Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Out of joint

Remember when this Blog was listing serendipity and nothing seemed to go wrong? Ah, fond and distant memories...

I broke out the BUPP and set to work. Now as a rule jointing edges is one of the few - very few - things I feel I can really do. A cambered plane blade, square and straight edge and I can joint edges 'til the cows come home. But sometimes you get one of those days.

Today was one of those days.

With happy heart I started off and all was square and straight. Then, following JB's advice, I checked with winding sticks. Removed any twist, no trouble. Except then the edge was no longer square. Square up the edge and then find it's no longer straight. Remove the bump, and guess what? Twisted again. Aaaarghhhhh... I must have been chasing my tail for an hour and a half - switching between one edge and another in my frustration, which is fatal in itself. I tried to persuade myself at various points "this'll do", but it wouldn't and I knew it.

Usually I'd take the hint and leave it for the day, but I had a plan B. Can you spot what it was, kiddies? Look carefully at the picture. Just to the right of the boards. See it? Yep, the jointer and fence saved my sorry ass. I'd have kept this quiet if I had any sense, but I share my humiliation in the hopes that someone out there might benefit. Ignore the "stablizers" tag and "just for newbies" jibes; this gizmo might just save your bacon, even if you can joint edges freehand.

So time for a dry run. Naturally the clamp bars I had ready were too short, so I dug out some from the pile that came free with some secondhand Record clamp heads I bought a few years ago. They're all covered in glue and such, so I knocked off the worst and ran 'em through the P/T just to clean up the bearing surfaces. They came out the other side with no dramas, you'll be pleased to hear... A coat of wax to resist the glue from now on and we're ready to go.

Except I got cold feet about the polyurathane glue I was going to use; would the wax really do the job? I broke out the plastic sheeting and did the job properly. It's been a few years since I used PU; last time was for the "Millenium" oak front gate and I don't recall enjoying the experience that much. I was in two minds about using it now; there seems to be divided opinion on its suitability. Oh well, this is what prototypes are for... I debated long about whether to add dowels or not and decided not. If the glue line failed the dowels wouldn't hold it anyway, and I can't stand the blessed things. 'Course I'd forgotten PU is a slippery customer and I could really have done with the registering effect they'd have given. Lesson learnt.

I carefully read the instructions, got my damp cloth ready, turned off the fan heater 'cos the noise was distracting and set to work.

And promptly forgot to use the damp cloth on the edges to help activate the glue.


Hopefully it'll manage without; certainly things foamed where they should have, so I'm crossing everything in expectation. It all works flippin' fast, so I've already had a little pick at the excess. Funny
stuff, ain't it? Probably I could have taken it out of the clamps and bashed it against something to make sure the joints really have stuck - which I fully intend to do - but old habits of leaving stuff overnight die hard. Chairs are no place to take risks with joints...

Having had enough of all that and needing some therapy, I chucked the #51 in the citric acid for a bath overnight and cleaned up the #63 by hand. Naturally a little playtime to check it works was essential... Cute little devil. As you can see, not a lot of japanning left, but I rather like the bare metal. Beats the thick coatings slopped on the modern shaves any day.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Commence to start

In a last ditch bid to be able to claim to have started this chair business "back in January", I made a small start today. Had to clear the bench top and install the new bandsaw blade first mind you; the latter much more intuative than I feared, so the manual wasn't required. I'm going to have to watch I don't over-tension these 5/8" blades though; I'm so used to 3/4" I cranked up to that setting without engaging the brain cell. A warning creak reminded me to think again...

Anyway, the real business. I took the top board off the pile-ette of beech 6"x2" with a view to going through the lot and finding the least straight-grained, but that one was it. It's darker beech than some of the stuff I've got, and proved to be harder if the labouring of the Maxi was anything to go by. Oh deary me, that does not bode well... Nevermind, onwards to stage two.

Consulting my notes from JB's articles three boards deep by around 22" wide seemed a possibility, so erring on the side of caution I marked them at 2'. The plan was to saw them a little thinner and 24" offcuts would be most useful as well. I regret electrons were burned... It's no good, I have to be realistic. Time is at a premium and I'm going to have to risk the wrath of JB and the hand tool gods - they got their revenge quick enough...

