Friday, July 07, 2006

Saw vices whilst sightseeing

Let me cast my mind back to the beginning of my travels...

(Imagine your own wibbly flashback screen effect if you would)

First port of call on Saturday was the South Hams (that's the southern bulge of Devon, geographically-challenged folks) where an appointment with a telly and England vs Portugal at a B&B awaited us. Yep. we'd 'phoned on ahead to make sure there was a television set available at the Bed & Breakfast and shuddered our way through the whole of normal time and extra time before leaving my brother alone to watch the penalties and tell us the worst. Luckily we were welcomed to the B&B with tea and freshly made scones, which ameliorated the agony considerably. See piccy for the view from my room. A really classic English farm, this one. Straight out of the Blackberry Farm books I used to be read as a toddler. Lambs baa-ed, chickens clucked, doves cooed, sparrows argued and football fans groaned. But we couldn't hang about groaning; din-dins and a belated celebration of No. 2 nephew's 18th awaited us, so off we hastened for an excellent meal and general get together before returning, exhausted, to our beds and sleep.

Until, ooo, 5am-ish anyway.

We all figured it'd be the cockerel that'd wake us up, but no, it was the thunder right over our heads that did the trick. Rumbling at a distance, such as the noise made by someone moving a large tin box, that I don't mind. Distant cannon fire effects do not faze me. Someone crashing a tin tray on the roof of the building, that I object to. What had been a steep and dusty lane down to the farm became a fast-running stream and it was all Very Exciting. I feel we earned our excellent Full English breakfast before, bleary-eyed, we hit the road.

Brother No 2 lives up in Kent, and as he and his missus had come down to Devon for the "do", it was decided it'd somehow be a good idea to go back with them for a few days. Dunno why, but that was the decision. They live in Ye Ancient Lodge with aforementioned beams, assorted floor levels with associated steps and other architectural expressions of cuteness. All in all making it a veritable assault course of hazards to wind and limb. All surrounded by a pretty large garden absolutely awash with trees; oak, ash, willow, hazel, holly, oh the works. Great for the wildlife of course; dawn chorus fortissimo every morning, with no escape when all the windows have to be open to avoid suffocation from the heat... We also had a vist from a fox that came within 4 or 5 feet of the french windows, which was a bit of a thrill.

Anyway, the beams are a right old mish-mash of stuff, but I took a pic or two of the bits that I thought were the most interesting. They're not the greatest, light being at a premium in these old places, but should give you an idea. The first is a mortise that someone has thoughtfully removed the tenon from and then replaced one of the pegs. Bizarre, no? Kinda cool though, and the spiders love it...

This one is a beautifully executed, well, what exactly? Not sure what the technically accurate term for it would be (mis-placed my joinery book) but dovetail would be in there somewhere. Dovetail halving joint? Dovetail housing joint perhaps? I dunno; one of you clever blighters will no doubt let me know in the comments box.

And 'cos the countryside round there isn't that shabby, a couple of picturesque scenes; on the left, the view from their back garden, and on the right the neighbours, trying to keep cool.

Monday was spent recovering from the travel on Sunday - yes, okay, and probably from the excesses of Saturday night... Tuesday a case was made for going to Heathfield and Peter Hanman (Tools) therein. Actually the surrounding market wasn't bad either and I nearly bought an older Tyzack rip saw, but for some reason I resisted. Oh yeah, I remember why. I'd already been to the Tool Mecca by then...

I think it's fair to say you wouldn't come away saying using the phrase "got a bargain" or "for only" from there, 'cos he's not an idiot and knows what he's got, but there are some damn fine user tools - and not a few unusual and collectable ones too. And they're everywhere. Just when you think you've had your fill, you look above your head and see a dozen braces or whathaveyou. Lovely place. Somehow I managed to resist going totally insane, confining myself to merely spending more than I could afford in quite a limited way.

Quite early on in goofing I spotted the thing that interested me. Well the main thing. Obviously I looked at other things like the rather nice Slater bullnose and the Sargent VBM plane, and the saws did not escape me, but one thing really caught my eye. A saw vice. A metal saw vice. A Disston saw vice. I enquired and, well, yes, it wasn't cheap, but then where am I going to see another? So far the only one I've ever seen was in the rafters of someone else's workshop and Not For Sale. So I looked it over again, checked it all worked, and naturally I took the fatal step.

