21 October 2011

'Shop Flaw...

The big day finally arrived last Friday, and to mark the occasion, SWIMBO snapped this little pic and put it on my Facebook page so now the complete world and his wife knows that I've finally got there. It's a strange and surreal sort of experience as at the moment it feels like I'm on a weeks leave before we go away for a bit of late summer sun in the Red Sea, so it'll probably hit me when we get back...I won't have to get up at 6.30 when it's pitch black (...is there anything worse?) have some breakfast, make my sarnis and walk down the road to meet my mate Kirk for the ride to work.

Nope...it's all very bizarre at the moment, but I dare say I'll get used to it!

The main activity in the 'shop though, has been to strengthen the existing floor. When I built it a few years ago, I had an extreme attack of parsimoniousness (good word that!) and decided that one central sleeper wall would suffice.

Big mistake...huge time!

I made the joists a measly 3"x 2" and as a consequence the floor had a somewhat better bounce than a circus trampoline...as anyone who's been in it will testify! Now that I'm about to install much heavier equipment, I've rued the day that I made that decision.

The third pic shows the first part of one of the new sleeper walls being laid, with cross noggins to additionally support the joists. I used 50mm thick paving slabs to lay the timber on and I swear that they're just about the heaviest and most awkward bloody things that I've ever had the misfortune to manhandle.

The final pic shows the new floor going down, which I made out of 18mm ply which was then covered with some hardboard.

Finally, I had a fantastic day yesterday at Axminster, courtesy of Ian Styles who gave me a personal guided tour of their facility, including an in depth look at the way the firm operates. I didn't know that if an order is placed on-line (during the day) their system is so good that 13 minutes later, the goods are being loaded onto the back of a lorry...now that's some sort of efficiency!

Needless to say, a very considerable order was placed on the day, which, if you you care to peruse future blogs, will be elaborated on in much greater detail.

But enough of this nonsense...I'm on me hols tomorrow!

12 October 2011

The Return...

You'll no doubt be pleased (or otherwise, as the case may be) that the long sabbatical has come to an end. In around 48 hours I'll be retiring, finishing my employment for good, which is, I hasten to add, a slightly sureal and very strange experience.

Expect then, dear peruser of this Blog, that normal service will indeed resume, with an account of 'shop activity over the summer (not least of which is the acquisition of a LN 51)...very early next week!

28 July 2011


Those of you who dip into these meanderings from time to time will have noticed that I haven't made an entry for quite a while. This is because I've decided to take a long delayed sabbatical though fear not...normal service will be resumed in October when I finish work.

30 May 2011

Cunning conversion...

The last technical article has been written for F&C, which was supposed to be a two page piece on ramped shooting boards. Two pages in the mag though, isn't a whole lot of space to describe how to make one, so having one of my frequent latteraly thinking brain waves, I decided to modify my existing one. The advantage of the ramped shoot is that more of the blade is in contact with the timeber, whereas in the ordinary version, it's only one small section that's in constant use.

The first pic shows my old, battered, tatty and coffee stained shoot... a bit worn but still accurate.

The simplest thing to do to modify the shoot was to saw off the plane runway and re-attach a new one, at an angle of round about 10deg or less. The bench hook end has been chiseled away to the right angle and then it's been fixed in place with a hefty couterbored screw...

...and the addition of a couple of wedges on the under side to level the whole thing up was the final little bit to do. The runway has been extended by around 60mm so that wider boards can be shot in without the No9 falling off the end of the shoot.

It's not happened yet, but with my track record, it's going to happen one day!

28 May 2011


Workshop activities have slowed down somewhat of late, due in no small way to the horticultural activities taking place in the garden, but amongst all the frantic activity, I've managed to get the next project under way...a tall Japanese floor standing lamp

As usual there were elements of the design that were a trifle perplexing, not least of which were the four the side panels. These have to be made from shoji paper (a translucent material) which tears quite easily...so how then to remove a panel easily so that the offending torn section could be replaced? I'm not sure how it's done in proper lamps, but I've decided to use rare earth magnets with four to each panel. The pic shows some of the rails, with a section cross-hatched, one piece of which will form a quarter of a panel. The rebate sits on the outside of the carcase and the frames then fit into the rebates...the holes that can be seen are for the rare earth magnets, as it's much easier to mark out and drill before the timber's been machined away.

Sounds complicated?...not really. The whole piece is fairly simple with straight forward m/t joinery and the only curvy bits in it (and I like curvy bits) will be in the handle. There are though, one or two interesting features of this little project that will be further elaborated on as I make it...so watch this space!

The second pic shows two of the four stiles with the mortises cut as I always do them...with a router. These have been left with round ends from the router bit and have yet to be squared out, an enjoyable half hour with small chisels. You can also just see the pencil marks for the long sections of the rebates which will eventually hold the shoji paper frames.

More to come, provided I can find time 'twixt shredding a mountain of branches, digging out tree roots out and interminable trips to the dump.

