Friday, March 30, 2007


Less fate-tempting countries call it "daylight saving", but Mad Dogs and Englishmen persist in calling it "British Summertime". It fell upon us last Sunday. It does not come as a total surprise to the time-served Englishwoman to wake to a sharpish frost the following Friday...

You've gotta hand it to Jack Frost though; he's a dab hand with the ice art.

As for tales of daring-do in the workshop, it's more like daring-d'oh. The Maxi struck again and managed to go from a 90° setting to not-quite-a-90°-setting without any input from me. Or any appreciation of the fact from me either, until it was too late. So I'm doing a bit of unscheduled painting to help rescue the effects... If it comes out even mildly presentable (possibly with a little help from Gimpshop) then all will be revealed. What there is of it. More of an experiment than anything worth sharing really.

S'about it except for the w'shop being in a total pickle and the saw till getting some holes filled with a view to paint. I finally had enough of looking at rusty nail holes and anyway I figure a painted carcass gives me more leeway on what to make the door from. Plus I get to delay things even further while I decide on a colour...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Panel Plane

Well due to unprecedented demand... Erm, or not. Anyway:

Mainly maple, I think (it was free) with cherry wedges which were going to go with the tote I eventually decided not to fit. I've never yet made a wedge look like I wish it would - they've all been ugly as sin. Not really modeled on any one example in the end. You could argue not really modeled at all, more "slung together"...

Measurements are 9 1/4" long, 3" wide, iron 2" wide and 1/8" thick, 30° skew, 50° bedding angle.

Got in a hopeless tangle with the sole shape and fence so ended up having to stick an extra bit on, which ain't elegant but does function. The moral of the story is don't go from not having made a plane at all for years to a skewed, profiled sole one first off. The iron is of unknown parentage but was 50 new pence from a local surplus place so who's complaining? An old file provided the nicker blade.

Considering I didn't have anything a sane person would describe as a plan, and what I did have I didn't stick to, it's a minor miracle it actually works at all.

Oh, and in between waiting for the glue to dry and such, I finally finished the page on the Record 044. Saw till's still doorless though...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Raising things

Yep, reckon this one'll raise the frustration levels as well as panels... But hey, it's not finished yet and you wouldn't want to see it half-baked, would you? Mind you it's pretty much a botch job anyway, so don't indulge in too much anticipation. Just in case you don't know who to blame read this.

Funny really, 'cos I was only the other day saying to that certain saw-maker so well-known to many of the readership how Mr Christopher Schwarz, magazine editor also well-known to many, is a Bad Influence. Time and again I find myself suddenly thinking such-and-such a tool would be fun to have and wonder why - only to trace the origin of the thought back to Chris. Mr Wenzloff seems also under this terrible curse. What I hadn't realised until now is that Mr W is also a Bad Influence. Not only making saws that result in excessive "oooooooos" directed at my monitor, but in diverting me into making tools that I'd had no intention of making before. I don't think it's deliberate, but it's happened more than once now.

What I really need is one or both Bad Influences to do the decent thing and inspire me to finish that saw till...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Website Update

Just a heads up that the Combi How-To is now web sited with the addition of a couple of the constructive points made on the forum, including a link I meant to include and forgot. D'oh. Still open to revision however, if anyone has something useful to add. Also had a general re-jig to lose the Boat Anchor name and switch to Combi Plane Central instead. I had a feeling that seekers after combination plane goodness weren't necessarily making the anchor connection. Slowly coming along anyway. Got some superb pictures of a Marples 44 plough which should give me the necessary nudge to get on with that page, although I can't now recall if I have pics of a 44C now. Ack, must get more organised!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Table top

Now when I said "back to normal" obviously that doesn't mean particularly normal at all. I still seem to be suffering with these Normite tendencies and frankly it's starting to scare me a little. Not helped by my natural inclination towards a "bargain".

Currently I'm acting as chauffeuse while The Hip is in recovery, so supermarket runs have been my lot. Well the supermarket is right next door to the Orange One sometimes known as B&Q (amongst other less complimentary things), my mother holds a wrinklies card, er, I mean "Diamond Card" and thus gets 10% off everything on a Wednesday. My mother also likes acquiring plants at a similar, or faster, rate as I do tools and B&Q has some quite good plants. You'd be amazed how often needing to go to the supermarket coincides with a Wednesday. Or maybe you wouldn't.

Anyway, a router and table discounted to thirty of our (British) Earth Pounds gave me pause to think. The addition of the 10% discount saw me buy it. No, I don't know why either. Well heck, the NVR switch alone could cost almost as much, and that's not even one with two sockets; one for the router and one for the workshop vacuum.

