Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Website Update

Don't mind me, just the mandatory notice of website alteration and addition.

For your viewing pleasure a couple of step-by-steps have been added to the Projects Page, previously aired on UKWS. I've also finally shifted my explanation of shooting boards - It's not Rocket Science - to the site, but a link to it atually on the site is awaiting completion of the Shooting uberpage (very much a work in progress at the moment).

The later may require your input. I've got this lot lined up for my links (subject to tracking down Derek's again) but are there any I'm missing? I'm looking for ones with a permanent home; no good if it's a forum post that'll disappear in a year or something. Although if it's a really good one I might be able to squeeze out some room to host it myself.

Talking of which, my domain name is due for renewal soon. Hope that goes okay 'cos it'd be a nightmare if it went ooops...

Soccer Schmoccer

I absolutely promise on my combination plane collection that this will not turn into a World Cup Blog - there are more than a few out there already, should you feel the need. But after England's demonstration last night that Plan B isn't called Plan B without good reason, I felt in need of cheering up and thought I'd share. First of up, a World Cup song - have you any idea how many of them there are out there?! Everything from (Is this the way to) The World Cup by Tony Christie (can you say "cashing in"?) to Hansen's Eyebrows by The Turnstiles feat, MC Jabber (can you say "terrible defending"?). Hmm... But my favourite, if you have a sense of humour and aren't a jingoistic moron who takes some of the lyrics seriously (and frankly that is a bit of a worry with some supposed football fans) is Don't Mention the World Cup by The First Eleven (featuring John Cleese). The list of influences for this epic tell you all you need to know - Sousa, The Italian Job, Monty Python, Basil Fawlty, British Movies of the 1960s, British Comedy, Sven-Göran Eriksson. But you can have a listen too if you fancy. My favourite bit is to the tune of Rule Britannia

Rule Britannia
The penalty's gone wide.
Linesman with a little flag has ruled offside

Cole Porter eat your heart out...

Cecil B deMille might be looking over his shoulder too with this excellent Nike Football ad spoof. Well less of a spoof and more a homage perhaps. Watch out, it's a big file and will take a while even on a reasonable connection - assuming it works at all. Having just tried that link it's disappeared, but hopefully that's just a blip. Anyway, good to know students are racking up enormous debt for a good cause, eh?

I think I've just used up my quota of parentheses for the year in one off-topic entry...

Anyone else have any thoughs on the stick spacing, btw? Anything? Even if it's only "how can I tell with that lousy picture, Alf, you daft besom".

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sticky Situation

So this deciding where exactly these sticks are going to go is proving rather more problematic than I'd expected. For a start the suggested places in the seat given in The Chairmaker's Workshop really don't work for me at all. Primarily because the doubler on the arm, as per the plan, seems to be a little bit short to take the designated six long sticks... and secondly, the short stick angles look, well, a bit naff frankly. So casting aside the plan I've turned once more to John Brown and used a mixture of his suggested spacing and what I think looks right. Perhaps unwisely I'm now about to ask you lot what you think too...

But first, the easy bit; making up the line 1" in from the edge that the seat mortises will, all being well, follow. My workshop essential, electrician's blue tape, provides a non-marring surface to take the pencil line.

Then lots of faffing about trying to gt the arm in just the right place and firmly, but not finish-damagingly, clamped in place. Little bits of that non-slip matting, like router mat but thinner that gets sold for kitchen and household use, I find is the bee's knees for this kind of thing, fwiw. To my delight the back support proved to be enough to keep the arm in place while I played about with the stick spacing. Unfortunately the sticks themselves rolled about at every opportunity, so I had A Brainwave. More blue tape to stand in for the stick positions. It's not perfect, but then neither is having the sticks leaning against the inside of the arm. At least this way the darn stuff will keep still.

Well that's good, but you don't get the height, so with the aid of some Blue Tak (aka "Handi-Tak" in the US apparently) I stuck the back sticks in place. They're not perfect, but they do give a better idea. What d'you mean it looks odd? Try squinting a bit... Yeah, you're right, the background isn't ideal but I didn't think of that until too late.

Five sticks across the back isn't ideal, but they do fit and four looked a little sparse. And if you count each long stick as two - above and below the arm and add up all the sticks then it comes to 18, one for each year.

I've lent the back sticks in a little, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not. Anyway your thoughts are, as always, welcome. I may take no notice, mind you, but they're still welcome... The really worrying thing about all this is that even minute variations in the tape spacing looked Good or Bad - how in heck am I going to bore the holes that accurately...?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Fame at last?

