Monday, September 15, 2008

Making My Own Tools - The Street Sweeper Tine

Quite a few months ago, while crossing a parking lot, a glint of metal caught my eye. I picked it up and gave it a quick examination. It was about 1/8" wide, around 1/16" to 1/32" thick, and a little more than 5" long. One end of it was square, like it had been broken off after repeated flexing back and forth. The other end was rounded, like a single-edge knife blade.

I stared at it for 10 seconds or so before I realized what it was - a tine from a street sweeper brush.

I wondered if I might be able to put it to good use, so I stuck it in my backpack and continued on my way. Ever since then, I'll glance down every now and again when I'm walking through a parking lot to see if I can spot any more. As of now, I have a collection of about seven or eight tines of various lengths - most of them are six inches long or longer.

I don't know if the metal will hold an edge. It feels a lot like spring steel, which makes me think it might. So one of the first things I need to do is take a diamond stone to one of them and see what kind of edge I can put on it. If that works, then maybe I'd be able to put them in a handle and create some small chisel-like tools for cleaning out detailed areas of carvings or removing bits from string inlay channels.

If they're thin enough, maybe I could figure out some way to sharpen up the shortest edge and use it to help with running string inlays by holding it in a scratch stock.

If they don't hold an edge, I wonder if I might be able to use them in some sort of leather work. I'd like to some day try my hand at making a sporran - maybe I could use the tines as ribs or "stays" like they have in shirt collars, like for the sporran flap. Or in some other part of the construction where it would be useful to maintain the shape.

I like the idea of trying to take something like that and putting it to good use. Maybe you can think of something I haven't? If so, let me know. I'd be interested in your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

People usually make tension wrenches out of them for lock picking.

Ethan said...

Interesting info, anonym!

The closest I'll probably get to that would be using one to make a tool to clean out the mortise for a small box lock...

DoBell said...

They make good thump piano (kalimba) tines. They polish up well with sandpaper if they're not too beat up.

Monica said...

I wish I had your mind, to be able to see what things could be not just what they are.

Monica said...
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