Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sharpening Henry's Saws

What with one thing and another I've had a bit of a lay-off from the workshop over the last few days, but I'm back to the grindstone now. Or rather the saw file. Finally got round to sharpening up the remaining 3 of 4 Disstons. The rip and back saw just needed a lick of the file anyway, and I'd broken the back of the required work on the handsaw a few months back, but even so... Half the trouble is that Disston steel is so much hard work to file, but also 'cos I've got very used to sharpening backsaws rather than the larger teeth. Yeah, okay, so the larger teeth are easier to see than the small ones on the back saws, but holy moly, you don't 'arf make up for the lower skill requirement by the sheer volume of metal you have to file on a rip saw. I'm not built for a lot of filing (I'm built for large passenger liners to founder on...) and I'm knackered. Give me pesky little teeth you can't hardly see every time; barely need a full stroke of the file in comparison!

Anyway, all done. 4.5, 8, 10 and 14ppi. Except now I'm looking at them and wondering if really I ought to sell 'em. It's certain sure they'd be more likely to sell than the odds and sods I have otherwise, and I can make do with odds and sods...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Santa Claus existed

Don't think I mentioned that I'd succumbed to my chronic Woodworker Annual addiction last week, did I? My sworn policy is to try and confine myself to pre-WW2 ones, but volumes from 1980 and '81 containing all the adverts was too much to resist. Man, they're heavy blighters with 850+ pages a piece. Not exactly ideal for bedtime reading... Anyway, in amongst articles with such humorous phrases as "Alan Holtham is a young man" and Ashley Iles new factory opening are, of course, the adverts. Funny really; so much has changed and yet in amongst the unfamiliar are names that are still going strong now. And noticeably a lot more small concerns in both the tool and timber retail sector. The latter includes adverts from "Cornish Woodcraft". Naturally a name that'd catch my eye anyway, especially given the paucity of wood suppliers in this area, but the accompanying information is fascinating indeed. Viz:

Hardwood at Trade Prices Direct To Your Door
Cornish Woodcrafts are starting a new NATIONWIDE service for Turners, Woodcarvers, DIY and Trade customers. We will be running a Mobile Sales Unit in ALL areas so in future you will be able to select and purchase at the same time.
We will be carrying an extensive range of woods and veneers. There will be no obligation to buy, just drop us a line or telephone requesting our Mobile Unit to call on you.
Among the hardwoods we will be carrying are: Apple, Acacia, Ash, Chestnut, Cherry, Elm, Hornbeam, Lime, Larch, Poplar, Pear, Oak, Oak Burrs, Sycamore, Teak, Walnut, Yew, Mahogany. Also a full range of veneers. At a later date we will also carry a range of Exotic woods.
The idea of this new service is to allow you to select the planks you require on the spot instead of receiving them via carriers and finding they fall short of your expectations. The system also cuts down the high cost of carriage.
End quote

It doesn't take a great business brain to work out the profit margin on such a service would be small, bordering on non-existant. In fact, with no obligation to buy, there's every chance of a loss and indeed that part of the advert disappears later! But can you imagine it? A big lorry driving up on request, full of hardwoods for you to pick and choose on the spot? And based here, in Cornwall, where folks have ended up travelling to Oxfordshire to get cabinet-quality hardwoods? It's like finding out Santa Claus used to exist...

I googled for Cornish Woodcraft and found one reference that jogged my memory. When I first moved down here there was a tiny outfit of that name near Truro, catering to the turning fraternity in the main. I was frankly a bit scornful of it as a place to bother with at the time, fresh from London as I then was. Looking back now, from the perspective of being by and large in a woodworking desert, I really wish they were still in existance. Especially if they had such a glorious history of trying to bring hardwoods to anyone's door.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Can you handle it - the book of the film

As requested, you foolish people, the how to on making London pattern octagonal chisel handles is up. Please indulge in corrections, typo-spotting and so forth and then I can add it to the (now functioning again) web site. Somehow web page Tuits seem to have mounted up again, dunno how that happens.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

They seek it here...

... they seek it there, those woodworkers seek it (occasionally) everywhere. Is it on line, or is the server down? That demmed elusive web site.

