While working on my knock off metal etching device (idea blatantly stolen from HokieKen) I once again came to the realization that my soldering skills suck. Although the project didn’t call for much, there was a little. After talking it over and doing some research while waiting for project parts to arrive I found, like a lot of the stuff I try to teach myself, that I was soldering wrong. I got down a rabbet hole and learned a bunch, including that heat control is pretty key to soldering (ummm…duh??). I also found that proper hobby soldering stations are pretty cheap. New tool? Yes please! So I ordered one that got good reviews…and it arrived before the last of my project parts for the etcher. Never understand Amazon.
Anyway, the new soldering station was a big help and once again showed me that owning tools that aren’t complete crap takes one more variable out of the equation. I’m not running off to join a soldering guild anytime soon, but I’m better at it that I was.
I finished up the metal etcher and then figured I needed to store the soldering station. I’m lazy. So if tools are set up and pretty much ready to go, there’s a better chance I use them. In my mind, this meant leaving the soldering station in a ready to use state. But, since there are a few parts to it I wasn’t sure how to best store it ‘ready to use’ and safe. I considered just a cover over it of some sort, and that evolved into a lift-off-box. The station stays put on a platform, essentially ready to use, and the box lifts off the platform.
I mocked together the location of the soldering station parts and built a base/platform, including small dividers to keep parts in place. None of the station parts are secured to the platform, but the dividers keep them from moving. The platform has a front and rear ‘dam’ to keep cables in place and make it easier to stow those wiley beasts. They also act as anchor points for the latches as the platform is ply.
I had some pretty good looking pallet wood to use, so I sized it, and cut it up. Then I used a lock miter joint for the box sides as an experiment on trying to fit all the sides with those joints. It worked ok, but the soft wood leaves a bit of a ragged edge so the joints are tight but aren’t perfect. Lots of glue surface though! The end resulting box top got slightly out of square somehow so I planed down the platform edges to help match. Not perfect, but ok enough for this.
Once I got the edges cleaned up I went about marking it up. My dear dear supportive friend Ducky has been chiding me about the lack of couth in my laser etching work. Charred edges are the mark of the devil he said (I may be paraphrasing). You need to backfill those burned letters, says he! There’s this amazing Aussie product, he tells me, called TimberMATE (I mean it’s almost got Aussie right in the name!). I’m a huge fan of Timbermate but never thought to use it to backfill laser work. So I did a test piece:
This is White and Cherry Timbermate, respectively one laser pass and two. What’s so cool about it, if you zoom in, is the charred inside edges of the letters present themselves between the wood and filler creating a most desirable outline to the letters. Makes even the white show up well on the light wood. Ducky, you’re a genius!
So I set to laserin’
After the backfill and finish sanding, I wiped on a coat of shellac, then three coats of rattlecan lacquer. I didn’t notice it at first, but a little alien face showed up…it’s either E.T. or Sid from Ice Age with a blown pupil, depending on your age.
It finished up nicely, although the platform and box don’t line up perfectly. I’m not sure where I got out of square, but it’s pretty close.
Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".