Restoring A Rusty Rebar Cutter

We’ve all probably come across hunks of junk that used to be tools, long-neglected and chemically welded into a useless mass of solid rust. Such items are available for a pittance at the local flea market, or more likely found in an old barn or rotting on a junk pile. They appear to be far beyond salvage, but with the proper application of elbow grease and penetrating lubricants, even a nasty old seized-up rebar cutter can live again.

We honestly almost passed up on the video below when it came across our feed. After all, a rebar cutter is a dead-simple device, and half the fun of restoration videos like those made by [my mechanics] is seeing all the parts removed, restored, and replaced. But it ended up being far more interesting than we expected, and far more challenging too.

The cutter was missing its original handle and looked for all the world like it had been cast from a solid piece of iron oxide. [my mechanics] was able to get the main pivot bolts free with a combination of leverage, liberal application of penetrating oil, drilling, and the gentle persuasion of a hydraulic press.

These efforts proved destructive to both bolts, so new ones were made on the lathe, as were a number of other parts beyond saving. New cutters were fabricated from tool steel and a new handle was built; before anyone comments on anyone’s welding skills, please read [Jenny]’s recent article on the subject.

The finished product is strikingly dissimilar to the starting lump of oxidized junk, so there’s going to to be some debate in calling this a “restoration” in the classical sense. The end result of a [my mechanics] video is invariably a tool or piece of gear that looks far better than it did the day it was made, and any one of them would get a place of honor on our shelf. That said, he’d probably be swiftly shown the door if he worked at the Smithsonian.

Whatever you want to call these sort of videos, there are tons of them out there. We’ve featured a few examples of the genre, from the loving rehabilitation of classic Matchbox cars to rebuilding an antique saw set. They’re enough to make us start trolling garage sales. Or scrap yards.

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Adding A Lot Of Twinkle To This Rebar Sculpture

Blinky lights have a way of attracting attention and that’s exactly what the members of the Maui Makers hackerspace were shooting for. The sculpture above is the logo for the Source festival, a Burning Man inspired music gathering in the Aloha state. For this year’s festival they went crazy, installing twelve meters of RGB LED strip controlled by seven Arduino boards.

The goal was to make the twelve-foot tall sculpture into a lighted interactive showpiece. In addition to the LEDs it includes a microphone, capacitance sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, and a piezo speaker. There’s one Arduino to rule them all, with another Teensy controller to drive an LCD display in the control box, and five Teensy boards to address the LED strips. They grabbed [Bill Porter’s] Easy Transfer library to facilitate communication between the microcontrollers (his libraries are becoming popular, we just saw his mp3 shield library used in another project on Tuesday).

The code which drives the LED animations is based on some Adafruit examples. We really enjoy the waving flag effect seen in the clip after the break.

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