Yes, it's gone walkies again. No, I don't know why. Sorry if it's caused inconvenience and you may assume I'm not getting emails again... What I don't understand is it's supposedly on the same server as UK Workshop, so why does mine go Lord Lucan on me and UKWS doesn't? Heigh ho.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cutting edge

Right, nearly all the necessary chisel handle pics are now in the can; just a matter of writing it up and drawing a couple of diagrams that are (hopefully) going to be more useful than photos or me trying to explain things. Waving my hands and saying "like this" and "about that much" apparently doesn't work awfully well on t'net... The tool tote, despite its incorrectness, proved to be as great a boon as I thought it'd be as I hauled various things up to the lathe. I still forgot something of course.

Also finished off the second of two oilstone boxes; nothing special at all, but will hopefully protect them from the worst of the slings and arrows of the workshop. One is a fine Norton India that was probably my grandfather's, but possibly my great grandfather's. You can tell not liking sharpening runs in the family though, 'cos it's barely used. I thought we'd ill-advisedly chucked it out about 10 years before I saw the Galootish Light and realised you don't throw tools away, but it surfaced again a month or so ago. Happy me, 'cos I don't have many inherited workshop items. The other stone is a Norton Washita, from someone else's grandfather, and the thing cuts like greased lightning. Are all Washitas like that? Certainly poo-poos the "slow oilstone" argument and the edge is good enough for most work.

And yes, that does indeed mean I'm trying to make a conscious effort not to over-sharpen unnecessarily. It's very easy to slip into the habit of sharpening to the finest degree, just 'cos you can, even when it's really not needed. Although I've never stooped to honing a scrub plane to 8000 grit! There are limits, ya know...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Saw choice

Well wouldn't you know it? Post in the morning and find the connection is behaving as nice as pie in the evening. So it goes.

As I have this unexpected opportunity to include what I meant to say earlier, I will. To aid my decision making (maybe) should anyone want to share their #1 backsaw choice in terms of p (or t) pi and length and, more importantly, why, I'd be obliged. Yeah, there are all those "what saws do I need?" threads on forums, but there's nowt to beat personal experience and prejudice I always say. You may assume the presence of the LN dovetail saw as a given... Okay, so it almost certainly won't give me a cut and dried "right answer", but it might clarify my currently muddled thinking. We can live in hope, eh?

Of course I could apply the info in the "Arts and Mysteries" column in October's Popular Woodworking, which showed up yesterday (quick, no?), and pick my ppi on the basis of wood thickness. But I fear that might just end up as justification for all of them... The forgotten handsaw tricks were interesting; the shiny saw plate one isn't new, but it is difficult with the old saw unfortunately. But the different return stroke to clear the dust came all bright and shiny new to me instead and I'll definitely be giving it a go.

Hmm, I may be peaking with the handsaw stuff a little early here. Maybe I should be thinking about that chisel handle WIP that was sort of promised, before I forget how I did them.

Saw Census

Well I seem to have hit a rich vein of form with regard to the lights being on but no-one home - embarrassing lack of engaging brain before doing anything continues to plague me, but luckily not within the remit of this Blog! And no, I didn't Blog yesterday in an effort to protect myself from the worst faux pas, although it's not a bad idea. Nope, it was raining again. I may have to change my habits and post in the morning as now seems to give the best chance of actually being able to post then.

Anyway, it's seemed best to stop pretending to be a woodworker for a bit until the grey matter comes back from its holidays, so I've been catching up on some of my tool cleaning and so forth. I momentarily dabbled with the idea of sharpening a saw, then considered all the ways it could go pear-shaped and decided to leave it for a bit... But I did do another foolish thing - I gathered all my back saws together in one place in a doomed bid to decide which should be the users and which I should re-home. Naturally I'm no nearer deciding and just a little taken aback at this very obvious evidence of what can only be described as an illness. I mean I knew I had "a few", but... Heck, I thinned out the herd only a year ago. Oh deary me.

