Wednesday, June 28, 2006


As promised for Mike, portrait of the calipers. Now why is it that wing nut is making me think Mickey Mouse? Tarnation, I won't be able to think of it as anything else now... The only problem with them is you can't take the blessed things apart to clean them properly, but it's a small price to pay for a fine example of a craftman's work. And they're jolly useful too.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Planning ahead

Been rather neglecting the ol' blog so far this week. You know what that means - nothing doing in the workshop. Oh I meant to, of course I did. But what with the footie and one thing and another, it just never happened. I believe hiatus projectus has struck again; an inability to immediately go onto the next project having completed the previous one. You'd think I'd be starting the next one before finishing the last by now, wouldn't you? But no, dumbo here falls into the same bout of Woodworker's Block every time. And to be fair I had to devote myself whole-heartedly to The Chair at the end, to get it done in time. Even then is was a "damn close run thing". So stopping off to plane up that chestnut, f'rinstance, just wasn't on the cards. 'Specially when you're using the planer thicknesser as a worktop at the time. Ha hum.

No, I've been doing thrilling stuff like cleaning parrot cages instead. Got to leave them clean for being parrot-sat next week. Yep, off up country on Saturday until Thursday. Gasp. I haven't been away that long in years; not sure what I'll do with myself parted from my keyboard that long. Might have to prevail upon my bro to let me borrow his. Too bad he hasn't got a workshop as well, but with luck I'll be able to take in some local sites of woodworking interest to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. And I know someone'll ask in the comments - it's the Kent/Sussex border. Not far from Timberline, purveyor of exotic timbers, funnily enough. Hmm, plane totes, chisel handles, plot, plot..

Friday, June 23, 2006

Leaving no fingerprints

A criminal move on my part - I managed to abrade away part of the tip of one finger today. D'oh. As if flattening chisel backs wasn't numbing enough without that. So I'm sitting here going "ouch" and thanking my lucky stars that I've never learnt to type beyond three fingers - none of which are the effected digit. (Or should that be affected? I always get those wrong)

On the plus side, some of the chisels I couldn't shift in my tool sale are now looking a bit more lovable. I'm tempted to fit them up with jazzy handles, triple the price and then see them race out of the door. Honestly, some folks can't see potential when it's right under their nose. Take the favourite tool pic at the moment - pair of skew chisels, yep? Best London Pattern handles in Bubinga, should you be interested - very much inspired to do so by "figure D" here. I have a selection of assorted blanks waiting to do some more...

Well the one on the left used to be number 7 in the photos here and here. Number 6, the Spear & Jackson, has come out really very well - such fine beveled edges it's not true. All the pitting's gone from the back now, which helped get those bevels even finer... Number 4, the potential butt chisel, calls for a different type of handle though. Something short and barrel-y I thought. Should anyone have any suggestion, I'm open to ideas.

The one chisel I should have taken a "before" picture of was the A E Berg red handled chisel I got last Sunday. It was really pretty rough, but folks have enthused about them and I wanted to try one for myself and this is the only one I've ever seen, so... But it was pitted, the last 1/4" of the back appeared to have been attacked by something and was appreciably lower than the rest of the back, the handle was grunging in the extreme, you name it. Even I wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew. Plus the horror of actually voluntarily buying a plastic-handled chisel...

But with a bit - okay, a lot - of effort, I got:

Sorry; only picture I have of it... I haven't cleaned the saws yet (yes, Mike, that's the Disston I didn't want to bore you with) but the little craftsman-made calipers I've only just cleaned up from last month. Very cute. I'll tell you about the panel saw some other time maybe. It's only a modern one, but the etch is clear and at the price...

Oh, and the Berg chisel? How does 20 new pence strike you? I figured I couldn't really lose. I do seem to be rather awash with 3/8" chisels at the moment though. It's a hard life.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Indian Giveaway?

Right, this here #39 dado plane then. I decided I'd sharpen up the blade and spur cutters and see how it went, rather than leap into correcting stuff that might not even need it. The iron looked pretty rough but polished up very quickly. This is a Bad Thing - suggesting, as it does, that the blade has all the edge-holding ability of a processed cheese slice. Oh well.

The nickers? Well judge for yourself if I was justified in having some doubts about them. At least, being soft as butter, it was easy to turn the bevel into something approaching an edge.

The bevel end is the one on the left in both pics - possibly not immediately obvious in the side-on shot...

The blade bed is a fetching shade of blue - all over. D'oh. I looked at it, shuddered, and stopped looking. To be fair the bottom few millimeters is milled (and then painted) but only the extreme forward point of the blade is supported on it.

The rest is suspended in mid air. If this thing works it's going to be a miracle... On the other hand, the blade width was spot on and I was able to set it just right between the two spur cutters without the fiddling I'd feared.

But hey, miracles do happen sometimes, so I took it for a spin. I can see exactly what Blood & Gore means about them being uncomfortable for the front hand. I managed in the end by bridging over the obstacles on the toe in a sort of pinching holding.