Turns out I seem to have done rather better than I thought. From what I've read it seems to be a D3, which is apparently one of best. Bet Mike'll know for sure, eh, boys and girls? Yeah, it's missing the filing guide gubbins, but I don't want that anyway, all the rest is sound and it's clean and ready to go. I'm a happy bunny anyway.

So I'm broke and on a roll. It seemed to be a sign when a brief log-on to UKWS found a post by someone who'd been to Timberline just days before - the Fates were telling me to go. Who am I to argue? We went. In for a penny, in for a pound. I went for the express purpose of finding a board or two suitable for tools - plane totes, maybe a saw handle or two, perhaps a scraper or three. The sort of things I can't quite squeeze out of available turning blank sizes. Well they certainly had a board or two, name an exotic hardwood and they had it. Logs of boxwood, hunks of ebony, boards of rosewoods and padauk jostling for space, tonewoods for musical instrument makers, gorgeous veneers, it was sensory overload. I tried to remain calm and focused and asked about rosewood and bubinga. The rosewood, well there was a choice of all sorts. Indian rosewood was in the form of disassembled "picture frames" - baulks of wood with mortises and tenons - made so in order to get round the export restrictions. Similarly 4" square sections had turned ball tops as newel posts - ebony newel post for your staircase anyone?

Anyway, a 6" wide board of kiln-dried Sonokeling Rosewood took my eye and I was sufficiently braced so I only winced a little bit when he worked out the price. I shouldn't ever need to buy any more at any rate! Luckily I only want short lengths so having to have the board cut in half was only mildly bloody irritating. I hate that stupid little car. The Fates let me down on the Bubinga though - I wanted it for the LVs, but it was huge, and more importantly, right at the back. The chap generously offered to dig it out for me, but we'd never have fitted it in anyway, so we may be looking at mail order once the finances have recovered. Some time in 2064...

Thursday, we came home again via a stop for lunch at Yandles in Martock which is conveniently about halfway home. I must have been feeling homesick 'cos I had a pasty, which was nice but in no way should have been described as "Cornish". Naturally I also had a bit of a goof around the place, but no offcut of Bubinga was happily waiting to be purchased so I came away empty-handed. Funny, I always do from Yandles.

Anyway, back home we found both cats and parrots equally happy to see us, which was nice, and then this afternoon a load of old mahogany window frames was dropped off by a friend of my mum's which does rather soften the blow of not being on holiday any more, don'tcha know.


  1. I wasn't impatient [g]--but now I am experiencing sensory overload. Be careful what one asks for!

    The trip, the pictures, the travelogue is wonderful! Man, what scenery.

    The D3 is the best of the best. They don't often go cheap on ePay, even when they are offered. Saw vises are a dime a dozen 'round here. But not the Disston D3. Whatever you paid, I'm sure it was more than acceptable. Great score!

    Thank you for the blog entry. Now I have to go back to work...

    Take care, Mike

  2. Wow, sounds like you had a good time. It's tough to leave good tools behind when you find a good shop ;)
    I have a board of bubinga you can have when you come up in September-it's an offcut but perfect for your needs.
    And yes-I am very jealous of the vice........

  3. Thanks for letting us live vicariously! Wonderful account.
    I have never seen a Disston D3 so that was a dandy find.

  4. Hi Alf -

    A good afternoon read...gotta get back to work now....


  5. ALF,

    She shoots!....she scores!....GO-O-O-O-A-A-L-L-L-L!!!! Wonderful write-up and photoessay of your long-awaited road trip! Those postcard photos of the English countryside really get down into my DNA. I love watching livestock graze, and haven't seen that for a long time now. I get the feeling those places have looked like that for a long time now. Much thanks.

    Hanman's Tool store is surely a place to get lost in for a while. I think I would have thought long about that anvil before walking away. Also the farm tools are fantastic--that D-handled turfer is on my mind. Great score on the Disston D-3. The beautiful thing is--there was nothing new there, and nothing imported. All authentic artifacts that convey the history of the place where they are found.

    Great score on that 5/4 rosewood board!! Are you going to let it suggest its use to you? Or do you have something in mind already?

    Here's my take on the whole trip: Needs to be an annual affair. Every summer. Don't wait.



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