I Wish I Had a Pen…

I know that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. It’s not for lack of projects. I am currently in the process of crocheting two different blankets, I have two different sewing projects underway, plus I am in the middle of a refinishing project. The problem is that I don’t have enough pictures of any of these to make a decent blog post.

Jay has been working odd schedules and taking classes for work, so he hasn’t had a lot of productive time in the shop. He did get two more 3D wooden puzzles put together, but I don’t have pictures of them. So, we’ll go with the old stand by… pens.

This time I want to show you two different pens he made at my request.

Up first is the Icon Pen that uses the ballpoint end and ink from a Bic pen.

Icon Pens

Aren’t they pretty? I have to admit that I’m pretty low maintenance, so I prefer these Bic pens. I also enjoy the cushioned grip. Plus, Jay loves me so he personalized one for me.

Personalized Icon Pen

Next up I saw some kits and asked Jay to purchase them so that I can give them away for gifts. Are you ready for some absolute adorableness???

Cat Lovers Pens

AWWWWWW!!! Kitties!!!!

Come on, you have to admit that the little kittens in the baskets are ADORABLE!

Cat Pens Tops

Everybody needs a cat pen.

Cat Lovers Names

With their names on them. The outside two pens were given to the director and assistant director of the cat shelter where I volunteer. They have to do a lot of stuff that is difficult and would hurt my heart, so I wanted to show them my appreciation. They really loved them.

And one more picture because you just can’t have enough adorableness.

Personalized Cat Lovers Pens

Finally, the last picture I have does not have a pen in it. Are you ready?

Turned Bottle Openers

Do you know what these are? Any guesses? No, they aren’t extra-classy whistles. They are bottle openers. Every time I look at the very light middle one I think it looks like bone. It’s actually maple. Isn’t that neat?

I hate to make you groan, but even though this is the last of the pen pictures today I can guarantee that they will be back. Jay has a BUNCH of kits still to make, so you’ll be hearing more from his lathe.

Until then, may your nib be sharp and your ink well full!

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ACC: Knots of Love

Recently I decided to subscribe to Annie’s Caring Crochet club (ACC). This is a monthly kit club where Annie’s will send you a kit that includes a pattern and all the yarn needed to complete a project based on a charity’s needs. This way if you like the finished object you can keep it, or you can send it to the charity that is included in the kit.

I decided to do this because I enjoy getting yarn in the mail, but I really enjoy getting yarn in the mail that already has a project slated for it. Annie’s has all kinds of kit clubs; crochet, knitting, jewelry, crafting, etc. I’ve seen various YouTubers open their kits and I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a subscription to a club, but I know that I would either never use the yarn or else I wouldn’t care for the pattern. I really didn’t want to spend my money on something that would never be used. I decided to go with the Caring Crochet club because this way I already know who the recipient will be and Annie’s provides the information needed so that you can ship your finished project to the charity.

ACC Knots of Love

From what I can tell, the first kit is always the same. Maybe all of the kits are numeric so that no matter when you join you will always get kit #2 for your second mailing. That’s fine with me. I’m not very particular about what kit comes when.

The first kit is to make Chemo Caps for Knots of Love. It came with the pattern, two balls of yarn and a scarf for the hat that you see pictured on the front of the pattern. I forgot to take a picture of the kit BEFORE using the yarn.

ACC Knots of Love Hats

One thing that I don’t like is that the kit doesn’t tell you what brand of yarn you are using. This way if you happened to have more of that same yarn on hand you could make more projects and really give the charity something nice to open. From the feel of it I’m pretty sure it’s Caron Simply Soft, or it could be Premier’s Ever Soft. Either way, it was soft and silky.

After I’d made the two different caps I still had quite a bit of yarn left. I knew I wouldn’t use it for anything so I decided to make a two-toned hat. I think it looks okay.

The patterns were easy to follow and were designed by Britt Schmiesing.

One thing I do suggest is that if you decide to participate in the club, go to the charity’s website to see how they want you to send them the project. Normally I wash my Project Linus blankets in hypoallergenic detergent without any kind of fabric softener, and then I spend the time to remove as many cat hairs as possible before putting them in a sealed bag. I realize that not everybody wants Bob’s fur in their blankets or hats. Some charities don’t want you laundering the projects at all because they will do it when they get them. So definitely check out to see what each charity requires before you package them for shipping.

