Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Big Names

So another long weekend been and gone leaving us with nothing but the ordinary two-day weekends right through until the end of August. Traditionally the second Bank Holiday in May means one thing to me - tools at the car boot. Something about three available selling days gets the buyers and sellers out in force and the whole "spring has sprung time to clear out the garage" effect has kicked in. There's only one possible thing to spoil it; the great British weather. The forecast said carpe diem sometimes translated as "it's going to rain cats and dogs on Sunday and Monday" so we duly trotted out on Saturday. Everyone else had correctly interpreted the forecast similarly, and thus the place was a pleasingly busy spot in the Saturday morning sunshine.

As it turns out the weather boffins had fumbled the ball and Sunday morning and the whole of Monday were just fine and dandy, but by then it was too late...

Now we're not talking the huge flea markets going into numerous fields here, but I suppose there were about 40 stalls to go over. My craning eyes saw tools actually laid out on a table rather than on the floor, so I headed in that direction at best speed. Not that I actually missed any boxes twixt here and there you understand. But I didn't dwell. As it turned out the first aisle had all the best pickings and I only made purchases at three points but they were, I think, good ones.

First up was a gentleman who was evidentally rustaphobic. The hand planes were wrapped in plastic bags and everything else was coated in wax. Made a change from oil or the inevitable WD-40 I s'pose. I duly went through the bags and declined the usual Record, Stanley and Woden suspects; slightly to my subsequent non-buyer's remorse I didn't pick up the plough plane with the additional irons for what appeared to be four quid, but by then I already had the spokeshave in my grubby paws. The curiously sticky spokeshave - thick wax not buffed out feels very odd when you're not expecting it. The pre-used label hanging from its shapely brass knob said "Preston" and the mark on the cutter (put in bevel up, which may have appealed to me subconsciously) seemed to agree. Lamond's work of wonder devoted to the humble spokeshave suggests it's a #1384 and it needs a replacement spring on one side, which I devoutly hope isn't beyond my humble abilities. Anyway I hung on to it and worked my way round the stall towards the chisels. The way chisels of age and quality are disappearing from car boot life is frightening so I've taken to buying any bevel-edged, octagonally-bolstered chisel of reasonable condition that I see. There was only one - Aaron Hildick I think, although I haven't cleaned it to check yet - so that and the shave came to a favourable knocked-down-price-for-quantity and thus home to Alf Towers.

On we go.

Diagonally opposite the waxing-one I find myself opening a cigar box to reveal some of the shiniest-looking Skarsten scrapers outside their original wrapping. I'm so taken with this unusual phenomenom, Skarstens by the nature of their calling tending towards the distressed look as a rule, that I'm surprised to be accosted by the observation that I wasn't even off the tarmac yet and what was holding me up buying some tools? Wrong day and wrong place, but there was The Tall Scotsman in ebullient form. I step off the tarmac and in amongst his wares immediately; greetings are exchanged. He has something to show me, but I can't buy it. I'm also told "there's nothing you'll want here" which I don't mind telling you drives me potty. Both he and the fellow on the corner with the tent flanked by Am-Tech and Blackspur crud will insist on greeting me with that and it just makes me feel like I'm somehow not allowed to spend money with them 'cos it'd be a slur against their ability to match tool with purchaser. But I digress...

What he's got is an extremely spiffy-looking Stanley #65 chamfer spokeshave. Little dink out of one of the fences, but all round a nice example and I drool appreciatively. Turns out it was in an auction box lot which he won against a collector friend of his, unbeknownst to said friend. Eventually it came out that he'd won it and the friend said "can I buy the spokeshave off you?" Not now, says TTS, but you can have first refusal. He chuckled in, to my mind, a slightly evil fashion when he opinioned "when he finds out how much I want for it he's going to wish he'd bid on further for the whole box in the first place". Out of my league then, so I felt better. Right up until he reaches behind him to show me likely value and brings out a - wait for it:

A copy of Antique and Collectible Stanley Tools by John Walter.


Okay, that's my day totally spoilt right there. Hell's teeth, the bloke sold a copy of Some Eighteenth Century Woodworking Tools by Ken Roberts on da 'Bay the other month too. We go into this whole thing and just how much lower the latter went for than it should have and I don't begrudge him satisfaction of seeing me turn green. Anyway I can look stuff up in Walter's if I desire now, which is nice of him to offer.

