This center punch is one of the tools that I use all the
time. For some reason it works better than any other center punch that I've ever
used. It has a knurled section in the middle, it's heat treated and it's
been part of my toolbox for a long time now. I've sharpened it a few
times over the years and it has done a lot of work for me.
You can tell alot about a tool that gets
hit by a hammer by looking at the end of it. That mushroomed area tells
you that it's been hit many times and has preformed great. I didn't know
how much I'd use this when I made it but I can tell you one thing, I
wouldn't sell it.
Getting hit reminds me of something else: when shop
class was over, it was time for lunch and with so many people on their
way to the cafeteria, it looked like a bunch of cattle going through the
doors. Like any other cafeteria, It was first come first serve so the
sooner you were in line the sooner you got to eat. Our shop class was
three buildings away from the food, which meant we would run everyday
to get a good place in line. As the other classes were letting out
between shop class and the cafeteria, we would dodge and weave around people as
we ran. Yes we had many close calls running into people so most of the
time we would take the outside lane as we made our way to lunch.
I got away with this for many years till one day my luck
ran out. With only a few more yards to the cafeteria door, I had a clear
shot with nobody in front of me, and then it happened. Someone came out
of the classroom next to the cafeteria and I took them out. We both
ended up on the ground and when I stopped rolling, I was just about
ready to jump back up and keep going when I noticed something, and it
wasn't good. I looked over to see how he was doing and all I could say
to myself was...oh no....that wasn't a guy, I took out a girl. Shaking
my head in disgust I went over and helped her up and told her how sorry
I was. Needless to say I was late to lunch that day but she was fine
because I broke her fall (thank goodness). From that day forward I
didn't run nearly as fast on my way to the lunch room. Damn those were
This flathead screwdriver hasn't seen much use but was
fun to make. The blade has been hammer forged and heat treated. The same
procedure went into the chisel went into the screwdriver blade. In
other words, lots of time and hand work.
reminds me of something else: in the early 70's Honda Motor Company was
introducing cars in the U.S. and one of the teachers bought one. I'm not
sure which teacher owned it but they parked it right outside metal shop.
It was all dirt in this area and various cars were parked there
everyday. Once we saw this car that looked like a toy, we decided to
have some fun with it.
A wide cement sidewalk ran along the buildings which was
covered by an steel awning. This awning was held up with large steel
posts that were about 4" square. About a week went by and one day
between the first and second hour of shop class, a bunch of us picked up
the car and centered it between those steel posts. Now there's no way
you could ever do the backup, go forward thing because there was only
two inches of room on either end of the car. Well the car was gone the
next day and was never parked outside our class again. Boys will be boys
The aluminum handle was turned on a lathe first and then I cut in the
flutes, which were made with a 1/4" ball end mill that was
held in an indexing head using a milling machine. The blade was knurled
before it was pressed on so it shouldn't come apart very easily.
This C clamp is made out of steel and has six pieces
total. The handle is made in three pieces: two end caps (which are
pressed on) and the 1/4" diameter center piece. The press fit end caps
were challenging for me but was a great learning experience. Notice the
finish on the C section, it consists of many circles that was hand done
in a drill press with a wooded dowel and lapping compound. It turned out
pretty nice and I did it for a little extra flair.
The screw was cut in a lathe along with that larger diameter
piece on the end (which
comes in contact with what your're clamping on). That end swivels
independent of the screw which was tricky to do but works great. The
clamp is made from 1/2" plate and is 1/2" square at the top.
Talking about running a lathe brought
on another story: a couple of my friends were gathered around a lathe
that I was running while cutting some steel. I was using some cutting
oil while the tool was removing material and there was some smoke coming
off the cutter. This was normal but then one of the guys, the class
clown you might say, started signing this song: “Chestnuts roasting on
an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose”. All of us started
cracking up because we all got it plus it was very hot outside. Only
this guy could come up with something like this, we all loved it.
Ball Peen Hammer
This ball peen hammer is made from many pieces. The head is made from steel along
with the handle, which runs the full length of the hammer. The aluminum
end cap screws onto the handle which keeps the plastic hand grip in place.
The hand grip is made from clear and red plastic that was glued
together and then turned on a lathe. Then it was sanded to 600 grit
paper and buffed out. It sure did look nice once I was finished with it.