ACC Knots of Love Hat

The club is $19.96 per month, which might be a little steep for some people, but I think I will enjoy it. It will give me exposure to some projects that I would never make otherwise, plus they will be small enough that they will be a nice pallet cleanser in between my bigger projects. I was working on a larger project, but it was bad and was put in Time Out, so I worked on these while my other project had time to think about what it had done.

I hope to be able to make each project every month that I receive them, but we’ll have to see how that goes. We are nearing Christmas and that always puts a few things on the back burners. At the very least I will share the kits with you so that you can see the yarn and maybe be introduced to a charity that you really want to help.

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To Every Pen (Turn, Turn, Turn)

I told you this was going to be a dangerous rabbit hole for Jay to dive down. It all started with the bolt carriage pens.

Finished Pens

Let’s just say that it has QUICKLY snowballed from there!

Now he is making fat twisting pens.

Pen Turning - Fat Pen

And skinny twisting pens.

Pen Turning - Pen Slim

Does it stop there? No. He has, of course, figured out how to personalize them.

Pen Turning - Roberto Fat

And now he’s making them in sets.

Lexi Pens

Boo-boo Pens

Then I enabled him even more (I didn’t know it was possible, either), by sending him a picture of a pen case that I found. That night an order was placed for not only some cases,

Rifle Pen Case

(Yes, a rifle case for your bullet pen)

Tactical Pen Case

(And a tactical case, too)

but he also purchased a kit to make me a crochet hook.

Turned Crochet Hook

As soon as I’m finished with my current project I will start another blanket so that I can put this to the test.

Is that it? Of course not!

What would life be like if he didn’t also try to make measuring spoons?

Measuring Spoon Kit

When I went into his shop to take these pictures he was standing at the lathe. He has a P.I.P. (Pen In Process) that was on the bench.

Pen in Process

And apparently another manufacturing order has been released, which I think you can technically consider to be P.I.P., too, since the material has been issued to the job.

Kitted Up Pen

I’m not sure how many more he will make before he has completely saturated our household turned pen market, but I suppose we shall see!

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Lunch Bag Update 08 2021

I can’t recall when the last time was that I updated you on my Lunch Bag Progress. I had made a few versions of it and finally decided that I was going to go for it.

After making three of them, plus the beer cooler, I realized that the largest part of my time was spent cutting out all of the pieces. For each lunch bag you need a top and bottom (insulation, liner and exterior fabric), a back piece (insulation, liner and exterior), a side piece (insulation, liner and exterior), top side piece (liner and exterior) plus the top handle, the adjustable strap and two D-rings.

I had already cut out the insulating pieces.

Lunch Bags Insulation

So now I needed to cut out the exterior fabric sides,

Side Fabric Piece - LunchBox

(8 Black, 8 Burgundy, 8 Hunter Green plus 8 of each color of the thinner top side piece)

the side piece linings,

Lunch Box Linings

(12 Gray, 12 Camel)

and the top and bottom pieces, plus the back piece.

Lunch Box Back and Ends

(8 of each back exterior, 16 of each top/bottom exterior, 12 of each color back lining and 24 of each color top/bottom lining)

Including all of the insulation pieces, lining and exterior fabric, I’ve cut out a total of 456 pieces!!! I am making 8 of each color (24 in total), with 4 of each color lined in gray and the other four in camel. I think they will look nice.

That was a lot of work, but then I started assembling the straps and D-rings.

Lunch Box D Rings

Lunch Box Straps

(Addie refers to this as her ‘bling.’)

When I wasn’t sewing hardware onto nylon strapping I was hand-basting insulating pieces together.

Basted Insulation Pieces

This will help them stay together and not do a lot of shifting when I put them in the lunch bag shell. Why did I hand baste them? They were too thick to fit under the presser foot of my machines.

Hand-Basted Inuslating Piece

And that’s not all of the sewing that I’ve been doing. My friend’s son will be turning one in about a week so I had to make him some hooded towels (that’s my go-to first birthday present).

