What's New at 120studio.com

Site news archive - July 2017 (Click here for current)

2017 July 31

Digital Photography

New Article:  DSLR Bootstrap:  How To Use a Digital Camera Without The Instructions.  Just a quick article, this.  There's a lot of subject matter to cover, but I tried to condense it down into a short article.

Tools, Metal & Shop

Angle grinder is spinning at high RPM.  The material you're cutting suddenly pinches the wheel.  What happens next?

At first I was pretty unhappy how this went down.  That is, until I realized that if the abrasive cutoff disc had fragmented, it would have been a lot worse.

Congratulations (and thank you) to Dewalt for making abrasive cutoff wheels that are surprisingly durable.  Even when they stop suddenly under considerable force.  What was it, like 12,000 rpm down to zero?  Instantaneously.

The grinder... going to need some new gears I reckon.  This is why, when you use a cutoff wheel on long scrap, it pays to clamp it firmly in Yard Vise or something.  Had I done that, this never would have happened, and I'd still have a cordless angle grinder.

I still can't believe that cutoff wheel didn't break apart.

At least it wasn't the Hitachi grinder.  That's only a $39 grinder, but I just like it better.  It's had a lot of hours on it, still going.

Dang it, my cordless grinder may be a pile of scrap now.  Time to see if Makita even offers replacement parts. 

2017 July 28


New Article:  Fixing a Wooden Drying Rack With Metal.  Just a quick little hack repair. 

2017 July 25

Shop Tips

In Search of Efficiency

Fujichrome Velvia 50 (35mm)

How many photographers carry linesman pliers and an adjustable wrench in their vest?  Actually, if I didn't mind getting this vest full of black grease and shop grime, I'm sure it would already have holes worn in the pockets from carrying more tools.  But this is not my primary solution in the quest for efficiency.

This is the topic I promised to write about, back in early July.  I guess if I were really that efficient, I'd have gotten this done sooner.  That's why I have to read the...
New Article:  Shop Tips #4:  Efficiency In The Workshop.  This is a collection of basic notes and ideas, some of which you may already know, and some perhaps not.  Give it a read, and maybe you can stop tiring yourself out on simple jobs that should only take ten minutes.

2017 July 17

A simple round punch.  You know, a solid punch, for knocking rusty threads loose on a broken-off bolt.  Or loosening a stuck roll pin.  Or drift-punching through a flat bar of hot iron. 

So, you just heat some metal and hammer it into the shape.  Right?

Actually, there's a lot more to it.  

New Article:  Making a Round Punch From Scrap Metal

2017 July 16


Fujifilm Superia 200
Developed with Unicolor C-41 kit

Glove Compartment Camera

One of the ongoing quests that I've been talking about, for a few years now, is to find the ultimate "Glove Compartment Camera".  This has probably been sought ever since compact cameras have existed. 

A central requirement is that it can be left in the car for half the summer, and still work when you need it.  I'm beginning to wonder if digital cameras are up to that task. 

What about a weatherproof DSLR?  A camera that's over $1,000 is automatically not a Glove Compartment Camera.  A camera that's over $300 might not even be a Glove Compartment Camera. 

We're going to look in depth at this idea, soon.  Perhaps before I even figure out what to do with the two-- yes two-- digital cameras that are now basically scrap.  The one was not really left in a car that many times, but it still endured a lot of use.

Atlas 9310

Fujichrome Velvia 50 (35mm)

Shop Tips

A major recurring theme in any workshop is "efficiency".  It has dawned on me, with a bit of clarity, just how critical this concept is to getting any work done.  Ah, but putting this into practice... how???  This is something I'll be working into a future Shop Tips article.  Or, trying.  Meantime, I'm readying a metalworking article.

2017 July 12

It started out simple.  I just wanted some photos of galvanized metal:  the patterns, the subtle colors.  And I'd gotten a piece of scrap pipe with some splits in it, which I thought I'd weld:  a cheater bar for whatever I might need it.  Maybe the occasional overtightening stuff, breaking off bolts, and trying to bend wrench handles. 

And wouldn't you know it, it morphed into this new article..

