Friday, September 29, 2006

Fashionable woodworking

"The frame is joined to the legs either by the mortise and tenon joint or by dowelling. The former joint was the old way of framing, but since the introduction of dowels the tenon has largely gone out of use among furniture makers. They consider it old-fashioned. And owing to the shrinkage of the tenon or the carelessness with which it is made, it does not seem as strong or equal to a dowel-joint."


"The top of a table may be solid or veneered. When small and cheap work is desired, it can be made of solid wood; but otherwise it should be built-up and veneered."

I've been enjoying reading the Algrove reprint of "Furniture Design and Draughting" by Alvin Crocker Nye (a name to conjure with, that one), originally published in 1907. Well the second edition was anyway. And those are quotes from it.

There's an awful lot more fashion involved in woodworking than just the furniture style of the time, isn't there?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Now I may have gone publicly quiet on tambours (possibly in self-defence) but I've been thinking about 'em. I went on an info hunt last night - a re-cap really. I'd already done it a few months ago, but failed to make a note of references... D'oh. Anyway, I think my primary source to start with will be Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, Book 3. Yeah, that's right, book 3, the one no-one buys 'cos all the designs look dated. Hah, well I have it and it's the most info on making a tambour doored cabinet I've yet come across. So I'll go with Tage mayherestinpeace, at least for the first one. Always the possibility of it being the only one, mind you...

I've also decided frame 'n' panel makes it too complicated, so solid carcass is the order of the day. I have some well-seasoned pine rescued from the chapel in the village that's just about fit for workshop use, so that's looking favourite as material for the "first one" moment. Possibly painted...? Hmm, getting a bit ahead of myself there!

The only difficulty I'm really struggling with at the moment is hanging the blessed thing. I like the idea of the encorporated french cleat - let's pull that out from the comments from Mike:

"instead of a double back, I would inset my back panel about 2" to allow the tambour to move between it and a French cleat, which would be dovetailed into the rearmost frame members. I've done that before [for the cleat] and it works well."

But 2" of lost depth?! Not a problem for the saw till, but could be An Issue with the Tool Cabinet Vision, 'cos I only have so much depth to play with after all. The alternative, it seems to me, is to take the cabinet height up and allow a dead space at the top for the cleats and put the false back as close to the tambour groove as feasible. But then again that could look really awful too. So what other cabinet hanging options are there? TF cheated like hell by having a top cabinet with the main hanging cleats, then screwed the tamboured cabinet to the underneath of it with one cleat at the bottom to screw through into the wall. Maybe I should...? I mean you can never have enough storage, can you? But then again it's not much use if you can't reach it.

Ah, don't you just love the design stage...?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Website, where art thou?

Yep, my virtual workshop has gone awol again - sorry if it causes any inconvenience.

Not been a good day all round really. Had to traipse into Helston this morning - Hell's Town would be more accurate. Pretty uninspiring place, I always feel. The only high spot in the place is the bookshop at the bottom of the hill (so perhaps really it's a "low spot", maybe?). Anyway, we parked at the top of the hill...

Got to the door and "Sorry for the inconvenience but due to unforseen circumstances we are closed from Wednesday 27th September to..."


The main reason for going (located at the top of the hill) was unexpectedly closed too, plus I was too early for the museum and while the antique shop had tools, they were naturally priced rather unrealistically. A Stanley 130 with a block of wood crudely fashioned into a wedge at one end (and still a square block of wood for the rest of it) was mildly amusing, and I admit to hesitating over a virtually unused Greenslade badger plane, but I came away virtuous and empty-handed. Well I wouldn't have wanted to carry anything up that blasted hill anyway... Even the tip, er, "household waste recycling centre" was a bust, apart from successfully dispositing the junk we took to off-load. A few sorry-looking saws, but nothing worth even stooping to pick up. To top it off there was a proper, honest-to-goodness drawing board there, all apparently in working order with a nice angle-adjustable stand and everything. I drooled a bit, but it wouldn't have fitted in the car, never mind the house! Heigh ho, back to Sketch Up then...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sawing Machine

Things move quick inna fast movin' world o' bloggin', and I can't seem to get comments to stick at the moment, so a smorgasbord of things, some in response to useful comments in the boxes provided.

With regard to tambour doors, evidentally I've failed to fully convey one of my problems. I'm wondering what are the issues involved in putting the groove for the tambour in the frame of a frame 'n' panel? Can I get away with it without risking destruction, or is it a case of adding an extra inner piece to take the groove? Or what? Might just be easier to make it from the solid of course, and I may well yet, but I'm wondering if it's feasible or not. Might have to chuck it at the Design forum on UK Workshop and see what comes out of it.

As far as the "new" saw goes, I decided the best way to make my mind up about it was to follow Mr W's excellent suggestion first, see how I found it and then have it recut if I still found the need. So this lunchtime saw it sharpened it up as prescribed - "lots of fleam [~30 degrees] and about a 25 degree rake." - and taken for a spin.

