Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Theory Practice

Tsk, I seem to be in rather a serious trough of "Theoretical Woodworking" at the moment. I'm tempted to indulge myself and make the bench-on-bench just to kick start me into proper woodworking again. Really I need to, 'cos I ought to be thinking about my mum's birthday at the end of January - hints have been dropped that something I've made is virtually expected. Ack. I kind of know what I'd like to do, but that's a long way from doing it, as you all know... A bit like T L-N saying a #043 is high on his list of tools he'd like to make - it's not the same as being the next thing they're actually making. Good news though, all the same.

Meanwhile I'm amusing myself by trying to think of a new angle on the eternal tool storage question. The recurring theme of my previous efforts has been a lack of flexibility, so how can I address the fluctuating nature of my tool kit? Seems to me the only answer is to have tools in small groups, possibly on seperate boards or holders, that can be moved round a cabinet independantly of the other tools. So if the chisel choice changes, f'rinstance, you just make or alter a new chisel holder to accommodate the changes. It's not an entirely original idea of course, but I don't think it's ever been taken to the extreme of doing that for everything. Possibly because it isn't practical! But I did have a novel thought for using up the air space you often get between the tools on the back of a cupboard and the doors, plus giving the option of taking certain tools to the bench in one go. Whether it'll work outside the dubious confines of my imagination is anyone's guess, but I may get round to trying a prototype sometime. Maybe.

Third disappointment

S'okay, I remembered what it was overnight. While testing various auger bits for fit, one hit a very hard knot in my test piece. There was a Bad Noise and the lead screw snapped clean off. :~( I was very good, and merely remarked aloud "That's a bit off". And I didn't even intend the groan-worthy pun. Trouble is I've now got a small auger bit shortage in the ever useful 3/4" size - oh well, one'll "turn" up I 'spect (groan).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Well I forgot to post about the big news today, didn't I? Yep, the decision by APTC not to hold a show next year. No Tools2006. What a total bummer. It's the one half decent show out there, not to mention the only one I'm ever able to get to. It has virtually all the big hand tool players, the big names and gurus, the competitions, and, most importantly of all, the largest number of UK Workshoppers attending and meeting up. What will we do without it? I'm totally gutted.

Then, to add to my cup of happiness, word comes throught from LV that the cambering roller for the honing guide has been put on hold and won't be considered again for six months or so. If at all. Hell's teeth and damnation, it's a perishing conspiracy against a whole section of woodworking humanity, that's what it is. I mean I'm one of the lucky ones; I have one. But what about the would-be cambering thousands out there? Huh? Sheesh, I'm annoyed. How Mike must feel I dread to think; my condolences on a rare (I hope) outing of LV mutton-headedness, Mike.

Now I'm dreading what the third thing's going to be...

Hold fast! That's boring.

So, the goodies. Funny how a sizable chunk of lettuce doesn't seem to come to much - at least, not when it's lying in a heap and not being used. Finally sorted out my lamentable lack of trammel heads, so I fully expect to never require a large circle or arc ever again... The Wonder Pup is for the bench-on-bench which has been on the Tuit List for some time now. Got the wood, got the gadgets, just need to do it. And turn up some vice screws to finally get that wooden tap earning its keep... The straight edge doesn't photograph well, but it's the 38" one and shows that my bench top isn't too bad, but not perfect. Drat. Finally the holdfast. Been wanting one of those off and on for years, but never had the guts to bore the hole in "The Bench". Well the bench-on-bench got me thinking more seriously about getting it, and then after flattening it I looked on "The Bench" as more "the bench" and felt maybe boring a hole or two in it wasn't such sacrilege after all.

So that's what I did this afternoon. I went through all my 3/4" auger bits, and even tried a 13/16" or two, to try and find a suitable fit. All were a trifle snug - or hopelessly sloppy, auger bit sizes being given more in hope than accuracy. In fact the sloppy would have been okay for the holdfast, but no good for the Pup; and I wanted to be able to take that in any holes too, just in case. The undercarriage of the front vice is in the way of where I was going to put the hole, but I think I've got it in an okay spot now. In hindsight maybe I should have lined it up with the existing bench dog hole better... Ach, no matter. As long as it works.

