22 December 2007

New toys...and maybe something to sell.

Having won £100 in the Competition I've ordered some shiny new toys from Classic Hand Tools as they have a 10% reduction on LN tools up to Christmas. I was also mightily chuffed this morning to see that those lovely people at GMC have deposited a further wedge into my account for the article on the Teak Casket that appeared in F&C recently, so the keyboard was fairly hot this morning as I ordered a bit more stuff. To date I've got on order the following:

4 - LN mortice chisels

1 - 25mm LN bench chisel

LN dowel plate

Veritas Bevel Up Smoother

Veritas round spokeshave

Veritas flat spokeshave

...the Veritas stuff was ordered from AHC in Camberely with a huge saving on equivalent stuff from either Axminster or CHT. Only trouble is that this little lot will be arriving after Christmas. Not sure now whether to sell my Record Calvert Stevens smoother shown in the pic. If anyone's interested maybe you could let me know?
The new cabinet is coming along quite well, though it's a bit parky in the 'shop at the moment so it's difficult to get the glue to go off until I get a bit of heat in there. I've got the top boards veneering (with a mahogany substrate veneer) in the Air Press at the moment with a hot water bottle and blanket over the top to provide a bit of local heat, so with a bit of luck the glue should go off reasonably quickly. After that they have to be lipped and the bandsawn elm veneer applied.
Simon Platt (Heath Robinson on the forum) was round on Thursday afternoon for a little bit of a basic fettling demo on his No4 plane which by the end of the afternoon was working every so slightly better than at the beginning. We also went through a lot of the fundamental 'shop stuff that many of us take for granted but which is a bit bewildering for a newcomer, so hopefully the afternoon short circuited a painfull and possibly expensive learning process.

16 December 2007


Well Big Woodie has finally been finished and it's been a bit of a journey. Once I had finally taken delivery of the glass, it was a fairly straight forward process to make the jig for sanding the sole. However, the engineering method that Pete and I had a look at last week didn't really work out. The problem was that the medium used was simply too thick (in the end I used a very thin slurry of paraffin and grease) and even with the most careful application, high and low spots were being marked on the plane's sole which didn't make sense when I checked it with a long steel edge. In the end I used the Veritas jointer to shoot the sole and kept on checking it every other shaving or two...it came flat in the end and then it was onto some 150g paper in the jig to give the sole a final sanding. I've written the draft copy of the article for F&C and just need to 'fine tune' it...I also need to take some better pics of BW and the other smaller planes, job for next week.
I received my cheque yesterday for £100 as the UKW prize and have spent it at CHT on a couple of LN mortice chisels and the 1" bevel edge so they should be arriving next week, not with standing Christmas postal deliveries.

08 December 2007


Pete Newton came round the other day for a natter. When we went out to the 'shop we had a look at the progress of the Big Woodie. All bits are done but I had'nt done anything with the sole as I've got this bit of glass on order. Anyhow, Pete said that he'd being having a few thoughts about the sole so we put my big steel straight edge against it and it was pretty good, straightish, not in 'wind', acceptable over most of the length...'cept for a little bit of snipe from the P/T which meant that the sole is, in effect....convex...28" and its convex. Bugger.
To cut a long afternoon sideways (a very enjoyable afternoon by the way) Pete took me thru' the metalworkers way of truing to obtain a surface by using a marking medium on a dead flat surface (my long piece of 10mm glass) and then scraping away the high spots, which as he explained, is mighty tedious but safe, so no danger of making the convexity more pronounced. Which is what might have happened had I gone straight onto the sandpaper, which don't really bare thinking about on a plane this big.
After a little bit of experimentation, we found a suitable marking medium. More difficult than you might think as the glass is dead smooth and won't 'hold' a medium very well, but we eventually found something that I hope will work very well. So next task will be to make up a jig to hold the glass (already bought the mdf) so that I can tediously get the sole scraped flat. I'll then be able to just put some 150g paper into the jig just to finish off, and then it's final assembly and finishing.