Charlie Hooded Towels 08 2021

I’ve actually had this ribbon sitting around for over a year waiting for a project for my friend. She LOVES minions. So her son does, too.

Charlie Minion Towel 2

Charlie Minion Towel 1

Now that I’ve taken a little break I need to get back to the sewing room. I only have 456 pieces of lunch bag to start sewing…

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A Shot At Pen Turning

While we were visiting my sister, Jay and I went to a woodworking store to pick up the stain and finish that I wanted to use for his mom’s dining room table (I promised to help her refinish it). We don’t have one of these stores near us, so it was neat to just walk around.

As we were walking around Jay suddenly remembered something that he’d seen in the store’s catalog. Before I knew it, we were standing in front of the supplies for turning your own pens. Jay decided he wanted to have a go at this type of woodworking, so we bought some insert kits and a few blanks.

When we got home we watched a couple of YouTube videos about pen turning (isn’t that how you learn how to do everything now?) and then Jay headed to his workshop. Before long he brought his finished products to me to see.

Finished Pens

I thought they turned out rather nice. It’s hard to get a good picture with the bright LED lights in the workshop.

Jay took his pens to work and a lot of his coworkers didn’t believe that he’d made them himself. You would think by now they would know that if he says he made something, he probably did. Anyway, another coworker brought him a mechanical pencil and asked if Jay would be able to make the barrel out of wood. Jay likes a challenge, so he brought it home and in one night did this:

Mechanical Pencil 07 2021

His coworker was so impressed that he is supposedly going to bring the other three that he purchased for Jay to make wood barrels for them, too.

A few more coworkers have been eyeing his pens, so guess what showed up in the mail today?

Pen Pieces

Yep. Guys, I think we’ve unleashed yet ANOTHER monster…

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Project Linus Blanket #37

Project Linus Blanket #37

Project Linus Blanket #37 7-15-21 - Minions


This was my vacation crochet. I worked on it in the car, out by the pool, and in the evenings when we were just hanging out. It was a last-minute pick and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.

I follow Creative Grandma on YouTube and saw her video about one of her latest afghans, the Sunny Day Shell Afghan. I thought it might make a nice blanket for Project Linus. Glenda used a variegated yarn and for some reason some of the yarn I had purchased a while ago popped into my head.

Magic Light Mixed Lot

I had purchased a mixed lot of Ice Yarn’s Magic Light. This is a #3 100% acrylic yarn and I really enjoy working with it. You can’t see much of it, but there were some yellow-gold and blue-turquoise skeins that I wound. I grabbed a bunch of these and off I went.

Project Linus Blanket #37 Detail

In the original pattern Glenda used a #4 yarn with a J (6.00mm) hook. Since I was using a #3, and I didn’t want too many holes, I went with a H (5.00) hook. Also, the pattern calls for 10 – 7oz skeins of yarn. I kept track of how much yarn I used while I was making it. Umm.. I only used 18.4oz. I stopped crocheting when I did because I was afraid that if I added more I would make the blanket way too long when compared to its width.

It’s not a very big one, but it’s okay. As I started crocheting I got three rows in and I almost ripped it all out. I decided to keep going and I’m glad that I did. I will probably use this pattern again, but next time with either a bigger hook or a #4 worsted yarn. In the meantime, I at least managed to use 18 oz of yarn that otherwise would have just sat in my stash!

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More 3D Wooden Puzzles

Last week we went to my sister’s house for vacation. It was time for us to kick back next to her pool and just enjoy ourselves.

Reading by the Pool 7-8-17

Although we don’t have children, I always have to prepare activities ahead of time to keep Jay occupied while he’s away from his work bench. This includes finding audiobooks to listen to in the car (topics that he will enjoy… no Jane Austen 😦 ), and this year I prepared for evening down time and possible rain days by purchasing more of the 3D wooden puzzles. My main criteria for choosing these were to get ones that a) he hadn’t already assembled b) would be interesting enough for Jay to want to put together and c) had as many pieces as possible.

One of the puzzles that Jay had been wanting was the Wood Trick Assault Gun AR-T.

AR15 Puzzle 2021

It was the first one that he chose to assemble. The first night we were there. This is why I had to keep it hidden before we left on vacation.

