

The two foot pedals are for the Gravermax and hanging motor.

The overall dimension are 1250 mm long, 700 mm deep and 900 mm high.

The middle cutout is 580 mm wide and 350mm deep.

The tray is 670 mm high from the ground.

And I don’t hit my knees at all.



I like black to show up gold and diamonds.

But I will spray paint the tray to a different colour like purple just because.


Sawing peg.

I use GRS everything.

I have the roller on a separate stand at the moment.


I use two architectural lights with 100w reflectors in.

I lines the inside with aluminum foil so the covers don’t get so hot.

If I pitch at a new place all I need to do is plug the bench in and I can make jewellery right away.

Click on pictures to make them bigger.