Saturday, June 30, 2007

Small deeds

I was flicking through the telly channels the other day (I forget why - pretty much all television goes in one ear and out the other these days, just like it was intended...) and my channel hopping progress was halted by an old black and white film, and some old fellow reading something aloud that positively leapt out of the screen at me.

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.

Blimey. So simple, yet so true. I was so struck by them that I actually took the trouble to find out who wrote them - a gentleman called Peter Marshall, former US Senate chaplin - and discovered I wasn't the first to have had this screen-to-brain moment either. In fact I'm feeling like I'm the last person to have come across this guy, but better late than never I s'pose!

I confess I don't "do religion", but I do, however, "do woodworking" and as a sentiment it certainly struck me as relevant. How many times have I had a Grand Plan only to never realise it (can you say tambour doors?) - and while prevaricating over it, waste all that time I could have spent doing something more modest, aka small deeds (can you say 300 chisels needing new handles, f'rinstance?) Now I'd like to say I've immediately put this sage advice into practice and numerous small tasks have been crossed off the lengthy to-do list. Well they would have, if I'd been in the workshop, but I haven't. But I will and one of the first tasks will be sticking those words on the workshop wall, to keep reminding me.

Not being in the w'shop has been additionally taxing, given that I've taken delivery of some chisels that are singing their siren song behind me as I type. Yes, yes, all right, like I need any more chisels, but these are a bit of an experiment. I'm going to try going a little 18thC, chisel-wise, and see how things go. I have a dream, that some day research woodworking is going to be a respected branch of the craft and the benefits not measured in number of projects made but information gained. That's what I keep hoping, anyway...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Return journey

If you were hoping of tales of pillage in the southeast, you're all out of luck. Didn't do a blessed thing while in Kent, not even a trip to Timberline. Boo hiss. Possibly as a balm to their consciences, TPTBs decreed a detour on the return journey via Ashington and the home of G and M Tools. I didn't have much hope, bearing in mind they're not unnoticable prices on their site (plus VAT), and so it came to pass. Quite nice to get an eyeful of this'n'that but with my Tool Shop Block plus the Scottish ancestry kicking in, strictly window shopping only for this galoot. There was one user-made woodie I was tempted by, simply because of the way it had been made using double T&G to increase the gluing area for the buit-up design, but not tempted enough. Best buy for anyone looking for one was the box of Yankee screwdrivers at a quid a piece - plus VAT of course...

So I returned to Salisbury for a one night stop-off with no actual woodwork for the blog. Disaster! The room wasn't ready yet, so I hauled my sorry self up to Pennyfarthing again and had another look, in case I could break this terrible block. Yeah, that's what it was - therapy. Nope, still didn't work. Heck they even had a push drill, a tool I've long desired, and I couldn't bring myself to buy it. I can only conclude the tools are just incidental; it's the hunt I really do this for. Oh dear...

Anyway, it wasn't until coming out from breakfast in the hotel that I finally spotted something that demanded the camera, at the top of some stairs that sort of said "keep off" without actually saying as much... Worth the risk then. So I hared off for it and swiftly climbed the stairs trying to look as though I was meant to be there. In that respect I think the posh-looking camera helps a good deal - makes the uninitiated think you might be a "pro" actually employed to be where you're not supposed to be. But I digress. What caught my eye was this:

Gotta love these plain door designs, haven't you?

Somewhat to my surprise I turned round, still just at the top of the stairs, and saw these:

Couldn't dwell over them to work out just how many of them were dodgy repros (well obviously the tables are - we were eating our Full English of their brothers downstairs in the dining room not ten minutes before) because just then someone came up the stairs and gave me A Look. A hasty retreat was beaten before Questions Were Asked, but at least I'd found something. Not exactly my taste though, must admit.