Tsk, here am I, not checking my stats, and what do they reveal unto me? A mention on the FWW editor's blog. Mind you Phil gets a mention too, which spoils the whole thing... ;~) Don't think much of the comments though; personal stuff and so forth add the colour to Blogs that mags lack, IMO (he's gonna hate the cricket stuff). "More interesting than his Blog is his associated website" huh? Now that's kinda cheering, galling and funny all at once... New readers might like to try the Who Am I Anyway? page of that very site and find out why it's funny. Ah, bless these editors eh? So careful with their research.

Anyway, if you're here for woodworking (gasp), go back to January via the archives to your right and you can follow the current chair-making saga from its very genesis. By the time you've read all that I might have got some more of it done...


Yes, I know. But I'm afraid the blogging is just a reflection of the intermittent nature of my woodworking at the moment. However I have done a little work on the chair; applying shellac. Yeah, don't say it, I know that too - I could have done that ages ago. Except somehow I'd forgotten that I hadn't and I really want to have the finish in place to repel the glue when I come to do the sticks. And the last thing I wan't to do is bore the stick mortises first and then have them filling up with shellac and generally being a nuisance. So here I am, applying numerous coats of shellac - again. Looking pretty nifty though, I think. Am I prevaricating before embarking on drilling holes in it? Well wadda you think...

Other than that, nadda, zilch, nowt. Principally 'cos I've been under the weather and just couldn't face it. Instead I wallowed in a double bill of Cary/Hitch in the form of To Catch A Thief and North by Northwest courtesy of an exchange of a duplicate copy of The Curse of the Were Rabbit from my birthday. It was quite a revelation to see NbyNW in all its clarity instead of the very elderly print I've only ever seen before. Even when I went to see it at the cinema it was in a shocking state and you really didn't get it in its full glory. (I'm not that old, but it was on in the Haymarket just before I left London and I couldn't resist seeing it. Unfortunately I missed Vertigo). Anyway, if you haven't seen the crop duster scene in a cinema you haven't lived. Just thought you'd like to know that... The nice thing about both those films is there's absolutely zero woodworking to be distracted by. I was watching Sleepless in Seattle as well (okay, don't groan. Chick flicks aren't so-called for no reason. I expect you've all caught the Sleepless/Cary Grant link. I'm fairly sure I'm not obsessed...) and had to rewind to see if I could identify the plane in the kitchen fitting/awkward client scene.

I couldn't.

Then of course there's been the cricket and the delights of watching a useless 45 minute highlights package through a snowstorm. i.e. The laughable excuse for a picture we get on channel 5. Half the time I have less chance of picking up the ball than Monty Panesar. May all the cricketing gods rot the ECB's and Sky bloody TV's soul - except they don't have one. But on the plus side, or possibly minus, Stick Cricket has recaptured my interest with their new Club Challenge. 10 balls to get as many runs as possible with an extra ball for every boundary - but no idea what type of delivery it'll be. Slightly tricky, but the chance to do my bit for Surrey CCC is too much of a temptation. Best score so far has been 120 (bowled last ball or it would have been 125 - dammit) but I'm more your lower order contributor of vital (quality not quantity) runs. Anywhere in the region of 50 and I'm a happy batswoman. Although -10 wasn't a particularly pleasing score...

All of which is making large portions of the readership go "huh"? Or more likely "yawn". Sorry. Either skip it all, or if you're really crazy there's a choice of semi-serious and quite helpful or really unhelpful but absolutely accurate explanations of the great game. Just don't try tickling someone's googly round the corner or you might give a sitter to short leg. You've been warned...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Goodwill hunting

Axminster's appalling lack of sense has struck again. I wished to order an item to go with item X - Aminster's website gives me a choice of two, with no explanation as to the difference. I make an assumption that more expensive means larger, and size is required, so I order the more expensive option. It arrives next day (well done) but lo, it doesn't fit item X, despite being listed on the same page as it, I assumed, as a fitting accessory. Grrr. I ring up Ax's CS this morning and say "what about it?" Two monumentally teeth-grinding things result.

Firstly, it transpires they know it's an area of confusion and have a note on their computer to check with the customer which one they really want. The one I ordered is the old design; I need the new, cheaper one (well needing the cheaper one makes a change). But that's bog all use if you order online, isn't it? There's no such note on my computer. Big black mark against the web master. Again. Have I told you how all my delivery notifications still get sent to the old email address...?

