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April 3, 2004

Saturday afternoon Andres came by to help me take my table apart and cart the cinder blocks over to his house where we'll be using them as added weight while epoxying the hexcel to the steel sheets.

Earlier in the day I'd received the first shipment of Loctite E-20HP epoxy.  I'd ordered a case and inside were six 400mL tubes.

The table slowly becomes lighter as we carry the blocks down to our cars.

Here's a shot of Andres' garage with three layers of hexcel waiting at one end and a single sheet at the other.  The steel is at the top of the second picture.

We sanded the steel in sections so that we could tag-team the sanding and cleaning with denatured alcohol.

Andres does a bit of sanding.

The first sheet of steel sanded and cleaned, waiting for the epoxy.

The first two tubes were emptied into a bucket and I spent five minutes or so mixing for all I was worth.  Unfortunately I didn't order a gun with the epoxy and emptying the tubes was a major chore.  The epoxy was forced out easily enough but the hardener was quite a lot thicker and it took the two of us to force it out of the tube.  I'll be looking for a gun on Monday.

The first two sections have been epoxied to the steel, the unused sheets of steel have been piled on top and everything in the garage that has any kind of weight has been piled on top of that.

We decided to start with the cut pieces because I wasn't positive how much epoxy was going to be needed.  For these two sheets of hexel, we used three tubes (1200mL, 40oz) of epoxy.


April 4, 2004 12:00pm

We're back together on Sunday morning and we've removed the blocks and steel to check our handiwork.  The epoxy has cured and is rock hard.  Already the panel is difficult to deform.  So far, things are looking good.

We're using a different epoxy today.  I already had 20oz of JB-Weld (which I wanted to use for the entire project but that company couldn't get me what I needed in time) and it just so happened that 20oz was enough to finish the first layer.  We cut the bottoms off the tubes and emptied them into a mixing bucket.

We then spread the epoxy out on the last section, pressed the hexcel into position and piled everything on top to weigh it down. By tomorrow morning the first epoxy layer should be cured (seven more to go)


April 4, 2004 6:00pm

This evening I started working on the new legs for my table.  I took a page out of John Laux's book and purchased some concrete form tubing that I'll be filling with sand.  This evening I cut the wood for the end caps and epoxied (using cheaper hardware-store brand epoxy) one of the forms to an end cap.

2' of form, sitting on some of the wood.

Cutting an end cap.

Eight end caps, ready for use.  Each one is 10x10"

Here's the first tube, epoxied to an end cap.

and partially filled with sand.  Tomorrow morning I'll finish the rest of the tubes.


April 5, 2004

Andres and I got back together on Monday evening to check our work and continue spreading epoxy.

As it turned out, the gun for use with the Loctite tubes was going to cost $147.  That's not much if the entire table was going to be epoxied with the 20HP but I'd since decided that the costs were going to be prohibitive.  The epoxy alone would have cost over $1300.

Earlier in the day I'd taken some time to locate a distributor for JB-weld and found an auto parts store that could supply me with at least 24 units of industro weld.  Based on our experiences Saturday and Sunday I initially calculated that we'd need 6 units to cover the next layer.  It actually turned out that 8 worked better for giving us an even coverage of epoxy over 17.5 sq ft.

24 units of industro weld, waiting to be used.

The first panel.  With just one sheet of steel the hexcel is difficult to deform

Andres sands the next face.

While I gather the needed epoxy and begin emptying it into the mixing bucket.

The epoxy has been spread out to completely cover the steel.

And the first panel is carefully placed on top.  I wish I had a video of what we did next.  Once the panel was down, we began walking across every square inch of the top, stomping our feet to firmly push the hexcel into the epoxy.

And finally, piling everything in the garage on top of the steel while the epoxy cures.

From start to finish it's taking about an hour and a half to do one layer of epoxy.  At this rate the table top should be complete by next Sunday.


April 6, 2004

Another evening of sanding, cleaning, squishing, epoxy spreading and weight piling.

We started by setting up an interferometer and testing the panel while sitting on the floor (sorry, didn't pick up the camera) to see how it performed without any isolation.  It was very good until we stomped our feet about 10' away.  At that point the fringes jittered quite a lot but quickly settled down.  We then lifted up (with great difficulty) the panel and slipped four inner tubes underneath and ran the test again.  This time the fringes just shivered slightly and settled down almost immediately.

Things are looking good.

The table on the inner tubes.

Cutting the bottom off a tube of JB-Weld.

Squeezing it into a bucket.

Making a cake.

45 minutes later the epoxy has been spread, the second sheet of hexcel is in place and all the weight is back on top, weighing the hexcel down and pushing it into the epoxy.

That's three layers of epoxy completed.  Five to go.


April 7, 2004

Before heading to Andres's I did a bit of work in my office/lab.  The old table is now completely taken apart down to the floor and I'm ready to start building it back up.

Think we'll have trouble getting all the gatherees in this room?  We would today.  This area has got to be cleared and ready by next Friday.

First off, put some additional padding underneath the flooring and then...

Fasten what were two rolling bases for the old table(s) into one piece.

I then headed on over to Andres' so that we could do the epoxy tango again.  Only one picture today since we were doing all the same things we'd done the last several days.

This time though, we put the base panel on some plywood so that it would be off the floor slightly.  We then piled all the weight on the center and clamped the edges.