Again, not winning prizes in the JB-alike stakes, I treated them like "proper" cabinet work and squared up both faces and one edge on the Maxi. I know, I know; it's not really necessary but it'll make the glue-up less stressful and I can select which board where easier too. That's my story... Probably just as well because the board was more twisted up than it looked; enough to lose a noticeable thickness and decide me against sawing off any thickness, in fact. It took time because this was the first serious amount of use the new dust-ex has had. Whoever designed that stupid grill across the intake evidentally has never used a planer thicknesser in his or her life. The stuff was just wrapping itself around the damn thing and blocking up the flow. I had to keep stopping, remove the hose and feed the shavings in manually, thus bringing my hand considerably closer to the impeller than it would ever have been if the grill had never been there. Grrr.

Anyway, eventually done. Then I fiddled about for a while and finally decided on board orientation, quickly drawing a big chalk triangle before I forgot. DAMHI... Now I started to joint the edges using the BUPP, but things went a bit awry. First I was delayed by having a new blade to sharpen, with a camber natch, which took a little time - particularly flattening the back. Then I set to on the first edge. Yuck, what had looked like a pretty square board turns out to have no so much an out-of-square edge as a bevel. It planed up okay, but it's all taking too long. Mustn't waste time on stuff like this when I have real learning curves to tackle later. So for the second edge I decide to run it through the thicknesser bit of the Maxi to at least lose the worst of the bevel. I measure it and it's just within the capacity. I don the ear muffs etc and run it through. No problem. I take up the third and final board, measure it, just within the maximum capacity, run it through. No prob... Oh bugger. It's 3 inches from the end and it turns out the width/height of the board is - disastrously - tapered. Guess who'd checked only the narrow end? I hit the stop button at speed and go to see what the state of play is.

Like Pooh Bear after eating the honey, it could go neither forward not back. The wretched anti kick-back pawl thingies held it fast and the thicknesser table's already as far down as is possible...

Damn, damn, damn, damn. Stupid idiot. Why didn't I check both ends?! Why did I use the absolute fullest capacity? Fool. Cretin. But this will butter no parsnips; action is required. I fetch out the Maxi's so-called manual to look at the exploded diagram in the hopes it'll tell me the best way to solve the problem. Apparently, according to that, there are no anti thingie fingers. Merde.

I peer into the bowels of the Maxi (no fun, I assure you) and see two nuts on the ends of two bolts in a likely place. A bit of blind furkling with one hand and yes, they're holding the pawl assembly thing on. Maybe if I remove those I can get the board out? I get out the socket set and ratchet the first nut off in reasonably quick time. The second seems to be taking a long time. That's odd. Suspicions raised I try ratchetting madly while my finger quests for the head of the bolt. It's not a bolt but a pin that's part of the pawl assembly, and it's turning...

I hate the Maxi.

Now at this point I'd think about removing the outfeed table (this is an under/over P/T you see, so they remain in place during thicknessing operations) in order to get a better look. Trouble is, while I can get to three of the bolts holding it on, the fourth is virtually inaccessible. I know it can be done because a chap from Mallets spent 2 hours doing it when we had the dented table replaced when the Maxi was newly delivered, but I ain't doing it. No way. So plan B - and don't try this at home, kids.

I dig out a chisel that I have yet to expend any energy on cleaning up and a mallet and try to carve that beech out of there. It didn't work, but I did manage to get the fingers of the pawl to loosen their grip enough so that, with careful manipulation, I could hold them up while I pulled the board back out of the machine. Sucess! Looking at the chisel, despite plenty of chisel-on-metal action, the edge was undented. Evidentally a good'un, so it's earnt its right to be put back to work. After all
that hoohah I'd had enough, so left it for the day - after venting my spleen hacksawing off that grill over the dust-ex intake.

Of course I wouldn't have actually minded if I'd finally rendered the Maxi unusable so I could legitimately get rid of it. But I was damned if it was going to get that perfectly good piece of beech...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Resolution was no solution

You know, I had hoped to at least make it through a whole month before I gave in. But what can you do? Rust waits for no galoot.

It started with innocent intent. Well I radiated innocence anyway, when I inquired of the transport manager if we couldn't go to Pool Market for the purposes of obtaining a replacement parrot toy of a particular type that Bertie likes. The fact that crisp, cold, but sunny, Sundays have proved to be excellent car boot weather in the past was far from my thoughts. Yessir. Pets get quite embarrassing priority in our household, so yes, we'd go.

We went.