Anyway, a little bit more show and tell before he's distracted by a chap wishing to purchase an armful of toy cars (four GBP a piece, forsooth! And he didn't even bat an eyelid at it) and I bend my mind to consideration of a later model Disston No.5 in rather good nick that's been in my eyeline for the last 15 minutes. Now I can to a certain extent take or leave Disstons, but this is barely used and anyway I haven't bought anything off TTS for ages which is not good for longterm seller/buyer rapport. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it... So I pay more than I'd usually ever consider doing for a saw and go on my way. In all probability I'll clean it up and sell it on again.

So I mosey on to the next stall, reluctantly leave a pistol gripped dovetail saw owing to some doubts about the condition of the blade but do buy a promising 14" back saw instead. Not particularly old, but a comfy handle and its condition seemed to be worth the risk. Probably another seller-on candidate bearing in mind the saw till is already full. Doorless, but full.

After that it was pretty much dowhill. Some hesitation over a slipped Moseley bead with quality boxing, not unlike the one I bought in Topsham a couple of years ago, but somehow I resisted. Actually it was probably my usual problem - the more tools I see in one place the less likely I am to buy them. Something I'd snap up on a slow day suddenly drops down the desirablity index when there are others to choose from. Besides the pockets were a little light by then...

Not often I come home with offerings by Preston or Disston, never mind with both at once. In short, a good day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

If it ain't broke

I can tell the eager reader is all agog wanting to know the dampness rating here at Alf Towers. Is the place a mass of accidentally-pierced pipes? Are the volumes of The Woodworker annual (1925-1963 not-at-all-inclusive) so much papier-mâché? Take a seat; I'll tell all...

Trevor, the electrician with the mobile 'phone number-giving mother, arrives first. He starts rushing from boiler (hot water and central heating, Wiley) to controller in the kitchen to junction box in the spare room like a man possessed (did I mention the floorboards have been up all this time?). The nice thing with Trevor is he's a member of the male voice choir that is based over the road, so not only does he know us but you get pleasant music hummed while he works. Anyway, the consensus is he's on his professional mettle, wishing to show these plumbing types he has the whole deal sussed and no extra wiring is required. He's right too, because no extra wires are needed and he's been and gone by lunchtime or thereabouts.

Meanwhile Vic has turned up avec stop cock, metric/imperial conversion fittings and, saints be praised, the correct bits for the flue. Yee-hah, wagons roll, etc. Everything is going swimmingly; the pipes from the old boiler are cut, joined up to the ones from the new one, water flows, happy faces all round. It's at this point I should mention that the existing boiler is in the kitchen while the new one is housed outside in a tiny lean-to against the outside wall of the kitchen. It was built as a privvy (restroom? bathroom? lavatory?) when the whole back wall of the house had to be replaced when the original one fell down one day (before our time) and has been referred to as "The Bothy" by TPTB and "The Privvy" by me ever since we've been here. Henceforth it's "The Boilerhouse". To me this conjures up pictures of raging furnaces, toiling stokers and so forth; the reality is a sterile white metal box which is frankly a bit of a let down. But where was I...?

Oh yes. Of course the old boiler has to be taken out as part of the deal. Only one tiny problem. The pipes from it to the hot water tank and heating system are behind a run of kitchen units. That's the run of units with the gas hob built in. They'll have to be moved. Just to complicate things a trifle the Old Man wants to move them permanently to take up the space where the boiler won't be. This is a job for a pro - where's the 'phone number of Mark the guy who put the new kitchen worktops in last year...?

Eventually we find it. Oh, he doesn't do kitchen fitting any more. Fine. Great. Vic! No worries, Vic has a chap he knows, but as with all kitchen fitters he can't be had at short notice. That old boiler isn't going anywhere until mid-June at the earliest.

Okay, never mind, it's not a problem, just get the new one going. Water's flowing right? All's well then? Er, no, not actually... Seems the one thing Vic had reckoned to be easy - cut oil pipe, join up new run of oil pipe to new boiler - erm, isn't working. So we have water, but no means to heat it. The problem could be an airlock - the tank being high enough but the terrain requiring the pipe to drop three feet and rise again before joining the boiler. Vic goes off to find a vacuum pump.