The deed is done, and I'm not actually a total babbling wreck wondering what possessed me, which has to be a good sign... The bit cut a nice clean hole, but marginally too snug. I ran a round file up and down the inside a few times to open it up a bit, then drove the post of the holdfast right through the hole a couple of times. Brutal, but it loosened everything up just enough to make it work smoothly. Then a job for the monserously large snail countersink; just a quick twizzle to ease the edge of the hole for neatness.

Et voila! It works.
And very, very effectively.But don't bother clicking for a larger piccy; the light was poor, and ergo the focus. However, I'm well impressed and might end up hankering after another one if I'm not careful... I expect I'll end up with a few more holes as time goes on, but I will try and refrain from turning the bench top into a Swiss cheese if I can. Trouble is this is all good fun, but not getting done that which I should be getting done. So really I must postpone the bench-on-bench a little longer. Sigh.

And finally a word about introducing character recognition in the comments box. I don't like doing it, but I've had a rash of spam comments which I'm hoping to avoid. Apologies for making life that little bit more tedious than it should have to be though :~( Could be worse; I could have elected to check every comment before it gets posted. Ah, the power...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Old Mother Hubbard

I go, I come back. Sunday's a day of rest; that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...

Well I'd tell you about the toys wot I got from BriMarc today, but as they say on one forum: no pictures - it didn't happen. So you'll have to wait for that until tomorrow. Meanwhile my comments box tells me Byron is in major workshop making mode; which is probably my favourite form of woodworking, I'm ashamed to say; and wonders about my current tool cabinet. Stop me if you've heard this before.
I started out like a normal person with a normal number of tools, and thus a pretty normal tool cabinet. 18mm ply construction throughout, screwed together; I still use it in two halves even now. But it was small. Far too small. And ply was a bit, well, not as I really desired, so solid wood beckoned next. I'm sure I must have another picture somewhere, but the best I can find is this shot of one half that I turned into a jigsaw. Sheesh, i even let a hardpoint saw into it...

The next one I used solid ash, flat panelled doors, through dovetailed with the 'Rat. The works. Still too small, but looked more the part. Heh heh, just seen I kept the box for my first LN, the side rebate pair, in the cupboard too. Little did I know just how slippery that particular Slope that would become.

Anyway, that became a problem as the tools expanded, so to tide myself over, I used one half of the old cupboard for all my planes. "All" my planes. Oh deary me, what an innocent I was... I think the router plane hung on the door, IIRC. And there's a #4, #4.5, #5, #5.5, #6, #60.5, #073 and #45. As a system for storing them, it wasn't half bad as it happens. If only I could have avoided outgrowing that too. My trouble was I was making them too shallow to avoid them taking up valuable real estate by over hanging the floor. So next step, put them over the bench...
... and eliminate the doors so they don't foul anything large being clamped up on top of the bench. DAMHIKT...

Well that worked really well; easy to get to everything, plenty of room for expansion - well when I started there was anyway, and looks good in photographs ;~) However, it offers absolutely zero protection against the two "usts". Rust 'n' Dust. I also wasn't happy about the chisel storage. Oh it worked all right but the blades were a hazard exposed like that, and they could clatter into each other if you weren't careful - murder on sharp edges. So eventually it got to this point:

Which worked brilliantly. Right up until the point I decided I needed to get round to the back of the bench when working... Oh, and open up the underside of the bench again. So the drawers moved, the bench moved, nearly everything moved. And now everything; ready use tools; infrequent flyers; the lot, is spread all about the workshop. Most of my go-to tools have made it to the haven of the tool chest, but in dribs and drabs so there's no overall plan. In short it's a bit of a nightmare. But not half the nightmare it'd be if I started to do something about it...

So I've done cupboards, drawers, shelves and chests. Is there anything else left to try before I start the whole cycle again? :~)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

S'now go; saw point

So much for the snow in these parts. Virtually all gone already, no staying power at all. And not so much as a snowball thrown by your intrepid reporter. On the other hand it is still a bit nippy, so finding myself still requiring excuses not to be in the workshop I've been doing a little preparatory research instead. This involves staying in the warm and reading. My kind of task :~) Also a spot of birdwatching, similarly from the warmth of my desk. This year I've finally got round to hanging up a "fat ball" for the birds in the Myrtle bush/tree outside the window and it's already proving a popular dining venue for the "Top Flight" feathered diner looking to eat out. Viz: Tits, both Great & Blue (no jokes, please); Robins; House Sparrows and possibly a Greenfinch. Not at all sure about the last one; I didn't have the book open at the right place and the sun was in my eyes. Might just have been a female sparrow... Anyway, I've been looking at more feathered behinds this morning than you'd see in the average musical chorus line; the blighted things will insist on pointing away from me. Humph.