Hot damn, I may have found my new favourite saw... Nope, no need to alter the ppi on this one, it's a Sawing Machine. Muchos gracias for the benefit of your wisdom, Mike. If I needed convincing that rake and fleam make a heap of difference, this demonstrates it rather well.

Finally today saw me stumbling across another Woodworker annual for my, ah hum, collection... Evidentally not commercially bound, but then readers were encouraged to bind copies themselves, so that's no great surprise. Trouble is I couldn't recall if I already had 1925's or not - foolish me, I've failed to make a note of the ones I have to keep about my person. So I flicked through it and tried to see if anything looked familiar. Well some of it did. But lots of it didn't. Despite the outrageous price (don't ask) I opted to take the risk on it being a duplicate (that's the collector talking, of course) and put down the cold hard cash. Friends, it's no wonder some of it looked familiar.

The January section is from 1927. Which, needless to say, I have.

The question I can't help but ask myself is; did the amateur binder notice and decide to leave it because he also had the 1927 edition - with January 1925 in it? So is it somewhere out there, even now..?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Shut that door

Yes, yes, I know. Two blog posts in one day is a bit enthusiastic. Think of it as Friday's that I couldn't post 'cos of the usual damp-string-no-connection problem.

You may have to cast your mind back a bit to thoughts of saw tills and such? Here 'tis. An important point was made in the comments - tambour doors restrict storage space. So I think I need to put forward Alf's Tool Cabinet Vision and thinking behind same, so we're all on the same wavelength. Here's the deal: Three cabinets.

One main one for the "Ready Use Kit" - planes, chisels, screwdrivers, measuring tools, possibly the most frequently used saws etc
One saw till for, er, the saws (D'oh), well the "spares"... And possibly/probably the saw doctorin' stuff
One cabinet to, ha hum, display the combination/plough planes and have them and their many cutters ready for use.

So I see main cabinet in the middle, the others one on each side.

Now my Vision is to have the ready use tool storage where I can grab tool X or Y with one hand - no finicky catches or tool holders, no lifting of one thing to reach the other and so forth. Grab 'n' Use (TM). Now it may be impractical 'cos I have Too Much Stuff, but that's the plan. Seldom used tools can be in a less accessible configuration if necessary, but the main ones have to be easy to get at. So I want to open up the cupboard when I get in the workshop and leave it open and everything visible until the end of my workshop pottering for the day. I don't want to have to close a door in order to get to a combination plane in the other cupboard, f'rinstance... I also don't want a rattle of tools everytime I open and close the tool cupboard door (I just hate that, I don't know why). But things have to be easy to grab, so reconciling the two might be difficult? Well it seems to me I'm quickly ruling out storage inside the doors here... Plus doors that get out of the way will let me have access to the other two cabinets easily too.

Tambour doors I've always had a hankering to do, but I'm open to suggestions here, mainly 'cos I also rather fancied frame and panel construction, and I'm not at all sure how to reconcile the two successfully. I've thought of doors that hinge up and push back, bi-fold doors, all sorts. If you have a cunning idea, speak up! Heck, speak up if you disagree, have appalling tales of "clever" door options or whatever. I'm very open to ideas here, folks.


An impressionable person can only take seeing so many gorgeous beech saw handles before they crack and have to make one themselves. Wenzloff & Sons are the guilty parties. Well Wenzlof Snr anyway... All the things I was going to do this weekend, and I spend it doing this. Oh, and filing a couple of saws for someone. Silly really; this blade was from an unlovely looking saw that The Tall Scotsman insisted I had to take (along with another) if I wanted the saw I actually desired to buy. So I did. The other saw had a more useful tooth count and a thinner plate, but was pitted all to hell and thus of little use. But this one, to my chagrin, cleaned up beautifully. And just to add insult to injury the bend in the toe straightened out like a dream. Why does that never happen for a saw you want to rescue? So anyway, there I had an unremarkable (but tapered, to be fair) blade with an ugly handle and 6 ppi. Looking at me, reproachfully. For weeks. Then pictures of Mike's saws modeled after the John Kenyon ones in the Seaton tool chest are all over the 'net, making me drool. The last straw was a thread of various people's saw handle-making on UK Workshop. For the love of Norm, am I made of stone?!

So I went a bit mad and kind of Kenyonesqued it, in a way. I gave the blade a nib and rounded the toe sort of like the old saws.

Then made, with infinite effort out of all proportion to the value of the saw to me, a beech tote of London-ish pattern. And removed half the skin on my fingers and thumbs from the rasp in the process; at least that's what it felt like. Sharp blighter, that Auriou.

The handle came out all together too modern-looking in the end, and doesn't have those large plain cheeks I like so much, but it's not bad and at least my lamb's tongues are getting a bit better...