Okay for a short test run, but not great for any quantity of use. On the other hand there aren't many scruples floating about when it comes to tapping a 20 quid plane made the day before yesterday, so something might be done about it.

So after all that, so many "oo, you don't want that feature on your plane, missus" boxes ticked, how did it perform actually doing the job for which it was intended? Dammit, the blasted thing worked a treat! Yeah, okay, so I had to concentrate on holding it plumb 'cos the sole wasn't, and it just about managed two 1/4" deep housings before the iron needed sharpening again, but really, it was pretty damn good. I might take the trouble to square up the sole a little better, just to let me be lazy when it comes to using it, and something about the front grip would be nice - but on the whole it ain't broke so I don't see myself fixing it.

Unless I get really bored one rainy day...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


A big Whoo Hoo, standing ovation and hearty slap on the back for sometime blog reader and long-time nephew, JMF, who's heard today he got a First in his finals. Well done, Jimbo. All that work deserved nothing less.

And to think I can still remember him tottering about in a nappy, building sand castles.*

And nephew #2 has managed to articulate beyond the teenage grunt to declare The Chair "comfortable", which I shall take as raging enthusiasm, given his usual communication skills... 'Course he also said he doesn't know where to put it, but that's his problem.*

*The aunt giveth, the aunt taketh away...


The Chair has departed for its new owner.

I feel bereft.

Managed to dash off a brief round-up of the making and burn it to a cd to go with it, so I've been chained to the 'puter instead of further playing with the planes. However, here's a pic of the 39 and the absence of right angle twixt sole and side in the hopes that Mike will make a suitable pronouncement on it in the comments box! Looks like the sole is convex from side to side too.

Not that I'm either upset or unduly surprised. I expected it to need work and I'm not crossing any bridges with it until I've taken it to bits and had a proper look to see what might need to be done. There's no reason why it can't work, given some effort on my part. Heck, if I can get a Groz block pane to take a whispy shaving...

But a more cheering sight of the unhoned, unadjusted smoother taking a - thickish - shaving. I think I could get to really like this plane, especially once it's properly sharpened and adjusted...

Oh, there's the addition of a manual for the Lewin Universal plane on the Boat Anchor page, btw. A proper page on it is up next - I hope.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Box of Delights

Mike oh-so-subtly wonders what delights I succumbed to from the Rutlands Bazaar. Yes, I got a teeny bit carried away, but it was much worse when I first went to the "checkout"...

I've already had a little play and the wooden mini smoother and shave work pretty well right out of the box! The A39 is gonna be a stinker though, I fear. The sole is quite a long way off being square with the sides, the blade is, erm, "not great" and the spur cutters...? Well if they take an edge I'll be very, very surprised. Definitely looking like a challenge, this one... I have more piccies, but the connection is flaky again tonight - I'll see what I can do tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 19, 2006


You know me, I can't do finished project pictures for toffee, 'specially as the weather has finally broken and it's been lightly raining on and off all day. But anyway, the comb got glued on.

And being a fool hardy idiot, here's the join for your inspection. The right side is PDG, but the left leaves something to be desired, I fear. Frustrating 'cos it was really, really close to being spot on. Heigh ho.

Anyway, a bit more wax to finish and here are the mug shots for the police record. Hold still, please...

I'd like to thank all the blog readers who gave freely of their advice, encouragement and praise - worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned - and those who were just read-only. It's been one of the steeper learning curves I've been on and there's lots I'd like to tweak (f'rinstance how that back stick has wandered off like that I don't know, but it could be much better), but that'll have to wait until the next one...

For the record, from the kick-off it's taken 141 days and the making or acquisition of five templates, four go/no-go gauges, three jigs, three travisher-a-likes, two scrapers, two books, one re-handled gouge, a shave pony, oh, and of course, one auger bit extension.

But I may have missed something.

What's next? Something with right angles I think, just for the novely...

Temptation Update

Nearer temptation, but on the Hong Kong stylee planes. Word has come back from Rutlands (Dear Mr Frampton ) and the bench planes are indeed pitched at 60°. Mmmm, so they are the ones that so many folks have enthused about then.... The plough plane, btw, has one 6mm iron - heck of an inexpensive way to solve the budding neander's ploughing requirement, 'cos you can do plenty with a 1/4" cutter. Assuming it works, of course.

As far as the Anants and the A39 rabbet-that's-really-a-dado is concerned I remembered a thread about them there'd been a while back on WoodCentral that reminded why I thought they only did the 1/2" size. Checking the Anant site again, that's still all they do. Tempting, tempting, tempting...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Comb over?

I saw, I shave, I scrape, I sand - and yes, I apply a couple of coats of shellac. It's just resting lightly on the sticks for the finishing, so it'll be a little lower than that.

So? Okay? Hideous? Do I care? Well yeah, of course I do, but I'm fairly happy with it so suggestions for alteration are going to have to be well-argued.

