31 March 2010

BL...the pits?

A post or three ago I was wittering on about Jap chisels, having a long standing itch that needed scratching and if you recollect, I'd decided that an outbreak of sound common sense had materialised.

With hindsight, I have to say that the life expectancy of that statement has the longevity of a 1970's Allegro...not a lot!

It happened that yesterday was pretty quiet at work (coming up to Easter) so feeling at a bit of a loss, I started to scratch that festering sore again and spent the better part of the day investigating all (or as many as I could find) different types of Japanese chisels. The various nuances and manufacturing techniques of the different makers is truly mind boggling...current thinking is that it would take a dedicated collector and highly competent metallurgist to understand just what the merits of each are...blue paper steel or white sir?

By late afternoon, my head was spinning (you'll have surmised by now that it doesn't take much!) so I decided, foolishly perhaps, to give Mattew Platt at Workshop Heaven a quick 'phone call.

Matthew, being a pal and a true gent is now sending me one of each of the hooped and long handled Fujikawa professional chisels to play around with (plus a sheet of the .3 micron 3M paper for the final edge honing)

I think British Leyland have a lot to answer for...

29 March 2010

Away with the Faries

I think an outbreak of common sense has prevailed over the weekend as I was using the LN's to chop and pare this English Oak I'm working with at the moment. I've managed to push the thought of exchanging them for something a little more exotic onto the 'back burner'...and so far so good, it's on 'simmer'.

No chance then of turning it into a raging pan fire?..we shall see.

The fairies got to me on Saturday though. I'd been beavering away (as you do) taking a fettle here and and a smidgen there off the mortises (with the LN's...) on the stool and managed to get the seat joints fairly good, which I was happy with. Paring 30mm thick oak takes some concentration which on some occasions, is sadly lacking. I then decided to go in for a brew and returned later feeling a bit refreshed and more relaxed. I'd already marked out the tenons for the cross rail (from the mortises) and hatched the waste boldly using a blue biro, so in theory I was good to go to cut them on the bandsaw.

In theory. The first two couple of cuts went fine, spot on the line on waste side...

Then the fairies got to me...you know what's coming don't you?

The next two cuts, two mind... not just one, were on the wrong bloody side of the line!!..the sort of mistake that and ejit newbie would make...

Hell's teeth and buggeration!

26 March 2010

Should I stay...or should I go?

How often do you feel like changing things in the 'shop? I often get this odd niggle that sometimes 'this' could be changed or 'that' might be altered, simply to improve my way of working or indeed to produce better work. Recently, I've had a nagging itch lurking right at the back of my mind about chisels..more specifically, Jap chisels.

Severial years ago I bought a complete set from Axminster, which were decent enough, taking and holding a razor edge. However, being the 24 carat, gold plated numpty that I am, I managed to decimate them by not paying enough attention to the surface of the the waterstones (don't get me started on them!!) I was using at the time. The consequence was that I managed to round the corners off on the backs by flattening them on a concave stone.

Yes...I know, you've been banging your forehead repeatedly on the keyboard 'cos you've been thinking "how stupid can this boy get!"...

The offending chisels were off loaded to some fool on fleabay and replaced with a set of A2 LN's which I have been, and still am, very happy with...and there's the rub!

However...I still have this itch and it simply won't go away.

I can get a really quite wicked edge on the LN's using the 'scary sharp' 3M papers and the KellIII jig, but I wonder how much better (if at all) a Jap chisel would be?

One of the things that I detested with Jap chisels is that they're supplied with a bloody great lump of iron on the end of the handle, which is great for belting with a hammer, but next to useless for hand work. Use one for any length of time for horizontal pairing and you'll end up with huge red weal in the palm of your hand. Conversely, vertical paring means the thing will dig into your thumb, particluarly at the crinkly folds of skin where your thumb bends.

Which means that you need two sets of the things, a hooped set for chopping and some long handled parers for hand work and if you really want to push the bateau out...a few specials for dovetails, whereas the LN's will do all of those functions on their own.

I still have that bloody niggle though...

Matthew at Workshop Heaven has a set of white paper steel Fujikawa hooped and long handled paring chisels, which on the face of it look fabulous (hardened to R68) and I'm sorely tempted to give them another shot.

So...the buring question is...

Should I stay or should I go?

24 March 2010

Roll on...

I'm getting really fed up with the yellow bucket, it's in the way and only a matter of time before it goes over... so with one eye on the weather Gods, I'm hoping this weekend (not being a procrastinator over these things) to fix the leaky roof on the 'shop in an attempt to get it sorted before the Easter break. I had a run out to 'shed's various' last weekend and bought all the materials I need to do the job.

With a bit of luck and a following wind (but not too much I hope) I ought to be able to rip off all the old stuff and at least get a few new rolls down on Saturday, which will leave me with Sunday to finish the job and take all the off-cuts and old felt to the dump.

