31 March 2008

I hate panels...

I'll be really glad when this back panel for the Elm Cabinet II has been done. After initially bookmatching the joints the completed panel took on shape of it's own as it started to warp. This of course made rebating with the router table impossible so I had to cramp it flat to the bench and use the smaller hand held router to make the rebate.
Except that I got the measurements slightly out and now the gap 'twixt frame and panel is too large. This means that I'll have to plane something off the tongues all round to reduce the gap to about 2mm, which is the same as the panels in the carcase sides.
The result of this is that the frame will have to be made smaller to fit the now reduced panel size and doing this little exercise will mean that the exterior dimensions of the framed up panel will make it sloppy in the carcase rebate.
The only way out of this fine mess I've got myself into is to glue on a slither of elm on all of the outside faces to make it fit and hope no-one has a fancy to look at the back when it's installed. Fortunately, the interior will totally mask the utter cock-up that I've made of it all so it ought to look tolerable. The only saving grace on this sorry escapade is that the material for the panel itself has quite an acceptable grain pattern with some rather striking figure in it...anyway that's a job for next week, here's hoping I don't get myself further into the mire!

28 March 2008


After a harrowing few days I've finally got the computer back from the menders who did a pretty up front job. I took it in several times and the techies had a look at it each time free and gratis but in the end they couldn't fix it so it was booked in for a proper inspection. In the end Windows had to be reinstalled and the guys also set up the printer and external hard drive. I had some extra RAM installed while it was at the shop so when it was lit up this morning the difference in the speed was amazing. Internet access is now through MS Internet Express rather than AOL which suits me as well.
I've made some progress on the back panel of the Elm Cabinet II as well. Things haven't gone quite according to plan, so some minor adjustments have had to be made, but hopefully all will go well when it's finally done. I realised the other day that I was trying to be too much of a smart arse in it's making and should have made it in a completely different way. Never mind, you lives and you learns.
SWIMBO's return is about three weeks away now and things have moved on with the decoration of the lounge. The first coat of paint has gone up onto the walls and all the nasty, dusty, throat clogging work of hacking out brickwork for sockets (surface mounted previously) and plastering has been done so the end is in sight. Tomorrow should see the next coat of paint on the walls and after that it's rubbing down the white work and a lick of gloss.

23 March 2008

'Puters...who'd have 'em?

I got up bright and early yesterday, fired up the computer to check on emails and decided to reply to one by including a scanned copy of an old pic from college. Trouble is the scanner didn't work and to cut a long and very sad story sideways, I managed to do all sorts of stupid things to the machine, all of which were of my own making. The result was that I had to take it down to the menders who fixed it...sort of. It's still not quite right so it's going back again this morning and if they can't fix it on the spot (which they may well be able to do) then I'll have to book it it in for them to have a look at later in the week. The upside is that while I had it in the shop yesterday I took the opportunity to increase the RAM from 512Mb to 1.5Gb so that when I started up yesterday it was much quicker.
I'm off on Wednesday with Paul Chapman to see Dom Valente at his 'shop in Hertford so that should be a very interesting day out. I'll be taking the Elm Chest and Teak Casket for him to have a look at...quite looking forward to it and the bonus is that it gets me away from the decorating for a day.

20 March 2008

A Month To Go

This time next month, the 20th April to be exact about these things, SWIMBO is going to turn up on the doorstep 'fresh' and I say that advisedly, off the aircraft from the Falkland Islands, but she will have had a three day stop over at Ascension Island on the Equator which will have cost next to nothing (the main one being a hire vehicle to get around in) in addition to a small amount of readies for 'beer and skittles'...
Which leaves me exactly one month to get the decorating done and dusted!
I'm still in the prep stage at the moment as I've just finished the first bit of plastering. The electrical sockets have been sunk into the bricks (instead of surface boxes) and a couple of spurs run off. The fireplace has been ripped out, bricked up and is ready for plastering. I've spent a couple of days removing umpteen layers of wallpaper dating back to at least the 1950's, judging by some of the truly ghastly patterns that emerged so now I'm down to decent plaster and it's just a question now of making good before the paint can go on.
The next few weeks (in between shifts) will see me painting like mad, after which it's a new laminate floor, then skirting boards go back and finally finishing off with some decent curtain poles and drapes.
SWIMBO has decreed from afar that a new telly would be 'just the thing' to go into the newly decorated lounge (it's going to go where the old fireplace was). I've done a lot of research and I reckon that the Panasonic TV's will take a bit of beating, so I'm going to opt for one of those (wall mount it, to take up less space) and a HDD DVD recorder to complete the set up.

