23 April 2013

Be with you, the 'Force'...

You either love them, or you hate them...bench-wells I'm talking about here.  Loads of workers maintain that they get cluttered up with all sorts crap, garbage and assorted detritus.  To a certain extent, that's true...if you let them get cluttered up with crap, garbage and assorted detritus.

But if you work reasonably tidily, and put stuff away from time to time, bench-wells become a very useful place to keep all manner of bits and pieces that are relevant to the job or process in hand.  At the back, they're nicely tucked out the way, with no danger of small items or tools falling off the benchtop at the rear onto the floor where it's almost totally inaccessible without a major bench moving operation...and if your bench is as heavy as mine, that's something best not to contemplate too often.

However, if you're particularly devious, like what I am, then the really clever thing to do is to build the bench-well...

...with a couple of removable bases, so that one or both of them can be hoicked out when needed.

Especially useful if you need to cramp from the other side of the benchtop (as pic above) for supporting one side of a frame on the Japanese Lamp project.  When the current piece of the job has been done, all I do is to replace the bases and all the odds n'sods that live permanently in the bench well...

...such as my Star Trek mug for pencils and brushes.

Is 'the Force' with you, or have I got the wrong franchise?


16 April 2013

Illusional Illumination

Those of you in the posh seats what have been paying attention will have realised that a new project is under way, a little bit of which will be a particularly nasty little, three way corner joint, four of which will sit atop this latest offering, a Japanese style lamp, shown in the colour plates of Alan Peter's book, 'Cabinet Making, the Professional Approach'.

In case you hadn't worked it out, one of these joints is difficult to make...four of the things linked together is well nigh bloody impossible!  But the impossible becomes simple if Domino jointing is used but its absolutely critical that all the component parts meet and match.  Any little 'step' is going to stick out like the proverbial...

Firstly, I decided to use a couple of 30mm boards of American Cherry, which were machined to 22 plus a 'gnats todger' and then hand planed to exactly 22mm square, which is just about the smallest size you can comfortably use in a Domino, bearing in mind that the doms themselves are only 20mm wide.

Having marked out the centre line of each slot, positioned with a pencil line....

...I then marked out each Dom mortise with a big 'D' (shown above).

Unusually for me, I realised the application of a bit of brain power (ha!) could result in a way to exactly register the machine on any face, so I built a tight fitting box to ensure that the edge the Domino rested against it.

All I needed to do was to cut the first mortise...

...spin the wood through 90deg to reveal another 'D' and the new slot would correspond exactly with the original.

What wasn't quite so clever was that the mortises weren't in the centre of the timber as they were 'out' by a mm, which caused a little bit of re-jiggling to be done when the joining rails and their mortises were cut.  Once I got that sorted out, it was reasonably straight forward to cut all the other bits.

11 April 2013


I do like parcels.  In fact the postie and the UPS man are my two most favourite blokes in the whole wide world, especially when they let me have nice, shiny tools.

I'm getting to the stage now, where I think, only think mind you, that I may have caught some nasty disease or affliction, because there are thirty planes there (one of which is a signed JK original.)

I don't have a problem...really, I don't, sort of...but with the value of the hardware on that table I could probably pay off the national debt of a small country.

Now where the hell did I put that Axminster catalogue?

04 April 2013

A Stick in Time....

A strange assemblage of bits, to be sure.  And for what purpose?  To cut a long story sideways, I was meandering through the 'Blogs various' on t'Interweb and by the merest chance stumbled across this entry from 'The Wood Whiperer' which I thought particularly cunning, in a very Baldrick sort of way...

However, I didn't like the use of blue tape...messy, sticky and a bit impractical, so I've taken the concept a stage further.  Delving into the oddments box, I came across some lengths of ash and machined them to about 6mm thick and 20mm wide.  I then used a 6.4mm router cutter (1/4" to the enlightened readership across the 'Big Wet') and made a slot up the middle of each... then lop off one end at 45deg.

They're used for transferring, or measuring internal dimensions.  Simply slide the two bits together till the square ends touch, tighten the butterfly nuts and remove the sticks by turning anti-clockwise...the sticks won't work if the ends are left square as they can't be removed.

In fact, so clever is the idea that I decided to make a second, smaller pair...

... shown above.

With all the various bits laid out, there's a large combination of sticks that can be assembled to measure just about any dimension.

If that's not a cunning plan, I'd like to know what is...

01 April 2013

The Solution

As it's the 1st April, here's how it was done.  Sometimes it pays dividends to think laterally...it also helps to own a Festool Domino.