Friday, November 30, 2007

Chips and fish

Seems a small diversion from my own woodworking short-comings is called for, so a bloggist's thoughts turn to the long overdue overhaul of the blog list. Now occasionally I get the odd email essentially soliciting a reciprocal link to some other woodworking blog. Some of them are nicely dressed up in pleasantries; others are pretty much outright requests (and I'm afraid lose points accordingly). I must confess, and risk hurting feelings, that I tend to hedge in most of these cases. A recent spring clean of the RSS feed list shows that it's unwise not to so do - already at least a couple of said requests have simply ceased to exist. Staying power is a prime necessity for the successful blog link request. But my premier guiding principle has always been to link to the ones I read, but in truth I don't actually read that many any more, not with any degree of regularity. So I share with you the current watch list and hope that if there's anyone I've missed that you'll let me know so we can get the best of the rest.

Philsville - well he's a mate*, innee?
A Woodworking Odessey - not just because rookster comments on this blog, honest.
Musings from my shop - despite using Musings in the title I'll let David Mathias in...
Toolemera - Gary Roberts could well be written-word buff enough to keep this going
A Shipwright in Training - one I really look forward to reading

The commercial ones, some more obviously commercial than others:
Arts and Mysteries - Adam Cherubini in PWW
Glue Tube - woodworking videos submitted to FWW
Andy Rae - also courtesy of FWW. Early days yet to see if it has staying power
Tools For Working Wood - if only it was set up with a proper feed
Lost Art Press - one wonders if Chris Schwarz has the key to perpetual motion or something; boundless energy apparently
David Charlesworth - at the very least a spirit of Westcountry unity demands the fingernailed one should be present

The ones I feel ought to be there but I don't actually read/listen to/watch (mea culpa):

And on an unrelated note, I've been indulging in some new DVDs recently, which in this case means I'm enjoying films everyone else was enjoying a year ago. One of which seems not to have quite captured the public imagination as much as I'd have expected, but I laughed out loud and am primed to bore the world with quotes from it. As it is I'll spare you and merely leave a weekend teaser:

What film hears distinguished French actor Jean Reno utter the immortal, and probably fully deserved line:

"You stupid English, with your Yorkshire puddings and your chips and fish!"

Yes, some bloggers will do anything to create an excuse for an unusual post title...

*Having recalled an email conversation some years ago, I should perhaps clarify for the 'Murrican reader that by "mate" I mean "friend" or "buddy".

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Well I can tell you're all terribly anxious that these fine saws should have a good home to go to, and frankly I agree - it'd be a shame to only see their narrowest profile. But d'you really want to hear of yet more long-term, hardly-ever-reaching-fruition plans of what I'd like to do in terms of tool storage? Obviously there is a plan. The great and the good shall find themselves in one tool cupboard, showing themselves (hopefully) to advantage while, more importantly, being handy for use. But after a year when project completion has reached an all-time low (and that's really saying something) planning ahead seems somehow unwise.

But I will try and finish that damn saw till before January. Really I will. I mean there's the whole of December to do it in, isn't there...? Okay, so March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and probably November (hey, there's still a day...) passed untroubled by any work on same, but I have confidence.

Self-delusion is a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From the ridiculous to the sublime

So the Parcel Force delivery man finally put in an appearance. Before asking him if he was the driver on the route yesterday I'd already planned to get his fancy electronic signing-for machine in hand so he couldn't get away without answering - my mother said this demonstrated I have a devious mind. It wasn't 'til later that I wondered if maybe she hadn't meant this as a compliment...

Anyway, he made the classic guilty party "I never stabbed him officer" "I never told you he'd been stabbed" mistake. Before I even opened my mouth he started explaining how he couldn't have delivered it yesterday because he'd never had it, someone must have forgotten to take it "out of the locker" otherwise he'd have delivered it, wouldn't he etc etc? Ha hum. There's no evidence on the parcel at all of what day it was scheduled to be delivered and I hadn't said a word. Banged, in my opinion, to rights, chum. However, you want to see saws:

No? Not what you had in mind? Ah, that'll be the flush cutting saw as recommended in Woodworking magazine. No doubt a fine saw in its own right (better be after the recommendation...) but somewhat outclassed in this triumvirate methinks. Let me share the full experience with you. First, the boxes; understated and yet pregnant with promise, no?

