Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Seeing double

Right, second panel planed up and garnet shellac applied (don't want any mad difference in colour or nuffink by failing to do to one what I did to the other, do I?). If you look at the far edge, you can see where it does wonders for dealing with a rather dismally grey area of timber. You can also get an idea of the screw/nail hole issues mentioned before. If I plan sensibly, the majority of them will be cut off or planed away. If I cock it up, don't be surprised...

And both panels offered up to the saw till. Orientation is subject to change depending on a) Changing my mind, and b) Making a mistake when I finally make up the doors.

So next step will be to cut and plane them to size, and then find the panel raiser. Hmm, that might be fun...

Meanwhile, thank you for all the comments and suggestions on the workbench. I may not be saying much, but I'm soaking it all up and inwardly digesting. Keep 'em coming, if you have 'em.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The astute reader might have noticed that, while this blog is now active again, it's been lacking in what you might describe as an essential ingredient. There are generally four of them in this blog, in no particular order (except, possibly, frequency):
  1. Rust
  2. Indecision
  3. Whinging
  4. Woodworking
The first three have all been present and correct, but actual torture of dead tree? Not one jot. Well I finally decided I'd had enough of Nos.1-3 inclusive and woodworking had to happen, and soon. As it happens I dropped out of the Wunnerful World of Woodworking in the middle of a project. You'll need a long memory for this one - the last meaningful entry on the subject was in January 2008.

Mind you, the first entry on it was in January 2007...

Ha-hum. So putting aside the maturity of said project, have you got it yet? Yes, it's the saw till. What's that? You assumed I'd finished that off during the ensuing years months? How little you know me. Should you need to refresh your memory of The Story So Far, click on the "saw till" tag at the bottom of the post and it'll bring up all the relevant posts for your delectation and delight. Or, in my case, mild horror. Go on, I'll wait.

While we're waiting, I'll show the other reader my new workshop dustpan and brush.

Funky, no? And, amazingly, made in England. I know! Gasp!

Oh, are you back? Right, so up to speed. Frames for the doors made, panels for same glued up in the ever-delightful Plano Clamps. And there they've been ever since, until now. First step - check the workbench is still reasonably flat using the extremely useful Veritas aluminium straight edge. It is. Huzzah. (Oh, and let's keep a tool count going here, just for fun. Thus - 1)

Next step; lose the worst excess of stock to reduce my planing exertions. It's a trifle warm in the w'shop, as ever in the summer months, so this is wise. Strike a knife line across both ends to ensure a clean cut - combination square and marking knife (2 & 3). Then onto the saw horse with it (4) and just for kicks and giggles get out the Wenzloff & Sons half-back (5).

This is me using it in cloaked mode... Look, it's a beautiful saw, you really don't want to ruin the composition with a rather warm woodworker in a galoot hat, trust me.

Now looking back in this blog (which I had to do as I went through it tagging all those saw till posts) I was reminded that I wasn't much grabbed by the half-back when it originally arrived chez Alf. Its looks, I liked; in use, not so much. Well, I must have been in the wrong frame of mind or the burr needed taking off the teeth or something, 'cos I like it just fine now. Just fine. Gerroff,-it's-mine fine. Grrrrrr.

It's going to have to be a really big coffin with all the tools I intend taking with me...

Where was I? Oh, yeah, right. So next we plane. This is a task for a jack, and a dash of ingredient No.3 rears its ugly head. Which jack plane? Oh my, the indecision. I looked at the panel - little bit of a step at the glue line, but nothing major. I rule out the razee jack with the aggressive camber quite early on; that'll just generate more work. Low angle jack then? Well yes, except I think it's currently got the shooting iron in it and I'm not 100% sure I know exactly where the other ones are just at the moment. The Stanley #5 1⁄2 with the 2 1⁄4" iron from the toolchest it is then.

I haven't really looked at this plane for, well, years. I was taken aback a bit; it's really not in terribly great shape. I'd forgotten I'd had the mend the crack in the rear tote, the sides and sole are pitted quite a bit, there's only about 30% of the japanning left and the lateral adjuster is loose and floppy. But it has a Hock replacement iron, that repaired rear tote virtually throws itself into your hand it's so comfortable, and its proportions are just right. I'd actually forgotten how much I love this plane

So sprinkling hearts and flowers to left and right, I fell in love with it all over again. We'll probably be fixing a date soon... Oh, and that's 6.

