Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Testing times

So last Bank Holiday before Crimbo then; winter approaches, dammit. I'd like to report 3 solid days of workshop toil, but alas, no joy. My back is still hors de combat for all practical purposes. I did manage to dig out most of the Oak I have skulling about, with a view to Christmas, by dint of moving one (small) piece at a time to the bench very gingerly, but the news is not good. I probably have enough cubic footage to do a brace of pairs, but because it's all short lengths I got free, gratis and for nothing there's insufficient lengths. So, Plan B. (You have a Plan B? I hear you gasp. I know, I surprise myself) I think there may be enough to do two oblong, more "trough-y" planters instead. Not quite as impressive as I'd hoped, but the gardening experts in the house claim they'd be more practical and useful anyway. Hmm... Of course it's all academic if me Cilla* keeps playing up.

So no workshop time then, so you expect I've been putting some work into the website instead eh? Er, nope. I've, erm, been aging at the rate of one annum per diem whilst watching the cricket instead. Hopefully enough fingernails will have grown back by the 8th to have something to chew on for the final test at The Oval - I can't believe that'll be anything but a tense finish either, unless it rains. I'm not a recent convert you understand, but a proper cricket fan who's watched right through all the dark days when England couldn't even win the toss, but even so I have a sneaking hope it'll rain solidly for those five days, even if they are the last cricket on proper telly we'll see maybe ever... To recover from the cricket I've been indulging in a bit of a DVD fest, including a profile of Sam Maloof courtesy of an Alf-ette. I admit I approached it without that much enthusiasm, but in the end I enjoyed it a good deal. It'd drive me mad making everything curvy like that (doesn't he ever long to make something with square edges and sharp corners?!) but it was fascinating to watch how he does it. The way he manipulates wood through the bandsaw is a safety nightmare, but he's damn good at it. Mind you, I was a mass of jealousy as he casually went through a pile of walnut picking out likely matching pieces. Sigh. Glad to have seen it though; not something I'd have ever thought about buying.

*Cilla Black - Back. But it's not a lorra, lorra laffs...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back again

Okay, don't ask. I'm not letting the Blog slip, really I'm not. It's just I simply haven't been in the workshop to speak of, so I have very little to say.

Who's that cheering at the back...?

And talking of backs, that's half the trouble. My intermittent lumbago has put in an appearance, which has rather put a spanner in the works. Why does "lumbago" sound better than "back ache" I wonder? Anyway, I've been using the little grey cells instead, and plotting the best way to turn what wood I have in to Christmas presents for my nearest and dearest. Well the family anyway... ;-) You see, if I can make stuff rather than buy it, my buying arm is immeasurably strengthened come the Axminster Show in November. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, I either hand craft Christmas presents or my buying arm is non-existant come November, and where's the fun in that...? So my current plan is garden planters, not wholely dissimilar to the plan on UK Workshop. 'Cept I'm hoping I have enough oak skulling about to produce two pairs, which maybe a bridge too far. I won't know until I've dug out the oak and had a measure up, which I can't do until the back eases up a tad. No worries though, I hear you cry, plenty of time until Christmas. Ah, no. You see one brother is coming down at the beginning of October from rural Kent, and it'd be handy to have them ready to go by then. And you know my rate of project progress... So once again I'm looking at a project with limited materials and a tight-ish schedule. Arrrghhhhhh... I must be mad.

In other news, I managed to haul myself around the car boot sale last Sunday and came back with 10m of decent canvas for £2. I've long harboured a desire to make something with a tambour, and now I have the canvas to do so. Now I just need the time, timber and skill... Oh, and a glue pot. I notice Tage Frid (RIP) swore by hide glue for gluing canvas onto tambour slats and who am I to argue? Well I may yet argue depending on whether I ever get round to trying hide glue. It's been on the "To Try" list longer than the tambours...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chocks Away

Scrollsaw Challenge duly accepted and, er, sort of done. I don't think it's entirely achieved G's object though. I fell less that I want to use the scrollsaw, and more that my eyesight must have deteriorated a good deal since I last used it...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Never rains but it pours

Well I'm just about recovered from the "do" on Friday. It all went very well; good food, beautiful weather and only one guest didn't make it. The Sixpenny Tables were well received by all and there were more than a few mutterings about commissions and such. As it is my brother asked me about a couple of bookshelves last year, and we finally got round to chucking a few ideas to and fro. The CD storage (aka "Media Centre") was handy in establishing simple frame & panel sides and walnut were both wanted, so that turned out to be useful. Once I get the required dimensions I can work out costs and see if walnut is suddenly ditched in favour of MDF... :~) Also discovered that my younger nephew is still into music, so another music stand is back on the cards for next may. Wonder if I've got enough cherry left over from the tables...?