Thus we wound our way westward again and came back here to the ends of the earth once more. Even now I still haven't caught myself up enough to have got back into the workshop. Not sure I'm really cut out for travel...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mini Bash

A fine Friday saw us venturing beyond the borders of Cornwall into England, carefully avoiding the traffic flooding to the Royal Cornwall Show, and pausing only at Yandles in Martock for lunch before arriving for a two-night stay in Salisbury. And when I say "for lunch" I mean just that. Didn't even get a toe into the woodworking bit, never mind a goof at the timber. Torture, I tell you; absolute torture. Did have a brief glance in the gallery while trying to prise TPTB out of there and saw some miniature tools on sale. The chisels weren't bad but a lot of them were fairly crude IMO, and expensive?! Ouch. Still a tool sighting of any sort was some comfort.

The view from the hotel window wasn't bad comfort either; just as well really 'cos it was easily the best bit of the whole place unfortunately. Ducks quacking, sheep baa-ing, pheasant making that curious harsh rattle-y sort of noise they do, chickens clucking, all terribly rural. But that was Friday...

So, the bash then. This came about a bit fortuitously really - I found I was going to get a spare day handy for the workshops of a couple of UK Workshop members, and before you could say "hospitality" we had a gathering organised. First stop was Pennyfarthing Tools to meet up around "ten-ish". Given that I had most of the length of Salisbury to walk to get there, and the day was already warmish, I left early but travelled slowly. I fear I've become the complete country mouse in the ten years since leaving London; I positively goggled at the coffee shops cheek-by-jowl along Butcher and Fish Row. I mean you can hear about these things but frankly the phenomenon hasn't reached Cornwall yet at all - I think Truro may have one, but not with pavement tables like some Parisian café. It's a long-running joke that Cornwall is its own country and England is "forn parts", but honestly, I genuinely felt like a traveller in a foreign land. Dammit, I'm English, not Cornish! Urgh, I really need to get back to civilisation before I start chewing straw.

Anyway, Pennyfarthing Tools is the old tool mecca in this foreign land; having never been before but knowing it these many years via their website, I was agog to finally get there. Well the usual problem afflicted me - the safest place to put this tool junkie is in a tool shop. The old rust radar simply ceases to function when faced with choice. Okay, I admit it may also be the effect of real grown-up prices that do it too, but I'm not that tight, honest. F'rinstance I had what I thought was a thorough look at the books before anyone else got there, but Phil managed to find at least three I'd completely failed to see - one of which I subsequently talked him out of in a singularly underhand way and bought it myself, but that's by-the-by. Frankly it's embarassing.

As it was the others did a passable immitation of locusts stripping the crops bare and came away with some nice stuff. With booty safely held, we moved on to the next stop - Rob's for a cuppa, plane droolage and soldering for dummies (me being the principle dummy). Phil acted as my chauffeur throughout, for which I'm very much obliged. And here they are, wondering when I'll stop mucking about with the camera so they can get their mitts on the goodies. Left to right; Phil, Paul, Paul and Rob. Rob claims the macaw-adorned shirt was worn in my honour, but personally I reckon any excuse...

Myself, being on foot and having to carry everything, I didn't contribute much to the eye-popping display of goodies. Nevermind, you're seldom reduced to having nothing to drool over when Phil is in attendance! Incidentally, yes, Rob's workshop is just as immaculate as it looks.

One of the highlights for the Krenovian fans was the JK plane, although I liked Phil's small wooden smoother much more. In fact with both his and Rob's plane making we had an excellent line-up of woodies to enjoy. Is it pushing things too far to say about Victor's Hat "look, some of my woodworking next to James Krenov's!"? Yes, I thought it probably was.

But this staged stuff didn't last long and soon the itch to make some shavings became too much - notice Paul C's hand already starting to twitch towards the goodies? :)

That was just the start of an amazing run by Paul of picking the peaches to try. First he seemed to wonder if there was something in this bevel-up plane business after all:

Then Phil's LN 25th Anniversary plane - very heavy and A1 plane bling, but I find I have genuinely no regrets that I don't have one. Must be coming down with something. The Veritas Surface Clamp on the bench was generously sent along by Rob Lee for our perusal and subsequent drawing of names from the hat for ownership. Alas, round dog holes were in slightly short supply so we never gave it a try. D'oh. No matter, Paul C, who won it, does and his review's here.

Then the lure to use a Krenov became too much to resist.