Look, ma, top of the worl- er, I mean - Shavings!

At this point I found myself greatly comforted, because it all came back to me like I'd never been away. This was by no means guaranteed and I didn't much relish the thought of re-learning it all again. But nope, I overlapped my strokes, I roughly checked the panel was flat across the width with the edge of the plane, I used the flat workbench top to do the rocking test to ascertain where the twist might be. Folks, I even remembered where my winding sticks were! (7)

As an added bonus, in the intervening time of course the wood had changed colour, giving me a ready indication of where the low spots were.

On the other hand, I had to make sure I didn't confuse them with the marks left by the bars of the clamps. A disadvantage of the intervening months...

Enjoying myself as I was, I may have got carried away and finished both sides of one panel with the Quangsheng #3 (It was on the bench - it seemed churlish to spurn it. And that makes 8) and maybe I happened to have some garnet shellac flakes dissolving in some meths, and maybe I might have just wiped a quick coat on for the hell of it, and maybe I offered the panel up to the saw till just to get the vaguest idea of how it might look.

And maybe I stepped back, looked at it, and saw that it was good. Despite all the old screw holes, dowels, etc...

Then I swept up the mess (9, 10 & 11 - broom, dustpan and aforementioned funky brush), dusted off the planes (12 - L-N-a-like dusting brush), sharpened the irons (13 & 14 - two stones, no honing guide) and gave them a wipe with some camellia oil because they'd earned it.

Then I went in for a drink, 'cos I reckon I'd earned that. And no, it wasn't camellia oil.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Where's the rust?

or Call Me Stupid.

So I might have gone for a dig in the dusty corners of some sort of tool/junk shop outfit very local to me, mightn't I? And I might have spotted some weird thing shrouded in a dusty bin bag, bound up with duct tape so ancient the adhesive has said goodbye about three years ago, right?

It looked kinda promising, so I enquire of the old trout who owns this joint if I can haul it out for a look. She doesn't say much, but the response could be summed up as "It's your funeral".

It was heavy.

Although in comparison to The Vice, it was something along featherweight lines... I ripped off its plastic wrappings and revealed a rather nice 10 1/2" Paramo No.63 face vice.

Little bit of paint missing, but she runs very smoothly. No quick release or such fanciful stuff, but a quality bomb-proof vice.

Best of all, there's a whole heap less rust than I remember.

Er, I mean than the old trout who runs this tool and junk warehouse could remember...


Yeah, okay, so I didn't hunt fresh rust. Truth is that pretty much every time I go in the workshop these days, I find a tool or tools I have no memory of whatsoever. It's not unlike stepping into a tool shop with an unlimited budget; anything you see, you can have. Yes, it is a tad embarrassing and does demonstrate that I have altogether too many tools (like that's news), but it's also damn good fun. Apart from the curmudgeonly old trout who runs the joint, that is... ;)

The stupid bit was going and looking for that vice in the first place - it was lurking behind the box of cat litter, as it turned out. I told myself it wouldn't hurt to look, vaguely remembering it as a battered old thing with beaucoup de ferrous oxide and very little evidence of paint. One look and I would rightly blench at the thought of doing up another hunk o'arn. Instead I'd offer it up to the old man to replace the wrack-fest that is the front vice of his Sjorbergs, and he could let it quietly finish rusting into component flakes as is the fate of everything that ends up in the garage.

But don't get me started on his Tyzack back saw that I cleaned and sharpened for him and that I found, a mass of rust, a couple of weeks ago. I may cry and I'm saving that for much later in this project...

Where was I? Oh, right. Well, as you can see, the vice is not a battered wreck. It's not in its first youth, granted, but it's in pretty decent nick.

