25 August 2008

Westonbirt and the Scratch Stock

The weather gods were clearly smiling on Saturday as it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, just right in fact for a trip out to Westonbirt for the 'Festival of the Tree'. The whole show is set out in about 600 acres of woodland at the National Arboretum near Tetbury. There were all sorts of exhibits from toy-making to turning and everything in between, including a display of bonsai trees. There was though, quite a lot of arty-farty tat for sale which was of little or no interest, but I expect that's only to be expected at such a large event. Needless to say, Classic Hand Tools had 'pole position' and their marquee was packed out with a droolworthy collection of stands with some very tempting kit. The only thing I did come away with was a copy of Robert Ingham's book 'Cutting Edge Cabinetmaking' and although I've only skipped through it at the moment it promises to be a definitive 'must have' reference.
All the lads were there and from left to right we have Pete Newton, then Ed Sutton, David Charlesworth, Phill Edwards, Paul Chapman, Mike Reilly and last but not least, Martin the Woodkateer who came away from the show with a rather tasty shooting board made with my own fair hands.
You may be wondering what Pete's got clutched in his hand...well it's the prototype version of my new scratch stock which he made for me a few days ago. It really is a fantastic tool!

22 August 2008

Buns in the 'shop...

I got a email from SWIMBO yesterday at work (she was poorly at home) saying that I had a parcel for me when I got in. No guesses as to what it contained...the LN No 9 Iron Mitre plane. I've never actually examined one close up or taken one apart, but having done so yesterday... it's an absolute beauty! After tea I took it out to the workshop and sorted out the blade honing angles. The bed is at 20 deg and the blade is ground at 25 deg giving an effective pitch of 45 deg so I've increased this slightly by honing a bit more of a micro-bevel on the 10000g Spyderco ceramic stone so that the final finished bevel gives an effective pitch of 48 deg or thereabouts. I found the plate on the back a little awkward to set up as well...LN recommend setting it about 92mm but in practice it seems to be a little more than that to get the correct adjustment, however after a bit of fiddling about I got it to work quite well. The 'hot dog' handle is also great, it's fitted by just using an Allen key...in use my hand falls exactly in the right place to apply pressure squarely onto the bearing surface of the tool, the result of which is that there's no way in which the dreaded shooting board 'tip' will happen. In use on the 'shoot it's fantastic, absolutely the right tool for the job.
I also ordered some Mirka sanding sheets, 180, 240 and 320g...10 of each. I'm going to use these from now on for sanding flat surfaces as the really good thing with them is that any dust created is sucked up by the 'shop vac through the perforations in the surface of the sheet. The only downside as far as I can make out is the extra racket generated by the vac...isn't there a well known saying about having 'cake and eating it'?

18 August 2008

Biker Babe

The weekend has come and gone and a very pleasant one it was too, as Gareth was in Salisbury for a wedding. One of his old school friends (female I might add) had decided to do the decent thing and get married and Gareth was invited. As an added bonus though, his girlfiend Jo was also staying with us and went to the wedding.
Sunday was fairly relaxing but yours truly was in the usual position on a Sunday (in front of the stove) as I'm always ic Sunday lunch and having tucked into a nice bit of roast pig, my daughter Megs turned up just in time for a glass of vino and a coffee...she's now called 'Biker Babe' as whenever we see her now she's encased in black leather...

13 August 2008

Telephonic Discount

Having been paid my ill-gotten gains from F&C a while ago I decided to splash out a bit on a LN No9 Iron Mitre plane, a dainty little tool that I'd long had an eye on but never been able to afford. The order was correspondingly placed with Classic Hand Tools who normally deliver fairly speedily, but when I got home from work the day after, there was a 'fone message...'out of stock, waiting for a big shipment to arrive, muchos apologies' etc etc.
Today I decided to chase up the order to see what had happened to it and got straight through to the boss man, who explained that they were still waiting for delivery but did expect to have something in by the end of the month, more precisely for Westonbirt. With fingers crossed and baited breath, I nonchalantly mentioned that had I bothered to wait then I'd have got a show discount of 10%.
"No problem, we can sort that out over the 'fone right now" and so to the muted tapping's of a calculator at the other end of the line, £26.27 has been deposited into my account, which I suppose has paid for the tripod I ordered at the weekend. All in all a good result.
Mike Hancock is a very nice man!