Give me my dues; first thing I did was head straight for "Doggies and Moggies" to look for the afore mentioned toy. They didn't have one. Merde. I may be force to make one myself at this rate. Anyway, duty done, it was back outside; the biting wind coming over Carn Brae hill wafting the aroma of fried onions and old chip fat the length of the car park. Just the desired thing at 9am... With these incentives to linger I did not hang about, but shot round at speed.

Not many sellers man or woman enough to brave both the wind and the market authorities' pitch charge, and most of those need only a glance to see they won't yield anything unless it's bright pink and/or plastic. But there was a lot of activity over at what I call a "box lot seller". You know the sort; buys up every mixed box lot under £X at the local auctions then sells the contents on for pence an item. Sometimes you can get a so-and-so who actually troubles to know what he's got and then it can get pricy, so it's no guarantee of low prices, but all those bees round the honey pot indicated some hope. I approached with caution, "'scused me" my way past the hoardes pawing over the box of clothing he'd just tipped out and headed for the red cantilever toolbox I'd spyed from afar. Braced for spanners and sockets, I peered in.

A hand drill.

Could it be...?

No, surely not a...?

No, it wasn't. Just a no-name, run-of-the-mill model. I put it aside out of the way and looked further. A larger size of Yankee spiral ratchet screwdriver. Chinese? I picked it up and peered at the shaft. What's this? Triangular logo? "Mass."? Why it's a Millers Falls #610A. Don't see many of those round these parts. A bit of finicking and lo, nearly everything that should move does so, except I have doubts about a) Whether the chuck is in working order, and b) What bits it takes. Might be worth a risk, so hang on to it pending the result of the "how much?" stage of proceedings. Despite straining my ears as I dug, I'd yet to overhear what kind of prices he was asking...

Now it's a truth universally acknowledged that a "Yankee" screwdriver must be in want of a bit, and this one was no exception. Obviously the thing to do was scrabble about in the hopes there might be one - or, tool gods be praised, more - somewhere in the box. I duly scrabbled. Gotta love cold weather when you have a pair of gloves to, er, "hand"; makes it so much more pleasant a task. Well, gentle reader, I found one. And then another. And another and another and... well eight screwdriver bits and two fluted drill bits later I was a happy bunny. Of course the crazy thing is they're all for the smallest size of Yankee and won't fit the MF at all. But as it happens I do have a #135 I picked up last year for a quid with only one bit, so they won't go to waste - although at least some of them have come from a Handyman 233 or the like I would think.

Nothing else left worth having, so I search out da man, and do my best "how much for this lot, mate?" giving off as much bonhomie and "we're all chums in this together, friend" ambience as humanly possible. He stops. He looks. He says;


Yee hah! Resolution? What resolution? I'll look at that as buying tool accessories (the bits) with a free screwdriver thrown in. No worries. I went on my way rejoicing, towards the exit and the rogue on the corner who I tend to leave last. Now he does know what he's got, but we haggle in friendly terms and both come away feeling that the other one got a good deal - so it's probably about fair dues. He has a sort of tent he lurks in, erected as protection from the combined elements of wind and rain. Despite also selling the worst "tool tat" in Am-Tech, Blackspur and the like, he has an eye for good old tools which he keeps within the tent, away from prying eyes. The tool tat is left exposed to any wind and rain that jolly well likes to get at it, as nature intended...

Naturally as I entered I have my eyes open for anything I can remotely justify as chair-making-related, but travishers and such my wondering eye fails to behold. Instead it sees a spokeshave. And then another one. Even before this recent excuse I've always had a thing for spokeshaves, so I was doomed really. First up a pretty ordinary #51, Stanley England blade, presumably in a Stanley body, but who knows. Ouch, he's got a fiver on it. On the other hand this has no family or tool chest connections, unlike my other two #51s, so maybe I could bring myself to grind this one? Anyway
round these parts you never get spokeshaves for the sort of figures I hear other people pay - blasted Cornish are too strapped for cash to give things away. The other one was a Stanley #63. Don't laugh, but I've never seen one before and I fell for it. It's a really quite a delicate little shave and something about it said age to me. No price, so an opening for a deal here. Again, nothing else I could make a case to myself in favour of buying, so I search out da man. He's got his sidekick on duty, but at least it's not the one who always, but always, says "Sorry, no Hilka Professionals available today" as a running gag. Well he thinks it's a gag and I just go along with it to keep him sweet... Hilka being the name of a brand of plane that... well let's just say if you want to plane anything harder than cardboard, forget it. Anyway, I proffer them up to #2 sidekick with a business-like "can we do something on the two?". He looks. He ponders. He says;


I pull a face.