Plus all the useful knobs and stuff? Couldn't lose, probably...

So the router may be a bit Mickey Mouse, but it's got a 1/2" collet and seems to be accurate enough. I immediately removed the spring to make height adjustment easier though. Well I say immediately, but it took a while.

Some genius designer had thought up a pair of plastic guards to screw on and completely surround the router for, presumably, safety. Great. Except you couldn't physically change the height of the cutter with them fitted. D'oh. Back in the box with those.

The fence was the thing I had the most doubt about, and I was proved correct. Plastc, tacky thing, not even close to straight. Back in the box with that one, after removing all the useful knobs of course.

But what are those useful knobs now on? Why the old router fence I made many years ago and have now adapted.

Not a thing of beauty, I agree, but functional.

Now to find something I need it for...

Monday, March 19, 2007

All planed out

Well after all the thinking and planning, I've finally posted the (in all likelihood) Beta version of the Combination plane how-to. The final hurdle of getting words, pictures and video (yes, video!) all together was not helped by a very flaky connection today, but I got there in the end. Feels like my head could do with a good swill out though, possibly with a bottle brush to clean out the crevices. I'm mazed by combination planes.

I suppose at some point I'll have to revisit it all again and put up a version on the website. Not sure I want to contemplate that just now... Anyway, perhaps you can see why the blog slackened off a bit recently. Should get back to normal now, I hope.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Can I take this opportunity to write a small ode on the delights of manual focus with a focusing ring? Nothing would induce my old camera to get this shot right; nothing would induce the new one's auto focus to grasp the important bit. But new camera with input from this old-model user resulted in clear spur cutters - aka "nickers". Lovely. It also demonstrates how far off level with the body the sliding section on that #50 is. Oh and the nickers are too long of course, but aren't they always? In fact don't get me started on them, or the #50...

For a self-proclaimed pro-combi person, it's hard to admit there's any variety of said plane one doesn't like. But I don't like the #50s. I don't like the fence rods threaded into the body; you can't replace them with a shorter set, neither can you can't off-set the length to the non-fence side to balance the bally thing up. I don't like the sliding section that should make lining up said section with the edge of the cutter easy, but in practice leaves the edge of the cutter with zero clearance and therefore that much harder to use. I don't like the spacing between the fence rods whch is barely wide enough for my hand to get between and bring pressure to bear on the fence, so must be impossible for many other users. And the fence. Ack. The fence has no wooden face and no provision for fitting one. What imbecile thought that was a good idea? All told I think they're the worst of all possible worlds and yet some people seem to like 'em. But me, I've gone as far as I can bear with this one and will turn with relief to a different model for the next shots.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Treasure Hunt

I'm beginning to wish I'd never bitten off this combination plane thing; it's proving hard to chew and chances of swallowing it without a helpful slap on the back are remote. But I'm plugging on. Could turn into a multiple-parter for my own sanity...

Anyway, a break seemed called for but as I'm sure you're all worried enough as it is about my recent Normite slide I'll just tell you about the wooden moulders. Somewhere in the US of A there now resides a dinky profiled moulding plane made by Peter Madox some time between 1748-1775 and now back in use as I understand. Meanwhile somewhere in Cornwall are the 10 other moulders that came with it doing not a lot, but finally I got round to looking at them more closely.

Nothing as old as the Madox (I picked the plum out first shot) but interesting none the less, although the further interesting small furniture-sized mouldings I was hoping for to also wing their way across The Pond were a no show. Heigh ho.

One that I like and collectors wouldn't is the user-made hollow in oak. It's very nicely done and the proud maker has stamped his name on it numerous times to show he was as pleased by it as I am.

Next out of the box was a 3/8" side bead, marks somewhat obliterated but the goat's head trademark just faintly visible gave the clue to the not-quite-legible maker's name - Cox, Luckman & Son, Birmingham. Judging by the information in British Planemakers the dates can tentatively be narrowed down to 1883-1914. Nice; haven't got one of their's before and I sorta collect tools with animal trademarks.

What's next? Ah, a #18 round and an easy one; Sims, Queen St, Westminster, London. In theory Joseph Sims only made planes for about 20 years between 1814 and 1834. In practice they must have been good ones because the name held sufficient caché to be used by subsequent makers including Atkin & Sons of Birmingham so they're as common as muck. Possibly Birmingham again though; that's interesting.

So now we have, what's that say? W Parkes "Warranted", #12 hollow. Another Birmingham maker, common and a huge possible date range of 1815-1921. I'm betting more the latter...