So now the question is do I sharpen it and make it a half rip? Or recut the teeth to a tooth count I'm more likely to use? Or is a 6 ppi crosscut actually useful? As ever, any thoughts, whims or fancies welcome in the comments box. On topic ones for preference, but I'm not fussy...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thar' she blows

Barely had the First Dog watch started before up went a cry for All Hands. Fore royal mast broken clean at the cap, a mess of riggin' and raffle flogging against tops'l, the whole parcel threatenin' to go o'er board and wind rising. Staggering out on deck there was half a gale blowin' likely, and plenty to secure. Ropes hove round the spar, canvas secured, reef taken in and she rides easy again. But wind's still risin'...

Which is an elaborately nautical way to describe a little emergency tree surgery this afternoon. The tail end of Hurricane Gordon is starting to make itself felt here just at the moment. What you might call a briskish breeze, 'cept it's warm and I remember going into central London on the morning after the '87 storm and after that most winds seem light. Anyway, there's a small stand of seed-grown, whippy Eucalyptus trees at the northwest corner of the workshop, and they were flogging about so much I was hearing them banging away at the roof. I don't give them much thought as a rule, right up until my mum came in and said she'd been walking past, heard a cracking noise and looked up to see the top of one breaking.


It really was a case of all hands, ropes, loppers, bowsaw, ladder, the works. Blasted thing was hanging by a good thickness of bark and wood fibres but threatening that, if it did break, it'd go over the wall in the property of some less-than-understanding neighbours. It's not helped that the topography means our ground level is between 5 and 10 feet above theirs, so if it fell it'd be a good drop. Meanwhile the wind's getting up more and more - in fact we abandoned any thoughts of ladders and chopping it off and opted for damage limitation instead. I reached up as high as possible and hauled the broken bit down into our property and stood there with the other Eucalyptus trees slapping me in the face with their leaves for an eternity while the old man clapped a line to it... er, I mean tied a rope round it. Good start. But it was being hauled down on its neighbours and doing them more harm than good. So the rope had to be taken round to the other side and the broken limb coaxed round and out from amongst its fellows. Went easier than we deserved really and once it was restrained with a turn or two around the stoutest of its brethren then all real panic was done.

Except there was an awful lot of foliage caught up in the thinner of the remaining trees and it was being blown about something chronic. And the wind's still rising... In effect it was like a mast carrying too much sail and a reef was called for - hence my flight of fancy at the beginning of this entry. Now a long-reach lopper is one of those things that anyone with trees ought to have, and luckily we do. And it's not like they have heavy wooden poles like they used to; it's all lightweight aluminium and stuff. Which is fine on a calm day... Oh, we managed to reduce the top hamper all right, but only by waiting for lulls between the gusts and developing an airy disregard for having a face full of Eucalyptus leaves slapping us in the face every now and again. Fun.

So now they're all roped together, for mutual support, according to the old man. Me, I look at it and think if the big one goes it'll just take the rest with it... Fingers crossed the workshop doesn't have some extra ventilation in the morning, that's all. The red arrow is pointing to the break, fwiw.

So that was my exciting woodworking for today. In the fullness of time there'll be all the excitement of making sure I'm out when the thing has to be taken down and then trying to decide if any of it's worth the effort of keeping for turning. It's that skinny in the trunk I fear the answer is probably not.

Now, time to Splice the Mainbrace methinks. Anyone got a mainbrace?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Order, order!

They said it couldn't be done - but it can. Lathe, wood and tool (and lots of sanding) have met and block & gavel have resulted for my brother's birthday at the beginning of next month. Yes, gentle reader; in time. Dunno about you, but I may need a lie down to recover from the shock...

Apparently he's always wanted one, but I question the wisdom of giving an older brother such a symbol of authority. We'll just have to hope it doesn't go to his head and he starts thinking anyone will actually take any notice when he pounds it. But you don't want to know about that (he's going to be 50, btw - just thought I'd get that damaging fact in for the public record). You want to know wood-related detail. So... it's loosely based on a design in a back issue of Good Woodworking by Steve Maskery; it's under Miscellaneous in the gallery. The recess for the chuck jaws makes a sort of sound chamber for the strike block or something, anyway it sounded good and now I actually have a chuck... Purpleheart from Yandles for the gavel, Rosewood from my trip up to Kent for the block with a Purpleheart striker to tie the two togther. Simply 'cos I neglected to get any suitable blank of Purpleheart for the block. D'oh! The Purpleheart was splintery and awkward while the Rosewood wasn't splintery but still awkward. Plenty of tool sharpening needed. Finished with a couple of coats of shellac and waxed - looks a bit too green in the thumbnail, but the main pic's close-ish. Might have to have another go and see if I can do the Rosewood better justice. For commemorative purposes a 1956 shilling and 2006 penny (badly) glued into the base; so badly I ain't showing you lot.