"7?" I counter.

"Done," sez he. It's too much really, but like I say, the #63 had got me and I was lost from then on. But I was right about it being a good one; once out of the rogue's tent the blade proved to be a Sweetheart. Cool.

Even as I exited out of one "tent" flap, da man hisself pops in at the other, and I depart to cries of "got another bargain off me, then?". Sheesh, they're a loss to the comedy circuit...

So that's how I broke my new year's resolution before January was done.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

workshop n. a detached stone building in Cornwall seldom visited by Alf.

What with birthdays, visitors and freezing cold weather, it's just not been an option. On the other hand I'm seeing the light at the end of the scanning tunnel, so it's not been a totally wasted week. But the Tuit List has stacked up just a little more today, which isn't helpful. Heigh ho; I dare say I'll muddle through.

Oh, the bandsaw blades arrived this morning. Thinking back, I have a strong feeling he said a week's delay last time, and they turned up a few days later. Maybe just a habit he's acquired to keep the punters from bothering him with "where are they?" calls. Anyway that's another Tuit. It's so long since, ah hum, I changed blades I'll have to find the instruction manual...

Finally, I made a rare visit to The Wreck this morning and stumbled upon this. Ironic that the language should make an impact when I'd just yesterday come to the conclusion that the derogatory term for woodworking mags - comics - was in fact true. Well don't comics put the emphasis on the picture and not the words? Tsk, I shouldn't look at back issues of GWW; it just makes me nostalgic, and it's not even as if things were that great then. I wasn't going to do the GWW rant again, was I? Sorry. No reflection on the contributors, I hasten to add. At least not about their woodworking - cover model skills though, that might be another thing... But the idea of all us British woodworkers sitting round woodworking vicariously through the pages of a mag because we can't afford the wood! Chuckle.

Mind you, sometimes it does feel like that...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Haggis goes "Whee"

Och, and a bonny, broch, braw Burn's Night to ye all, ye heathen sassenachs. Aye, ye wee timorous beasties, ye ken it well, I dinnae doubt. Hoots, 'tis chust the time to ha' a wee dram to Rabbie Burns, bless his -

Oh, enough already. I maybe able to claim the Reverend Brown from Aberdeen if I look back far enough, but like every other Scot who's able, he came Sooth a bonny wee time ago and I'm not afraid of being (gasp) English. But for anyone out there who actually likes haggis, tatties and neaps, ha' yoursel' a wee dram tonight, an' welcome. And then a wee Alka Seltzer or two in the morning...

As for the Haggis? The small extract below, written by Eric Thompson, from the Magic Roundabout (the proper one) will explain all.
Needless to say I was totally convinced that it was true when I was 5, and that the haggis was a type of animal living in the Highlands. The truth is oh-so much worse... Best read aloud with Scottish accent as appropriate.

Suddenly, "whee! whee" they heard.
"Was that you?" whispered Dougal.
"No," whispered Brian.
"Whee! whee!" they heard again.
Dougal went whiter than the snow.
"It's a haggis," he said, faintly.
"Whee! whee!"
"And it's coming this way," said Brian.
"Whee! whee! WHEEEE!!!"
A small, round tartan object hurtled over their heads and landed in a flurry of snow a few feet away.
It moved a little, and then was still.
Dougal and Brian moved towards it.
"Not very big," whispered Brian.
"Whee!" it said suddenly, and Dougal and Brian somersaulted backwards into the soft snow.
The haggis looked at them with two piercing black eyes.
"Ye're not much good at it, are ye?" it said. "Ye're supposed to creep up and surround me. I heard ye coming two miles awa'."
"We've never done it before," said Brian. "Sir."
"I can well tell yon, " said the haggis. "Are ye with Hamish's lot?"
Dougal and Brian confessed they were.
"Aye, yon Hamish," said the haggis, wheezing with laughter. "Fifty years after the haggis and he's never caught one yet."
"Have we caught you?" said Brian.
"Ye have not," said the haggis, "but you're welcome to try. You have to creep up and surround me."
"So we understand," said Dougal.
"What happens if we do?" said Brian.
"Then I'm captured," said the haggis.
"And if we don't?" said Dougal, nervously.
"Then ye have to go to Oban for a new haggis-hunting licence," said the haggis. "And Oban's a long way," it wheezed. "Are ye ready?"
They said they were.
"Away we go then," said the haggis, and it shot straight up in the air with a "whee" and disappeared like a bullet in the direction of Norway.

