Friday, 14 October 2016

Dementor hands how to part 1.

This is something I meant to get round to writing about last year, but time (as is usually the case) got the better of me.

We decided that for Halloween (last year) we'd have a Harry Potter themed party and so we set about making various things, one of which was a dementor, nothing too elaborate but enough to give the feeling of creepiness they have in the films.

After looking at various pictures (and watching the films) we came to the conclusion that there's not much too them in terms of detail, which is probably what makes them creepy as your imagination kind of fills in the blanks.

One thing you do seem to see quite clearly is their hands, whether reaching out or fingers moving round door ways, so I got hands and my wife did the head.

I've broken this how to into two parts as it did take some time, there are probably much quicker and easier ways of doing this.

Here are the hands on the dementor -

In black and white because, creepy.
We hung the whole thing once it was done in the stair way so that when we opened the door to trick or treaters it would scare the crap out of them give them a jolly good scare.

Here's one of the hands close up -

Looks like dead skin, well a bit.

Okay, so to make these hands is easy enough, you'll need the following - 

Wooden dowel (I used 12mm thick dowel)
Strong garden wire.
A drill bit the same diameter as the garden wire (around 2.5 to 3mm should be fine)
Loads of white and black tissue paper (or you can use paint instead of black tissue paper)
Pva glue (lots of)
A small section of a plastic milk bottle, or similar.
Some string.
And super glue (or just use the pva, why didn't I think of that?)
Masking tape.

Basically what I did was to cut the dowel into what are roughly the bones of a human hand, I've added extra onto each piece of dowel to elongate the hands.

If you look at a picture of the bones in a hand you can see that they start quite long and get smaller towards the finger tips.

My dowel cut into enough pieces to make two hands - 

Now to arrange into something that might become a hand.

Dowel arranged into rough hand shapes - 

Stay with me, they do start to look better in a minute. 

To join each bone I marked the centre of each end of the various bits and then drilled a hole into each one, this was so I could fit a smaller length of wire into each hole.

Centres marked - 

I wasn't too accurate with this.

Holes drilled, a vice makes things easier - 

Again I wasn't too accurate.
Once I'd got that done I then set about shaping each bit of dowel into something that sort of looked like a bone, I did this using a drum sander in my post drill and my little bench top sander, but you could use a sharp knife or files, or even just wrap lengths of string round each end of the dowel to create a knuckle shape.

Sanding begins (and takes a while) - 

It's quite repetitive.

What I was trying to do was create a knuckle by sanding the wood away in certain places, the idea being that once all the bits were joined together and the tissue paper was applied they would look like long fingered hands.

After what seemed like an age I'd got all the bits shaped how I wanted, next I had to join the bits together to create four fingers and a thumb, this is what the garden wire is for.

I cut small lengths of garden wire and stuck them into one end of the dowel, then I stuck the next bit of dowel on to build up the finger shapes.

All fingers and a thumb - 

Almost there.

The good thing about using the garden wire is that it gives you a small amount of flexibility in the hands and as such means you can pose them in different ways.

To join the fingers together I drilled through the ends of the longest bits of dowel and fed a piece of garden wire through, to stop things sliding off I bent the wire over at each end and cut off any extra, then I bent the wire until I had a more hand like shape.

To stop the fingers moving about I used string with a bit of glue on it wrapped around the garden wire to keep them separate.

String fixed and glued - 

Simple but effective.
And after a bit of fiddling about I had what look like two hands, that I can pose into creepy positions, all they need now is some decoration.

Main structure finished - 

Very handy.

And that was part one, part two is on how I decorated them and made them look a little more sinister so keep an eye out for that.

Part 2 -

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Dementor hands how to part 2.

Okay so this is part two of how we made our dementor hands, this is basically the decoration of the models I'd made, it's really easy to do and has worked quite well.

Here's where we left the hands -

On to decoration.

The first thing I did was to build up the back and the palm of each hand, I used masking tape for this as it's easy to tear into pieces and it can be painted over and such like.

