28 April 2010

Fix or Fudge?

The stool top went on the other night...sort of.

I'd prepared a fairly complex arrangement of cramping blocks so that no less than ten sash cramps could pull up the curved seat squarely onto the top of each leg, which they did successfully.

As an oversight, what I hadn't considered is that due to the curvature of the top there was around 10 -15mm of tenon poking through which is far too much to accurately locate the wedges as they're tapped in. I'd had another one of those numpty moments (they happen fairly frequently) and just plain forgot to saw off most of that excess to make the job easier.

The result can be seen in the pic. More by good luck than judgement, the wedges on the right went in 'spot on' but the four on the left were skewed...click on the pic to see it in all it's gory detail!

The way I've got round this little 'hic-up' is to use a tiny 1mm chisel to hoick out the offending bit and insert a wedged shape section of the relevant timber...the first one in oak is shown ringed. When it's cleaned up it hardly shows, but of course I know it's there....

So dear reader, I leave it to your judgement...........fix or fudge?

If it's a 'fudge' I think teddies may have to be retrieved.

25 April 2010

Panic...arm transplant needed!

Is it me?

Here I am, a fully grown up human bean, on the verge of finishing work. I've been doing this bloody woodworking lark, supposedly as recreation (ha!) for more years than I care to remember...and yet the very thought of simple glue-up is still enough to break me out into a cold sweat.

I'd finished off preparing the inside faces of the timber with a couple of coats of Osmo Poly-X followed with some wax (as I normally do) and as it was a pleasant sunny day yesterday, the oil had dried quickly so I decided to 'go for it'. Girding my loins (now there's something for your imagination) I thought to myself..."Robert, my lad, you're going to do the job proper this time and not make a complete arse of it"

Right...fat chance.

I took all precautions though. The twin curved, bearer blocks were made from the finest, straightest ash that ever was and were covered in some of Mr Kellogg's premium cereal box cardboard (just in case the oak bruised) I even screwed them together as I thought it's easier to hold two blocks in place rather than four...init?

Ha!..you've guessed what's coming?

I swept and cleaned the 'shop and prepared all the bits needed, glue, spreader, hammer (I'd even numbered the wedges for each slot...how sad is that?) so applying a smear of glue to the inside faces, I part way pushed the pieces together, ready for the cramps.

"This is going to be easy" I thought...big, big wrong!

Clearly one of KH's gremlins had defeated the ash cloud and made it across the pond, because there was no way on God's good earth that I could hold both the blocks in place...and then apply pressure to one side without the inevitable slippage...and then apply the other cramp in the right place and wind on the pressure.

It was just impossible...until I had a blinding revelation and held the blocks in place with a Bessey cramp that had a deeper throat. It was only after that was I able to get both the sash cramps in place and tap in the wedges.

If you think this was complicated, just wait 'til you see the cramping arrangements to get the top glued in place...

20 April 2010

Ice cold suds...

I'm know a month astray, but April was warm enough for me to get cracking on the roof on the 'shop. The spell of recent fine weather, after the appalling Easter was just too good an opportunity to miss, so early on Saturday morning I was up on top ripping off the old felt.
I was a little dismayed to see the damage to the chipboard that the leaks over the winter had caused, but with a little bit of careful positioning of the felt rolls I was able to avoid all the damp bits.

I also decided to seal the overlaps with some black bituminous adhesive...now that has to be just about the messiest, gooiest stuff that I've ever encountered and seemed to get everywhere except where it was supposed to go.

Having rolled and nailed down the felt, I then opted for the 'belt and braces' approach by sealing up the edges and clout nail heads with some silicone sealant.
The 'proof of the pudding' so it's said, is in the eating, so I used the hose to squirt up a few gallons of water onto the roof and then waited for a while to see if any came through...so far, so good.

I don't know May, but April is also a damn fine month to work outdoors...shame I didn't have an ice cold beer though.