All a very long way round to say - no woodworking words of wisdom to share today. Move along; nothing to see here. (yeah, I know - so what's new...) Oh, but the planter was well received, but the picture came out terribly. But trust me, Brownie Points duly earnt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back by popular demand...

... well one mild mutter in the comments box anyway...

Okay, before I bring you all up to speed, a couple of Public Announcements for the benefit of The Reader.

DureEdge bandsaw blades, the forum's choice, are not currently available over 5/8" wide. Apparently the big welding machine has gone kapput so 3/4" and 1" blades are off the menu for the moment. Great timing by yours truly; I've been sitting on an order for two 3/4" blades for months now, and when I finally get around to it...? Oh well, I'm trying out the 5/8" instead. About a week's delay on delivery apparently. Heigh ho.

Highbury Nexus, publishers of The Woodworker and Practical Woodworking, were put into receivership on Friday. Good news is it looks like the mags have already been off-loaded to another publisher. Presumably the Ally Pally Show is safe - simply because it's too close to the date to cancel - but if you've not bought tickets yet, perhaps exercising a little caution and buying on the door might be advisable.

That's all with the serious stuff, but for light relief, I'll tell you what happened to me in Truro this morning. Just for once, there were tools in the flea market (five stalls this morning). And what does my wondering eye behold? No less a thing that a North Brothers Yankee drill. The one with the 5 position ratchet! I can't recall if it was a 1445 or 1545 (it did say on the seller's label, but you'll soon realise why I forgot which it was). I have long wanted an example of this drill, the gizmocity factor of it being off the scale for a hand drill. I've come close; firstly missing one by a day; secondly finding one sans ratchet selector; so I live in hope that my dream will one day be realised. Was that day going to be today? To hell with New Year's resolutions in that case! It was buffed and shined into the middle of next week, but you can't have everything, and I was prepared to go big on it if I had to. I looked at the label and read the price. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. I looked at the drill again; far from mint condition, clean but no paint left or anything. I looked at the label again.


Seventy-two pounds sterling.

Seventy-two flippin' quid!!

Now I can haggle, but no-one could haggle something down that far. I put the drill down again and walked away in shock - which is why I can't remember exactly what the model number was. There didn't seem an awful lot of point in digging any further into his box 'o tools - finding a working travisher only to see a £150 price tag would have been too much for one day. Heigh ho, at least I'm getting nearer.

As for the planter, well it's done, more or less. You may remember my stupid idea of trying to get away without any clamp pads at the glue up? No? Refresh your memory of where we'd got to here then. Well the result on
just one area, thank goodness, can be clearly seen on the left. Bugger. No matter; a little work with my trusty card scraper later, and voilĂ 

There it isn't. A bit of a swipe with some 240 grit and you'd never know. Well it's not actually perfect, but then about a third of the materials used aren't perfect, so hopefully it won't cause me to grind my teeth every time I see it...

Cutting the blessed thing to fit was rather more problematic than I'd hoped. I measured the inside dimensions with my Amazing Telescopic Pinch Rod - the uninitiated sometimes mistake it for a broken radio aerial - but I must have been slightly too generous in my cutting. so I was trimmin' and fittin' for far too long. Cutting the corner notches round the legs was easy though; about the only time I use a Japanese saw these days, and what an excellent smooth cut on that ghastly ply. Don't get me started on cutting ply. By the time I've set up the saw horses, dug out the saw, the guide and the vacuum and generally gone mad to make one or two cuts, I start to think wistfully of tablesaws... The moment passes, 'cos I just don't cut enough ply to make the moment last long enough to be dangerous, but honestly, what a palaver.

I haven't actually bored any holes in the ply or applied any finish, but I have my reasons. Although I may have built it as a planter, I know my folks too well, and there's a chance they may want to use it for some other purpose. Heaven knows what, but I've been caught before, so holes can be bored when it's been decided if they're wanted, as can varnish be applied. I'll try and get a decent piccy of it all done tomorrow.