And it spoke to me, gentle reader. It said "Use me. Effortlessly spin my handle with one finger and watch my jaws dance to and fro like Nureyev and Fonteyn. Rejoice in my English castings and sturdy threads. Counter-balance that stonking great 'Murrican thing with my simple, stout, Sheffield s-... s-... er, splendour. And don't look at me like that; I'm a vice, not a thesaurus."

At that point I decided it was probably a bit hot in the workshop and went for a lie down in a darkened room until the voices stopped...

But it has made me wonder a few things, and most of them utterly contradict everything I said yesterday. I will address the Designated Bench Area with tape measure yet again, and see if maybe we can't sneak a tail vice wannabe in there after all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Musings on the workbench

My SU pic in yesterday's entry probably simplified things too much. Great are the possible variations on the theme - hey, it's me, of course it's more complicated. Here's how the thought process is going. Sort of. Much edited, cleaned up and most of the the "Aaaargh, help me" bits removed. Some may creep in though... See if this makes any sense to you.

Firstly, what do I want in this bench? Normal people work out what they want to do with it and then pick a design accordingly. In this case, obviously, things are a bit different. The raison d'ĂȘtre for this workbench is the Emmert vice, and that is my primary consideration. Thus, criterion numero uno:

1. It's a bench for The Vice.

That narrows it down more than you might think, but we'll get to that.

Secondly, I only have working room for about 5ft, or 1.5m or thereabouts, of bench length. I could make it shorter and a dedicated Emmert Station, but see point four. Or I could make it longer, but then I wouldn't have room round it to be able to use it. Plus experience shows that walking into the corner of a bench every time you step through the door of your w'shop tends to result in falling very much out of love with said bench quite quickly. It's also got to be next to a wall, so the classic 2ft or 600mm width is also pretty much set. With my height and the pinkie test, it'll also be around 32-33" high.

2. It's overall dimensions will be 5ft x 2 ft x 2ft 8in.

Thirdly, it occurred to me that having a smaller bench could also result in some benefit in the future. At some point I will inevitably be down-sizing and it could be that, despite the best will in the world, the Behemoth Bench just won't be able to fit into a bedsitter... So it makes sense to make this bench usable for actual woodworking purposes. But more importantly, it makes sense to make it moveable out of the workshop. Thus, a knock-down design would be desirable. It'd also make the construction a little more feasible for just me, rather than having to call in the troops to help me lift the thing.

3. Knock-down design.

4. Workbench suitable for general hand tool woodworking tasks.

At the moment these seem to be the main points. Just for kicks I'd like to make it different from the Behemoth too; round dogs, not a traditional tail vice, etc, but none of these are worthy of a particular point. Anyway...

#4 clashes with #1 more than you might think. Current workbench thinking has it that you should have the legs of your bench in line with the front of your bench to provide more clamping surface. It makes sense, it's not something my current bench has, and it's very of-the-moment. Or very-of-the-18thC, depending on your view. I'd like to do it. But notice in this sketch how, in order to accommodate the rear jaw without hitting the legs you need an overhang of around 18" (450mm).

Now I suppose I could put the vice inside the left leg, but I fear two things. One, that access to the tilt lever under the bench, on the lefthand side of the vice, will be restricted and it'll become a knuckle-skinning operation. Two, that some of the advantage of the vice being able to hold things at extraordinary angles will be lost if said workpiece is restricted by hitting the leg. So, for preference, I'd like to remain outside the leg and stretcher area.

However, if we disregard ancient/modern thinking and have inset legs like wot I'm familiar with, it seems to me you can drastically reduce that overhang - thus increasing the base size and therefore the stability:

I'm currently torn between the two. Naturally the excellent suggestions of having another vice on the other end to balance it up a little is quite appealing, but two problems. One, because of #3 (knock-down design) there'll be a top stretcher on the end leg assemblies, rather complicating fitting a face vice as a tail vice. At least without bringing in further complications of some overhang at that end too. Secondly, there's one thing worse than walking into the end of a wooden workbench top every time you step into the w'shop. Yup. It's walking into a chunk of metal vice every time you step into the w'shop. Tail vice duties are likely to be taken up by a Wonder Dog or other cunning gizmo dreamt up by the Veritas Elves. Something that doesn't jut out much anyway.

