Friday, March 30, 2012


It's that time again, and a fresh issue of the Lee Valley newsletter drops into the inbox. And I've already got it added to the Index too, just to be a little bit smug... To be less smug, really I should admit that it's more accurately a Contents, isn't it? Never mind.

Anyway, I was amused at the subject of the first article. Great minds, or something... Also, I love the drill box. I've had boring old plastic versions of such drill indexes, a small metal one by Presto, and the very classy variation on the theme to be found in the handle of a Goodell-Pratt wheel brace, but that's a cut above with its multiple circles of storage.

I wonder if it'd possible to use the patent drawings to make one's own version. Hmm. Oh, except that's more metalwork. Ack. Maybe not then.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Plum Job

Cracking on with handles various here. At this rate I should be done in a matter of... decades.

In this case, the coachbuilder's drawbore pins; formerly fitted with, um, rudimentary handles.

For historical accuracy, I should probably have kept them like that. But while functional, they didn't grab me. So instead I went a tad "Pimp My Handle" on them and broke out a piece of Plum that was plundered from the diseased, and thus doomed tree back in 2004. Locally grown timber at least seemed more in keeping with the original owner's vibe than breaking out a piece of Rosewood or some such.

The wonders of photography and cunning placement does wonders for my turning and the appearance of the end results. *pats camera on the lens cover in thanks* Honestly, I think this T-handle type of drawbore pin is infinitely preferable to the straight variety - any hammer blows can be directed right on the shaft, minimal amount of steel needed in manufacture, and the T-handle facilitates both twisting and removal. I'm sure I must be missing good reasons why only coachbuilders opted for this style; the comments box is open for the reader to point them out.

Tools used were mainly spinny turny ones of course, but a 1/4" Hale Bros. firmer chisel and a really badly turned (by me; who else?) Apple mallet did a sterling job in squaring up the through hole to take the square shanks. If there's any more enjoyable hand tool task than working an air-dried hardwood, it must be working an air-dried fruitwood. Lovely.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hammer Time

So my week of solitude and productivity has passed. Not as much solitude as I expected, and a whole bundle less productivity. However, small though it may be, a tiny inroad has been made in the Box O' Tools Needing O' Handles. Viz; former hammer handle has been refitted thusly:

Then reduced a little in size, reshaped to, um... become another, slightly smaller, hammer handle for a useful size of cross pein (or peen) hammer. As, indeed has a smaller hammer handle been refitted to an even smaller example of hammer head. The latter was a handle I'd made ages ago, and I'm not still wholly convinced by the piece of Ash used for it to be honest. The larger (now slightly smaller) handle, on the other hand, was rescued from a ball pein (or peen) hammer from the coachbuilder's tools, and it's good stuff. The colours in the grain are just gorgeous, and not done any justice to at all in this photograph.

Tools used were mainly a Stanley #53 adjustable mouth spokeshave and that invaluable beast for shave work, the Shave Pony.

This last week my Mum was getting a little light refitting of an essential component done too; heart bypass surgery. Scheduled, I should point out. Which is better than in an emergency situation, apart from all the time it gives you to worry about it... Anyway, she's now safely home, so while not actually being so insane as to say "Ya boo" to the gods, I feel I can at least now hazard a small "So far, so good". To be honest, given the level of difficulty involved, it seems as though the hammer handles caused proportionally more drama...

Monday, March 19, 2012

More Sacrilege

Well this week I'm left, Cinderella-like, here at Alf Towers - which usually means I get some solid, uninterrupted workshop time. That was the plan. Then on Saturday I managed to pull something-or-other in my back, and now it's not the plan quite so much. Sigh. I wouldn't have minded if it had been caused by lifting some heavy baulk of Southern Yellow Pine or summat - but I was moving a packet of sausages from one freezer drawer to another. Double sigh.

But let that be a warning, kids. Sausages really are bad for you...

However, the Saturday before last, I did manage a little light rust hunting, and succumbed to my mumblefourthmumble hand cranked grinder. I confess I fell for the solidity of the tool rest on it; I know nothing of Fabrex Tools Ltd except they also seem to have made a solid-looking wheel brace as well.

Not to mention the little built-in drill bit grinding rest. Cool. Of course I've never reground a drill bit in my life, and had hitherto had absolutely no plans to start, but that's not the point.

Only hitch-ette with the solidity of the tool rest, is it's brought about by a nifty slide-y dovetail-y groovy set up - that does not tilt.

So ideally I wanted another, tilt-y rest that could pop over the top, and yet get out of the way when a 90° grind - or a newly sharpened drill bit - was required. At which point I had a bit of a brainwave about what to use to make one, that'd not only provide a nice robust surface, but also an effective heat sink.

Can you tell what it is? Are you ready?

The easily shocked might be best to turn away now.

No, really, I mean it.

Well I warned you...

Yes, it's the toe of a #4 1/2.

It wasn't a good #4 1/2 of any pedigree at all. More to the point, I already have a task for the rest of the body, so otherwise this bit'd go to waste. It's a Good Thing, honestly.

Also, cast iron really is the loveliest stuff to tap. It's a wildly inaccurate description, but I can't help thinking of it as somehow "buttery". Lovely stuff. And really, it's probably just as well I get out this desire to tap threads in plane bodies on stuff like this, isn't it, boys and girls? Yes, I rather think it is.

Anyway, works a treat; little bit higher on the wheel than ideal, but a necessary evil to avoid the existing rest and still have a tilt range. Best of all, the half lap for the base went together "just so" right off the saw, which cheered me up no end. Of course I was extra happy to get to the woodworking bit, metalwork being a ghastly, dirty business which I like not at all. No wonder amateur woodworking seems to overflow with engineers; blessed relief to them to be clean for once, I should think... ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Eye know

So I had to purchase more lolly sticks; Bertie's going through them like... Well, like me with a packet of Jaffa Cakes, actually. But let's not dwell on that. And my "bright idea" from the last blog entry just wouldn't quite leave me alone. I am weak in the presence of a silly idea.

It turns out that
a. They're not self-adhesive (soon remedied)
b. Some of them have rather luscious eyelashes. Oh. Oh.

Yes, I know Little Victor isn't pink but burgundy (it's just a really awkward colour to photograph, so I'm told), but this just had to happen:

Mesdames et Messieurs! I give you Victoria!

Ooh, la la. Giving us those workbench eyes, you minx...

Either El Presidente will laugh, or he'll kill me. Or he may laugh whilst killing me. Should I survive, I ought to probably seek some sort of treatment. Or else suggestions on what other tools are begging for anthropomorphication; plenty more eyes to go round. And round...