Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Attack them with spoons

You want cross grain shavings - I can give you cross grain shavings. Must admit the plane isn't actually in this shot though; but it is in yesterday's, honest.

It's no good, they're just not as much fun as the long grain ones.

Now you're wondering what that has to do with the post title, aren't you? Well okay, so you're not, but you might have been. The answer is nothing, I just love the phrase. I was reading the reaction to the pilot for the US remake of Life On Mars that's currently floating about on the surface of the interweb and that's what someone said: "it made me want to attack them with spoons". Don't look like that; it made me laugh. The pilot, however, did not. I never got as far as deciding what cutlery to use, opting instead to fall into a coma of my very own. 'nuff said.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Yes, folks, I can reveal exclusive pics of the Veritas skew rebate (cue sharp intake of breath from el Presidente)
Unfortunately I forgot to clear away all the pretty shavings before I took the shot. Sorry. Nice though, aren't they? 

Your correspondent is now duckin' and runnin' for her very life... ;-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wax lyrical

Okay, enough of pluggin' Lee Valley stuff. Let's plug something nearer home instead! ;-)

Even as the parcel from the aforementioned arrived, so did an unsolicited trial sample of Protec Tool Wax from Matthew at Workshop Heaven. Naturally I can spot an opportunity to kill two fowl with one projectile as well as the next layabout, so will try out one on t'other. Stay tuned. First impressions: looks (and smells) just like Liberon's Lubo Wax, which I've been using for some years now.

Given that the origins of this blog are largely down to Firefox (as well as that large download) it seems fitting to alert you to the release of Firefox 3.0. - simply to give you the chance to be part of their attempt to set a Guiness World Record with Download Day (hurry though!). Hey, you can print off a certificate; what's not to like?

Let's draw a veil over the fact I use Safari now and am quite happy with same...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Handle Wot Alf Liked

Just as I was struggling to come up with something to blog about, I was rescued by that well-known sieve with the initials RCL. It's not just the Ship Of State that leaks from the top...

Anyway, as per title, this is the famous handle:

And another shot of what comes with the handle, should that be of any interest. D'you know I never took a single picture of the thing while it was here? Just goes to show how switched on I'm not at the moment.

So that's one less thing I have to remember not to talk about, which is a blessing. And my verdict? Based on the example I've played with, I think it's really rather good.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Well did you ever? Three and a half years on and here it is - the 500th blog entry. And all started because I was waiting for a really large file to download. I would have hoped to be in the middle of some exciting project for such a milestone, but never mind. By all means re-live the "glory days" of tables, chairs, workshop reorganisation and endless struggles with updating the website via the archives to your right -> 

Anyway, a thank you to all of you who've, inexplicably, hung around to read these whitterings. I'd have felt a bit silly just talking to myself; not that feeling silly would have probably stopped me... 

So plus ce change, plus ce meme chose, as they say on t'other side of the Channel - the rapacious monster that is the Lee Valley Veritas R&D department once more puts forth its claw, hooks me in and tells me there's further stuff on its way. And, as ever, I'm not in a position to say much on here, much to all our annoyance. Although I don't think I'm letting any cats out of bags in saying that I believe one item is a right-hand skew rebate. A plane so long promised by el Presidente that I fondly refer to it and its left hand sibling as The Godot Brothers. Not that I have the faintest idea what it'll look like; the closest we've got to a public view is this:
Pretty, innit? No, I don't know what it means either, but it does tell me the thing will have a rear tote. Oh joy, oh rapture unconfined - I feel a Freaky Handed Moment coming on... Alas, these days it also means a "wrestling with UPS" moment to come as well - everything keeps being sent with waybills for their return journey. Humph. Heigh ho, it was a good run while it lasted! But friends, consider the irony. That handle I liked? I don't even have an example of it amongst all those ones I didn't... ;-)

Friday, June 13, 2008


There's a long-held theory on the Old Tools List that each person has only a certain number of "bad" dovetails in them, and all you need to do is keep making dovetailed boxes for all your tools until you get them all out of your system. It's a beguiling idea, is it not? Especially when addressed to a load of collec-, er, tool accumulators who do tend to need rather a lot of tool storage... Of course, in practice, there's no knowing when a bad dovetail will come out and bite you. Naturally the bulk of them will appear early on and continue in chronological order, but like the unexpected stone in the cherry cake of life, a blip in the smooth upward curve of one's dovetailing endeavours can happen at any time.

