DIY bird savers

Until recently DIY stood for Death In Yard, our yard was not a safe place for our feathered friends. We live in a pine forest and have a window wall which was being struck by fast moving birds daily. It wasn’t nice and we knew something had to be done.

Looking out from our living room

We had tried everything we could think of. Streamers outside. Large cardboard stars hanging inside. Nothing worked. Finally we found a web site, www.birdsavers.com that had a DIY way to help.

Parachute cord is easy to come by, just head down to our shop. However we have a serious wind issue so we actually used some left over black elastic cord. This was coupled with a restraint at the bottom of the windows so that the cords would not get blown around and tangled (we had that problem with our streamers).

Just a cedar 1×4 both at the top and bottom of the windows was all it took. Actually that isn’t quite true- our grandson drilled all the holes and is now an expert with the cordless drill!

Here you can see the top of our windows along with the “enticing” reflections that used to draw the birds in. Yes, used to draw the birds in! Fingers crossed, after a week we have not had a single bird strike. The yard is full and the bird air traffic control is working overtime but the BirdSavers are living up to their name.

As you can see in the last image we did not install them on the upper two windows. I don’t like heights and getting the first two levels done was all the ladder work I could handle. If necessary we have the parts but so far I have been allowed to stay on terra firma. You know the old saying, the more firma, the less terra.

Footman’s Loops

Footman’s Loops, Webbing Guides, Tie Down Eye Straps- whatever you call them they are a useful way to connect webbing to a rigid surface.

We stock the following options:
1″ webbing size in stainless steel, white nylon and black nylon
1½” webbing size in black nylon
2″ webbing size in stainless steel

Side view of a footman’s loop

Those that we stock are designed to be used with #10 fasteners (which are not included). If you need dimensions go to our site and search for “footman”. Choose your option and the detail page will have a full set of dimensions.

Now for the $64,000.00 question; where did the name “footman’s loop” originate?

Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and other search engines are no help. Neither is Wikipedia. This must be one of the few topics not yet addressed on the internet.

Here is my guess-
Wikipedia says that “footmen” were attendants who ran beside or behind the carriages of aristocrats. Carriages often had mountains of luggage strapped to the back, most likely with leather. A low, flat loop would be useful in securing the load. That’s my guess.

When searching, the entry for “footman” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary caught my eye.
Recent Examples on the Web 
Nowhere is this more on display than in Thane’s Aunt Mabel, an aging widow who devours footmen (and any other attractive, available men in her vicinity) for breakfast.

This brings on a whole new question- what is the proper side dish when one devours a footman?

YUK! It’s A Hand Strap

Boarding your transit train you find it’s standing room only and you need to hang on to a hand strap. Is it clean? Who knows.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) polled their riders in March 2020 regarding the use of “Personal Hand Straps” and here are the results:
“BART’s Twitter poll asking riders their opinion about personal hand straps was available for voting until 2 pm Sunday. The final results are in: with 4,082 total votes on Twitter, 74.9% of the voters said yes to the personal hand strap idea. Other feedback from Facebook and Instagram showed similar levels of support for the personal hand strap.”

We started thinking about making a personal hand strap but two issues kept creeping in to our conversations.
1. How does one remove it without touching the grab rail?
2. How does one disinfect the strap after use?
Without solving those issues, using a personal strap would not be an improvement over just grabbing on to the bar with your bare hand.

After some testing we found that a simple loop sewn to the top of the strap would allow a user to disengage the strap without touching the grab rail.

Disengage the hand strap by pulling on the extra loop

Solving the second issue was easier. We turned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and learned that immersing the strap in a bleach solution would do the job. A bit more research and we knew that polypropylene webbing would not be harmed by a room temperature bleach bath. The same is true for the polyester thread used in sewing these straps.

The end result is our Personal Hand Strap, an economical way to keep your mudhooks (one of my father’s favorite phrases) off of the grab bars.