05 December 2007


Have been trying to get hold of a bit of 10mm thick float glass so that I can make up a jig to finish the sole of the Big Woodie. Ordered the glass last week, went into the glaziers yesterday and was told that the supplier had broken it... 'so sorry, not here. Will re-order for you sir, will be here Wednesday'. Rang up today... 'so sorry sir, it missed the lorry, not here. So when here' says I...'next Tuesday sir, so sorry'.

On a more positive note, the latest edition of F&C has been published and there's a decent bit on the construction of the Teak Casket. I'm a little bit disappointed that some of the pics were so small, I 'spose that if CE-E had made them any bigger, it would have had to run to another page or maybe a second part in the next issue, which would have meant some more dosh for your truly. Bugger.

Elm Cabinet is coming on steadily, I'm working on the side panels at the moment and hoping that I'll get offered the £100 prize in the competition which means that I can get hold of some LN mortice chisels from CHT (as there's a 10% discount up to Christmas) so that the ends can be chopped square

28 November 2007

Elm Cabinet MkII

Have completed the full size drawings this morning on the new cabinet, designed to hold some of SWIMBO's fossil collection. The whole thing should be quite good I hope, it'll sit on a stand about 700mm tall, cabinet with Golden Mean proportions, glass panelled door, glass shelves. Stand will be very slightly tapered, most of the joints will be thru' mortice and tenons with ebony wedges, exposed and rounded over same as the last one...bit more shaping on this one so may need to get hold of some rasps as well as a couple of 'shaves.

Here's a pic of a well known planemaker slicing up a bit of elm for the panels, which will be the first thing I need to get cracking on. All the elm needs to be shoved through the P/T now to come down to size...shouldn't take too long, and then it's on to the benchwork.

26 November 2007

I Hate Boxes....

I seem to have been making nothing but boxes recently. Firstly there was the Teak Casket that's doing nicely in the UKW Competition, then there was Meg's box in spalted sycamore and I'm just about to finish a small pencil box in the same timber for Gareth as one of his presents. I rang him up and he said he wanted one to go on his desk in the flat, so with all that lot I'm pretty hacked off with doing small, fiddly boxes and am itching to get into something bigger, so next week I'm going to start the Elm Cabinet MkII, which should hopefully be good and more complex than the last one. The timbers' been rough cut and drying out now for a few months now so I can't wait to get going on it. Will definitely need to get a couple of the Veritas 'shaves for the stand as well as some LN mortise chisels for both bits...cabinet and stand. Need to do a full size drawing of the cabinet and stand as I fancy that the stand will have a bit of 'splay' to it...should be very interesting.

21 November 2007

Progress on the Big Woodie

The Big Woodie is making steady progress...can't you just tell I used to write millions of reports! I bought the studding for the adjustment mechanism from B&Q the other day and Pete Newton very kindly machined a little off the chip breaker bolt for me as it was a fraction too big for the routed groove in the plane body. Needless to say, it's a perfect fit now, so many thanks Pete. I have to start the brass cap very shortly, which is probably one of the most unpleasant parts of the whole project. Sawing through 8mm thick brass by hand is just plain hard work....shouldn't take too long though and once that's done the mouth adjustment mechanism needs to be made and then it's just the final assembly and finishing.
Then I have to start the write up for F&C on plane making.

17 November 2007

It was a snip really....

Someone missed a good plane the other day as I tried to sell my No4 that I'd completely refurbed back in the Spring....which is a great shame as I only wanted£100 for it.... what an absolute snip! Never mind. I think what I'll do is to replace the existing Record blade (not the one in the photo) with a Hock one at some later date and then hone a 20deg back bevel on it to use as Mr C has suggested on very difficult timbers.
Onwards and upwards...