Oh, how I'd love to be able to say this musing came to me as I gazed at my latest disastrous dovetail, but it goes without saying that I haven't a latest dovetail of any variety to gaze at. About a month ago - or was it six weeks - I did line up some off-cuts with a view to dovetailing up a simple open tray to corral the ever-growing DVD disc mountain. Heck, I even got so far as to whip out the old 043 and rustle up a groove to take a base. Alas, that was as far as the heady excitement of being in the workshop actually got. The pieces sit there now; groovy but unfinished. And the disc mountain is threatening to turn into a landslip. I will get back to it at some point, I'm sure I will, but now there's an added point to ponder: will it be one of my allotted bad dovetails...?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hamming it up

Today, a puzzlement that's been, well, puzzling me for some time. I doubt I'm blogging to the most likely demographic vis-a-vis watchers of BBC costume drama "Cranford" (no, I didn't think so) but bear with me. If you managed to survive through nearly five hours of relentless bonnets and bustling - and speaking as someone who seriously lost interest once Mr Carter had been blown up, I empathise - perhaps you might have found your eye drawn to the peripheries, as I did. And what I saw was this:

Forgive the bluriness and size; I'm not splashing out on a proper DVD of the thing just for this! Anyway, it seems to be a cunning meat joint-holding device, and it gets an airing on here 'cos it's made of wood. Duh. It came as a complete novelty to me, but I wondered if someone out there in the ether would be likely to leap to their pins and cry "why, that's a burfl! Let me proceed to give you a potted history and fully dimensioned plans". 

Okay, I'll make do with "yes, I've seen/heard of one before". I'm not fussy. What say you, sirs? Ladies?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More knits

Evidently the knitting needles captured the readership's imagination more than it did mine - who'd have thunk it? Actually it's probably not saying much; I did my compulsory 6 squares of assorted stitches about 20 years ago and resolved never to pick up a ball of wool ever again...

However, should you be agog to knit your own plastic bag, BugBear kindly found a how-to. Please, if you do, I'd welcome pics! Of the needles, or the bag. Or both. I'm struggling for bloggable material here... ;-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I've been getting a rash of rather odd emails via the website recently. I mean in addition to the usual spam promises to "increase the size of my tool" (not an offer to turn a #4 into a jointer, regrettably) and folks falling over themselves to give me degrees. Lots of combination plane ones, of course. In fact enough of them to start to make it worthwhile getting together an FAQ. Mind you, the questions are easy - it's the answers that give me trouble... But probably the most bizarre email was a local one. Was I in a position to make wooden knitting needles? For knitting plastic bags into, erm, other plastic bags.

Yes, you read it right. Knitting plastic bags. Not even sure where to begin with that one. I did my best to suggest something sensible, but it was quite, erm, difficult to keep it serious. 

I tell you, sometimes the emails alone are worth the cost of having the website...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Not lapping it up

Okay, so I wanted a short whinge about the Veritas Lapping Plate. Why? I hear you ask. Does it not work? Dunno! But it isn't what I wanted it to be! *pause to stamp foot and tantrum like a toddler* I was hoping LV were going to take pity on us diamond paste users and divvy up a handy machined plate in cast iron, not a metal brick with a pattern on it like the bottom of a pair of Reeboks. Silicon carbide abrasive grit, forsooth? That's just a rehash of the Japanese technique, innit? Do I look like I wear a kimono and eat sushi?! *kicks wastepaper basket* In short, I'm very disappointed and irrationally fed up with LV in consequence.

