Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mods and Fixes

I've had a number of requests for modifications from people who's darts won't fit into the cases as is, the overall dart dimensions are given on the design page (6.25" and 5/16" barrel diameters or less) and I've come up with a number of ways to meet their needs.

The length of the case is pretty much fixed, no way to grow the blanks longer than they are. I can, however, put longer flaps on the case so there is a more pronounced gap between the wooden end of the case and the enclosing flap. This bumps up the max allowed length by half an inch. Not a perfect solution by any means, the flights are less protected and, in my opinion anyway, it looks a little odd. I've had several people ask me to do it though and they always seem happy with the results.

More common are those folks throwing brass bombers - you've seen them, big, fat darts usually known as the dreaded 'house darts' you get from the bar if you left yours at home. Some people like them though and I do my best to accomodate. I have a half round, .5" router bit that I can put on the router table and with a properly positioned fence and stop blocks it's not a big trick to expand the grooves. I have a link on my site to a guy that makes wooden darts, turning them on a lathe and adding hardware, his darts come in at about .4" in diameter so this works well for those. Occasionally someone will have a set of darts right at the 5/16" limit and their darts catch on the epoxy covering the posts holding extra flights and coins - a couple passes over the epoxy with a fine grit piece of sandpaper usually takes care of this.

The next request is about flights, there are lots of different size flights out there, some of which are pretty big. I designed the case around what are called standard flights, some people call them kites. The larger flights, when on the darts usually fit within the case when they're on the darts, it's the pocket on the inside for spares that is sometimes an issue. A flat bottomed 1 1/4" forstner bit fixes this problem nicely by rounding/extending the top of the storage pocket to the desired size. A drill press with a clamp is absolutely required for this to keep things from moving around.

These are custom modifications and I usually charge an extra $10 to $15 due to the work involved, even with a method and some practice it takes time to set everything up and refinish the case once the modifications are done. Repairs are a different situation and are, of course, free of charge.

Scratches (a.k.a. character). I've never had a case actually returned due a scratch but there are some things you can do if it bugs you. The easiest is to get some furniture wax (I use minwax but I don't think it matters, there's a number of products out there that would work, I do however, prefer the paste type to any of the liquid ones) and buff lightly with a cotton cloth. This is also a good way to clean the case and make it look brand new. For a really deep scratch you can try putting a damp paper towel over the area and going over it *lightly* with a hot iron. The steam will penetrate the exposed wood and it will expand slightly. I haven't done it myself but I'm told it works. Personally I'd just buff it with wax and call it a sign of maturity (like my crows feet).

Snaps. The only reported problem I've had that resulted in someone mailing me a case to fix has been a snap that pulled free of the wood. There are #6 screws and super glue holding the snaps on the face of the case (see previous post) and they are very sturdy but wood being a wonderful unique material sometimes has weak spots and if the snap happens to be on top of one, there may be a problem. To fix it I use epoxy putty, this is a tube of two tone goo that you cut off a small piece and roll it in your fingers to mix together. You can find it in the plumbing section of almost any hardware store, it shapes like putty and hardens like steel so once it's worked into the hole where the screw pulled out it is important to scraped the top flat before it hardens. After the epoxy bonds and sets, I let it sit over night, then I redrill the hole on the drill press, squeeze in a good shot of super glue and replace the screw and snap *careful* to make sure it's not overtightened.

And that about it for reported problems, I did have a friend locally that leaves his case in the car and the temperature change caused the glue holding the metal emblem on the front to pop loose but that was easily fixed with a bit of epoxy (he used the gel type super glue and it held for a while but two part five minute epoxy gives a better bond).

I hope everyone had a good holiday season and is off to the start of a fabulous new year. Shoot well and point'em if they leave their twenty open.