Abut this time I dropped out of the loop a bit and went to go and sit in a corner and stare at a wall until the urge to scream lessened a little. However I gather Vic failed to locate such a pump. I know this because I next saw him sucking on the end of the oil line as a human vacuum pump... When I returned with the Polo mints to help ease the oil taste he'd decided the line was okay and was blowing at the valve instead. I don't like to judge but I seem to be the only one to see him push an insignificant-looking button and suddenly find the valve was clear and it was all systems go. Oh well, by then it had been a long day and it was probably easy to overlook...

So the boiler was going and it was about twenty to five in the evening. No sign of Ben fresh from the lady from Slough btw. So Vic turns to the replacing of the mains water stop cock. Digging out the soft filler from round the pipe went smoothly (Stanley "Fat Max" chisel btw - no wonder they don't consider the requirements of woodworkers when they make them), even turning the water off at the meter in the road seemed to go okay. It was the 20 minute wait with the bucket while the water drained from the pipe that took the time. The mains run the whole length of the house with no means of draining the system, so there was that much to trickle out of the hacksaw kerf before more progress could be made. Eventually it stopped, at which point we discovered how much thicker the walls of old pipe are as Vic laboriously hacksawed his way through with as much as a whole 1/2" of stroke to play with. Nice. A minor moment of terror at 5.20pm when he suddenly said the metric/imperial conversion fitting was "stepped" which would "make it tricky" so he hared off to the van to see if he had a non-stepped one. No idea if he found one or just coped with "tricky" - I was too busy looking at a big gap where clean water should come in and thinking after closing time was not a good time to be in that situation. But hey, at least it wasn't a Friday. But all credit to him, he persevered and got it done. Having arrived before 9am he was finally on his way again at 6.20 in the evening.

And us? We have a working boiler and mains pipe, which is good. But then we also have a spare boiler, a lot of unfilled holes and more disruption to look forward to. Call it a one-all draw. Mind you we have Ben coming to drain the system next Tuesday, so anything could happen...

The irony of the thing is that the old boiler does actually still work, but the Old Man has always favoured the stitch-in-time approach. On this evidence I think I'm going to stick with my preferred ethos - if it ain't broke...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

That's not a hole...

... this is a hole.

Yes, the old man finally used his Fein Multi-wotsit, a mere six months after getting it, and the words "knife", "hot" and "butter" were appropriate. Lovely bit of kit. Up until the point we had to remove the studding put in the frame the hole in the first place. Ring shank nails and 3x2s?! Talk about over built... Anyway a bit of cunning and a lot of brute force sorted it out and cue Vic. He sets to with cold chisel and hammer to reveal the pipe. I send out word to any gods in the vicinity who could see their way clear to making sure he doesn't go through the pipe. Guess what?

He didn't.

Yeah, I was kinda surprised too. On the other hand he said "ah, that looks a bit big". What?! Turns out we have 3/4" pipe as opposed to the more usual 1/2". He'll have to see if he can locate somewhere with the right size stop cock. No problem, he's got to nip off to see if Plumbase have the right part for the flue now anyway. Not that there's a hurry because, wait for it, he can't get hold of Trevor the electrician. That'd be Trevor the electrician who's got so far with the wiring ready to finish up when the boiler was fitted last week. The Trevor who's due to go on a cycling holiday in, possibly, the Pyrenees (seems a hilly place to cycle round, but that's what I'm told) for two weeks - possibly starting this week...

There are no words to describe this, so I won't even try.

But wait, we have an ace up our sleves. For once the Cornish Mafia comes through to our benefit (thus demonstrating we've been living here too long IMO) and as it happens we know Trevor's mum. Trevor's mum is called, health enquired after and so forth and finally - do you know where Trevor is? Hallelujah! Good news. He's not on holiday but rather his 'phone line is on the blink and would we like his mobile number? (cell phone, Murricans) Would we! Not sure how Trevor will feel about this freely giving of it though - neither we nor Vic knew he had one and now we do know, well... Mwahahahahaha and other expressions of a "we've got you now, sunshine" variety, just about covers it.

So even while Trevor's mum is on one line Vic gets Trevor on his mobile and it starts to go downhill again. Vic is due to do a job for a woman who's coming down from Slough especially to open up the property for him tomorrow, on Thursday a builder's got him booked to do a bathroom, Friday is a shower fitting for a fellow who put his cold chisel through the pipe while preparing it last week and can't be left without a functioning bathroom for another weekend (I read a sub-text of imminent divorce otherwise), then it's the Bank Holiday weekend and he's taking it off until next Wednesday. Trevor's off on his cycling holiday by then.

I swear, I'm not making this up.