C'est la guerre...or similar.

14 May 2011

The Geat White Hunter...

The jungle that was the bottom of the garden is slowly being cleared and the hole where I'm now standing will eventually be part of a rather tasty 8x6' greenhouse.

After a hard slog in the hot sun, I've finally bagged my prize...this stump which is all that remains of a 25' high juniper tree.
Many weapons were brought into action on the day...spades assorted, an axe and one of two mattocks, but as this a woody blog, it might be of interest to discuss the edge on one of blades.

So just what is the most effective angle to hack through the tree roots? For many years I've favoured a triple bevel on some plane irons...23deg primary grind, 30deg honed bevel and a micro-bevel at 33deg so I thought that this sort of regime would be just the very ticket for my mattock, with the extra heft of the tool enabling me to take really nice, dainty chippings.

The mallet, made from a fencing post and an old cricket stump is a much treasured tool liberated at the end of my teaching career, and is so finely tuned with such a delicate balance that the Blue Spruce offering pales into the merest insignificance.

And what of the saw? A progressive rip tooth cut with just a smidgen of fleam or perhaps not quite so an aggressive cross-cut, with maybe just a tad more set? Or maybe I should have gone for the Japanese option and opted for a pull cut blade?

Who knows...my own opinion is that this entry is one big bit of fleam and if you've taken any of even half-seriously you're in desperate need for a glass or four of the good stuff tonight.

I know I will!

08 May 2011

Hellena Handcart

Having had a little break from woody activities in the 'shop (as I usually do once a piece has been finished) the material for the next job has been prepared...a floor standing Japanese lamp which has one or two features that might pose some interesting problems.

Such as how do I bend 6mm acrylic into a 90deg bend? I think I know to do it, but it's going to be an interesting exercise none the less. Material for this one is again in the last remnants of my original consignment of air dried English Oak which has lasted very well as a quick count-up in my head last night revealed that no less than five projects will have been made from it...good job I've got some more then!

This morning I've got a break from gardening duties as I'm taking the pics for my next technical piece in F&C which is honing using the Kell III guide. It's bound to set the cat amongst the wotsit's because when wasn't sharpening and honing a contentious issue amongst woodies? The truth be told...

...I ain't bovvered!

More astute readers might have noticed that the frequency of these dubious meanderings has slightly tailed off recently. The reason is that during quiet spells at work (which is most of the time) I used to get a Blog entry done during the week. However, such is the appalling IT system that we have to use, it won't really support the Blokeblog any more...the spellchecker (essential for me as you might have guessed) doesn't work, I can't upload pics and entries simply appear as one giant paragraph and have to be edtied when I get home, so all in all, it's intensely bloody annoying.

Clearly, the word is going to Hell in a handcart...tsk.

Things must be getting bad.

02 May 2011

TP on FB

SWIMBO and I had just had a very pleasant weekend staying at my brothers...nothing very unusual there, plenty of brothers do exactly that. We watched the royal wedding in the morning and then around twoish or so, set of for Norwell, near Newark, which I estimated to take us around 4 hours or so, taking into account a stopover for a brew.

My brother Rog has been on his own for years (though it's fair to say that there have been one or two ladies around at certain times) and I thought that this was pretty much the 'status quo' and likely to remain so for a long time to come.

However, things don't always work out quite how you expect and can sometimes take a very unexpected twist...not for the worst, but very much for the better in this case.

You see, the very nice lady in the second pic is called Theresa Paradise, or at least that's her maiden name and was when Roger last went out with her...

...in 1971 and even I, being an absolute bloody genius at sums, can work out that it's forty years ago!

Oh deary, deary me, the wonders of t'interweb and Facebook in particular!

Sometimes, even for a grumpy old sod like me, life can turn up some very pleasant surprises...

25 April 2011

The RI Box

Another one of my boxes has been finally done n'dusted. Not too many hideous mistakes along the way, just one or two interesting things as previously noted. The first pic shows the box completed in it's entirety.

The original plan was to go very much down the Inghamish route and fit some simple square brass feet that extended 3mm beyond the edge. However, it didn't look quite right and my fears were confirmed when friends from UKWorkshop told me that the feet had to go! So they have done, this morning and have been replaced with small squares of green baize to cover the screw holes.

The next pic shows the handle in place on the front of the box and as promised, that little chip is nowhere in sight.

The third photo in the series shows the box in the open position, with the hinges complete with their brass screws...note that the slots are all in line!

The final pic in the sequence shows the box open, with the lining in Birds Eye Maple, kindly donated to the cause by my good pal Tony Cox from Weymouth. There was just enough to make the four sides and enough in addition for the veneer on the base...

...as well as for an additional short length as I cut the first piece too bloody small.

So you thought my unerring reputation for making monumental cock-ups was had been finally defeated?..think again!