Now all I'm left with is a workbench I can't use until I tidy it up - again. Honestly, what a pickle. I really must get out of the habit of tossing stuff down any old where when I'm concentrating on something else. Gott in himmel, I've just noticed there's a L-N chisel nestling against a plastic-handled screwdriver! How shaming is that...

And finally, I succumbed to buying GWW - yes, okay, so almost certainly 'cos of the tip. I'm human, ain't I? And for the record, I did actually send it in with my proper name an' all. It's not my fault it sounds like an idea from someone from Ooop North with a flat 'at and a whippet... But enough of that. Why aye, bonny lad, I'm away down t'pit.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fly to ply

Fear not, gentle reader, I've not forgotten you. Got a little side-tracked into a scanning task of rather daunting proportions, and I've just remembered I never did cut the ply for the bottom of the planter and it's due to be given on a Wednesday. Opps. S'cuse me, be right back...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The man with two watches

As the reasonably well-known quote goes:
A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure.

Change a few words, e.g. "watch" to "book on chair making" and you have the abyss I'm in real danger of falling into. So I'm thinking there's some 2" thick beech in the workshop, beech is an okay wood for chairs, prototypes are always a Good Thing, so why not just have a go? The worst thing that'll happen is really high class firewood and getting out the music stand plans. But it may even result in a useable stool of some sort. Okay for the workshop anyway...

It's a thought.

No reason to worry

My inbox has been suffering from a rash of emails with unlovely attachments just recently; yes, I'm afraid it's suffering from a chronic case of worms. Avast! bless it's little programming, has caught everything with aplomb, but the way it does it just cracks me up. A bright yellow banner with dire red warning flashes up along the bottom of the screen, accompanied by loud "woooooo-wooooooo" siren noise and stentorian voice proclaims "Caution! A virus has been detected". Kinda like the way you'd expect an alien power to let you know the world was about to be blown up to make way for an inter-galatic highway; nothing personal, but you're doomed. After all this, and the poor sap sitting in front of the 'puter (me) jumping out of their skin and looking urgently for the nearest bunker, a small and rather insignificant window pops up. It's first words are:

There is no reason to worry though.

Heaven knows what it would have done if it was trying to worry me...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In the Psychiatrist's Chair

I maligned Amazon's delivery speed; The Chairmaker's Workshop has landed. Wowsers, it's certainly at the opposite end of the scale to JB's in detail terms. I think I need to try and aim to fall between - wait for it, I worked on this one and it may show - the two stools of thought. Gettit? Stools? Chairs? Stools of thought? Schools of th- Oh, never mind... First thing to do is erase from my memory the bit where it says make a stool first 'cos Windsors are too complicated for a first chair. Ha hum. I must not over-analyse this, I must not over-analyse this...

For those persons who'd have me grind my own travisher from a spokeshave instead of breaking my New Year's resolution and buying someone else's act of vandalism (other means to do that have been suggested instead ), I notice DL suggests the same thing in a foot note (right after the directions on how to forge your own blade and make your own wooden body - yeah, right. I need another learning curve like a hole in the head...) But can I really take grinder to currently working tool? I have a strong feeling only if I'm sloshed, and naturally I wouldn't dream of going near the workshop in that condition, so that'd
probably be a "no" then.

The writing, meanwhile, stalls like a Dagenham Dustbin. I think my essential trouble is proposing a subject that encompasses enough information for about three separate articles supplementary to the main event. This is a Bad Thing. Plus I keep finding I haven't taken quite the picture I need for what I want to write, so I'm darting to and fro from 'puter to workshop and back again like a honey bee on a nectar rush. Sorry? What? What was that I was saying? Oh yeah, I must not over-analyse this. Fair point.

Finally, I would congratulate someone, but I don't want to risk stealing their thunder. So just leave it at congrats, and I'll reveal all when I can. By which time you'll probably know already anyway... Why is it I seem to end up being told things that I can't tell anyone about until everyone'll know about them anyway? It's ever so slightly frustrating. Not in a big way, but, you know, just irritates a tad. I'll just vent my feelings about it for a moment, if you'll indulge me.

Okay, all done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Like an octopus trying to put on pantyhose

Quite by chance this link to a guy called Blaine Berry, Windsor chairmaker, turned up on Woodnet. He has a nice turn of phrase and the video is worth the waiting for downloading IMO. But best of all, he's coined a most excellent post title in his description of the glue-up of a Windsor chair.