I reckon the interesting one is the pistol-gripped 12" on the far right next to the 10" pair. Not only is it open-handled, the handle hang is more dovetail than tenon and the tooth count is 15ppi. Is this one of those mythical carcass saws? I dunno, but I bet I'll never see another. Mind you it turns out the Disston is 15 too, and still sharp enough to try out. Mmmm, very nice it is too. Heavy sucker though.

Anyway, the worst of it is I can't decide on a favourite. How can you decide which to let go when you can't decide which to keep? It's a 'mare. Maybe I should just sell the lot and start again by only buying a saw I actually need rather than what happens to be there.

Nah, that'll never catch on...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Well having brooded overnight* on the skew dovetail cock-up (see comments below) I've come to the conclusion it's quite funny as well as bloomin' irritating. The latter because I'm used to making mistakes of the wrong-side-or-the-line, whoops-how-did-that-chisel-slip-there variety, but it's really, really annoying me that I got the darn joint pretty nearly bang on the money for fit - just the wrong damn joint!

And that leads to the funny bit which'll probably stopped me picking over it all night. I've long bemoaned the fact that my theoretical grasp of woodworking has been so much better than the actual tool-on-wood skill, not that actually says a lot 'cos it's all relative... But this time I brilliantly blew the thinking bit and didn't even pick up on the evidence that pointed to the explanation (oh, it's obvious now ) but seem to have got the flip side of the cutting right. So is that it now? Will I be wielding the saw with precision for the next 20 years without a clue of how to work out where to cut with it? Actually I'd take that without hesitation.

Oh, and a lesson I almost certainly won't have learnt. Don't change what you're going to do half way through the job. It was going to have just splayed sides at the beginning, and the pins would have been right then. D'oh.

Incidentally, did I mention I got another wad punch on Sunday...? Rather odd - it's clearly stamped "12" but seems to be about 3/4". That make any sense to anyone?

* If you think I agonise over whether I'm going to do X or Y right before I start, you do not want to know me when I've got X or Y wrong.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where was I...?

The intermittant, verging on non-existant connection at the end of last week seems to have passed and normal service should resume. Or what passes for normal anyway... You may have been wondering what I was indulging in funny angled dovetails for? Read on...

So, the board of choice for this thing was a wooly, soggy, warped monstrosity that might be Sapele; part of a pallet of offcuts purchased from South London Hardwoods at least five years ago. When I say "of choice" naturally I lie. But this is a workshop thing so I use what I have and at least it's fairly light (required) and should be well acclimatised to the w'shop by now. I should have taken the hint when, after planing it up and leaving it weighted down overnight, it had managed to move some more next morning. But naturally I didn't.

Now it turns out these skewed dovetails are great for subtle bragging rights amongst the woodworking cognoscenti - to do them "properly" you simply can't use a jig, at least not according to Steve here. Well who am I to argue? So first thing first, pinch that tip for marking out...

Then find out you can't see where your Cosmanesque divider markings are, so set up a couple of bevels, one for each angle, and do it the hard way. I knew buying really rusty sliding bevels was a Good Thing and here's the justification. I like this joint already.

This was the first real workout the LN saw's had since I got it back in November. Oh the shame. But then there isn't much call for dovetails in a chair to be fair. Anyway, it did a good job and I felt it was probably money well spent. Except I shouldn't have let the show go to my head like that and got one from Mike instead, but you know how it is when the darn thing's right in front of you and you can take it home right now. Yes, I'm very shallow, I know.

So the old coping saw was broken out for removing the waste - one of these days I may find a decent coping saw that doesn't twist itself into a helix as soon as you try to tension it, but this Bahco one ain't it. Then paring, well chopping back to the line. It's no good kidding myself I can tell if a chisel is plumb or not, 'cos I can't. So I cheat a little and hold a squared offcut behind the chisel to guide it square. It's like those smart jigs folks make, with a bar that clamps down across the baseline, except it takes less room and still involves a little risk to enable me to kid myself that I'm not really cheating at all.

The result justifies the means, I reckon. 'Course the gauge mark to register the chisel is half the battle, and once again the little 3-in-1 jobbie did the biz. Mind you it ruined the LN theme to my main dovetailing tools but while it still works so well how can I even justify a TiteMark look-a-like?