To top this off the wiring that Trevor's already done was based on assumption A about what was needed, and it turns out we need assumption B and he may need another wire. The hole isn't large enough to take anymore wire. That'd require an enlargement of a hole right by those three pipes previously mentioned on this blog (aka "When Plumbers Attack") and the new pipes lately put in by Vic and Ben. Trev isn't sure on the 'phone whether he can manage with the wires he already has, he'll have to see.

We'll just sacrifice a few goats and build a stone circle in the meantime - in the hopes of attracting some good fortune.

Well Vic can see we're practically climbing the walls at the thought this could go into June so he makes to think most furiously. Right, can Trevor do tomorrow? We gather Trev says "Hmm". "Hmm in a good way?" asks Vic. Evidentally yes, so Vic will get Ben to do the lady from Slough and meanwhile he and Trev'll play with our boiler. "We should get it done" says he, "no problem. And Ben'll be finished by two-ish and can do the stop cock." Should? Should. I'm afraid I asked if he was a) an eternal optimist, or b) a slow learner. I know, I shouldn't have, but honestly this is getting well beyond a joke now.

So Vic potters off to see about the stop cock, the correct flue part and whatever else it is he decides to do today and I disinter the computer from its dust sheet for the remainder of the day. As I write we haven't heard that there's any problems, but the 'phone just went...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Plumbing further depths

Well I just know you're all dying to know how our little plumbing saga progresses - and as I'm currently suffering something of a block on what to do tool-storage-wise in the second cupboard there's nowt much in the woodworking line to tell you. Even the car boot sales came up empty-handed. Oh, and as at least one Colonial has expressed puzzlement over what exactly a car boot sale is, I offer up this as giving some of the flavour. Take particular note of the picture bottom right of page one - are those people looking at the wares or waiting to see the table collapse...?

Anyway, the water directing operatives... In theory this thing was going to take four days; on Friday, the fifth day, they made considerable progress, no unwanted holes and things were going quite well. Trouble is that on Thursday we'd already discovered someone had boobed somewhere and we had the wrong flue kit. In the main it's all down to the inadequacies of the boiler manufacturer's catalogue, so we'll let off Vic and the boys at Plumbase. On the other hand it meant the correct parts had to be extracted and so no progress until they come. Monday? No. Tuesday. Ack.

In the meantime all this jolly piercing of pipes has lend to a good deal of valve action at the mains stop-cock. On Saturday we discovered it was leaking.

Pause. Breathe. Count to ten.

Okay, not a big leak, but a persistant one. Oh good, it's going to have to be replaced. That's nice. It's right here, handy to the computers and lots of moisture-absorbing magazines and books. Not great pics, sorry - just to give a flavour really.

Oh yes, and the room's been lined so we'll have to cut out a section of wall to get at it at all. Apparently quite a large section of wall...

Pause. Breathe. Count to twenty.

A deep sense of foreboding says that nothing short of complete emptying and dismantling of the entire bookshelf and removal of all items to a bunker somewhere in another country will suffice to ensure success, but as it is at the moment we're going for unwarranted optimism and a lot of plastic sheeting...

I'm giving up breathing - it's just prolonging the agony.

Edit: Later... I'm not making this up, honest. The boys at Plumbase have called - the flue kit that should have been delivered today ready for Vic and Ben the flowerpot men tomorrow, well, how can I put this? It wasn't. For some inexplicable reason it only got as far as Yeovil. In Somerset. 150 miles away.

They swear it'll be delivered by 9am tomorrow morning. Hmm...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Plumbing new depths

Having the plumbers in to fit a new boiler shouldn't really have a knock-on effect on everything else - but it does. Even when things go well they seem to pervade the whole place and make getting anything else done near impossible. And things have not gone well. Yesterday they cut through two defunct pipes and capped them off. At least they thought they were both defunct, but one wasn't... So yesterday was spent repairing the damage and getting hot water back to the kitchen sink.

Today it was freshly reaming out the holes bored on Monday for the new pipes, right next to the remaining non-defunt, non-repaired pipe of the three available. The time-served borer of holes, who's experienced the flex in drill bits of any length (and due to the thickness of the cob wall this particular bit is three feet long) well, that borer would exercise caution and elect to drill from the pipe side in. Ben, the plumber's mate, knows that - now. Unfortunately he didn't know it earlier today, the bit wandered and he managed to nick the mains water pipe thus achieving the full house on all three pipes. The rest of the day was spent repairing it.