Resources:
BART Survey scroll down to the March 16, 2020 posting

CDC Bleach Solution

DIY Winter Hummingbird Feeder

Wintertime feeding of hummingbirds has been a family goal for quite some time. Providing food in freezing conditions was something my father-in-law solved years ago. You can read about that winter freeze in an article written by my mother-in law.

Winter hummingbird feeder

This is our current model made from a plastic pot and some Christmas lights. With all three lights lit it will keep the food from freezing down to around 20 degrees.

Inside of hummer food heater

You want to use old fashioned Christmas lights, not LED’s. The heat the bulbs produce is what keeps the food warm. We took three sockets from a string of lights and wired them to an extension cord.

Nothing fancy and in warmer weather the pot/light assembly retires to the garden shed. Everything we used was lying around so our total cost is just in time.

When we used to live in Tacoma with a more moderate climate our winter feeder hung over a Sasanqua Camellia (which blooms in the winter) and the hummers would perch on a branch right under the feeder. Close to food and probably soaking up a little heat.

Restraining your computer with a custom strap

A while back we got a call from a company that operates ambulances who needed a custom strap assembly. They were outfitting the fleet with laptops but wanted to make sure the computers would be safe in case of an accident. It wasn’t any little accident, they wanted the computer to be safe if the ambulance ended up on its top, upside down.

The restraint had to be easy to operate otherwise it wouldn’t get used. Since the computer would be between the driver and passenger seats, one-handed operation was essential. It had to be rugged since the laptop was used on each call and there would be many calls every day.

Together we came up with a custom strap, 3″ in width with hook & loop sewn to the webbing. The upper piece of webbing had a large tab on the end so it would be easy to grasp and disengage. A pair of bolts would attach each piece to the aluminum “sleeve” that the laptop rests in. The bill of materials for the project were:

  • Webbing: 3″ black heavyweight polypropylene #560
  • Hook & Loop: 3″ black nylon commercial sewing grade
  • Thread: Tex 70 bonded polyester

The upper strap has the hook material sewn to it. On the lower strap the sewn tab is on the left followed by the loop material. Both straps have two bolt holes melted in to them.

Dye Sublimation Printed Webbing

You want a logo on your webbing and would like it to be in color. Quickly you will enter the world of dye sublimation “printing”, often called dye-sub “printing”. This is a process that turns ink into a gas that will bond with polyester. The end result is something that has amazing vibrancy and longevity.

If you ride bicycles, jerseys are “printed” that way and will last longer than most of us care to wear them. Spandex exercise wear is dye-sub “printed”. Now the industry even coats metal and coffee cups with polyester so they can be “printed”. It is an amazing technology.

Dye-sub “printing” does have its downsides when it comes to webbing. It only works on polyester, not nylon or polypropylene. Webbing is thicker than clothing and dye-sub “printing” only will dye the surface.

Above is white polyester webbing that has been “printed” black. From this view it looks great but-

here is the end of the roll. You can see that the center of the webbing is white and should your strap experiance abrasion, you will soon see that white.

This is the side of the same roll of webbing. Once again the white is showing through.

We are dealing with a dyeing process that requires that the ink be darker than the material being dyed. With webbing one starts with white and then you dye the darker colors. If there is white in the image, you just don’t dye in that area. To get a black strap with white lettering you start with white webbing and dye everything other than the lettering.

Advantages of dye sublimation:

  • Short production runs are possible
  • True 4 color process
  • Fast turn around (compared to production runs of webbing with a logo)
  • You can have different images/colors on each side of the webbing

Disadvantages of dye sublimation:

  • Polyester only
  • Not abrasion resistant
  • Cut ends and the sides of webbing will be white

Is this the right technology for your application? Give us a call and we will help you figure it out. (253) 627-6000

The mystery of snap sizing

You need a strap with a snap installed on it. That should be easy until you call and we ask what size snap, ligne 24 or ligne 20?

First off, how do you even pronounce ligne? That’s easy, it sounds like “line”. Great, but how do you use this ligne thingy? That isn’t so easy unless you happen to be a watch or button maker from the late 18th century. You can read all about it on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligne
Now in the US it is defined as 1/40th of an inch.