Masking tape applied - 

Now for some tissue paper.
We decided that tissue paper would be a good substitute for skin because you can make it look wrinkly and it's easy to apply.

Holding the hands in a craft vice (not essential) we began gluing torn up strips of tissue paper to them, making sure to not smooth things out.

Hand ready - 

These vices are 'handy' as they can be moved about.
Tissue paper ready - 

The strips don't have to be neat, in fact the rougher the better.

To stick the tissue paper to the hands we used pva glue and applied it using a brush, we also found that a fairly stiff paint brush allows you to sort of pucker the tissue paper and gives a more wrinkled effect.

Applying the tissue paper - 

It is a bit time consuming.
It did take a while to cover each hand and we also had to let the glue dry, in the end we covered the hands a couple of times in tissue paper to add to the effect and because one layer was a little too thin.

Starting to look a bit like skin - 

Ready for another layer.
To make the nails I cut out a piece of a plastic milk bottle and drew some rough nail shapes onto it, a blunt pencil or knitting needle works well to mark the plastic, then I cut them out using scissors.

Nails drawn out - 


To fix the nails to the end of each finger I used one of my small carving chisels to make a curved cut on the end of each finger, this could be done with a sharp knife, or you could glue the nails onto the wood.

Finger ends ready for nails - 

Now to fix the nails.

Here's the chisel I used (you can buy sets of these for under £10) - 

Useful for a variety of jobs, not just carving.

Nails glued in place - 

They look like nails so I'm happy.

Both hands almost done - 

We used some black tissue paper to colour them, but you could just as easily use some black paint, I'd suggest using a mat emulsion or poster paint if you do paint them mainly because it doesn't have a shine to it, which is the one thing that bothers me about the ones we've made, they are perhaps a bit too shiny (it's the glue) 

So this year I plan to modify them a little, and we also have some gauze we might use on them for added effect, and that's the good thing about them really, they can be modified easily and even with the tissue paper and glue they can still be posed differently, there's not a great deal of movement, but enough to change the finger positions and such like, and best of all they cost about £4 to make and will last a while.

Not the greatest picture, but here's a close up - 

They do look like they might grab you.

Thanks for reading, and happy Halloween.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

I've been making tealight holders again...

It's well known that I will attempt to turn any old bit of wood I can mount on my lathe, recently I turned a couple of bits of pallet (there's a surprise) into tealight holders.

Here they are (all fourteen of them) -

As you can see they have cracks and nail holes and various other faults, some people like this kind of 'character' others don't but each to there own and I guess that's my point when it comes to turning.

I've been turning for a while and I've come across a certain shall we say snobbery when it comes to wood and turning, there are a lot of people who'll only turn stuff bought in as blanks, and then only certain types of wood, usually the more decorative stuff, like Zebra wood or Bubinga.

But I say all wood (no matter how depressed) deserves a chance, and I think that even the roughest piece of wood can look great if treated with a bit of care.

So here is what the tealights looked like before I started - 

Not the best pieces of wood in the world.

This a good starter project if you've just started turning, all I did was measure the width of the wood, and then measure out lengths the same size as the width, which gave me cubes of wood to work with, and I then marked the centre of each cube.

Wood marked, ready for cutting - 

You can just about make out the marks.

Once I'd cut all my blocks (I had fourteen to play with in the end) it was on to drilling out a hole so I could mount them onto my chuck.

Blocks cut and marked - 

More of the faults are visible after cutting.
Now on to mounting the blocks for turning, if you have an expanding chuck this is easy, using a 35mm forstner bit I cut out a small hole in each block, and then it's just a matter of sticking the block onto the jaws and tightening the chuck, you could also use a small screw chuck.

Mounting hole - 

Time to turn.

Block on the lathe ready for turning - 

Nice large crack bit of character in this one.

Now before I start turning I should point out that I've left the hole in the bottom of each tealight and turned out another hole for the actual candle, you could however just use a forstner bit or a spade bit and make a hole large enough for a tealight (around 40mm) and use that to mount the block, but sometimes I like to leave the mounting holes and such like on a piece, again this is something some people frown upon. 