To be honest it would have been more fun spending six months making another chair - I really ain't no turner. Coo, the stress. Now I wonder if I've got time to run up a simple box to pack them in? Probably not, but it's worth a try...

And oh yes, the scrub plane's already en route to its new owner, so no more offers please!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Scrub from Scrap

Imagine, if you will, a plane with sides, sole and iron so rusty I actually wondered if they'd been painted black. A rear tote barely hanging on by a thread. A (yuck) plastic knob to tighten the lever cap. And, to cap it all, the side handle from a hand drill as a front knob. Got the picture? Here are those less lovely parts to help you visualise.

Now into this picture insert a foolish galoot, so desperate not to go home empty-handed that she actually pays money for this piece of rust. Fifty whole pence, forsooth! Talk about a fool and their money... Only on getting home did the full horror and stupidity of the act dawn. But the idea that had put forth leaves on first sighting this self-proclaimed No 2, Made In England, was this could be a scrub plane, so we're jolly well going to give it a shot. Sounds confident, doesn't it? Hah. Why d'you think there's no "before" shot? 'Cos it was so awful I didn't want a public record of what a stupid thing it was to buy...

Anyway, a loooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggg bath in citric acid and a strenuous workout later, plus a few spare parts to improve this and that, and it's come out a lot better than I deserve. Yeah, the sole and iron are pitted, but heck, that's the beauty of it being a scrub plane - it doesn't matter. And the lever cap and bedding are just as good as, or maybe better than a Stanley scrub. it's a bit shorter than my #40 1/2, but makes up for it by being a smidgeon wider. Most importantly, it works a treat, although for really aggresive scrubbing I suppose I ought to open up the mouth a tad.

The only hitch is exactly how many scrub planes does one person need? Two was dodgy, but three... So if anyone out there is looking for a cheap scrub...? Possibly for a bit more than 50p though - I ache like crazy after all that cleaning!

Incidentally, 'pologies for the funereal black bordered thumbnails. Blogger is being a bit tempremental about uploading images at the moment, so I'm trying out Freeshare instead. Seems to be pretty good, and doesn't require you to register to use it which makes a change. Last thing I need is another password to forget.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Well despite haunting a handful of car boot sales over the weekend, I came away with next to nothing. Certainly nothing I "needed", but not getting anything at all is too depressing, so I splashed out a whole 50 pence on each day. Saturday saw me coming across this screwdriver:

Nothing special, you're thinking. S'what I thought until I picked it up and it felt a lot heavier at the handle end than I'd expected. Turns out it's one of those screwdrivers where the shaft goes right through the handle and you're positively encouraged to hammer on it:

My dad's being beating the hell out of a set of the Stanley "Hurwood" variety ever since I can remember - and before that - but I didn't know you could get them with a traditional oval handle. Clearly stamped "Spear & Jackson, Sheffield" on one side of the shaft, on the other side the Registered Design number and further encouragement to abuse it. Viz: Will open boxes without bending. Gotta love a tool made with that much confidence in its endurance really, haven't you?

Sunday's 0.50 GBP went on a No. 2 bench plane. And no, that's not the enormous gloat you might be thinking it is. Not all #2's are Baileys... It's in the citric acid at the mo' but when I've cleaned it up, all will be revealed.

Talking of citric acid, I've been having terrible difficulty getting hold of any. Turns out it's 'cos places are stopping stocking it because it's used to "cut" drugs. The fact that there are dozens of legitimate uses for it doesn't apparently mean anything. For heaven's sakes, what is the world coming to? Anyway I've ordered some via mail order - and nothing else - so if I get a visit from the local constabulary I sharn't be surprised...

And joy; just had Rutlands email about their autumn sale. Guess who ordered from them last week and could have saved £9 on a certain chuck. As ever my timing is immaculate in its inaccuracy. Grrrr. I imagine they won't "do a Lee Valley" and send me the difference. Sigh.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Chuck out, chuck in

In theory I should be busily turning purpleheart into expensive chippings in a mad dash to get my brother's birthday present done "in time". Yeah, all right, "in time" is a bit of a novel idea, but if you don't try... However the old man has first dibs on the lathe house, er, garage at the mo', so it's on hold until I can get a clear run and swear in private.

In the meantime, a young galoot's fancy turns once more to tool storage. The saw problem is no better and there's simply nowhere to put them. The big saws are still packed up from last weekend, simply 'cos it's the safest place for them at the moment. I mean what is the point of cleaning, setting and filing them only for them to knock around the workshop getting damaged? So a saw till is really getting to be an urgent requirement.

Now I could just throw something together that'd do for the time being, and re-address the problem in another 20 years or so.

Or do the thing properly and make a super-douper saw till-a-rama, possibly with a tambour door 'cos I keep wanting to do one.

