Biltong ‘sweets’.

I love savoury thing. Now and then I have the urge for something to munch at and I always regret not having savoury ‘sweets’. I know some of you guys will jump and say: just have a packet of crisps but, you can’t suck on crisps. On the other hand you can do it on a well dry biltong. So I decided to make a Biltong ‘sweets’.


you will need:

Fruit Dehydrator (don’t be like me and buy cheap one).

Safari biltong mix.

Cellophane paper (may sure it is the real one that once you bend / twist it, it will remain it’s new shape).

1kg Top side beef joint.

What to do:

Trim all the fat and gristle from the meat, then cut the meat to 4x2mm cubes. Put everything in a bowl.

Measure 45gr of the biltong mix and mix it well with the meat. Leave covered in the fridge over night.

Biltung sweets
Biltong Sweets
Biltong Sweets

Next morning, arrange the meat on the dehydrator shelves. Turn on the machine and let it work for around fifteen hours. You want the meat to be dry but to leave some moisture in the middle. That way it will feel like real sweet sweet , i.e. dry enough to suck on to begin with and then more chewable toward the end. By now the meat cubes shrink to half its size, perfect the size of normal humbug sweet. You can now cut the rough corners of the meat to make it more symmetrical.

Biltong Sweets
biltong sweets

Cut the cellophane to rectangular sheets the size of 120x90mm. put one piece of dry meat at one end of the cellophane and roll it all the way to the other end. Hold it, with your two hands and twist both ends in opposite direction at the same time. Yes I know that my explanation is not that good, but it’s not really rocket science.

biltong sweets

Now put all the individual ‘sweets’ in a bag and store it in the fridge. You can keep it there for two weeks or you can frizz it for longer. Bon appétit.


biltong sweets

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Making wooden star knob

How to do a wooden star knob, for using with M6 bolt.

If you remember last post I talked about a homemade metal sheet bender (if you don’t remember, I advise you to read it). I used three Star Knobs. Obviously I didn’t have knobs like that in my shop. So, like always I build it myself.  Mind you, the internet is probably full with instruction on how to do it but, I couldn’t be bothered to look. In any case my method work well.

I found three M6 Coach bolts so I used them.   You also need 12mm (or there about) thick hardwood.

I first  used  25mm Holesaw, luckily it had a 6mm pilot drill bit, if not you will have to drill the middle hole to 6mm size afterword.

Wooden Star Knob Wooden Star Knob







I draw circle 25mm in diameter and divided it into six segments.  Then I  traced it on the wooden batten that I cut earlier.






Now, saw the  wooden battens (knobs) along the six dividing lines to the half  depth of 7mm round rough  file for metal.

Wooden Star Knob






Clamp it on a vice and start to shape it into Star knob. I used two files. The first one was a triangle fill to help establish the position of the grove and I then finis the grove with the 7mm round file.








Now all you have to do is to apply some glue around the top most end of the coach bolt and drive it into the knob’s hole.

And that it. if you in to it, you can now paint the wooden part. I didn’t.

Come to think about it, I saw deferent method on the internet.  You first cut six holes around the edge of the desire knob size and, then you cut the knob out of the peace of hardwood.


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Homemade sheet metal bender

In the last two years I am trying to figure out how to construct a complicated Automaton machine. It involve few wooden human figure (in small scale obviously), that interact between themselves, in synchronised movement. It involve a lot of cogs and pulleys. Some of the cogs seats on axel that supported by thin brass sheet bracket.

Automaton gear

One can bend the brass sheet using his vice, or hammer it maybe.  I did try both but, it is very difficult to do it accurately and consistently.   So I decided to built myself a Sheet Metal Bender.

It is small and primitive but it work for me and, it was easy to build out of material that I found around my workshop.  I won’t bore you with the exact dimension, as you can adjust it to your own needs. Instead I show you all the parts that I used and if you zoom in you will be able to see the shape  of the various elements. See below. The mug of coffee is essential part of it, yes.

Homemade sheet metal bender

And here is how it works.

My Homemade Metal Sheet Bender.

Homemade sheet metal bender

If you want to repeat the same dimension on few pieces, then you need to set the length of the sheet that you want to bend. Lock the adjuster fence and the  sheet  clump using the knobs (next week post, is how I built the knobs hades). All you have to do now, is to bend the free plate (on the right) upwards  (right angle to the fixed plate) (fixed on to a vice).

Homemade sheet metal bender Homemade sheet metal bender





Note the shape of the clump metal strip (on the fixed plate), it is chamfered to 45 degrees to allow for sharp right-angled bend. You may say that, from the photos, it doesn’t look as if it worked. You will be wrights but, it is not because of the metal strip hedge angle. It is because I used a very flimsy hinges and when I bend the free plate there is a slight gap between the two plates.

