26 June 2013

Going to the dogs!

These things horrify me...I can thing of nothing worse to hold a bit of wood securely on the bench top...sooner or later, you're bound to run the front of a very expensive plane into the top of them, with much mutterings of "tsk, tsk...look what silly old me has done now" or, in my case, something a little more profound and in the best traditions of Aglo-Saxon verbosity which would make Gordon Ramsey...

...sound like a pussy cat!

However, a couple of years ago,  I went to a woodworking 'doo'... in fact I'm going again next month as it's rather a good event and well worth attending... but I digress.  Whilst there, I happened to notice that there were plenty of round bench dogs which were conveniently 19mm in diameter (a common dowel size) that were kept in place in the said bench 'ole with a simple, if cunning little device...a ball catch.
I thought at the time that this was a stroke of genius and proceeded to make some (above) when I got back to the 'shop.

There is one, ever so slight Spaniard in the soup and that is...they don't work very well.  The bloody things keep on slipping down so there I am,  planing a bit of nice stuff and after a few passes, the front dog drops so that with the next pass of the plane, the timber rockets forward and me with it.


I decided to go back to my original Krenov style wooden ones and made a pair from an oddment of ash and walnut. The construction is pretty straight forward, but takes a little bit of fiddling to get 'just right' in the bench holes.  Essentially, there's a little taper worked at one end which throws the walnut away from the stem and it's kept in that position by a small spring purloined from a biro (another nice JK touch) so that in use...

...the bench dog will stay wherever it's positioned without slippage.  Easy to make and a vast improvement on those hideous metal things!

16 June 2013


Frequent perusers of this Blog will have realised some time ago that in some areas I'm just a tad parsimonious, having pockets that tend to be on the shallow side.  In this fiscally stretched time I suspect that many of us are in same bateau, so killing two oiseaus's with one pebble seemed like a good idea...or so I thought.

I'm referring here to my big T11 router, which is permanently set up in a table.  One of the features of this machine is that it has a 'through the table' height adjuster...a very desirable feature for a table router.

Except that it doesn't work very well.  I was hoping that a little twiddle with a suitable twiddly tool would raise and lower the machine smoooooooothly and accurately.  In actual fact it doesn't...the machine lurches reluctantly up and down in small increments as the adjuster's turned...even the application of a squirt of dry lube doesn't make any noticeable difference.

It's so bad, that as the router bit goes up and down it moves a few degrees away from the vertical!

Whilst there's nothing wrong with the router, the 'upy and downy' mechanism is about as useful as a chocolate bloody teapot, so I've decided that the recent acquisition of fundage from F&C will enable me to splash out on a state-of-the-art router raiser, which ought (fingers crossed) to be a vast improvement.

At the same time, there's been an issue in the 'shop that I ought to have dealt with, but haven't...timber moisture content (MC).  When I make stuff, I generally use air dried timber (if I can get hold of it) which ought to have a finished MC of around 20%...too high really, for use in a centrally heated house. My regime has been to cut material oversize and then to further condition it 'in-stick' in the 'shop for another period of time...anything up to six months, when hopefully the MC will have dropped to around sub-10% but I've had no way of checking it.

As the 'shop is now quite warm and permanently de-humidified (a machine runs 365/24/7) it doesn't take too long for the MC to drop but I'm still never quite sure how dry the timber is...until now.  That's because I've also order a moisture meter which ought to take the guess work out of deciding just when the right time is to start on a new project.

Unfortunately, both these items are out of stock of the moment.


11 June 2013

The Trilogy of Three

In between finishing off the Japanese Floor Lamp, I've been furtively delving in my various oddment boxes, recently detailed here abouts. In doing so I came across one or two offcuts that might be worthy of a little box of some sort, the first piece being a very undistinguished lump of Brazilian Walnut or Ipe.  There wasn't much there, but just enough to make this small box, shown with a 50p for a size comparison.    

Have seen that this one turned out quite nicely, I had a further delve into a special drawer with only English Walnut offcuts and came across a really scabby bit, full of cracks and splits but with a little experimentation...

...there was just enough to make a book matched lid, with an almost 'mother of pearl' iridescent sheen to the lid.  When finished, this one was sent up to Carlisle, in the north of England for my daughter's twenty-something birthday present.

With enough space on a particular unit for one more little box, I remembered a piece of Bocote that had been given to me by Marahisa Fujiyasu-san, the Japanese swordsmith, when we visited him last May.

It was badly cracked and difficult to see what material could be gained from it, but with a ...

...lot of thought and some very careful cutting, this box was made.

Now I know what you're wondering.  A trilogy is usually three of something...'The Three Musketeers' springs to mind, but if you're a fan of Douglas Adams, that rule doesn't necessarily apply...

05 June 2013

The Japanese Lamp

The lamp has finally been finished with the overall view shown above...

...and the box to give some visual 'weight' to the bottom.

The wooden 'cats cradle' at the top is shown here.

All in all a nice little project and one that didn't tax the little grey cells too much, although it must be said that the Festool Domino made the project about 300% easier than it might have otherwise been...