23 April 2011

Of knobs and knockers

This little project is almost coming to completion now and has gone reasonably well. There have been one or two interesting things that have occurred, the first one being that the elm is much softer than the ebony. This hasn't really caused a problem but it has produced the phenomenon whereby the it's very difficult to sand it to a dead flat surface...the elm has been 'sculpted' slightly below the surface of the ebony. This hasn't caused any real problems as the veneer is 2mm thick...had it been any thinner I reckon I might have had a problem.

I've been applying the final coats of hard-wax oil over the last couple of days and finishing it off with my favourite Alna Teak Wax...a lovely soft paste specially made for teak (and alas no longer available as it hasn't been made for the last thirty years) I slapped a couple of coats of wax on the top, started to buff it off and saw that there were some huge scratches in the top that had miraculously appeared...clearly either my finishing technique was beyond redemption or my sanding was way below par. I suspect the latter, so the top's been scraped and re-finished this morning with the first coat of oil drying at the moment.

Handles and knobs always cause me a lot of angst, but for this box I decided to keep to the original Inghamish theme of a simple turned cylinder with a small slither of oak set into a shallow groove. If you look carefully you'll see a tiny chip out of the right hand side of the knob, which is intensely annoying. The plus side is that once the handle's been glued in place, that little chip can never be seen.

With any luck and provided I haven't screwed up the top (again!) this project ought to be done n'dusted on the 'morrow...

We shall see.

16 April 2011

Knighthood for Crawford...

There's one thing that I detest in any job and I'll put it off for as long as I can. Procrastinate as much as I want (maybe the car needs a wash, or the grass needs a cut or I need to floss my teeth)...but sooner or later, loins have got to be girded and the deed has got to be done.

Fitting hinges, or more specifically, butt hinges.

Normally on a box like this, the hinges would have had to be on and off like a whore's drawers and it could take me the better part of a day to fit them properly, with a subsequent rocketing of stress and blood pressure levels, which I need like a hole in the proverbial. I opted instead a set of the very excellent and beautifully made smartHinge's from Andrew Crawford. What would have taken me an eon to fit, were now done in around an hour and are so easy to install that the mitres on the front corners were no more than .25mm off...easily sanded out in around twenty minutes.

It's critical that the hinges are set dead level. Mine aren't and so have been shimmed to bring them level with the inside surface of the box. Andrew does in fact say this in the blurb but my machining of the recesses wasn't quite accurate enough...as with all these sorts of things it's a learning curve the first time it's done. The only major criticism that I would offer is that no No3 steel screws are supplied to cut the initial thread although plenty of brass screws are included...not much good though, when you need to drive them through ebony! Fortunately, I had several boxes of steel screws that were exactly the right size, so that wasn't an issue.

I've only fitted them here with the steel screws, so that when it's finally assembled they'll be swapped for brass ones of the same size.

If you've got nothing better to do with your time than read this drivel, you'll know that I like parcels, particularly parcels with shiny tools in them.

The other day I received an oddly wrapped package in the post and I couldn't for the life of me work out what it was...I certainly wasn't expecting anything.

However, it slowly dawned on me as the bubble wrap and masking tape were stripped away, that the parcel contained a very acceptable Fibonacci gauge in Cocobolo, made for me by a member of UKWorkshop...I'd completely forgotten that it was in the post, so it was a very pleasant surprise to receive it.

Now that the hinges have been fitted successfully, the next step is to sort out the lining in Birds Eye Maple, after which it'll be the final sanding and polishing.

12 April 2011

Yandles 2011

The other event that occurred at the weekend that I haven't mentioned was the annual outing to Yandles on Saturday. It proved to be a really pleasant day out, a lovely Spring day and definitely 'shirt sleeve' order. My impression was that it was slightly smaller than previous shows as I was looking round for the de Walt stand and realised that it wasn't there!

I did, however, have a good delve into the woodshed, which is always a pleasant way to pass an hour. Being Saturday (and thus the second day) I had the feeling that stocks of timber would be somewhat denuded (analogous to the after effects of a locust swarm) but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a couple of matched boards of Wych Elm, reasonably straight and with some pleasant grain figuring. I was going to get just one, but as a future project later on this year is a bow fronted, wall hung cabinet, I thought it wise to buy the second plank just in order to get the maximum advantage from the available grain.

Looking around the machinery hall, I had a play with the Startrite 352E and it's a very, very impressive bit of kit. I'm fairly convinced that this has moved into pole position ahead of the 16'' Jet, so that if I'm allowed out the the Yandles Autumn show in Sept, I'll be placing an order...even better, it's around £200 less spendy!

All told, a very good day out.

10 April 2011

A slip in time...

I've been messing about today with the next article for F&C...this time it's on drawer slips.
The approach I normally use is shown in the first pic is that of making a router groove which passes through the front tail (thus hiding it in the finished drawer.)

However, this leaves a narrow section (arrowed) that may present a weakness if the drawer is heavily loaded (one of SWIMBO's clothes drawers maybe...dunno) or one which may fail after many years. Drawer slips just add double the bearing area and do away with that thin, weak section.