14 November 2007

Making Progress

The big woodie has been started and so far it's coming along quite nicely. I've managed to re-saw the greenheart this morning, which wasn't quite such a trial as I thought it might be and then putting it thru' the PT wasn't too bad either, end result is that it's now glued in place so next job on the 'morrow is to bearing cut off the waste down the long sides. I used my new Veritas jointer to plane the underside of the gluing surface...fabulous plane. You can see from the pic that the slot has been machined for the adjustable mouth mechanism and the round hole immediately in front is for the locking bolt that drops down from the top. It's absolutely essential that it's kept dead flat so that the sole is then flat and needs the minimum amount of work later on. I did have some trouble with the size and shape of the tote but managed to sort it out after the third go, which I have to say was a bit of a pain. I based the shape and design for the tote on my Norris A1 as shown in this pic.
Had a bit of good news this morning...I'm going to receive a small payout from and old pension later on, so what with the Competition prize and the monies(s) from F&C publications I ought to be able to get the odd shiny trinket or two for the workshop...most of it tho' is going to have to go on paying the CCards, never mind, should be able to get rid of a fair wedge.

10 November 2007

A Grand Day Out

I haven't done an entry for a while, so apologies...must try harder. A fair bit has happened since the last entry really. I had a great day out with Martin, Waka and Philly in Dorchester last Sunday. Martin's garage workshop needs to be seen to be believed....if you think Philly has got some tools you need to redefine the definition of 'collector'. Martin let me have a fabulous lump of greenheart for the bottom of my long woodie that I'm just about to start, works out at 70lbs/cu' which is about as hard as it comes, apart from Lignum. In return, I'm going to refurbish an unusual spokeshave that needs some metalwork done and new handles made...more later. Martin also let me have a rather tatty, non descript infill jack that he bought from a boot fair so that will be my next plane project...I'll do the work on it, then it'll go on the bay and we'll divi up the spoils. This should be quite and interesting one to do as I quite enjoy taking a tool from something that looks like you wouldn't give it any house room and bringing it back to a decent working condition.
F&C are going to publish the Teak Casket in the Christmas edition which will be good. I rang up CE-E the editor the other day and asked him if he wanted another article(s) on plane making, Woodbloke style. Affirmative. Not wishing to steal any of Philly's thunder as I make mine in a significantly different way so that should be good as well...OK then, back out to the 'shop to do a detailed drawing and then I 'spose I'd better get sawing out some timber.

21 October 2007

Stuff that's happened...

Amidst all the last minute packing that took a week, SWIMBO has finally taken herself off to windier climes and from the email and phone calls I've had is enjoying herself in the South Atlantic. There are problems with the internet connection tho' so she's emailing me text and photo's and I'm creating her Travel Blog, which seems to be OK. Will be off myself to see her after Christmas, probably in February.
The T5 has been finished and sold to another UKW member and it will be delivered in a few days time. It's turned out quite well but I shan't be doing another one of these things as they take too long, I 'spose a Dremmel would have been very handy to do the 'fiddly' bits but I didn't have one. Still, it's quite pleasing to see how a fairly ropey old plane can be brought back to life and look better, hopefully, than when it was new.
I'm making a box at the mo' in spalted sycamore that a pal gave me...lovely stuff to work with with very pronounced figuring so I think it'll look good when it's done, I'll finish it with shellac and wax to keep the colour as oil would give it a yellow tinge.
Going to Surrey later in the week and will call in to see Paul Chapman and give Scott a bit of stick about his very uncool aviator shades!...should be a very good day. Going as well to see Philly and others in Poole where I hope to obtain some Greenheart for the bottom of a long woodie I will be making soon. It'll be 28" long, with the main body made from some Mahogany but I also want to include an adjustable mouth. The cap iron is going to be 8mm thick brass and it will have a double 5mm iron, 44 mm wide (ground downn from a 50mm woodie) and chipbreaker set at 50 degrees. I'll also be able to buy a Veritas 22" jointer with the money from the sale of the T5, so the plane collection is steadily growing.
I had a very interesting afternoon with Pete on Saturday, the result of which is that I'll be ditching my old leather strop in favour of a 1000g ceramic stone which gave and edge that I didn't think possible...absolutely fantastic, so that will be another order to Axminster shortly.

