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Need to make some machine tool covers--Sewing machine recommendations would be great

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  • Need to make some machine tool covers--Sewing machine recommendations would be great

    OK--I got a bunch of these to do, and yes, I can admit that I don't mind giving it a try. The problem is I know little to nothing about sewing machines and their use, but that's never stopped me before.....

    I am thinking of a canvas, duck, or denim type weight material for the covers. I have found this site that provides excellent instructions on making covers:

    http://www.projectsinmetal.com/norma...for_machinery/

    The master plan is to buy a machine off Craigslist or FleaBay and see if I could talk one of the fine seamstresses in my area to give me a paid lesson.

    So any of you fine gents have any recommendations on a machine or the type I should be shopping for? I am making the assumption that because of the weight of material I am most likely after a "heavy duty" machine maybe a walking foot?

    As always, thanks for any suggestions.

  • #2
    No recommendations on sewing machines but I'll go on record that machine tool covers are an excellent idea - provided they can breathe. Canvas or duck would be my choice. Anything non-permiable traps rising moisture which condenses to drip whre you don't want drippage.

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    • #3
      Covers are especially important in a home workshop because we usually try to cram as much as possible into a small space . That means grinders within grit drift distance of lathes and mills for example. If that grit settles onto oiled ways a lot of insidious damage can be done. Dressing grinding wheels is particularly bad in this respect. Whenever I can, I cover my sensitive machines before grinding then let the dust settle before uncovering them. Same thing for wood work, although this is a bit less destructive. I use old duvet covers - they are big enough to cover up my machines and as Forrest says they don't cause condensation.
      Bill

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Forrest Addy
        No recommendations on sewing machines but I'll go on record that machine tool covers are an excellent idea - provided they can breathe. Canvas or duck would be my choice. Anything non-permiable traps rising moisture which condenses to drip whre you don't want drippage.

        For U.S. residents, cotton-duck drop cloths are available in various sizes at Home Depot (priced in the $25-$35 range). So far they've had the desired result in my garage shop.


        * The HD product line also includes plastic-backed cotton-duck - obviously those are not breathable.

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        • #5
          Not to try an hi-jack the thread, but will covers help stop condensation on the machines. Here in Arkansas we can get wild swings in humidity and temp. Have gone out several times and found machines very wet, just like someone took a garden hose to them.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by quadrod
            Not to try an hi-jack the thread, but will covers help stop condensation on the machines. Here in Arkansas we can get wild swings in humidity and temp. Have gone out several times and found machines very wet, just like someone took a garden hose to them.
            Won't help in your climate. :-) The relative humidity is such that it
            doesn't take much of a temp swing (down) to get below the "dew
            point" and there you go, "condensation". :-( Was almost as bad in
            PA but here in NM it has to drop a BUNCH to get anywhere the dew-point.
            Just yesterday the RH was 4 % :-)
            ...lew...

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            • #7
              Ok, I'll admit to this one...I do some sewing. Heck, I just like making things. It doesn't matter if it's sewing, machining, brewing, gold smithing, or cooking.
              You don't need a fancy new machiine. I have two expensive Husqvarnas, but if it''s something thick I want to sew like canvas, out comes the fifty year old Singer. Just like old lathe iron, the old cast iron Singer sewing machines, (normally black with gold pinstripes), are real work horses. They are nice and stiff, and plow through the thick stuff with ease. Check the resale shops. I see them there quite often. The needles come in different sizes, and tip profiles. They make needles suited for canvas and thick materials.
              Eric Sanders in Brighton, Michigan
              www.scope-werks.com
              www.compufoil.com

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              • #8
                I checked with my resident expert, and SHE says the simplest, non-computerized machine that you can find. Elna, Singer, Brother, Husquevarna, whatever. BUT buy needles used for making jeans-they are ideal for denim or canvas.
                Also, a commercial machine will just make crooked seams faster than light!
                Duffy, Gatineau, Quebec

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                • #9
                  And even with a slower, home machine, that cloth can drag your finger, and you can put that needle right through your finger, quicker than snot. (Don't ask me how I know.)

                  Those things scare me a lot more than a lathe or a milling machine. Be careful out there!

                  Oh also, I've been meaning to check out the options available in grill covers and porch furniture covers at the local big box home store. I don't care if my Lathe cover says "Weber" on it, and it might be a cheap or at least reasonable alternative.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lew Hartswick
                    Won't help in your climate. :-) The relative humidity is such that it
                    doesn't take much of a temp swing (down) to get below the "dew
                    point" and there you go, "condensation". :-( Was almost as bad in
                    PA but here in NM it has to drop a BUNCH to get anywhere the dew-point.
                    Just yesterday the RH was 4 % :-)
                    ...lew...

                    I have to disagree, Lew, though my personal "experiment" is not exactly complete.


