Friday, August 22, 2014

Kerb Kerve

For years I've admired a kerbstone in the city of Truro. I can't honestly say that's normal, but there it is. Yesterday, I finally managed to get myself, the kerbstone, the camera, and some sunshine all in the same place at once.

Look at that shape. (I dunno, would we call that an ovolo with quirk?)  It's granite, for the love of Mike. How ever long did it take some unknown artisan to shape that thing so cleanly? And, more to the point, why? But 'tis a thing of beauty, and thus I share it with the interweb.

A little way down the road, a view of the cathedral ended up, quite by chance, with a rather apposite shop sign in shot. Made me chuckle anyway.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Lack of blogging confession? Ack, take that as read. (Hello to anyone still out there, by the way. Clearly I still aten't dead.)

No, this is something that's been weighing on my mind since November, and now that September is nearly here, I feel the need to unburden. It's simple really, and goes something like this:

Old catalogue covers make great fodder for homemade custom made notebook covers.

The emphasis being on old. No longer current. Not, say, from September 2013 - 2014 inclusive. To my horror, I went to grab an old copy of the LV catalogue in order to liberate its gorgeous cover for a notebook and somehow, I know not how, I only realised it was the current one after I'd sliced the cover off. Nearly a whole year as a naked catalogue. I hardly know how to look it in the index. I'm sorry, Lee Valley catalogue, really I am. Forgive me. But you do make a very lovely notebook...

And while we're talking of mistakes, an aberration in Photoshop yielded this result, which I couldn't quite bear to discard. I think I want all my maps in white on black now, please...

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Now I don't want to shock you or anything, but just for fun, some tool-related musing. Two things caught my eye that amused me, and there's a remote chance they might amuse someone else.

First up, I thought Amazon surprisingly frank in their product description when they describe this Am-Tech duo as a "double blister".

Then, as we head towards kick-off, this Official England Toolkit caught my eye. The very thing for hasty rebuilding of defences at half time, one presumes.

Of course being a football kit, they'll probably have another one of a slightly different design for sale in a month's time...

Monday, June 09, 2014


Tool purists may want to look away now. Pen purists ditto. So-called "upcyclers" might like it though. Yes, it starts out pen-related, but woodworking happens. Just a little bit.

A few months ago I fell across a Parker GB "Slimfold" sans cap, but with a rather nice gold nib. I figured I might be unbelievably lucky and find a cap, or at least find another home for the nib, so divvied up the necessary lettuce and took on custodianship. Well it turns out the nib on a Slimfold is insanely small. I mean really, it's minute. Does the job in its intended body, but finding another donor body for it? Not outside another Slimfold. Another learning experience.

Of course there was nothing actually wrong with its existing body; to all intents and purposes it's a working pen, just without a hat. So then I started to think laterally and wonder about desk sets. You know the things; usually a pen-holding trumpet (or two), usually empty, sometimes with an ink well, sometimes with a calendar, clock, or some kitsch ornament of something or other. They're everywhere and no-one wants them.

At least they're everywhere right up until you consistently take a cap-less Slimfold in your pocket on the off-chance you'll find a suitable set and can see if the pen will fit nicely in it. The things all vanished from sight overnight. It was uncanny.

Time passed. Tired of the gods trifling with me (again), I finally decided to at least find out if my lateral thinking wasn't off the wall so much as up the wall, and threw one of those pen holders marketed to the turning fraternity into an order for something else. It turned (!) up and, well, let's say it's very shiny. At the moment. Not sure how long the coating will last, but hardly surprising at the price. However, it fit the Slimfold like a flaming glove. If I didn't know better - and the cap threads didn't totally give it away, not to mention it being rather short for a desk pen - I'd swear it was made for it. Excellent.

Buoyed by this progress, I got out the atlas and looked up directions to the workshop. A few false turns later and after evicting the new civilisation that had evolved under the Maxi26, I was staring at my stash of exotic off-cuts for inspiration. Rosewood? Something turned? Something incorporating that old boxwood rule? I'll just move this battered old mortise gauge head aside and... Oh, that's heavy.


So one split rosewood (An outside chance it might be ebony, but unlikely I fancy) mortise gauge head with an inevitably chewed-up clamp screw, but the brass escutcheon and wear strips in place and good order. Appears to have been used to hammer in small pins at one time and several areas where wood has split off. Not wildly promising, now I came to look at it, but I cleaned it up anyway and gave it the knackered wood equivalent of a swipe of lippy and some blusher. Shiny. Let's call it "Vintage" - that covers a multitude of sins.

Okay, so a gauge head has, by its nature, a large hole in the middle of it. I decided this was where the pen holder would go, screwed to another piece of wood that I could cunningly hold in place with the clamp screw. That way no permanent damage caused, should the world run so utterly short of old mortise gauge heads that this one ever became desirable again... A dive into the Even-Smaller-Exotic-Off-Cuts yielded a suitable piece of Muhuhu, and a file made reasonably short and accurate work of shaping up a suitable plug. And yes, a file; don't start on me. It's not only small, but a cross-grained evilly-minded piece of wood, and a file was the best tool for the job. Apart from having to grind a brass M4 machine screw down to the required length, the rest was a boring as drilling a hole might be expected to be. A trio of non-slip little rubber feet completed the thing, and behold! The old tool and fountain pen lunatic's ideal desk pen?

Once the freshly cleaned brass has dimmed down a little again, it'll knit together better. Anyway, you see what I meant by battered; that poor gauge suffered horribly.

Anyway, there ya go. Not to everyone's taste, I know, but I like it. Very tactile, and I'm pretty sure, unique. Now we just wait to see if the pen is up to the task; I imagine leaking and/or drying out are both possibilities, but as both the pen and myself are novices at a desk pen existence, I really have no idea. Oh goody, another learning opportunity...