16 April 2010


Wandering around Yandles with a pocketful of loose change is fatal. Having bought the Zona saws last Saturday, I bumped into a pal who'd just paid for some bench cookies, which I'd heard about, but never seen. Ambling through the crowds, I made my way over the the Classic Hand Tool stall where they still had a small stock which was rapidly diminishing.
Handing over almost the last of my cash, I dropped a pack into my bag and thought little more about it..."got to be worth a punt for a tenner"

Arriving home later that day, I racked them out on the 'Tool Wall' to await a suitable opportunity to give them a test drive, which, as it happens, was quite soon.

I'd got to the stage on the Alan Peters music stool where I was ready to sand the concave seat, so I thought I'd give the new purchases their first outing.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much 'grip' and support they gave to the workpiece. There was a little bit of movement caused by the motion of the cork block but it was pretty insignificant, so all in all, a good investment.

You'll have, of course, noted that I spent almost all my cash.

I made sure I had enough though, for a '99'...mmmmmm

14 April 2010

Saw point

Ever since the Rycotewood show in early March, I've been intrigued by the little Zona saws that Robert Ingham uses to such good effect in his work, plus of course the Transfer Jig that he made...and which I've yet to make!

However, more by luck that judgement... as I was wandering round Yandles last Saturday, I spotted a stall selling, amongst other stuff, a range of these saws, which are fantastic value considering they're made in the good 'ol US of A and have to be imported into the UK. I ended up with a pair of 32tpi saws and the same again in the 24tpi variant. What's interesting is that these saws cut on the pull stroke and leave a very fine kerf in the timber...even better, they're so cheap that when they become blunt they can be consigned to the skip.

My reasoning behind the purchase of these saws is that the LN dovetail saw, at 15tpi is really too big for smaller work...fine for carcase dovetails, but too clumsy for drawer work. For really accurate and precise work I think that these smaller saws will prove ideal, where at least five or six teeth need to be in contact with the timber at any one time.

The 32tpi saw ought to be used on timber 6-8mm, the 24tpi on slightly thicker stuff...say 9-11mm and the 15tpi LN on timber 12mm thick and upwards.

The only thing I need to get hold of now is some 6mm thick aluminium angle to make the jig, but I have a local source for that...

11 April 2010

The Goldilocks syndrome

Yesterday of course, being early April, the great and the good from UKWorkshop converged at Yandles for a thoroughly pleasant day out amongst the timber, machinery and other drool inducing goodies from CHT.

I went there primarily to cast the MKI eyeball over suitable table saws that might be on offer in the machine hall.

I knew that SIP would have one of their big machines on show and this is almost identical to the Axminster 10BS2 which is one of the contenders on my list. Suitably armed with my tape measure I was dismayed to find that the SIP was 2.3m from side to side and weighed in at around 240Kgs...far too big and heavy for my fairly lightweight suspended floor. I then sauntered over to the Record display and spent twenty minutes with the rep looking at the TS200. This little saw impressed me...decent build quality, cast iron table and 10" blade, the main features I'd been looking for. However, the glaring fault with it is that although there's sliding table...there's no outrigger arm, a bit like building a piece of furniture and forgetting to include one of the legs!

I was about to give up and go for a brew when I spotted the Charnwood stand over in one corner with the new W650, so not feeling very enthusiastic by this time I wandered over for a quick peek. What I discovered to my complete surprise was a saw that just about fitted all my requirements. The overall footprint is probably a smidgen smaller than my old Kity, but the main table is cast iron and much bigger. The sliding table is a direct 'lift' from the Kity model, but with the advantage that the small table is again cast iron. It sports a 10" blade powered by a 2.2KW induction motor so plenty of clout for sawing bigger stuff. It's also got a much better fence arrangement with a micro-adjustment facility, something that was just not available on the Kity. There was one feature on it that was very poor...the crown guard. Too big, too flimsy and made of cheap and nasty plastic, but easily replaced with one of these...

So what's all this got to do with Goldilocks? Everyone knows the tale of the 'Three Bears and the Porridge', one was too hot, one was too cold but one was just right for poor little Goldilocks.

On the other hand, you might think I've fallen completely out the tree this time and all this is just a load of golden...

