Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Punishment Drill

Common sense dictates I don't leave half finished parts of a project skulling about the workshop, but rather that if I have workshop time I should seize it for cutting the other half of my dovetails. Common sense is mis-named - round here it can be a rare sighting indeed...

Rather a lot left to do, but a modicum of progress visible. Rust removal isn't going to take the time - it's the removal of decades-worth of grease and oil that's proving hard work. Even now all the small pices are soaking in an effort to shift it with a little more ease.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Village Idiot

Did I say "must do better"? Ha hum, If ever there was a case of do as I say, not as I do... Once again terrible blogging inertia struck last week, which is odd 'cos all sorts of things happened I could have blogged about.

On Tuesday I picked up a fascinating book - Amateur Work, Illustrated. Essentially a sort of early Woodworker Annual (1881) except it covers all sorts of things like making and repairing shoes and boots, making telephones, electroplating, all sorts. Extremely galootish and lots of info on "new tools" like the recently introduced Starrett Combination Square! I really must do some scanning and share a few bits.

Then on Saturday everyone but me was out, so I made actual woodworking progress. I know, I could hardly believe it either. Better make the most of it while I can 'cos the old man's getting his other hip joint replaced in a few weeks so I'll be shuttling mum hither and yon for a while which'll cut into the spare time rather severely. Anyway, to overflow my cup of happiness all of said woodworking was 100% honest to goodness hand toolin' goodness. Viz; out came my favourite rebate plane, the red Marples:

Now why that plane is a favourite, I know not. The casting is cracked at the fence rod point, the fence rod isn't original, the spur cutter's still waiting for me to get a new screw to hold it that doesn't foul the side, the sole isn't flat, but nevertheless I always pick it up in preference to either of the other two. And before the cries of "collector!" ring through the comments box, it should be noted that all three are halt and lame in one respect or another so between them they barely make one functioning #78-alike.

Anyway, I also did a little of this:

Gads, but pine is the total pits for getting a clean chisel cut isn't it? And yes, I know that's a saw... I was getting away with murder on supposedly difficult hardwoods in comparison. The bevel angle on the LNs really didn't do at all, so I switched to the plastic-handle Berg I got last year for 20 new pence and that did better. There may be a moral there somewhere, or there may not - I'm not touching that issue with a ten-foot pole myself...

So the pin boards are still waiting for their big moment, but progress of a sort is slowly being made. Of course that's what I should have been doing yesterday, but instead the car boot sale sang it's siren song. Well my excuse was I need the driving practice. You know how I worry to the Nth degree about woodworking projects? Translate that to me behind the wheel of a car. Get the mental picture? Yes, I'm really not one of nature's drivers and have managed to successfully avoid having to do so for some years. But as mentioned above, the transformation of the old man into the Bionic Man ("We have the technology") requires me to step into the breach, so it's common sense to get some practice in while I can. This noble action was not without reward; not only did I finally glean The Tall Scotsman's name (Ian), but I got a spiffy Marples 1/4" sash mortise chisel for a not unreasonable figure.

Easily the nicest looking chisel I've seen for months and months. Of course the reason it was a not unreasonable figure was probably because the seller was hugging himself in secret delight that he'd found some village idiot to take this off his hands:

That's not strictly true. I did apply for village idiot once, but they said I was over-qualified...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Poor Person's Plano Clamps

My apologies for leaving you all to talk amongst yourselves - not much to report and somehow blogging seemed too much effort. Must Do Better.

Yes, I'm afraid I'm falling out of love with this saw till in a Big Way. When exactly does wood cross the line from "characterful" to "what a mess"? I'm seriously contemplating paint, to be honest. Heck, I was seriously contemplating biscuits and have done with the thing yesterday. Maybe I need a break to do something else? Ah well, January is never a good month for feeling positive, is it?

Anyway, enough folks have expressed interest in my Poor Person's Planos for me to give a brief explanation of them. The background is simple; I've long desired a couple of the rather spiffy "Plano Vertical Glue Press", but unfortunately only have a budget for the rather less spiffy "Four Way Clamping System". Nowadays I don't have enough wall space for the Planos either, but that's by-the-by. Now you're s'posed to use these things on the bench top, but who can afford to tie up bench space with glue ups? And anyway in my experience they squirm about like a greased eel. So I had a Brainwave, and decided to hang them from a batten on the wall instead. Out of the way and reduced squirming - excellent. I've only got two; if I need more clamping pressure I just add an ordinary sash clamp. Being in the corner like this is Not Ideal btw. You really want to have the 4-ways evenly spreading their usefulness.