And I forgot to mention yesterday, in reply to the anxious inquiry over whether I've played with, er, tried the LN saw yet; I haven't. As always with virtually every LN tool I've ever bought, I suffer from chronic buyer's remorse followed by a strong desire not to ruin it by actually daring to let it touch wood. It'll pass eventually; it always does. But at the moment it's still in its box, safely housed in the anti-rust stronghold that is The Tool Chest. That's another thing; I haven't really got anywhere to store it safely. What was okay for a restored car boot saw seems rather lacking in facilities for a saw costing, on average, at least 20 times as much... Sheesh, did I not think this through or what? That pesky Tool Cabinet Making Itch is making itself felt again. :~(

Friday, November 25, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Okay, okay, don't all chunter at me. I've been busy. Woodworking? Well sort of. Not actually making anything though. Playing silly beggars with a certain router plane of Commonwealth origin and writing about twice as much as I intended to about it, I fear. Also wrote up the auger/brace cleaning as threatened, so I'm in a bit of a literary mood at the moment. Just as well, as I have a little non-forum writing to do next - and before anyone asks, no, it's not for a magazine and no cheque will be winging its way chez Alf. But it should be fun though.

Also the auger cleaning bug stayed with me most of last week and this - up until the temperature dropped that is. As you can see from the view to the workshop to your left, taken this afternoon, winter has arrived in a big way here in Cornwall. Playing about with metal and cold water suddenly loses its charm when the thermometer says 0.5°C, funnily enough. I know, I'm a soft southern pansy, "when I were t'lad oop in't The North we went sunbathing when temperature got up to 0°C" etc etc. So shoot me. I like to be warm. :~)

What else have I been doing... Oh yes, gathering together likely items for trying out some hot/hide/scotch/pearl glue (trust me to wait until the temperature drops...) All I need is a little "craftwork", as Woodrat would put it, and the actual glue and I can play to my heart's content. Amazingly the "Home Hardware" in Truro stocks Liberon pearl glue. Not so surprisingly they only had a 1Kg bag, which seemed a lot for someone who isn't sure they'll like it. So an Axminster order is required. Oh deary me, what a terrible shame, how ever will I make up enough of an order to get free delivery, etc, etc... Actually it is a bit of a pain, given that I've just placed my postponed show order with BriMarc. Hmm, so who can I get Crimbo pressies for from APTC? Apart from me, obviously... I'd ask any passing reader (and it's a worry just how many people have confessed to reading this Blog. I thought I was talking to myself...) about one such item, but I have a feeling my nephew reads it too. Which reminds me, a poser for you...

Grandson informs grandparents he won't see them over New Year 'cos he's going back to University directly after Christmas. He says to work for his finals and that. They immediately say cherche la femme and "pull the other one, it has water on from the last shower what I came down in". Apparently doing a lot of walking is also a sure sign of lurve, according to them... Is this a reasonable guess on the part of the grandparents (50 years married, remember), or are they making 2+2=5? I merely mention this in case any of my readership either
a) Wish to confirm this hypothesis, maybe even from experience, but vague opinion will do. I'm not fussy.
b) Wish to utterly refute the allegation in a frantic, embarrassed, and therefore amusing, way...

And you thought I was a nice person. Mwahahahahaahaaaaaaaaa... ]:~>

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Maine event

You know what they say? Tomorrow never comes... Sorry about that, should anyone have been daft enough to be on tenterhooks over the promised posting yesterday.

Before I forget, R had brought along the practically-famous April Fool's 12 arm marking gauge. It's heavy. It would also, in theory, assuming you had a strong enough wrist, work. I'm agog to see what they come up with next year... That's a CAD image of the rear toted low angle block on the left, btw.