All this was preceeded by a lot of "it should" and "we'll try that first" by Vic, the boss, which I said at the time boded ill, but being able to say I told you so is little comfort. I can't honestly blame them though. This house is a sort of textbook example of how not to do it. If tradition and logic dictates the cold water pipe should be on one side of the hot one, well it's guaranteed to be the other way round in this place (and it was). Pipes wend their way gaily down the middle of the wall above wash basins, just asking for a nail put to hang a mirror to go right through it (and it did). Electric cables go not up and down as safety dictates, but rather throw themselves jovially across the wall at a diagonal. Spare bits of live cable still live under the floor and no-one's yet been able to decide what exactly they do but don't dare cut them because they don't know where to go to replace them again. The usual old house problems of an abhorrence of 90° corners anywhere and strange creaks and groans at about 3am are mere peccadilloes.

Monday also brought us the delights of having three-quarters of the spare room floorboards up to find out which pipe did what (before finding out they didn't, in fact, do that at all). There's a cynical story told in one of John Winton's books about how dockyard folk go about fitting out the pipes and cables in one of HM Submarines. Viz; all the pipe fitters, 'leccy fellows etc are drawn up on the dockside, a whistle is blown and they all sprint for the boat. Whoever gets there first gets to fit his pipe or cable straight as a die from A to B, regardless of its size. All others, even if 3 inches in diameter, have to work round it, leading to an end product not unlike a facsimile of a plate of spaghetti. Well that appears to be what's happened under our spare room floorboards.

I can say this with confidence 'cos I can easily refresh my memory. Yes, you've guessed it; the floorboards are still up... We assume from the debris on the stairs and in long-haired cat Polly's fur that she's had a good rummage round while the going's good. Too late to find the mummified mice found under the airing cupboard though - bad luck, Poll. She reached the dizzying heights of sixteen yesterday, which is something of a record for our cats. She was born in the bathroom behind the toilet, hand fed in order to avoid imminent death, fostered onto our other cat (who happened to also be having kittens) by her mother within a week, had to "break-in" three or four other cats who've come and gone, spent a couple of years travelling to and from Cornwall once a month and now has a pair of parrots to contend with. Heck, it's been a hard life thus far so a little under floorboard exploration is nothing.

And what does all this have to do with woodworking? Quite frankly, sod all :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Little tinker

Yet more tinkering and just when I think I'm done (at least with this cupboard) what catches the corner of my eye? The #80 scraper, that's what. Ack. Anyway, thus far:

Somewhat to my disgust the Anant dado plane has got itself a rather prominent spot, but alas, it happened to fit there rather nicely. Still not sure about the Mujingfang - that blasted cross handle rather gets in the way in storage terms - on the other hand having it handy again has already proved a boon. The bullnose going Australian may yet prove to be a damn fool thing to do but when a space speaks to you... Bit like laying crazy paving I imagine. Rather chuffed how good the wooden shaves and scrapers look - don't be fooled by the "space", there are others but I, erm, couldn't find them...

Anyway, now it gets difficult. I had hoped light would have dawned while doing this bit about what to do next, however I'm still rather in the dark. What exactly is the best way to deal with fenced planes like the rebates and combis? Do I still put the combis separately as I'd originally thought, or just some of them, or none of them? And chisels? And gouges? And braces, and drills, hammers and screwdrivers, and... No, maybe just stick with planes and bring in the woodies? Oh lawks, I never found room for the technical jack I use all the time. Oh damn and blast...

I'm going to sit in a darkened room for a bit and reflect on why I hadn't done this before - 'cos it was a bloomin' stoopid thing to start!

Incidentally it never occurred to me until last night that this could be taken as an extended gloat of outstandingly crass proportions. It's certainly not intended that way, but apologies if it causes you to turn up at the edges and call me names. If it helps I call myself names for being so weak-kneed and not selling off three-quarters of it. That probably doesn't help, does it? Sorry.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hold the front page!

Or rather Hold the Side Rebate...