The Alan Peters music stool is coming along reasonably well...it's more a question here of fettling the through mortise and tenon joints by just paring off a smidgen here and there to get a half decent fit. Having cut all my veneers last weekend for the other project, the bandsaw blade is just about good enough to cut the tenons. The actual stool itself is comparatively simple...it's the jointing which requires some thought and care to get right.

Once all the jointing has been done, the next thing to do will be to modify the woodie that I bought myself for Christmas, which is going to be an interesting exercise as it needs to be turned into a convex soled plane for cutting the concave dish in the seat.

21 March 2010


I procrastinate. Always have done, always will do. I put off those slightly irksome or difficult jobs 'till I'm in the right mood or have the mojo to do something. The preceding days were no exception 'cos I'd been delaying sawing the veneers for the media unit...I'd had the new blades for a couple of weeks, but you know what...I just didn't want to do it.

Until today.

The grey, dismal rain clouds of yesterday had gone and it was a lovely, sunny Spring day...just right for sawing up veneers.

I'd already prepared all the material as can be seen in the pic...the big lumps at the back were the pieces in question being about 1.4m long and 100mm wide, so you can see that I approached the task with a little trepidation on my little bandsaw!

Having had a recent enlightenment regarding my 'digital' well-being, the cynical amongst you will no doubt note with some profound glee the use of suitable push-sticks on the bandsaw....this was to set up the thickness on test piece against the re-saw fence.

It took about thirty minutes to get the 'set' absolutely spot on (which was having 2mm veneers cut true and straight) but having got everything 'just right' and taking a deep breath, I started to cut the main pieces of oak. To my surprise, it all went very well and an hour later...

I was left with a rather nice fanfold display of 2mm thick oak slices...and one blunt bandsaw blade!

18 March 2010

Kick the Bucket?

As can be seen from the previous entry, I'm now bereft of a tablesaur (at least for a few months) but having cut all the timber needed for current projects, I ought not to need one for a while. I'm still not completely decided on which to buy, either the Jet JTS 600 or the Axminster unit, which is decent saw but will eat space and is a 130kgs heavier...twice the weight! I still keep on returning to the Jet, but am coming to the very rapid decision that only a trip down to Axminster to have a good eyeball at each machine will enable me to make the right choice...decisions, decisions!

The Alan Peters music stool is coming along as well. After a slight glitch in the marking out...(we'll have less of that sniggering at the back, what did you expect!) I've started to cut the mortises for the joints which is easy enough but a bit protracted as I'm going through around 30mm of oak by hand. It's air dried English Oak though, which has the consistency of slicing through a very hard cheese, so none of that ghastly 'carrotyness' and internal checking that you often find with the kilned stuff. I've chopped the mortises in both ends so the next thing to do is to sort out the tenons and have a trial fit.

There's a 20% off deal at one of the 'sheds' this weekend so I'm out in the Landy on Saturday to pick up some rolls of roofing felt. With the current spell of fine weather, I'm hoping to get the new roof on the 'shop some time in April, after we come back from our travels on t'Continent at Easter. At the moment, there's a yellow bucket in the 'shop which is collecting the 'dripage' which is fine but...it's right in the middle of the floor so I have to tread delicately round it.

Thus far, more's the wonder, yours truly hasn't managed to kick it over!

13 March 2010

Guilty as charged...

YOKB of last weekend was an excellent gathering...probably on of the best I've been to. It's always good at these sorts of events to have a focus, something to get the brain cells a pondering. One of the demonstrators there did a half-hour turn discussing elfn'safety and 'safe working practice' using the router table, so I thought I'd better have a listen in case I learnt anything...and a good job I did.

Now I've used a router table for years and never had any problems but as Colin talked, it became very apparent to me that my digits, much as I love them, had come far too close on more that one occasion to lumps of tool steel spinning at several thousand rpm.

I simply hadn't bothered to make appropriate guards or to use decent push blocks, thinking foolishly, that there's more control with fingers and that a serious accident t'weren't going to happen to me!
As I was listening, I became painfully aware of my shortcomings on the router table and were I to continue, it was only going to be a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

I started to get that uneasy feeling as he progressed that, yes...I was guilty as charged!

Having decided that something had to be done, I've made a couple of push blocks as advocated by Colin (centre and left in the pic) together with a little 'bird's mouth' push stick. The interesting thing about the blocks is that the handle is angled inwards, so that pressure can be applied forward and against the fence at the same time. The other thing of note is that the track in front of the phenolic plate found on many commercial tables is not needed with these sorts of push blocks, the advantage of which is that the fence doesn't need to be parallel to the track.

The centre push block is one of my own design and is meant for use with smaller sections as might be found in a picture frame...the little projection at the end bears on the end of the wood and the push stick is there to hold it down as it passes over the cutter.