Or the third option is to use the saw till as a bit of a dry run for a proper tool cabinet. But I sort of hankered after doing a frame & panel construction for that, which is not tambour door-friendly. At least I don't think it is, but I'm open to suggestions.

So in consequence of all this if-ing and or-ing I haven't done anything. Oh, except I've had enough of my experiment of working out of the toolchest and have nearly moved all my ready use tools back to the drawers that used to be under the bench. The chest will end up having the less frequently used tools in it I think. To be honest it's rather in the way... Being honest probably isn't really a good idea really; if we're honest there are just too many flippin' tools and I should have an enormous chuck out of stuff. Sigh. I wish I'd been born a natural minimalist instead of a natural accumulator.

It hasn't helped that I've also been busily undoing all the good work of not buying anything at Yandles... Not in a mad, insane way, but I have, erm, bought a chuck for the lathe. It's the turning equivalent of a Stanley Handyman I'm sure, but if it planes the bottom of the door, figuratively speaking, then it'll do. My excuse is I need it for making the birthday pressie. Well I don't actually need it, 'cos I've managed before for all these years, but it should help do a more professional job. Just as soon as I learn to turn properly...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Turned wotsit

I'm not unreasonable - enough begging and I'll relent almost every time.

Right, the wotsit is to aid the drilling of chisel tang holes in handles of varying diameter using the drill press. Viz: A collar of appropriate size is pushed on the ferrule end of the handle, and then handle is pushed up tube where the collar is a nice fit in the end - thus the handle is centred.

The concave cup device is popped in the support the rounded end of the handle, the plug added to the bottom to hold it all in and there it is, all ready to drill. Except it needs a bit of shimming to cope with shorter handle lengths - Chas thinks a threaded bottom plug is probably the way to go.

It's an ingenious solution to the problem, I must say, and let's face it, not one I'd have come up with 'cos I wouldn't be capable of the necessary accuracy in turning it! But as Chas says, really the best solution is a "proper" chuck instead of the lash-up jobs I've been using for years. We'll see...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Virtual woodworking

So no guesses on the mystery turned item then? You rotten lot... In that case, I sharn't say.

Instead we have a bit of a SketchUp-themed blog entry again. Due to a total failure to remember to pack the disc, I was unable to take up Nick's offer to walk me through rounding the saw handle. Although I really doubt I'd have remembered one jot of it if he had... Anyway, for the amusement of the masses, here's the file (93Kb). And I thought, while I'm at it, might as well stick the Newlyn Toolchest file up here too (130Kb). I should warn all eager SU users that I'm the SU equivalent of someone who uses a blunt jack plane to occasionally trim a door is to a rabid neanderthal, so try not to wince too much. As long as I end up with something functional enough to get a few dimensions on then it's fine. Perfection is neither required, nor likely!

See? I'm not always super critical of my own efforts...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Big Bash

Before we start, the purpleheart from Yandles, and a piece of Bubinga generously provided by Phil to facilitate my war against Veritas rear totes.

Now, if you're looking for coherence, I should give up and go away if I was you.

I rolled up at something to 10am to find the place All Go with the buzz of conversation and wood already being slaughtered on the lathe outside. Phil's tool emporium, er, workshop is a big garage, but even so it was tricky finding space for all my junk. Later not helped by the oh-so-brilliantly timed arrival of Phil's New Toy - a Delta 15" thicknesser. Oh boy, does he know how to gloat or what?

Anyway, after that it was all go looking at a range of tools that various chaps had brought along for an inexpert opion. Unlike the Antiques Roadshow I didn't give insurance values, just usability ones! "Newt" brought along his superb version of the TiteMark marking gauge in a fitted box. Beautiful work and a joy to see. Lots of saws of course, and luckily none of them beyond salvaging in one form or another. After all, if it all goes totally wrong you still have material for scrapers... Martin managed to flummox the Magic Book (Hand-saw Makers of Britain) not just once, but twice. Very generously he gave me one of them; this tiny back saw - even I struggle to get a three-fingered grip round it. The blade's a mere 7" long and only 11' overall.

I need to do a little more research on it to see if I can track down the name. Nothing I like better than a tool with a bit of mystery.

An extrordinary number of people turned up with things for me, which was most unexpected and very much appreciated. Chas, turner extrordinaire, had been giving some thought to a difficulty I'd been having, generously spent time and effort making me this interesting solution. See if you can guess what it's for.

I'll get to the contents of the party bag anon. But first, the saw sharpening...