So, The Man from Maine. I happened to be hob-nobbing with BB when T finally had a moment between other eager beavers, so I'm afraid he got a bit of a two-pronged attack. I'm not proud that I joined in with the chant of "plough plane, plough plane" when the subject of new tool designs came up. :~) We had a small moan about the slow release of new stuff compared with the churnings out from Canada. T muttered that he opens up his own catalogue and says "Oh, they're doing this page this month" and that rather than LN getting left behind, LV are having to run to catch up. Hmm... Fortunately I had a lapse of memory and didn't mention router planes, medium shoulder planes and so forth ;~) Anyway one hold up is the design team is busy doing other things. Viz: He has to do shows like Axminster. We didn't beat about the bush and advised him to go home right away...

BB's perennial favourite, the #51/#52 shooting board and plane combo, was discussed. Alas I can't help but agree with T's assessment; it'd cost a wad and they simply wouldn't sell enough. I floated my Big Idea that the user provides the base board but the manufacturer supplies an adjustable fence and instructions for fitting etc. I reckon that'd remove half the doubt newbie shooting board users have; just follow the instructions 'cos they must be right if I've spent $X on this fence. Plus an adjustable fence would appeal to the more seasoned shooters. Well it would to me anyway. Of course it'd be breaking new ground a bit for L-N, rather than basing on an existing design, so maybe I should suggest it to R instead.

New stuff on show felt limited at the time, but it seems quite a list now: the medium shoulder, which was pretty, but nothing unexpected; the model maker's block; the dinky and adorable convex sole block plane, which I'd love to be able to find an excu-, er, reason, for getting; and a smaller version of the Tite-Mark, the Mini, which I liked the size of a good deal more than the original. Let's face it, how often d'you need the extra size? The only reservation I have is the fixed-width mortise blades; it does so depend on your chisels being the right size :~(

What's coming up next? Well now I come to think of it, he never said... I'd gathered elsewhere that a router plane was in the offing, but not a word. I dunno, but I get the impression there's a certain amount of consolidation going on and general settling down after the recent expansion.

Also on the L-N stand was DC, who I think was enjoying not being stuck out in the cold all on his own. Once again, as I do every year, I marvelled at just how high his workbench is. I couldn't cope with it, I know I couldn't. Trouble is, not only is it wrong for me for ordinary planing, it's not quite high enough to be as advantageous as I'd like for close work like marking out and so forth.

Meanwhile, remember that brace cleaning I was tackling? Well it's been pretty successful I think. I took lots of pics, so I'll probably write it up for the forum; anything that may rescue a poor negelcted brace in someone's garage has got to be worth the effort, no? I also cleaned up a nice little 5" sweep brace I bought on Saturday, but it's not got such quite spectacular woodwork. Lovely little brace though.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Veritas Brain Dump

As the title suggests, don't expect coherent reporting...

So, my first port of call at the show was the Veritas stand to say "Howdy" to RL. Hailed from behind by C, we discovered we were both headed the same way, and confounding the gender stereotype I was able to lead us there unerringly. As required, mutterings of "Doo-dah" were to be heard, and R presented us with a calendar a piece and the other LV goodies previously mentioned in this Blog. Then the important stuff; what was new. First up the winding sticks. I've never seen anyone look so embarrassed about a product they intend to sell for money as R when he explained about them. As winding sticks go, they're well designed mind you. Extruded aluminium, a ribbed effect at 1/8" spacings to aid sighting and they slide togther for storage. But they are winding sticks, and buying them is just plain daft and R knows it, but if there's a demand, what can you do...? They're not getting the Veritas name; apparently a new brand name to cover such low articles, and things they've designed but are made in the Far East is to be introduced. Alas, a burst of tailed router torture meant I missed the name.

The other interesting thing was a new rear handle for the Low Angle Block. Earlier this year R had mentioned a thought about making a #3 sized bevel-up plane and wondered what I, and presumably others, thought. My reaction was Why? and Doesn't the Low Angle Block with ball tail cover that? Well it seems I wasn't the only one to think that (which gave me a warm glow), and prompted by an enterprising guy who made a regular tote using the ball tail fixings, that's the route they've taken. The prime aim is for sprogs, thus corrupting the next generation in a most effective manner. The best bit of all is the handle is fixed with only one screw, so making alterntive styles is easy peasy - and a kit for same will also be available. As R put it later in his talk; carvers alter their tool handles, turners alter their tool handles, cabinetmakers wax theirs and put them on the shelf. :~D Promoting altering your tools to fit is Veritas' aim, thwarted only by the two tote-bolt design they've got themselves stuck with. My view, not R's btw! ;~)

Also on the cards seems to be an idea to make some high spec planes with a view to their appearance. Once again the tortured router kicked in nearby, so I missed a good deal of the detail. It'll be interesting to see if the R&D boys can do "looks" though... At that point another seeker after a doo-dah hove into view, so I journyed on to other parts of the show.