On the other hand, I could see if I can at least find that vice that's knocking about somewhere...

So where was I? Oh, yeah. Undecided.

Then there's the top. Now my plan is to laminate up strips and aim for something as close to 3" (75mm) thick as possible. But how in hell am I going to lift that? So then I was wondering about the two-part top variety. Bob Lang makes a pretty good case for same with his 21stC workbench. But then again, I could make it two parts without a gap maybe? Or make the front bit heavy and laminated, and use the old trick of having a thinner rear section. Or...

See what I mean? The angst, folks. The angst.

Then there's that nagging option to fit the darn thing to the Behemoth after all, and just hope it'll fit in the bedsit. No-one seems to like that idea. If I said I'd then use the SYP to build a bench anyway, would it get any votes then? ;)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It lives!

The monster lives. And without recourse to an electric storm and an Igor.

I'll admit this is something of a relief. Not just because there's always the worry that you won't remember how it all went back together - the digital camera is worth its weight in gold in that respect - but because I've never actually seen it all in one piece. It was quite a buzz getting it all together.

A sort of idea of how it goes together when fitted on a bench. I cleaned up and refinished the beech handle with the plastic ends (shaving pony, scraper, Speed'n'Eeze polish for, well, speed and ease...) but the long term plan is to replace it with one more like the originals. Anyone know the preferred wood of Joe Emmert and his little elves?

The biggest triumph was that pesky segmented washer. Kids, would you believe the Heap 'o' Washers that have been kicking about Alf Towers since Noah first took to a dinghy offered up one that's not only a perfect fit on the shaft of the Taper Adjustment Knob, but a beautiful friction fit in the casting slot to boot? A little work with hacksaw and file, light tap with mallet on screwdriver, and she was home. I love it when a plan comes together.

So now I'm looking at this gleaming behemoth and wondering if I don't rather fancy it on my existing bench after all. Only problem is the beam is so long that it'd quite possibly necessitate hacking into the tool well and rebuilding it just a tad. Hmm. But I do worry about just how short a bench is really practical for this monster. Here's a naff bit of SketchUp to demonstrate same using the most pathetic rendering of an Emmert vice you could imagine with the SU file of the Holtzapffel type, but reduced in length to 5ft or 1.5m-odd, that being about as much as I can squeeze in (and still be able to use it).

It looks okay, kinda. But, gentle reader, I wake up in the early hours, wild-eyed, having nightmares of this variety:

I'm pretty sure Joe would come and haunt me personally if I let that happen, and I wouldn't blame him. And thus the angsting goes on...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's Big, Black, Shiny...

...and you really wouldn't want it dropping on your toe?

I swear the thing looks bigger and yet the old adage is that darker colours make you look smaller. But are you going to tell this monster its bum looks big in this? No, me neither...

Things move on apace, and courtesy of Axminster's next day delivery and the Fed-Ex man, I'm almost ready for the next stage. Can you tell what it is yet?

No? Go on, guess.

As a result of said order, I also have another one of those "You can tell you're a woodworker when..." things. Viz: You can tell you're a woodworker (again) when you go from no Axminster orders in three years to two in two weeks... I'd forgotten how active workshop time always causes my bank account to start speaking politely in French.

Yes, it keeps saying "Mercy". Ba-boom, tish.

All right, I'm going.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Is there anything more tiresome than preparation for painting? And in this case, masking. Lots and lots of masking. Bolt holes plugged like the nostrils of so many Captain Blackadders, masking tape finely crafted to fit over all sorts of oddly-shaped areas of machined surface.

I started to wonder if it'd ever end. But I think it has.

Look, kiddies! Woodworking!

What d'you mean "Where?"

There. All those finely crafted lengths of dowel. Oh, and I had to bore four holes in that piece of scrap. Er, no, not scrap. I mean that custom made finishing apparatus... Hey, bits of wood were made into even smaller bits of wood - the very essence of wood butchery, no?

I thought double-sided tape on the back of the lugs to hold them on a more manageable scrap of ply was a crafty wheeze. Until I couldn't find the double-sided. I think it may be somewhere in the tool well on the bench, aka The Black Hole of Calcutta. No matter, masking tape folded over itself worked admirably.