The first thing is to prepare some oak 12mm thick and then make a 5x5mm groove down the length...it does help if one possesses a 'free and gratis' Veritas plough plane but any method will do as long as you end up with the groove.

Then you'll need to get hold of a very superior brass scratch stock (but an old wooden one will do at a pinch) and make a little bead down the length. Bandsaw off the slip, clean up the rough face and apply to the inside of the drawer...

And in the best traditions of Blue Peter...

...here's one I did earlier. You'll note, I hope, that no sticky backed plastic, loo rolls or other equally ghastly materials were used.

Just quarter sawn English Oak.

06 April 2011


At long last, we seemed to have turned the corner regarding the weather...it'a a glorious Spring day with temperatures nodding into the early 70's. With that in mind, I'm starting to have some ponderations about the coming weekend and being early April...it's got to be the Yandles spring show!

I've been making a list of things I need to do on the day. No doubt there'll be some delving into the woodshed (I'll be looking for elm in particular and anything else that looks half-decent) as well as knobbling the De Walt rep as I want to have a really good look at the 622 router, which is in pole position at the moment to replace my aging Bosch.

I'll also be looking at the current range of machinery available...usually Record, SIP and Charnwood amongst others, as later on this year all of the equipment in my 'shop is going to be replaced.

I also want to speak to a pal about his Thein dust extractor unit that he's currently using in his 'shop. For some time I've been looking to add something like this as an addition to the Camvac 386, thus enlarging the collection capacity. For a moderate outlay (mainly the cost of a steel dustbin) I should be able to have a very useful addition to the extraction system in the 'shop. All told, it promises to be a very good day out (as usual) provided of course, those sneakily fickle weather gods smile on us!

03 April 2011


No matter how many times I've done this, I always get a bit nervous...sawing the thing in half! I know that a properly set up bandsaw with a nice sharp blade will do the job in a second, but I'm always left with the nagging doubt of... 'what if the blade drifts?' which is why, I suppose, I've always sawn boxes in half with a hand saw.

Having read Andrew Crawford's illuminating article in the latest issue of British Woodworking, I decided to take a leaf out of his book and use a sheet of 18mm mdf with a couple of strips of 150g paper stuck down to level the joining surfaces. The surprising thing (to me anyway) is that the technique is surprisingly accurate. Subtle changes in hand pressure enable different areas to be sanded, so that it's quite easy to obtain a pair of matching surfaces that are dead true.

Once the two faces have been sanded, it's then just a case of applying the last pieces of ebony to build up the thickness of the centre section and once that's been done, it'll be back on the sanding board to bring the combined thickness back to 12mm.

Reading Andrew's piece in the magazine has started to get the grey matter moving again. The time is fast approaching to the point where I'll need to sort out a fairly large order to Axminster and I'm definitely of the opinion that this little item might be included.

We shall see...

29 March 2011

Progress at last.

At last, the Inghamish box seems to be coming together. Yesterday, I managed to fit all the top pieces of ebony to the lid and managed to shoot in the mitres with some accuracy. There pic shows the box after I went over it with the first provisional sanding using 180g Abranet...I found that sanding with ordinary papers were clogging the grain too much.

There's a little bit of tear out in the top corner closest to the camera, but my feeling is that with further sanding using finer grits, this ought to disappear eventually.

The second pic shows the underside. I made this from a couple of bits of bookmatched veneer, with the balancer on the inside being rock maple. Fitting it to the curved rebate was an interesting little exercise in itself. The end grain corner posts will eventually be hidden by the feet and for this I intend to keep it simple and use four pieces of 25mm square brass, screwed in place.

The next job will be to separate the lid from the box and then fit more ebony to bring the total thickness of the centre section up to 12mm...it'll also cover the end grain again of the corner posts.

The small item that's started to impinge on the grey matter though, is the handle and I don't really know how I'm going to do that. I dare say though, it'll get sorted...somehow.

27 March 2011

Quartet, the deux

The last of the Japanese chisels have now been done and as predicted, they did take a bit longer than the dovetail chisels. The big 36mm chisel had a fairly large 'bump' just behind the cutting edge which took several hours using the 100micron 3M films to remove...it's not all out yet, but close enough for all practical purposes. As the backs are polished through the normal honing process, they'll get progressively better. The hoops were set using the excellent instructions on the 'Tools for Working Wood' site where that a hammer is recommended to compress the fibres, except I didn't use one...I used a metalwork vice instead. Much quicker and a lot more accurate!

Amongst all the excitement of hours of chisel back flattening over the last couple of weeks, I've not forgotten the Inghamish box. This pic shows that the lid has been glued in place and the rebate cut round the outside...a fairly tricky time with the router, but which went according to plan. The first section of the inlay has been glued in place, with the corners having been mitred. The next three edges are then repeated, after which it'll be time to saw the lid off.

Fun times indeed!