And rather than leave just a hole in the bottom of each tealight holder I've turned a small three ringed detail into each one, I started adding three concentric rings to things I'd turned years ago for no other reason than it seemed like a good idea and now it's kind of stuck, and so I try to incorporate three concentric rings into every thing I turn where possible.

Here's a before and after type picture of a block and a finished tealight holder - 

I think they look good.

And here's another picture of the finished tealights again, the reason (in case you are wondering) why two are different from the rest is because one piece of wood split and a chunk came out and there wasn't enough wood left to turn a ball shape, so I made two straight ones, the perils of using gnarly bits of wood.

All done - 

And before I go here's a picture of a pen pot I made for my wife, from the top part of an old newel post, all I need to do now is figure out what to do with the rest of it.

Pen pot - 

It works well as a pen pot.

Any ideas ? - 

I have a few ideas.
Lastly here a short video of me making a tealight holder, some parts are sped up - 

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chuck recycling...

I'm a habitual hoarder of things, I actually have a small three drawer unit in my shed that's full of stuff that 'might be useful in the future' so basically I keep a lot of crap stuff with potential  lying about, and needless to say I have a few old chucks that needed new purpose so I made handles for them and turned them into tool holders for turning wood.

Finished tool holders.
It's pretty simple to do really and you could easily do this without a lathe, all I've done is to turn handles for the chucks from the legs of an old stool.

Making the second one - 

Removed the bits I didn't need.
The black chuck is from a flexible drive shaft, I mainly use them for sanding pieces on the lathe, but every now and then they break and I tend to keep the chucks for things such as this.

Once I'd removed the old bearings (which I kept of course) all it needed was a handle, this was made easier because of the piece of drive shaft left on the back of the chuck, all I did was to turn a handle from an old stool leg.

I found a piece that was a nice size for my hand - 

That'll do nicely.

Handle turned roughly - 

I left the old pegs in, it adds a nice feature to the handle.

Now to fit the chuck - 

First hole drilled.

Fitting the chuck into the wood is an easy task, all I've done is to drill two holes, the first matches the smaller section of the shaft left on the chuck, the second hole matches the thicker part of the chuck.

The chuck up close - 

Note the handy hole.

I made the respective holes slightly smaller than needed and then with the lathe spinning I pushed the chuck into the wood the friction causes the inside of the holes to burn slightly and this helps to keep things nice and tight.

This chuck also had a useful hole in it, this I've used to push a split pin through so that the chuck won't spin inside the wood.

For this tool holder I used a piece of 22mm copper tube to make a ferrule for the end, to stop the wood from splitting, this was done by cutting a piece of the pipe and sliding it onto the handle.

Ferrule cut, needs tidying - 

A bit wonky, but we can clean that up on the lathe.

Ferrule fitted and tidied up - 

Looks much better.

And that is about it really, I used some two part epoxy glue to hold the chuck and the ferrule in place, although I've kept things quite tight so I could have not used the glue but I figured it wouldn't hurt.

I drilled through the ferrule on both tools holders so that I can use a split pin to stop any twisting as these make handy screw driver bit holders as well as turning tool holders.

Here's one and some of the adapted Allen key turning tools - 


I've found these little tool holders to be quite versatile, handy as a screw driver as well as a turning bit holder and all from stuff I had lying bout, I have used this tool recently to turn some captive rings which you can read about here - captive ring tool (opens in new window) the plan now is to make a few more bits for turning, small scrapers and such like.

These could easily be made without a lathe and if you're like me you're bound to have enough bits lying about to make something similar, so why not give and old chuck a new lease on life?

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Homemade moth trap...

We like to spend a lot of time in and around all things nature, be it the local woods (we have a few) the beach and anywhere in between and one of the things we like to look at are moths, the problem however is that most moths (not all) fly at night so we usually try to attract some using a sheet and a light, this doesn't always have a lot of success, so we built an upgrade.