Secondly, she tried the old we'll-send-you-a-return-label-when-we-get-the-wrong-one-back-we'll-send-out etc. I let a note of iron enter my voice, pointed out I needed the item NOW and the fact it was wrong WAS NOT MY FAULT. She went away while I endured the "hold" muzak, presumably to speak to Higher Authority and yes, they'll send out the correct one right now - BUT. They'll have to do it by crediting my account the amount for the wrong one, then deducting the amount for the right one and leaving the balance as credit to my account for the next order. Why?!

How come I read stories on the forum of Axminster sending out correct things without a murmur? Even saying "keep the wrong one" in some cases? Why do I always get the runaround? For heaven's sakes, I've had the loan of tools from them for review where they haven't had any money from me at all and they've trusted me - why not when I'm a paying customer? I'm just a little bit p*ss*d at them about it, quite frankly. Especially given we're talking about the grand sum of just over a fiver... Is customer goodwill really not worth "risking" a measly £5? Yet again I'm wondering why I still give Axminster any business at all. At some point I'm going to stop wondering and just go elsewhere.

Sorry, I just needed to vent.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Final final

Final Blog entry? Nope. Just to give a small round of applause to sometime reader and long-time nephew who has, I believe, finished his finals today. All he needs to do now is kidnap someone and force them to mark the blessed things...

Woodworking? Alas, no. But if the rain continues like this I shall be asking if anyone has any good plans for an Ark.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Size does matter

Having done a few measurements and tried a few things, I think I can just about to work around the problems of length and breadth posed by the famous auger bit extension. You see the "chuck" is very, very ingenius, but it's also larger in diameter than my required 5/8" holes - so obviously it can't go through those holes. That also means the combined length of the "chuck", which is quite long, and the bit I use can't exceed the distance between the arm and the seat of the chair. That's about 8 1/2", which isn't much. So all auger bits are automatically out, even dowel bits (if I had one). So I turned to the centre bits; an improved centre bit with a lead screw proved to be the only one capable of making any kind of dent in the beech, but the nearest I have is 1/2". Bum.

So here's the plan. I bore the hole in the arm with a regular 5/8" Jennings bit. The I thread through the ABE with the 1/2" bit chucked in from below, then I just start the 1/2" bit enough to give the lead screw the angle. Remove the arm and follow up with the 5/8" again, hoping I can keep the angle right. I thought about putting out a plea for a 5/8" improved centre bit, but a) this is getting ridiculous, and b) as the bits get bigger, they also get longer... I even considered getting a brand new spoon bit if it'd do the job, but measurement from a picture suggests it's miles too long.

All I need now is a day when I don't feel like death warmed up and a gallon or two of courage and I'm good to go. You'll know when 'cos I'll either be so elated I'll be unbearable - or so depressed, well, ditto...!

Monday, May 22, 2006


The rain wasn't too heavy early this morning, so I snapped a quick piccy of the repaired planter. Told you TPTB would have their own ideas of how to use it, didn't I? Yep, seperate pots inside the planter. I'm told once things have grown a bit it'll look much better...

I'll say something for this Mac; uploading pics from the camera is about ten times faster. Very impressive.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Got it pegged

Just in case anyone has any doubts about what parrots like to do to tree products... I was going to use this one for a caption comp, but the potential prize had to go elsewhere. Feel free to have a go if you fancy.

Anyway, the stricken planter. As you can see, all was not well at all. I ended up taking the thing apart in the end and found uncured glue on the mortises. Humph. I also took a fraction off the width of the panels in case that was exacerbating the problem. Trouble is I forget how darn dry the workshop is these days. Great for furniture for the house; all wrong for outdoor stuff.

Anyway, I broke out my little hatchet and some oak offcuts, rived me some peg material and drove it through the dowel plate to make some sturdy pegs.

All joints are now mechanically locked in (sorry, forgot to take a pic), so if it's gonna come apart again it's going to be so much harder to repair... Funny, the planter's not actually been outside for long, but you wouldn't believe the number of insects and such that high-tailed it out of there once I started in with the mallet. I know it's an oft-quoted thing that one oak tree supports some astronomical number of living things, but an oak planter...?!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


You know how sometimes just about everything seems to be going wrong? I'm in a deep, deep rut of that very feeling at the moment. My life is apparently going "to hell in a hand basket" - not for the first time, which should, in theory, be a comfort. Just to add to the happiness, the planter I made back in Dec/Jan is apparently falling apart. Never, but never again will I buy glue from a local supplier; exterior glue, my posterior. I'll have to pseudo-drawbore the joints before it completely gives up the ghost, as if I didn't already have a to-do list as long as a roll of Andrex.

But not as soft or strong.