22 March 2011


The weekend's activities centred around preparing the new chisels, dealing firstly with the dovetail chisels. Every Japanese chisel is unique, so it took a little while to work out how to fit each one into the Kell III honing guide as the wedges that I'd made for other chisels weren't suitable.

The reason for this is that the apex of these dovetail chisels is a sharp ridge (think of them as having an almost triangular cross-section) so that when the wedge is pushed tight against it, I found that the rosewood was splitting (one just has to have upmarket material for the wedges, doncha know) The way I found to circumvent the problem was to glue on a very thin layer of multiply to the underside of wedge where it touches the chisel...problem solved!

Fixing the English Walnut to the ends of the handles went without a hitch as well, so now I've got a really good set of dovetail chisels.

Now for Mr F's Oire-Nomis, which are probably going to take a little longer...

19 March 2011


Having just obtained some more rather expensive Japanese chisels, I've just spent today making a bespoke rack for them. If the pic is clicked on you'll see that each one has it's own separate little compartment, using some 6mm ply as a divider, though they've yet to be prepared for use.

You'll also note that the rack has been mounted fairly low down, just above the bench well, making it easy to extract the right chisel when it's needed. Previous versions of this type of rack that I've made have been open (with no clear plastic cover.)

So...you reach into the tool well to get something, grab hold and lift...

...and your hand goes straight across the blade of a razor sharp chisel! Believe it or not, I've caused considerable leakage on more than one occasion in just this way.

On a similar note, I'm always astounded when I see pics on t'interweb of chisels and other nasty, sharp tools racked out so that the slightest lapse when reaching for one means that there's a fair to middling chance of impalement...

...and perhaps the worst example of all is when chisels are racked out edge upwards, which I've seen more than once!

16 March 2011


Getting in from work last night, I found a couple of boxes stacked on the dining room table, one from Axminster and the other from Matt at Workshop Heaven. Both contained the chisels I'd ordered at the weekend, in addition to a selection of 3M films, including some 60micron sheets that Matt had stuffed in the box...free and gratis! This coming weekend will no doubt see me preparing these chisels, so the 100 and 60 micron films are going to come in for some sustained use.

However....I'm expecting one more parcel.

I've made several small boxes over the last couple of years, and without a shadow of a doubt, the worst part is the hinging, a process guaranteed to increase both stress and blood pressure levels, both of which I need like a hole in the proverbial. I'd been dreading this part of the job and had resigned myself to using Brusso hinges, which althouth excellent quality, are fiddly and just plain bloody awkward to fit.

In a very timely fashion though, Andrew Crawford has brought out his smartHinge, which by all accounts are dead easy to fit, needing only an 8mm bit fitted into a router table and will be well worth the exorbitant price if they can save my BP rocketing up! With any luck, fingers crossed, there'll be a third parcel on the doormat when I get in tonight.

14 March 2011


The very recent and terrible disaster in Japan over the last couple of days has caused me a bit of a dilemma. I've gradually been collecting a series of Japanese dovetail chisels and fully intended, in the next few months to also get a few of the in-between sizes of Mr F's most excellent Oire-Nomis' from Workshop Heaven.

However, the situation in Japan might mean that the supply of tools to the UK may suffer some disruption, probably for a considerable time to come, so that once stock held by Axminster and the like has gone, there may not be any replacements for a quite a while.

In conversation over coffee, SWIMBO asked me yesterday if there were any chisels that I needed (bearing in mind the situation) and being of sound disposition, I felt it possibly a little churlish to refuse the offer.

...so her credit card got a bit spanked!

I now have a further seven chisels coming in the post...and I do like parcels!

13 March 2011


I was approaching this part of the Inghamish box with a small amount of trepidation (and that's stating the case lightly)

What you may well ask?.. setting in the top!

Normally, this is fairly straightforward...make the rebate and shute in the top taking some care in the process.

Here though, the top has been fitted into the rebate dry (so that it's a tight fit) and then the grooves for the inlay have been routed in situ, using the sides of the box as a reference for the router fence.

This, believe it or not, was a fairly brown trouser exercise as the slightest slip up with the router would have mangled the burr elm. I had to do it this way (ie, not taking the lid out and machining separately) as I needed to get the inlaid grooves parallel with the sides of the box and not the sides of the plywood top, if you follow. However, as you can see from the first pic, it all went to plan without a hitch...more's the wonder!

The rebate round the outside is going to be filled with an ebony banding mitred at the corners, not least because otherwise the end grain of the four corner posts is going to show on the finished box.

All that remained to do was to extract the top, flip it over and route the grooves in the underside to match up with the sides...simple enough and not quite so critical.

The base has also been routed in and that also went smoothly, so the whole thing is coming together quite well.

09 March 2011

Drastic measures...

Having spent much time pondering over the merits of various dovetail chisels, I finally opted for the Umeki-Nomi's from Axminster. These are decent Japanese chisels, hardened to around RC66 (so pretty hard) with a nice White Oak handle and finely ground down the long sides, but...