You're probably right!

07 April 2010


Work on the Alan Peter's music stool is continuing quite well. I'd come to the point over the Easter weekend where it was time for the seat to be dished and if you an avid follower of this sad misive, you'll probably remember that just before Christmas I found a decent 21/4" woodie in Penny Farthing Tools which hadn't had the life beaten out of it with a hammer and seemed in fairly decent condition.

This was going to be turned into a convex soled plane so that I could make the concave profile in the seat. I began by making taking some rough shavings from the sole using an existing woodie, after which it was planed to the exact profile with my LA LV jack and then sanded in to shape. The cutter was then poked through the mouth and the curve drawn in with a pencil, after which I set up my copy of David Charlesworth's excellent curve grinding jig, for use with the Tormek. This can normally be a bit 'by guess and by God' but I seemed to get the profile just right...somewhat of a change! The chipbreaker then needed a little bit of careful fettling to bring in to shape to match the curve on the iron.

The big problem then is that the mouth on the plane is no longer square, owing to the curvature both of the sole and the blade, so it needs to be re-mouthed. Routing out the shallow mortise for the insert wasn't too difficult...fitting the insert (complete with sliding screws for adjustment) proved to be a little more time consuming, especially the final few shavings to bring the mouth to around 1mm or so, which is adequate for this sort of plane.

Then came the fun part...making those curly shavings!

It actually performed better than I'd anticipated...that little pile of shavings took about 15 minutes to make and brought me down to within .5mm of the line...so not a bad little Christmas present to myself!

03 April 2010


I had a parcel from Matthew the other day and parcels of any sort, especially if they contain shiny tools are always welcome. This one contained a couple of Mr Fujikawa's finest.... a 24mm hooped and paring chisel. One the face of it, they looked slightly disappointing languishing in the box...no straw filled cardboard box, no highly polished exotic timbers for the handle, blades that clearly had the forging marks still visible with a quick lick of matt black paint applied, hoops roughly forged and banged onto a fairly ordinary piece of red oak. To all intense and purposes then, a pretty mediocre looking tool with nothing of the sheer gloatworhy and drool inducing anticipation of the Blue Spruce brand.

But, as we all know...appearances can be deceptive, very deceptive.

I decided to make a start and ground in a small depression just behind the blade. This so that it doesn't foul the edge of the stone during the back flattening process (which is the best way I know to crumble the edge of a waterstone) after which I began the time consuming and somewhat laborious process of bringing the back to a mirror finish...even with the ground depression in the back, it took me about two hours, mainly due to the 'bump' just behind the edge which most of these chisels have. This must be removed to leave a dead flat or concave surface.

Having finally polished the back using the .3 micron 3M paper I started on the bevel and kept (as recommended) to the single bevel of 30 degrees. Eventually, after working through the 3M papers, finishing with the .3 micron again...I had an edge. Restraining my urge to test it, I then set the hoop, using the excellent notes provided at 'Tools for Working Wood'

How do you test the edge though?

One of the big worries with these sorts of chisel is that the edge will be too brittle and shatter. These chisels are hardened to an eye wateringly, truly insane RC68, which about as hard as you can go without case hardening, so it was with more than a little bit of trepidation that I thumped the hooped chisel into a scrap of English Oak...35 times!

Not a sausage, zip, rien...nowt!

The edge remained perfect and merely seemed to laugh at my utterly feeble attempt to impart some damage. I then tested it by taking some shavings across the corner of a soft piece of pine...some test for even the sharpest edge. Mr Fujikawa's chisel took the finest, whispiest shavings that I've ever seen...with the merest, lightest touch of the blade. To be fair, I honed a LN chisel and tried the same thing, with a similar result...except that a lot more effort was needed. A2 steel is good, but when you consider that a sharp edge is the intersection of two surfaces and nothing else, Mr Fujikawa's chisel is a whole magnitude of sharpness better...

I've made some progress here on the parer, but as you may be able to see from the pic, there's another hour on two's flattening to do before it's done.

Onwards and upwards.