limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Fabricating a stamping jig


One great thing about having a machine shop is that I can make strange tools like this one. I received my custom maker's mark a few weeks ago and I'm currently preparing my first regular production run. After fooling around with the mark I decided I needed some kind of jig to hold the stamp and the flashlight head in the correct and repeatable position.

Cutting off some aluminum stock I had laying around
I scrounged around my scrap bin and came up with the appropriate piece of material. A bit off topic, but I got this band saw for free a few years ago. It was sitting outside in the weather for two years and was a real wreck. I spent a couple weeks restoring it and now it works great! Here is a link to the project if you are interested.

Would you believe I also have a custom made LED work light on my mill? I guess you would. 
As always, the fist task is to square up the piece of stock. Precision isn't all that critical here but I like to start with something that is actually square to save myself frustration later.

Next I located two holes. One will receive a set screw to align the stamp and the other will  get enlarged to hold the head of the flashlight.

The flashlight head is 1.2" in diameter so I used a series of  "silver & demming" drills to enlarge the hole to 1".

The final dimension bored precisely with an adjustable boring head. It produces a very fine machined finish, unlike the large diameter drill.

I drilled and tapped the small hole all the way through for a 1/4 28 screw.

Next I needed to flip the part on end and drill a hole that the maker's mark will slide into. The shank on the mark is square and the hole is round, so I'll thread in a small screw that will help the mark align on of its flat faces.

Viola! That was easy right? I added a back-stop (not pictured) that let's me set the head to the exact same depth every time. Then the whole thing goes into my press to make the impression. I tried hitting the mark with a hammer (pretty standard practice) but I found that it was too inconsistent. Remind me to take a photo of the jig in the actual press...that would probably make things more clear :)

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