Much kudos to my reader (well one of my readers - scarily there seems to genuinely be more than one of you ) who pointed out a copy of The Chairmaker's Workshop was listed in Axminster's end of line list. Unluckily, or maybe luckily given the obvious requirement to get the order up to £45 to qualify for free delivery , Amazon has pulled its finger out with unusual alacrity and the order had reached the point of no return. There's now word of actual despatch so the arrival date of next week should, with luck, be unduly pessimistic.

But lest you should think my current, most unexpected, run of good luck is at an end, 'tis not so. I had to go into that Cornish Mecca, the City of Truro this morning - principally for a new alarm clock. Now Truro, for a tool-, wood- and currently chair-obsessed woodworker,
as a rule has all the allure of Guantanamo Bay. But occasionally the flea market (all of 6 stalls) has some decent books in amongst all the war-related stuff written for the benefit of persons who subscribe to War 'n' Ammo in 79 monthly parts with free plastic binder (real hand grenade effect cover). Viz: before Christmas I got hold of one on inlaying. This morning was "half marked price", so I took the trouble to trawl my way through "Napoleon's Cavalry" and "Monty's Victories" and found Beds by Jeff Miller and The World's Best Storage and Shelving Projects from Popular Woodworking (always nice to see a title chosen to under-sell the book like that, don't you think? ) Anyway, £4 for the two. And before you say "But Al, you're not going to make a bed are you?", I'd like to point out I wasn't going to make a chair until very recently...

Other than that, what with one thing and another, the workshop and all things woodworking have been a closed book to me today. Which means another night for the writing to come to the boil, which is a blessing. Although it starts to crystalize a trifle more, so I have hopes.

Oh, and I gather congratulations are in order to Philly, Gill and Dave on suffering mental aberrations and agreeing to become mods. Am I allowed to inflate my ego to alarming proportions because apparently it takes three people to replace me? No, I didn't think so. Good luck to you, chaps and chappess.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Not Library Chair but Chair Library...

So a reading of Welsh Stick Chairs later (including everything you had no desire to know about Welsh history) and I've now got Drew Langsner's The Chairmaker's Workshop on order. This is starting to get expensive... It's not that I'm not glad to have JB's tome, and I'm sure it'll prove helpful, but it's a bit lacking in detail. You know, basic things like suitable leg and stick angles and so forth. In fact I've got a lot more detail from the second batch of articles in GWW, with the bonus that his experience since writing the book had changed his approach to certain aspects of the making anyway. While I await Amazon's snail-slow delivery (Classic Handtools was twice the price - they're good, but not twice-the-price good ) I'm going through every chair-relevant JB column I have, noting down all available measurements, woods used etc etc. Long and laborious, but if "thinking" the chair is the best way to make one, I'm gonna damn well steep myself in the blessed things or fall asleep in the attempt!

In other news, I'm finding the going tough in turning a passing thought that seemed a good idea at the time into a tangible bit of writing. The main bones are easy enough; it's the infrstructure that's exercising me at the moment. I may have to break my usual writing habits and just bash down everything as it comes to me and play about with how to arrange it afterwards. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it feels like
somehow I've immediately limited my options for changing things. I much prefer to have the outline in my head before finger hits keyboard. Oh well, I'll maybe give it another "back hob" stew overnight and hope to wake up with it all fully formed tomorrow. Well a person can dream, can't they?

And I gather from my comments box that I've finally had a tip published in GWW! Oh the irony. I was only saying this weekend that I had as much chance of that as Nick Gibbs cutting off his own arm - being persona non grata rather at GWW, after unwisely suffering an uncharacteristic lapse into believing "Go on, tell us what you think. We can take it" meant "Go on, tell us what you think. We can take it" Of course it's also ironic that it only happens after I've stopped reading it - after nine solid years of only mildly wavering devotion! Evidentally I should have packed it in sooner. Now is this what Chris meant in the comment by "pretty cheeky"? 'Cos if so I protest! I sent the tip in nearly a year ago, when I was still a devoted subscriber. Don't tell me, it's the slow speed of the connection from Cornwall to Bath...

Oh, and if anyone's wondering about the lame post titles I'm coming up with at the moment, it's 'cos I'm keeping such post titles as "Chairwoman Now" for future use. Kinda sorry I've already used "Are you sitting comfortably" really...