The other stuff was the R&D talk R gave in the afternoon. I'd be able to write a better report of that if we hadn't had to stand throught the hour+ duration, again with the router from Hell screaming in the background. As it is, I was shifting from foot to foot a good deal in an effort to avoid throwing in the towel and just sitting down on the deck... I learnt that CNC machines cost a fortune but can do wonderous things, getting the first reference face on a casting is the tricky bit, automatic lathes that can run unsupervised for three days actually need checking every 50 or 100 units in case a cutter has chipped and you churn out three days of useless product, and a super-expensive and technical Chinese-made CNC machine has a hand operated windscreen wiper on its window so you can see what's happening inside... Deciding what a new product is made from depends a good deal on how many of them you expect to sell, apparently. Setting up to do castings is expensive, so you need to know you'll recoup the costs. For things you're not sure of, aluminium extrusions are a cost effective route; if it all goes wrong, at worst it's a couple of hundred on the die and you can melt down the aluminium to use again. That naturally has a knock-on effect on the designer. F'rinstance, the skew jig for the Mk2 honing guide is unlikely to be a big seller, so it'll be aluminium extrusion.

The models used in various stages of design were interesting too, and how I wish I'd taken a picture or two... Wood is a popular choice in the early stages, but there's also a machine linked up to the computer that can take a CAD image and build it up from layers of a glue-type stuff. IIRC, this can then be used in the next stage towards final manufacture. I was getting a bit tired by that stage, so the memory is going...

Anyway, I learnt a lot and found myself thinking it was churlish to do anything with a plane but be thankful it was there at all. Not good for the critical reviewer, so I'll do my best to forget it all ASAP!

Tomorrow, the Man from Maine.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tool Pillage

So another year, another show come and gone, another painfully long countdown to the next one! But first, the gloats...

Started out on Wednesday with the aim of having lunch at Topsham; which we did. Then a look round Topsham Quay Anteek Centre, wherein hangs out Old Tools Feel Better. Well they may do, but he does horrible things to saw blades... Anyway, I passed by and looked at the other stalls where a few odds and ends of tools were to be found for the eagle-eyed. Amongst them a wooden side bead was spotted on the radar. Screws in the side jogged my memory, and I identified them as removable slips, rather than a repair. A look at the end revealed it to be solid boxed, made by John Moseley & Son, 55* middle pitch. I was tempted; the sign "30% off everything on this stand" and I was more than just tempted. The sale was made. Just under a fiver, and it's sharp and virtually ready to use! Looking up in British Planemakers when I got home, I found it to date to between1862 and 1880, which is not only older than I thought, but easily the closest I've been able to date any wooden plane I own, which always gives me a buzz. An excellent start to my pillaging raid.

Going on to the hotel, I was able to meet up and exchange the bulk of the saws as arranged. Some was in trade for five (five! Count 'em!) Woodworker Annuals - 1934, '35, '38, '39 and 1940. I already have '36 and '37 so it's getting to be quite a good solid run of them. I could do with '31, '32 and '33 now, to lengthen the run into my earlier copies. Only downside; all but one had had its index removed. Bit of a bummer, but I'm sure I'll cope. Anyway, that bit of high-pressure sales talk also produced some spending money for the 'morrow. Things were looking very good indeed.

Next day was the show itself, and rather more modern tools to drool over. There are about a million things to mention from the various conversations I had, but forgive me if I spin that all out over the coming week. I don't know if i'm just really lucky, but I've yet to meet a woodworker who is anything but nice. Two examples very generously came bearing gifts. Luckily I had sussed the likelihood of that, so I had too :~) BB had made a miniature square by expending infinite care and patience on an old saw blade. 'Tis a thing of beauty, and I shall have to make it a special holder I think; I fear I'll lose it otherwise. I may even be promted to try my first lap dovetail in order to use it... I'm also equipped with delights from a certain Canadian manufacturer, including a mug that should, by rights, be burning me as I sip my tea. Miraculously, it doesn't; I think it's double-walled. Well it did surprise me that a company priding itself on design should apparently have the worst possible design of drinking vessel!

