31 October 2012

The Good Stuff...

Normally, I wouldn't make to much fuss about sandpaper.  After all, it's just sandpaper and I don't really give it much thought...pick a few bits out the rack, wrap it round a cork block and away I go.  For years, I've been using a paper that I 'acquired' from an employer when I managed to secrete a few sheets into my bag before I was ignominiously shown the door...that employer, by the way, has gone bust!

However, it's only when I tried something else did I realise that my original sandpaper was the best thing since bread was first sliced...it cuts cleanly, very rapidly, doesn't clog and lasts forever.  In fact, I've never come across anything quite so good and I've tried loads of different sorts.

My meagre stocks though, were getting perilously low, so when I went to Pete Sefton's bash in July of this year, I took a few sheets along to my good pal Matt Platt, who along with the elves, runs Workshop Heaven.  I asked Matt to evaluate the sandpaper in the quiet of his own 'shop and he was so impressed, it's now stocked.

So what is this wondrous stuff?..it's this!

Buy some, use it.

Be impressed.

24 October 2012

Ditheration and Ponderations...

I don'k know how anybody else goes about designing their work, but lately I've taken a distinctly Krenovian approach to the task and once I've got the vague outlines of a job, I go and get all the wood out, stick it all over the 'shop and have a good think, usually armed with a tape measure, calculator  and a nice brew...

Such was the case this afternoon.  If you recollect, I recently finished a wall hung cabinet in English Walnut so I needed to start to think about something else to do...but this isn't the next job, it's the one after, the next project can be seen 'in stick' under the bench just next to the AirPress pump.

An idea has slowly been taking shape in the 'pea soup' upstairs, based on an slightly oriental idea that I've incorporated into a couple of projects in the past.  Around July '10 I finished a Media Unit, where the top and bottom were slabs with rounded edges, capped with ebony.  Imagine these two now tipped vertically (but a bit skinnier) and a cabinet slung between them.  Alan  Peters showed something similar in this rather excellent book, 'Cabinet Making - the Professional Approach' so that's the basis of this design.

The two long boards of Wych Elm shown will be sliced up for the side veneers and there may, just maybe mind you, be enough for the back panel, plus a bit extra using the little bit on the left (suitably sliced up of course)

The front panel could be made from the book-matched pair of boards shown...

...above, with the stiles shown in place (again a book-matched pair) and the lump of elm for the door rails and back panel shown as well.  Have a close look at the grain as it's curving upwards towards the corners.  I'm thinking that this ought to look quite good...

...but it's not Wych Elm, just elm 'ordinarie' (hence a different colour) so do I use it?... or try and and find something else amongst my small stash?  There may be a bit left over once I've cut all the veneer...hopefully.

Looking on the bright side, I've got all the timber and it's all nice and dry (vital for elm, as it'll twist and turn at the drop of a hat)

On the other hand, I also have plans to make a small, wall mounted bow-fronted cabinet in ash and I definitely haven't got enough of that, so a trip to Yandles seems on the cards...

Decisions, decisions...

19 October 2012


Many moons ago, in a different life when I used to work briefly as a cabinet-maker, I worked for an outfit that used a very, very nice little bit of kit for veneering...the AirPress, so I was determined that when I eventually set up my own 'shop, which happened few years later, this item was going to be on my 'must buy' list.

And so it turned out.

The AirPress itself is an excellent piece of kit and the vacuum pump has provided ten years of faultless service...which is more than can be said for the plastic bags.  In themselves, they're robust and pretty thick, but the big fault is that they're seam welded along the edges, which is totally and utterly bloody useless!

Over the years, I've forgotten how many times I've had to 'repair' the seam where it's split...in fact it's almost impossible to fix it permanently as the nature of the plastic means that it's slightly greasy, so any adhesive tape (even insulating tape, which is meant to go round PVC cable) simply won't stick and after a while degenerates into a sticky, slimy 'goo' that needs to be removed with white spirit.

I repaired it yesterday as I had a little bit of veneering to do, so no doubt it'll have to be done yet again in a couple of months time.

No peace for the wicked...onwards and upwards.

15 October 2012


Some time ago, my good pal Mike Huntley set up the Japanese Tool Study Group, with the aim of meeting once a month for a good natter on all things Japanese, but more especially to do with tools.  Mike is shown in the pic below with Andy Ryalls, co-owner of Phoenix Oak Framing, based in a very large 'shop close to where I live.  Mike and Andy (green fleece) are here shown discussing a setting block used for making Japanese saws.  The sides are swaged, the top is domed and each edge has a slightly different bevel on it for setting the teeth...  

...used, for example, on a cross-cut dōzuki like the one shown below. 

I'm shown in the pic below giving it a little 'test drive'.  Until you've tried a handmade Japanese saw, you really have no idea what a dream it is to use one.  Every other saw I've ever used is distinctly 'clunky' in comparison, so I want one!

Hang on a 'mo though!  This one's a cross-cut and then I'd also need one to rip along the grain.  At 23,000JPY, or nearly £200 each, I think I'll have a re-think...

...and then I'd have to learn how to sharpen and set one, which is a whole new bucket of worms and well above my pay grade!

I also gave a short demo on using the 3M films from Workshop Heaven as an alternative to using waterstones, as well as playing around with a new Veritas PM-V11blade fitted into my LV jack that can be seen on the bench.  At the moment, it's probably the only one of it's kind in the country.

All told, a very pleasant afternoon was had by all

07 October 2012

The Mask Cabinet

It's taken a lot of making, but it's finally finished.

What's made it particularly awkward is that most or all of the surfaces aren't flush...they overlap by 3mm  which added a bit of visual interest, but at the same time has made it about three times more bloody difficult to make that it needed to be.

In addition, these corner stiles set at 45deg meant that there were also a total of sixteen internal mitres...

...that had to be shot in with a shoulder plane and then to top it all off, the chamfers on the ends had to be very carefully cut with a chisel.  If your'e wondering, the white thing on the back panel is a 'sticky' hook to hold one of the masks.

The cabinet has been located onto the wall with a pair of sheet steel hanging brackets cunningly set underneath the rear corner stile, so when it's up on the wall, nothing will be seen.

With the door open, you can see both the 'sticky' hooks and the Krenovian door catch.

The final shot shows the cabinet 'in situ' on the wall, with the little handle...

...turned in African Blackwood.  The masks were a very surprise Christmas present from No1 son who bought them in Venice at Tragicomica last September and by an absolute miracle managed to get them back to the UK in his back-pack without mangling them, so 10/10 to Gareth!