30 July 2008

F&C Changes...

Recent developments in the woodworking publishing world, particularly in the GMC group have meant that Furniture & Cabinetmaking now have a new editor, Michael Huntley who took over the reins somewhat hastily from Colin Eaden-Edon a few months ago. I had the opportunity to have an extensive chat with him at the CHT Hand Tool event at West Dean, near Chichester in April and found him to be a very amenable individual. He's attempting to steer the mag in a different direction to his predecessor (with some success I might add) and make the content and layout more in keeping with the 'Murrican publication Fine Woodworking, so he's looking at altering the way articles are set out (more 'bite sized chunks' rather than one huge article) with a leaning towards hand tool evaluation and much less continuous (it seemed to me anyway) testing of expensive machinery. Granted that the mag is the only one in publication aimed at the professional cabinet maker so the inclusion of this sort of stuff is warranted, but it gets a bit daunting for the amateur maker like me to keep reading month on month about stuff costing thousands so I tended to skim read those bits and go on to other more interesting articles. The whole tone of the mag is changing for the better as well, it seems to be more 'user friendly', more of a 'hands on' approach and slightly less formal than under the old management.
In conversation with him though he mentioned that he goes within a mile of Wilton each day and wouldn't mind just nipping in for a brew and a look at my 'shop... so that's what's going to happen this Friday! Elm Cabinet II is the the final stage of completion so no doubt that will be given some close scrutiny. He won't be able to stay for long but it promises to be an interesting visit and who knows what will result from it?
Must do some sharpening and give the shop a good tidy up...

28 July 2008

Jellyfish and Plan B

The holiday season is very nearly upon us now, with just over a month to go to the 'off'...

But exactly 'off' where?

Plan A, which was the original intention, was to go down to Annecy in the French Alps, then on to the Luberon to see some of the mountain top villages, a couple of days camping in Avignon and then make a bit of a slow loop round again to end up on the Cote d'Azur and Monaco, thus spending a fair amount of time loafing around on a pleasant beach somewhere in the South of France doing a bit of snorkeling and swimming.
The spaniard in this particular ointment though was that yesterday SWIMBO was perusing the BBC travel pages on t'internet and gloomily declared that the beaches in the Western Med were besieged with vast swarms of poisonous jellyfish, at a density of about 10 p/sqm! She then announced that if she goes on a beach and can't go in the water, yours truly is going to have a hard time of it.
Today then, we've got to start to think about a Plan B (I recollect that this happened last year) and in conversation over lunch just now she mentioned that another option is to drive from Metz (our overnight stop over) through to the Italian Lakes, which I have to say sounds quite pleasant. It does of course mean that we'd have to cross Switzerland again on their most excellent motorways and up and over one of four Alpine passes (or do a tunnel) but at least the way accross is not one that we haven't done before as we did it in reverse a couple of years ago.
In any event, we'll keep a close eye on the travel pages for the South of France and see what's happening just before we go, with any luck the slightly cooler weather conditions prevailing at that time of year might mean that the jellies have dispersed, in which case it'll be la Belle France for three weeks.

26 July 2008

Bowled Over

It's far too early in the morning for most readers to latch onto the devastating wit in the title of this entry, but here's a pic of the finished lamp which do look quite good. I put it onto the coffee tables for the pic as it was easier to take the foto.
This morning I'm off for a cycle ride into town with SWIMBO to take in the glass templates and also to visit the jeweller's to get the disc engraved that Pete very kindly made for me.

22 July 2008

Scented Bias

Before Christmas I went down to see Martin, Waka and Philly, the infamous Woodkateers of dubious repute and Martin had, amongst a vast amount of totally droolworthy kit in his garage, a mallet made from an old lignum vitae bowling ball. Martin had a cupboard full of these things and by the end of the day, one (amongst some other stuff) had found it's way into the back of the Landy.
Now these bowls turn up into a big, thumping great mallet, OK for doing m/t joints in lock gates but a bit on the large side for normal bench use...and besides I already had a lignum maul that was ideal for the sort of work I like to do, so I was scratching around trying to find a use for this lump of very hard timber, what the hell was I going to use it for? To cut a long story sideways, I was perplexed, not an unusual situation for the Bloke to find himself in (it's an age thing)

Until last night...

