Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
  These guys have the neatest toys
I would love working at Reliable Tools, they get the best stuff. It probably wouldn't work out though, I'd be playing with everything, not getting it ready for sale. Some recent items I'd love to have:

Magna Bend Roper-Whitney MBB-4181

The first tool we use in sheetmetal work is the shear which chops big sheets of metal into pieces just like a giant paper cutter. The next step after cutting is bending a flat sheet into something more resembling a box, tube, or some other 3d shape like a toolbox. (Not much call for flat metal, much more useful after its formed into something.) Now usually to bend the metal you put it in a unit called a Brake which clamps it on the top and the bottom and then has a hinged plate on the bottom that starts bending the sheet right where its sticking out from the clamp.

This works great when you're first starting out because the metal starts out flat. But start putting some bends in it and after a bit those bent sides start getting in the way of the clamp, leading to more complicated things like the box and pan finger brake where you can adjust the width of the top clamp with individual clamp pieces, but sooner or later you're still in trouble because those fingers are bolted onto some large fixed frame which gets in the way on larger projects, or some other problem arises. Happens to me all the time.

The magnabend gets around this by not having any frame or structure on top. It holds the top part of the clamp to the bottom part with magnets. I'm guessing electromagnets, pretty serious ones. Probably smash your finger if you left it in the wrong place. This solves all kinds of problems for bending because all you have to do is have about five inches of depth available inside your project somewhere, set these clamp pieces in there, turn on the magnets (whump) and you can bend away. Also, there's no hinges and structures on the ends, so your project could even hang off an end without causing any problems.

This one sold for close to a thousands dollars, which is why I didn't get it (I was saving up for a tabletop CNC), but it sure would be nice.

Hardinge Compound Cross Slide and Radius Turning Attachment

Another fun item was this lathe attachment for making doorknobs. What this does is pivot a cutting edge around the end of your spinning work piece cutting a nice round surface. Good for making ball pien hammers, babbington burners, bed knobs and other fun stuff in aluminum and brass. Unfortunately this one wouldn't fit our lathes without some major retrofit, and at $726, it was a little pricy for a nice-to-have item. Besides I've seen plans for building your own out there on the net, though of course I can't find my bookmark to the page right now (one of the hazards of having 18,000 bookmarks).

Clearing SEYI 330 Ton Straight Side Press SM1-330

Don't have any immediate use for this thing, its just so dang big. Like a 4000W laser, this is sort of a long term future kind of thing. Would be great for stamping out custom sheet metal (once I figured out how to make my own dies), or maybe crushing cans (making them really thin). Would also love to be able to drop forge serious sized tools.

Still, not on this week's shopping list, even with the reasonable closing price of $55,000.

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Paul Graham's Essays
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How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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