30 December 2010

A jig or two

I finally made a start this afternoon on the next project, which is the Robert Inghamish little box. It's going to have just six burr elm panels on the front...three 55mm squares on the box front and three 55x25mm oblongs in the lid above it. Similarly, there will be four on the sides which, if my drawings are correct, will mean that there are six inlaid panels on the lid. The ebony 'twixt the burrs will be 15mm thick, so the overall length of the box is going to be around 220mm or so and the height about 120mm. The lining is as yet undetermined, but will probably be in maple, with possibly a small tray of some sort as well.

I'm trying to keep roughly to the methodology adopted by RI (who incidentally is looking forward to seeing it in F&C) so I've been making one of the jigs used in the construction...a simple little device to allow the burr elm panels to be planed to an exact thickness with the LA jack...14mm in this case as opposed to the original 12mm in the bigger box.

The next one will be a little more complex as it'll be the gluing jig for the ebony strips and burr elm panels. I need to make the jig first as the gluing bit is some way away...

...besides, I haven't got any glue!

27 December 2010

Oriental slope

The 'Secret Santa' present I made some time ago was well received in Germany and if you recollect, it was posted in Bruges earlier in the month. It was fairly straight forward to make, but made much easier as I had an ECE scrub under the bench and a very tatty book by Charles Haywood from 1951 or thereabouts with plans for all sorts of woodworking tools. The main body is a standard laminated affair in mahogany with the horn doweled in place...that was quite fun to make. The sole is a piece of the 'wood from hell' and is the first time that I've used it for anything in anger...apart from giving lumps of it to friends to play with. Being a kindly soul, it's interesting to watch their reaction when they attempt to plane it! Philly provided the 6mm thick O1 blade and very kindly ground it to a perfect curve.

I received one or two very acceptable presents which will allow me to slide a little further down the Oriental slope of slipperiness, one being an excellent Ryoba saw from Gareth, then a Japanese marking gauge from Megan and finally a pair of books from SWIMBO, one of which is 'Japanese Woodworking Tools' by Toshio Odate.

I'd been after this book for some time and it's already been useful as when I had a look at the marking gauge, I noticed that the blade is deliberately skewed by around 5deg, which I initially thought was a manufacturing defect...not so apparently as it's done deliberately to draw the stem tight against the wood when it's used. If I like the design when I try it out in the 'shop, I'll probably make one or two others. The second book is the final JK tome...I have all the others so this will make a little bit of pleasant reading in the New Year.

24 December 2010


It’s often surprised me that we take so much for granted these days. We give hardly a thought to the vast array of technical gizmos and gadgets which we’re constantly bombarded with…you only need to look at the weird and wacky gift ideas at IWOOT to see the sort of thing I mean.

Without doubt though, over the last twenty years or so it’s the area of communications that have infiltrated the very essence of our everyday existence. How many times have you seen someone with a ‘phone transfixed to their ear and wondered what they’d have done not so many years ago? There simply weren’t any in everyday use, so we just had to get by.

Similarly, t’internet was just getting going in the early 90’s and there were even programmes on the telly to explain the workings devious of the ‘information super-highway’…whatever that was. Here we are though, some twenty years on, complete with Facebook, Twitter and Utube so it’s no exaggeration to say that it now more or less completely dominates our lives. Want to do some complicated research and book a once in a lifetime holiday or a few last minute Christmas bits from Tesco’s?..sit down at the keyboard, log on and start surfing, it’s as simple as that.

The last decade though in particular, has seen an explosion in the amount of on-line Bloggers, myself included. It’s only t’internet, this vast interconnection of computers, which allows access to read them by almost anyone, from near enough anywhere on the face of this small globe.

Wherever you are and of whatever faith or denomination, from the warm comfort of my desk in this bitter, freezing cold weather, I wish you and yours peace and prosperity in this season of goodwill to all men.

Merry Christmas - Rob

20 December 2010

What's in your cupboard?.. part deux

The ongoing freezing weather, (it's difficult to call it a 'cold snap' now) has all but shut down practical woody activities in the 'shop. I have heating out there (a 1.5Kw oil-filled rad) and it's well insulated but even so, after a couple of hours the temperature has barely risen to a level where some work could be done...not forgetting it was around -8degC last night. Although it's possible to wrap up warm with multiple layers and a thick jacket (together with woolly hat) it's difficult, if not impossible to do work when your hands are like two frozen blocks of ice. I generally reckon that around 10degC is the minimum for comfortable, wrapped up working, but to get to that level would take a long time with my little radiator.