...the hoops make them almost useless for hand work (at least for me) The reason is twofold, firsly when used in the horizontal mode for any length, I'm left with a nasty red weal in the centre of my palm. Secondly, if used verticaly, the sharp edge of the hoop gets trapped on the inner part of my thumb near the crease and is generally intensely uncomfortable.

So I decided to do something about it...I cut the hoop off!

This seems a bit drastic but it's not really as I dowled on a length of 30mm English Walnut. A little shaping with the LN Block (and it's new o1 Quangsheng blade, of which more later) and sandpaper has now provided me with a slightly overlong handle (which ought to give a little more control) and a rather natty two tone handle.

The blade has been honed to a single bevel of 25deg so there's no way it's ever going to be tapped with a maul or even a Japanese hammer.

So... not too shabby, n'est pas?

05 March 2011


Whilst goofing around the other day on t'interweb, I came across an interesting little snippet on the GMC site, which entailed cutting 'slip joints.' I've never heard of these before, but they are large, skinny bridle joints, suitable for the back panel of a cabinet, for example. This types of joint was much beloved by the late JK and he used them in all or most of the stuff he made.

I've cut these types of joints before by hand and although not difficult, they do take a measure of concentration to get just right, and often need to be adjusted for a decent fit with a shoulder plane or the judicious use of a wide chisel.

I copy/pasted the information from the site for a 10 point instruction doc:

1. You will need to make a pair of thin shims, the same thickness as the kerf, cut by the bandsaw blade. In my case the thickness was 1.2mm and I cut out a piece of mounting card for the shims. Do not worry too much about measuring this accurately, when you make a trial slip joint you may find you need a slightly thinner or thicker shim to make the finished result tighter or looser.

2. The peg in a slip joint does the same job as the tenon in a mortise and tenon joint and a pair of thick shims (6mm) are used to set the thickness and position of the peg. I recommend making the peg one third of the thickness of the wood. For this, each of the thick shims must be one third of the wood's thickness. I used 6mm MDF to match the 18mm oak.

3. Unlike hand cut joints which rely on accurate marking, slip joints are largely self-aligning once everything is set up. The only mark required is the depth of the joint which you gauge by laying the end of one piece of wood on the edge of the other, then run a pencil line against It.

4. The band saw fence is clamped and positioned with one thin shim plus the wood thickness away from the blade. I use a home made fence for this kind of work because It is more rigid.

5. Place one thick shim against the fence to position the wood for sawing the outside of the peg. Feed the wood slowly into the blade as far as the pencil marked depth

6. Place two thick shims plus two thin shims against the fence to position the wood for sawing the inside of the peg.

7. Place one thick shim plus one thin shim against the fence to position the wood for sawing outside of the socket.

8. Place two thick shims plus one thin shim against the fence to position the wood for sawing the inside of the socket.

9. You now have four slots or kerfs, carefully spaced so the inside of one pair matches the position of the outside of the other pair.

10. The two halves of the join tare now ready to slip together. Ideally, this will be a firm fit with even contact all over the peg and socket sides. If the fit is too tight, the joint will be forced apart. The solution is to Increase the thickness of the thin shims. If It is too loose, these shims need to be made thinner. Brush glue inside the socket, that way any surplus will be pushed Into the joint as you close It. rather than getting scraped on the outside.

I've been playing around with this technique today and found that with a little experimentation, a perfect bridle joint could be cut on the bandsaw in about 2 minutes, taking about a minute or so to get the correct thin shims made up. In my particular case, it happened to be a couple of pieces of picture framing card which were just about perfect.

01 March 2011

Rock and a hard place.

I made the small panel last weekend and whilst easy enough, in theory, practise was a little different. I started by using the plough plane to form a rebate all the way round. This was to leave a flat that was 6mm thick (to slot into the frame groove) and around 8mm wide.

I then made four grooves to establish the raised section of the panel, leaving the section in the middle to be removed with the Veritas rebate plane. Some cunning measurement enabled me make the beveled shoulder just a fraction wider than the plane blade. An added bonus was that the adjustment screws on the side of the plane allow the blade to be shunted over a fraction so that it's dead flush with the sides, so that the chances of a 'dig in' are reduced to almost zero.

Once it was done, I made a dedicated sanding block to finaly smooth the bevel though very little work was needed...to all intent and purposes, the finish was left straight from the edge.

The finished panel is shown in the last pic and it turned out quite well, but it took a lot of concentrated effort to make all the bevel mitres line up. What was especially hard was to make the seemless transitition between the bevel and flat...very hard to do without taking off the odd slither of material where it shouldn't be taken!

Not something I want to do again in a hurry, but if a small 'one-off' panel is needed and a router cutter is just too big for the job, you're really 'twixt a rock and a hard place...this is the only way to do it!

25 February 2011

Panel dilemma?

The following couple of pics have been sneakily lifted from a fellow collaborators site and show part of the process in making a 'raised and fielded panel', which by a remarkable coincidence, is the next technical piece that I need to do for F&C.

