At 02:59 AM 11/7/96 +0000, you wrote:
On 11/6 you said:
I've noticed several people's comments about the need for a cheap
wax pen. I have specs for two easy-to-make types I’d be happy to share if
there’s enough interest. Just let me know.
If it isn’t to big a hassel, how about putting it here?
You're the only Orchidean expressing interest at this point, so I'll write
this simple “wax pen” up and see if there’s interest in the other one (which
might provide a dual power source for itself and your famous wax extrusion
gun – we’ll see).
Anyhow, this is a simple little mechanism that's easy to make and is very
helpful on my wax bench. It certainly doesn’t replace a $300 wax pen but I
use it a lot for quickly sizing wax ring shanks, building up wax prongs,
decorating, texturing, etc. It’s designed for use with an alcohol lamp or
Bunsen burner, and is great for people just getting into wax work.
Disclaimer: this is a professional forum and everyone should know this,
but in case someone doesn’t, hot wax is dangerous! It can ignite if
overheated and if spilled can cause fires or serious burns. Always wear old
and protective clothing when working with hot wax because it can destroy
fabrics. Don’t breathe fumes – work in well-ventilated areas. Have I left
anything out? Be Careful! Don’t burn your precious pinkies!
Basic materials are a discarded ball-point pen, a melon-baller (yeah, I
know – grin and deal with it!), the ability (and equipment) to
silver-solder, a little piece of scrap silver sheet, medium and EZ solder,
some means of drilling a small hole and about half an hour.
Melon-ballers are available in culinary shops and many supermarkets,
department stores, etc. They’re designed to scoop out little decorative
balls of melon, so they have holes in the bottom of the bowls to let juices
escape. They come in lots of shapes and sizes so pick one that feels good
in your hand or that can be modified to do so, and that has a bowl large
enough to handle the amount of wax you’ll be using.
The first job is to plug the hole. Cut a piece of thin-gauge sheet silver
with shears or saw into a circle about twice the diameter of the hole in the
melon-baller. I dapped mine to shape by finding a ball-peen hammer with a
peening end small enough to fit into the bowl. I placed the silver circle
inside the bowl over the hole, carefully positioned the hammer over it and
whacked the whole arrangement against my bench top . Voila, a little piece
of domed silver ready to solder into place.
Once the hole is plugged with the silver patch, it's time to sacrifice a
pen. The easiest kind to work with are the sorts with replaceable
cartridges. Remove the cartridge and use a jeweler’s saw to cut about 10
mm. off the end with the ball point. (There are several different types;
make sure the cylinder is the same width along the 10 mm length except for
the tip, and that it’s made of brass or a similar metal – not plastic!)
Retain the sawed-off tip and discard everything else.
This procedure is potentially messy, so be prepared to deal with the ink.
Clean the sawed-off section carefully because it must be soldered. After
cleaning with solvent, dry and use a fine file or emery paper to clean the
area near the saw marks down to bright metal. File the sawed end flat, then
ream out the inside very slightly with a bud bur held in the fingers. Make
sure no metal filings are left inside the tube. Then use a long pin or
whatever will work to force the ball out of the end of the cylinder. Be
careful not to distort the shape of the pen tip too much, as the original
shape helps control the eventual wax flow.
If you're right-handed, you'll want to drill a hole the same diameter as
the pen tip cylinder on the left-hand side near the bottom of the
melon-baller bowl as it’s held in your hand (if you’re left-handed, do the
opposite). Before drilling the hole, hold the pen tip section to the area
and be sure it’s long enough to extend at least to the top edge of the bowl
as you look down on the whole arrangement. Remember, in use the entire bowl
will be hot, so you want the tip to be long enough to reach the work area
without having to worry about melting everything you’ve already done by
inadvertently brushing it with the bowl.
Okay, if you drilled the hole the right size you should be able to
“jam-fit” the sawed end of the pen tip into it for adjustment and soldering.
It should slope downward at an angle of no more than about 10 degrees when
the bowl to is held horizontally so that hot wax doesn’t leak out
prematurely. Solder it in place with EZ solder, use a small bur or grinder
in a flex shaft to make sure there are no projections inside the bowl.
Clean up, and you’re in business.
Try lots of different kinds of waxes at different temperatures and
experiment on a sheet of wax building up prongs, making designs or??? One
of my favorite waxes is a dental wax called “Perfect-Wax,” but I’ve also had
great results with many other types, including waxes with some plastic
content designed for injecting rubber molds. Put a small amount of wax in
the bottom of the bowl, heat gently over an open flame (avoid any flame that
generates carbon, like wax candles) and DON’T OVERHEAT!!
Wax shouldn't flow from the orifice until it makes slight contact with the
work surface. If it does, the wax is either too hot or the tip angle wrong,
allowing gravity to force it out. With practice all sorts of effects are
possible. If you come up with new ideas, let me know! Until then, wax wild.