Monday, September 26, 2005

Grubs in the grub

Sometimes life parcels up strange and unpleasant things to you - often, it seems, to be delivered before breakfast. I went to dole out the usual portions of seed mix for the parrots this morning, but my questing hand was arrested by the sight of a small, but active, white grub desporting itself among the sunflower seeds. I withdrew my hand at speed, as you may imagine. Soon another one was descernable to my wondering eye, albeit the sack is large - 15Kg - and the grubs small - 10mm long, but, as I say, monsterously active. Needless to say I didn't pause to see if they had more friends with them, rather a call was made to the purveyour of said mix and a new batch should be en route as I speak. Honestly, it was most unpleasant, and I didn't have a single drawkife about my person at the time. Note to self: perhaps a good idea to have a drawknife handy in the cutlery drawer for emergencies?

Consequently I decided against museli for breakfast for some reason...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gout flying upwards

Well my last issue of GWW has come, and contrary to the usual run of life, it's not actually one to make me regret letting the sub go. Such a shame when I know the contributors are just as good as they always were - well most of them, anyway. Not sure about that chap in Dorset... ;~) I'm also wondering if it's worth the effort to cancel the F&C sub too; I dunno, it just doesn't grab me at all these days, and to be honest it was borderline as to whether I'd re-subscribe at the time. I don't think it's partly because internet access has eclipsed them; I must have renewed the subs half a dozen times during my time online, after all. And it certainly isn't because I know it all! I suppose I just don't find myself at all inspired by them; no desire to rush out to the workshop and try it for myself. That and about 90% of the articles I'm not even reading once, never mind re-reading. Shockin', ain't it? Meanwhile Popular Woodworking still fails to show and no news of a sub to their sister publication Woodworking becoming available. Terrible situation for a word- and wood-obsessed person to find themselves in. :~( I may find myself trawling Bookfinder for old Woodworker annuals again... Who am I kidding? "May"? Hah!

Meanwhile I'm left to muse on Dickens instead (does anyone every take any notice of the "currently reading/listening etc" stuff in the side bar over to the right there? Or do I delude myself you care? ;~) Unfortunately it never does the modernity of my language any good at all. However, who can fail to be tickled by Flora Finching's explanation of the demise of her husband?

"ere we had yet fully detected the housemaid in selling the feathers out of the spare bed Gout flying upwards soared with Mr F. to another sphere"

Oh okay, so probably you can resist all too well, but it amuses me greatly for some reason. Plus quoting it here has given me an excuse for a really surreal post title... The film of Little Dorrit is recommended BTW; fabulous cast and very atmospheric, no woodworking in it, but you can't expect perfection... Unfortunately it's in two parts, totalling six hours long, so it doesn't get shown much. (Surprise) I suggest an interval for luncheon or a light supper between parts, if you can get hold of it at all. I looked on Amazon and secondhand copies of the videos are going for £25 and £35 each part! Yikes. I won't devulge how I come to have it on video tape, but I'm now in mortal fear of them disintergrating with age and leaving me bereft. Of course it needn't have been so long a film, if only Dickens hadn't been paid by the word in the first place. :~) Talking of which, you'd think I was too from all this whittering, so I must stop.

One last thing; if the lack of cricket is getting you down and you want to hammer the Aussies all over again - or even salvage some pride if you're of antipodean persuasion - can I recommend this? Although if you want to get anything else done at all, best avoid it on the whole... The original is here, including a welcome practice mode. Good thing I didn't know about it earlier in the summer or I might never have finished those tables in time.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Woodworking Brit Blog

Further to my comments here, to my amazement I find a woodworking catergory has appeared! Huzzah. But I'm all alone in it at the moment... Plenty of room for more; I'll squeeze up. :~)

Etching in the acid detail

In the comments below, Byron wonders about detail on the use of citric acid. I'll do my best; that is, it's simply what I did and it probably varies. It all started, as far as I remember, with this information. This was picked up on The Old Tools list, and it sort of grew from there. Just put "citric acid" into The Archive's search under "keyword" and you'll see what I mean... It interested me, and eventually I bought some citric acid to try it. About £1.50 for a little pot from the local Home Hardware - I'm sure there are cheaper places. Put some cold water in the bottom of a cleanish old ice cream box, just enough to cover the tools, spinkled in about, ooo, a heaped tablespoon? And, as I say, a dash of meths and washing-up liquid (Lemon scented, but that's not essential). Gave it a stir and put in the dividers etc.; if you look closely when you do that you can see tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the tool. Make sure the tool for the treatment is grease-free, or it won't work. Guess how I know that - no, not from reading the instructions. Don't be silly... Anyway, I checked them after two hours, then every hour afterwards for the afternoon, before I decided what the hell and left them in overnight. I didn't realise they'd still look the same in the bath regardless of how long they were in, you see. But it was okay and not a disaster. Eventually I thought "this isn't working, stupid thing", fished them out and gave them a scrub with some brown non-woven abrasive (a dish scourer in household terms, Webrax or Scotchbrite in workshop ones!) under the tap in case the acid might do more harm than good. Before my wondering eye the rust and crud just scrubbed off to reveal unto me bare, but slightly dull, metal. Huzzah! How much it dulls, and how long it takes, depends on the concentration I gather. Someone suggested lots of dilute baths might be better to minimise the degree of dullness, while a really concentrated bath might get things done in an hour or two. Whatever, it certainly beats abrasives and white spirit on these finicky tools. I can't recall off-hand what the word was on its effects on paint and japanning, but I have a feeling any loose stuff you can assume you'll lose.

