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    To wedge or not to wedge

    I've had one with a round/ hollow wedge that came loose. Wonderlockem works very well to tighten and lock a dried-out handle in. I wasn't sure that it would be worth the price because I had tried the blo soaks without much to show for it. Loose but not falling-off hammer heads were back in action overnight. It's been about three months since I treated all my hammers so I can't really speak to the longevity at this point. I've also found that some factory handles last a whole lot longer than replacements do. I was given to understand that some factories use a press to insert the wooden wedge much further than it can be pounded in with a hammer or mallet. Paint helps to seal the end-grain of the handle. I've also found that wooden handles last longer if they're fit to tighter tolerances. Brent Bailey has a video on how he does it. One thing I started imitating is to mark the new handle to indicate the face or the peen side while I'm paring wood to fit. I think I was reversing the handle orientation during test fits. After trimming all those "high spots" it was loose no matter which way I tried! FWIW, Brent uses wonderlockem on his new handles. He's made a lot more hammers than I ever will. As for the debate about steel wedges, I doubt that blacksmiths would find a piece of mild steel to be a major obstacle. I probably have twice as many steel cutting drill bits as all others combined. Even so, a small hole on either side of a flat wedge is usually sufficient to get needle nose pliers in to finish the job. Typically, I end up drilling the wood out just to save time.

    Who keeps the plans?

    This thread has revealed many interesting points. I really appreciate everyone's input. JeepinJoe, good on you for putting the basics of accountable design into your contracts! If clients followed your lead, more of their projects would get built. Maybe this is too extensive of a question, but I'm interested to know if it's legal to have a "pay when paid" provision in a subcontract. General Contractor typically have a provision that states that they aren't obliged to pay the subcontractor for work completed until and unless the General Contractor has been paid for said work. For the purposes of this question, let's say that the subcontractor has 100% completed their work and everyone is happy with it.

    Who keeps the plans?

    Slag, Thank you very much for your legal explanations! It's never made sense to me that design contracts essentially exclude every negative outcome the client would be hiring them to avoid. This makes much more sense as a dodge, and I must admit, it's an effective one against the laymen who often eat crow when things go wrong. I'd like to encourage you to write a post about things along this line. I had a "contract law" course as part of my construction management degree but they never touched on any of this. I'd love to know how I could go about determining what is and isn't allowed in my state.

    Who keeps the plans?

    Slag, Your post is very interesting and timely. I've solicited design proposals from engineers on several occasions. On the most recent bid, all of the proposals included provisions that exempted the engineer from responsibility financial or otherwise for ; cost impacts, failing to meet regulatory approval, and omissions in their own designs. I've read Architectural design contract templates from the AIA and these same exclusions are very common. Many times, the specification manual will have lengthy passage(s) which stipulate that it's the bidders responsibility to inform the architect or engineer of any errors, omissions, discrepancies, or other relevant issues before the bid, or else the bidder will be held responsible for the consequences of same. If they've exempted themselves from liability via contract, or via specifications which are part of the executable construction documents, would the regulations you mentioned apply? Also, I think I should clarify that the projects that fail to pass building plan review, are generally revised and resubmitted however many times it takes to get to permit. I suspect they may be meeting the liability requirement by doing all the revisions necessary to get a permit at no additional cost. To the best of my knowledge, there are no consequences to the design team for the time lost. While I am curious about all of this, I think most clients and contractors can't afford the time or the money to seek legal solutions to design team problems.

    Who keeps the plans?

    George, You've nailed it on the cozy relationships being a deterrent to throwing blame around. Cities really don't have much excuse for their design contract procedures. If they can write in liquidated damages penalties for construction being late, why can't they write in penalties for the Architects design coming in over budget? I'm not aware of any penalties for designs that don't pass building department review either.