Seeing as the Sapele was soft, I came over all brave and went to glue the joint up first shot, again under the terrible influence of Mr Cosman. And I would have got away with it too, 'cos the fit is actually very good say it I shouldn't - no little fillets of wood filling the gaps there, my friends. But the blasted wood warped didn't it? Despite my best efforts I ended up with three right angles and one of about 50°, which shouldn't be possible. By the time I'd glued in the base and screwed the chestnut handle in place it was a bit better, but there are slight gaps at the insides of the base of the joints where the wood just insisted on ballooning out. Yeah, I should have clamped it, I see that now, but my joints were tight, I thought they'd do the job! And the darn thing's angled and therefore awkward to clamp. But yeah, I should have. Oh well, another lesson learnt. The sides only being 3/8" thick didn't help.

And the finished article? Well you can only wander from the workshop to the garage where the lathe is a certain number of times with your hands full of blanks, chucks, rules, pencils, abrasives, finishes, drawings, plans, centre finders, scattering half of same in your wake, before you start wondering why you don't just make yourself something to carry them all in...

Thursday, August 17, 2006


'Pologies, readers; I had no intention of leaving you on tenterhooks so long. If you were. We had some heavy rain yesterday so naturally the damp string that passes for a telephone line in these parts was rendered null and void. But there seems to be a window of opportunity in order to put you out of any misery you might have been experiencing. Or not.

Yes, congrats to the gentleman in Dorset who correctly guessed the splayed, angle-iness, hopperish quality of the joint. I'd never even thought of triangular joints, and now I have I know I don't want to try them. Not that I've made progress beyond this practice joint to the project I have in mind for them since Tuesday, but at least I know I can kinda of make one now. As long as looks aren't too important, at any rate....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Out of Joint

Well this wasn't going to be a puzzle blog entry, but my inept camera use caused the pic to come out in such a way that I might as well make it one. So what's odd about this joint then? No points to any clever clogs who asks "You mean apart from the fact you appear to have planed it with a blunt rock, Al?" - I was in a hurry and grabbed the nearest, not necessarily the most fit for purpose.

And apologies if anyone's been trying to get on the web site; it seems to have gone walkabout again. So email-less again. And yep, that's the upside...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Doing the filing

Been tidying up my saw filing stuff with a view to Philly's UK Workshop bash next month. Still not entirely sure how the whole saw sharpening thing has happened, but if I make it look difficult enough maybe I might get some saw doctoring work? (Plot plot...) Much to my delight I found unused files in 5" and 6" in double extra slim which I'd completely overloooked, so already it's paying dividends. And yes, I get delighted easily... Anyway, all good, organising stuff that I'll reap the benefits of, but tedious in the extreme. Cast a speculative glance at the lathe to see if it was accessible, but a big hole in the wall right above the headstock suggests "no", so I left the Old Man to continue his destruction and tip-toed away. Shame, 'cos I could do with a couple of file handles - but they can wait.

Ah, just got a reply to my prod of Mike at Classic Hand Tools about the saw files. Hmm, "still working on it". Glad I wrapped up my poor 4" double extra slims carefully then. Or what remains of them.

So yeah, it's all go chez Alf, she lied.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's a wooden life

No car boot sales for me tomorrow - going out for slightly delayed anniversary celebrations for the folks. Can't believe it's a year since I was nervously unveiling those tables. Time flies in a most frightening way sometimes. Anyway, I went today instead and got something interesting. It's prompted me to ask myself important questions. Like can it be that working with exotic timber somehow attracts more of it to appear? Is lignum vitae like London Buses? You wait for ages and then three come along at once? Search me. But look what I found this morning.

Heavy blighter (tarnation - I meant to weigh it) and if it ain't lv I'd be very very surprised indeed. There's a tiny split in one place, but it seems to be just cosmetic, and it's going to need a new wedge. What sort of wood should a wedge in a lignum vitae plane be? I mean the darn stuff is naturally lubricated, so you hardly want lv on lv or the wedge will forever slip, won't it? The iron's going to need some work too - the cap iron's too narrow for a start. New maker on me too; looks like Swift & Son/s, Sheffield.

