Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Express woodworking

The muse hit me last night. To be more accurate the muse had been nagging at me ever since the GOM got back and found all the available footstools too high for the comfort of his bionic hip, but last night it had enough and booted me out to the workshop to do something about it.

Time, 17.30-ish. GOM ETA to chair around 20.00...

A large bowl blank that I've had skulling around for years spoke loudly "top" to me. As ever I have no idea what it is but it was horrible to turn in the other bowl blank examples I got in a mixed bag, so I had no qualms about sacrificing it to flat work. Except it was far from flat, so out comes the technical jack with a fair bit of camber as detailed here.

Can't spot it? Oh all right then:

That made short work of the job, and given this isn't exactly fine woodworking that's as posh as the planing got.

Then I marked out a circle of reasonable size with the trammel heads (valuable time spent trying to find them...), cut it out on the bandsaw, faired it up with a spokeshave (more valuable time trying to find that - I've got to sort out the tool storage), rounded the edges a bit and then thought maybe a disc sander would be a good idea. Hence the burning. Ack, blasted powered sanders... No matter, time presses and so do drills... (gettit?)

So to the offcuts box to hoick out three likely-looking pieces of oak for the legs. It was at about that time I glanced at the clock, gave a quiet scream and stopped pausing to take pictures. So assume I turned some 1" tenons to fit the 1" mortises, fitted them, used a piece of scrap to measure a suitable looking leg length, marked same, cut same, glanced at clock, panicked and cut saw kerfs for wedges. At which point my mum pops in, concerned at this unusual evening workshop activity and was I lying in a pool of blood? Obviously not, but careful of your finger with that saw...!

Of course saying that put me off and I damn nearly did saw my finger - but didn't. Even as she was saying all this I seized the glue bottle, applied it to the legs and started the glue-up. Me, who for preference likes total silence and no-one within 10 miles during a glue-up. At some point she must have gone again, but that visitation meant it must be after 19.00. Holy smoke.

Luckily I'd remembered to cut some wedges first, trimmed them with the chisel and now applied them to the saw kerfs with rigorous use of the Birmingham Screwdriver. Lovely job. Flip it over and apply the random orbit sander to all the under parts to give the glue a bit of a chance to stick before I trim the protruding tenons. Okay, long enough. Flip it back over, trim the tenons, sand 'em back. Forgive me galootdom, for the senseless slaughter of electrons... Glance at the watch. Disston's Bones, it's nearly eight!

Leave the bench in a mess, dash out of the workshop, remember to dash back, turn off the lights and lock it, dash into the house, place the object at the foot of the chair and saunter casually into the kitchen bang on the hour. "What have you been up to?" "Oh, you'll see when you go and sit down."

It's not a thing of beauty, not even after a coat of oil applied this morning (when I took the pic) - "rustic" is the best that anyone's been able to say about it - but it is the right height and he did use it all yesterday evening. After that rush I'm not so sure I didn't need it more than him...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Want to buy a kidney?

The industrious Mike Wenzloff and his male offspring continue their march on world saw domination with the launch of the Kenyon Saw range at The Best Things. Hearty congrats to Mike and family and is there a sweepstake on when they'll be sold out? :) Anyway, if anyone is looking for a kidney, one careful owner, I'll take dollars or The Connoisseur's Set in lieu...

Not a collector; a Connoisseur ;)

Workshop relief

So where was I...? Well over the weekend I was in the workshop! Gasp, shock, horror etc. I just couldn't stand it any more so grabbed ny opportunity. The Airshield started earning its keep and seems to have saved my lungs the effort of filtering this lot which must be a Good Thing:

That's the closest I can get to showing you the results of my endeavours just now. One part concerns the highly hush-hush parcel and the other a little something as a thank you for someone. The latter will at least feature in a newsletter near you at some point. Probably. Got to write it up first...

Been thinking about the doors we're deciding on for the saw till and wondering if a bit of fancy moulding round the top could take up the slack of the the too-short boards. I hardly ever do manage to incorporate mouldings in projects beyond a bead so this'd be a welcome opportunity. Must say it was very pleasant to reach down just the saw I wanted without having to remove three others on the same peg or burrow into a dusty corner. Maybe this organised tool storage concept will catch on? :)

And finally the Hip Report: the GOM tottered around the garden today and still looks okay afterwards, so that's good. Off to the quack on the 'morrow to have his staples out. Operations are no fun anymore - at least in the old days the surgeons used to have you in stitches...

On which groan-worthy note, I'll bid a hasty retreat...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Silver linings

Managed to get into the workshop today!