    Belt Grinder

    Lou covered a lot. I have a grizzly which sports a 1 Horse, fixed speed, single phase motor. While I'd concede that there are many downsides to this machine, I wouldn't say that it's under powered. I suspect the 2HP recommendation was driven by the use of variable frequency drives and three phase motors. Running the motor slower would reduce it's effective horsepower. Working with an angle grinder, it's not as obvious that finer grits generate a whole lot more friction than coarser grits do. Unless you can slow the belt down, the only way to control stock overheating is by limiting contact time. That's what I have to do with my Grizzly. It's got plenty of torque for rough grinding. High grit belts on thin/small heat-treated metals is where everything has to slow way down. If you see yourself doing a lot of profiling and rough grinding, a fixed speed unit like the Grizzly is a fine choice. However, if you're looking to take stainless filet knives to a mirror polish, it's probably not the best machine for you.

    Who keeps the plans?

    George, I think these mandatory collaborative systems are a response to the shortcomings of the one-sided AIA templates. You're right that most projects happen without resorting to a court case, but that overlooks the scores of potential jobs that stall out because the "norms" of this business are unworkable for the clients. I regularly see projects with progress percentage milestone dates marked on the title block that go back six months to a year. It's incredible how many of these jobs spend more time in design than they do in construction. From the client's perspective, the "live model" is a way to see just how much time the design team is actually spending on their job. The jobs I'm participating on have an eight week deadline to get 100% complete Construction Documents. I could name twenty jobs in the last month of similar size, scope, and regional area that were in design for nine months or more to get to the same point. I don't think we're dealing with a Herculean design team either. This same group did one of the aforementioned 20 jobs that took nine months to achieve the same thing. I think they know they're being watched, so they're not dividing their time with other projects. I suspect for many of these design professionals, seeing one job through to completion would be much less frustrating than jumping around to whatever job is the most behind schedule. I suspect the next focus of these collaborative systems will be to tie cost impacts to everything in real time. This would slay another design phase problem, blowing the budget. It's never made any sense to me at all that Architects don't have their own estimators on staff. The courtesy budget check from local builders has devolved into a sham bid. There are local design firms whose budget check at 50% drawings always passes, yet the 100% construction set consistently blows their clients budget. On the surface, it sounds obvious, half the stuff was missing at the budget check so it's natural that the price would be lower then. OK, sure, but that's assuming that the half that was missing is a complete unknown to everyone. That's not the truth. The design team knew the broad strokes of what was missing, and chose not to share that information at the budget stage. Any contractor who included costs for all that hidden information on the budget round would be ignored because they're now the highest bidder. Any contractor who exposes the design teams malfeasance, risks incurring their wrath on future work. The client doesn't know who to believe, but it's reasonable to assume that if informed decisions were made in the first place, the whole thing would be less expensive.

    Let’s see some fire pokers

    I have a buddy who made himself a 4" x 4" x 3/4" thick swage block with grooves on one large face of varying sizes. The opposite side is flat and the whole thing has a handle welded on with a hook to he can hang it up. Before welding small wire stuff like those basket twists, he pre-heats the swage block in the forge. Then he sets it on his anvil with the grooved side up. When forge welding the basket twist, he puts the twist in the closest sized groove. That keeps the wires gathered while welding, while also keeping him from flattening the weld. Plus the pre-heat helps to buy some time on the forge weld. He never has to get the block above a black heat to serve the purpose. It works very well.

    Who keeps the plans?

    Kozzy, I really appreciate your comments. The exposure of not having access to your files, heck, even knowing that your files weren't tampered with, is just too much to ask. I suspect you're quite correct that most savvy design professionals are going to find a way to keep bootleg a copy of their work. I also suspect that it's just a matter of time until some horrid client sues their design professional for using a bootleg copy to defend against a liability claim. Frosty, You're right about the games and the nonsense. I think this tech is introducing a new wrinkle. While everyone is focusing on the client and design team relationships, the software company running this stuff gets overlooked. I think it's a data capture game with high stakes for anyone who doesn't see it coming. Before I mentioned digital estimating programs. Well some of the most expensive programs are "free" to use on bid-letting systems. The General Contractor invites subcontractors to bid using a bid-letting system that has all the files for the project. These bid-letting systems strike a deal with industry-leading estimating programs so a sub can "do your estimate for free". I'll say this much, if they're letting you use a $2,500 software package for free, you're not their real customer.