Marc wonders about the detail of holding the side rebate pair. The key is to utilise the depth stops:

This is the neater one. The first was done by hand but I wilted on the second and brought the Woodrat into play - the sort of odd task I find it worth keeping for. Anyway, first I bored a hole with a 5/8" bit deep enough to take the depth stop bolt head. Conveniently its centre seems to be 25mm up from the bottom and 25mm in from the nose (or 1") so easy enough to get right. Then I put the depth stop in place at what would be it's highest possible setting, drew round it, lengthed the lines for the end of the depth stop foot (try saying that six times as fast as possible...) down to the bottom to take it at it's lowest setting too and removed the unwanted wood. This one eyeballed to the lines (sort of) on the 'Rat, the other bored and then (badly) chiseled to the line. Thus I don't have to worry about setting the depth stop to a certain height in order to fit the storage, which seems to me a Good Thing.

Anyway, like the rest, not a Thing Of Beauty but when (if...) I make a fancy one I'll now have a much better idea of what I'm doing and how to make it look better.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fiddle, fiddle

You know the old dance step thing? "Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow"? Well this is sort of like that - only without the quick bits... Thank goodness for Chris Becksvoort's method of holding the 98/99 side rebate planes which I pinched with a gladsome cry - otherwise I'd still be turning them around in all directions trying to work out a way to hold them.

Decided the upswept handles of the LV router plane were asking to get it knocked off, so I shall find another place to put the router planes. Not sure about Little Victor in there either, but on the other hand the available hole is just right and nothing else will fit there. Would have liked to get Phil's purpleheart shoulder plane in the New Tool side but I simply can't see where. Might well be looking at a separate wooden plane area 'cos I'm not sure about the Mujingfang either... Still, quite pleased so far and the old vs. new almost-but-not-really-a-mirror-image is fun. Now do I add in the Record 3 and 4 or not? Decisions, decisions...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fiddly bits

What with the whole Noah thing I didn't share my wooden haul from last Saturday, did I?

The rebate plane is a narrower one than the general run of skew rebates I see, and that plus the generous length of remaining blade persuaded me to make the effort to haggle it down to a quid. Just as well seeing as I then blew my remaining cash on the clamps. They're not Jorgies obviously, but the advantage of seeing them in the flesh is you can at least pick out the ones that work smoothly. Yes, they were some of many - new. For sale in an actual shop. I know, shocking ain't it? But they're jolly useful and after all you can never have enough clamps...

Meanwhile not being able to easily find and use the tools I already have has been getting me down a good deal. I finally came to the conclusion the Ultimate Hand Tool Storage wasn't going to happen without some trial runs, so using the crummy kitchen cabinets as the shell I've set to work. As I suspected all along - these "simple layouts" take an inordinately long time to actually do. Not helped by the very hard wood strips needing pre-boring for the pins. Nothing is glued of course; inevitably things will get changed round and indeed there are already a few redundant holes...

Still it all looks like the end of the tunnel is in sight, doesn't it? Not on your nelly. There's the other side to do yet...

It'd make much more sense to be assembling a For Sale list... Anyway, then will come the creative work to hold cutters and such, all of which will take a disproportionate amount of time 'cos fiddly bits always do. And in the meantime you're sitting there saying "but Alf, what about that door for the sawtill?" Yes, good point. Noted...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No Noah

Well thank you very much for your thoughts, peeps - unfortunately Wiley's SWMBO encapsulated the result. I went and took a long hard look at the workshop with a tape measure, and if it was a hollow shell it'd be big enough. But it's not a hollow shell and thus for all practical purposes a no-go. Also a more practical assessment of the access and such wasn't encouraging. The garage would have been okay - but the Old Man has this quaint idea you should be able to get your car into the garage. Yeah, I know, I don't get it either but what can you do? So an opportunity missed.


Heigh ho, not all a loss 'cos in the course of researching about such things I ran across this blog which is entertaining and I shall keep up with it regardless. I'm not by nature a glass-half-full kinda gal, but I'm working on it... ;)

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I come to the readership seeking advice, guidance and sanity. If you don't have any of the latter perhaps you could borrow some from a passing SWMBO? They're usually very good at cutting to the bones of the matter, often to the woodworker's misfortune... It's like this:

We were just finishing up lunch and I was wondering whether to exert myself to go to a very local car boot sale that has probably the most picturesque location you'll ever see, when the doorbell went. T'was Peter, the next-door neighbour - very nice fellow, ex-pro boat builder of the traditional variety but now earning his crust doing "process engineering", whatever that may be. He has, he says, a proposition for me.


