In Part 5 of my series on the making of Pocket-Safe hammer shrouds, I discussed how I had come close to launching a defective product, and spent months and piles of cash trying to fix what I had first thought was a minor issue. But when all the minor issues had been cleared away, I was finally able to see the major issue I showed you in Part 4: in the original hammer shroud design, the hammer spur fit into a gap between the top of the shroud and the “pinch” below it. In my modified design, the angle between that gap and the “skirt” that fit around the back of the gun was all wrong, so that the hammer spur was passing through the “pinch” at an angle. Rather than being snug in a little space, where displacements from proper position tended to push it back, it was just held by friction in a narrow area, so that any force could move it and it would stay moved. That was the reason it sometimes popped off coming out of the pocket.
So I called up my engineer and explained the problem. The original design had worked; my departure was defective. But I still wanted the back-of-frame contact and skirt, so we needed to change the die design to allow for that. Very shortly after that conversation, I had the final masters, still in use today, in my hand. I made molds, cast dies, and ran a quick test: it worked. All my worries had gone away!
Then Club Workshop announced it was about to close.
So now I had a design that worked, a nice little thermoformer, dies ready to go—and no way to cut them out. Crap. I contemplated doing a rush job of a few hundred on the laser cutter before it was no longer available. Of course, so did everyone else, so it was in constant use. They only way to get it was to show up and hang out for hours on end hoping the guy ahead of you wouldn’t be there all day. It was tough enough to get normally, but with closure imminent? And in any case, I didn’t have a cutting pattern for the new design, didn’t have a jig to hold the workpieces, and I was scrambling to figure out how I would replace access to the mill, welders, and woodshop that I had been enjoying. It wasn’t obvious that I could even get enough laser time to figure out the right cutting pattern, never mind actually do a production run. Oh, I could have bid on the laser cutter. It went for more than $8,000. And in any case, it had literally 10 times the power and twice the surface area that I actually needed to get the job done. And it turns out used laser cutters are very, very hard to find, especially when compared to other tools like lathes.
July 2014: How am I going to cut these out? I didn’t know.