The mouth's not exactly tight either, but the sole appears to be as flat as I'm able to measure. And it just feels gorgeous to the hand. I couldn't very well leave it, could I?

Oh, I bought another wad punch too. But I think that's just another ordinary addiction...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Saw point

Well I potter along, doing bits and pieces in an effort to avoid starting something "proper". Completing the WIP pics of chisel handles is off until the Old Man has finished demolishing the end of the garage, wherein dwells the roundy spinny thing otherwise known as the lathe. Might have to do a bit of a tidy up of the workshop soon too. The choice of background on the handle pics wasn't for artistic reasons - the top of the toolchest is the only clear horizontal surface.

Also had saws on my mind. Mike gently dropped the bombshell that the long-awaited etching doodahs have arrived chez Wenzloff, and I've said all along that I'll buy a saw once it has the necessary bragging tag of a maker's mark. I mean what's the point of having a Wenzloff & Sons if no-one knows? So I was looking at the saw drool with rather more urgency this afternoon. And I have a problem that takes me back to when I was about seven years old. All those centuries ago I used to go with my friends to the sweet shop (candy store, 'Murricans) with 10 pence or so and spend hours deciding what careful assortment of penny sweets I was going to invest in. Would I blow a large proportion on one Sherbet Fountain? Or a selection of Fried Eggs, Flying Saucers and Fruit Salads? Decisions, decisions. I could never make them. The problem being, I didn't actually need any of them.

Which is the problem now. I'm, ah, fairly well set for saws and there isn't actually a particular saw lacking from my amoury. Not that that's a barrier to getting another one, you understand. Need and Want are different things... Equally I don't have a particular favourite that I'd like to have a Wenzloff version of - all saws are alike to me. i.e. I love 'em all. So how the heck do I choose what to ask Mike and his boys to make? I'm tempted to just chuck it at Mike and say "what d'you consider the saw that most says "Wenzloff & Sons" to you - without bankrupting me... ". Or maybe "what d'you fancy making?"

Oh well, at long as the piggy bank doesn't get swine fever while I'm deciding...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Can you handle it?

By general consensus it's tomorrow apparently. I dunno, maybe in the Antipodes it's already yesterday? Anyway, despite the fact that I had in mind more like some time this evening, as promised (I'm a blogist of my word), some 'andles.

They're only a "set" in very general terms. Not only are the blades by different makers and the woods used different, but my turning inability is always going to make each one an individual... As I boringly told you back in June, I was unduly influenced by the article here - I'm just not a good enough turner to do it full justice. However, they're good enough for me, which was the point of doing it, and will annoy anyone who extols the virtues of workaday tools and can't see the point of having fancy tools. But that's just a bonus...

Clockwise, from "noon"; Rosewood (dalbergia latifolia); Satinwood (chloroxylon swietenia); Pau Amarello (euxlophora parensis); Imbuya (phoebe porosa); Muhuhu (brachylaena hutchinsii); Padauk (pterocarpus soyauxii); Imbuya; Rosewood; Bubinga (guibourtia demeusei); Pau Amarello; Satinwood; Muhuhu, Bubinga and Padauk. The pattern is London Pattern Octagonal - the round butt end being the main feature of the London pattern over the regular octagonal.

The whole gamut of my rehandled user chisels here. As already mentioned, the Socket bevel chisels are Anjan (hardwickia binata) while the others are all Boxwood (buxus sempervirens).

Hmm, maybe I should sell my L-Ns...?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Waiting for Handles

1st BLOG READER: She's late


2nd BLOG READER: She said they would be here


1st BLOG READER: She said they would be here but they're not. I'm ready to see the handles and they're not here.


2nd BLOG READER: If we wait some more they may come.


1st BLOG READER: But they're not here now.

(Longer pause)

2nd BLOG READER: Bother this for a game of marbles; let's go and find something else to wait for.


Tomorrow, I promise. Handles; all done and waxed, Blog readership for the perusal of. And no more pathetic attempts at parodies of Waiting for Godot...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Yeah, yeah, so you're all on tenterhooks about the handles, I know. But they're not ready yet. Sorry. Partially because I had to go on a chocolate hunt for the folks' anniversary on Saturday. Hmm, bit of a let down after last year, you're thinking, but they're really nice chocolates...