Even if you’re not a fan of guns I sure hope you can appreciate the detail that this company puts into their puzzles. Not only do you build the gun, but you also assemble the magazine that holds 12 rounds and the 44 bullets that they include in the kit.

AR15 Puzzle Magazine

They actually do shoot out of the gun, but at a very anemic rate. I seriously think the only way you could get hurt by one of these bullets is if you stepped on it bare-footed after it fell out of the gun’s barrel. Jay has plans to see if he can increase the tension on something or another to get it to shoot the bullets a little farther.

No matter which kit you’re looking at, I really love the detail that goes into the pieces.

AR15 Puzzle Safety

Here you can see the safety plus the warning to wear eye protection. “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

AR15 Puzzle Cartridge Ejection

On the other side you can see the magazine ejection button, plus the door that flips down for the cartridges to be ejected (although, there aren’t any ejected cartridges on this model).

AR15 Puzzle Scope

It also has a scope mounted on the top with a charging handle that actually moves to advance the bullet into the chamber (please forgive me if I am using incorrect terminology… I’ve only heard these terms used a few times).

AR15 Puzzle Extended

If that wasn’t enough, the butt stock actually pulls out, too.

I think this is one of Jay’s favorite puzzles so far. When I asked him what his favorite part of this puzzle was, he replied that it looks and acts just like a real AR-15 (except for the velocity of the bullets as they are fired, of course). His least favorite part was all of the toothpicks. There were a LOT of them.

The next puzzle he assembled was the UGEARS 3D Research Vessel.

Scientific Research Ship 2021

This wasn’t one he had on his list, but it had a LOT of pieces. Also, I told him it reminded me of the ship that was used to locate the Titanic. It even has its own little ROV guy.

Scientific Research Ship ROV

This has a working crane and a floor cavity with opening lids.

Scientific Research Ship Other Side

I think it’s also supposed to move when you wind it up, but Jay didn’t feel like messing with it to get it to move correctly. There was something just slightly off and he was just assembling it to keep busy at this point.

This does have a lot of neat details like the rivets on the side of the walls and other little details lasered into the wood.

Scientific Research Ship Bridge

Plus it included thread for railings and even little life savers that you assembled.

Scientific Research Ship Rails

Jay saved the other two to work on when we got home. One of them was a Railroad Crossing Gate.

RR Crossing Puzzle 2021

I was hoping this would be the same rail gauge as his train he got for Christmas, but after building this is looked a lot narrower. Which is too bad because the gate also comes with about 16 feet of track!

RR Crossing Puzzle 2

The last one that I bought Jay was a rubber band pistol. Jay actually started this one today, so I’m sure it will be done before I’ve finished this post. You’ll have to wait for pictures, though.

So that’s it! That’s how I kept Jay busy while we were at my sister’s. He gets grumpy if he’s away from his work bench for too long, so this was a way to keep him busy.

If you haven’t tried any of these puzzles I highly suggest that you pick one up. There are so many different ones that you should be able to find something that fits both your tastes and skill level. You never know… you might discover a new interest/obsession!

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Project Linus Blanket #36

Project Linus Blanket #36:

Project Linus Blanket #36 Wrong Kind of Diamond 6-17-21

“Wrong Kind of Diamond”

You might recognize this yarn. It was used in my last Project Linus blanket. It is Red Heart’s Bunches of Hugs. I was hoping to use up all of this yarn that I have on hand, but I still have about a skein and a half. I’m going to put it in my stash and use it farther down the road. I’m not fond of it. Especially since I could never find the center pull end on either of the blue skeins that I purchased. It rather irritated me.

I used the Tulip Fields Afghan pattern, but instead of doing flower blocks I just made them all solid. This is actually an interesting way to use up yarn. The biggest pain is just sewing the blocks all together at the end. When I had finished the last block I was somewhat happy. Then I realized I still had a lot of sewing to do, so I was no longer happy.

Project Linus Blanket #36 Detail

I used a single crochet join and did my best to line up the blocks before joining them. It just didn’t work out the best. There are a few large spaces here and there. Oh well.

I know one thing, it’s going to be a while before I make another blanket that requires you to sew blocks together. I think I’ll head back to my ripples again.