So progress is being made. If you've delved into the comments on the last post, you'll see I have an unexpected vice lubricant suggestion - paraffin wax. It appeals to me. After all, have I not been lubricating my planes with same for yonks? Still open to other suggestions though, 'cos I believe I'm all out of Price's best household candles, so there'll be a hiatus anyway while I procure some of the necessary. Also a couple of suggestions to ease my cut-off wheel angst - thanks chaps. I shall look into it when the time comes.

Anyway, there we are, another week slips by and I haven't even started to angst about workbench design yet. Not in public anyway. Stay tuned though, 'cos it's coming. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the blog...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

For want of a nail

I promised you bonus vice hardware, did I not? Well, whilst delving about in the innards of The Vice I spotted the end of something nestling amongst the front jaw tilt adjustment gubbins. "End of a spring?" I wondered, not being quite up to speed with exactly how the tilt mechanism actually works. No, not a spring. A glance from the rear of the jaw and I identified a 2 1/2" nail. Crivens!

Evidently been there some time, and seemingly very determined to stay there. After a good deal of debate over whether there was an outside chance it was a lead-washer-a-like bodge to make something actually work, I decided on some surgery. A cut-off wheel in the Dremel dealt with the head, and some needle nose pliers pulled the rest.

I have a love/hate relationship with the cut-off wheels and the Dremel. When they're working, I love them. When I've just broken the third in a row without actually yet turning on the damn tool, I hate them. Was there ever a cutting tool so susceptible to shattering into a million tiny pieces simply because the user has the impudence to actually try to fit one ready for use? For future reference, gently nudging the robust castings of an Emmert vice with one gives it the life expectancy of a mayfly with a fascination for trout. You won't need to ask me how I know that, I'm sure.

Oh, and nothing fell apart when the nail was removed, so I'm assuming I'm not going to regret removing it. Probably.

Meanwhile, the clean up and as much paint removal as I can stand is pretty much complete. As you can see, even not taking the whole thing apart it's still ended up as one helluva pile of bits. All of which need brushing off, degreasing, masking as required, and then painting. Two coats. Oh joy, oh rapture.

As you can see, the Tilt Adjust Knob, minus lead retaining washer segments, is a little bent. A result of the presence of the nail? I know not. If the mood comes upon me, I may replace the Main Handle with something a bit more Emmert-looking. The originals have wooden ball ends and appear to be almost as long as the jaws are wide.

Surface of the front jaw. Pretty clean, but as you can see, lots of casting voids. I assume this is the kind of thing - on a lesser scale - that results in large bins of rejected planes in places like Lee Valley.

The rear jaw, and the area where the hub rotates was the greasiest, filthiest, nightmare-ish article you could ever hope not to have in your woodworking workshop. I felt like an... engineer. [shudder] That reminds me, at some point I'll be picking brains on preferred lubricants for vices.

The Hub and Hinged Mounting Plate. Ideally it would have been nice to separate them, but not a hope. After much deliberation I removed the Tilt Adjustment Handle (directly to the right of the hub) and just hoped to goodness the spring it works agains wouldn't ping anywhere. It didn't and made the job of cleaning both the hub and the handle 100% easier.

So there we are. Progress. Still a way to go, but as I keep reminding myself, it'll be worth it in the end. All being well.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Apparently showing the sawhorses but not the SYP was teasing. I have it on very good teasing authority, so it must be true. So after a certain amount of sweated labour over the weekend to get the goodies from the garage at one end of the garden to the workshop at the other, I give you one stack of SYP:

I actually remembered I possessed a moisture meter and jabbed it into my freshly cut surfaces on Friday evening, to discover something around 12%. Think it'll need a little time to acclimatise to the dry conditions of the workshop, which happily it can do in exactly the place the bench will end up being. Even more happily, it'll give me some more vacillating space. As it is I look at it and veer wildly between thinking three things:
  1. There's too much
  2. There's not enough
  3. I'm going to wish I hadn't cut the boards there.
Ah, I'd forgotten the joys of woodworking...