The reward of virtue was a couple of as-new books at greatly reduced price in the flea market. Krenov's "The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking" and "The Seven Essentials of Woodworking" by Anthony Guidice. I'm not one who naturally worships at the Krenovian altar (probably a character flaw) but I don't mind giving the guy a break and trying again. How he could bear to be responsible for all those makers of look-a-like cabinets though, is beyond me. If I was teaching and turned out all those copyists I'd feel I'd been a pretty poor teacher myself, but each to their own. The Guidice book I've been curious about ever since the first rash of neophytes popped up on the forums asking about where to buy bowsaws. I was curious to see what his persuasive argument was that was convincing all these folks it was the best option, although I had my suspicions. The latter are, alas, confirmed - no compelling argument, just another member of the faculty of the "my way or the highway" school of teaching. Not my cup of tea, but entertaining enough reading someone so very didactic and yet also so inaccurate and occasionaly just plain contradictory. He has little time for the "writers" opinions - and is telling us this in his, erm, book... Oh my aching sides! As far as dismissing the entire panoply of Western hand saws except for the "bowsaw" (what I'd call a Continental frame saw personally...) goes, well I can only suppose he's just never used a sharp one. He needs a Wenzloff & Sons, asap! Having said which, all the evidence points to the influence of another woodworking name - Tage Frid. But to the exclusion of rational thought and never allowing that maybe there might just be something in the other ways and means? Deary me; it's not a good advertisment for going and being taught by one of the woodworking greats, is it? At least, not apparently if you have a brain of your own and want to use it.

So having rubbished not one, not two, but three published authors and woodworking teachers, I know what you're thinking - I must be a lousy pupil. You're dead right; I give my woodworking teacher all sorts of trouble.

Possibly it's poetic justice that I'm self-taught...

Monday, August 07, 2006


Sigh. Didn't get nearly as much of the handle making done over the weekend as I'd hoped. Not that progress hasn't been made, but there's still a way to go before the grand unvieling of the main body. But a small advanced guard is available. First time I've done leather washers and I'm fairly pleased. Probably could have managed with just two layers in hindsight, but that's what comes of following someone's instructions... The handles on the socket chisels are Anjan, iirc, 'cos those pieces happened to be long enough to accomodate the necessary length. The smaller Marples is right up against the shoulder though, which is annoying - I damn nearly ran out of taper all together despite my best efforts. Oh and they don't match, natch. The butt chisel was reclaimed from my for sale list and given a boxwood handle. Should really have given the butt end of the handle a little more curve to the transition to the flat end, but it feels pretty good in the hand.

Hardly set foot in the workshop on Sunday, what with one thing and another, but had an interesting haul at the car boot sales. It was a bit quiet really, and at first glance there wasn't anything much, but what there was was pretty good. I'll take quality over quantity any day. Saw sets seem to be one of those things folks will buy from me, so I picked up yet another Eclipse 77. Great saw set and this one will clean up a treat I reckon. The chisel, well I dunno what I was thinking really, except I've not had a Ward & Payne bench chisel before and this is an old 'un (octagonal bolster) and a good 'un (octagonal boxwood handle). Of course it'll need a new handle... The ratchet screwdriver is a Stanley Yankee 15a and I've been looking for one for years. My introduction to the Tall Scotsman included one of these screwdrivers; I didn't buy it and I've kicked myself ever since. First one I've seen since, so I pounced - and found the mechanism seized up. But the price made it worth a punt and a quick dismantle of the thing and application of 3-in-1 penetrating spray followed by a dose of 3-in-1 oil (wish I was getting commision for these adverts) got it all working again. Happy me.

But the haul of the day was spotted in an old leather suitcase under an otherwise unpromising stall. I was (wait for it) bowled over. Gettit? Bowls? Bowled ov- Oh never mind. Anyway, can you say lignum vitae? In hindsight I probably could have haggled the price down even further, but I can't honestly complain at one pound sterling per wood.

