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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

This month:

Dusty & Jack...Two Heads Better

In A Tight Spot? – Get Skewed!

Making Do With The Tools You Have

Need More Woodworkers? – Get Woodworking Week!

Want To Be A Woodworker? – Learn To Keep The Peace!

Dusty & Jack...Two Heads Better

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

After last month's Trend AirShield Pro review some readers asked about the Styrofoam head I am using to store the helmet, and frankly, I've been back to the proverbial drawing board on this effort. I will try to save everyone from making the mistake I made.

It obviously makes sense to store the relatively expensive Trend Air/Pro in a safe, dust-free environment, and mounting it on a head-shaped object seemed logical. I do not have the talent to carve a head from wood, so a Styrofoam mannequin head that can be purchased for around ten bucks at a hobby and craft store or a beauty supply house seemed just the ticket.

Figure 1 - Avoid additional dings and dents by
coating the Styrofoam with a water-based
protective product like Mod Podge
The first mannequin head I purchased was as light as a feather and appeared to be nearly as sturdy. I named him "Dusty." I decided that a coat of paint might make Dusty less susceptible to dings and might help keep him cleaner over time. Note I said the "first" mannequin head that I purchased. Without thinking, I grabbed a can of spray paint left over from some household project and started spraying. It looked okay, but I figured it would need another coat, so I went to the house to read for a bit while the first coat dried. When I returned to the shop a half hour later, Dusty looked like something from a bad science fiction movie. The solvent-based spray paint had dissolved the Styrofoam.

Back at the hobby supply store I sorted through their stock of Styrofoam heads to find another. I named this one "Jack" after the central character in one of my favorite book series. Jack, the book character, has suffered a broken nose that didn't heal quite straight, and innumerable action-packed cuts, dings, and bruises. Jack the Styrofoam head had obviously been in a few tussles as well, or perhaps Styrofoam heads simply take a beating in shipment.

Figure 2 - The Mod Podge product is easy
to apply with a brush
After explaining my previous disaster, a very helpful clerk showed me to a bottle of Mod Podge, a water-based sealer, glue, and finish. The 8-ounce bottle cost almost seven dollars, but I was assured it would seal and strengthen the Styrofoam, and once applied, I could use any paint without fear of dissolving poor beat-up "Jack."

Mod Podge is easy to brush on; brush marks and ripples even out quickly, the product dries quickly, and is clear. Be sure to coat every bit of Styrofoam, including the bottom and the inside of the one-inch diameter hole molded into the base of the mannequin.

Figure 3 - The mounting hole is 1" in diameter
After the second coat of Mod Podge the visible spaces between the expanded foam pellets that make up the Styrofoam were sealed and Jack was starting to get a clear, smooth, albeit colorless, complexion. After the third coat, I was satisfied that Jack could stand up to a coat of real paint. I used the same paint as before, this time with much better results.

Figure 4 - Inside this shop cabinet, my Trend
AirShield Pro will stay safe and clean
After painting, I mounted a length of one-inch diameter birch dowel on a plywood base and glued the dowel into the hole at the bottom of Jack's neck. I attached an inexpensive plastic cabinet pull to the base to make it easier to remove Jack from his storage cabinet.

Now my Trend AirShield Pro has a protected home where it stays clean and damage-free, where the battery can be easily recharged, and where the unit can be stored with hearing protectors attached. Breathe easy, Jack.


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