The quality inspector gave them all the once over and seemed satisfied.

Lucy has yet to purrfect the arts of the true w'shop cat. In this case the most important: posing for the camera. I still miss Polly; she was an absolute natural for that. But Lucy is yet young and everything still has to be done in a hurry at the moment.

Meanwhile the clean-up of The Vice trudges on. The slightly worrying step of removing the hub from the rear jaw took place, and resulted in an awful lot of grease and a bag of labelled parts and a sketch of where they should go. Yup, putting the sketchy back into sketching...

Assuming I remember to, this week I'll tell you about the unexpected hardware bonus The Vice provided and maybe I'll angst a bit about workbench design decisions. If we have time, there may be musing on having a tool shop in your back yard. Bet you can't wait, eh?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Visitors from Abroad

Alf Towers can no longer claim to have never had Southern Yellow Pine darken its doors. It arrived this afternoon and, um... well South London Hardwoods don't exactly trouble themselves with packing, do they? As it turned out, they don't trouble themselves with keeping it in stock either, so all told I might as well have gone to the local place and had three bare planks turn up that way. Heigh ho. And no, don't harangue me about using SLH or buying sight unseen. The latter is a no option situation, and the former were just there and easy to click before I had time to bottle out again. Next time, I'll bottle...

Now, while I believe much of the country is supposed to be suffering in heat and sun, down here it's been mizzling all day. Until the planks arrived, naturally. When it decided to rain. So I had to move quick to turn 16' planks into manageable lengths that'd fit into the garage. And, indeed, that I could move by myself at all. Not for the first time, I blessed the Sawing Machine, which treated it all as so much butter. Okay, so maybe butter that had been in the fridge for a while, but that may just be the feeble and out-of-condition motor that was attached to the handle...

The flat-topped saw horses I made a zillion years ago also more than earned their oats. Not one single solitary proper joint in the whole design, but sturdy as hell and did not so much as rock as I woman-handled the boards onto them, one end at a time. Plus their tops are wide and comfortable enough to sink onto in case of sudden collapse of unfit sawyers. Not that such a purpose was required this afternoon. No, sir. Ha hum...

I also had to get a move on owing to some complaints from the neighbours who've moved in next door to the garage this summer.

Ma and Pa swallow gave up waiting for me to clear off and simply ignored me while they sat on the front gate and encouraged their offspring to jolly well get a move on and leave home. Poor Ma and Pa are all pooped out and it seems the joys of parenthood have palled. There are at least 4 and possibly 5 beaks to feed, and boy, do those little birds grow. I fancy it did make the sawing go a little easier though, knowing that the sweat of honest toil wasn't upsetting the wildlife, where the screaming motor of a tailed demon surely would.

Now the next question is how to make moving those lengths of SYP from the garage to the workshop anything less than painful. I tell you, already this isn't half reminding me why I bought a workbench in the first place...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Spring clip thingy

In a bid to - theoretically - make my life easier, I'm obviously trying to dismantle as much of The Vice as possible in order to clean it. One part that was really getting in the way on the front jaw was the Taper Adjustment Knob.

The what?

Yeah, you might need Emmert Anatomy 101 open for this...

Now said Taper Adjustment Knob is held captive in the front vice jaw by a... well, I dunno what the technical term for it should be, but I assumed some sort of spring clip thingy. It looked like this:

So a knocked some of the paint off and had a pull with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Strangely... soft. Hmm. Oh well, when in ignorance, get out a hammer. Okay, a mallet. And a screwdriver - of course - and apply a little persuasion to the item in question.

Somewhat to my surprise, there was no springiness involved at all. Instead a lead washer had been broken in two and the two halves forced into the slot in the casting, and thus round the shaft of the Tilt Adjustment Knob. That explained the softness at any rate.

Now I'm no engineer - you've probably noticed - but surely this is not the original design? I can't believe there's not a less - how can I put this? A slightly less bodged solution to the problem? My comments box is open.

Failing that, I may have a slightly smarter lead washer in the Box of Bits I suppose...