Honestly, other people did have a go, but every time I looked up there was Paul having a lovely time with yet another plane! He even had time to show off his new 55, purchased after a pre-emptive stike at Pennyfarthing a week before. Now that I do feel slightly envious over, so normal service is resumed. I can't help but wonder if Phil is keeping his hands well away from the 55 in case the combi plane thing is catching. It's not, kids, really! Come and play with the shiny boat anchor. You can give it up any time you want. Oh yes. Mwhahahahaahahaha....

Planemakers Rob and Phil politely picked holes in each other's designs, exactly like I've always imagined must happen if, say, Konrad Sauer and Wayne Anderson got together to talk infills. In jest of course, and I'm sure the talk of duelling planes was just my imagination... ;) The plane is Rob's I think.

I think this is one of Phil's own with which he's trying to tame a most horrendous piece of timber Rob had rustled up (correct me if I've boobed, Phil, won'tcha?). The irony was no-one had brought a scraper plane, which was about the best hope we had of getting any kind of acceptabe surface on this Wood From Hell.

The highlight for me was to see Rob's super-fettled Record put through its paces. I've been teasing him somewhat about it living in the airing cupboard ever since he did it so this was a Big Moment.

Of course the proof of the fettling fetish is in the shavings, and here are the very first ones.

There was still time for Rob's demonstration of soldering; a generally all-round useful thing to know although Rob's been doing it alot recently on the y-levers of Bailey pattern planes to accommodate the extra thickness of some aftermarket blades. I took lots of pics to remind myself of the steps, but this'll give you a flavour.

The finished article.

T'wasn't long after that we hurried off to our next stop at Pete's. Unfortunately the tribulations of an extremely painful back meant Pete couldn't join us earlier, but he very generously invited us for lunch. And wow, what a lunch. A huge round of applause, thanks, cheers, bouquets and all possible plaudits to Pam for the incredible buffet lunch she provided us with. It's not often I find myself practically begging to stop being offered food, I can tell you. So overwhelmed was I that the camera completely slipped my mind, but if you want to feel really hungry have a look at the pic here - and that doesn't even show the puddings! A thousand thanks to both - might have to move to the area I reckon! :)

What with one thing and another I only took a pic of Pete in his metalworking w'shop. Only, I say. Crumbs, you could eat your dinner off that Myford lathe. But I wish I'd got pics of his incredible workmanship, both wood and metal; there's a chap who does detail. And I also got my second "metalworking for dummies" lesson in heat treating tool steel. Pete made it look very, very easy so I'm wondering how much I'll managed to complicate things...

Eventually, after a packed and most enjoyable day, I was suffering sensory overload and was almost glad that Phil's missus was wondering where he was. So off we toddled; a little extra toddling than anticipated 'cos don't think Sat Nav and one-way systems really make happy companions! But safely back to the hotel for a bite of supper and an early night ready to go up to Kent on the morrow.

Hadn't really made allowance for the fireworks that sounded like mortar shelling and the wedding disco outside the window, but apart from that...

Oh yeah, the booty. Goodman from Pennyfarthing, the result of the heat treating demo from Pete (he thought chisel, but I'm wondering combi plane blade?) and the no-longer made iirc, CK Yankee screwdriver adaptor for hex bits from Paul C; ta very muchly indeed to both (or counting Phil and the Goodman, all three...)

To sum up; if you have a chance to get together with other woodworkers, DO IT. It's a blast.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Yes, yes, so it's nearly a fortnight now... The pics are waiting in anticipation on the hard-drive and the spirit is willing. Alas, as is so often the case, the flesh is weak. But a taster of the mini-bashers made for the mini-bash which was easily the highlight of the trip - lots of pics from that to come. Eventually.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Travellin' light

A full week into June and I expect you're wondering if I've been abducted by aliens. Nope (they sent me back for a refund) and in fact I'm only here long enough to say I'll be definitely non-blogging for a week starting tomorrow. The call of the wild, or rather a trip "overseas" to England beckons. Well "over-river" anyhow. I'll keep my eye open for woodworking tales to tell round the fire when I return. If necessary making them up... Be good.