10 August 2008

Gorillas and Jason Bourne

I'm no photographer...all that mumbo-jumbo about 'f' stops, focal plane shutters and depth of field sounds like one of the black arts and leaves me very, very confused, not an uncommon situation you might think. I need to be able to get hold of a camera, point it at the subject, press the shiny button and expect to get a half-respectable pic. I've been using a little Panasonic compact camera for the shots in the 'shop but recent attempts to take decent finished pics of the Elm Cabinet II have found it wanting somewhat. Apparently the little lenses in all these sorts of cameras are 'wide angle' (whatever that means...presumably you can shoot wide things?) which give rise to a certain amount of distortion in the finished pic, not a particularly desirable thing in pics that are going to get published in the media...and therein lies the problem.
After Michael Huntley came round the other day (who's the new editor of F&C) he asked me for a small article on the interior of the 'shop together with a dozen or so decent photos of the interesting features...plus he's going to drop of stuff for reviewing which again will require a couple of pics. This all means of course, that I'll be doing a bit more work for the mag, the end result of which is that my picture taking equipment needs to be improved a tad.
When Pete came round the other night we got talking about this problem... SWIMBO overheard the conversation and very generously offered me the use of her very gucci Olympus SLR for use in the 'shop, which was fantastic, but as others have pointed out to me, these bigger cameras require a tripod to get the best out of them so this morning I've ordered quite a natty Sony unit that was getting 5* reviews on Amazon. What's even better is that as the forthcoming holiday to the South of France (reverting to Plan A after much consideration...not definite though) is fast approaching she wanted to take pics using the self-timer of both of use so I've also ordered a Gorillapod which will also be useful in the 'shop for closer work at the bench.
At whilst I was in the mood, I decided to order a little light reading matter for the evenings, imbibed with a glass or four of nice French vino...The Bourne Trilogy!

05 August 2008

Beyond ECII...ECIII maybe?

Having got ECII finished a bit of a 'shop vacuum has developed (as far as a project goes) in that I haven't got anything on the horizon or even distantly coming up over the same, but I do have the very fainest germ of an idea or four as a possible next job(s). First and foremost, I've got a largish lump of elm about 65mm thick which looks very promising. It's about 300mm wide and there may be just enough timber in there for a wall mounted cabinet but the problem is that the pith runs through the centre so there's a lot of splitting on one side of it. However it does present a distinct possibility and I fancy having a go at a solid curved door as I have the little plane that I made to shape the Teak Casket last year. To be really sure that the idea is workable I ought to have another piece of elm for any gaffs (of which there are bound to be plenty) and also I'll need material for the exterior sides and interior fittings, be they solid or veneered.
Second and foremost, I bought a quantity of decent English oak a while back which has been earmarked for a couple of wall mounted display cum shelving units for the lounge. I've got everything for that and would just need to get hold of some sheet material for the shelves and uprights. There's certainly enough oak to do something interesting so I need to have some thoughts on what to do.
Third and foremost, Chisel let me have some rather nice spalted sycamore at our recent bash so there's the possibility of a bit more box making. Whislt I'm wittering on about boxes, Robert Ingham in a back issue of F&C had a fantastic little cabinet made from small squares of elm burr edged in ebony...and I know someone who's got a box full of elm burr offcuts!
The main drawback to these plans (for the bigger projects anyway) is that my machinery is too small, particularly the bandsaw, as I can only re-saw up to 150mm and I need a machine that'll do 300mm. Fortunately one's available at a reasonable cost from APTC and it's the same one that Philly and Waka use. The cunning plan then is to write the article for F&C on ECII and squirrel away my earnings from the piece until I've got enough put by to get hold of the machine...that's the plan anyway, but as we all know, plans do change....

04 August 2008

ECII...done and dusted

The latest piece has been completed at the weekend and here's a few pics. It's come out quite well, one or two things on it that could be altered slightly, but I think it's fair to say that it's tuned out to be quite a good piece.