So I was gathering up the goodies left, right and centre, and had only spent 20p on leaving my coat in the cloakroom. Time came round to meet up with the forum folks, although various of them had been popping up all through the morning and saying howdy. One resulted in a swift sale of my "user" dovetail saw in the car park, which left me a little embarrassed in the saw department. From glut to famine in 2 days! The chisel exchange previously arranged also went just fine and it was starting to be unbearable not to have spent any money. I went in search of the sizing tool I'd set my heart on. For a while I thought I was doomed to failure; Henry Taylor didn't have one, neither did Crown, and of course Axminster themselves didn't. I didn't think Ashley Iles would, but I had a quick look in passing. Huzzah! They had a Sorby one; so I swooped and purchased. It's actually a bit disappointing; the swarf wasn't removed before the finish was applied, so I'll probably have to file away some of the finish before I can even use it. Tsk. I knew Sorby weren't what they were, but that's really poor considering it's not that cheap a bit of kit. Anyway, the wallet was out and I was on a roll. I decided to have a look at the Veritas holdfast and wonder if I had the nerve to bore a hole in my bench top yet. Lovely smooth action on the screw, and the clamping force is excellent. Yep, gonna have one of those. As it turned out, it was going to make more sense to order direct from BriMarc after the show, so that's still on, erm, "hold" until next week. In the meantime I can decide if there's anything else I want...

Meanwhile the dovetail saw situation was bugging me. I decided to have a look at the L-N. The only available timber to try it on was far too thick, and I was disappointed in the saw in consequence. Also I managed to look like the most hopeless saw user in the world with DC looking on. D'oh. I beat a hasty retreat and went to have a look at the Thomas Flinn 1776 dovetail saw. Superficially similar to the L-N, it didn't grab me at all. Not least because the handle is significantly larger; great for the blokes, but a nightmare for me. Their bench wasn't helping any; it was wracking like a tea clipper in a gale which makes any saw look like dross. Anyway, that was no good. Bum. I wandered about wondering if I could manage okay with the saws I had until another DT saw should cross my path, but the pull of the L-N stand was great enough to find me back there eventually. And there was a thinner piece of stock. Ah-ha. I had another shot, and it was like a different saw. I know in my head that's as it should be, but I hadn't expected it to feel that different. I was convinced. I bought.

I haven't tried it yet.

I can also confirm it's slightly embarrassing to have manufacturer "A" peering to see what you've bought from manufacturer "B" while at the same time you haven't actually bought anything from manufacturer "A" - yet.

On Friday we wound our way home, via Liskeard and Bob's Tool Box. Naturally he had more dovetail saws than you can shake a big stick at... D'oh! Not cheap though. Very much serious dealer prices, but a heck of a range of stuff. I didn't buy a thing, but the old man fell for a billhook and got a wedge to help deal with some of the more awkward firewood. Bob himself was a bit busy, being in the middle of some reorganisation at the time, so I didn't complicate matters by introducing myself. Worth another visit if we're passing again I think.

So that was it. Back to the ends of the earth for another year, booty safely gathered in, feet worn down to the ankles. Watch this space tomorrow for what was gleaned from the Canadian.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


So today is the first anniversay of this Blog. Huzzah! Apart from missing out one whole month... this is the first diary type thing I've ever managed to keep going for more than a few months. Evidently the "Dear Diary" thing doesn't cut it and I need an audience. What a shameless attention seeker. :~S

Meanwhile I'm so rushed off my feet in getting ready to go up the Exeter tomorrow for the show that I spent the morning cleaning those auger bits. Sometimes my displacement activity-seeking surprises even me...