    Who keeps the plans?

    Fair point Frosty. I actually spoke to an architect about this situation and specifically asked about the liability concern when the design team can't curate their own files. The tone of the conversation changed immediately. They hadn't considered it before, but within a few minutes they were sounding out the same sort of security concerns that plague social media. As for that Architect who only dealt in paper plans, I think it's worth pointing out a few things. #1, the Architect has to produce plans and specifications known in the trades as "contract documents" for the purposes of bidding. To the best of my knowledge the copyright protections of their plans don't change regardless of whether the plans are digital or paper. #2, His "beef" with digital plans is likely drawn from an architectural standard that dates to when blue prints were actually blue. In the old days, you couldn't scale the drawing to measure anything for the project. You had to use the dimensions provided by the Architect. This is because it's incredibly labor intensive to draw the plan by hand. If the Architect discovered an error in their drawing, they could correct the written dimensions without being forced to redraw the entire thing. Modern Architects love to leave this requirement in their specifications because it's a "get out of jail free" excuse for their errors. The flip side of this issue is that since virtually everything is BIM or CAD, the drawings can be quickly adjusted to match needed dimensions. It's so consistent that most Architects don't bother to generate scaled drawings with sufficient data points to actually locate everything you'd need to know to bid the project. They know we're using digital systems to measure their drawings so many architects don't bother with putting a dimension on every individual thing. I think the crusty Architect was simply trying to generate a catch-all excuse to avoid responsibility for an incorrect dimension. He could blame it on the scanner on the first go around, then he could claim you should have added up his dimensions to get your measurements. When you point out that he doesn't provide sufficient dimension lines to achieve that, he'll just counter that by saying that it's the bidders responsibility to ask these questions before the deadline. All of which naturally ignores the fact that the deadlines are much too quick to allow sufficient time for the back and forth question game to end in a complete bid. This sort of "gotcha" set-up is very common with design professionals who work for unscrupulous clients. Being clear, concise, and fair would lead to paying the going rate for the project. Laying traps and playing "keep-away" with basic information doesn't happen by accident. I recall winning a project this Architect had drawn by exposing the cost of a sole specification product to the client. The cost difference between equal products was enough to fund the second phase of the project. Corruption is very expensive.

    Who keeps the plans?

    Jeremy, I think most design professionals would have a contract ensuring their payment for their work in whatever form it takes. The "old way" of doing things was for these same professionals to develop, improve, then finally submit the final versions of their work to the client. Communications were via meetings, calls, messages, mail, and email. At the end of a job, those design professionals kept all their notes, calculations, versions, communications, and designs. Non-disclosure agreements kept them from selling that information to the clients competitor, but they kept their work files for later reference. In the past, some Architects claimed copyright protection on their designs to prevent clients from sharing the plans. That reminds me of one particularly curmudgeonly Architect who refuses to allow digital versions of his plans to be circulated. He set up an exclusive contract with one print-shop that only provides paper prints of his projects. If you want to measure plans like it's 2008, you have to buy the plans, then have them scanned into a digital file yourself. Thomas, That's an interesting point but I feel there's a worthy distinction. A forum is purely voluntary, the information posted is how members generate value to offset their free access. The collaborative systems I'm talking about aren't optional at all. The design contract stipulates that all design work, and communications must be done on the collaborative system. Nobody has permission to take files or communications offline. The client's staff do not communicate outside of the collaborative system at all. I also think there's a worrisome consideration with regards to security. The client doesn't own the collaborative system. The software firm running the system is quietly collecting a lot of information. Not just about the project, but about the individuals working within it. Taken in sum, the software firm has a lot of potentially lucrative applications for that information. I suspect an engineer would pay dearly to have access to their old project files in the event of a liability situation. "Collaborative" is a handy way to explain any number of irregularities in the custodians record! There are some really unethical people in this industry. I can name at least three contractors who change the construction plans and specifications in their file share site without showing an edit midway through construction. They even kept the file-name the same. One of them tried to add a drive-up teller facility to a bank project that way! I only caught it because I happened to notice that the file size had gone up. The "time-stamp" on the file share site never changed which suggests they either figured out how to fool it, or the programs are built to allow contractors to fake the time stamp. Either way, this particular file share site is awfully popular among cheating scoundrels.