The join, btw, is definitely there but really the grain match isn't half bad. It would have helped if there hadn't been that dark sweep through the top piece, but as I feared before I started, you simply can't tell what exactly it's going to look like until it's been cut to final shape.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Decided to deliberately think about something other than The Chair today - with luck that'll lead to a moment of total clarity and I'll know exactly what I'm doing.

It's never worked yet, but there's always a first time...

Went car boot sale-ing instead, and in a moment of madness went and bought the UK Stanley #50, NIB (New In Box, non-galootish folks) combi plane that's been tormenting me for the last month. No, it wasn't a bargain, but hey, I haven't got one. I had one, but I sold it and then kinda wondered why. Now I'm kinda wondering why I bought this one. Oh well, it's a known fact that combination planes are the one area of collecting I'll readily admit to, so I shouldn't be surprised I suppose...

The new Rutlands catalogue came this morning (another Autumn/Back To School whinge deleted here) and they've come out in further rashes of planes. Indian Anants (including some of the more unusual, might-it-be-worth-a-risk models. And a combi plane. Argh!!!!), Mujingfang Hong Kong and Taiwanese style planes, Chinese and even European woodies. My plane-testing self is itching to go mad and order a selection, but I must Be Good. I've already popped off an email to Rutlands to enquire whether the HK planes really are bedded at 45°, 'cos it doesn't look like it and all the info elsewhere on the 'net is to the contrary. Just w'ndrin', don'tcha know. Just w'ndrin'.

I know, I know. I'm just a plain plane-lovin' fool. I'm not proud.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Beech Comber

I know, I know; tardiness in blogging is probably a capital offence. But I mean really, how excited would you be with blogs about removing glue squeeze out? Really? There was minor excitement when I did some of it outside, in an effort to avoid getting roasted, but there was only so much that could be done and it didn't justify bandwidth writing about it. Of course I could have bored you all about the 12" Disston No.5 back saw I got for a fiver, but I didn't think you'd want to know...

Anyway, the arm sticks are flush with the arm and most of the glue ooze is gone (bet I still find a bit somewhere...) so it's on to the comb. I cut one piece for that way back in April to aid me in posing my design question, when the consensus was I'd have to make it taller. But I thought I'd try it as-is first, just in case. So I got a rough idea of th required angle, set up the bevel and went at it with a 1/2" dowel bit. You may be wondering where the brace is in this shot:

It's up here... Verily, the extension does make sighting accurate angles easier. 'Course I had my hand over my head to bear on the pad, but it was a lot more comfy than it probably looked.

Anyway, with the holes bored I tried another go of the slimline comb.

TPTBs said "too thin" too, so off to the bandsaw to cut the second part from an adjacent area of board, then out with the jack and plane the mating surfaces of the two pieces to fit. Seems like an age since I used a bench plane, probably because it is... Did my best to line the pieces up but that PU glue is horribly slippery.

A quick clean up of the inner curve to get an idea of whether the join's going to look okay, and here it is. Ignore the way the whole thing looks lop-sided; it's ot really. Well not that much anyway... Of course the comb still has to get shaped and properly finished, but does it look okay to you?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Glue, brute force and prayer

Oh, and wedges...

I gather it's a habit of Persian carpet weavers to incorporate a mistake in the pattern deliberately, so as not to offend Allah by having the audacity to create something perfect. Let's put it this way; I ain't going to be troubling him at all...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sticking with it

It must be said, if I had to make such a silly New Year's Resolution as "I will not be buying tools unless I need them", choosing to make a chair was the ideal project to give me the excuse to claim plenty of "need". Yeah, I did a Bad Thing and put the plastic where my tool-making should have been and bought a rounder by Ray Iles courtesy of Classic Hand Tools. As we've come to expect, order placed on Thursday, delivered on Friday morning, put to work on Saturday. Bellissimo. And for any of the nay sayers who claim you can't buy a new tool ready to work straight out of the box, I say get one of these then. Except it came in a bag and not a box, but you know what I mean... Worked a treat and gave me the 5/8" thickness in the middle of the long sticks that I was worrying about without having to break sweat.

So stick shaping and sanding went on apace over the weekend. Took me about 30 minutes a long stick by the end just for the shaping with a spokeshave, which is slooooowwwww, but not as slow as when I started... This is an irritating stage of proceedings because a lot of effort's being expended but it doesn't look like anything much has happened. Just trust me, eh? And yes, I know my attempt at a less cluttered back drop is pants. Let's not talk about it.

Anyway we're back to endless wiped on coats of shellac (sound familiar?), which at least has the virtue of drying nice and fast in this heat. Plus the nature of chair construction provides me with a ready-made drying rack. Excellent. Still got to cut the short sticks to near final length, kerfs for the wedges and then I suppose it's a case of glue, brute force and prayer...

Then there's the crest rail to do. Ack.