Impressive Sawdust Briquette Machine

When you are a life long carpenter with an amazing workshop, you’re going to make a lot of saw dust, and managing its collection and storage poses quite a challenge. [Russ] from [New Yorkshire Workshop] built an impressive Briquette press to handle the problem.

It’s a hydraulic press that ingests  saw dust and spits out compressed briquettes ready for fueling his rocket mass heater. The build starts with a batch of custom, laser cut steel parts received from Fractory. The heart of the machine is a 300 mm stroke hydraulic cylinder with a beefy 40 mm rod. The cylinder had to be taken apart so that the laser cut mounting flanges could be welded, slowly so as not to deform the cylinder. The intake feed tube was cut from a piece of 40 mm bore seamless tube. A window was cut in the feed tube and funnel parts were welded to this cutout. The feed tube assembly is then finished off with a pair of mounting flanges. The feed tube assembly is in turn welded to the main feed plate which will form the base of the saw dust container. The hydraulic cylinder assembly is mated to the feed tube assembly using a set of massive M10 high tensile class 10.9 threaded rods. The push rod is a length of 40 mm diameter mild steel bar stock, coupled to the hydraulic cylinder using a fabricated coupling clamp. On the coupling clamp, he welded another bracket on which a bolt can be screwed on. This bolt helps activate the limit switches that control the movement of the hydraulic cylinder and the feed motor. Continue reading “Impressive Sawdust Briquette Machine”

Scratch-Built RC Excavator Is A Model Making Tour De Force

Some projects just take your breath away with their level of attention to detail. This scratch-built RC-controlled model excavator is not only breathtaking in its detail, but also amazing for the materials and tools used to create it.

We’ve got to be honest, we’ve been keeping an eye on the progress [Vang Hà] has been making on this build for a few weeks now. The first video below is a full tour of the finished project, which is painstakingly faithful to the original, a Caterpiller 390F tracked excavator. As impressive as that is, though, you’ve got to check out the build process that starts with fabricating the tracks in the second video below. The raw material for most of the model is plain gray PVC pipe, which is sliced and diced into flat sheets, cut into tiny pieces using a jury-rigged table saw, and heat formed to create curved pieces. Check out the full playlist for a bounty of fabrication delights, like tiny hinges and working latches.

We can’t possibly heap enough praise onto [Vang Hà] for his craftsmanship, but that’s not all we love about this one. There are tons of helpful tips here, and plenty of food for thought for more practical builds. We’re thinking about that full set of working hydraulic cylinders that operates the boom, the dipper, and the bucket, as well as the servo-operated hydraulic control valves. All of it is made from scratch, of course, and mostly from PVC. Keep that in mind for a project where electric motors or linear actuators just won’t fill the bill.

If this construction technique seems familiar to you, it could because we featured a toolbox made out of similarly processed PVC pipes back in June.

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Building A Heavy-Duty Log Splitter, One Piece At A Time

With temperatures dropping in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the time of year when many people start processing firewood for the coming winter months. For the city folks, that means chopping a tree into logs, and then splitting those logs into something small enough to fit in your wood stove. You can do it all with hand tools, but if you’ve got big enough logs, a powered splitter is a worthy investment.

Unless of course you’re like [Workshop From Scratch], in which case you can craft a powerful splitter from random bits of steel you’ve got laying around your impeccably outfitted shop. Given the incredible forces some parts of the splitter will be exposed to, he really takes his time on this build to make sure everything is bulked up. Add in his legendary attention to detail, and you’ll be watching this one for awhile. Not that we’re complaining.

Fitting the adjustable blade.

Early on it seemed like [Workshop From Scratch] was putting together a fairly simple log splitter, which in the most basic form is nothing more complex than a hydraulic cylinder pushing a log against a triangular piece of metal. But then he starts layering on the special features, such as the small hydraulic cylinder that can raise and lower the splitter’s fearsome looking blade.

There’s also the ladder-like feeder mechanism, which prevents the user from having to lift the log onto the machine manually; just stop the log between the rungs, and let the hydraulics raise the ramp and send the log rolling towards the machine’s hungry maw.

In short, this splitter may be a DIY project, but it’s just as strong and well built as anything on the commercial market. In fact, it’s probably an improvement over what you’d be able to find a the big box retailer. Which shouldn’t come as surprise if you’ve seen some of his previous work.