In our newly decorated lounge I've installed a rather nice cherry table made several years ago and it's just the right spot for a table lamp, made from you know what. With more than a little bit of trepidation I very carefully installed it onto the lathe, dropped the revs down to snail speed, stood well back and hit the green button...and it started to spin. I decided, wisely as it happens, that as it's the heaviest, hardest and just about crankiest timber in the known world, attacking it with a gouge might not be such a good idea, scrapers would, I thought, be the way forward.
Correct-a-mundo, and how fantastically it turned under the tool, such that by the end of the evening the original tatty old ball had been spun into a gleaming, globe like shape that was able to be burnished to a high gloss with a bit of 600g paper. I have to just complete it tonight by drilling the hole down the centre (which promises to be entertaining in itself) and then I'm considering a finish of several coats of linseed oil on the lathe (burnished after each coat) followed by a good application of wax.
The surprising thing about last night's turning jamboree was that the shavings and dust contained so much sweet scented resin that I smelt like I'd had a bit of a session in Paris Hilton's boudoir... good job SWIMBO knew where I was!

19 July 2008

Handle on it...

After today's activity in the 'shop, all the various small bits and pieces for the cabinet have now been done. I started with the glass retaining strips for the door, originally these were going to be made from ebony but I changed my mind and used some strips of elm instead as I didn't want to swamp the whole thing with too much black detailing.
I had a go at making a door pull the other day which was bloody tricky to say the least but despite all my best endeavours it didn't work very well...it just didn't look right so after a lot of thought it went through the bandsaw this morning and I started again. The ebony is fantastic stuff in that it's so hard that it can almost be treated like metal, in fact I used needle files for a lot of the shaping and this one I'm happy with as it's come out very slick and I think will look great on the door.
One of the pics shows the first handle which turned out to be a rather lumpy and lop-sided afair...this was the one that got the chop. The strange looking 'boot' like thing is in fact the new handle with the stem left over-long and no shaping done to the finger pull, the 6mm hole has just been drilled down the middle. The final shot shows the completed pull, simple and rather elegant I fancy and when I offered it up against the door, it looked spot on, so yours truly is rather chuffed!

17 July 2008

Supporting Act

Managed to get out into the 'shop last night to do a bit more and got the final coat of Osmo-PolyX on the stand so it's waxing and finishing off tonight. I had a very sneaky feeling a long time ago that the tiniest bits of this project would cause me the most pain...and I wasn't wrong. I'm referring of course to the shelf supports which turned out last night to be the most fiddly, cantankerous and bloody awkward things to make. I've got a LN dowel plate which is a very nice bit of kit but what I needed to do was to hammer thru' some very small bits of ebony to make the 4mm supports. I'd previously had a go with beech which went thru' easily and produced quite good 6mm dowels...ebony though is just a tad harder, so when I made some 5mm square blanks, took off the corners and tried to tap it through the said 4mm hole the result was a lot of splintered ebony, never mind the bits that pinged of the plate when struck and disappeared into the rubbish on the floor! I eventually made the blanks 4.5mm square which don't leave a lot of margin for error and they seemed to go through with a lot less effort, even though one or two have flats on them where they didn't quite make contact with the plate. I ended up with 12 supports which need to be cut down to 12mm long and then given a bit of something to finish them with, maybe a couple of coats of linseed oil. The door pull will be finished off as well tonight and then all that remains is to make the infills to hold the glass in the door and the template for the shelves.

14 July 2008

The Devil's in the Detail

The anti-biotics that the doc prescribed me last week seem to have worked their magic and I'm feeling much better now...only slight problem now is that SWIMBO's caught the lurgi and has had a fairly rubbish weekend, but she seems to be pulling through it.
I spent yesterday just finishing off the details for the stand on the cabinet, which has taken quiet a long time to do...lots of fiddling about with files, rasps and sandpaper to get the profile just right. SWIMBO came out to the shop for another viewing as well last night and has now given it the official 'nod' so it looks like no-one else is going to get their mits on it! The cabinet bearers have got to be glued in place tonight after which the whole thing can be given a couple of coats of Osmo-PolyX with some of my favourite Alna Teak Wax over the top to finish. I started work on the ebony door pull last night and have made some progress with it, not sure if it's quite correct yet so a bit more detailed work needed there I fancy. SWIMBO said that it wasn't important, but the handle detailing is one of the most important things in a project and has to be correct...so many times I see a great piece of work and the handle's been stuck on as an 'after thought'. The last little bit to do is to make the ebony shelf supports from a couple of oddments left over from making the wedges, so the LN Dowel plate will come in very handy.
I've been taking copious pics of the whole project as it's been going along as the new editor of F&C wants it for the mag so once it's finally done and dusted I'll have to get fingers on the keyboard...not long now.

