31 October 2010


I've just been doing a little bit of veneer sawing on the bandsaw...nothing too strenuous, around 125mm of English oak with a new 3tpi blade. I only needed six leaves and they came off without a problem.

I then took off the new blade, and replaced it with the slightly older one (for more general work) but when I adjusted it I found it to be slightly catching on the insert plate, so without thinking I put my right hand under the table to try to adjust it.

The only slight problem, of no real significance, is that the blade was still running...

...and the leakage makes a nasty red mess all over the floor.

So what's in your first aid box?..there's precious little in mine!

29 October 2010

Two and two?

A couple of months ago, I was a bit glum, in fact glum was only a moderate indicator of just how truly glum I was. Sums, as you may gather are not my forte (although it has to be admitted I was rather better at them a few years ago) but the recent SDSR (Strategic Defence Services Review) announced by Cameron's new duffgov.com last week has meant that there's going to be drastic cuts in manpower across all three armed services and the MOD in general, where 25,000 posts will have to be shed over the next couple of years.

The upshot of all this drama is that there's going to be a Voluntary Early Release Scheme (VERS) for individuals who would like to get out early (provided the package offered is not financially detrimental) and guess what?..

...that's me!!

The exact wording of the text runs as follows:

"The Defence Board and the Secretary of State have endorsed plans for a Department-wide Voluntary Early Release Scheme (VERS) to be launched in April 2011."

but what they didn't say in this press release was that applicants, if successful, would be released as soon as possible. Now as I've said, I don't do sums very well these days, but even someone of my limited mathematical ability can put two and two together...hopefully the answer ought to four.

Watch this space though...

24 October 2010

Timber trawl

It's good when a plan starts to come together. As part of my recent cunning scheme to restock the depleted timber racks in the 'shop, I decided to take the car out for the day and have a little drive round to various cabinet makers in the area, to try and see what off-cuts of hardwood I could get hold of.

Surprisingly...quite a lot! I ended up with a car load of maple, brown ash and English oak, plus some other assorted bits and pieces, no great sizes, but useful for the sort of work I like doing.

I simply did a bit of Googleisationing for the first six names that came out of a search, armed myself with a copy of F&C, punched the post codes into Janie the SatNav and hit the road. I found one maker though who looked very promising, but unfortunately there was no-one at home when I called, so I left the copy of F&C (containing one of my articles) and a note with some contact details. Hopefully there'll be a 'phone call or email made shortly...

It's also late October, which means that it's Secret Santa time once again on UKWorkshop. Avid readers of these inept ramblings will have realised long ago that for anyone to find out what I'm up to would be a tad more embarrassing than having your latest nuclear sub run aground...

However, all will be revealed in due course...rather like the sub!

19 October 2010


The current project in the 'shop is a small shelving unit in oak and oak veneers, with parts of it rounded over (including the shelves) to mirror the Media Unit completed a couple of months ago. The first pic shows a trial joint which is one corner of the framework. The joint is 'bare-faced' and relies on the gluing area for strength, but this is also reinforced with a dowel so it ought to be reasonably strong...not that it's intended to take any great weight.

This shows a wheel gauge being used to mark out the centre of the stile (ready for drilling the 6mm dowel hole) after the 20mm hole has been drilled...

...after which some careful work with the Japanese paring chisels will bring the sides square and parallel.

The small cross-rails are just made fairly simply by marking out and rough shaping to size with a jack plane...

...and then refined with a block plane, after which a curved cork sanding block is used to bring them into an exact profile. All fairly simple stuff with nothing to date that's gone wrong.

However, there's always a little something to upset the applecart!

The ed. at F&C asked me to review a Bosch table saw, so when I got in on Monday evening there were two very large boxes waiting for me to unpack. I dragged them eagerly into the 'shop, lumping and bumping up the steps and started to rip off the tape and delve into the boxes...and who doesn't like delving?...I do!

I hadn't got very far when I spotted a little white sticker on the motor...110v

Sometimes, I'm glad it's not just me...

16 October 2010

Bases covered...

One of the purchases that I bought on holiday last month was a rather good papyrus painting of the 'Eye of Horus', one of the three lucky charms of ancient Egypt, the other two being the 'scarab beetle' and 'key of life.'

Not being one to chance my luck and walk under ladders, I also bought a beetle and an alabaster key as well, so with my luck, (such as it is) all bases ought to be covered!

I've been knocking up a quick picture frame today from an oddment of American Cherry but I didn't have a spline jig for use on the router table. The way it's used can be seen from the pics, the big triangular bit just slides back and forth dependent on the size of the framing material. The cutter is simply a modified biscuit cutter set high up on the mandrel so it will clear the jig's baseboard.

I was little bit wary tonight in using it as you never actually know if the thing is going to work, but fortunately, the ancient gods were with me and the splines grooves were cut without a hitch,
though with the sheer amount of goofs that I make in the 'shop, more often than not, the old gods are nowhere to be seen...

14 October 2010


After a frantic three nights of sawing, this monster lump of oak has been finally reduced to two more manageable lumps though the bigger one is still too heavy to lift, so it had to be 'walked' across the 'shop.

The first couple of cuts removed the sap on each side and last night I did the big one. I went down the middle with the Disston rip...it took me 90 minutes (with breaks) to split the thing in half, but it's all been done now and has been racked away (vertically I might add) in the store.

The effort involved in this sort of work is considerable...my right arm now looks like Popeye's.

