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.

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