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A Beer Cooler, Too

After making a third practice lunch bag I decided that maybe I knew what I was doing, so I gathered my materials, my patterns, and started cutting out the insulation pieces.

Lunch Bags Insulation

That’s almost enough for 24 lunch bags. I’m waiting for more ultra firm stabilizer to show up in the mailbox, and I used a few pieces on another project. I only ran into one problem when cutting out the pieces from the InsulBright. I had used an air-erasing marking pen, but you usually get three or four hours before it starts disappearing. And some pens don’t disappear at all. Well, I spent an hour and a half tracing out all of the patterns. As I started to cut them out I noticed my lines were beginning to disappear. YIKES!

Luckily, Jay came in the room at that point and I asked him if he could please help me because I had a “beat the clock situation” happening. I could hear the Mission Impossible theme playing. Thank goodness for Jay because we managed to get them all cut out just in time!

You would think that 24 lunch bags would be plenty to keep me busy. Nope. Saturday morning as I was sitting with my crochet it suddenly hit me that I could probably modify the pattern to be tall enough to fit a six pack of beer bottles. Not only that, but I could personalize it for Jay by cutting a piece of New England Patriots quilting cotton fabric to cover the front panel. I ran the numbers, I used my slide rule, and then I double checked on my scientific calculator. Yep, I was pretty sure it would work.

I cut out my pieces and started sewing with the 403A.

Singer 403A

I managed to get most of it sewn together by Saturday evening. I decided to finish it up after I detailed Jay’s car on Sunday. It was very hot and humid, so I also showered and napped, too.

After my nap I sat down to sew. I figured it should only take me a few hours. Then the machine started to irritate me (which really wasn’t difficult that day). I couldn’t get it to sew at a slow pace! I would slowly press on the pedal, but instead of the usual motor engagement and then needle movement it would just suddenly take off on me. This is not good if you’re traying to manhandle a large piece of insulated cooler, plus keep your fabric edges together. After several tries I turned everything off and walked away.

Jay happened to be coming upstairs and he saw my irritated face. “Uh-oh,” he said. When he asked what happened I told him that my machine was being stupid. One of the many great things about Jay, though, is he KNOWS electric motors. Actually, he knows a lot of stuff, but he really understands motors. I told him what was happening and he said it wasn’t the motor, it was the pedal. I demonstrated it for him so that he could see what was happening and then we took the pedal down to his workshop so that he could open it up.

403A Pedal

The Singer 403A is a mechanical machine. There aren’t any circuit boards on it so I didn’t really know what to expect when he opened up the pedal. I definitely was not expecting what I saw.

403A Pedal Inside

I spent four years looking at drawings of all different kinds of electronics, but I’d never seen anything like this little item. I had no idea what I was even looking at, but Jay started removing screws and taking it apart. I don’t have any pictures of that because I was so irritated. I only took these pictures after he had reassembled it (without any extra parts).

Keep in mind that prior to opening this pedal up there wasn’t any research done at all. Jay didn’t go to the computer and do any troubleshooting. His technique is to take a look and see if he can figure it out. I thought that this was stumping him a little at first.

When he managed to get the big white square out of the frame he tipped it and all of these round black wafers came out one end of a tunnel that was in this block. Jay looked at it for a second and then started laughing. I had no idea what was so funny. I was still trying to figure out how it worked.

403A Pedal Insulator

See that long yellow lever at the top of the white block? When you press down on the pedal it pulls the strip of metal on the left toward the block. Let’s take a look at this from another angle.

403A Pedal Nipple

See the silver protuberance under the strip of metal? That sits on top of the pile of discs that fell out of the block when Jay tilted it. Do you know how it works just by that description? Jay had to explain it to me. This pedal allows variable speed, but it does it by using those carbon discs as conductors. As the metal piece touches and then begins to compress the discs they are able to better conduct the electrons, which is what determines the speed. If the discs have more space between them then the electrons aren’t conducted as easily and it creates a slow speed.

This is the point where I tell you how lucky I am to have a husband like Jay. Looking at the discs he realized that two of them really weren’t in good shape. That’s what was causing the pedal to have to move farther to get any kind of decent contact, but by then the discs would be compressed so that’s why I couldn’t get it to sew slowly. Jay found some bar stock that he machined down to the right size and inserted them among the discs. Voila! My machine was fixed. He did suggest that this is just a temporary fix and we really should get a new pedal for my machine. It is on order, but in the meantime….

