31 December 2009


It's here, the end of the 'noughties' and the begining of the next decade. To all those who've enjoyed this Blog...

Happy New Year...have a good 'un! - Rob

29 December 2009

Triffid traps...

The last of the projects have been finished off now, so that's probably the end of stuff in the 'shop for the 'noughties'.
The main things to get done and dusted were the three 'shutes which have been fettled in and are now spot on. You can see from the cross grain ply slopes on a couple of the long mitre attachment that there was a small degree of 'spelch' which I filled and smoothed off...nothing ever goes perfectly, the main thing is that they are now highly effective 'shop jigs.

However, after we'd watched a rather excellent programme on the TV last night, SWIMBO came into the dining room and pointed to the long mitre attachments that were on the table (there was some glued dowel setting in the warmth)
Pointing at them rather suspiciously, she wanted to know..." just what are they?"

"Triffid traps" I chortled..."part of my latest project in the 'shop."

"Right" she said slowly...and headed for the sherry.

"Bonkers" I could see her thinking....

The picture for one of the lads at work also got finished and has turned out quite well. If you click on it and have a look at the emblems at the bottom, you'll see that he moves in very elite company...

And finally, what on earth?...why the pic of a door wedge?

This is probably the last and one of the most important projects that I've tackled this year...it's a wedge for the now finished bedroom door.

But why so important?

If you've ever tried to open a door using your knee on a Sunday morning, holding a large tray of tea and biscuits in your hands, with SWIMBO fuming within, you'll know why...

20 December 2009

The Good Earth

Another Christmas is nearly upon us and will soon be gone, but I sit here typing at the keys wondering, as I always do, just who's taken the time and effort to peruse these meanderings of mine over the last year. It's a odd thing keeping a Blog as you never really know who's dipping into it...the odd comment indicates that someone 'out there' has tuned in and has at least a moderate interest in these scribblings.

You will no doubt have noticed a blue 'Stat Checker' on the right hand side of the Blog, so I'm surprised and utterly astonished when I occasionally check it as there appear to be readers from all the dispirit corners ofthe globe, from Saudi Arabia to Australia, Japan to India and South America to the good 'ol US of A.

Wherever you are on this Good Earth of ours, of whatever faith or denomination, I wish you and yours peace and prosperity in this season of goodwill to all men.

Merry Christmas - Rob

19 December 2009

Seasonal indulgencies...

Christmas is nearly here, so I suppose it's time for the annual indulgence in terms of food and drink. I decided this afternoon to have a cycle into town on the Blokebike to pick up a tin or two of biscuits from M&S...something we always do and maybe have a quick seasonal peek into PFT, which is perhaps not the wisest thing for me to do with a pocketful of loose change.

I couldn't resist though, getting hold of this woodie, made from quarter sawn beech and in very decent condition...at least some bloody moron hadn't beaten hell out of it with hammer, which so often happens and irritates me intensely.

As it happens, I've wanted another one of these for a very long time...but why two?

The answer lies inside the late, great Alan Peter's book 'Cabinet Making - the Professional Approach', which, if it isn't on your Christmas list...should be! Inside he talks about essential hand tools, one of which is a wooden jack similar to the one in my pic, where the sole has been planed into a convex profile. These modified jacks are used to plane a concave shape in one of his classic pieces which is a small wooden stool in solid ash or oak with a dished seat...and again is something that I've wanted to make for a long time...

...and now I've got hold of the right plane (with some careful alterations) for that project.

You're probably more focused though, on the green container behind the plane which is of far more interest...

...good job it's Christmas!

15 December 2009

'C' and 'D'

The big picture frame was started the other night...hopefully it'll be the last one of these I have to do for a while. This one was difficult though as the colours in it were a mixture of sombre greens and hues of yellow, with a grey surround. A dark frame would have been best so I tried a bit of mahogany...looked totally wrong though. Maple was better but best of all was some oak (apart from ebony, which looked uber cool)

Fortunately I had a plank of American Oak that was just the right size so it was short work to machine it to size, chop out the rebate and shoot in the mitres. The frame was glued with some TBIII and as it's getting a bit nippy out in the 'shop now, it was brought inside overnight to let the glue fully cure.

By a truly remarkable coincidence, Matthew at Workshop Heaven has had consignment of exciting new planes in from distant climes and by an even more sublime coincidence, the cost of this little job will pay for a rebating block, which is something I've wanted for a while now...and if you believe in the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, there's one waiting on the shelves's for me!

The trouble is that I don't really want to shell out on LN prices, for what essentially looks the same plane and a £100ish saving is not to be sneezed at!

What's all this got to do with 'C' and 'D'?..

My daughter (who has perfect pitch) had a quick 'twang' on the steel straps of the mitre clamp and pronounced the long side to be in the key of 'C' and the short one in 'D'...who am I to argue?