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Hydraulics Made Simple

Corralling electrons is great and what most of us are pretty good at, but the best projects have some kind of interface to the real world. Often, that involves some sort of fluid such as water or air moving through pipes. If you don’t grasp hydraulics intuitively, [Practical Engineering] has a video you’ll enjoy. It explains how flow and pressure work in pipes.

Granted, not every project deals with piping, but plumbing, sprinkler systems, cooling systems, and even robotics often have elements of hydraulics. In addition, as the video points out, fluid flow in a pipe is very similar to electrical current flowing through wires.

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Manual To Hydraulic Press, With A Paint Sprayer

A press can be one of the most useful additions to a workshop, once you have one you will wonder how you ever coped beforehand when it came to all manner of pressing in and pushing out tasks. An arbor press with a big lever and ratchet is very quick to use, while a hydraulic press  gives much higher pressure but is extremely slow. [The Buildist] missed out on an arbor press, so turned his eye to improving the speed of his hydraulic one. The solution came from an unexpected source, an airless paint sprayer that had come his way because its valves were gummed up with paint.

An airless paint sprayer is simply a high pressure pump that supplies paint to a nozzle, and that pump is easily repurposed to pump oil instead of paint. Testing revealed it could produce a pressure of 3000 PSI, which would be plenty to move the hydraulic jack even if the hand pump would be needed to finish the job when higher force was required.

What follows over two videos is a masterclass in hydraulic jacks, as he strips down the jack from his press, and modifies it not only to take an input from the pump, but also to run inverted by the addition of an oil reservoir pick-up pipe. Along the way we learn a few useful gems such as the fact that a grease gun pipe is the same as a hydraulic pipe, but much cheaper.

The result is a jack that extends quickly, and has the pressure to do most pressing tasks without the hand assistance. He crushes a drinks can for effect, then pinches the end of a piece of pipe, because given a press, why wouldn’t you! Take a look at both videos below the break.

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Finely Machined Valve Controls Miniature RC Hydraulics

Hydraulic components are the industrial power transmission version of LEGO. Pumps, cylinders, valves – pretty much everything is standardized, and fitting out a working system is a matter of picking the right parts and just plumbing everything together. That’s fine if you want to build an excavator or a dump truck, but what if you want to scale things down?

Miniature hydraulic systems need miniature components, of which this homebrew hydraulic valve made by [TinC33] is a great example. (Video embedded below.) If you’re curious about why anyone would need these, check out the tiny hydraulic cylinders he built a while back, wherein you’ll learn that miniature RC snowplows are a thing. The video below starts with a brief but clear explanation about how hydraulic circuits work, as well as an explanation of the rotary dual-action proportional valve he designed. All the parts are machined by hand in the lathe from aluminum and brass stock. The machining operations are worth watching, but if you’re not into such things, skip to final assembly and testing at 13:44. The valve works well, providing very fine control of the cylinder and excellent load holding, and there’s not a leak to be seen. Impressive.

[TinC33] finishes the video with a tease of a design for multiple valves in a single body. That one looks like it might be an interesting machining challenge, and one we’d love to see.

Thanks to [mgsouth] for the tip.

Homemade Shop Vise Packs A Hydraulic Punch

It’s a sad day when one of the simplest and generally most reliable tools in the shop – the bench vise – gives up the ghost. With just a pair of beefy castings and a heavy Acme screw, there’s very little to go wrong with a vise, but when it happens, why not take it as an opportunity to make your own? And, why not eschew the screw and go hydraulic instead?

That’s the path [Darek] plotted when his somewhat abused vise reached end-of-life with an apparently catastrophic casting failure. His replacement is completely fabricated from steel bar and channel stock, much of it cut on his nifty plasma cutter track. The vice has a fixed base and rear jaw, with a moving front jaw. Hiding inside is a 5-ton single-acting hydraulic cylinder. A single acting cylinder won’t open the vise on its own, so [Darek] came up with a clever return mechanism: a pair of gas springs from a car trunk.

With a pair of hardened steel jaws, some modifications to the power cylinder to allow foot operation, and a spiffy paint job, the vise was ready for service. Check out the build in the video below; we’re impressed with the power the vise has, and hands-free operation is an unexpected bonus.

Yes, most people buy vises, but from the small to the large, it’s nice to see them built from scratch too.

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