Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Wheeler Dealers

I'm not much of a petrolhead having only bought my first car just a couple of years back and that's a small practical one.

However when I'm away of business trips I do like to watch some of the car shows on Discovery. One of my favourites is Wheeler-dealers. The idea of the show is that the guys buy up some old car, do it up and then sell it on. What I find interesting is that you get to see the car taken apart and the guys explain what jobs are simple and what tools are needed and what needs to be sent out to a specialist.

Watch Wheeler Dealers on Discovery Shed

You can watch Wheeler Dealers on the Shed channel or buy the DVD.

Whilst I was reading about Wheeler Dealers I spotted Chop Shop London Garage which appears to be the UK's answer to American Hot Rod. Bernie and Leepu build custom motors from scratch in their Brick Lane Garage.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Knebworth Country Show

Over the weekend I visited the Knebworth Country Show, it's not as big as the Hertfordshire County show but it does have a nice village fete feel to it. The first thing I saw was a big tent with "Tools Tools Tools" written on it but I managed to escape from there without parting with loads of cash.

Part of the reason for the village fete feel was that the tents were all shapes and sizes rather than just being square. Next to the bouncy castle were the Knights of Honour, a medieval re-enactment group who were demonstrating armour and wepons, making meals and also running demonstrations in their medieval workshop. A bodger was turning wood and a blacksmith had a small forge where he appeared to be making swords.

They were also teaching people archery which is probably not the best thing to do right next to a bouncy castle!

The show had a good range of crafts, mostly outdoor furniture with a large amount of hazel and willow creations.

One stand that stood out as being exceptional was Stan Jankowski a very tallented copper smith who had brough along a range of fanstatic wind powered sculptures, weather vanes and a large dragon.

There was also an excellent selection of produce from places like Jimmys Farm and talks on Real Ale tasting and ferrets as well as displays of chainsaw carving and miniature pony racing.

Just as I was leaving I saw this little steam traction engine giving tours around the show. Unfortunately I did not find out who was running it as they were quite fast and steamed off before I had chance to talk to them.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Big drill bits

There's quite a few different types of drill available in your local DIY store but for making larger holes you need a more specialist tool.

Blacksmith Drills

These are large sized drills with a smaller shank (typically 13mm). They are great for the home workshop as they will typically fit into a standard drill chuck. Take it easy with them as they cut a lot of metal on each revolution. Also be aware that they are quite long and as I did you might have a problem fitting the bit into the drill.

Hole Saws

Hole saws typically come in a kit of several different sizes. A central shaft clamps the whole thing together and holds a pilot drill to guide the saw. The tooth pitch on hole saws is usually a little coarse for drilling metal but you can purchase finner pitched saws which are often used for tube notching.

Hole saws are often designed for use in masonry and you can get very large core drills up to a metre in diameter.


I've recently spotted these on the web, they are a drill that uses insert tooling on the tip. They come in sizes up to about 60mm but also have large diameter shanks, typically just 5mm to 10mm less than the drill size. The initial drill purchase price is high. However, if you needed to drill a very large number of holes then the inserts would soon prove their worth especially as each insert has multiple cutting faces. As with other insert tools, savings can be made on not having to sharpen the cutters.

Broach Cutters

These are typically used with magnetic drills when working with steel beams in the construction industry. Rather than remove all the metal in the hole they carve an annular hole pushing out a small disk in the middle and hence are often called annular cutters. A pilot pin locates on a centre dot for accuracy and as you drill is pushed inside the cutter holder compressing a spring. When the drill breaks through the pin is released ejecting the slug of metal from the cutter. The pin also has a flat or groove on it which allows cutting fluid to flow down through the cutter to the work surface.

Many thanks to Bob Johnson of Magdrill UK Ltd for providing the pictures of these magnetic drill bits and clarification on the purpose of the pilot pin.

The Fabricators guide to mag drills

Bigger holes?

If you want an even bigger hole then you might use a jigsaw for thin sheet or a plasma cutter for thicker materials. It's not easy making a round hole with a plasma cutter but I once watched welder Laura Downie make it look easy in an episode of scrapheap challenge.

And finally, a link to a page about Post Drills these a drills attach to a post or wall and possibly were the inspiration for the Mag Drill?

Workshop Practice Series