Unfortunately only in order to refill the cat litter trays... Sigh. However I did pause long enough to check the Wenzloff wasn't suffering being in the door-less saw till. Just holding it for a moment cheered me up considerably - a guarantee of good woodworking times to come. Caution: gratuitous tool drool pic - hey, I didn't gloat on the blog at the time. Did I? Well even if I did, Too Bad.

Popular Woodworking arrived today too, as did the old man back from hospital. The former I've merely flicked through and groaned at the presence of apparently yet another sharpening article; the latter seems in good order and back to his best GOM* form. So even silver linings have a cloud... ;~)

*Grumpy Old Man. A badge worn with pride by at least half the blokes in Britain, or so it seems.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hip and Trendy

Look I have a good excuse, okay? So don't start on me... The old man's having his hip joint replaced at the mo', so I'm having to do all sorts of household stuff I can usually avoid, which means woodworking-related time is virtually non-existant. In theory I'm supposed to be ferrying my mum hither and yon too, but my own dodgy joint (knee) has ratted on me big time, so we're spending the national debt of a small country on transport instead. Sigh.

Not having any woodworking time is particularly vexing as I have lots of things I want to do, not least play, er, "rigorously test" the Trend Airshield I've just taken delivery of. A generous and helpful member of UK Workshop clued me in on a secondhand one (although it looks barely used at all) so I can breathe more easily in both the respiratory and financial sense! Might take a little getting used to, but I had a bit of a scare with some reaction to an exotic I was turning a couple of weeks ago so I've plenty of motivation to use it. Add to that a most interesting, and highly hush-hush, parcel for evaluation arriving yesterday and you can imagine I'm virtually bouncing off the walls in frustration.

As for the saw till doors, I find the two pieces of clear pine I'd been keeping aside with an eye on the doors are too short for what I want to do. Aaargh. One of these days I'll have so much timber available I'll make two of every part just because I can...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lost in Translation

Hands up; which toolaholic out there hasn't dreamt of owning a Dedo Ploisher? What was the translator thinking they meant? It's true - look.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Definitely not a collector

See? Tool use going on:

Clamps count, don't they? But wait, there's more. Thus:

Comments along the lines that all those saws don't entirely back up the non-collector stance are not required...

Got to this point and wondered how best to support the handles of the upper tier. Dowel seemed most space-efficient, but how to stop it being dangerously under-supported and generally waving in the breeze? A bracket, obviously. For a moment I flirted with the thought of getting out the scrollsaw, until it dawned on me what I usually use the scrollsaw for and what I had (literally) kicking about on the workshop floor. So a little judicious sawin' an' flattenin', a little work with a gouge to recieve the dowel (actually a bit of defunct cricket stump for the benefit of its patina), glue, coupla brads (put in with a "hammer" and "nail set" - remember those?) and we have a bracket.

A small wander into whimsy that appeals to me. Don't worry, handle fans, the other side's got a nasty split right through a bolt hole and it's a generally unlovely handle all round. Anyway, mere hours later, after further workshop upheaval and a workbench now so covered in dispossessed clutter that I'll be lucky to see its surface again before Easter:

Rather less in the way of spare slots than I'd hoped... And frankly it doesn't do the Wenzloff's luscious lines any favours either; I may well find a home for that in the general, over-the-bench, hand tool cabinet wot I haven't made yet. However, despite it's less-than-beauty, it is at least functional (okay, so the coping saws etc need to be properly homed, but it's close). It's also door-less. So kiddies, do I:

a) Leave it sans door
b) Make a pair of narrower doors
c) Make one large door, hinged on one side as is common practice
d) Make one large door and hinge it from the top so it pulls up to open

The last one is the Old Man's favoured option. It'd definitely be different...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Not a collector

As I perpetually protest I'm not a collector but a user, the arrival of my long-awaited order from Lee Valley today may take some explaining. Also some celebrating 'cos The Revenoo didn't clobber it, but that's by-the-by. Anyway, 'fraid I indulged in some slight economy with the truth at the beginning of the year... Yeah, so there are the aforementioned files and blades (including an auger bit file - at last!) and a book for a friend, but I also apparently got a little carried away in the unfortunately-named Collector's References section. I'm not a collector - I'm just a user with a keen interest in the historical aspect of the tools, okay?

Just as well the Patented Transitional & Metallic Planes in America - Vol. I & II set had sold out really...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Small World

Make a little progress, get a little back ache... So a non-workshop day, however I didn't tell you about the irony, did I? Spent a good deal of Saturday moving tools from one surface to another while first one and then another piece of workshop "furniture" was relocated and while so doing I positively swore I'd never buy another tool.