                    Cold weather climates exhibit the same kind of temperature/humidity inversions that Quadrod describes in Arkansas. Combine that with a massive concrete "cold-sink" (IE, uninsulated concrete floor) and you have a perfect laboratory for studying condensation on metal.


                    My shop is in an unheated garage, and one that is not particularly air-tight - so the garage and the outside humidity are usually in perfect synch

                    The garage also has an uninsulated concrete floor, and a fairly substantial concrete pit: 54" deep X 40" wide X 12' long: all told, that's a lot of mass, chilled by direct contact with the earth.


                    This is how I manage the condensation problem:

                    1. My mill and lathe sit on 4 x 4 timbers, giving a modest thermal break between the cold floor and the machines.
                    2. The machines are kept well-oiled
                    3. The machines are covered with several layers of old sheets, and a breathable heavy-cotton drop cloth on top.


                    The machines have only been in place for about 10 months, but the humidity-control scheme has been tested quite a bit already: we have had 3-5 periods of heavy humidity & rain this winter*, the expected periods of spring & summer humidity last year - and I have seen no evidence of the slightest corrosion on anything.

                    * Not to mention the largest accumulation of snow seen at my residence in 30+ years.



                    To be sure, it is tedious to have to uncover medium-sized machinery before use, clean & oil & cover after use - but that is the price for not living in a semi-arid climate.

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                    • #11
                      (split into two posts to keep the length down)

                      Being of the hard-headed persuasion, I had to have an object lesson in condensation before I grasped the obvious: one April after we had an unusual spike in humidity, I walked into my shop to discover my anvil so completely covered in large drops of condensation (about 5/16" dia.) that it appeared to have been rained on. (The anvil sat on an oak stump and was not in direct contact with the floor.)


                      Having finally grasped the obvious, I have since kept the anvil under cloth (an old sheet, sometimes an old throw-rug), In ten years, I have never seen even a trace of new corrosion on it - and I certainly don't keep the anvil oiled, either.

                      Everything in my shop is either under wraps, in a container, or in a cabinet. A bloody nuisance to be sure - but it appears to work.

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                      • #12
                        Addressing only the sewing machines, not the practicality of the covers, and if you can't find a good old fashioned black and pinstripe Singer, or of course an old industrial machine, I'd look at older Husqvarna (Viking) machines. The reason is that they usually have a two speed arrangement, giving a slow and powerful low gear for heavy work, which also can help keep you from sewing your fingers together if you're a bit unused to this stuff.

                        As always, however, you need to make sure you get a good one, and unlike the old straight stitch cast iron Zingers, they're likely to be a bit complex and although robust, they can get out of order, so be careful of any unwarranteed or untested ones. Older Husqvarnas had a supposedly jam-proof rotary bobbin setup, while almost jam proof, uses a plastic or fiber disk that can get chewed up if badly abused, and the parts can be expensive.

                        If you want a walking foot and can't find a commercial machine, you might look at the higher end Pfaffs. Pretty rare and rather expensive, I think, but you might luck into an 80's vintage Pfaff, and those had a retractable walking foot that worked pretty well.

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                        • #13
                          Air Gunner and Duffy--thanks for the recommendations, I do see those black Singer's around, they appear to be dirt cheap in some cases, I'll be sure to get the thick needles (probably easier to thread anyway). I greatly appreciate the help and thanks for checking in with the resident expert.

                          Bruto--thanks for the suggestions on the additional machines, in cruising around on Craigslist and Fleabay I recognize the names, now I'm somewhat armed and dangerous. Thank you for the helpful insights.

                          Paulsv--they do at first look terrifying, I'll be sure not to put my eye out or worse yet sew my fingers together, thanks.

                          You guys rock!
                          Last edited by hammerfest; 03-12-2011, 10:47 AM.

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                          • #14
                            If your goal is to make hard-core awesome seams, like those running down your jeans, then get a serger. That's what they do. In fact, today I'm going to use the wife's serger to make some 'socks' for two flintlock rifles today.

                            For a general purpose sewing machine, my uber-crafty wife prefers a relatively inexpensive Janome model. I'll see if I can dig up the model number.

                            If you're just making two or three covers, then go to the local quilt shop and find seamstress or perhaps to the local awning or upholstery shop. They have serious machines at those places. You'll probably be able to commission the covers to be made for less than you'll spend on a reliable machine.

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                            • #15
                              Wife says if you want to make a few covers, anything will do, as long as the machinery works. She says new $100 Janome brand machines will do nicely for making a few covers. These machines will have few options and a shorter life.

                              The wife's favored (portable) machine is the Janome Platinum 760. While it isn't expensive for a sewing machine ($450) she says that you won't need anything like that. But if you're gonna sew, it's a great bang-for-the-buck machine.

                              Repair guy says the Husqvarnas are now made in China - the European excellence has been lost.

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