16 March 2008

The Wood Bent

Having got hold of some decent elm for the back panel of my Elm Cabinet II I merrily proceeded to hack into a couple of chunks and it was only at the third attempt did I finally succeed in getting a half reasonable bookmatched pair. The timber seemed pretty dry but there was a little bit off cupping after conversion so I left it for a few days and then yesterday planed both bits flat and then edged jointed them with Long Woody, which I have to say, was quite good to use. Having got both bits shot in I glued them and left everything to set overnight, thinking that all would be good in the morning.
Think again....the wood warped! The shape across the end grain resembled a very shallow 'S' which was a real pain as I had to machine a rebate all round. After a lot of head scratching and making various unsuccessful jigs I finally concocted a set up that let me cramp the panel to the bench top and at the same time allowed me to run the router against the wooden batten so that I was able to sort out the rebate. After a bit of scraping with the Veritas No 80 and some initial sanding the panel now looks quite good and should fit in very well when finally fitted into the cabinet. The rebate still has to be tided up a bit with the big LN shoulder plane but it's essentially there as the difficult bit has been done.
From the same bits of elm I've also sorted out some new door rails having made such a cock-up of the last pair when I put a set of mortices on the wrong side. Again I've bookmatched the vertical rails to match in the pattern and these two look quite good, probably better than the original ones I butchered last weekend.
The next couple of things to do then will be to finish of the panel and then chop some more mortises, hopefully in the right place this time.

12 March 2008

Blue Spruce and the LN No9

I motored down to Dorchester on Sunday to see Martin the Woodkateer and thence over to see Waka the Pensioner at Weymouth and I have to say what a very pleasant experience it was. Martin asked me to do a couple of saw sharpenings for him and I returned a refurbished 'shave. He also let me have a lump of Australian Myrtle Burr which I dare say can be made into something quite elegant as it's not a very big piece but there may be something like a small box lurking inside, and also a rather nice Disston cross cut saw, dating from the 70's. We then went over to Waka's place in Weymouth and after a very tasty ploughmans lunch we had a look at his shop and see some of the stuff he's been making. I have to say that the quality of the kit in his 'shop is staggering. I particularly wanted to have a look at the Blue Spruce chisels, having never seen then before and they are the daintiest, most droolworthy tools I've seen for a long time, suffice to say that the LN chisels, really excellent though they are, look quite pedestrian alongside them.
We also spent a bit of time messing about with Waka's shoot (which I converted into an adjustable version) and had a really good play around with the LN No9 Iron Mitre plane. After the experience, I've convinced myself that this is the next major bit of kit that I'm going to get for my 'shop as it's a superb tool for the shooting board.
Just before leaving Waka said that both Martin and I were welcome to any of his off cuts which was very generous so I helped myself to an arm full of American White Oak, American Cherry and Maple. After that it was back to drop off Martin and then home...a really good day had by all.

08 March 2008

Elm...and a Result!

Having been over to Goulden Hardwoods on Sunday, I came back with a couple of reasonable boards, each one about 2000x300x30mm off the top of the log, so a bit of sap in there...nothing special, full of defects, splits, knots and cracks, but just enough to get out the back panel and the replacement rails for the doors. I've roughly cut these now this morning and they're just adjusting in the workshop at the moment so in a couple of weeks, they ought to be conditioned enough to do a bit of preliminary machining.
However while I was there I asked Paul if he had any more elm that he wanted to shift. He then proceeded to drag out a lump about 1300x400x75mm thick with a few splits in it, nothing too drastic...most of it being very usable timber, taken from the centre of a decent log.
'Well' says I ' I've come out with £20, that OK?'...
'Go on then, Rob' says Paul and shuffles the notes into his pocket. That's what I call a result!
Off tomorrow to see Philly, Waka and Martin, which ought to be a riot, so I'm really looking forward to that run out. Tuesday promises to be another great day as I'm up in Surrey with Paul Chapman and then we're going over to see Dom Valente at his workshop in Hertfordshire. I'm taking along the Elm Chest I and the Teak Casket for him to have a look at and as he's a professional maker it would be very interesting to find out what he thinks of them.

05 March 2008

Bookmatched....maybe not!

Having a few hours spare on a Sunday afternoon is usually good, if you want to have a snooze by the fire after a good lunch and a few vinos. However in the case of 'yours truly' I decided to spend it in the workshop which was not the best idea I've ever come up with. I thought that I might make a start on the door frame for the Elm Cabinet II so merrily proceeded to mark out the mortice's on the stiles and then cut some impeccable mortice's with a 6mm router bit and finish off the same with the LN chisels (just to square the ends)
Measure at least a dozen times and cut once is a well known woodworking slogan and unfortunately one that I didn't stick to, so having cut all the mortice's I then proceeded to offer up the stiles to the carcase only to find that I had cut a set of mortises on one stile on the wrong side!
By the most remarkable of good fortune, I've got a respectable lump of elm (mainly for the back panel) saved for me at Andover so I'm going over with Pete tomorrow to pick it up... with a bit of luck and a following wind I should be able to get out a couple of new stiles for the front door frame as well as enough material for the back panel.