Getting back to snaps, ligne 24 is the most common size. Boat covers, bag closures, leather working- you see them everywhere. Ligne 20 snaps are sometimes referred to as “baby snaps”. You might see these on clothing but probably not on a strap.

The two sizes are not interchangeable. Tooling to set them is different and with the ligne 24 size, there are many more options. Straps to Go has all the tooling for ligne 24 snaps. If you have a project that requires the smaller size please allow an extra week for us to get the tooling and snaps.

Stainless snap in orange material

Webbing choice will dictate the ease of installing a snap:

  • 549 standard weight polypropylene: easy
  • 560 heavy weight polypropylene: expect some rejects, stainless steel posts would help.
  • 630 lightweight nylon: expect some rejects and some puckering of the webbing may occur.
  • 7400 heavyweight nylon: must punch a hole prior to setting the snap
  • Polyester: must punch a hole prior to setting the snap. On very light weight polyester you might get away with having stainless steel posts but testing would be required.

The labor to install a snap in heavyweight nylon will be twice that of standard weight polypropylene. Without punching a hole, the post of the snap will just bend over.

Safety tethers for sailors

Many marine safety tethers sold today are not safe.

We have known for years that many of the snap hooks used on the “boat end” of safety tethers can come unclipped rather than doing their job. I was reading an article in Scuttlebutt Sailing News that brought this issue up yet again.

A few years ago we looked into making tethers and determined that we did not have the resources to do it right. We consulted sailors (other than ourselves), equipment suppliers and folks with engineering backgrounds. It’s not like we just took a quick look.

Since our decision, sailors continue to die due to safety tether issues yet suppliers continue to sell products that are questionable and others provide DIY advice for a tether that does not make any sense.

We encourage sailors to research their purchase fully. Practical Sailor has a number of articles on this subject. Look at the racing rules and the ISO specification they reference. Do your homework, this is a life and death decision.

We encourage the industry to stop peddling products and DIY advise that does not, at a minimum, meet current thinking within the safety industry. It is a good sign that some manufacturers have quit supplying products that were poorly designed 20 years ago but it shouldn’t take that long to get crap off the market.

Jute twine protects your trees

You just paid good money for a new tree, the last thing you want to do is to kill it!

It’s springtime in Cle Elum and that means trips to the nursery hunting for that special tree. This time of year also means wind, lots of wind so when you plant that new find you don’t want it blowing over that afternoon. So we use tree straps to protect the tree and provide a way to secure it upright, safe from the wind.

Tree Straps
Various Colors of Tree Straps

Tree straps need to be tied to a stake, post or other secure object to do their job. Jute twin has one feature your trees will love, it rots.

Why is rotting good?

Because some times we forget to remove tree straps and as we all know, trees grow both in height and circumference. Eventually a tree strap secured with wire or synthetic twine will girdle the tree.

Girdled Mature Pine Tree

So rotting, or as the manufacturers catalog says being biodegradable, is a fantastic feature for use in the garden.

Other admirable features of jute include:

  • inexpensive
  • soft and holds knots well
  • it’s a natural fiber- not plastic
  • our 1/2# spools are easy to handle
  • good UV resistance

Straps or Webbing – what’s the difference?

We get calls from customers who don’t know if they are looking for straps or webbing. The difference is akin to line and rope….

My father used to explain that a line is rope with a job. Dock lines are made from a coil of rope, as are anchor lines, guy lines (for your tent) and lead lines for your horses.

Straps and webbing work the same way. Straps (at least the ones we sell) are made from webbing. We sell bulk webbing should you want to make your own strap(s).

As with everything there are exceptions. Years ago I used to sell “crab line”. What the crabbers were buying were coils of rope but it was still called crab line. Metal banding for securing cargo to a pallet is often called strapping even when sold in bulk.

In my world, once I have done something to a piece of webbing it becomes a strap.