The other issue is, of course, trying to glue something. I'd long ago realized that my existing pot of TBIII in the 'shop would have been rendered useless by now, but I'd wondered about the big gallon container of the stuff that I'd bought to do some veneering. By design, I kept the container indoors in the utility room on a shelf over the central heating radiator (which is on pretty much all day now, but not at night) so the other day I gingerly took off the top, peered inside and gave it a swirl round. Fortunately, I'd used up most of the glue over the last year so there was only about 25mm left in the bottom.

What was left though, had completely separated, so once the winter is over, it looks like they'll be another order to Axminster in the pipeline. I think the next lot is going to be kept in the airing cupboard...

17 December 2010

What's in your cupboard?

As an aside from matters woody, I spent a very pleasant and moderately alcoholic day (unlimited amounts of free champagne is not to be sneezed at) in Southhampton University attending Megan's graduation ceremony for her MA degree in Osteoarcheology, which for the likes you and me is the 'excavation, analysis and reporting of human remains'

So the next time you have any skellingtons in your cupboard, you know who to call!

12 December 2010

Sleepless in Salisbury

There's no doubt in my mind...Robert Ingham is worthy of really pointy wizard's hat.

Why you may ask?..and a perfectly reasonable question.

The answer is that I've been puzzling all over the weekend on exactly how he's put together his elm and bog oak jewellery box which on the face of it, seems to be fairly straight forward...just some odd squares of burr elm and strips of oak joined together in lattice arrangement to form a box.

Simple?...think again!

The method of construction for this sort of box is given in a past issue of F&C, but Robert, being extremely cunning as we know he is, has only given the very sketchiest outline of how to go about making it and almost every waking moment of this last weekend has been spent trying to puzzle out how he's done it. Detailed analysis of the text and and pics in the article give some clues but most of it has had to be worked out...it's a bit like an irritating bloody itch inside my head that I can't scratch.

Fortunately, I think...only think mind, that I've got it cracked, but it's taken me a long time.

Although my version won't be nearly so grand as RI's it's going to be a bit of a challenge and will require a lot more detailed thought and drawings before I can start work.

Let's hope it won't end up as more bandsaw fodder...fingers crossed.

10 December 2010

RM rules...

Having spent a couple days looking round the ancient city of Brugge in Belgium, I decided that it might be a suitable opportunity to post my Secret Santa present as it happens to be around 250 miles closer to it's destination than the UK.

Logic would dictate therefore, that it ought to have been a bit less heavy on the wallet, but SWIMBO and I walked away from the post office with a slightly numb feeling (and it wasn't the cold)...nearly £20 to post it across a border into the next country.

We found Brugge to be a wonderful place but just about the biggest tourist trap we'd ever encountered...if a shop isn't selling chocolate, it'll be lace.

The chocs I can cope with, but somehow, not the frilly stuff...

A great couple of days, just don't go there to post your Christmas cards.

03 December 2010


Having decided that making a JKish style of cabinet with a coopered door is a 'good thing' I consulted the 'worthies' on UKWorkshop with a view to solving the problem of the cooperage angle.

It transpires that the sagitta (or amount of 'bendiness' accross the chord of an arc) can be calculated quite easily using some data in the equation, but the thing that I don't know is the radius of the arc. Happily however, there's a second equation immediatly underneath on the same page showing how to calcualte it, so with a combination of the two I ought to be able to sort out my little problem.

One other solution was provided by Richard Jones when he said... 'that you are dealing with a circle, so the calculations should be relatively straightforward. The profile of the door looking down from the top is an arc, and joining the outer edges of the door to the centre of the circle forms a segment. All you need to do is find out how many degrees the two radius lines form where they meet at the circle centre and you are on the way. If this angle is, for example, 20º then the complementary angle is 340º giving 360º when added together, the total number of degrees in a circle. You want 5 coopered pieces in your 20º arc. Therefore 360º/20 = 18, ie, you can fit 18 segments with 20º arcs into the 360º that form a circle. Next calculate 18 (segments) X 5 (coopered parts) = 90 coopered parts, effectively 90 segments. Then calculate 360º/90 = 4º, the angle each of those 90 segment forms at the circle centre. Next using triangles, the sum of all three inside corners of a triangle add up to 180º. You are dealing with an isosceles triangle so calculate 180º - 4º = 176º. Then 176º/2 = 88º, the angle formed between the outside face of each coopered part and the two bevelled edges. Set your rip saw bevel angle to this, or the complementary 2º depending on your saws protractor, or whatever your own calculations indicate going from your actual plans/drawings.'

Richard's solution still means that the radius of the circle needs to be found, which is easy given the formula above.

What's even easier is that once you've found the angle at the centre of the circle, simply divide it by the number of joints in the door (in this case 4) and then divide that number by 2 (as two pieces of wood will make one joint)

Simple always works for me...