Friday, January 2, 2009

My New Year's present to all, a blade holder how-to.

Hi Everyone,

I thought I'd start the new year with instructions on how to make a simple blade holder. This is a good way to use up scrap clay or cane bits or whatever. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like. The demo that I've got here is pretty simple, but it's just to get the idea across.

You'll need:
- Scrap clay
- Pearlex powders
- a sheet of magnet (I bought some 5x7 magnetic floppy picture frames at dollar store and cut those up, but business cards or other things work well, too)
- elastic cording of some sort

The blade holder is made up of two sheets and the blades are sandwiched in between the two sheets. Elastic holds the sheets together (see photo at the end of the blog).

If you're familiar with European or Canadian folders that close by pulling elastic from one side to another, the elastic configuration is similar to that.

Start by figuring out what you want for the front and back of each sheet. In this example I've run Pearlex coated scrap clay through the pasta machine with Bev's stamps. It comes out to a medium-thin thickness on the pasta machine. You'll need four layers of decorated clay. The length should be long enough to hold your blades with some room to spare. Width can be as wide as you like - the sample here will hold three blades comfortably and four possibly and it's about 4 inches across.

I'm thinking of making a narrow one so that I can keep my cane slicing blades separate from the rest of my blades.

I like my blade holders to feel sturdy so I also had a layer of scrap clay of similar thickness to the other layers. My total thickness for the one sheet after all three layers are combined is about 4mm or 1/8 inch thick.

Sandwich your layers together so that you'll have a nice front and back with a scrap clay layer in the middle. Trim all sides so that they're even, but don't get too carried away with perfection here, particularly if you don't have a lot of excess length because very shortly you could end up with a holder that's too short for your blades.

You'll need to decide which layer holds the magnet and cut it out accordingly. You can do this before you place the layer on the scrap clay, or you can do it like I did in the photo and place the magnet on top, cut lines around the magnet and then cut out the clay being careful to only cut the top layer out. The magnet should fit snugly into the spacing and should be somewhat flush with the clay though it's tolerant of some uneven leveling.

Don't put the magnet in just yet. I did when I was doing the demo and there was a lot of bubbling and warping that took me a bit to fix.

Bake your front and back sheets. I put the sheets on a piece of paper in the oven, then put another piece of paper on top of the sheets, and then another tile on top of all that to keep everything even. Allow to cool in the oven after baking. I didn't and I had some interesting warping going on during cooling. The slight valley where the magnet was supposed to go caused the piece to bow quite a bit. I simply put it back in the oven and let it cool with the tile on it.

If you've used Pearlex or the other powders, apply your finish of choice to seal the powders in. I've used Flecto spray varathane on mine.

Once you've got everything surface treated, glue the magnet in place. I use Weldbond glue and haven't had an issue.

Now you're ready for the assembly. If you need to do sanding to make the two sheets match each other, do it now. They don't have to be perfect, since it's scrap clay you can make one for fun just to get the technique down and then the other one for real if you want.

You'll need to drill 8 holes in the top sheet. I've placed beads on the top sheet so you can see the placement of the holes, but that's only so you can see where the holes go - you won't need beads. You can do variants of this and there's no exact science to it. Mine are about 1 cm (1/2 inch) apart on each side and about 1/4 inch (7 mm) from the edge. Drill a hole wide enough to hold your elastic cording, and if you're smart you'll drill one hole slightly thicker than the others so that you can slip your knot into it later. I've used the clear cording for bracelets but you can use whatever colour you want if you want contrast.

Now you're going to thread the elastic through the front sheet. At this point you'll need to decide which side you want for the front and which side you want for the back. In this case I decided that the yellow was the front. You want the elastic to be on the outside of the front as in the dashed blue lines of this photo. Use one piece of elastic for the whole sheet. I don't cut a specific length to start, I just pull a good bit through the first hole. Start where you want and thread the elastic through each hole in a clockwise fashion. Keep the elastic snug and flush to the sheet but don't pull it too tight. Once you've got all the holes threaded you should end up with two ends of elastic very close to each other. Knot and tuck into one of the holes if you can. I apply a dab of cyanoacrylic glue to the knot and hole and that helps with the permancency.

If this isn't making sense, please leave a comment and I'll try to explain better.

This final photo shows two blade holders that I've made. The one on the left was my first attempt. I didn't take photos of the construction process for that one. It's about two years old and other than the decorative trim on the sides has held up well. The one on the right is the one that I made as a demo.

To close your blade holder, put the two sheets together so that the inside layers face each other. Pull the elastic from the outside of the front layer to the outside of the back layer. Do this at all four corners. If you look closely at this last photo you can see how it looks from the side view. The top layer of the bottom photo is actually the back of the blade holder and you can see how the elastic ends up being placed.

And that's it. Please let me know if I can improve on my instructions, it's tough to sometimes describe when you've got front, back, middle and multiple sheets.

Happy New Year everyone. I am hoping for a good one for all.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy
Who is Bev and where can her texture sheets be purchased from?
Thank you for sharing your tutorials.