On a more serious note, a parcel containing some of my paternal grandfather's WWI documents arrived from my aunt this morning. As it's unlikely I'll be posting on Friday, Armistice Day, I thought I'd post this now. Here he is on the left; Lieutenant, later Captain in
the 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment, aka the West Riding, aged about 22 or 23. At some point he won the Military Cross, but I'm not sure exactly how. Amongst the papers are numerous trench maps, photos etc, including the document on the right. It's a resume of their division's operations from August 1918 until the Armistice. Strange to think that the absence of tanks was worded as a matter of pride, rather than one of anger as it would be now. As there's a map of Chapel Hill amongst the papers, I assume HJF was involved in that attack. He went on to become a member of the Indian Civil Service, becoming Chief Secretary of United Provinces and died in 1981. My grandmother's brother, Cuthbert, wasn't so lucky. He joined the Middlesex Regiment in 1914 but was killed in action in September 1918. As far as I'm aware, he's the only member of my family to have died in the armed forces - although plenty have served in them - so, as ever, he'll be uppermost in my thoughts on the 11th. He so very nearly made it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Braced for action

Well it's all go toolwise chez Alf at the moment. Delicate negotiations are on-going vis-a-vis a trade of goods. My part of the deal is this Chapman brace and Irwin pattern bits. But first they have to be cleaned... Actually the bits aren't too bad. Some I've already done, and others came in the baize tool roll in the picture, and have kept remarkably rust-free in consequence. Nope, it's the brace that's going to be the stinker. The ratchet is, inevitably, seized up, but other than that the working parts are all free and, well, working. But there's a coat of rust over everything, and the plating's there in places and peeling off in others. As a preliminary test I've put a small wooden handled screwdriver in the citric acid bath to see how it effects the woodwork - in theory it's apparently okay to put the whole thing in the citric acid, but this is nice hardwood and I don't want to ruin it. Failing that, it's just a question of elbow grease. I've done it before:
On the left, you can just make out the Stanley #901 brace as found in the Tool Chest; below that the result of much elbow grease. Super brace that, and judging by how little I was able to find out about it, not that common. It has the Parker patent ratchet, dates sometime between 1911 and 1935 (but more towards the latter half) and would have set you back a whopping $2.45 in 1914. Stanley's most expensive brace I think. The guy who assembled the tools in that chest seemed to have had a laudable tendency to buy the best tools available, for which I can but thank him.

There, and you thought I was just fixated on planes and saws...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Box o' tools to go

There's only so much guilt I can take before I get prodded into action. Tools for Self Reliance is featured at the Axminster Show this year, and a forum thread about it has finally got me to do something about it instead of just thinking about doing something. 'Cos it's a bit of a way to carry stuff, I limited myself to one carriable box. Anything that wouldn't fit, doesn't go. If I can't carry the box reasonably, something has to go. Looking down their list of what's in shortest supply I had a rummage through my boxes o' rust. It was good fun actually; bit like my own private car boot sale of tools, and only tools. I'm ashamed of how many things I'd forgotten I had to be honest; a whole load of brace bits I'd completely over-looked, chisels, gouges, all sorts. Now I'd happily donate some of those, but I assume the list is indicating to me that they're knee-deep in that sort of thing, so I went for the asked-for goodies. A no-name #4.5, which is a delightful plane to use, but the holes in the sides don't make it a looker; a Salmens block; three folding rules (metric, metric/imperial, and imperial); two mortise chisels, one a good size for furniture but a bit short, the other a gorgeous monster I'll never use; couple of back saws I've yet to get round to cleaning; coping saw; and finally a nice fine grade of oil stone. The hand grinder wouldn't fit in the box!

I had a good chuckle though. Normally my mum doesn't come into the workshop, but just for once
, while I was packing up these goodies, she did. Her eye fell on the folding rules. I'd forgotten she has a major thing for them; not that she uses them, it's the gizmocity factor that gets her. I suppose I had to have got it from someone... Anyway, I was practically prising them from her hands and pointing out the need of poor Africans was greater than her's. I had to repeat it quite a few times before she relinquished them though :~) Not that she's usually like that, but in this case it was a definite struggle. It was hilarious as she went through them; "too short but the brass is nice" "oooo, this one's really long" etc etc Concealed in the workshop I have a large size, 2m one (about 18" long when folded) - if she ever gets hold of that, all is lost...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tap dancing

Result. Holes successfully drilled and tapped in the jointer plane. Yee-hah! Having woken up at 1am this morning worrying about it, I knew I had to grasp the nettle, bite the bullet and generally get on with it. Not helped by the opposite side to the one I was drilling being less than square to the sole of the plane. Grrr. So it was all very dicey wedged up with this 'n' that and not clamped down. Don't try that at home kids... But luckily there was lots of leeway in the whole thing, so all was well. Nearly wasn't though; I marked up the wrong holes first try, so I now have some additional dimples on the plane where dimples should not be. Ho hum. Anyway, I had a bit of a play and so forth and the main thrust of my thoughts are already committed to paper. Just a pause to let it stew a while now.