Now what's this? Another side bead, but joy, an almost local connection - Thomas White, Union Street, Plymouth. BPMs says 1883-1919, I say I sorta collect locally made planes (well locally sold anyway; not many (any?) makers round here) Missing some boxing though, so I'll have to look into that.

And another dealer next - a useful 1 3/8" skew rebate stamped R T Smith & Co, Whitchurch. But which Whitchurch? BPMs says Castle Hill around 1868-1885 give or take either way. Multimap says Shropshire. Cool; a new one on me.

Rather more prosaic, a hollow from the frequently-found Moseley & Son, London. I'll have to double-check that mark but if it's exactly what I've written down then that's 1819-1830. Different permutations and addresses alter the likely date accordingly. Very detailed info on them really.

Sigh, gets worse. Marples 5/8" ovolo with a decal almost all present on the side. Bit boring. Can it get worse?

Yes. Greenslade 3/8" side bead. Ack. As BPMs puts it "NU" or "Numerous". I may have one already myself!

FInally... Oh poo, #2 of a pair of ogee sash planes. One of these days I'm going to have to try turning a sash plane into something a bit more useful. The mark's a puzzler though. Appears to be Bullen Bros. but I'm coming up empty-handed. Hmm. Does the sort of half a sunburst pattern on the side mean anything? Who knows. Tsk, knew I was doing too well at the identification; this'll keep me guessing for a while.

So there we are. Nothing to set the world alight but it kept me out of mischief for a while. The odds of a group of wooden planes in England containing only one known Sheffield-made one must be pretty high though; wonder what the story was behind them? And of course I've sorta added to two of my sorta collections...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Say Cheese

^ That's taken with the Mac's built-in camera which ain't so good.

Tsk - I must be making these teases too easy. It is indeed a new camera - another Fuji but with bells and whistles to give me a bit more control over the results. In truth probably a bit too much control for this bear of little brain, but there's plenty of options to just control the bits you want to and let the Auto settings take care of the rest. And the Macro option is excellent, as you can see. Actually that was in "Super" Macro which can get down as close as 10mm (3/8"). Kewl. Just mucking about in a pretty dim light too. Well chuffed. Broke, but chuffed...

And don't worry - I'm not going completely arty and condemning you all to black & white for ever more. Well probably not...

Saturday, March 10, 2007


So I should be slaving away over a hot combination plane how-to, right? Wrong. I succumbed after an almost month-long struggle, bought a new toy and have been trying to get to grips with that instead. I'll give you some clues: used almost every time I'm in the workshop, benefits you lucky people in internet land (kind of - could be open to debate that one) and it's an upgrade. And finally a visual clue - but beware, it may not be quite the visual clue you think it is...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Little Victor's Hat

Given the sudden increase in traffic brought about by Little Victor's hat, I thought an up-date might be in order. Actually been using it in real workshop tasks and managed to make respectable full width shavings (all sixteen sixteenths of it) without discomfort. I count that as a success. Although I'm not at all sure how long the purpleheart will stand up to the task, but how could I use wood of any other colour...?

Should anyone fancy having a go at making one themselves, I strongly advise drilling and paring the mortise in a larger piece and cutting it down to the desired size when that's complete. Some folks reading this will be saying "well duh" I don't doubt, but it's these little things that, as a novice, I personally could really have done with having spelt out. So fwiw.

In other news, erm, not a lot. Domestic duties have intervened so while I could give you a blow-by-blow account of a visit to a supermarket, the only time I saw the inside of the w'shop was when I went to collect the bucket of rubbish (bin day tomorrow). But hey, good news; it's about time to visit it again to re-fill the cat litter trays.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Normanitis nihilneanderitus

Long-memoried readers may be able to cast their minds back to the end of January and an airing of my more village idiot tendencies. I expect you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?

You're right; I had.

But moving this 'n' that, the reasons for which shall be detailed below, revealed it in bits, half done, with the smallest parts immersed in meths to shift the age-hardened oil and grease (denatured alcohol I believe, if you live in North America - but possibly not Canada? Anyway, I digress...). I figured they might have soaked long enough by now, so I finished the job. A minor moment of doubt as I tried to remember which bit went where (it's a while ago since I took it apart after all) but it works so I assume I got it right:

After that moment of triumph it's all downhill from then on. Folks, I seem to have caught Normanitis nihilneanderitus. Or the dread disease of Tailed Demons taking precedence over Noble Hand Tools.

I know; I feel that shame.

