I plant a lot of flower seeds, and if you do too, you know that most of them are small, small, small. I thought that a vibrating seeder might make the job easier, but sixty bucks seemed a little steep to me. For years I’ve had one of those electric engraving tools sitting around in a cabinet. This is the kind that plugs in and vibrates a carbide tip for scratching your name or number onto your valuable stuff. Not that you’ll ever see the stuff again once it’s stolen, but it can make you feel like you have a shot, I suppose.
The important word in the first paragraph is vibrating. It recently occurred to me that maybe I could make a vibrating seeder out of this thing. Turns out that I could. You can find these engravers on Ebay for under twenty bucks, which is not as good as free, but a whole lot better than sixty.
My idea was to take a round piece of wood and drill a hole in it so I could push it onto the pointed engraver thingy. Then a piece of sheet metal could be cut into a curved spatula and clamped onto the wood. That’s about it for the engineering.
I had some Shaker pegs so I cut the end off one and drilled a hole in the end that was very close to the size of the carbide pointer on the engraver. If the hole eventually loosens up on the pointer, I’ll put a dab of hot glue in it and push it back on.
A section of aluminum vent pipe was in amongst my plumbing stuff and it was thin and easy to cut into a pointed shape. I’m sure you could use a piece of tin can too, if you have some tin snips. A Coke can might work, but that aluminum is really thin and flimsy. Still, once you get a curve bent into it, it may very well be stiff enough to use.
The aluminum bends easily using a handy round object as a form. I used a 1/2 inch drill. After that, a small hose clamp joins the spatula to the wood.
All that’s left is to push the assembly onto the pointer thing on the engraver and Bob’s your uncle!
Does it work? Absolutely. Well, I think so anyway. I’ve never used one before. I tried some amaranthus seed and some achillea seed, which is tiny, and I can tell you that with the vibration set at a low level, seeds march down the spatula and drop off the end single file. I’ll give it a real try in the next few weeks and report back. The one thing that I may wish for is a button under my thumb to turn it on and off. The way this engraver is made, when you plug it in, it’s on and you have to unplug it to turn it off. I think it will still be useful, but time will tell. At any rate, the only cost was less than an hour’s time, so if it helps at all, it will be worth it.
Update March 17, 2011
I added a switch using a momentary-on switch from radio shack and two PVC fittings from the local hardware store. PLEASE, don’t try doing any of this if you are not knowledgeable about electricity. 115 volts is more than enough to kill you. I’m not a licensed electrician and these steps should be taken only as guidelines written by an amateur.
I cut off one side of a 1/2″ PVC tee.
The tee is threaded so I could use PVC pipe plug with a 1/2 hole drilled in it to mount the switch.
Two wires were soldered on the switch terminals and covered with shrink tubing.
Electrically all I had to do was cut one of the wires going to the seeder and solder one switch wire to each of the two ends that were formed by cutting the wire. More shrink tubing covered the joints. A dab of hot glue secured the switch in the hole drilled in the PVC plug.
After taping everything with electrical tape for strength and safety, it was done.