Apparently four or five years ago, while he was still working at the local shipyard (well technically one of the local shipyards - not talking building the Titanic here, of course, but in this case luxury yachts, repairing the lifeboat etc. The other one does refits for ferries, RFA vessels, all sorts). Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, well he'd bought these plans for a boat, made up the moulds to build it on, and then life had intervened and nothing further had happened. Now I diagnose a serious case of a man missing the work he enjoyed and wanting to get back to it even if just as a hobby, but yet again I digress. Trouble is while he has the plans, the moulds and the desire to have the boat, he doesn't have the space in which to build it. Which is where I come in.

In short, do I fancy collaborating on building it - he (presumably - we haven't gone into detail) provides the materials and I provide the space and get to build a boat (which is quite near the top of my "One day I want to..." list) with someone who knows what they're doing. Anyway, here are the plans, have a look and see if you fancy it and you might find it interesting even if you don't want to do it. I say calmly I'll have a look, make positive noises etc and somehow manage to restrain myself from doing a dance out of sheer excitement.


It's an Iain Oughtred design - the Acorn 12 skiff. Strictly the rowing option - no sail. Just as well 'cos with the sail it's all too reminiscent of Swallow or Amazon and then I'd be a helpless babbling idiot up to my neck in a childhood fantasy - on a par with someone who always said they wanted to be an astronaut when they were 8 now being invited to the International Space Station and then required to make a rational decision about whether to go...

So I'm trying to stay rational. I think it could be done in the workshop - and still be got out of the door. The Maxi could be a problem though. And it's a heck of an opportunity - I was resigned to waiting for a mid-life crisis before I even seriously considered anything on the "One day I want to..." list. On the other hand it'd essentially turn the workshop into a boat shed and nothing else - all other woodworking bar the smallest stuff would be curtailed with a great boat sitting in the middle of it. And for how long? I daresay we all know someone, or someone who knows someone, that has a project-that-never-ends story. But perhaps the biggest thing is am I actually capable of making something with someone else? I'm very much a me, myself and I kinda woodworker - all self-taught etc etc. You can't get half-way through a boat on your premises and find the owner can't bear to work with you any more.

So some sane, rational, considered opinions please, folks. Do we proceed to a cautious affirmative stage subject to details? In short - Noah or No Noah?

Thursday, May 03, 2007


No, not that sort...

A car boot sale report as late as Thursday? Shocking. I plead dodgy internet access at my usual blogging time, although that's just one of a whole array of flimsy excuses... But enough of that.

Contrary to the historical picture of this Sceptred Isle being perpetually shrouded in mist and drizzle we seem to be experiencing a prolonged spell of bloomin' lovely weather in these parts. If it wasn't for aforementioned sloth etc I could be doing a car boot sale every day of the week I reckon, but as it is I restricted myself to Sunday and for the first time in months hooked up with The Tall Scotsman. Did I mention I now know his name? I won't spoil the mystery of the thing by telling you what it is but at least now I'm in a position to provide anyone coming down here hunting tools with at least one guaranteed means of finding someone who's at least seen some once... His cupboard was rather sparsely stocked you see. However...

Long-term readers may recall over a year ago I purchased a Stanley socket chisel from The TS? Here's the entry about it. Well after a year both our memories are evidentally shot because when he presented that same Marples chisel handle with a flourish we both thought it was the handle we'd been looking for - not that it was the handle we had but the chisel to go with it we were seeking. You see I own two bevel edge socket chisels, and the other one happens to be a Marples, so I thought that one was the chisel I must have bought from him. D'oh. I didn't even remember all that until after I'd fitted said handle to my Marples - and the spooky thing is it fits exactly, even unto the uneven line of the handle finish precisely matching the uneven line of the socket. But I'm sure I didn't buy it from him... I suppose Cornwall's tool-selling community is small and there's every chance they are indeed a pair that were separated at some point in the recent past.

A certain Yankee brace also persuaded me to look at non-wood-handled braces with rather less scorn than previously and I found myself stumping up the necessary lettuce for this pretty clean 10" example. Of course the ratchet sounds like a quartet of maracas players caught in a piece of agricultural machinery in comparison with the Yankee, but on the other hand it rather blew away my theory that CoMeT were the non-plane arm of the Anglo-Scottish Tool Co. The planes in question being trademarked "Rapier":

How can one walk away from a theory-obliterating tool? Well I couldn't anyway and it's as good an excuse as any other...

Interesting developments on the new plane front this week as well, but alas, all is cloaked and daggers await me should I reveal. In short I merely share this with you to annoy and tease. Mwhahahahahahaaaaaa...