2017 July 10

Soon a couple articles on blacksmithing, welding, and brazing. 

2017 July 6

Tools;  Metal & Shop

New:  Yost 865-DI Bench Vise Review.  At first, this appears to be one of the most affordable and versatile US-made vises on the market.  Does it live up to expectations?  Find out!

Last night I was testing a piece of unknown steel for a possible blacksmithing project.  When you see something that looks like a splined axle, you'd probably think it's got to be some kind of hardened steel, wouldn't you?  Well, I did some spark tests and got some interesting results.  The idea behind a spark test is to grind the unknown metal, then compare the sparks with a known alloy.  Mini-article hopefully soon.

Others who work on stuff or make things will tend to verify this:  You can never have too many punches.  I often wish for a rolling toolbox stocked with some of these, a bunch of these, and a couple sets of center punches.  I've tried making some of these types of things myself, with varying degrees of success, but overall there's no substitute for a quality, factory-made set.

As I'm learning, it is no easy task to get "just the right alloy" and "just the right heat treat" that is required of a good punch set.  Mayhew makes the best punches, but get the "Pro" series, not the "Select". They are two different grades;  the "Select" are designed to a lower price point.

2017 July 4
Independence Day


Yashica Electro 35
Fuji Superia 400 film
Bulb @ f/16

Today we celebrate the birth of our great nation. 

Lots of festivities this past weekend, but I'm sure many places are having celebrations today;  some of them, perhaps, into next weekend. 

If you haven't already seen it, here's How to Photograph Fireworks On Film.  And by the way, if you're not familiar with the Electro 35, it does not actually take square pictures.  (Neither do most other 35mm cameras;  they give a picture that's the standard 24x36mm.) 

A good scan of 35mm usually has plenty of resolution;  I say usually, because it matters what film you use.  The scan method is also important;  this one was flatbed-scanned with an Epson V500, so it's got much lower effective resolution than I can get with a camera-scan.  What's more important, though, is that you get the picture you like.  The colors, the shapes;  very often I find that this is what's really important, not resolution as much.  That's not to say you shouldn't use good film and good lenses;  but it's not always about that.

One thing I like about a flatbed scanner is the ease of matching a color profile to a film.  Useful, especially if you're a beginner to film.  They're also fast, for those "just a quick scan" pictures.

Have a safe and happy 4th. 

2017 July 1 & 2


Fujichrome Velvia (35mm)

Machinist Vise

(Forty-Eight Pounds of American Iron)

Fujichrome Velvia (35mm)

New:  A Useful Ratio:  How To Choose a Bench Vise.  This is the article I should have written before starting to do reviews of individual vises, but now that it's here, you and I can refer to it as we go along.  I'll probably throw some links to this article into the existing reviews.

Speaking of vises, I was testing another one these past couple days.  Put a 25-pound heavy-duty bottle jack in the vise so I could hammer and wrench on it (rusty, stuck, obviously hadn't been used for a long time).  Twenty-five or more pounds of oversized truck jack;  I don't have a Mack truck or anything, but I picked up this rusty old jack in a garage sale.  With the rust and peeling old paint on it, how could I leave it there?  I decided that it had to become part of the Rust Yard Gallery, an ongoing project. 

But the point is, you don't put something like this in just any old vise and expect it to stay put while you're wrenching on it with a three-foot Stillson.  This requires something with a certain level of stoutness, which is what that new article is all about. 

For my own reference, I estimate that this jack took about 4,000 pounds of clamping force to keep it from pivoting away from the vertical.  The edges of the base didn't present much surface on which to get a grip.  The forces applied by the vise were parallel to the plane of that base.  (A little reminder... don't hammer or wrench on a jack that's pressurized.) 


What's New (& What Was)

"What's New" Archive Index

"What's New" - Current Page

As always, thanks for visiting my website.  If you purchase your stuff through the links on here, it helps me keep this site on-line. 

Thanks again;  I hope you enjoy my work.

Contact me:

3 p o.t o . 1 2 0 s t u d i o.. c o m

This won't directly copy and paste.  Please manually type it into your mail program.
No spaces between letters.

Home Page

Site Map

Copyright 2016.