On Sunday I came home with these:

What can I say? First decent chisels and saws I've seen in months and the thirsty traveller in the desert doesn't walk by the first oasis on the off-chance there'll be a better one further along. Spent more than I would have done not long ago too, but the way things are round here... Anyway, not a bad Spear & Jackson "Spearior" 22" 10pt panel saw, I Sorby 12" back saw (gotta love the Mr Punch mark on I Sorby stuff) and as yet unidentified 3/8", 1/2" and 1" bevel-edged chisels - I'll take no money on one of them being a Marples. As it happens there's an interesting coincidence there. A few years ago I got a pile of stuff from a character called Archer (lots of "R J Archer" stamps on everything). Well no prizes for guessing the owner's mark on one of the chisel handles. Small world, Cornwall.

Monday, February 05, 2007


It seems I'm very, very easily side-tracked at the moment. Although perhaps that's three words too many...? Events conspired to push forward a small change in workshop layout earlier than intended, namely this weekend. So the bench got moved against the "Woodrat wall", the cupboard under the timber store went to the other end of the workshop while the tool chest that had been there is now full of wooden planes and under the timber store instead. The theory is I can pull it out easily enough if required. That's the theory... Despite making taking WIP shots easier, having access to the rear of the bench wasn't really necessary and this way I can still use the end, which was a genuine improvement.

Meanwhile the Woodrat, for the first time in our sojourn togther, moved to a New Place. I took the opportunity of hanging it a little higher than before, but I'm in two minds of the wisdom of same. And yes, so it's still a bit of a pickle with all the 'Rat stuff above the bench and the handtools over the 'Rat, but at least it's workable for the time being. The time being possibly lasting into years of course...

Naturally all this means I have numerous saws lying about the place just waiting to be damaged, so more than enough impetus to get on with the saw till. Immediately, after all this time not needing the workpiece to overhang the back of the bench, I needed the workpiece to overhang the back of the bench. Which is now against a wall. Aaaargh! So I switched to the mitre-clamp method of holding the tail and pin boards for marking, as championed by my mate BugBear. Took me a while to find the clamps at first. Got one straight off, but blessed if I could locate the other despite being pretty sure I had three of them altogether. Yeah, yeah, three clamps where nature dictates there'll be four corners, I know what you're thinking. They're very cheap clamps and the fourth one broke. Not so sure these others aren't on the way out now too, so I may step up a notch in quality and get the three quid ones instead of the quid ones next time. Might have to think about better clamp storage too...

Anyway, after some effort and lots of swearing - that blasted pine goes from glass hard to punky and back again in the space of about six inches, seems to me - I have a rather more tangible-looking saw till.

Not glued up yet of course, still plenty to do to make it usable, workmanlike rather than gloatable, plus I have to find somewhere to hang it... But it's at least getting there.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Some days you just could do without. Today is such a day. Not only has it been mizzling all day (as it sounds - a cross between drizzle and mist) but I had the dubious pleasure of spending 3 1/2 hours sitting in a car park. Waiting. If you know exactly when the relief is going to arrive it seems somehow easier; it's the not knowing that gets you down. What's more there was something in the local paper (out this morning) in the old tool line that I'd have liked to have enquired about further but I couldn't. I was waiting.

To ease the pain I'd looked ahead a little and equipped myself with music and reading matter to pass the hours, amongst the latter there being the latest issue of Woodworking Magazine which arrived yesterday. Is it me or has the presentation of the covers been really beautifully done on the last two issues? I've seen artists do a worse job of choosing a mount and frame than, presumably (?), the Art Director Ms Linda Watts has done recently for those covers. And yeah, I know the content is more important, but there's no reason why the cover and presentation can't be stylish too, is there? Heck, the contents was good, which is the important thing, giving plenty of beefy thoughts on the ubiquitous mortise and tenon.

It's at around this point that I start to get really angry about so many magazines. Let's be honest; there's only so much you can say about mortise and tenons and you're bound to end up with some stuff the reader already knows or has heard of and this was no exception. So how is it that I didn't think "oh no, not again?", that it was an actual pleasure reading every bit of it, that I don't feel I wasted my $$? Time and again the argument about disatisfaction with woodworking magazines is put down with "well you've just grown out of them, that's why". On paper I should have grown out of this one two, but I enjoyed it. It reads like it was written for grown-ups, with quotes dotted about the place, references given so you can go and look them up for yourself if you want, etc etc and I think that's the difference. Just as with reading material for teaching adult literacy, even though the target audience may be seeking instruction in that particular field that doesn't mean they've reverted to being 4 year olds. Plus I didn't get a headache trying to find where the text went next...

But more to the point, because I didn't groan "oh no" and toss the mag aside I managed to learn a few things. Maybe waiting isn't always a bad thing.