I have no idea exactly at what stage of the day I looked up to find 20-odd expectant faces and was told "time for the demo" , but I know I'd already done a lot of saw-related talking. In fact I was pretty sure everyone who'd expressed an interest had already had a one-on-one about it and I was all done. Apparently not. Despite fervent prayers the floor didn't open up and swallow me either. Friends, if I managed to say anything coherent at all, it was a miracle - the chances of me of having enough wits about me to put file to saw was zero. Good chance of an excellent example of what can go wrong, mind you, but it might have put you off. Other excuses include a bench facing away from the audience (bad idea; you can't duck in time when they throw things...), not getting organised with a suitable saw from Philly's stash, and just general mutton-headedness. You can tell I wasn't "with it" 'cos I totally failed to advertise either my tools for sale or my own sharpening services...D'oh. So anyone who's a bit ticked-off at the virtual demo, well 'pologies and to be honest I'm disappointed too. Especially as I've now worked out the best way we could have done it without me just having my back to everyone all the time, as would otherwise have happened. Never buy version 1.0 they say... (Oh, and thank you to the lovely Miss Debbie Mag-, erm, Tony, for being my assistant and damn nearly busting his arm holding up the saw vice!)

Just to top it off, I only got a brief glance at all the examples of fine workmanship various folks had brought and Phil's waterstone sharpening demo (long enough to do a little heckling anyway...) but not one jot of the turning or dovetailing. And not one shaving did I make all day. Sheesh, I hope you're all going "Ahhhhhhh". I did have time to see more than one person with plane in hand exhibiting all the signs of starting some fast, downward travel though. The hilarious thing being that they didn't even know it yet.

Not one shaving was especially hard, given the box of goodies sent over by Lee Valley. Viz: Chair devils & scraper and edge trimming plane. As it happened I'd brought along one of my scrapers as "host gift" so folks were able to compare and contrast. The LV ones are nicely made, but gosh they're heavy when you're used to a wooden one. I can imagine some people will like that, but to be honest I wasn't wholly grabed. But I may have felt different about it in use. It's probably the argument for and against large and heavy vs. small and light scrub planes all over again. I'd had a tip off about the edge trimming plane, that it had an O1 blade lapped on the new wonder machine, so I had a good look. Mmmm, nice. Very nice. I can see that being very popular indeed - especially if it forces the hand of other makers to do the same... It seemed to me that a lot of members looked at and tried the edge plane with a shopping-list-addition kind of eye which would have brought a tear of happiness to R.

The thing I'd most been looking forward to was seeing the Wenzloff & Sons panel saw in the flesh. I was not disappointed. Judging by the cries of delight when folks tried the handle for size, they weren't disappointed either. Very, very nice indeed. In the inevitable "which dovetail saw" wondering, I thought it my Slope Greasing Duty to chuck the Wenzloff option into the mix, just to be helpful...

What with all the goodies on show, the tour of Philly's projects, a moment to snatch a sandwich and a cuppa... Ah yes, the refreshments and such. Fiona, Phil's missus, is a total STAR. Instead of escaping to the nearest shopping centre with Phil's credit card, there she was providing tea and food without one murmur of exasperation (well not in my hearing anyway. Goodness knows what she said when we'd all gone...). Words can not express my admiration and gratitude, except, well... she doesn't have a brother, does she...?

But Phil ought to get some kudos too. Despite entertaining some UK Workshoppers and Mr Jack Daniels 'til 3am that morning, he was there greeting, slapping name tags on and handing out t-shirts. As a demonstrator I got one with my name on it (pink and sparkly 'cos I'm a girl, I s'pose. Or maybe there wasn't an option on rusty and weird...) - if only I'd had a moment to put it on!

We all had a good rummage through his drawers too, if you'll pardon the expression, and admired his plane making. In fact I was totally taken in and thought the shoulder plane my eye had fallen on was a HNT Gordon. Turned out it was one of Phil's - really, really good. He's a talent, so he is. Imagine my delight then, when I got to the bottom of my goodie bag later that evening and found this:

Wow. 'Tis a thing of beauty and works like a champ. Just goes to show making a plane with MDF isn't necessarily a Bad Sign, eh?

So that's me done. It was great to meet everyone, and as The Management remarked when they picked me up, a testament to how well we got along that the buzz of conversation was still going full strength at 4.30 that afternoon. Everyone says it, but it's true; if you have the chance to get together with your fellow woodworkers, don't just think about it, DO IT. It's a blast.

Monday, September 11, 2006


You wouldn't think it possible to talk and/or listen (mainly talk...) continuously for about 7 hours with only 30 seconds (not an exaggeration. No, not even for comic effect) of it spent sitting down, would you? Well I wouldn't. But it's amazing what you can do when you're surrounded by a bunch of friendly, generous and interesting woodworkers - oh, and more tools than the average tool store. Yes, the UK Workshop Big Bash 2006 has been, gone and I'm now reaping the effects. The lights are on but there's no-one in. Not strictly true; there's seems to be a sort of zombie who's just about capable of going "huh?". So you'll have to wait for a brain (for want of a better word) dump on it 'til later. But don't expect photographs - I didn't even have a moment to get the camera out, never mind take a pic. Instead allow me to do a Philly and point you towards DaveL's page o' pics instead.