Monday, July 05, 2010


Wire brush, that is. Having sought advice on the matter, I applied the twin attack of hot air gun and wire brush on a couple of bits of The Vice to remove the grey paint with a view to doing a complete refinishing job. The results are mixed.

The vice screw cleaned up and the grey paint removed. A little bit of primer is still lodged in the casting here and there, but nothing to cause any trouble when it comes to repainting.

The dogs from the front jaw. Top is one as it came - painted. Yeah, it looks a lot better, but... It explains why I had such a time getting the dogs to come out; there's just not enough room for a layer of paint, however thin. Plus there was some rust under the paint too, so come off it has to. I'd rather have a smoothly working set of dogs than pretty ones, and with a bit of extra work with some abrasives and a coat of wax, I reckon they'll look perfectly workmanlike.

So The Vice parts look fine after this treatment - but my arm, long used to doing nothing more strenuous that pushing a mouse about a bit and tip-tappiting across a keyboard now and again, had totally forgotten what it's like to actually have to do something physical. And it's complaining about it. Quite a lot. If I'm ever to lift a pint again, I shall be considering more powered means of progressing, methinks...

I think I should probably be knocking some expectations about the proposed bench on the head too. Better to nip them in the bud early, what? ;) At present the only Schwarz-ified aspect will the similarity in build construction to that of a brick privvy. Viz: sturdy. Seems to me that with 86lbs of vice - plus whatever the vice is holding - on one end of a bench, mass becomes even more vital. Currently no crochets, sliding deadmen, twin screw or leg vices feature in my plans. Dog holes may be an option, but let's not go mad. Okay, so I may have remembered that somewhere around here I have a metal face vice - which may or may not be a Paramo, but it's so long since I've laid eyes on it, I really don't know - that, maybe, possibly, might lend itself to some sort of tail vice thing, but there's absolutely no hurry about it. As it stands, I'm just thinking of a ruddy heavy table on steroids and that's about it.

Because I know what I'm like, and if I start to get ambitious, nothing will happen at all. Simplicity is the watchword, folks. And I look forward to you reminding me of that in several months time when it's all stalled because I fancied a shaped edge to the front stretcher but can't decide what would go best with the barley-twist legs...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Schwarz Syndrome

Schwarz Syndrome: a virulent and highly infectious disease found particularly within the internet woodworking community. Manifests itself as an insatiable appetite for Southern Yellow Pine and obsessive reading of anything and everything on workbenches. Chronic sufferers may well end up with more workbenches than they actually have room for.

I think I may have caught a slightly less chronic case, but caught it I have. After considerable internal and external debate, I came to the conclusion The Vice That Mr Emmert Built is going to have to have its own bench, and the endless consultation of all words workbench is the inevitable result. And these days, you can't imagine building a bench without consulting the words of The Schwarz, can you? Of course, one of his earliest words is how you really don't need fancy vices, but we'll draw a veil over that... So I've dumped a large wedge of moolah on some SYP (because I'm curious about it anyway, and this is a good excuse) and am currently suffering from a mixture of excitement over actually getting to grips with a woodworking challenge again - and trepidation over exactly how it's going to go.

But where's this bench going to go, Alf? I hear you ask. The Woodrat, alas, will be a loser in all this. For the first time in its life it won't be able to have a dedicated bit of wall to hang on. That does sort of worry me, but then again it's not like it gets used much. It's a bit like a side rebate plane - doesn't get used often, but when it does it's something of a lifesaver. Anyway, I'm thinking some sort of brackety-standy thing that can be clamped either to the bench or the tablesaur half of the Maxi. Which'll be another thing to make. Sigh. I think I need to start a list...

Other things on the list include some serious tidying up of the w'shop, and, I reckon, a bit more cleaning up of aforementioned vice than I had initially anticipated. The dreaded rust has been at work and it took me quite a time just to get the dogs out of the jaws and the tilting plate jobbie actually tilting again. It bodes, my friends. It bodes. Heigh ho.

And finally, the observant will spot that finally, after, um, some years, I've finally given the blog a bit of a facelift. I may yet be tweaking it again - that's Alf Syndrome. The ability to fiddle with something completely different in order to avoid doing something that actually needs to be done. Hopefully it's not infectious...