I didn't use it much but I think my mom did for small jobs around her
Speaking of getting hammered, the teacher had a few
tricks up his sleeve when it was time to deal with people outside the
class room. Here is what I mean: there was a window above the foundry
area that you couldn't see out of unless you climbed on top of a work bench
and then stood on a box. The teacher would do this between classes to
see if anyone was smoking outside. Now if anyone was there they
never suspected that someone could see them because metal shop was the last
building that faced a street. This gave kids some confidence that they were
all alone but little did they know they were being watched.
Once the teacher saw someone, he jumped down and ran
over towards the door grabbing a full bucket of water on the way. Yes
he's done this many times. As he turned the corner the water was already
on its way and whoever was there got a bath. Now this happened in hot or
cold weather and once the kids came around the corner, the whole class
was there to laugh at them. And I don't ever remember a time when the
people outside were tipped off because it never got old watching someone
get a bath.
This one pound steel sledge hammer was another fun project. I bought the wood
handle and used the small end of it as a template for the slot in the
hammer head. This required a lot of milling because of how thick the
All the angles were machined with a milling machine that had the milling
head set at a 45 degree angle. Then I used a surface grinder to put a
nice finish on the rest of the head. If you look close you can still see
the surface grinding marks that run horizontally.
I've only used this hammer a few times and it works pretty good.
Soft Faced Hammer
I must have a thing for hammers because here's another. This one has two
different head types with one side being plastic and the other copper.
The hammer heads screw onto the center piece which is made out of steel.
I believe I made this during my senior year (1974). I
only had four classes during that time which were, TA for metal shop
(teachers assistant), PE and then metals two (two hours). At this point
I went home because I had more than enough credits to graduate. Everyone
called it "half day" if you went home at noon which worked out pretty
well for the students.
The handle is one piece aluminum, has a fine knurl so
it's easy to grip and the end has a full radius. The handle screws into the head end and is very
well balanced. This soft faced hammer has come in handy when you have
delicate work to do.
A couple more things: One of my friends was arc welding and
while he was hard at work, another buddy and I took an oxyacetylene
torch, stretched the hoses to the max, turned on the acetylene gas only
(but never lit it) and placed it next to his head so the gas found its
way into his welding helmet. If you’re not familiar, raw acetylene
stinks really bad and my friend was getting a face full. I remember him
yelling at us to stop, but you know how it goes, you just laugh and do
it again and again. Boy was he pissed off. I mean what are
I'm sure glad they had shop classes when I was in school because I took
them all (auto, wood and metal) and I learned something from them all,
especially metal shop! But the main reason
people take shop class is because you didn't have to work from a book and
you had lot of fun
At the end of each school year, we would give
the shop a good cleaning and something unexpected happened. We were told
to remove all the vises from the work benches because the wooden tops were
going to be redone over the summer. They were butcher block style bench
tops and very thick. Once the vises were out of the way we were told to
take two benches and slide them together. Then we placed a piece of wood
that was about 5" tall between each one and now we had pin pong tables,
four of them to be exact. Turns out our teacher was really good and if you were able
to beat him, you were doing something right. What a great class and a
I graduated in 1974 and about two years later both auto
and metal shop classes were open to the pubic from 6 to 9 pm on
Wednesday nights. That meant anyone could use the machines in either
shop class and it didn't matter who you were. My good friend Gary and I
would hang out there and work on car related stuff every now and then.
One time I brought in the rear-end from of my Camaro to do some welding which
worked out great. I remember us showing up one evening with fast food
from Del Taco and the first thing I did was sit down and eat. Del Taco
had three tacos for a dollar on Wednesday nights so this was a great
deal. Well that didn't go over well with Mr. Fulks because the first
thing he said when he saw me was, "Kevin, the next time you come in here
without food for me, don't bother coming in the shop". I knew he was
kidding but I had food for him the following week.
Sadly all the shop classes are gone now and have been for a long
time. That's a shame because many kids who took shop back then are now
making a living at it.
A big thank you goes out to Banning High School
for having all the shop classes and to Mr. Fulks for teaching me about
machining, having fun doing it and putting up with all the kids. That
was the best high school class...I mean...college class ever.