It is simple to rectify the problem by using more robust hinges and a better quality wood for the plate.

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How to make a small wooden wheel

As promised, today post is not about food. It is about how I made a small wooden wheel for one of my automaton wooden sculpture. You may say, yes yes another one that invent the wheel, it may be so but it worked for me, so I share it with you.

I had a mental block, so I download that photo wooden wheel

from the internet to remained me the geometry of a wheel. If it is not important, you don’t need to go to great extent to be very accurate. For me it was enough to replicate(kind of) the rim section of the wheel and to some degree to carved the treads of the tyre (in exaggeration). Anyway, the real wheel that served as model was from an old tractor trailer from my childhood.

wooden wheel

First thing first. You need to do three things:

A. To cut a wooden circle the size that you need. I used MDF for it and roughly cut it on my band saw.

Wooden wheel

B.  I than shape it on the disc sander, to the exact shape, using my SPECIAL jig.

Wooden wheel

C. Build a primitive wood lathe. I discovered that if I use only the drill as a lathe, the force you exert with the chisel on the wheel will ruin to drill and it won’t make a good and symmetrical round  wheel. So you need to back the blank wheel from the opposite side similar to a proper lathe.

Wooden wheel        Wooden wheel

I attached the drill on an  adjustable block of wood to a solid wood base and attached my adjustable vise, to the same base.

Attached the wooden MDF wheel to the drill, I used my buffing polishing mandrel. I clump  harden pointy bar of steel into the vise and adjust it to fit the middle of the blank wooden wheel dead centre (I did drill small hole in the head of the mandrel, so the point fit snugly to it). don’t tighten it too much, as it can slow the drill and brake it.

Mark the profile of the wheels’ rim on the MDF wheel blank  with black dot.  Run the drill on relative fast revolution and start to curve it along the marking. I use my rough all-rounder chisels for that.

Wooden wheel

In hindsight I should built  a tool rest  for the chisel, but I was too lazy.

After finishing to curve the rim profile I marked the location of the tyre treads, mount it (yet again) on purpose build mount, it enable me to hold it firmly wile I carved the treads.

Wooden wheel             Wooden wheel

Wooden wheel Now all you have to do is to paint it. I contemplating to stick some pins into the wood to imitate nuts and bolt but again I was too lazy.

And here it is.    Oops, see featured image at the beginning.

Eventually I fix it into my automaton sculpture, step back and admired my handy work. (it is on the bottom right of the sculpture).

Wooden wheel





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Protective watch cover

Today post is about how I make myself  a protective  watch cover.

I have this nice Swiss watch but the problem is, that it is not suitable for me. This days i spend most of my time out side of the house. Be it gardening, knives making, wood working, stone working  or any other  type of handicraft that involving the usage of noisy electric tools.  So you can see the problem. Swiss watch and my activity doesn’t go together.

I would sale it but, my son dare me not,  he want to inherit it. But still, what the point of having watch that i like and not to be able to wear it?

I decided to get a protective cover for it, and being me,  I also decided to make it myself.

So here is how I make it.

I got plenty of raw leather, I know how to work with it, so I am going to make it out of leather.

First you need to build a mould, to form the leather top cover.

Protective watch cover

Measure the diameter of your watch  and drill a shallow socket in  block of wood. It need to be in the  more or less the depth of the thickness of your watch.

Now build the wooden plug. Subtract two times the thickness of your leather (mine is 3mm, so I subtract 6mm) from the diameter of the socket and cut the plug. Use a wood file or whatever have you, to round the sharp hedge of the plug, but only from one side.

Cut peace of leather  roughly the length of the: socket diameter, two times the depth of it plus 40mm.

Protective watch cover

Wet  the leather, lay it on top of the socket and press the wooden plug into it. clamp it in a vise and wait few hours until its’ dry.

Take out the plug and cut the excess of leather to shape the top cover. Leave 20m length of leather on two sides, roughly the width of your watch strap.

Protective watch cover

For the next stage you will need peace of thin leather , say 1.5mm thickness , contact cement glue, few  heavy duty poppers (snap studs), Leather hole-punchers and a shoe polish or leather dye.

Protective watch cover

From the thin peace of leather cut two straps, the length that can wrap around the watch strap (see main photo).  Dye the straps and the top cover but, make  sure not to dye the leather in places  where you are going to glue it.  Glue the straps to the top cover and punch the holes for the poppers.

Protective watch cover

Then rivet the poppers.

Protective watch cover

At  this stage, if you are not too lazy (like me), you can stitch the straps around the poppers  to the top cover to give it extra strength. Since its a prototype, I couldn’t be bothered.

Anddddddd,  here you have it.

Protective watch cover


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