First I finally tackled the sliding compound mitre saw's irritating habit of flinging dust to all corners of the globe. It's far from perfect; f'rinstance I'll have to remove The Device as soon as I want to cut an angle other than 90°, hence the nomadic tent appearance and copious numbers of spring clamps to hold it together. On the other hand it's a good first step, and who knows? Another three years and I may be moved to make an improved version...

As you can see, it even has built-in dust extraction and a custom-made "hole" for the sliding bars. Damn near killed me using the bleep bleep bleepity bleep bleep keyhole saw to cut the latter. But hey, it was at least some hand tool use in this Normite desert. Perhaps there's hope?

No, alas that was a mere blip in the downward spiral. Friends, I hope you're sitting down...?

No, really, I mean it.

I've disinterred the tablesaw half of the Maxi 26 combination torture device and got it working again. The ghastly evidence:

No, I don't know why. Possibly two-thirds of an expensive and bulky machine sitting there doing nothing grated one too many times? Yes, that hose is too long but I'm not cutting it up for the benefit of a tablesaur; I'm not that far gone. No, I have no project in mind requiring a badly-designed, barely accurate tablesaw. Yes, it is very worrying.

The only conclusion I can draw is it's my contrariness showing up in force. Everyone and their magazine editor is embracing hand tools like they're the newly first-born, so cross-thread here has to rush madly towards using machinery. Sometimes it's a real pain in the neck being me, I tell you...

Monday, March 05, 2007


I had a moment of combi plane serendipity with the 044 over the weekend. There's been a pair of short fence rods knocking about in the Lewin box since I got it, but they don't fit the Lewin. I bethought me to try the 044 and lo', my 044 that came sans short rods now has the full complement. Seems to be a "lucky" 044 'cos the one cutter it came with just happened to be the size missing from my otherwise complete example too. Just need to fall over a complete set of cutters for it now - and at this rate I don't rule that out.

Meanwhiles Paul's completely cracked the combi identification, on the second attempt.

1. Record #044 (long rods)
2. Record #044 (short rods)
3. Record #043 (long rods)
4. Record #043 (custom short rods and "BugBear" lignum fence)
5. Stanley #50 (USA)
6. Stanley #50 (GB)
7. Lewin
8. Stanley #45
9. Record #405
10. Stanley #46
11. Stanley #55

The glaring ommision is of course the Record 050. I used to have one but sold it. Dunno why, moment of madness I s'pose...

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Now I said I'd keep my views on Little Victor private, but you may read into it what you will that I took time out today to make Vic a hat:

Another functional-but-not-pretty project. Purpleheart to sort of match his coat.

I also tidied up the mess left over from the express woodworking and had a general tidy up, all long overdue. The uncluttered work surfaces didn't last long though, as I've got out and set up every single one of my metal plough and combination planes. Madness of course, but the plan is to have a real crack at assembling a basic how-to on using them and I thought it might be easier if they were all laid out and ready to go. One day I'll make them a home where they can all be ready to go like this all the time, with all their respective blades and accessories right there to use too. One day... In the meantime I really want to get this right and as useful as possible - there's a big gaping hole where it ought to be and I'm not sure an edited-to-fit article of 900 words max. is going to cut it.

Anyway, as I had them all together a family photo seemed a nice idea. If you're bored you might like to see if you can identify them all - answers next week.

And before you say it, yes, of these I'm a collector...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thank you

The thank you gift made last weekend has safely arrived, so I can now reveal it without spoiling the surprise. Well kind of anyway. I thought I'd go black & white so, should it end up as part of an article, I won't have totally spoilt the "ooo" factor and you still have colour to look forward to. I'm too good to you, really I am...

Those familiar with the work of those craftsmen I think of as "galoots' galoots" may spot the heavy influence of Brian Buckner. Scroll down a bit (pausing to drool as you do so) - I've wanted to make one like it for simply years and never thought I'd even come close. Just for once I'm quietly satisfied I waited long enough for ability to catch up with vision. It helped that taking extra care came naturally as the recipient is more than deserving of copious thanks and I had a strong desire to please. Apparently I did, so good result all round. And yes, I admit it was packed up PDQ before attachment to it became too strong. But hey, it'd never have fitted in the saw till...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Burgundy the new black?

I promised I'd reveal the hush hush parcel as soon as I could, so as it's now no longer hush hush, meet Little Victor:

"Little" being the operative word, no? That huge plane next to it is a low angle block.

One last pic - pretty small parts list for this one.

As it was sent on the basis of soliciting a private reaction I shall keep my reaction just that. Well except for the initial one of "awww, cute". Pretty sure I'm not going to be the only one to say that...

Incidentally, no ulterior motive here - just thought you might be interested to see it "unofficially".