Having "Everybody Hurts" on a loop should just about sum up the situation for you...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Affordable Housing

Well it's not woodworking related, but as the funding is coming from my recent tool sale... Yes, I'm looking into a new home for Bertie, my African Grey. At the moment he's in this cage that he's lived in the last 7 years, ever since he was 3 months old (bless).

Well-seasoned applewood branches for perches which I covert for turning... The smooth beech dowel that always gets provided with cages is absolute murder on birds' feet, so I replaced them asap. Was lucky to get the apple; dunno where I'll get replacements. Anyway, at the time it was a pretty standard cage type, the best I could afford, but in the intervening years more notice has been taken of parrot housing and particularly having zinc-free coatings. This is important, 'cos Bertie unfortunately likes to chew on his bars. From a distance they look okay, but the feathered fiend has done his worst and I've been worrying it'll be doing it's worst on his innards too. So I'm looking for a replacement.

If space, and yes, money were no object, I'd be getting him something really palatial. As it is, parrot cages take up more real estate than you might credit so I'm aiming for something a similar size to what he already has. Naturally he'll go into a blue funk at the idea of a new cage, so even if I get one close to what he currently has, it'll be a stressful transition for both of us. The key thing is to make sure PJ, the Senegal, doesn't take posession first! He's already had a cage upgrade when I first got him "pre-owned", which pretty much doubled the size of his living quarters and he took to it like a duck to water. I can see him getting the idea of another upgrade all too easily...

Anyway, I've narrowed it down to two. The more expensive Noo Joisey, er, um, I mean New Jersey, which has the benefit of a similar arched shape. On the other hand that arch does cut down on the head room which has bothered Bertie before now. The pull-out tray looks very substantial, but it doesn't have the (potentially) handy shelf below. Also the bars at the top following the curve look good, but they're tricky for a bird to climb up.

Ignore that flock of 'toos; only a sadist would put even one cockatoo or macaw in a cage that size.

The other is the Orlando, which I'd like to think is a Shakespearean reference, but I fear has probably more to do with Florida. Cheaper, which is a factor, better head room in the corners, but without the seed catchers in place will there be a gap between the body of the cage and the tray? The shelf underneath is nice though.

But do I just warm to that one because of the toys (not included) shown within?

Anyway, it's a total 'mare. With any luck we'll be living with the choice for ten years at least (I hope) so it pays to get it right! And before I get letters; they get as much time outside their cages as possible and they don't have clipped wings. They don't look on their cages as a bad place, but rather as their own particular territory. Which is why Bertie's going to absolutely hate moving...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It Augers Well

It's not that I've been neglecting the blogging; I was already to do some, honest. it's just I've been suffering from a nasty case of the Little Green Light Twitch. That is the, hah, "always on" broadband internet connection has been largely off. Well intermittent, anyway. I sit here with one eye on the little green light on the router telling me if I'm still connected or not, hence the Twitch. It comes on just long enough to start to load a page, but not long enough to complete the job. Uploading pics or Blog postings has been impossible. Heck, I've only just managed to download all the spam to my inbox... It's particularly bad PM, which is when I usually blog, so I thought I'd try and snatch a window of opportunity now instead.

Workshop time has been as intermittent as the connection, but I did start off on a task I was meant to have started about 6 months ago... The delay isn't all my fault, to be fair, but still the guilt has been building just a leetle. Anyway, sooner than find myself awash with meaningless bits of scrap with joints and mouldings on them I thought I might as well make a functional, but hideous, tote for my sharpening gear out of meaningless bits of scrap...

Not my finest work, huh? I also played with some cut nails (all the wrong size for the job, but the smallest I can find) inspired by a certain article and DVD. I got the nails a while back, but this seemed a good moment to actually have a go. The finished look is ghastly, 'cos the heads are far too big, but the principle seems reasonable enough, Trouble is it's going to take an awful lot to get away from the "nails are bad" philosophy I've grown up with.

Next step is really going to be meaningless scrap territory, but it might be fun once I get started. It's getting started again that's the trouble.

However, that may be delayed while I return to The Chair. Remember that? The birthday it's due for is this Friday and I've broken the news it's not done yet in the birthday card. Not my fault though, remember? I was waiting for something. Look what the postie brought this morning:


But I still don't know who the Generous Galootish Benefactor actually is. I mean I have suspicions, but too many to be sure. I've asked the seller if he's willing to divulge and once I hear back I shall express my thanks on the list, whether I know the answer or not. No Good Deed shall go unpunished...