The perpetrator in question is using a dedicated plane for the job...something that I won't have, but as you can see from the second pic...

...the edge of the panel is 'wedged' shaped. In other words, the bevel of the panel is flat, which I suppose is the traditional way that they've always been made.

However, this leaves me with somewhat of a dilemma.

When this wedged shaped panel is fitted into the corresponding square sectioned groove in the frame two things will happen.

First and foremost, if the panel expands (in the width) the wedge will tighten against the upper surface of the groove. Second and foremost, if it shrinks (in the width) a gap is going to develop 'twixt the upper surface and the frame groove and the result will be...

... a rattle! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!

A little of delving around the Axminster site showed a panel raising cutter with a flat profile where the panel fits into the frame, so allowing it to expand and contract easily. From the perspective of making a better, rattle free panel this is clearly the best way of making the it.

My problem is, I've got to replicate this by hand...

...I think?

23 February 2011


My new shiny toy arrived the other evening, nicley packed with giant sized bubble wrap so as soon as I saw that, I knew where it had come from...Axminster. After tea, I went out into the 'shop and spent a couple of pleasant hours playing around with it.

Having had some very dubious Veritas products in the past, I can honestly say that the Plough Plane is a winner...very well made and does exactly what it says on the tin. I get the feeling that Rob Lee and his gremlins beaver away producing new and innovative hand tools, which is commendable, but sometimes they go badly off the rails. The little scraper plane is a really pleasant and quite sexy tool to use...until that is, you come to sharpen and hone the blade. The oh-so-clever, smart arse design of this little tool means that the blade is tiny, miniscule thing...the result is that it's well nigh impossible to hold in any sort of honing jig to get the required 45deg.

It's about as much use as a chocolate bloody tea pot!

Although it pains me deeply to compare it to the equally and truly appalling Eurovision Song Contest...nil points!

21 February 2011


Someone once said that the 'best laid plans' (verse 7) etc etc and it's no exageration to say that mine did over the last few days...I didn't even get a Blog entry done over the weekend! Lots of small, non-woody events conspired over the last few days (and I even had Thurs and Friday off) to keep me out of the 'shop, but I did manage to veneer the base for this little box ( burr elm and birds eye maple) The inside of the box was also cleaned up and given a couple of coats of Hard Wax Oil, so the next job will be to glue the four main pieces together.

I also honed new O1 steel blades for my Veritas LA jack and BU smoother. The difference is subtle but noticable...a perceptable improvement in the quality of the edge that I can obtain with the result of better performance of the planes.

I've ordered the first of the Axminster umeki-nomi Japanese dovetial chisels and I'm expecting that in the post anytime soon. I'm also being sent a new shiny toy, free and gratis, to play around with so I can do the next technical article for F&C.

Occaisionally, life is very hard, but I struggle through... Here's hoping, fingers crossed, that they don't want it back...

15 February 2011


At last there seems to be a little progress on this project. To date, I wouldn't say it's been particulaly onerous, more a question of just gluing bits of wood together to slowly build up the pattern. The biggest problem to date has been some 'tear out' on the ebony, but some judicious sanding ought to remove it.

I thought that I'd need to use some loose ply tongues to give added strength, but as the core material is 9mm ply and the total thickness is around 14mm I found out that it wasn't really neccessary, so a straight butt glued joint with TBIII sufficed. Had the box been made much larger with 6mm mdf as the core material (as in the original) then some sort of jointing would definitely have been needed, but in my smaller version, I think, hope and pray that I've got away with it...

The first pic shows the little rebate cut at each corner. This is to make the corner posts equal, but it also has the added advantage of locating the sides into the ends...

...so that when all four sides are brought together to make contact it starts to look more like a box. The next job is to clean and polish the inside of the lid and then glue it together.

On a different note, the Ashley Isles dovetail chisels have now been sold and will be replaced with something a little more Oriental. Having had one or two Ice Bear tools from Axminster in the past, they seem to be very good...time will tell.

Whist nattering about matters 'Oriental' I've made email contact with a fellow woodworker in Japan so that over the course of the next year or so a lot of my tool related and general queries about our forthcoming trip in May '12 ought to be resolved. Promising indeed...

13 February 2011

The wood split!

Not a lot done thus far on the Inghamish box this weekend except that all the pieces of ebony have now been glued in place, so that when all four sides are offered up together it does begin to look like a box rather than a collection of oddly shaped squares of timber.

One thing of note did happen though. Each of the corner posts needs to be square in section but the overall thickness of the material is 14mm and the inlay is 13mm, so a small 1mm rebate needed to be machined on the long sides. This also has an unexpected bonus as it will enable the sides to locate more accurately when I eventually cramp them together...with a bit of luck there won't be any slippage when the cramps are applied.

I digress. The set up for the rebate went well and the first three corners were rebated successfully. However unknown to me, the ebony on the last corner piece had a hairline crack in it which I hadn't spotted and under during the machining process, the crack opened significantly...