The push block and big stick on the right are ones that I used on the planer/thicknesser and to date I've had no problems with this sort of design...it's just the router table that's been sadly lacking.

The other pic shows a bare hole in the 'shop...the Kity419 has now been collected so the processes of machinery replacement is now well under way...

...just hope I don't need to cut anything between now and the New Year.

09 March 2010

Perfection...and I want one!

The bushy tailed and eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that my profile pic has changed. Nothing remarkable about that you might think...happens all the time. It's a pic a Bloke planing a lump of wood, again, nothing untoward there either, except if you look a little closer at the plane I'm using...

...it's one of these!

To say that it's made like a Rolls-Royce is coming somewhere near the mark, but is still something of an understatement.

Absolute perfection would be much closer.

In fact a wander round Karl's website isn't a bad idea if you feel relatively sane, have a bucket to collect the 'tool drool' and have entrusted your wallet to SWIMBO's tender mercy!

07 March 2010

Shute finale...

Having had natter to the ed last week at F&C, the last shute has been made. Whist it's good to make a couple, I've done half a dozen of these things now and...

...I've had enough, so this is the last one. This is probably the best one I've done though as I've got all the little nuances of the build sorted out now, so they go together in a fairly straightforward sort of way, without too much angst over whether or not the final thing is going to plane square or at 45deg. One pic shows the location of the steel pins, a fairly critical part of the job. There was very, very little adjustment needed on this one to get it to shoot properly...maybe a shaving or three, but that's all.

On a different tack, a fabulous day out was had by all at Ye Old Kentish Bash on Saturday. Great to meet old pals and new acquaintances. Some pretty smart kit was also on show, one piece of which is definitly going to end up in my new router table...

05 March 2010

In suspension...

Some time ago, I was day-dream land fantasizing about upgrades to machinery in the 'shop, which proved to be a fascinating but frustrating exercise at the same time. There are a couple of constraints that are stacked against me (entirely of my own making I have to add) the first being that the floor is a fairly lightweight suspended affair and the second is that all machines have to run off a 13A ring main.

The floor is easy to remedy by ripping it up and laying an additional pair of sleeper walls, one each side of the existing wall, which will then give me a spacing of 900m between each, with the 50x75mm joists at 400mm intervals. I've been told that this ought to be able to withstand a point load of around 130Kgs or so.
Electrics are easier to sort out as all the kit I've been looking at will run happily of a 13A ring main circuit...the saw might be on the cusp, but if it is, I've been assured that there are devious and cunning ways round the problem.

What's on my wish list then? The Jet JTS 600 is the strongest contender at the moment as it's about the right weight and size...some of the other ones are cheaper, but weigh in at over 100Kgs more and positively eat space in a small 'shop. After a lot of humm-ing, haa-ing and much head scratching, I've finally opted for the Jet JWBS-16 mkII band saw and the AW106PT2 planer thicknesser, both of which have a capacity of 250mm, which is big enough for the sort of stuff I do. The final two bits of kit that I need is a decent capacity pillar drill and smaller lathe as the one I have at the moment is too big.

I could do with a new router as well (the old one is now ten years old and owes me nothing) and I would also like to get a Micro Fence to go with it, something recommended to me by Robert Ingham (there's a name to drop in a Blog!)

There's also a remote, but germinating seed of an idea at the back of the grey matter which is gradually taking form...one of these might be added to the list.

Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but as I have absolutely no will power in any way shape of form in these sort of decisions, the chances are moderate to good that it'll happen...possibly.

02 March 2010

Needle teeth...perhaps not

I think most of us are fairly parsimonious with tool sharpening, which of necessity need to be in tip top condition all the time. Perhaps we let gunk build up on the tablesaw blade and can't be bothered to remove it...we might take a few shavings too many and not give the blade a quick tickle to refresh it or maybe a favourite router cutter begins to smoke when a while ago it seemed to cut so sweetly...

Been there? Most woodworkers have and I'm no exception.

I have a decent enough 4 tpi skip tooth bandsaw blade in use at the moment...or at least it was decent until I decided to produce some oak veneers for the media unit. I knew it was fairly good as just before I fitted it I ran my fingers across the points and the sharp intake of breath combined with the 'sucking of the teeth' was enough to convince me that it was up to the job.

And so it proved, but disappointingly, not for very long. After passing a few lumps of oak through it, I could start to feel the inevitable build up of pressure to get the same quality of cut. By the last piece, I knew that the blade had given up the ghost and it was fit only for more mundane stuff, but even that was a bit of an effort.

It's a great temptation to think..."I'll just get one more cut and that's it, finished" but you eventually realize that the "one more cut" is actually going to compromise the timber and could go horribly wrong. It didn't happen on this occasion, but as you're well aware...

...my track record in these affairs isn't above reproach!