Here's the old sheet and light bulb (it's not the best, but it does work) -

Doesn't get anymore basic.
What we've done is to build what is known as a 'Skinner moth trap' you can buy these and various other types of trap, but we managed to knock one up using things we had lying about, so our cost nothing, not a single penny (to build anyway) it's basic so can be built easily no matter what diy skills you may or may not have.

Here's the finished trap set up and waiting for it to get dark - 

Basic indeed, why the egg boxes? read on.

It's basically a wooden box, in our case made from what was left of our daughters old wardrobe, we've recently (after three years of looking) bought her an old antique one, this seemed as good a way as any of recycling the old one.

The glass was from an old fish tank which I broke, most traps of this type use perspex, but we were building it as cheaply as possible, and the glass is toughened which is handy.

The bulb holder and wire I had lying about in the shed and the bulb is just an energy saving one, you can however buy lighting kits (that use mercury vapour bulbs) online specifically designed for fitting to your own moth traps, these can be pricey though, but may yield better results.

Sides roughly marked up - 

The diagonal lines are where the glass will go.

All you need to do is make a box with four sides and a base, we had to make this to a set size because of the glass, so we went with a box just wide enough to fit the glass in, if you use perspex you can always cut it to size.

The glass just sits at a 45 degree angle (roughly) so all that you need to add to the box is a couple of wooden blocks to stop the glass falling into it and to create a gap at the bottom, so it's basically a funnel, the idea being the moths will see the light and then fall into to the trap.

Wooden stoppers to hold the glass - 

Rough, but they work.

Stoppers and glass in place - 

Just needs a base.

For the light I used a random fitting I had lying about, this I fixed to a wooden bar that runs across the trap, it also acts as a carrying handle, the flex for the light runs under the bar and over the side.

Fitting the light - 

You can see where the glass stops a little clearer.

Testing, testing - 

Let there be light.

And that was it, as I said it's basic and as it's hobbled together from essentially scrap material it cost nothing, the only other you'll need is some egg boxes to put inside it, this gives the moths good places to hide, we did also fix a black umbrella to one side of the trap, this was to diffuse the light shining into windows as we didn't want to upset the neighbours.

I haven't put sizes because I worked to the glass sheets I had, and if you're not confident with wiring then you can either buy a kit or you can buy clip on light fittings so all you'll need is a bulb, we used a low energy bulb mainly because they are cheap to run, and they aren't as bright as incandescent ones.

Did it work ? well yes, although we didn't catch much, but weather conditions may have been a factor and we do have a lot of bats that fly over the garden, that and the fact that dad accidentally let the ones in the trap go before we got a good look at them, but we did manage to get a picture of one moth we caught.

Here it is, it's one we haven't seen before - 

Ennomos alniaria - Canary-shouldered Thorn moth.

If you don't fancy building a moth trap you can try baiting (sugaring) guides can be found online, lots of flowering plants in your garden will also attract moths, moths are pollinators, we usually get loads on our buddleia plants (especially the white ones) and failing that keep an eye out for caterpillars roaming about, you can take them home and watch them change or let them go we currently have two large species in the pupal stage.

Lasiocampa quercus - Oak Eggar moth.

Caterpillar - 


Pupal stage - 

Cocoon also fuzzy.

Mimas tiliae - Lime Hawk moth.

Caterpillar - 

Kind of sausage like.

Pupal stage - 

The dried up thing on the left is what's left once it turns into a chrysalis.

I wrote a post a few years back on 'The Humble moth'  there are pictures of a Lime hawk moth we hatched out, along with an Angle shade moth in that post.

And if you do find any bugs and you're not sure what it might be then uksafari is a good site for identifying bugs of all kinds and for moths specifically we've found this site useful Ukmoths

We will be putting the trap out again soon, which is the good thing about it, it's easy to set up and leave for a few hours, just bare in mind that the lights are bright but you can shield the light easily with a sheet or put the trap at the bottom of the garden so as to not upset your neighbours.

And always let the moths go when you're finished looking at them, it's also advisable to not use the trap two or more days in a row, leave it a good few days between using it.

Thanks for reading.