04 October 2007

Switzerland 2007

Having got all the photos sorted out now on the PC I can do a half respectable write up of our trip to Switzerland this year, and what a trip it was! We started out by catching the mid morning ferry to Dunkirque which left us the rest of the afternoon to drive for an overnight stop at the Ibis in Metz and then on to Grindenwald (near Interlaken) for our first camp site, which happened to be at the foot of the Eiger, which is a rather impressive sight when you crawl out of the tent first thing in the morning. I had a very slight problem tho' in opening the 'essential supplies' bought in Dunkirque the day previously, so I had to 'adapt and overcome'.
We stayed for a couple of nights at that site and then moved on to Lucerne and found a rather attractive site on the shore of the lake which was conveniently about a mile from the old city, an easy ride on the bikes. Lucerne is a lovely place, lots to see and plenty of fabulous chocolate shops to explore, however being of sound disposition I left Alyson solely in charge of that activity. By chance one of the attractions that we visited was the Transport Museum which was a stones throw from our site, I spent about four captivating hours in there and I think it's probably the best museum I've ever been in...even the kids had scooters to run around on! We also had a trip to Mount Pilatus which entailed a trip on the steepest cog railway in the world. The little trains negotiate a slope of 1:48 which is truly eye watering...fantastic view of the Alps from the top though. To round off our stay in Lucerne we visited an artillery fortress tunnelled into the mountain side at Vitznow, which was built completely in 14 months in 1939, a fairly outstanding piece of engineering. Switzerland has thousands of such fortresses and this one was decomissioned only in 1998!
Then onto Zermatt for another hike up to the Hornlihut which is about two thirds the way up the Matterhorn, a stimulating and enjoyable day out with marvellous weather and subsequent views of the peak. (The hut can just be seen as a 'pimple' centre of pic on top of the ridge) There is a new museum just opened in Zermatt on the story of the Matterhorn. On the original ascent, four of the team lost their lives just as they were starting down...the museum has a glass case containing the rope that snapped, thought provoking indeed.
Then onto Lukerbad, a small alpine resort with really hot thermal pools which quite made up for the most awful night we had. That particular day we had a bad storm with high winds and the temperature dropped to well below zero at night. Our sleeping arrangements weren't up to the extreme of temperature but we managed to survive by sleeping in just about all our clothes. I think the cooked breakfast the following morning was probably the best meal of the holiday....rosti and baked beans with lots of tea! The blobs on the Landrover bonnet are in fact solid blocks of ice, not water.
We rounded off the trip with a few days camping at Vidy, at Lausanne on the north shore of Lake Geneva, another excellent site. Lots of cycling along the lake accompanied by a day out 'wine tasting' at a couple of local villages....it's a wonder we got back to camp reasonably sober. After that it was the long drive back home via Metz again. A fantastic holiday in all with absolutely wonderful weather, even in the mountains (apart from that night)
One final thing though. We went on an alpine coach that went high up into the mountains and the blast of the triple air horns, once heard is never forgotten.....anyone know how I can fit a set on my pushbike?

31 August 2007

What Sweeties?

A week to go now to the hols and a lot do. The Landy's got to be scrubbed and polished ready for the 'off' next Friday and I'll need to get all the camping kit out of the loft at the weekend and give it a check over, grass will have to be cut I suppose before we go which is always a bit of a chore but doesn't take too long.

The refurb on the T5 is coming along nicely, still lots to do, but the main castings have started to clean up quite well so I'm hopeful that it will turn out to look very presentable. The person who has bought it has specified some English Walnut knobs and tote so I'm happy to do that.

I've just had an email from the Competition Moderator who has let me know that Philly is going to donate a prize instead of the original donor which is very generous, so many thanks indeed Phill.......any saw from that tool chest will do at a pinch, says me, backing out the door!

The article on the Teak Casket for F&C was finished yesterday. I've run off a draft copy and I'll need to now let my proof reader (Megs, my daughter) have a look at it for spelling errors and grammatical goofs, of which there will be many, no doubt. One thing I do have to do though is a decent A2 working drawing, so I need to get cracking on that if I'm to get it in the post next week.

I can hear you chundering now, what's all this about sweets? Driving sweeties for SWIMBO to be precise, probably one of the most important decisions on the forthcoming adventure. I personally favour the 'Curiously Strong Mints' from M&S, the ones in the little green tin, but I suppose Alyson will have her usual favourites for an outing like this........a big bag of Worthers sucky sweeties!

