Saturday, October 29, 2005


Well I've assembled my rambling thoughts on the 45° shoot-out, and I ain't posting them. The value to anyone else is negligible bordering on non-existant - the opening for persons to be obnoxious on the other hand, is great. I don't need the hassle, to be honest. But for the purposes of those who care, a summary.

The results from the two were indistinguishable; only the means and time taken to get to that point vary. Which you prefer is up to you.

And yes, you could argue the vociferous minority shouldn't be allowed to dictate what I do, or do not, post, and you'd be right. But life's too short, and I do this for fun, not in order to have my integrity roasted on a spike. Apologies to the Alf-ettes; you're really not missing much.

So just as I start to think I might get into the workshop next week to do some actual woodworking, I get an email from L-V. A whole raft of things, ancient and modern, are due to turn up at Alf Towers some time in that same approaching week. Amongst them, a fence for the BUT (aka Bevel Up Jointer - or Try plane). Now I must confess to wanting to try this and being rather disappointed that it wasn't included with the plane for evaluation. But one hitch; the plane I have never got to the stage of having the holes for the fence drilled and tapped. So I mention this might be a problem. Okay, we'll send you another plane in a coupla weeks when the backlog is cleared. WHAT?! That's crazy. So I opened my big mouth, didn't I? How accurate do these holes need to be? Maybe I could drill and tap them, given my previous? The thread type might be a problem though... So they're sending a suitable drill bit and tap and I'm going to have a go.


I've already got the technical drawing with the relevant measurments - very interesting document that I'm certain I'm not allowed to share with you. Heck of an eye-opener as to what goes into designing a plane though. Even more so if I understood more than 50%...

Dovetail practice was skipped yesterday, I'm ashamed to say. Maybe today. Or then again... For my weekend homework I'm trying to find reasons for having a fence on a router plane. None of mine have one, I've never felt the need for one, and I'm wracking my brains to find a reason for having one. Well that's not strictly true; I could see how the curved variety might be a lifesaver in certain circumstances, but all the straight fence opportunities I can think of would say to me "plough/rebate/dado plane" first. I suppose it's for the benefit of the plane challenged; in which case I can't condone it and it shouldn't be allowed. ;~)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The dovetail practice regime continues, but first the evidence of yesterday's effort. Go on, click on the pic for the larger size, feast your eyes on the horror - I can take it. Nasty eh? How could I have overshot the line three times?! Dummkopf. That plus the right hand side of the left tail is practicaly dead straight instead of angled, which I hadn't even noticed until now. Not good at all. But despite appearances to the contrary, I was not discouraged. Helped by an inquiry about purchasing a dovetail saw, I had another go today.

Well I'm back to blaming the saw, quite honestly. I used two different saws on this joint, and the results are much better. In fact I think it's the best so far, so that's good. Maybe practice really does make perfect? Perhaps doing all your practice on actual projects isn't such a good idea after all? Who'd have thunked it? ;~) Still got enough wood left for at least one, maybe two more attempts. What I'm going to do with all these short right angle pieces though is another matter...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Beginner's luck

Once more I surprise myself; instead of just saying I must do another practice dovetail joint soon - I actually did!

The fact I wish I hadn't is another matter.

It has not come out as well as the first, and I'm somewhat downcast. Not much, but a bit. Down-ish-cast, if you will. I over shot the gauged line not once, not twice, but - argh - three times! Damn, blast and bugger. :~[ Did better with the saw though, thus confirming my suspicion that it was my ineptness that was the trouble. That is I did better sawing the tail sides sloping to the right, but atrocious results with the cuts sloping to the left. I'm evidently not sinister enough... Anyway, you'll notice I've not taken a picture of the latest one. Erm, I forgot to take the camera down to the workshop. Yeah, that's right. That's what happened...

I've also finally got round to creating a map to go with my list of old tool dealers; it suddenly dawned on me that the current "Frapper" craze was ideal for the job. Here 'tis. It only looks like I live within spitting distance of dozens of rust emporia - it's not really true.

Heigh ho. Better have a shot at this 45 degree thing then - the Alf-ettes have spoken. ;~)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Indecisiveness and Dovetails

Yes, yes, all right. It's been three weeks since my last confession. Deary me. It's not my fault, really it isn't. A combination of not doing any woodwork and a broadband connection that keeps going awol in the evenings - when I usually feel the urge to Blog - is all to blame. But I'll try and make up for it a bit as I have actually been in the workshop in dribs and drabs!

First up I decided to have a go at a 45deg included angle in the BUS, and play with the L-N #4.5 at the same time. I'm absolutely not going to be drawn into calling it a comparison. It's not anything vs anything else. It was just for my own amusement; as witnessed by the "pitstop challenge" I set myself; the detour to do a "Charlesworth" on the L-N's cap iron; and the step-by-step pics of removing a cap iron, just in case it might be helpful to a novice. I did try to apply some scientific parameters at the beginning, but I soon gave that up. It's just not me. So essentially I now have a bundle of odd pictures, some definitely personal conclusions and a long, rambling report buzzing about in my head. The thing is, with the likelihood of some people almost certainly being unable to get their head round the idea that it's not some kind of L-V vs L-N review, I'm not at all sure I'll write it up - regardless of whether it contains anything of any value anyway, which is debatable. On the other hand it'd at least give folks an idea of where I'm coming from if they should be foolish enough to take my advice in future. I dunno. I've been sitting on it all for nearly a fortnight already, and I just can't make up my mind. But if I don't do it soon I'll have forgotten what I did...

Then, somewhat to my horror, I had a sudden desire to do some woodworking - but not too much in case it scared me away again... So I rustled up a couple of bits of the nastiest African Mahogany I've come across (at least I think that's what it is. As usual my habit of buying offcuts and such means I don't actually know), planed 'em up all square, and took a shot at a set of dovetails. It's been, erm, well, too long since I last cut any, but, considering this flippin' wood is a total bear to saw; I haven't sawn anything at all for months; I didn't do any practice cuts first (fool); and I failed to refresh my memory with a quick burst of Rob Cosman before I plunged in (busted VCR), well, I don't think they're too bad. I was hopelessly over-generous in the thickness of the outer pins, which is annoying, but other than that it was the sawing that let me down and left me with two wee gaps. Maybe it's the Knockers*, but a previously sweetly-running saw became a binding, biased nightmare and nearly took a high velocity trip to the opposite wall... The L-N chisels though, were brill. As was BugBear's super-tuned, ultra-sharp cutting gauge. Who needs a stinkin' Tite-Mark? ;~) But all in all, not too bad at all after a long hiatus. All those long years of making really, really bad attempts at dovetailing, when even lots of practice never seemed to help, that counts as a major success to me. All credit has to go to Rob Cosman. Now I know I can get 'em better than that though, and there's still plenty of length left on that mahogany, so if only I can keep up the enthusiasm and have another go before too long, maybe I'll be able to post something better...

Meanwhile the countdown to Tools 2005 continues; not long to go now. Gonna be a busy preview day for me, it seems. If I thought I had a full social diary last year, this one is a total 'mare. I could name-drop like crazy with all the persons who've said "see you at the show then", but I wouldn't do that... Suffice to say if I get to look at a single stand of Normite delights it'll be a miracle, never mind the competition entries. DC is on the L-N stand this year, apparently, and rather than Rob Cosman demonstrating it's the 'Murrican chap they have called Deneb Something-or-other-that-slips-my-mind, so it'll be interesting to see what he's like. I keep thinking I ought to dig out some tools for this Tools for Self Reliance thing, but it's so far away from the entrance, and I'm likely to be a bit loaded down as it is, I'm not sure it's going to happen. :~( Oh well, plenty of time to decide yet.

*Knockers: piskies, sprites etc that live in mines and got the blame for losing tools, accidents etc. With all the mines in Cornwall closed, I'm convinced they've all moved into my workshop instead...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My head goes Thud!

Ack, if there's one thing I hate, it's being ill and then getting some other thing before you've recovered from the last one. Viz: I have meandered slowly from backache, to nausea and now I seem to have an extremely irritating cold. If I lie down to ease my back and/or headache (did I mention the headache?) then my head feels like it's slowly filling with potato soup and I can't breathe. So I sit up, the potato soup flows away a little, I can breathe and, what's this? Well, well, my back and/or head aches and I feel sick. Sometimes I feel sick when I'm lying down too, to be fair. Grrr... Anyway, that's why the Blogging dropped off again; hard to see what to type at the moment (streaming eyes from the cold you see. And you don't want to be in the vicinity when I sneeze; the slates on the roof rattle...)

Anyway, while I've been silent Dickens gave way to the latest Discworld book "Thud!". And very good it is too, almost as good in parts as say "Jingo" or "Small Gods" in holding up a mirror to this world and showing how ridiculous so much of it is. Of course my enjoyment is always going to be greatly helped by it being centered around my favourite character, Sam Vimes. For any Discworld afficianados reading this who may also go in for imaginary casting, how does Ken Stott (Messiah, The Vice etc) strike you as a "Vimes"? Despite being totally wrong in height and shape, I'm sure he'd convey the pent up rage brilliantly. But I digress. Between sneezes, Thud! has got me searching round t'net looking for info on the game of the same name (yes, there is one). Strikes me it'd be damn good fun making a board and carving the pieces (look ma, woodworking content!), but you can't officially get the rules on how to play it without stumping up 30-odd quid for a set - rather removing the impetus to make one. Thanks to Google and some deviousness though, I think I've just about managed to rustle up enough of the gist to play it. Whether I have the nous to play it is another matter... While in Discworld mode (which overtakes me big time on an annual basis, every time a new book is published. Luckily I hadn't started Blogging this time last year), I did the Which Discworld Character Are You? quiz. Alas, and most unlikely too, it seems Captain Carrot is the answer. However at least it's a fairly balanced outcome, with the niceness of Carrot being off-set with a healthy dose of Vimes and a side order of the cowardly Rincewind. Viz:

75% Carrot Ironfounderson

69% Commander Samuel Vimes

56% Rincewind

50% Cohen The Barbarian

50% Gytha (Nanny) Ogg

44% Death

44% Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax

44% Lord Havelock Vetinari

44% The Librarian

19% Greebo

The presence of even 19% Greebo is a bit of a worry though...