Unfortunately though, I forgot to have the mandatory tin of spinach for tea. Had I done so, the cut might have been completed in 9 minutes as opposed to 90!

12 October 2010


Some little time ago I reached a momentous decision...

No more tool buying (except the odd trinket or two perhaps at Christmas)

The reason, if you recollect, was that the once reasonably full stocks of timber were getting somewhat depleted and available fundage needed to be directed to replacing it. Well, my cunning plan started to come towards some sort of fruition last night as a pal from work dropped off a lump of air dried English Oak.

But this is not just any lump of oak, this was a huge chunk of quarter sawn stuff that's over 100mm thick! It's been air drying for the last four or five years so may still be a little damp in the middle. The aim though, over the next few days is to remove the sap with a nice sharp rip saw (that's going to take some time as well) and then cut into into two big pieces by sawing down the middle along the split as at the moment it's just too big to comfortably move around. Somewhere in there though, is the material for a couple of nice cabinets, depending on how I intend to cut it. I think somehow I've justified the cost of getting hold of that new bandsaw...

In conversation with James, he also mentioned that he had some odds n'ends of air dried English Ash which wasn't much good and... ''did I want that as well?'' (for no extra cost!) Thinking that it was going to be only fit for burning ( eg. peices of limb wood in the round full of splits and cracks) I said I would have it anyway...what was there too lose? However, when I saw it in the back of the wagon, it turned out to be much better than I'd anticipated. True, some of the pieces were very crudely hacked on a fairly agricultural saw but all were sound with most of the bits being reasonably straight, a good size, crack free and some were even quarter sawn. They were also a good thickness, being for the most part over 50mm thick.

All I need now is to collect a few more bits and pieces like this and the racks will be topped off...

09 October 2010

A straw too far?

Having collected the new bandsaw blades from the postie this morning and fitted one into the bandsaw, first impressions are that they're very good indeed, extremely sharp with no drifting from the line in use...

I fitted one of the smaller 10mm x 6tpi blades and gave it a bit of test though. Although not strictly designed for deep sawing, it coped admirably, demolishing into numerous small bits the Japanese style cabinet that I'd been attempting to make from a lump of 2 x 4" pine. Every single time that I went near the bloody thing, something went wrong. I don't have the faintest clue why... it ended up as a series of complete, unmitigated disasters which were compounded one on top of the other every time I did something. No matter what I did, it never, ever went to plan.

For example, the other evening, having made both the back panels (...eventually) I glued them in and then managed to drop the whole shooting match, including the cramps, which came off and smashed into the carcase.

Result?.. there were more bloody dings in the back than one of Tiger Wood's golf balls (he knows a thing or two about balls...{ some thought needed here!}]

Then this morning, I thought I'd finish the job and get the whole disaster finished and out the way, so I attempted to sort out the little drawers...

...but all the pine was bowed and bent. A corkscrew would have been moderately straighter.

Enough is enough, this had all the makings of the 'camels back syndrome' ...so the whole issue's gone through the bandsaw.

Good riddance.

05 October 2010

Pole position

Bandsaw blades...not the most riveting of subjects for a blog post to be fair, but an important one none the less. I do an awful lot of work and I mean a lot of work on my little Euro 260 from deep sawing veneers to lopping off the end from an odd piece of timber.

I've always used the blades from Axminster and found them acceptable, particularly as they offer them made in .014" stock, which suits the machine. However I'm going to try a few of the new Tuff blades, formally made by Dragon Saws which are a little thicker, being made from .022" material. By all accounts, they're far better than Axminster blades as the basic steel stock is better quality.

The jury's out on this one at the moment, but we'll see what they're like...

On the subject of bandsaws, the Jet JWBS 16 MKII that had been in pole position for a number of months has been knocked into second place on the grid by something else as friend from UKWorkshop had a close up and personal eyeball on each machine. It was his opinion that the overall build quality of the Startrite was superior to the Jet and even better...it was cheaper and being a parsimonious sort of soul, that suits me!

01 October 2010

Goldilocks flawed...

Things have slowed down somewhat in the 'shop, mainly due to the fact that it's a bit more difficult to get into it in the evening. Having moved my job location to Andover, I now arrive home at 6pm which isn't too bad, but by the time we've had our evening meal, 7 o'clock has come and gone, so there's not really enough time to wind myself up for an evening's work outside.

All is not lost though as I've had some ideas for my next project, which will be a wall hung unit in oak, where the shelves will have the same sort of form as the Media Unit completed in July ie: rounded edges with end caps in ebony. The recent long drive back across the dessert to Luxor got the little grey cells ticking over again, so I had the idea sketched out 'up top' by the time I arrived home...all that remained was to translate that into a full size drawing on my whiteboard, which took some time (as it always does) as the plan (or top view) to get the constructional details ironed out had to be redrawn severial times.

I also had a 'Goldilocks' piece of 18mm marine ply for the shelves...not too long, not too short but just the right length and width to get out three shelves, each one a metre long. By remarkable good fortune, the piece of oak to be sawn up for the veneers is also around a metre, which is a coincidence of megalithic proportions...

Sometimes, forward planning on this monumental scale astounds even me...

There's only only the tiniest, eansiest glitch in the plan.

The ply's warped so I'm clamping in the reverse direction to try and get the bow out. Hopefully I should be able to straighten it out in a few weeks, fingers crossed.