Saturday, November 30, 2013

A little elbow grease...

I found this Wenger SAK in the TSA confiscation bins at the local State Surplus a couple of weeks ago. It was in a bit of a sad state: most of the blades were corroded shut, the toothpick was crumbled into the slot, the scales were very beat and had some deep gouges in them and the Wenger badge was half obliterated through wear. So, after a good soaking in WD40 for a couple of days, and a good cleaning, the blades were still as stiff as hell. Around 40 openings and closings of all the blades freed them up satisfactorily. I polished the scales, which gave a pleasing mirror polish to the delicate Wenger trademark badge(the badge is actually solid aluminum underneath the painted shield). The toothpick was the remaining problem. Wenger toothpicks are much more difficult than Victorinox toothpicks to find, and much more expensive, so I simply carved on a Victorinox Classic toothpick till it fit perfectly, and had the correct head shape. All in all, an excellent EDC knife for the minimal price of $2.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Time Machine proof...

...picture of woman taken in Marseille, France, in 1928, proves that cell phones were in common usage by the late-1920's.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

'Twas a slow day at the TSA bin...

Sometimes it's hard to fathom why we sometimes do what we do. Case in point: I frequent the bins where the TSA confiscated knives are sold to the public at my local State Surplus auction and retail emporium. There's usually a fairly broad selection of sad Victorinox and Wenger SAK's to chose from, any of whom would offer sterling service for many years, and for just a couple of dollars. However, it was a slow day, the bins had been well picked over, and all I could find that half-way piqued my interest was a 84mm Vic Waiter, and this: a Vic 84mm Tinker that must be about 40 years old, and had had a very hard life. They were having a sale though, so both knives only cost me $1. Fortunately I have no "before" photo's, it would be just too gruesome, but here's the overall state of the knife before I started work. It had been used as a hammer, or chisel, or both. One end of the knife had severe damage to the liners and scales consistent with the knife having been hit very hard. The toothpick and tweezers had been forced into the scales, wedging the ends of the scales off of the knife. The scales were in bad shape overall, with numerous scrapes and gouges, and the badge was missing.Both the blades were broken at the ends. I created a sheepsfoot blade from the smaller blade. The back-side Phillips driver was the semi-squared off section variety, the one with the slot in the end for opening cans. That helped date the knife (but I'd appreciate your best guess as to its year of manufacture). Both the can opener and the bottle open needed some work, as both seemed to have helped transfer some of the force applied to the ends of the knife. After repairing the scale damage the knife end looked like this: So, I set to work, determined to make a nice user out of a sad case, hoping to use all the original parts if possible. I managed to repair a lot of the liner damage using a dremel, a selection of small files, and various grades of wet-and-dry paper. The small blade was reprofiled using my dremel and parting disk, and a cheap diamond grit knife-sharpening-stone from ebay. The openers were smoothed of blemishes, then buffed. The edge to the Awl was removed of it's damage using a small diamond sharpening rod. Finally, I epoxied the scales back on (they were too badly damaged to snap into place), let them set, and then polished them smooth with 400/600/1200/1500 wet-and-dry, fine steel wool, finally simichrome. The knife started to look like a well used, and cared for tool. Finally, I opened and closed the main blade a couple of times. It was catching the small blade when it closed. I decided to crink the blade about half a millimeter, and used a couple of large Crescent wrenches to apply gentle force. The blade stayed strong, refusing to budge. I decided to repeat the crinking with a little more force. Drats, the main blade snapped at the tang. All that work, and now disaster. What to do? Well, the only spare blade I had was from a 85mm Wenger. It was the approximately correct size and shape, but it was 1mm longer, has about 1mm extra belly on the blade, has a tang that's significantly thinner, and finally: the pivot hole is 2.5mm diameter, compared to the 2.2mm pivots in the Vic liners, pivot end bushings, and can opener. Some surgery would be required, and even then there was no guarantee it would work as a transplant. I removed the broken Vic blade keeping the pivot end bushings. I opened up the holes in the bushings, the liners, and the can opener to 3/32" (about 2.38mm) using my dremel and a small diamond hone. I reshaped the tang on the Wenger blade to closely match the Vic tang by pinning them together and grinding the Wenger tang to match the Vic profile. I cut a piece of 3/32" brass pivot to length, mushroomed an end, then assembled everything. To take up the discrepancy between the blade tang thicknesses I used a small washer of the correct thickness, and just the right diameters (it was the first washer I tried out of my fairly large fastener bin!!!). Some force and squeezing was necessary as the knife springs resist assembly. Finally I put on the end bushing, cut the brass to final length, and peened the pivot till the blades opened well, with no play. Re-epoxied the scales (again!!!), let everything set (again!!!), then finish-buffed everything. The original scales were starting to get pretty thin by now, what with all the material removal due to marks, gouges, and blemish removal, but they still just about function OK. The final steps involved getting the main knife blade to sit nicely in the liners/blade stops. As the blade was a little longer, the end of it tended to hit the spacer and liner at the very end of the point of the knife. I went in very gingerly with the dremel, and a parting disk, grinding small amounts off of the liner/spacer, till the blade fit as well as could be hoped for. The blade even looks like it might have been even original equipment, but for the fact that the blade proudly bears the name Wenger. So, after all that effort, was it worth it? I think so, at least to me. I enjoyed the challenge, like to "save" worthy tools, am pleased that the knife didn't end up in a landfill somewhere, and I think it looks like a pretty nice user. And it's now somewhat unique.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Creating a form-fitting "Cocoon" for a knife or Multi-Tool...