Unwrap the paper within - the latter always make me feel as though these quality tool purchases are a bit like unwrapping a fish supper, but without the vinegar - and clear and concise care instructions and rust inhibiting paper still separate the anxious recipient from their baby. Not for long though. Mwahahahahahaaaaa.

Et voilĂ ! Phwoar, what a beauty. Ha hum, pardon the, ah, forceful exclamation of appreciation... A 12" 12tpi cross-cut tenon saw, my favourite size (being a bit of a weedy girlie).

Secondly, but only in terms of unwrapping order, the legendary half-back - 16" long and 9tpi. Sort of a running leg-pull twixt Mike and myself 'cos I couldn't fully see why one wants one and thus teased him over its existence. Well this is putting my money where my curiosity is in order to find out. I have a nasty feeling Mr W and his boys have stacked the odds heavily in their favour by the simple method of making it hard not to pick up. It comes rather readily to the hand and in fact I was inclined to look round for something to saw then and there.

And there is the rub. I've not tried them yet, 'cos I'm still in two minds as to whether I shouldn't be good and leave them for christmas. On the other hand my policy this year is no christmas pressies for me (or from me, hence the lack of usual panic at this time of the year) so really I shouldn't give myself anything either, should I...? Any bets as to which argument will carry the day? No one? How wise. You know me too well...


My lack of confidence in Porcel Farce has been fully justified. Around seven o'clock last night I finally gave up and checked the tracking status again.

"27-11-2007 18:52 Plymouth Depot Attempted delivery"

Attempted? How? Did the driver just wave as he drove by? Perhaps he sat outside in the van and whispered "hello, I've got a delivery for you" and then drove off? Hell's bells, there were two people sitting within 5 feet of the front door at the time! I have emailed a complaint to Parcel Force and asked what they intend to do about it. I do not hold my breath... In short, I am Not a Happy Bunny.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sister Ann

“Sister Ann, Sister Ann, do you see anyone coming?”—from poor cowering Fatima. And from the watcher on the look-out always the same monotonous reply: “Naught but the dust that blows before the wind!”

Not familiar with this literary gem? (the whole thing) To be honest neither am I, but it's a tradition at Alf Towers that anyone on the look-out for something or someone is "Sister Ann-ing". And thus that is what I've been doing, on and off all day.

Y'see on Saturday I had a nasty ransom demand, er, I mean invoice from Porcel Farce - sorry, I mean Parcel Force - telling me a certain parcel from Canada was within their incompetent grasp and if I wanted to see the contents released safe and unharmed into the bosom of its new family I must stump up the duty. And the VAT. And their clearance fee. Stump it up forthwith and arrange delivery. Which I duly did, via their website (which at least gave the appearance of being surprisingly efficient) the earliest for the delivery being this very day - Tuesday. So naturally today, Tuesday, I have been Sister Ann-ing like a pro.

Of course the charges were my own fault for opting for air mail, but given the nature of the content - saws, Wenzloff & Sons, drooling over for the use of (oh, and maybe some sawing in the fullness of time, once I've drooled long enough) - I felt it was worth the extra to ensure they didn't spend longer than necessary in transit and risk damage. Mind you, bearing in mind the Farcical Parcel delivery ones, that may not have made a jot of difference.

Wait! Did I hear something? A van door opening? I'll go and have a look...

... P'shaw. False alarm. Again.

To take my mind off the non-arrivals, I've been thinking about the saw till doors again. On reflection perhaps the saw till wasn't the ideal thing to take my mind off saws... Anyway, not being fully match fit again as yet, it could be that with a little intelligent planning and spreading out of various tasks over many days, it might work me back up to speed again quite nicely. Plus I'm sure there'd be sawing required.