This panel is becoming quite heavy.  At the moment it weighs around 160 pounds.  It'll weight close to 200 by the time it's done, which is still half of what the old top weighed.


April 8, 2004

Before heading in to work I filled the legs with sand that I'd bought the day before.  Now I just need to cap them off with 14" plates and cart them upstairs



We were out of epoxy (hopefully another 24 units will come in on Friday and no later than Monday) so Andres and I got together to test the table.

After setting up the interferometer we watched the fringes while the plate was sitting on the floor and are sure that the fringes were better behaved than they were a few days and one layer of hexcel ago.  We also put the inner tubes back under the panel and again the fringes were well behaved.  We were able to get them to move slightly while stomping our feet but they settled down very quickly.


April 9, 2004


Carted the new legs up to the office.  I'll cap them this weekend.


Andres and I got together again and epoxied another layer.  This new layer is the one on the bottom and is epoxied to a sheet of steel at the bottom of the stack.  This new sheet of hexcel is the beginning of a second panel.  We're going to transport the table top to my house as two panels and do the final epoxying on the table.


April 10, 2004, 8am

We did a repeat of last night using a new sheet of hexcel.  At the moment we have three panels in progress.  The bottom two (see the next picture) will be epoxied together tonight at 6pm

Side view, the new panel is composed of the bottom sheet of hexcel and the steel underneath that.



Andres and I met back at his house, ready to spread the next to the last layer of epoxy.  Earlier in the day we had attempted using a pasta machine to squeeze out the epoxy but the rollers are metal and 1/4 along the tube they just started slipping.  We gave up at that point but Susan later suggested using the rubber grippy things we own (for helping when you need to open a stuck jar) and so I took the machine and grippy things back to Andres' for our evening epoxy session.

It worked like a charm (wish I'd remembered I had that pasta machine before Friday evening).

After clamping the machine to a cinder block, we wrapped each tube in the rubber and cranked the handle until the tube head reached the rollers.

At this stage we could simply squeeze the remainder out with our fingers.  This method worked a little faster than our method of cutting off the bottom and finger-squeezing from the top down.  The main thing it did for us was save some wear and tear on our fingers and made the whole process much less messy.

Tomorrow morning we're going to rent a small truck, cart the whole mess back to my house and set up the two panels in my office.  This top is almost complete.


April 11, 2004

The final layer approaches. 

Before going off and renting a truck I finished the legs of the table and put carpet on top for padding.

After getting the truck and packing it full of the table and all my other tools and misc, Andres and I headed to my house where we put the inner tubes on the legs

some plywood (four layers) on top of that and some additional padding on top of that.


The truck with hexcel table sitting inside.  Our neighbors were frightened by the whole endeavor and not a single one came outside to gawk as the three of us (Susan was helping) carried the panels inside.

We carried them through the front door, up the stairs and...

deposited the upper layer in the hallway.  We then took a nice long break before bringing the next piece up

Fast-forward to the second piece being brought upstairs.  We stopped for a bit of a rest and also cleaned the top sheet of the bottom layer so the top panel would sit evenly on the bottom panel.  Here Susan helps clean the last little bit of the table before we put the top layer on.

Of course, the first order of business is to set up an interferometer and see how the table performs.  It's great.  We can see the fringes move as we walk very close to the table but get several feet away and they stop reacting.  We can even be standing on the same floor joists that the table is on and see no movement (I've never been able to do that up here before).  The table also settles very fast.

The second order of business was to make a hologram.  This one turned out dim but I was using old film (it had been treated with TEA sometime in late February) and old developer so I'm not surprised.  I'm going to try again in the morning with a fresh batch of both and see how it comes out.


April 13, 2004

The last couple of days I've been working out some imaging problems with the table.  I've made several holograms that while they look like they should be bright, they're kind of dirty looking.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to go through a whole series of tests to determine where the "dirt" is coming from.

Since I can't use the table saw in the morning (I get up at 4:30 or 5am) I started working on some jigs in the evening that will make it easier to make the new mounts that Andres and I have been using.  Colin mentioned recently that you can cut aluminum with woodworking tools and that it's very much like working with Maple, only without the sap getting in your way.

Why make these jigs?  To keep my fingers as far from the blade as possible and to cut the pieces in such a way that they won't bind against the fence.

The first jig allows me to cut the aluminum to any length without endangering my fingers.  I simply clamp the bar to the jig and slide the whole thing across the blade.

The jig has two wooden blades that fit into the miter slots and serve to guide the jig in a straight path.

The second jig allows me to cut the channel in the end.  This is smaller and intended to be used with the fence in place.

April 29, 2004

Haven't had much time to update the blog (obviously) but things went very well at the first PCG Gathering.  Immediately after, I had to go into a mini crunch at work and didn't have time to do many holograms.

All that changed about the 27th.  Since then I've made nine copies of the PCG cat hologram and five of the Cheshire cat master I made back in December.  I've only had one bad hologram out of the whole lot and that was only because I didn't alter my plateholder alignment when I changed masters and the film moved during the exposure.

I've been able to shorten my settling times as low as five minutes and each hologram has been extremely bright.

As soon as I get more time I'll post pictures.


2003: Feb | Mar | Apr | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec
2004: Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec
2005: Blog
2006: Blog
2007: Blog

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