The advantages of keeping your knife or Multi-Tool inside a custom made "Cocoon" are many. It keeps the item from accumulating pocket lint. It stops bangs and dents from marring the tool, which is an inevitable result of general pocket carrying. It quietens things down in your pocket somewhat as the Cocoon adds sound-deadening qualities. And it prevents wear to any other items that share the same pocket. A Cocoon adds very little thickness or bulk, and the tool or knife can be extracted from its Cocoon very quickly indeed. To my mind, there are so many advantages that I make a Cocoon for every knife or tool that I carry frequently. Here's how to make one. Take the tool/knife, and try slipping it inside Electrical shrink-tubing. It needs to slide in, without undue force, and not be a really sloppy fit. Shrink-tubing is available cheaply in a huge variety of diameters, usually sold by the foot, on Ebay. For my Vic Compact here, I found that 20mm diameter tubing was perfect. Cut the tubing about 1/4 inch longer than the knife. The extra will form around the ends of the knife after molding, increasing retention, and reducing wear and tear on the very ends of the tool. Take some Priority Mail tape, and wrap 2 thicknesses around the whole knife. Smooth it out as best you can. Look at the tool/knife in profile, and imagine trying to extract it from a form-fitting tube. You'll want the greater volume to be at the end that you mold first. I have found that all my Victorinox knives extract easiest by pulling on their keyring attachments, so I always make my Cocoons with the keyring on what will end up being the open end of the Cocoon, with the keyring at the bottom. Slide the tool/knife into the tubing after rubbing a little light oil on to the Priority Mail tape. Without the oil, you will have a very hard time extracting the knife/tool. Now, I use a cigarette lighter, with a medium to low flame for this next part. I guess a Heat Gun would be best, but I don't have one. A lighter allows for a more precise heat application anyway. I apply heat to the tubing, not too close, not too far, constantly moving the flame, till the tubing contracts tightly around just the "tight half" of the knife/tool (the end of the tool that you envision extracting it by). Don't do more than half of the length. Stop heating the tube, let it cool a minute or two, then, using a toothbrush end, or a small dowel, push out the knife tool. Remembering the orientation of the tube to the knife/tool, cut a small slit, with a rounded end (otherwise the tube may tear with use). This slit will permit the tube to give enough, and you'll be able to get the knife/tool in/out easily soon. Return the knife/tool to the tube, in the correct orientation, and repeat the heating process to shrink down the whole tube till it fits seamlessly, and without lose areas. Next, pull out the knife/tool through the slit you made. It should slide out reasonably easily. Remember, it still has the Priority Mail Tape on it, when you remove this, it'll slide easier still. Remove the Tape, and the Cocoon and knife/tool will look like this. Finally, carefully trim the Cocoon around its opening for neatness, and check for fit as you slide the knife/tool in several times. I find that making small changes slowly is best. You can never add material back on !! Also, the best scissors to use are the tiny scissors on Vic Classic's, Rambler's, MiniChamp's etc. Tight circular cuts are best made in an anti-clockwise direction. Lastly, the area that often gets caught up with Victorinox knives, is the area around the corkscrew (if your knife has one). The most central first wind of the corkscrew catches easily on the thin shrink-tubing, and I usually pare back the tubing in this area till the corkscrew clears easily. Remove the oil on the inside of the tubing with a cloth, and check for final fit. You have something that probably looks like this: If you still have issues with the Cocoon being too tight a fit, you can try paring away a little more on the areas that might be catching, or I have also used a very small amount of Baby Powder rubbed in to the inside of the Cocoon. Conversely, if the fit should be too lose for you, put the knife into the Cocoon (without the Priority Mail tape on it), and gently warm an area of the tubing till you see it start to contract a little more. Keep checking for tightness, Don't overdo this part. If you want to hide the lettering that runs the length of the Cocoon, you can use a black Sharpie, or sometimes the lettering will easily buff off with a little metal polish.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Extending the bit-range on your CyberTool...