That's it. That's what I wanted to say. You may move on...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Horse and Carriage

Okay, scrub at least one part of yesterday's post. I now have, unread and waiting for me, two issues of Popular Woodworking and now two issues of Woodworking as well. My literary cup runneth over, forsooth. I wonder if the gods will be kind and make it such that I don't actually want to read them until mid-July? Always handy to have some reading matter when going away.

Not sure I've mentioned July, have I? Number 1 nephew, owner of the Music Stand of Myth & Legend has somehow convinced an apparently sane, normal and nice young lady to marry him. So there's a wedding. In July. Don't ask about the wedding present. One is promised, but you know my rate of production; I'm hoping some time before the fifth wedding anniversary, with luck and a following wind... Not that I'm strictly sure when, technically, the wedding anniversary date will be.

You see, while I say there's A wedding - actually there's A marriage, but two ceremonies. Said young lady is by way of being 'Murrican, with a hefty dose of Russian in the mix, I might add. So first wedding here in Blighty, assorted 'Murricans whizz over The Pond, church do and so forth. Then a bit of a break (pause while bride has birthday, thus being a year older for wedding no.2. Bizarre, no?) Where was I? Oh yeah; bit of a break, then assorted Brits whizz over to what I believe may be termed The Bay Area (San Francisco) and they do it all again in August. Russian Orthodox stylee. 

I believe crowns are involved.

Your correspondent won't be doing any of the whizzing, confining myself to the jaunt across The Tamar into Devon for part one, but I dare say there'll be a video. Hell's bells, presumably two videos... It's not as though I didn't suggest the lad do the decent thing; get a ladder and elope. Heck, I offered to make the ladder, but no dice. So there we are; a joyous event. The fact it a) makes me feel very, very old; and b) I'm to weddings what Ghengis Khan was to good neighbourhood relations, is by-the-by. ;-)

Sorry, not at all woodworking related, but should my mood blacken as the month progresses, now you'll know why.

In woodworking though, further to the startling revelation that Alf Likes A Handle, I can put your minds at ease and reveal that she didn't like the next one. Strangely enough, El Presidente didn't feel the urge to start a thread on that. ;-)  In fact I've heard not much at all. I think I may be in the dog house - again. Heigh ho. Actually, if I'm already in the dog house, I may feel moved to blog about another LV thing next week. As I've had nothing to do with it at all, I could potentially let myself go a bit for a change...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hello, stranger

What can I say, dear reader? My humble apologies. Rest assured it's not just you I've been neglecting; two issues of Popular Woodworking and one of Woodworking sit untouched beside me as I type. Been afflicted by a touch of the Woodworker's Black Dog I think, so been doing a little creative stuff of a non-woodworking sort instead. Heck, you can see how little I've been in the workshop...

Heh, it's not actually anything to do with it of course, but rather a valuable visual reminder of why you don't want to cut timber in the Spring. Alas, no option with this willow and I have grave doubts whether it'll end up as anything but firewood anyway. Heigh ho, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And yes, it really probably shouldn't still be "in the round" like that, but Bill ran away with his chainsaw before I could get it halved. Being contorted I really doubt it'll split.

Anyway, the dark canine has not been helped by the demise of another one of my woodworking inspirations; John Brown, Welsh Stick Chair Maker, Good Woodworking columnist and thought-provoking luddite. Long-term inmates of this blog will recall my own foray into chair making inspired by JB. When I first read his stuff in GWW I was firmly in the routers-are-king-this-man-is-a-deluded-luddite camp, along with many a letter writer to the editor. It wasn't until much, much later that I realised it was those columns that planted the seed that eventually lead to the hand tool nut you see before you today. You might reasonably say he has a lot to answer for... Anyway, others have marked his passing more eloquently than I ever could, so I direct you towards Chris Schwarz's blog and some thoughts from Jeff Gorman on the Old Tools List. I'll just provide some piccies; first, one of his chairs. The second, a cover from his second stint with GWW. Bless you, John; trust there's a comfy chair awaiting you. And if not, some good tools to make one.

John Brown, 1932-2008