Anyway, that may or may not be of any help, but at least the links with more detail are now recorded in one place when I need them. Oh, and welcome to the Blog, Byron. :~)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Speed and Acid

Bet that title made you look...

Well I finally got round to taking a picture of the various bits I've tried the citric acid on. That is to say, some of them are as a result of that, and others aren't. To my eye it's a little obvious, but still, not too bad really, and at least I can use them now. I really need to have another shot, but being a little more scientific in how much powder I used to the amount of water and so forth. In this case I just put about an inch and a half of water in the bottom of a 4 litre ice cream box, mixed in about "that much" citric acid and one drop each of meths and washing up liquid. The latter two do something or other, but I can't recall what exactly. Heigh ho.

Of course this was my first opportunity to upload piccies using Broadband! Whoohoo! Yep, it all worked. We got the word the line was up and running last Thursday (a day earlier than estimated), but were left waiting for the evil Parcel Farce to deliver the router. D'oh. Anyway it turned up this Wednesday and I had it all set up by the end of the afternoon. T'riffic. Now I just need to remember the load of broadband-y things to look at that I never could before...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Apathy is too much effort

If there's one thing sadder than a woodworker who can't get into their workshop, it must be a woodworker who doesn't want to. Yes, I am that sorry individual. I'm wandering round like a wet weekend and I just can't summon up the impetus to go into the workshop at all. It's awful. I feel so guilty. All those tools ready to leap to my command and butcher some unsuspecting tree meat, so many tuits on the list, so many more wannatryits too, and I just can't be arsed - pardon my Klatchian*. Still, there are 4 or 5 assorted dividers and callipers sitting on the bench, freshly waxed and almost shiny from their citric acid bath, so that's something. Not much, but I'll take what I can get at the moment...

In other news, keep it to yourselves, but an order has been placed with an ISP to provide a broadband service chez Alf. I confidently expect news to come through that we're 2ft 7inches too far away from the exchange for it to work and my hopes will be dashed forever, but you never know it might actually work. If everyone'd just cross all available appendages for the forseeable future I'd be obliged, ta muchly.

*It's a Discworld thing. Read the books and you'll understand. Don't read the books and frankly there's very little hope for you and your sanity making it to the end of your brief sojourn on this planet intact. But that's just my opinion. :~)

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Came across a link to a site called BritBlog that seems to be trying to get together a directory of Blogs written by Brits (how patriotic). Despite the absence of a woodworking catergory, the option on a flag of St Piran as a link to them sucked me in, so I've registered Alf Towers. Apparently silent watchers and/or grey guardians will then check that I am what I claim to be before letting me into the secret order of Brit Bloggers. Or something. The fact I've already put the link to their site to the right there (No, over there. On the right. In the border. Under the picture of the jointer. Well stop drooling at the jointer and look below. See it? Okay then). As I was saying, doing that has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that unseen judges will be looking at chez Alf before giving me the nod. Would I be so calculating? Well possibly... Any other patriotic woodworking bloggers out there who want to register? If Cornwall can get it's own flag link with only half a dozen or so Blogs actually in Cornwall, surely we don't need many woodworkers to get a woodworking catergory? ;~)

Acid test

So September is upon us. That's me rushing into the workshop for the new term then... [hollow laughter] Well I am doing a little research into using citric acid for rust removal, which is about all I feel equal to at the moment. It's hardly "all go" round here though. The recovery of my lumbar regions hasn't exactly been helped by having to pick the most ridiculous numbers of runner beans in the old man's veg garden. I mean there's dozens of them; it's crazy. It was fine while I was doing it mind you; listening to "The Lark Ascending" in the evening sun, Swallows twittering away in the distance, a Buzzard mewing over my head, lovely way to while away an hour or two. Only when I'd finished did I wonder if I'd been totally wise, especially picking the "Red Rums" which crop right from the bottom of the plant. This morning I knew it was a mistake. Ouchhhhhhhhhhhh. So today I will just hobble gingerly between the one day cricket final at Lords on the telly and the workshop every couple of hours, and gaze at the spring dividers lying in the citric-y depths. Sounds better if I rephrase it to "I spent my Saturday cleaning up rusty tools" though, doesn't it? ;~)