I have a Victorinox CyberTool 34, and am very happy with it, but being an inveterate tinkerer I would be exstatic if it had a greater range of bits than the very limited selection available through Victorinox. As you may know, the Vic uses a rather off-beat shank size of 4mm for its bits, and they also use a ball-retaining system to keep them from falling out during use. So, essentially my problem boiled down to this: find some (hopefully cheap ;-) bits that fit, and then come up with an easy way of retaining the bits when they are being torqued on, even upside down. No small feat. I was aided in my search initially by this post on EDC Forums, by podus1, on Jan13th 2013. He laid out the way to track down extra bits that fit perfectly: "Here's a Victorinox store that carries 16 different 4mm Cybertool bit sizes (see page 2). Here's the current edition of Felo's European catalog. Their reversible, double-ended 4mm bits (that fit the Victorinox Cybertool) are listed at the top of page 148. FWIW - here's the current edition of Felo's USA catalog." So, this is my CyberTool, with a standard Victorinox phillips/slotted bit installed in the driver: I took a trip to Home Depot, and bought this exact screwdriver set, it's made by HDX, contains 21 assorted 4mm bits, a screwdriver, and a bit extender, all for less than $5 (*Much*, *much* cheaper than the $5 or so per bit for the Vic-branded bits): The bits fit the CyberTool fine, but invert the tool and they will fall right out, so, what to do to retain them? As you may be aware, Swiss Army Knives are made to pretty exacting tolerances, so there's not a lot of room to work with. I contemplated making a small magnet, and adhesing it down inside the Vic bit adapter, but that seemed difficult to undo should I ever want to revert the tool back to original/standard, so I hit on this method. I took about a one inch length of electrical shrink-tubing of diameter sufficient to just slip over the head of the tool like so (the tubing, when flattened, measures 10mm across): Now, making sure there's one of the bits in place, I used a lighter to shrink the tubing around the bit and the tool head like so: Voila!!! The bit slips into and out of the end of the shrink tubing, and there is retention of the bit even when the whole tool is inverted. Even better, one can also use the original Vic bits with no further modification, which is a great thing as some of the original Vic bits don't seem to retain very well anyway, and need a little help to stay put. Finally, here's a pic of the CyberTool closed, with one of the HDX bits in the extender. As you can see, the length of the after-market bits is about the same length as the original Vic bits, so the tool closes perfectly: One final, minor, caveat. Depending on your particular CyberTool, and the brand/wall-thickness of the shrink-tubing you use, you may have some minor interference between the bit adapter and the adjacent tools. If the adapter is closed, and you try to open the Pliers or the Bottle Opener, it might be a tight squeeze. On my knife everything does open and close OK, but YMMV. At worst though, you can always first open the adapter, and then open the Pliers or Bottle Opener to use them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Leatherman Crunch Saw mod...

A commercially available power saw blade can be pretty easily modded to enable using a Leatherman Crunch as a tool holder. A Dremel and parting disk cuts the appropriately-sized slot in the saw at the non-business end. The slot in the end of the saw then fits into the wire cutter area of the Leatherman. I also use a short length of shrink tubing to make a sheath for the saw, which protects the Leatherman inside the sheath. Obviously, I chose a relatively short blade, such that everything travels together.....a longer saw will cut more stuff, better ;-)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Lighweight pocket carry: Leatherman PS4. Vic Minichamp 8-blade with pen and light scales. Toothpick and tweezers. E-gear flashlight. All protected with sheaths from shrink-tubing, helps keep things a tad quieter too.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Victorinox Minichamp...

Eight blades of goodness, check. 58mm pocket form factor, check. Pen, check, tweezers, check. And toothpick, check...............wait a minute, there isn't room in the scales to have a pen, tweezers, and a toothpick. Well, a little formed to shape beer can, and a plastic toothpick cut to length; and you too can have it all my friend. The blade locks at all into position along the edge of the knife. It's quite cute really ;-)