    golf club head

    Just tossing an idea out there, but if you're trying to make "woods" why not make the head out of wood with a metal face? It'd be a whole lot easier than trying to forge a hollow metal form. That being said, there's an artist blacksmith whose name I can't recall who welds sheet metal on all the edges with an inflater nozzle in between. She heats the whole thing up, then attaches an air compressor to inflate the work into a "pillow"! Really, really, really cool stuff. I bet a sufficiently thought-out welded sheet steel preform could be "blown-out" to make a hollow club head.
  13. I recently came across an interesting issue when soliciting a design bid from an engineer. The client is using a cloud-based project management system that includes a "live" model of the project. I'm not an expert in CAD or BIM so I specifically asked the engineer about this process. The system allows everyone in the project to access the exact same 3D model at the same time. As the engineer explained all of this they mentioned something I wouldn't have thought of. The client "owns" the project. This means that the design consultants, Architects, and Engineers all lose access to everything they did on the project when it's complete. In this system, even email is contained within the project so even that will disappear whenever the client chooses. Apparently there are strict rules against removing anything from the collaborative site.

    My First Forged Piece

    ColoradoCJ, I live in the same city! There's a company called "Metal Distributors" on Mulberry in Fort Collins. They are open till noon on Saturdays and their metal prices have been 25% of what Home Depot charges. They have a rack of off-cuts that are generally less than 24" but longer than 12" that sell for 15-20% less than their per foot rate. They sell to the public and their staff will cut whatever you need. I don't think they've ever kept me waiting more than a couple of minutes.

    Building a table for my forge

    Pressure, It might have been my post that you're thinking of. I specifically wrote that the rheostat control is less precise and more given to drift. Put another way, the motor won't necessarily speed up or slow down in lockstep with the control. If you put an on/off switch in series with the rheostat you can end up with a situation where the motor won't start and run at the same speed it was going before it was shut down the last time. Starting the motor every heat will save coal but will wear the motor out faster. It's just not a good approach. People running antique electrical equipment are taking a risk, sometimes a big one. The National Electric Code was originally created to assign blame on insurance claims for fires. It took the NEC a long time to get around to life safety regulations which is why really stupid stuff like cardboard insulated lamp plugs were still being sold in hardware stores in the 1990's. In comparison, a gate valve allows the blower motor to run at peak efficiency all the time. The gate adjustment is both infinite and immediate. If you put any sort of witness mark on your adjustment, you can quickly restore a setting. The "leak" at zero blast can be a huge benefit on it's own, as fuels like coke won't stay lit without constant airflow. Beyond that, there's a huge safety reason to having a low blast going constantly. As coal burns it creates a gas that's heavier than air. If your fire is left untended, the gas can collect and push it's way back down the tuyere. If the gas finds a path out the blower and back to the fire, it can detonate. This happened to me with a manual crank blower mounted to a forge. I was at the anvil and heard a weird pop. I turned around just in time to see my forge fire coming in for a landing in the pot! The ash dump didn't do boo to protect my forge. The tuyere was violently pulled away from my pot. The bolt heads were ripped clean off, and the iron pot cracked from stem to stern along the line of the bolts. If you ever look at old photos of blacksmith shops using a great bellows, they make sure to mount them above the forge and they sometimes put in check valves to block the gas from getting into the bellows. I bet more than one unlucky blacksmith blew their roof off before that became standard practice.