So, how are they hung on the batten? Well first an orientation picture - you're looking at them from this side, and in fact you can probably see the bolt head in the rear bar, right in the middle of the picture.

So here's a drawing I did a couple of years ago to try and explain it clearly. I may have failed...

One bolt is enough per clamp it seems, and gives you a little leeway where a more rigid fixing could give problems. You can, in theory, have as many clamps in a row as you fancy, but in practice I wouldn't want to have to deal with more than three I think.

One of the drawbacks to this system is that while the rear bar is held up by the bolt everything else is gravity's plaything and thus you need three or four hands to hold everything up and stop the bars slipping out of the notches. It's a pain, but have I done anything about it? Hah, "if it works don't improve it" could be my motto... But an email from a reader about them got me thinking and it could be there's a simple solution. Viz; take a simple swivelling toggle or two, like these rather rugged examples:

... and fit them so they can be swung over the notches and hold the head cross-bar doodah so it won't slip out any more.

The only drawback that's just dawned on me is that they're needed on the notches on the back bar too, which might be tricky not to say finicky. Hmm, s'pose the only thing to do is try.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Right, where was I? Oh yeah... Bit of cleaning up and jointing later...

... and some, at least, of the boards are glued or gluing up to make the carcass.

The bottom board's just a spacer, btw. Well it's now obvious I don't have enough wood to make the carcass deep enough for tambours. Phew... Er, I mean, erm "Bother". Yeah, that's right. Bother. It's also going to look like the worst sort of "pine board" - all knots and nail holes. Heigh ho. If it keeps the saws in good nick, everything else is just icing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Back to the drawing board

Well folks, don't hold your breath. Today I paid a once in a blue moon visit to the local House of Horrors - aka B&Q - and I did not furnish myself with sundries suitable for making tambour doors. Plus The Powers That Be are more or less forbidding me to do it on the basis that they can't take the stress. They can't? Waddabout me?! So it's all on hold until I can make a final decision (yeah, right) except I'll need the carcass whatever I do, so I'll finish up cleaning and jointing the chapel boards.

Meantime it dawned on me that I never revealed what the Christmas pressies were that I was working on. Well the last recipient has had their's (sorry if you were crossing your fingers and just hoping yours was delayed in the post) so I can safely blog the result. Although actually I told all elsewhere well before Christmas, so this won't be new to some.

Cunning use of offcuts not big enough for chisel handles, eh...?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Show-Off Gland

Ooo, I hate you lot. Think of the bragging rights, Alf. You know you want to, Alf. Talk about attacking someone's vulnerable spot - the Show-Off Gland. Of course your confidence in me is hopelessly mis-placed, but alas I'm only human and flattery will, unfortunately, get me in deep trouble. So I spent Sunday struggling to relearn all that I'd forgotten about using Sketch-Up with the help of Dave R's excellent tutorial. For the terminally curious, the skp file is here. For the rest of you, a couple of shots, first from the front:

... and then from the back, with the back removed. The saw's a close-ish approximation to a 28" rip btw.

It wasn't 'til I'd done the pics that I realised the top groove was too close to the top of the carcass, so that's been altered in the model. As you can see it's hardly gone into great detail, but at least I think the largest saw I have should be able to fit. It's all based very heavily on Tage Frid's design in Book 3 of TF Teaches Woodworking, so while the cleat provides a good fixing point at the bottom I'm still rather up in the air about what to do at the top. The internal fitting out's obviously not sorted properly either, but maybe it'll be easier once the thing's there in the flesh anyway? Just hope there might be room for a drawer or two at the bottom for files, sets etc. Anyway, as it stands, if anyone sees anything I should change, YELL!

There also seems to be some idea that I could do this without the aid of the tailed demon. Yeah, sure I could. Is doing this at all not masochistic enough for youse guys?! Sheesh, it's going to take me long enough as it is - instead I could be knocking something up in ply using biscuits in, oooo easily under a month. Okay, maybe two.