On the other hand I could have a go at tweaking the small plow a little. As I half expected (and to a certain extent dreaded) a contrary opinion to the general run thus far has lead to me being "proved wrong" all over the place. Heigh ho. It's a bugger telling it as you find it when you don't like all you find. I hated having to do the feedback for the R&D folks too; makes me feel like a heel. I should have done the small router instead - I like that. ;-)

Ooo, was that the doorbell...? Hah! No such luck. Hmm, just bethought me to check the tracking number via that strangely efficient-appearing website.

27-11-2007 05:01 Plymouth Depot Out for delivery

Eeek! It's been bumming round Cornwall since the early hours? What the heck's keeping them? Individual deliveries to everyone in Penzance first? Probably eye patches... (Penzance - pirates? Gettit? Oh, never mind.) Well it's dark now so you folks are doomed to see naught but the dust that blows before the wind if you're hoping for a pic or two tonight. I'll endeavour not to drool too much over 'em before I take their likenesses. Promise.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Veritas Small Plow Plane - an opinion

Forgive me the long, long delay on this one, folks. T'was not laziness, honest. The blog doesn't really lend itself to such long-winded stuff, so it has a page all to itself here. At the least I hope the pics will prove useful for the would-be long-distance purchaser - from observation thus far I'm fairly sure my opinion is very personal and all alone in the world. ;-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The perils of punctuation

See? I knew blogging when nursing a slightly elevated temperature was a Bad Thing. It also confirms me in my view that the modern claim that "punctuation isn't important" is so much hogwash. What I should have entitled the previous entry is "I want to be a lawn - query". So thanks you for your best wishes and all, but I'm not currently taking the black dog for walkies (might do something unspeakable on the lawn ;-) and my writer's block is solely concerning a certain tool, grooves for the making of. The latter, well it's been cooking and all that's needed is the time to put it to paper. So yes indeed, rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated, or to put it another way - you ain't getting away with it that easily.

So in a bid to start getting back into the saddle of routine, what woodworking delights can I share? Well the latest Lee Valley newsletter currently being dispatched to subscribers proves there's no actual getting away from me unless you try very hard, but more exciting than that - the Wenzloff saws are On Their Way! Yippee! Be still my beating heart. Although my excitement is slightly tempered by wondering what I can throw out of the doorless saw till to make room for them. And, ye gods, I wonder what state the workshop is in after three weeks absence. What did I leave out that may have suffered from the damp? Is the dehumidifier working okay? Ooo, I think I may be relapsing...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I want to be a lawn

"I want to be a lawn", as Garbo famously said. Something like that anyway... Enquiry via email along the lines of whether I'm still compost mental or merely desiring to become "Garboesque" have prompted me to blog. Yes, I am still alive, but no, I'm none too chipper. The damp string connection from Alf Towers to the outside world has been getting an unscheduled but probably much-needed break. Enjoy it folks; you don't know when this opportunity may come round again... ;-)

But alas, I missed the blog's third birthday on the 8th. I'm torn between "woe is me" and "whoa, three years?! How did that happen?"

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A quill in your tomato

Okay, okay, don't throw things; I'm having some serious writer's block here. The more astute might read into that what they will... Around 2am I was pretty sure I knew where I was going, nay, which furrow I was to plough (partially back into the workshop to try a few things and take a few more pics) but by the time it came to putting fingers (two) to keyboard, I was as a blank page. And I hate that. When it flows it's just great and you can do the whole Jimmy Cagney thing and yell "on top of the world, ma!" if you weren't worried that someone might hear you... When it doesn't - well you're the hero in Shakespeare In Love with nothing but cramp in your hand, screwed up bits of parchment and a quill in your tomato... Metaphorically speaking, forsooth.

I went for a walk instead and quite honestly that was no less worrying. It was warm enough for shirt sleeves (albeit a thickish shirt) and there was gorse (furze as it's called round here), campion and, gods help us, foxgloves in flower in the hedgerow. I could have sworn the calendar was turned to November this morning. Certainly the trees have got the idea and are as bare as Rowland Hilder could wish for, but honestly it isn't much surprise to see bees, wasps and a Red Admiral Butterfly about the place. It's not that I like it cold exactly, but it's helpful to know which time of year it is without have recourse to the calendar or seeing if all the newsreaders have poppies in their lapels.