My Steampunk Telescope #5: Life got out of the way.

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Blog entry by TelescopeMaker posted 08-15-2011 04:28 AM 1951 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Applying head knowledge. Part 5 of My Steampunk Telescope series Part 6: A Home For My Round Mirror. »

It’s been a while, and life got in the way, but finally it got out of the way again so I could work on my telescope. One thing that happened is that it looks like I won’t have to move to a different town after all. That has its upside and downside. The upside is, I will be able to get a lot more use out of the shop I invested so much time in creating. The downside is, I’m stuck with a smaller than I want shop. Maybe this will give me the motivation I need to put siding over the painted OSB. But I did manage to put a small air conditioner in it, so I’ve been able to work out there most of the summer despite over 90 degree temperatures.

Working on the telescope has been a lot of frustration. There was a lot of trim work that I did not account for when I first started it. And seeing as how I didn’t really know what I was doing with it, I probably did it the hard way. One thing I found out was that I did it the dangerous way.

I had a lot of plywood edges that I wanted to cover up with banding. So I bought some rosewood and cut strips of it with my band saw. And that is where the danger came… not in cutting, but in the dust. You see, it turns out that I am very allergic to rosewood, and I did not know it. I got the dust not only on my skin, but I breathed the dust. The reaction was not instantaneous. It took a day, then I came down with a bad flu, and I was broken out in hives on my cheeks, on my throat and chest, on my arms, and on my legs.

I was miserable. I was not sure that it was due to the rosewood, but after it cleared up, and I cleaned my shop, and I did the same thing again, it hit me “Never ever ever ever work with rosewood again, and get a coat of shellac on this batch ASAP.

Adding the brass inlay was done with brass wire for the most part. And I made a mistake in one of them by getting lazy and not masking off the groove before applying the epoxy. My thinking was, I would just sand down the excess. Well it discolored the wood because the epoxy dissolved some of the rosewood’s natural pigment, and smeered a pink color across a swath of the beech ply. I was heart broken and let the whole thing lie for a couple of months before touching it again. When I returned, the cleanup went better than I expected, and its hard to see where it was unless you are looking. It seems like it all took forever to do though, and all I really want to do is to finish this thing and get over it. My wife says she has the same problem when she nears the end of knitting a sweater, and she was very encouraging. It might have languished if not for her.

But rosewood is just too pretty. And it is a Steampunk Telescope after all, so what good is it if there is no inlayed brass? Finally I am nearing the end of this project. I have the brass, and the final coat of shellac on it. I probably did overkill, because I did a french polish on the whole thing. I always wanted to try it, and it is striking in its effect.

Due to the fact that it is a telescope, and meant to be used outside in the dew laden air which will settle on it, I have decided that a couple coats of poly will go on it at the end.

The next steps before completion are to add small hardware – a brass hinge for the lid over the mirror box, the flat black finish needed for the inside of the box and for the side of the aluminum pole facing the light path. A repair of a brass threaded insert (which I will epoxy in this time!)

But here are some pictures!

This is everything I have been working on. The big round piece with the hole in the middle is the base of everything that moves. It proves the back and forth motion of the telescope. The octagonal thing is the mirror box.

The white line in the middle of the rosewood is actually the brass inlayed wire. I pounded it flat so that it just fit the groove I made with a dremel tool. A little touch up with the R-O sander, and it was golden (literally)

All the dots are either brass rod from some plumbing I had, or they are the K&E brass tube stock with dark rosewood inserts. I made a little saw from the brass tubing to cut the rosewood plugs. Worked great.

The eyepiece board showing the curved rosewood. To do the bending, I had a piece of 2” galvanized pipe I heated with a propane torch. Its tricky, and I burned it bad several places overall. but it sanded or scraped out ok.

Bottom view of the eyepiece board with straight banding. I would have put brass dots on this too, but I am taking way too long on this thing as is.

This is the base part that touches the ground. It is completely wrapped in rosewood. I glued it all in place with large 6’ long rubber bands that I found at Rockler.

The base, the tine, and the lid. The tine has a hole in the center that will act as a pivot for up-down motion of the telescope.

The crescent bearing. The swirly brass inlay decorations are made by heating the brass and cooling it in water to soften the wire. The wire is then twisted with a drill and pounded flat. Then I softened it again and bent it into the shapes you see. Then I copied it in my copier and glued the result to the wood as a pattern. Then I used the router attachment for my dremel to make the grooves and glue in the brass. A little scraping and sanding afterwards and it all came together. All in all, it’s a pain in the ass.
The round disks you see are the actual feet for the thing that touches the ground (see above) I’m not sure how I’m going to attach them… probably elmers white glue and a dowel. I may want to remove them someday.

-- Telescope Maker, Woodworker, Brewer, Gizmologist, Gardner, Lawn Mower

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