Also made progress with one of the other LV things, which I suppose I have to not say about yet. No worries; s'no big deal particularly. As it is, it seems fine and I'm struggling to come up with anything to say beyond "Great, I'll take one. Except, er, I already have one now, don't I...?" Well I would have bought one if things had been different, if I'd had the thing it goes with, which I probably wouldn't have I'd have had to buy it... Hmm, I think I'll have to re-draft this whole thing...

I'll leave you with the thought that, while I knew Tool X was a complicated thing with lots of parts, it's not until you see one laid out, with the blades alone taking up a third of the workbench, that you really know it.

Tune in tomorrow when I Blog about how I started a rumour about a Lee Valley Combination Plane. (chuckle)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pile o' Saws to go

Decided that the imminent arrival of stuff from Canada meant I'd better pack up the out-going stuff for next week before it got here. Mainly saws, as you can see! Just a final choice of which dovetail saw of three to go for has to be made; so two will have to come back again. Other than that, the saw rack is a little emptier. :~) Just as well I can hand them over at the Axminster show though; the postage would have been a bit of a 'mare.

Yep, it's that time of year again, when I venture east in search of tool drool. 'Cept the drive to look at the tools is less and less and it becomes more of an excuse to meet up with friends old and new and put names to faces. And flog a few tools... ;~) Well to be fair, if I didn't do that I wouldn't be able to support the new toolmakers, so it's for the long-term good. Although it's very hard to get excited about going to a show to see tools when some turn up on your doorstep the week before. It's horribly ungrateful to say it, but in a tiny way it takes away some of the pleasure of the show. Terrible, isn't it? Bet you're yelling at the screen "what?! Why you stinker; step aside and I'll do it then!" It only does it a little bit; but there is that miniscule regret that I don't get to fight the wondering masses for a look at the new router plane, f'rinstance. Heck, I may loose touch with the feelings of the ordinary woodworker at the bench, and that would never do. So I'll have to fight off the wondering masses at the L-N stand instead; which I'd be doing anyway, no doubt. :~) I'm also hoping one of the turning tool manufacturers will have a sizing wotsit to fit a 3/8th parting tool. I'm getting a bit fed up with my hit 'n' miss method of making chisel handles - and as I have a lot to do it makes sense to bite the bullet. If Axminster still listed one I'd have got it long before now; as it is I never order from places that do have them so it hasn't happened. And of course there's also the competition entries to gasp in wonder at. I'll have a shot at getting to those early, while it's quiet, if I can - just for a change.

Anyway, in the mean time, there's at least one, and really probably two, reviews to write; some feedback to give; and, oh heck, some holes to drill and tap... For a moment there I'd forgotten that horror. Wonder if I'll be able to slip in any real woodworking while no-one's looking...?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Revenoo...

Got a call from UPS; looks like I'm going to be stung big time for the L-V parcel. Bum. Not that I won't be reimbursed, but heck, it's nearly the Axminster show! I may need every shekel! It'd help if they employed folks who could speak clearly; I must have said "can you repeat that?" a dozen times. Repetitiously, you could say...

In the opening salvo of my new attempt to sell some of my tools I'm trying to create some demand for wooden moulding planes. It should work a treat as long as no-one reads this Blog and sees through my cunning plan.

Hmm. Probably shouldn't have linked to it in the same thread then... ;~)

As it happens one or two items are due to get shifted at the show next week, which is good. I can stop feeling guilty about having tools I'm not using and someone else can get hold of reasonable tools at reasonable prices. Shill! Heck, if you can't advertise in your own Blog, where can you? Actually maybe you can't... Where's that TOS...? :~)

Dovetails are on hold; in fact practically everything is. TPTB have got hold of a painting on glass that they fancy being made into a fire screen though, so I may not be making anything but I'm at least thinking about making something.