12 December 2009

Spline Jig, part trois and BOGOF

At long last, after what seems an absolute age, the bedroom decoration has finally been done and dusted which means that I'll be able to get back to doing a bit of woodwork at the weekends. As it's Sunday tomorrow, I may well treat myself to a whole day in the 'shop, which is just as well really 'cos I've got another big picture frame do for one of the lads at work.

The two pics show the third and final version of a spline jig that I developed, as I like to reinforce mitres with a couple of solid wooden inserts in a contrasting timber. You can see that there's an element of 'slidablity' with the design as the toggle clamp block is free to move in a couple of slots and can then be locked in position.

The first version was very similar, but used the circular saw blade to cut the slot... inherently lethal as the riving knife and crown guard had to be removed and as I'm very partial to keeping all my pink fleshy bits in tact, that one got rapidly put to one side.

The next version used my small router and was really a sort of lash up that was held in the bench vice. It worked, after a fashion, but it was a bit unstable so I thought the ideal solution was to adapt something for the router table.

This final version though, doesn't have to be used just for picture frames. Because of the adjustablity in the design I'll also be able to use it for splines in the corners of boxes...two for the price of one!

09 December 2009

Cheapskate...moi? Surely not.

You may recollect some time ago, if you're avidly gripped by this inept missive, that I was struggling to find some bits and pieces worthy of a Christmas list, but did eventually manage to concoct something, one item of which was a Bessey spring clamp.

All well and good I hear you mutter, and no doubt an excellent product, but hey...a spring clamp is a spring clamp is a spring clamp, isn't it?

With that in mind, I was doing a little casual sightseeing in one of my favourite retail establishments when I came across some really powerful, and quite well made clamps, priced from 75p to £1.50. These were so strong that it was an effort to open the larger sized ones...so I had an armful and felt mightily chuffed with myself.

Eight for less than the price of two...winner, can't be bad.

However, 'you pays your money'...and how true is the old adage 'cos as soon as I used one for the first time, the plastic pins broke in the shoes!

My initial thought was one of bitter foolhardiness at having squandered such a vast amount on cheap and nasty tools...but then I had a cunning thought? (an all too rare occurrence these days) How about replacing the broken pins with something a little stronger, maybe some pieces of silver steel or perhaps something a little less esoteric like mild steel rod?

A little bit of ferreting around produced a few steel nails that just happened to be exactly the right diameter for the pin, so with little judicious drilling and cutting, my cheap and nasty cramps are now as good as some costing over three times as much.

The only down side to this happy tale of ingenuity is that I'm now one item short on my Christmas list. As in most things though, there's a silver lining as SWIMBO has promised me an 'extra' present this year on account of my strenuous efforts with the decorating.

Don't hold your breath though...

06 December 2009

A little bit of fluff...

Nearing the end of the mammoth job of decorating our bedroom, we took the possibly rash decision to get ourselves a new bed...perhaps not the most impressive idea we've ever had just before Christmas. The old one was nearly thirty years old and didn't owe us anything so when you see a £950 solid oak bed going for £350...that was too good to miss!

This left me with the slight problem though, of disposing of the old divan base...just how do you get rid of a king size bed base?

As you can no doubt see from the pic, I decided to drag it from the upstairs bedroom, down the stairs, round the side of the house and up some more steps into the 'shop...in the dark and in the wet!
The only way that I could see to get it to the dump was to cut it somehow into four manageable lumps that could easily be transported in the back of the Landy.
This proved to be a bit of a nightmare though, as I had to cut off the cover, rip away the ticketing and grind through the springs (and I did try and cut them with wire cutters) with an angle grinder and then use an old but trusty handsaw that belonged to my Grandad to finally hack through the pine frame.

The mess was unbelievable with bits of sharp spring steel and fluffy ticketing littering the 'shop floor, but, thankfully it's all gone now and I'm back to a pristine 'shop once more...

...'cept the roof leaks now, and needs to be replaced next Summer.


03 December 2009

Mad dash...

With the onset of colder, wetter weather I leave work in the dark and after a sometimes very wet ride home am usually first through the door. The house is cold, black and empty and the first thing to do is to get some illuminations on, then fire up the heating so that after about an hour it's getting moderately toasty.

After we've had supper, I often get this slight nagging, guilty thought that I ought to go outside to the 'shop to see what's happening (just to see that everything's fine, if you follow) so I peer out of the kitchen window...and it's cold and dark and it's hammering down with rain!

...and I really don't want to make the effort.

I go and have another look at what's on the TV that might be worth half a view and inevitably there's some reality garbage or a 'soap' or some idiot in the jungle, any of which might cause me to instantly throw up!

That gnawing itch still hasn't gone though... I have another look outside and decide that maybe, perhaps, I'll just chance it. Sorting out keys, I make a dash for the 'shop door in the pitch black and driving rain. After some fumbling with the locks...I'm in!

Close the door and wait for the lights to flicker on, one by one.

The effort is always worth it... the peace and quiet of the 'shop once the lights are on. That irritating feeling has instantly vanished to be replaced by one of quiet contentment.

The only problem is that I know I've got to do it all again tomorrow.