22 August 2007

Slightly Concerned..........

The holiday is fast approaching now, just a couple of weeks to go. I voiced concern to SWIMBO a few days ago that our old tent (Vango Delta) was great for somewhere that had guaranteed sunshine but it had nowhere to shelter in the wet as it was only a little dome tent, so we went out and bought a much bigger tunnel tent from Blacks, which is where Alyson has a Saturday job incidently, so we were able to buy one at less than half-price, which is not too shabby! We look at the weather in Switzerland on these webcams each day at this site and its quite easy to see that the conditions change fairly rapidly in the mountains: http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/swisscams/cam_overview.cfm

I'm going to start another plane refurb today as well. I've got an old Record T5 jack plane which I'm going to give 'The Treatment'. I'll probably finish it to a decent standard with a Clifton blade from Axminster and make a new tote and knobs in mahogany or cherry (or whatevever I've got loafing about in the workshop which is suitable) and then flog it on the Bay. If sufficient is raised I hope to be able to put it towards the cost of a new LV 22" low angle try plane as I don't have a longer plane at the moment. Also in the pipeline for later will be a 28" woodie with a greenheart sole, double iron set at 50deg and adjustable mouth which should be very interesting to make.

I was hoping by now to have recieved my prize in the Competition, the design section having closed at the end of July. Nothing has yet appeared in the post and I have heard nothing from the person donating the prize, which is worrying and a situation that I find unacceptable. There is another person who also is owed a prize and who has not yet (I assume) recieved anything. I'm going to leave it another couple of weeks and then I may go public before I go on holiday........

14 August 2007

Heavy Weight on my Back

Dad's funeral went off quite well last week really. A sad day as these things always are but really good to meet up with my brothers again after quite a while.

With the completion of the Teak Casket a few days ago, my daughter has taken quite a shine to it, in fact most things I make would end up in her bedroom stuffed full of clutter if she could get away with it, so to ease the burden on my aching shoulders I'm going to make her one and hopefully that will be the end of it....don't hold your breath though. SWIMBO's been giving me a bit of grief as well over it so it's a two pronged attack........ I'm not ever going to win, but then again do us blokes ever? A few weeks ago a visited a pal in Basingstoke who let me have (amongst some other timber) a few short boards of spalted sycamore, just enough to do a little box with a solid panel for a lid and hopefully enough left over to veneer some ply for the base, so I'm hoping it should turn out quite well.......trouble is I need some thin bandsaw blades to convert the wood and haven't been able to buy any yet as all available spondulicks is being chanelled towards our hols, I live in hope though!

We're counting down the days now for our trip abroad and have now decided that it will be Switzerland as we've bought a half-price rail card valid for all trains, buses and lake steamers as well as the motorway pass for the windscreen of the Landy. The bikes are also being taken this year so that adds an extra element to the proceedings. I've got a very busy itinerary planned though I'm not sure we'll be able to do all of it so we need to be flexible and make sure we can do as much as possible depending on the weather, which can always be variable in the mountains. Looking forward to it. Driving a Landrover down the Swiss mountain hairpins last year was something that needed a little bit of concentration......should be a great holiday.

03 August 2007

It's Finished

I've finally finished the casket for the Competition. It's been very interesting to make but proved quite a challenge in many respects, not least 'cos of the curved surfaces and of course the secret mitre dovetails. I was speaking to the editor of F&C yesterday and he's very keen for an article with emphasis on the construction as it hasn't been covered in the mag for a number of years, so I'd better get busy on the keyboard....they don't call me 'fingers' (preceeded by a suitable adjective) at work for nothing! I thought I would put up a couple of sneaky pics of the finished project in the Blog.
On a more mundane note, we've got Dad's funeral in Guidford next Thursday which will be a bit of a trial for all concerned. I for one will be glad when it's over and I can get back to some semblance of normality

30 July 2007

Surreal Sort of Day.....