I did manage to take a few at Yandles on Friday though, and they sum up the visit rather well, I think. First, met up with various UK Workshoppers, went to drool all over the Classic Hand Tools stand and watched Philly spend money:

Then wandered about to look at the stands and saw - amongst other things that didn't come out well in the photos - some weird turnings:

Subsequently adjourned to drool over the timber in the wood store (that's just a fraction of what was there. Oh for a big lorry instead of a small hatchback...):

I contented myself with a modest piece of purpleheart, ostensibly for my brother's birthday present but also with a view to there being some left for a chisel handle or two... Heavy stuff though, so I popped back to the car to drop it off, only to return in time to see Philly spend some more money and spirit away another purchase into his Mobile Black Hole For Tools.

Thus neatly bringing the visit full circle. It's possible that I was able to be good about not buying any tools myself simply because I was able to shop vicariously through Phil. It's practically a public service he's doing there. Well that's probably his excuse anyway...

Tomorrow, Big Bash stuff.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What blue box?

What with one thing and another, the list of items being taken to the UK Workshop Big Bash on Saturday has grow'd like Topsy. I was fairly sure I'd filled the Transport Manager in on what it entailed, more or less, but I went through it again last night.

Saws, right.
Two boxes - you've got to not crush the long one.
All right.
Philly says can we get the little bench in?
How big is it?
Two foot by, ooo, 16 by, erm, 10? No, 6?
Yes, all right.
Saw vice.
Sigh All right.
And you've not forgotten the blue box?
What blue box?!
I told you about that first, ages ago. It's important; it's got all the saw filing stuff and tools and stuff. That's more important than the bench!
Glowers All right, how big is it...?

Anyway, all the important things are in. Just need to be a bit creative about squeezing the luggage into the gaps, that's all...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

That's not it

Ah, what to blog about today... D'you really want to hear about sharpening a bunch of auger bits? Doubt it. I briefly considered an entry about a Miniature Toolchest that was flagged up on the Old Tools List overnight, but the world and his wife will have that covered. In fact I see it's hit one blog already. What is it about miniatures that so appeals? It's nothing new, of course. We should all be a bit blasé about yet another tiny plane that can take real shavings, or a hammer that couldn't even dent a marshmallow by now. But nope, we all ooo and ahh and express amazement all over again. Oh I do it myself, I'm not immune. Look, you see? I'm going to use this flannel about not blogging about it as a flimsy excuse to include a picture. Too bad there isn't a better picture of the joints in the chest though.

Elsewhere, the indefatigable Chris Schwarz is apparently allowed to walk around unaccompanied in public while still managing to spend his time trying 14, or maybe 15, different ways to sharpen a scraper. I can ony assume he has a piece of paper signed by a doctor, judge or other pillar of society proclaiming "The bearer of this certificate is of sound mind. Yes, really, no kidding. Yes I know it's hard to believe, but what can you do? Apparently there's no law against it." But I make wiv der humorous joke fings at Chris' expense when really I envy him. Yes, I do. Fancy getting paid to do that! Me, I'm a natural for the position of "research woodworker". Just think; at last I could stop with the pretence of actually completing projects...

So there we are; a little light wittering and Houston, We Have A Blog Entry. Some people claim being able to write when you have nothing to say is stock in trade of a professional writer and that therefore it is a Good Thing. In my case I think it's just some sort of strange compulsion and a Bad Thing. I wonder if Chris'd let me have a copy of that certificate...?

Talking of which, a favourite joke of mine:

There once was a naval officer and he started to act rather strangely. Everywhere he went he'd pick up any piece of paper he saw, look at it, say "That's not it" and throw it away. This went on for Some Time and his fellow shipmates started to get worried (really odd behaviour apparently takes a while to be noticed in amongst the background noise of everyday odd behaviour on board ship...) Well the Doc was instructed to examine him. Couldn't find anything wrong. So he was sent ashore and the doctors there examined him, tested him, poked and prodded him. Still no joy, still picking up the pieces of paper and saying "That's not it". Eventually his case is referred upwards and lands on the Admiral's desk. He decides enough is enough; this paper reading character is upsetting morale so he must go. He signs the necessary discharge papers, sends it back down the line to the officer. He picks up the certificate of discharge, looks at it, smiles and says

"This is it"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SketchUp Skeleton

In the words of Rolf "Tie Me Kangeroo Down" Harris; Can you tell what it is yet?

Not at all sure I'm a natural user of SketchUp to be honest, but it seems to be such a useful tool I really must get to grips with it. This is my second attempt and it definitely came together better than the first, but I'm sure I'm doing things the hard way. My attempt at a saw handle went fine up until the point I thought about trying to round the edges. My brain just whimpered a bit and shut down. But blocky isn't necessary bad, is it...? Where's the virtual rasp, eh? That's what I need; it'd be a piece of cake then.

Never mind, it's still the easiest way of making the lamb's tongue decoration that I've found yet... Of course I have absolutely zero excuse for spending my time drawing virtual saw handles, or even whole saws. But it is rather addictive in a strange aaaargh-why-on-earth-did-it-do-that and where's-that-line-gone-oh-rissoles sort of way. Maybe I should draw a brick wall to bang my head against next?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Book club

Happened across a couple of literary endeavours that might appeal so I thought I'd share.

First up, courtesy of Google Books, Charles Dickens on Wood, and How To Cut It, c.1850. Subtitled, by me, as"Wood, how the best stuff now probably wouldn't be considered good enough for matchsticks". It's enough to make you weep, really it is, but also interesting and one or two humerous asides wot made me chuckle too.

Secondly, for the eager saw doctor in embryo, Ken Greenberg's notes on saw sharpening. As Ken said when I asked his permission to draw potential sharpeners's attention to them, they're just what he used as a guide to doing a demo on the subject, but to me they make a good checklist to have handy for anyone new to the Black Art as well as someone trying to introduce them to it. I've already printed out a copy for my own use...

Edit: Ah, erm, correct link for the saw sharpening PDF there now. Sorry 'bout dat...

Saws best served cold

The days tick away until Saturday and excitement builds. Or in Philly's case, panic and wondering "what was I thinking?". But a word of warning, Phil; when you see me turn up with these:

don't think I've got the drinks in. Cider boxes happen to be just the right shape for saws, luckily for me. A recent study apparently shows that cider apples have Good Things in them; would a cunning seller somehow infer that saws held in cider boxes are also good for you I wonder...? It's a nice idea, isn't it? Oh no, dear, all these tools are good for me - look, they're all kept in fruit boxes.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tag 'em and bag 'em

Well box them. Or something. How does one carry about half a dozen sharp handsaws without damaging them or me? Oh well. The tagging though, I've done. I figured even if I got cold feet and decided not to sell the Disstons I might as well bring 'em along for "educational purposes". Between all the saws there seems to be a nice cross-section of features; tooth count, age, handle shapes, you name it. The only thing is should I chuck in the unhappiest backsaw I have, which beautifully demonstrates two things you really, really want to avoid? Even as I'm typing this I'm thinking maybe yes...

Funny though, usually I find out the info about saws as they get bought of course; having them all together with all the info is a bit of an eye-opener. A number of my saws are a lot older than I give them credit for on a day-to-day basis, if you see what I mean. When you think of how easily they can be damaged beyond hope, largely in these parts from rust, you have to kind of marvel at a 150 yr old saw sailing through a 2x4 as if it'd had just come out of the factory. But unless you actually think about how old it is, it's just a frighteningly quick eater of wood. And I mean frightening. 5 1/2ppi crosscut is an evil-looking saw. Hmm, might have to put "sticking plasters" on the list too...

Friday, September 01, 2006

For posterity

Still saw sharpening... Somehow the UK Workshop Big Bash next weekend has turned into a Saw Selling Opportunity (subject to Mein Host saying "okay"), and sharp saws are required. At the moment - and I warn you, things will likely change on a daily basis - I reckon I'll take everything including the Disstons and as long as I come back with at least one large-ish back saw and a panel saw I'll be able to cope useage-wise. Short-term anyway. The accumulating monster that lives inside me though, she'll be screaming in agony...

See, I have A Plan. It's my usual one. If I can sell enough refurbished examples of Tool X, then I will have enough for one Modern Fine Toolmaker's example of that genre. Thus, last year I sold a load of saws including all my dovetail saws and blew the lot on the LN dovetail saw. This year; well the plan is partially in motion already on unusual lines, but I always say there's no harm in planning ahead towards the next next item in the road to a collection, is there...?

Why I have this urge to have a cross-section of some of the best user tools currently available is two-fold. In the first place, we're in a Golden Age of hand tool making. Skilled, dedicated and enthusiastic makers are doing their darndest to provide us all with good quality hand tools again. And heck, I wan't to support them as best I can. I daily lament the fact I'm not able to support them to the extent I'd like to, I can tell you, but I do what I can... The second reason is the Toolchest. Yeah, the one on the website I haven't updated yet (although I'm getting a little closer to that now). In that chest, amongst the junk and dross that seems to be essential contents in any chest, there were some of the best examples of tools at the time. There's Stanley's top-of-the-range brace, the #901; Sweetheart era #46; a #40 1/2 scrub, none of your lesser #40s, Disston saws; egg-shaped handled Marples drawknife; #R100 collapsible framing square; ebony stocked squares and bevels; the list goes on. I bless the owner/s who had such foresight in getting the best user tools available at the time and yes, I would like to continue the good work.

Mind you, I also intend to hang on to the good old stuff too. Talking of which, I might have changed my mind about those Disstons again...