28 February 2010

Disaster and Redemption

Next weekend sees the YOKB event at Sittingbourne. For those not privy to this sort of information, it's another gathering of UKWorkshop nutters, this time at a professional 'shop in Kent. As part of event, there's going to be a raffle in aid of the Woodland Trust and I offered to make a 'Blokeblade' as one of the prizes.

As can be seen from the first pic, all proceeded well until I came to the bit where the blade and supporting side pieces were offered up to the handle...and then it broke! The reason was fairly simple...the epoxy glue used was too cold (hence thick) and the action of trying to assemble all three bits into the handle was sadly, too much.

This was a bit of a setback as I only had that once piece of Lace She Oak left, so I had to have a rummage around and came up with a suitable piece of Indonesian Rosewood.

The next evening I made another handle which hasn't turned out too badly and I finished off the knife this morning. After the unmitigated disaster of the previous handle, this one's turned out quite well...

25 February 2010

Busy, busy...

It's amazing how things progress over the course of a few days. I've been nattering to the new ed (Derek Jones) at F&C about this and that, as you do. It now transpires that he's interested in a number of projects for F&C, in no particular order:

The Blokeblade...a how to article
The Media unit
The Alan Peter's music stool and finally...another shute! (this one though has already been sold to a UKW member)

I'ts going to be a busy old time in the 'shop...good job I'll be retiring after Christmas!

21 February 2010

The Tuit List...what's on yours?

Everybody has one...I don't care who you are, or where you're from, somewhere, somehow there'll be a long list of stuff that you've been meaning to do/nagged to do/forced to do (but haven't got a round tuit yet) Colonial readers of these ramblings will instantly recognise the 'tuit list' as their own much loved 'honey-do'...the effect is the same, that aggravating itch tucked away in the little grey cells that won't go away, no matter how you try.

Every so often, a gentle reminder surfaces which prompts me to think...

... "one day, one day, I'll get a round to doing that little job"

but invariably, it never happens and life trundles on.

Well...strike one off my Tuit List!!

For years, ever since Alan Peter's book came out in the early 80's, I've been meaning to make one of his classic music stools...so this little job has been on my Tuit List for well over a quarter of a century!

I was having a machining day in the 'shop yesterday, preparing the oak for the media project and I had a decentish lump left over, full of knots and splits, but enough to get out a 3/4 scale version of the stool. With a little careful cutting, I've managed to sort out enough lovely English Oak to make one, which after 25 years, has to be something of a result.

19 February 2010

Slippage and carry forward

Don't you just hate it when stuff doesn't go to plan? I was in the 'shop the other day passing some lumps of oak across the surface table of the planer, ready for slicing up into veneer. As I was merrily pushing timber across the top, it was planing off one side only, so that after a few passes, the end section of the timber looked distinctly triangular. I kept on going thinking that it was me, but the problem only got worse...strange and peculiar?

After a bit of head scratching, I found out what the problem was and on this occasion, it weren't my fault (honest 'guv!)

The blades had slipped down just a fraction below the outfeed table so there was no 'carry forward'...


That meant that I'd have to hoick them out, sharpen them on the Tormek planer blade jig and reset them, which is what I've been doing for the last couple of hours. On some planer-thicknessers this is a relatively straight forward job, but on my Kity439 it takes me at least an hour to set both blades. The tension on the retaining block bolts should just hold each blade so that minute adjustments can be made and after umpteen attempts this ought to give a 'carry forward' of about 3mm...and then when it is finally right, instead of tightening, like an eejit I undo the bolts so that the blades leap up and the whole bloody thing's got to be done again!

It's a 24 carat, genuine pain in the arris which is probably why I don't do it very often.

17 February 2010


Chatting with Robert Ingham over the weekend has prompted me to dip further into his book 'Cutting Edge Cabinetmaking'. Although much of it, particularly the esoteric 'Projects' section is so complex, (this little tome ought to be mandatory reading) a large part contains more mundane and practical woodworking ideas that even a numpty like me can comprehend!

One such notion is Robert's very nifty little dovetail transference jig, simply made from some extruded aluminium. I've never had too much difficulty in transferring the tails to the pinboard, but which ever way you slice it, it's bloody awkward as you need to check that everythings's hunky-doodly after having first set up using the side a plane, then juggling with a square and at the same time making sure that it's all in line. Then you need to apply lot of pressure with the left hand whilst transferring the tails with a knife in the right.

More often that not, the vice isn't quite tight enough and the whole issue slips...been there? If you're wincing and grinding your teeth at the moment, you know exactly what I'm blathering on about.

I'm hoping this little jig will make the whole tricky process much easier and more importantly...accurate. I've already asked a pal if he can 'source' some ali (and I'll make a jig for him at the same time) so all I need to sort out now is a keyhole cutter from Axminster for the slot.

15 February 2010

Amoxicillion upload...

In the middle of last week I could feel myself going down with something...you know the feeling, a tickle in the back of your throat and a slight congestion on the chest but I wasn't going to miss the Rycotewood event for all the tea in china. Even though I was feeling a bit rough, it was the right decision...paying for it now though, with interest.

I got there about 8.30 on Saturday and set up the UKWorkshop stall and sorted out all the stuff I'd brought. It was just as well I'd got a parking slot at the back of the workshop as the gear I'd lugged in weighed a ton!