Mind you, after all this, it dawns on me I'm going to have one heck of a time finding room on the wall to hang the blessed thing, whichever way I make it...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Helping Hand

Getting cold feet on the tambour doors again. I keep telling myself the inital pain would pay dividends if I go all tamboured for the other cabinets, but it's oh-so tempting to give in and do something altogether more hand tool-friendly. I mean it's crazy to be making storage for hand tools and having to use the evil tailed router to do it, isn't it? Well it is, isn't it? Don't look at me like that...

Meanwhile the Canadian (or possibly just LV?) obsession with hands continues. Not content with making plane handles that are either too large or too small, now some of my photos have apparently been re-shot with someone's lovelier hands doing the work. This is the big time, boys - I have a stand-in! Terribly nicely put and it's hoped I don't mind etc etc. Naturally I don't mind. I simply laughed long and loud at the fact that apparently various employees have particularly photogenic apendages on the ends of their arms and "often act as hand models". I'm sorry, Mr Bloggs, you haven't got the job; the other guy had lovelier hands... Mind you if I have to see a therapist in about 20 years because I have psychological damage caused by an unhealthy preoccupation with my mitts then I know who's getting the bill.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I expect long-term readers were thinking the mention of the saw till was another one of those flashes in the pan. A ruse just to have something to blog about. Hah. And I say again - hah! For lo, it has come to pass that I hauled out the unlovely, ex-chapel Sunday School benches cunningly disguised as free pine with a view to using it. One side of every board well-polished after the passage of many methodist behinds over the years, natch.

The not-at-all-Kenyon-like saw I rehandled and sharpened following Mike's advice did a bootiful hot-knife-through-butter impression, cutting away all the dross and the couple of places where nails still lingered. Then it was just a case of considerable travelling to and fro through across the planer and through the thicknesser (or over the jointer and through the planer if you're reading this in North America) to make it look a lot more welcoming as a usable material.

As long as you don't look too closely...

I'll let it sit for a bit to see if it really as stable as it ought to be after numerous years - and to make sure all the evil beasties have long gone - but it's a start. Only downside was the tape measure dying a horrible death. Not sure what make of tape the fashionable woodworker favours these days?

Oh and I've heard the Bad News about the shipping charges. Ouch...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dear Customer

So a new year and the potentially fatal email...

Dear Customer, thank you for shopping at Lee Valley Tools...

Yes, after all this time I'm almost a customer at last. Not quite - still waiting for the follow up email with the Bad News about the shipping cost - but almost. Is this a good way to start a new year I wonder? Shouldn't one be giving up things that are bad for you rather than taking up a fresh addiction? Oh well, I've done my best to stick with largely useful, and thus boring, items like files and O1 blades in the hopes I won't get too excitable about it all. Hmm, heavy items too, it dawns on me. D'oh.

In other news I've been toying with thoughts of the saw till again. Remember that? Wadda you mean "no"? Yes all right, so it dropped off the radar a bit what with one thing and another, however I'm considering it with new enthusiasm. Sort of. Funny thing though; as soon as I did my back gave a squeak again. Are my vertebrae conspiring against me? Literally ganging up behind my back? Maybe I should only befriend straight backed saws and shun the skewed variety, as a sort of hint...

And our picture for today? Found a fascinating thing via Google Books; "The Book of English Trades, and Library of the Useful Arts" (1818). This character is The Carpenter, of which image it informs us (with an interesting extra sprinkling of punctuation):

"The Carpenter, in the plate, is represented in the act of planing the edge of a board that is held to the side of the bench, by means of a screw, which is always attached to it. On his bench, are a hammer, pincers, mallet, and two chisels; a box, also, containing the Turkey stone, with which he sharpens his tools: the shavings taken off from his plane, are scattered on his bench and on the ground. At the right-hand-corner, stands some coarse boards, and his bag, in which he carries his tools: on the other side is the saw, upon the four-legged stool, which he uses for various purposes. Behind him is a new door, some other boards, a saw hanging against the wall, and a basket, in which he puts his smaller tools."

Artists do have terrible trouble drawing saw handles, don't they?