Patriots Beer Cooler Front

I finished the beer cooler!

I had quite a few difficulties with this, so I don’t think it turned out great. Jay is very happy with it, though.

Patriots Beer Cooler Fit

The original lunch bag size is big enough to allow a six pack to be slid into it, but it just wasn’t tall enough to accommodate the bottles. Adding a few inches made this possible.

Patriots Beer Cooler Back

I put one of my labels on it. Poor Jay now has a beer cooler with a cat on it. lol

Patriots Beer Cooler Inside

This turned out okay, especially since I remembered to install the zipper going in the right direction. Jay is happy with it, so that’s all that matters. I am happy because I am able to go slow with my machine. Now, back to the 24 lunch bags…

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A Cranky Machining Project

I teased you a little bit at the end of the last woodworking blog. I showed you this picture:

Misc Milling Part

Did you idnetify the mystery object? No, it’s not an industrial roof top fan unit for the train layout. No, it’s not a Barbie-sized jail cell toilet. No, it’s not an abstract spoon rest. Let me show you the original that is made of plastic and Jay was asked to re-make in aluminum (or aluminium for our British friends).

Crank 2

Ah, of course! I should have guessed “Cranky Thing” right away. Now, I know that Jay has told me what this crank goes to, but honestly I was thinking about yarn so I have no clue what he said. In fact, once again I am going to write a blog post about something Jay has made and given me the SD Card from his camera that contains his progress pictures. Jay took these pictures and I really have no idea what’s going on. This could get interesting.

The first thing that Jay always does when he’s working on a new project is he draws it in SketchUp. Always. Even if he’s not going to use the CNC router or 3D printer.

Crank 3

He keeps telling me that I need to learn SketchUp. Why? He does such a great job with it that I couldn’t come anywhere close to being as good. (That’s the excuse he gives me as to why he doesn’t wash dishes).

After drawing up all of his dimensions and getting an idea of how he’s going to approach machining this part he then has to find some material.

scrap iron

Hmmm…. nope, that’s not right. Let’s try again.

Gluten Free Cake

Gluten free cake? Hmm… still too heavy and it won’t machine well. One more try…

Crank 1

This should work. Plus, it’s blue! How pretty!

Once he has the right material he puts it on the mill and starts cutting.

Crank 4

The blue must be the candy coating on this block.

Crank 5

Whoops. Looks like there was a little bit of skittering and some chatter. That happens to the best of us.

Crank 6

This is one of those hidden item puzzles. Can you find the Cranky piece?

Michelangelo once said that it was the job of the sculptor to find the piece of art in a block of stone. Well, it is the job of the machinist to find the Cranky part in the block of aluminium.

Crank 7

And there it is!

Since this is a Cranky Thing we are going to need the turning bit with the whats-its on it.

Crank 8

This is definitely the turning bit, but where are the whats-its?

Crank 9

Never mind. I found them.

And we’re done.

Crank 10

Thank you very much! Have a great night! I’ll see you later.

*off-stage whisper*

What do you mean there’s more? I already said goodbye. I can’t take back my goodbye.

*more whispering*


Thank you very much! Have a great night! I’ll see you later.

The next stage of making a Cranky Thing is to build a little house.

Crank 11

Yikes! That’s a very flat roof. You better hope that it’s not going to be in snow country.

*more off-stage whispering*

That’s not a house? *whisper-whisper* But it doesn’t look like a cover. I don’t see a hinge or an ‘Open Here’ sign or anything.

*whisperer forcefully takes control of the post in order to put up the next picture*

Crank 12

Okay, now I see what you’re talking about. That’s great. Now, get out of my post!

We have to hurry up before the Peanut Gallery starts butting in again.

Crank 13

That cover keeps the turning bit in its little house so that it can’t escape.

All that’s left is to install the handle.

Crank 14

Voila! A completely assembled Cranky Thing!

That’s it. We’re actually done with this post. Now let’s get out of here before that annoying whisperer comes back!

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