10 July 2008

The 5 P's and AOHell

I got in from work on Monday night and SWIMBO merrily informed that she had been able to go online and then all of a sudden...she twern't! 'AOL' says I... 'they're always bloody crashing, servers down 'spect, no worries, crack open a bottle of vino then and let's watch a bit of telly' Trouble is, we were still without t'internet till this morning, the reason being that we'd changed ISP's to Tiscali and AOHell, in their infinite wisdom, had decided to pull the plug on us about three days early, thus leaving the Bloke without access to all things woody.
Anyway, to cut a long story sideways, the postie this morning dropped the long awaited gubbins from Tiscali thru' the letter box and I was able to get online again, so am once again am a most happy bunny.
I've been able to do quite a lot to the stand for the Elm Cabinet II today (as I've been off work a bit poorly, but felt much better today and one has to occupy one's time somehow.....) The whole thing's been glued apart from the bearers for the cabinet which will be the last things to go on. The trickiest bit as always was doing the exposed wedged tenons but they seemed to go together without so much of the slightest hitch...it's all in the preparation. What's the old saying...'Preparation prevents piss poor performance'
There's still a huge amount to do as there's all the shaping the stand to do yet which means a lot of work with rasps and files, but the end is in sight and I kid you not...
It's going to be a cracker!

06 July 2008


My son Gareth is home for the weekend and as one of the avid readers of the Blokeblog was bewailing the fact that he never gets a mention, so to set matters straight a pic is herewith included...note the FT on the (English Walnut, before anyone asks) coffee table, essential reading these days!
I hear you ask, "whats a caerieoot, has the Bloke lost the plot yet again?" All will be made as crystal...Gareth is a maths student at Edinburgh Uni and a caerrieoot is where the Jocks go to buy their booze...they go in and then caerrieoot a vast quantity of the stuff (needs some thought on this very wet and windy Sunday morning does that...)
Elm Cabinet I can be seen beside the sofa as well and it do look rather pleasant in the newly redecorated lounge. I started to do a bit on the stand for Elm Cabinet II last night, just cleaning up the legs and rails with the Veritas BU smoother...what a fabulous plane! Newly honed it was easily taking of shavings of half a thou....
The new 'bench hook' for the sharpening table has also been done and is a big improvement over the other motley selection of devices I'd accumulated...makes life much easier at honing time. With a bit of luck and a following wind I should be able to get out to the 'shop today and do a bit more, here's hoping...

03 July 2008

Projections and Pronouncements

Not a lot has happened on the Elm Cabinet II front, except that SWIMBO has had a change of heart and has now pronounced that she would like to keep her cabinet rather than see it disappear into someone else's lounge...so I think that's a bit of a positive result.
I've been giving some brain power (no sniggering in the back) to the honing bench again. I've now got a collection of A2 LN chisels, BU and BD planes, all of which require different projections for the various honing angles that each need. I've got about three different 'bench hooks' with all sorts of distances on them for assorted angles and it all gets very confusing sometimes, 'specially as the said brain cells are diminishing daily. The plan is then to do a 'proper job' (needs to be said in a decent West County burr) so that every conceivable angle for each blade is set out on one board and is marked so that I know what the angle is, and what tool it's for. Paul also let me have his old Veritas MK1 honing guide to play around with for a while which will be quite interesting...I'll have to see how it compares to my existing Eclipse clone.
I had a decent chat last night with one of the guys on the 'other forum' about a one day course in early August. He definitely seems very keen to come down to Wilton and have an intensive one day course on the basics (setting up planes, tool technique etc) and as a bonus was more than happy at the cost. The next task for yours truly then is to work out a plan for the day...nothing set in concrete, just a roughish outline of the topics that we might cover so that he's got some indication of what the day entails and get that off in the post.