The fourth corner is being glued back together at the moment...

09 February 2011


A small and relatively heavy parcel awaited my inspection when I got in from work last night. With a little eager anticipation but trying to be fairly cool about it at the same time (a somewhat difficult balancing act) I ripped off the wrapping to find nestled within a couple of O1 carbon steel plane blades.

These form the first part of an ongoing process to replace most of my A2 blades, where feasable. The two blades in question are going into my LV BU smoother together with the BU jack planes and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were lapped on the back so that the dreaded 'back flattening' of yore will be somewhat relegated...

I ordered these two initially with an ground angle of 25deg and intend to hone them at 30deg, which will give and effective pitch (the angle that the wood sees) of 42deg (12deg being the bed angle on each plane)

I only need to order another for the LV try plane which will then mean that all my Veritas blades are O1 steel, so the original A2 offerings supplied with the planes will be kept for those nasty, abrasive timbers like teak that I'm prone to use occaisionaly.

So far, the plan is going well, but the hitch that I can see at the moment is that there's no O1 blade currently available for the LN block...bugger!

06 February 2011

Coming together...slowly

A little more's been done this weekend on the box. As you can see, it's a fairly slow and methodical process to assemble each piece of the sides in turn as only bit of ebony can be stuck on, then cleaned off...so it does take a time. The pic shows the first of the long sides with the lid section glued to the box.

The narrow 8mm strip in the middle will eventually be sawn through, to make the lid and base. Once it's been planed and fitted, I plan to glue some 3mm ebony back on top to make up the thickness to 12mm, but the four pieces on each half will be mitred so no end grain is going to be seen. Also, the same with the lid.

Sounds complicated?...don't worry, it is! Plenty of time for cock ups then...

Hinging is one of those things that I dread, especially when making something as fiddly as a small box. Help is at hand though as Andrew Crawford has recently introduced some new SmartHinges which although a bit stretchy on the pockets, look to do the job rather well.

Even better, they're claimed to be very easy to fit, which has to be a bonus.

03 February 2011

Bevelled sides...or lack of?

I've fianlly done it. For some time I've had that niggling feeling...(you know the sort of thing, an annoying itch at the back of your brain that you can't scratch) about the Ashley Isles dovetail chisels that I bought from Workshop Heaven last year. At the time I was after a set of decent Japanese d/t chisels but unfortunately couldn't find anything suitable.

So the decision's been made...they're going. There's nothing wrong with them, they take a decent edge and are reasonably pleasant to use but after much 'humming' and 'hahing' with a good measure of 'shall I, shan't I?' I've decided to put them up for sale but the problem now is...

...what to replace them with?

There are three options at the moment, one of which is a set of the umeki-nomi Japanese chisels from Axminster, which are currently in pole position. I've seen and used them some time ago and they're nicely ground along the sides. The thing that's putting me off at the moment is the steel hoop on the ends. For hand use (no tapping) these are a positive menace and past experience has left my hands with nasty red weals in my palm.

However, I may have a cunning plan should they ever materialise in my 'shop.

The second option is a set of O1 carbon steel LN chisels. I had the A2 variants some time ago which were excellent...apart from being made from A2 steel! The final consideration is a set of the shinogi-nomi's from Rutlands but these really are a bit of an unknown quantity and a very big leap of faith...

The Devil you know or a step into the unknown?

30 January 2011

Bevelling and the road to Hell...

After a couple of good days in the 'shop, reasonable progress has been made on the Robert Inghamish style box.

Firstly, I wanted to be able to inlay the ebony into the grooves and planing the sides parallel is a bit fraught...take one shaving too much and you've got a sloppy fit. However, tape a little piece of card to the shute to cant over the inlay and the edge now becomes bevelled, so that all I needed to do was to fit it half way into the groove for a perfect fit. Simply remove, apply a little TBIII and squish between a couple of decent G-cramps...sorted. How simple is that?

What wasn't quite so simple was cleaning the ebony afterwards...no matter what plane I used (even my LV BU smoother with a very fine mouth), taking shavings across the grain (even with the plane skewed) was giving nasty tear out. I tried the Veritas No 80 scraper with more success but it was a bit unwieldy for small pieces like this. In an ideal world a LN scraper would have been just the tool to do the job...except I didn't have one!

I went to bed last night with a bit of a problem, which required a little deep pondering to solve...

Then I had one of those 'eureka' moments...a back-beveled plane iron! In case your unfamiliar with the concept, I used a back-beveled iron in my little Cuban Mahogany smoother (in the second pic) The single iron is set at 55deg (so it's already quite steep) but by honing another small 25deg bevel on the back of the blade, it now has an effective pitch (the actual cutting angle that the wood sees) of 80deg, which almost makes it into a scraper plane. The result of this brain storm is that I now had an effective tool to smooth the ebony...and it worked a treat.

The LN scraper would be better though...and I really, really need one.

It's a crying shame but you know what they say about the road to Hell...I can see that Plan A has been well and truly trashed.