My good fortune continued into today - a small renummeration for a thing on "My Workshop" for Traditional Woodworking magazine turned up. Yep, just when you thought it was safe to open a magazine... I got asked to do it out of the blue about 6 weeks ago, so I had to steam a bit to get it done on time. But you know me - I'm good at talking about myself. It's out on Friday, iirc, so you know when to avoid the newsagents.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Definitely not my thing, but I couldn't resist blogging this one for posterity. It's referred to as Dracula's Kitchen; you may induge yourself in suitable jokes in the comments box provided...

My choice of title is just a flimsy excuse to mention one of my favourite Discworld twists on the real world. You know all those various single malt whiskies? The Edradour or The Macallan, that sort of thing? Well the Discworld has Bearhugger's Distilleries Finest Malt- The MacArbe.

No, I don't know why it makes me chuckle either, but it does. S'not even as if I like whisky...

Site Update

Had to hang around this morning, with the workshop not an option, however it's proved slightly productive. Finally assembled a gallery of projects to give the impression I actually make things occasionally. Also cleaned up the workshop tour to match the same format as the other pages. It's not ooo-ahh stuff, but every little helps.

Hmm... think I'm going to have to make a "News" section on the home page, aren't I? This is really boring as blog fodder...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Four wheels good

Sorry if this is a rehash to you, gentle reader, but I couldn't resist posting this one from the Old Tools List. Two wheels for bandsawing is not the neanderthal way; four wheels is where it's at. Coo, imagine trying to get all those tracking right...

Just a handle-making fool

So who was it that was so doubtful about whether I'd get anything done today? Huh? Come on, stand up so we can all see you...

Oh yeah, that would be me.

Yes indeedy, I've surprised myself and the swept floor is once more bedecked with shavings, and pretty fancy, high class ones too. I've seized the chisel handle nettle firmly and am going for it in a Big Way. Time will tell if I'm successful of course, but it's jolly good fun playing with all these exotics when my usual run of timber use is so mundane. The itty-bitty Mujifang smoother, which I sort of had in mind for this job when I ordered it, has proved to be a champ. Only one timber really defeated it, and frankly I think it would have had even angels swearing.

Unfortunately I find myself slightly embarassed in the ferrule department, so while I've ordered some with hopes of swift delivery, things may be unavoidably delayed in the mean time. Never mind, I can do the socket ones while I'm waiting. I did actually place the jointer and saw in close proximity today, but when it came to it I couldn't quite find the nerve to do the deed and harvest the hornbeam. The Stanley's going to get a distinctly unauthentic handle instead...

Now, anyone want to play "What wood?"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I keep going into the workshop with the avowed intent to get on with various things - and then spend an hour milling about doing nothing constructive at all. It's amazing what time you can waste without really having anything to show for it. I mean, yeah, so the floor's swept now but that state of affairs will last no time. Once I actually start to make something again anyway... At least I got around to banishing the Boat Anchor to a box though, which was a nice feeling. Tomorrow though, tomorrow I'll really get something done.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I think I may have found the ideal place for a woodworker to get in some serious tool catalogue time - The Limited Edition Thomas Crapper Thunderbox! Voila. A thing of beauty, is it not? It's a shame woodworker's have become so divorced from this essential function. I have a very dim and distant memory from my extreme youth of being introduced to a two-seater privvy, which was essentially the Walmart version of the Thunderbox - the design boiled down to a wide board with a hole in it and next to it a slightly lower board with another hole in it. Ah, you may scoff and point out it's hardly advanced woodwork, but sure as hell the person who made it had to make sure they finished it properly. An errant splinter could spell disaster...

Meanwhile I've been musing on chisel handles and trying to get approximate measurements from the piccy of an original Stanley one in order to handle the unnumbered example I got a few months ago. I've already broken out one of the wad punches and a thick leather belt to see about some washers for the end. Only problem now is No Hickory and no Red Lacquer. The red I think I can work around okay, but the hickory is a problem. I find myself genuinely tempted to chop up the rather uninspiring German jointer simply for its wood. Not that it's hickory, but rather hornbeam, however it'd be kind of close and might make good stuff for the socket mortise chisel handles too... Seems sort of sacrilegious to destroy a tool though, so I 'spect nothing will come of it.