There's just one tiny cloud on the horizon. I'm not sure if it's going to solve my problem after all that. Ack. But then I often look at something and think "that's not gonna work" and it turns out I've totally mis-judged dimensions or something, so I have confidence that I'm just being my usual alarmist self. It's a dead cool bit of kit anyway; very clever "chuck" system, simple but ingenious. And hey, it did get here in time. Kind of...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Say cheese

Having just sworn in the comments that I wouldn't bore blog readers with 'puter-related stuff, I couldn't resist trying out the built-in camera in this fancy thing. Naturally I don't want to put visitor numbers into a downward spiral by taking a picture of yours truly, so instead I give you the Marples 6821 Improved Beechwood Mitre Box (#1 for mouldings 3x2 inches) with Adjustable Saw Guides that I got on Sunday. 3/9 in the 1934 Marples catalogue, fyi.

At the car boot sale in 2006? 50 new pence. Plus added free rust that wasn't included 60 years ago. Not that it's probably that old anyway, but hey, can't be bad, huh? Yeah okay, so I'm a neandermite/normathal with a Bosch mitre saw, but it's cool... Worst comes to worst I can always move the guides to the unused Crown mitre box I got last year - I think that was 50p too.

I do love looking through that old Marples catalogue mind you, and this is a nice excuse to get it out again. Interesting thing. The Tall Scotsman was lamenting the move from leather ends on socket chisels' handles to steel hoops and we both assumed it was an accountant thing. But not here it ain't. The #845 Bevel-edge Socket Cabinet Chisels, Beech Handled, with Leather Tips are exactly the same price as the otherwise identical #845a Bevel-edge Socket Cabinet Chisels, Beech Handled, with bright Steel Hoops. So there you are.

Incidentally, at the bottom of every page there's some sound advice for 1934: Ask for MARPLES TOOLS - They're BRITISH.

How things change...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

An Apple a Day...

... is guranteed to give a long-term Windoze user a headache!

Yes, I've made the switch, emmigrated to another country and it's proving hard work. Even Blogger is different, for heaven's sakes. It took me about ten years to find out how to do a degree sign in Windows - and now it doesn't work! Arrrrrgh. But I knew it'd be like this; to be fair every time I've had a new 'puter there's been a learning curve even going from Windows to Windows, so I shouldn't be surprised. But at least I've managed to get the old Dell to recognise the existence of the Mac on my mini network and transfer across my music, pics and docs, and email seems to be working. Too bad I can't get the Mac to recognise the Dell...

Tomorrow I think I may take a break and devote myself to some woodworking; too much of this techie stuff rots a neanderthal's brain.

What else? Oh yes, found Mike Hancock at Classic Handtools is now stocking Chris Schwarz's DVDs and instead of going "Oooo, I'd like those, maybe for Christmas..." I found myself just ordering them without a moment's hesitation. Dunno what got into me really. I think Forgotten Hand Tools appeals to me a bit more than Coarse, Medium and Fine; nice to finally see someone give handsaws the "plane treatment" and seeing the drawboring actually done instead of just reading about it is very helpful. Nice that the PDFs of the relevant PWW/Woodworking articles are included on the disc. Curiously Chris reminds me of a combination of Jimmy Stewart and Loyd Grossman - and that's definitely not as bad as it sounds! Now where can I get some drift pins...

Finally, a moan; be grateful, I edited itdown from a rant... Why is it every time I venture into FWW's Knots forum I find a certain wooden planemaker yet again airing the enormous chip on his shoulder about metal planes. You won't get converts to woodies from Stanleys and such if you essentially suggest that they don't know the first thing about what they're doing with those metal planes, IMO.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spring must have sprung

I know this because I was moved to tidy the workshop. I mean really tidy it, so you can see the floor and everything. It was so clear I was finally able to put down the anti-fatigue matting I got cheaply back in January. The old man swiped the other pack for the garage. Anyway, it doesn't link up with Axminster's old style matting that I already have, but I think doubled-up in front of the bench might prove most beneficial anyway.

Colourful, ain't it? If it gets too much I can always flip it over to the black side. One unexpected benefit is it comes provided with straight bits to fill in the jigsaw-ish edges. As there are more than needed for the mats in this configuration I've managed to get them to fit "well enough" at strategic points round the old black matting. Viz: below the over-hanging Woodrat and mitre saw handle. A visual guide to know when not to stand up in a hurry and thus avoid cracking your head. Clever, no?

But better, and more time-consuming than that - I've done my bi-annual chuckout of off-cuts. The three plastic boxes under the bench were full to over-flowing, but no longer. However the kindling pile should be proportionately larger now.

It pains me to do it, mind you. If I could find a way of stowing it so I could find the bit I wanted when I needed it, I'd probably have kept the lot.

Now to mess it all up again with shavings and sawdust...