Philly's mysterious postal delivery turned out to be a beautifully timed DVD (given my planned scheme to avoid insanity last week) but things being what they are, I didn't get a moment to watch any until yesterday. :~( The swish of plane across timber is rather too soothing after "the day after" and to my horror I found myself nodding off. So I still have that to look forward to! Thanks, Phil. I'll have to wait for the signed photo until November I s'pose... A week of great generosity last week, as Chris Schwarz, of PWW and Woodworking Magazine fame very kindly sent me 3 back issues of the latter to look at. I must mention his Blog more often... ;~D Alas my parents failed to plan ahead 50 years ago and clashed with the mags' arrival on Friday morning. Grrr... So I've those to look forward to as well. A brief flip through reminds me a good deal of the early black and white Fine Woodworking, which bodes well. No ads is going to take some getting used to though. Furniture & Cabinetmaking also arrived, and I see they too are planning a "new look". Ho hum. The price is also going up, so I feel even more smug about holding out on resubscribing until I was offered a year for just under £25. DC's article on face and edge marks looks like a good'un. So a busy week ahead, and that's without having to step into the workshop at all!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oh workshop, where art thou?

I fear woodworking related Blogging material may be thin on the ground this week; the Big Build-Up to Friday and The Wedding Anniversary has started with avengence. Even popping down to the workshop to get knife, straight edge and cutting mat to do the place cards earned a withering "and where are you going?" just in case I thought I was going to make a successful escape bid. The living room looks like it's set up for a group therapy session with chairs armrest-to-armrest all round the room - and they won't be needed until Friday evening! Oi vey. I may have to resort to hiding somewhere with a Cosman or Charlesworth DVD just to save my sanity...

Sunday, August 07, 2005


CD storage all done and dusted. Thanks to the Alf-ettes for their support as I let it slide from the highs of hand chopped mortises to the lows of screws and plugs. :~D So now I really should be thinking of Christmas presents, which probably means boxes. 'Cept "Scrollsaw Woman" has issued a challenge which I'm moved to accept. Not least because I've challenged her to make a side table she's had on her "tuit" list if I dust off my scrollsaw, and she bought some maple for same yesterday. Yikes! My only hope now is that the saw is dead... Now who do I know that'd like a badly scrollsawn Spitfire?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Nailed it

If you'd all be so good as to avoid asking after my progress, I'd be obliged. I will get round to finishing the you-know-what, really I will. Just not today. Instead I've updated the site a bit, including finally making some proper pages for the Spokeshave Kit and the Coffee Table. Eventually (hah!) I'm hoping to stop using direct links to the Gallery altogether, gather together my various handlemaking adventures in one place and generally tie in all the odd pages that don't currently have the overall style of the rest of the site.

Yes, that's right; I'm putting more effort into the style than the content... ;~D

This also seems a good moment to mention Woodworking magazine's Weblog on here, so I can find the details again if I lose them. Much interesting discussion thereon; the latest about nails is an interesting one. "The Handyman's Book" is a favourite of mine, but to my shame I've always skipped past the bit on nails. They've always been associated with inferior work in my mind, but the 'Murricans seem to have quite a different attitude to them. Not sure about the double pointed nail though, now I look at it. Sort of thing to make you really swear if you use recycled wood! Hmm, maybe I should nail those shelves in...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Older and wiser?

Well the finished project pics of the Side Tables are up at last. On the whole I'm quite pleased. Well to be honest more pleased than I am usually when I finally walk away from a project. Sure, I could get picky about some things, if I wanted to, but I'm not actually looking at them with disgust, as often happens. So that's got to be progress. I feel like I'm really starting to turn a corner with my woodworking (yes, another one); less went wrong, they came out as I'd imagined without having design opportunities and I can look at them without serious embarrasment. I also felt more in control of the various planes I used. Not that I couldn't get them to do what I wanted before, but somehow it clicked better. I dunno, it's hard to explain. I just feel I've grown up a bit more as a woodworker compared to before I started the tables. That's probably why I started on the CD storage with such gay abandon...

Talking of which, I find myself tempted to glue, screw and plug in order to fix the shelves, and have done with it. Tsk. Otherwise it seems to be turning into one of my usual Woodworker's Blocks, and I'll never get shot of it at all. I'm willing to listen to alternatives, but I'd also welcome "sure, why not's"...

You'll have guessed by now that I haven't actually done any woodworking, but the 1930 Woodworker Annual did arrive this morning. Full of juicy goodness, and things to add to the Tuit list... My old school friend who's been staying here with her family also left and I feel rather more depressed about it than I'd expected. Not to say the respite from her little girl's boundless energy isn't something of a relief, to be honest. Especially as she's very girly and just doesn't appreciate curly wood shavings as much as flowers. Crazy, eh...?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Straw Poll

Feel free to express your vote in the comments box provided:

What would you rank as the most important aspect of a book/magazine/website/other publication?

a) Content
b) Style
c) How it's produced
d) Why it's produced

Please use one side of the paper.

I absolutely promise this is the last GWW related rant on this Blog, 'cos I give up now. When the opinion is expressed that readers are getting "hung up on analysing the content and style without much knowledge of how and why it's produced", I admit defeat. You can't offer constructive suggestions if the recipient has already decided you're too ignorant for them to be any use. I certainly can't do it if content isn't the primary concern. I thought we were on different pages; now I see we're in different libraries... End of rant.

No workshop progress to report I fear. Been a bit under the weather and just didn't feel in the mood. Of course that has nothing whatsoever to do with the nagging feeling that I've boobed big time with the CD storage and I'm going to end up really wishing I'd planned ahead...