Robert Ingham was there as well so I had a chat with him about a forthcoming project of mine in the not too distant future...what I wanted to do was to pick his brains on some of his methods of construction, which proved very useful.

He also had his latest project (the box) and while you may not appreciate the distinctive design, the quality of the workmanship is simply staggering...I have no idea or understanding of what he does most of the time...

09 February 2010

Knee trembler, guvnor?

Most weekends, for most people, most of the time, tend to be fairly relaxing affairs...pot of coffee mid morning, roast lunch maybe, perhaps a nap in the afternoon or a run into town for a little retail therapy. Occasionally though, it's good to break the mould and the last weekend fell squarely into that basket...

...we went to London for the weekend to see Gareth.

Saturday morning saw us on an early train to Waterloo, where we were met and then whisked off to a very well to do establishment for a vast platter of scrumptious breakfast fare, rounded off with fine English teas and aromatic coffee. We then made our way across town via the tube and the DLR to Canary Warf, exiting at Blackwall and thence a short walk to Gareth's flat, overlooking one of the waterways that comprise part of the old East India Docks. (Click on the pic below to see him, middle left!)

The main event of the afternoon was a guided walk through the City, following in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper, a very enjoyable though chilly (in more than one sense) experience. Although much of the area has changed hugely in the intervening years, narrow, grimy streets and alleys still abound, complete with original gas lamps. If you discount the sushi bars and bespoke tailors, the Ripper's ghostly presence of 1888 can still be imagined if you're quiet enough.

Life in that part of the East End during the late Victorian period must have been truly beyond belief...this one alleyway may have been home for 200 families sharing one outside toilet.

The 'Ten Bells' pub was a known drinking establishment for the ladies of the night, where they could get 'drunk for a penny, dead drunk for tuppence, straw for nothing' Drink was the only escape for inhabitant's of the East End at that time and indeed, the carnal 'delights' of the ladies could be experienced against any blackened wall in a dark ally...

...the fourpenny knee trembler.

It's known that the last victim, Mary Kelly met Jack inside and then went back to her room in Dorset street, where she was hideously carved up. The photograph taken at the crime scene gives a graphic indication of how he got his reputation...

The day finished with a rather splendid meal at a very pleasant Italian restaurant next door to Harrods (one has to dine somewhere you understand and a MaccyD simply won't do....darling)

Sunday saw us having a look round Covent Garden with an abortive attempt to find the best coffee shop in London which was, unfortunately...closed. However Gareth, who you may have surmised is partial to a decent brew, has promised us a bag of their finest beans next time we see him.

The day was rounded off with a visit to the 'flicks' (remember them?) but this was no kids Saturday afternoon matinee...this was to see 'Avatar' (in 3D) which is quite possibly the most stunning visual experience that I've ever encountered...

We eventually arrived home exhausted at around 11 o'clock and collapsed into bed, fit...or so I thought for a decent uninterrupted nights sleep.
However, the best laid plans never go to plan as my atomic alarm clock decided to throw a wobbly and got me out of bed at three in the morning instead of 7.00am.


05 February 2010

Capital adventures...

Last night saw the final 1:1 drawing completed on my whiteboard...it's amazing that using the full size scale, you can see things that weren't apparent when it was drawn smaller, particularly things like thicknesses of shelves which when pared down from 20 to 16mm make the whole thing look 'lighter' (even though it's meant to be fairly chunky)

I'm good to go now, so the next thing is to set up the bandsaw to cut some veneers, which will be done next week as I can't do anything over the weekend as we're of to London to see No1 son, who's treating to one or two delights in the capital. I'd like to have a nose round Covent Garden as I haven't been there for years and I think SWIMBO has planned a tour of the City and bits of the East End, following in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper... which should be entertaining, if not slightly thought provoking, not least because Gareth now works in the very area where these events took place. We're also having a meal at a posh Italian restaurant in the West End in the evening and on Sunday, he's booked tickets to see 'Avatar', so all in all, it promises to be a really good weekend.

03 February 2010

The Big Bubble

Who isn't a big kid sometimes?...I know I am and if you think you're not, then you might be deluding yourself. A particular case in point is the parcel I received from Axminster yesterday, a big box with a small amount of 63mm hose in and all the intervening space filled with...

...giant bubble wrap, that goes off like a pistol shot when you stomp on it!

Resisting the temptation (get thee behind me...) I wistfully put the packing back in the box and took the hose out to the 'shop to fit it to the 'Blokebox' which went quite successfully. Having hooked it up to the vac and the saw, checked for leaks, I powered up then dropped a couple of handfuls of saw dust into the tablesaw and awaited results.

Disappointing. All the heavier dust settled out at the bottom of the box, but the lighter stuff was getting through to the vac drum, which is not the intention...all should be deposited in a tidy heap inside the box. It transpires that the vac I'm using is quite a powerful one (WV1000 from Axminster, no longer made) and the baffles inside the box aren't slowing the air flow enough. I think the next course of action is to put a few more baffles inside at strategic places with smaller holes to slow down the air flow. If that doesn't work, then I've been advised that the next thing to do is to build a much bigger box, which doesn't fill me with enthusiasm as this one fits nicely under the layout table behind the saw.

I have the breaking strain of a Kit-Kat, so you if you hear some lound bangs over t'interweb tonight, you'll know that resistance was futile...