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Archive for the ‘New Toys & Stuff’ Category


I got a new toy!!  Well, I’ve had it for a couple of months now – so technically it’s not “new” new but I haven’t told anyone about it yet, so I guess it officially qualifies as New!

Anyway……we have a friend who is a boilermaker by trade – that means he can weld!!  Amongst other things…he he. Hubby went round to visit one afternoon and I asked him to see if Pedro had any pieces of scrap metal laying around because I wanted to see if I could fashion a frit crusher out of it.  It would have been a very basic model – probably not even with a “base” as such because I don’t have any welding gear (lots of soldering stuff, just no welding..).

Maybe I’d better explain what a “frit crusher” is to those of you who are scratching their heads right now saying “What the….???”.

A frit crusher is a device consisting of a hollow piece of pipe (preferably with a base so the glass is contained inside)  and another piece of pipe (also with a base) that fits inside it. Now you put pieces of glass rods etc inside the larger pipe then you whack the living daylights out of it with the smaller pipe and it crushes all the glass into various size pieces – which we in the know (wink, wink) call “frit”.  The frit is then used to decorate lampwork beads.  It’s great stuff – you’ll just have to trust me on that.

No idea???  Look at the pics – they tell a better story than me…much less confusing.  She’s a “Big Mama”!  There’s a big can of butane gas next to it as well as a rod of glass – just for comparison.

I just wanted some info on how to make one and some offcuts of pipe that were maybe just laying around but lo and behold……a couple of hours later when hubby came home – my brand new awesomely, fabulously efficient, super-dooper frit crusher got plonked on my work desk!!!  Compliments of Pedro!!  Yay – Go Pedro!!!! Thank you Pedro!! How awesome is that!  Hubby said it took him about 5 minutes to make……that’s what happens when you know what you’re doing.  Probably would have taken me 5 hours to work it out……

I have some more projects that require a skill level slightly higher than that of soldering.

I think I may need welding lessons.

PEDRO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frit Crusher

Pedro's Frit Crusher

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WooHoo!!!!!!!  I’ve done it…Finally…..relented, succumbed, a-kickin’ and a-screamin’ (well maybe not so much kickin” hehe) and bought a new torch!!  I’ve unscrewed my faithful old Hot Head torch from its moorings on my workbench and replaced it with a shiny new dual fuel Mini CC torch and 10 lpm Oxygen Concentrator!!

Mini CC Torch

Mini CC - Side View

Oxygen Concentrator

Some important facts before I go any further…..for those out there in blogsville who know nothing of the processes that go into making a glass bead…… A torch is used to melt the glass  (yeah, yeah – I know you got that bit…).  There are pretty much 2 sorts of torches that can be used – a single fuel torch (like my old work-horse, the Hot Head or HH) which uses only lp gas- the same as your bbq gas.  This is a great “beginners” torch, and although I do not consider myself a “beginner” and have been happy to use this torch for a few years, it does have limitations and is designed to melt soft glass.  The second type of torch is a dual fuel torch which uses both lp gas and oxygen mixed together – this creates a very hot, clean flame and melts glass really quickly (much quicker than my poor old HH).    The oxygen has to come from somewhere and you can either buy it in cylinders which can end up quite expensive over time or you can buy an oxygen concentrator (like the medical ones) which is expensive up-front but pays for itself over time. Oxy-cons  pull the oxygen from the air, concentrate it and pump it down a hose into said torch.  The combination of the oxygen and gas is mixed in the torch to create a “dual fuel” torch – mine of which can also melt the hard glass called borosillicate  or “boro” – the stuff that glass sculptures etc is made from (amongst other things).

Now – back to the story…….  The day has arrived – it’s here!  I’m excited, I’m shaking, I’m nervous – I can’t bring myself to hook it up because……well I’ve never done this before (well not with THIS sort of torch anyway) and I don’t want to blow myself up or anything (can that really happen????).  I had tried to put on the video that came with the torch – I thought it would show me how to attach this hose to that bit there and that hose to this bit here BUT…….the damn dvd didn’t work, did it???  I am a visual learner – I don’t “do” written instructions – they might as well be worded in Chinese – so I was in a bit of a state when the dvd didn’t work.  I emailed the lovely lady who sold me the torch, but I knew she was away so I didn’t expect an answer right away.  A couple of days later she rang me and talked me through all this stuff over the phone – better than nothing, I thought…..stuff = like what setting the oxycon needs to be on (I figured somewhere between 1lpm and 10lpm would be a good start!), what on earth these gauges that attach to the gas bottle are for, which knobs do I turn first – blah, blah, blah. (What have I done???  It used to be so simple!!  Turn on the gas, light the torch, start melting glass – doesn’t get simpler than that!).   Anyway – I found out that so long as I don’t have the oxygen knob open when I turn the gas knob on and put a lighted match near it – I won’t blow myself up!  Yikes!  And you wonder why lampwork beads cost so much???!!!  Danger money is what needs to be paid here!  I digress…..My DH helped me calm down and set things up – in the end all I  had to do was screw one hose to the oxycon and one hose to the gas and away I went (after all the safety checks, of course).

Now to say I am deliriously happy with my new set-up would be the under statement of the year!  I still cannot wipe the smile off my face!  I just looooove my new baby! Unbelievably quiet!  Maybe now, I will not go completely deaf due to my torch roaring in my ears!  Actually I feel a tiny bit guilty about wantonly discarding my dear beloved HH – but I told my disquieting thoughts that it was time for a rest, he deserved it.   Then I bought some new glass to celebrate. After all – one can never have TOO much glass…… it’s not like it goes “off” or anything…. hehe.  Does this look like TOO much glass to you……ok, maybe don’t answer that! lol

Part of my glass stash

Catch you next time with more “tales from the torch”…..

Sandy

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