Yesterday was a surreal and very odd sort of day. SWIMBO'S off to the South Atlantic so yesterday afternoon we packed her 'comfort box', a large cardboard box which anyone on an overseas posting can take, usually filled with all sorts of stuff and reminders of home to make life a little more tolerable when you're away. She's going to be away for about 6 months, could be longer so that's no to bad.........
........unlike my Dad who was visited by the old fella' with the big scythe at 5.30am yesterday. He'd had numerous small strokes over the years and was in a bad way, so this was a kindness I 'spose. Mustn't grumble tho', and least it's stopped raining and I've got the bloody grass cut!

23 July 2007

Plan A or Plan B?

A fair bit has happened in the last few days. Swimbo had a very pleasant day with the RN on board HMS Bulwark, here's a pic of her suited and booted in the 'chopper (Sea King not a Chinook) looking ever so slightly apprehensive about the whole thing.
I had a really enjoyable day last Saturday with Paul (Chisel) who let me use his bandsaw to cut some walnut for a casket I'm making. I should have taken a few pics of his shop 'cos he's got the most impressive lathe that I've ever clapped eyes on.....very, very sexy (or whatever turns you on)

Very glad also to see that everyone had a great day out at the UK Workshop Woodworky Convention, or the Nottingham Bash as it's better known, looked a great day, not sure about Phill's T shirt, I think he needed something with a bit more presence for the day, if you know what I mean.
The casket as mentioned previously is coming on quite well now and is not far off being finished. There's still a lot of sanding and fiddling about with it as well as polishing but I think that when it's done it should be quite presentable so I'll email F&C and see if they are interested.....hope so.

May have Paul Chapman and Pete Newton coming over later in the week as Pete's just finished a plane that he wants me to have a look at.....'spect it will be a cracker if I know Pete.

Now I know what you're thinking, has Woodbloke finally lost it completely.....what's all this stuff about 'Plan A or Plan B'? Well it's all to do with our hols. We had a fantastic camping holiday in Switzerland last year and intend(ed) to go there again this year in early Sept. However SWIMBO came home a few days ago a bit doomy and gloomy having looked at the Beeb weather for central Europe.....they seem to have been clobbered as bad as us weather wise so being the bright and cheerful soul that I am I referred her to this weather pic which has remained fairly constant for the last couple of months.....I know, 'cos I've been looking 'occaisionaly'. This weekend then, SWIMBO's been hatching a cunning plan for a holiday to sunnier climes (South of France, roughly) known as Plan B. We intend to make the final 'go' decision in the 3rd week in August after consulting the runes, teacups, crystal balls and Auntie Beeb, probably in that order. Whatever happens we'll be taking the cycles abroad on the back of the Landy which is something else we've been organising .....a lighting board. Now that we've got that, it is truly staggering to see the number of motors with bikes on carriers where the number plate and lights are obscurred....it is an offence, the boys in blue WILL stop you and you WILL get a hefty fine and possibly points where you don't want 'em.

18 July 2007

Hitting the Right Keys.......

Monday, 16 July 2007

As with most things, it's easy once youv'e figured out how to do something. I've just been playing around for the last three bloody hours trying to get a Hyperlink into the website text and hey presto....when you hit the keys in the right order it's all hunky doodly and everything works. I put a post on the General Forum about how to do it but the suggestions (and thanks everyone who had an input) didn't seem to work on Freewebs. It wasn't until I saw the Tutorial with a flow of idiot proof moving pics that the gloopy mud turned to sparkling clear water.......On a different note, SWIMBO's off on another jolly on the 'morrow. A couple of weeks ago she was surfing and throwing herself of cliffs in Cornwall (Alf country, Penhale) and this week she's being choppered out in a 'woka-woka' (that's a Chinook to those not in the know with military parlance) to HMS Bulwark in the English Channel for the day to see how the matelots do it.....should be fun. Oh what it is to work for the MOD.F&C's just dropped onto the mat with the last part of the Elm Chest which will make for pleasant reading at work tonight. My ugly mug's in there along with a line or two thanking Philly for the shoulder plane he made a while back....so if you read this Phill, many thanks again.Over the weekend, I managed to get the plinth partly done for the Casket. Most of the corners pulled up well tho' one is slightly out....perfection can never be achieved I suppose but precision is worth aiming for. Pic is shown below but I'll put a more detailed account on the forum shortly: