Friday, March 31, 2006

Small world

I can't possibly talk about my day, 'cos it's been flippin' 'orrible and I'd really rather pretend it didn't exist. So instead let's talk about this Blog...

Not that I'm as ego-centric as that might suggest, just that I find some of the facts and figures I get from Sitemeter relating to the traffic on here rather fascinating. I know, what a sad case I am. Location's my favourite. Obviously the UK provides the bulk, with the US coming in second (for a change), but there's also Canada, Ireland, France, Netherlands,
Australia, Italy, and less often Germany, Luxemburg, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Slovakia, Romania, Russia and probably others I've forgotten (sorry). What I like best is being able to click on the link for the country and getting a rundown of size, population, principle exports etc etc. It certainly helps fill some gaping holes in my geographical knowledge... S'tordinary, though, the internet. My only real-life forrin travel is a school trip on the ferry to Boulogne Sur le Mer, and yet here you can travel the world from the discomfort of your desk instead of the discomfort of an airport lounge... Should you be gagging to know, Continental share has Europe streaking ahead on 71%, North America with a respectable 25% and Australia lagging behind with 4%. Evidentally the African, Asian and indeed Antarctic market has yet to embrace these Musings. Frankly I'm gutted.

Even as I posted this the stats tell me I can add Argentina to the list - and I completely forgot South America all together, didn't I? Oh deary me...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

How to Have...

On the whole, if you're awake at four in the morning, another year older and nothing much to show for it, and generally not exactly Little Miss Sunshine, there are some things you don't want to see. "How to Have a Good Death" in large letters on the BBC homepage is definitely one of them...

Had a look at the leg tenons though, and everything seems okay. Hard to tell until I've trimmed down their protrouding ends though; a task which should be fun. Cleaned up the copious glue squeeze out underneath, which took a while, but despite extensive card scraper use for same The Thumbs seem to be largely all right. Remind me to tell you the cause of this miracle later; right now I've got to go and book myself a plot in the nearest cemetry.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Leggin' it

I can see I was at fault. You can't ask for opinions when you haven't said what you've got in mind - sorry. I think I'm going for something that's a bit stand-alone-ish, if that makes any sense. Bit like instead of having a group of trees in a garden (a public garden that is, not a back garden!) you have one on its own as a "specimen" tree. By no stretch of the imagination is this going to be any kind of specimen (unless it's a disaster, when it'll be one of entirely the wrong sort..) but equally it's not one of a group of chairs or going to be used at a table. I won't say "throne-like", 'cos it might give the recipient ideas above their station... Also it's near impossible to judge anything without the legs in place. To which end...

Finally the muse arrived and I suddenly just felt I could turn those pesky tenons. Dunno why it is I have this sort of feeling about task in a project, but previous experience shows I ignore the signs at my peril. So I got them as tight as I could, then tweaked them with the left over 80g strip of alu-zirc from the drum sander piece.

The moment of truth with a quick test run with the tenons half way home to see whether I totally fouled up the angles or not. Well, they're not perfect, but on the other hand they don't look too bad either. I'll put this down as a result I think; at this stage anyway... Perishing stressful though. The turning was the worst. I knew I was tensing up my jaw while I concentrated on getting the tenons just so, but even when I was conscious of it I couldn't stop myself. Amazing anyone does this for relaxation...

Cutting the wedges was just a case of getting the bandsaw set up for the angle, providing some means of getting uniform wedge thickness, and making sure the bits didn't drop down the hole in the insert. Strips of tape dealt with the last two problems, the Bevel Boss and a sliding bevel the first.

Anyway, lots of nervous checking on fit, lining up glue and hammer and so forth later, and I went for the glue bottle. I don't know yet if it's all worked okay (I haven't looked) but I whaled away on those legs seating them home, and likewise on the wedges, so finger's crossed. You can see what a tip the place gets in when I'm in the middle of something, can't you...

Alas, looking at the rear view here, it seems like the rear right (front left in this pic) leg may have a slightly off angle. Merde. Maybe it's just the pic; afterall, if I didn't notice at the time, it can't be too glaring, can it..? At least it's reached the point where, worst case scenario, once the legs are cut to length, I can slap on some finish and call it a stool by the middle of May.

It's kinda cool, isn't it? I mean, it looks sort of like it should. I'm always surprised when that happens - how did I do that? sort of thing. Despite all the troubles I can see why chair making can be addictive...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Getting my back up

Well I threatened you with having to voice an opinion, and here's the moment of truth. Obviously it's not ideal, what with the legs being, erm, well, a sawhorse... And the height's probably a bit off, plus the sticks may end up looking fractionally shorter than that once they're in their mortises and angled and so forth. Oh, and they'll be thinner and probably six of them. But apart from that, what d'you think? Too short, or okay? I stuck an offcut on the top as a sort of stand-in comb, but it'll be thicker than that, which'll add a bit of height... But then he's a tall lad. Ack.

Meanwhile the DVD drive on the 'puter's ceased to function. Bugger. I don't much fancy another session of hassle with our Indian friend, quite frankly. I feel Strong Words to Dell coming on...

Wakey wakey

See the date stamp on this post? I've already been up and about over an hour. This may not be a big deal except usually I have all the reluctance to get out of bed of a second year philosophy student. Plus the clocks went forward on Sunday. I should be unable to get up an hour later, not being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (kind of) an hour and more earlier than required. Funny thing is the cats seem to have the same trouble. Their usual routine is to clamour to go to bed (and get the tasty treats that go with bedtime) around 9pm. Half past eight last night Polly was all lined up and getting quite testy with the old man because he wasn't taking the hint (raised paw prodding his leg and plaintive mewing). I dunno, is it because the weather's more like Autumn, when the clocks go back, than Spring? Anyway, they're pleased; they love getting let out while it's still dark. Very much your stay-at-home, stay-in-the-warm cats they are, so it's a Bit Of An Adventure.

Mind you, it might be I've woken up early because of my usual birthday dread. I thought I was being pretty good this year, not making a big deal about it. But no, it creeps up on one and coshes you over the head witha sockful of wet sand in the usual way. It's not that I actually mind getting old; it's the annual, incremental steps to get there I hate so much. Altogether too much opportunity for another-year-another-load-of-nothing-achieved thinking. Oh well, if the weather's not too ghastly I've been promised lunch out on Thursday, which may soften the blow...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Still sticky

Some more sticks shaved to deliberately "roundish" shape (look, the pics'd be all the same as the last post, so I didn't bother) and a small dilemma or two. I went for 24" for the back sticks as per Langsner, but JB says variously 24" to 27" in the same article. I think I'm gonna have to mock up a couple of the 24" sticks, take a pic and see what you lot think. I worry that maybe I need more height.

The other thing is the ends of the doubler. Should I angle them? Put a bit of a curve in there? What? It's a puzzler and no mistake.

Thirdly, a brace bit extension is currently en route from the US - courtesy of the Mystery Galoot who has yet to reveal him (or her) self. See, there was a For Sale post to the Old Tools List with three auger bit extensions for sale last week. Before I even had time to put finger to keyboard I had a heads-up about it from A Reader, and I shot off an email enquiring whether an international transaction would be a problem. Back comes the reply that "a friend from the list" had already stepped in to sort me out with one and as soon as an address was forthcoming, it'd be on its way. Coo. You can see why the old gob was so comprehensively smacked, can't you? So I'm more than a little agitated that I don't know who this Generous Benefactor is, 'cos I owe him (or her) Big Time. Secondly, will it get here in time...? Talk about drama.

Meanwhile I've been wasting more time than is good for me watching the newly launched Woodworking Channel. Mainly this has involved wincing at the dubious safety practices demonstrated by some of our North American brethren, not least Saint Maloof. Yeah, yeah, so he says "don't do it" when he does the bandsaw stuff, and "I didn't know any better". But heck, he knows better now, so why is he still doing it? Because he knows damn well that's the best way to make his chairs quickly and he doesn't want anyone else muscling in on his gig. I'm afraid, despite his efforts over the years to convince the audience of his humility, I saw a guy who knows his worth pretty darn well. The number of times "I want" sprang to his lips told me more than any of his interviews ever have. Sure, he's earnt his place, but please, don't let's pretend he's a saint. I bet he's a bugger to work for, pardon my Klatchian. While I'm burning my bridges, I might as well say I don't actually like much of his stuff either. Please don't throw things.

Anyway, kudos to Scott Phillips of The American Woodshop, who seems to actually use safety equipment and guards instead of merely paying lip service to them. Some of his advice on sharpening hand planes and such though, well it was a bit dodgy. But hey, you can't have everything I suppose. He's an enthusiastic fellow, isn't he?

However, one irritating aspect has been the frequently repeated "non-commercial" commercial to fill in spare space, with Jason Howard talking about this Great White Hope of a Woodworking Channel. Apparently woodworking has been, erm, I think "stagnant" was the word he used. And no excitement, or words to that effect. Eh? Doesn't he read the forums? Maybe not the hand tool ones? There seems to be plenty going on, if you ask me. We're rediscovering real woodworking instead of this machine-minding we got into; that's exciting enough for me, chum.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


My readership seems to be under the misaprehension that "roundish" is a problem. Getting them rounder (more round?) is not a problem, I just haven't got to that stage yet. The fact I'm hopelessly tempted to make a chair devil isn't 'cos I need one, but simply 'cos I've always wanted an excuse to make one... Repeat after me - Everything's Under Control

No, it doesn't convince me either...

Friday, March 24, 2006

What's brown and sticky?

Yes, that old chestnut. The answer of course is "A Stick". You have every right to groan; indeed I applaud your good taste in so doing. So against my better judgement I've kinda started on the sticks in a small way. Not to say the arm is all done and dusted, 'cos it isn't, but I thought a little chopping and changing between the two tasks might make things less looming. Dusted was an unintended pun, btw... The picture on the right was my attempt to get a shave pony-user's point of view, but holding a camera underneath you chin isn't the greatest method of getting focused shots it seems. Yes, I was surprised too...

The more staged picture variety was a little easier, and the one on the left there links to the latest page of the chair album where you can see the endless steps required just to get a 3/4" stick from square to roundish. I've done, er, four. Ha hum. And they're not even close to finished size of course, not until I know exactly what bit I'll be using to bore the holes... But it's damn good fun though, plus you get to sit down the whole time which I hardly ever do usually in the w'shop. A router mat makes a handy non-slip cushion on an otherwise rather slippery stool seat, fwiw. Is there no end to its uses? Anyway, whoever it was who said something like "a spokeshave without a shaving horse/pony is like a something without a something" was right on the nose.

I know what you're thinking. One day my photographic memory for quotations will let me down...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dust Storm

You know that old saw - no, not that kind of saw, Mike - that old saw about you can never have enough clamps? I'm inclined to think it applies to spokeshaves too. Really I could do with a bevel down round sole as well, and when I eventually bite the bullet on the sticks one of those concave soled jobbies could be mighty useful.... Hell's teeth, I just remembered I've got a round soled one, haven't I? That dinky little #63 I got the other day. Oh mercy me, it has got to a bad stage when I can't recall all my spokeshaves... Anyway, see that blur? That's me trying to get as much done as possible before you-know-what kicks in. The Stanley #53 is getting the big use, ironically; it can take mightier shavings than the Veritas.

But still not great progress, so I donned dust mask and ear defenders, chucked the drum sander with some 80g in the ancient B&D 'leccy drill (does that count as an old tool?) and had at it Norm-stylee. Needless to say I unplugged the Christmas lights and replugged the air filter and got that going, but nevertheless the thin coat of dust over every surface isn't exactly filling me with happiness. Blooming hot work too and with the fine dust in the air you can't stop and whip off the mask for a breather either. I'd have stepped out for a gasp of air but it's absolutely bucketing down. That and if the confusion of mask, ear muffs, specs and earphones (you really need music while you work for this job) didn't go on easily, it was a total cat's cradle getting it all off again...

Finished off the other bit of worryingly organised tidying up too. Too much of the 'Rat stuff's been skulling about loose for too long. The drawers I made way back when I originally got it have long been outgrown, so here's the replacement. Not as nice to look at but holding twice as much in the same space. And yes, that's my complete collection of router bits in there, as well as all the 'Rat stuff and I still have a drawer to spare!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Top Drawer

At the expense of considerable quanties of "ouch", shaping of the arm limbs carries on at an average speed of about four miles a fortnight. The weather's not conducive to sanding outside and, dammit, I want to do the shaping with shaves and such. So there. But I will have to give in and some point I s'pose. Heigh ho. Taking off enough, but too much, is the key thing of course, and one reason for avoiding any powered means as far as I'm concerned. Too easy to go too far... S'funny though, and entirely delusional, but having set it up on the arm boring jigs like that I feel much more hopeful that it'll really become a chair. I won't go so far as to say I'm confident you understand, but actual fear and dread have ebbed away a bit. Probably taking a break to refresh and return anew...

Having spent a good 20 minutes the other day trying to remember where I'd stashed the thumb screws, I finally got round to tackling a bit of essential workshop tidying. It's boring to do, looks worryingly organised, and probably the labels won't be relevant to the drawer contents above 6 months, but at least I might cut down a little of the did-I-put-them-here-or-here-or-here-or-over-here workshop walkabouts I seem to find myself doing recently. I think the aluminium pans are kicking in at last and the old, erm, you know, that thing you forget, yeah, that's it, memory, er, has, um... What was I saying...?

Finally, and I don't know quite how to put this, but the galoot in question knows who he (or conceivably I suppose, she) is even if I don't (yet). This won't mean anything to the majority of the readership, for which I apologise, but just to let the mystery galoot know - my gob was, heck, is utterly smacked. Galoots are the finest bunch of folks it's been my privilege to have stumbled upon, but that's way beyond the call. Thank you seems rather inadequate, but I'm working on it - in between
periodically going "gosh" in a small and awed voice...

Actually that's not quite finally. As you may have noticed I'm trying out a way of showing the last five comments on the main page 'cos it seemed like a good idea. However it is possible it may slow up the page loading. If anyone finds it a problem and/or would just rather it went, please do say. Just a trial thing really; I sharn't cry if no-one likes it. Much.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The bells, the bells!

I was all set to post yesterday, honest I was. But the t'net connection was in "blinkin'" mode. i.e. The blinkin' thing weren't workin'. Not that I actually managed to get much done - a little progress on another jig to aid arm boring (see PWW #147) - but I did so want to keep up my aaargh-hair-cuts-are-the-pits run of posts... Yes, that time again, and a little sooner than usual too, being on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. She's come up with some new torture instead of the thinning scissors, claiming it's what her hairdresser does. So what is this, a revenge cutting?! Sheesh...

Anyway, no news on the mare's nest, er, auger bit extension. On the other hand I do have a back stop if absolutely necessary. A trial run with the only flat/spade bit I own showed it wasn't ideal but at a pinch could do the job. And of course extensions for flat bits are readily available. So that's sort of a weight off my mind. Kind of. In a way.

Well actually no, not really at all. It means using a power drill and power means making a mess of things that much quicker...

Meanwhile I'm lapsing into Quosimodo mode occasionally and muttering "The thumbs. The thumbs, Esmerelda" to the amusement of passers-by. Oh well, if you can't provide a little humour for your fellow man what else are you here for?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

By the pricking of my thumbs

Ach, this getting ridiculous; yes, it's The Thumbs again. Am I kidding myself? How can I think neanderthal if I can't do neanderthal...? Oh well, don't mind me, just needed a small moan.

I did manage about 15-20 minutes work on the arm shaping yesterday before having to retire defeated - I very much fear I shall have to resort to sanding considerably earlier than I could desire. If only the wind'd die down a bit I could do it outside and at least cut back on how much mess I make all over the w'shop. In the meantime I turned my attention towards a little jig making in anticipation of the whole arm drilling thing. Getting ahead of myself..? What do you mean...? Anyway, as the rest of the thing seems to be turning into some sort of bastard child, er, I mean highly developed hybrid of John Brown's and Drew Langsner's techniques, with a dash of PWW tips 'n' cheats for good measure, I figured I might as well continue the theme for the arm-boring skyhooks. Thus I have a Langsner-esque rear boring fixture to support the back of the arm...

... and a Brownian front support built on similar lines to the Forth Bridge... JB seemed to favour boring the back stick holes seperately by eye, so only needed some support for the arms as the rear sticks held up the back. I didn't do the Langsner-esque side supports because I thought they'd be hard to make, but as it turned out making the rear one was a breeze so I could just have easily done it. Heigh ho. I may still have to if the Forth Bridge turns out to be no good - as it is I shall have to lengthen the slots down a bit to make leeway in order to pad up the top bar to allow for the slight backwards tilt of the arm. Does that make any sense? Well I know what I mean anyway, which is slightly surprising...

Of course all this is so much waste of time because boring for the sticks in situ like this is a no go if I can't get hold of an auger bit extension...

Friday, March 17, 2006

'puters - meh.

New 'puter's pulling a hissy fit on me and not booting through to windows. Much unplugging, re-plugging, and finally a total reboot back to starting setup all under the instruction of some gentleman from the Sub-Continent. Bah. Whole morning gone. Funny thing is it worked more reliably if you turned off the mains first before turning it on again - surely that's a) not normal, and b) unlikely to be a software issue...? I've turned back to the old one as an old and trusted friend - albeit I have to sit a little closer to its smaller screen...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Spot the difference...

There is a difference, honest. Took me all together too long to plane the mating surfaces of the bow and doubler to a good fit, but I got there in the end. I could really, really do with a small smoother for this sort of localised task... At least the scrub made short work of levelling up the underside and the shaping of the arms should finish that off nicely. Apart from the comb I'm getting to the point where I can't put off the rounding tasks of legs and sticks any longer. Ho hum. Maybe if I do a bit of arm shaping, then a bit of stick shaving, bit more arm and so forth...?

Oh, and while I was scrabbling round for info on the shave pony in The Porch archives I found this series of posts. A worrying resonance for at least one of us. i.e. Me. Funny thing is I was thinking this afternoon about maybe making a chair devil...

Armed and dangerous

Ah, I love it when a plan comes together - eventually. As it so frequently the case, at least in my experience, if one side of something goes swimmingly chances are the other side will give you trouble. Well naturally it did, and I had to do a good deal of tweaking and trimming to get a good tight join on the lap joint (at least I hope it's a good tight join - it was before I put the glue into the equation at any rate). The medium shoulder and the skew block have both earnt their keep for this year already, bless them. A "number" of clamps later, and it's all gluing up. I even managed to remember to wipe over the joint with a damp cloth for the polyuckethene this time. I'll need to plane up the top surface once it's done and then I can cut and glue the doubler before embarking on the marathon task of shaping it all into something reasonable - I can already hear my thumbs registering protests...

Given that I couldn't make any more headway on the arm or anything much bench-related until that was all done and cleared away, I made a little preparation towards turning those pesky leg tenons. Regular readers will recognise all the signs of a Job I'm Putting Off... Anyway, a couple of gauges; one to check for size while the legs on the lathe and the other to check the whole tenon length for fit. The latter meant boring another deep hole in that hard beech with the unsuitable auger bit I chose to use and it was Heavy Going. I've really got to get back in the way of looking at auger bits at the car boots again; evidentally I'm rather less well-off in that department than I'd fully appreciated. Tsk, that's a shame, isn't it...?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another month...

Further to Nick's comment in the comments box - "another month, another Alf tip in GWW". He's hit on a matter that is causing me some embarrassment. I was going to reply in the comments box, but it was getting too long and I don't want folks thinking I don't feel that embarrassment as I should...

Anyway, it's a total nightmare, isn't it? I sent in four all told IIRC (t'was a year ago after all) and they seem to be dishing them out one after the other. I got a letter the other day telling me I'd got a tip published again (but they didn't say that) and just knew there'd be a collective rolling of eyes! Dunno if you remember a character called Tony Evans who was very prolific in GWW a few years ago? It got to the stage where he had stuff, including tips, put in under variations of his name - "Tony Evans, Upton-by-Chester"; "A Evans, Chester"; "Anthony Evans, Upton" etc, and various permutations of same. Sometimes two tips in at one time under two names! I know how much it used to annoy me at the time, so I can well imagine I'm unwittingly creating similar exasperation... But s'not my fault, guv, honest.

Just to prove I'm not actually any kind of fountain of woodworking genius (like you needed proof ) you can play "spot the error" in these pics of chair progress. I've made some attempt at repair, but it's still visible if you look. What's worse is I managed to do it twice. To make one cock-up is careless; to make two identical cock-ups in the space of 10 minutes is criminally stupid. Still, at least it's at the back... Anyway, one half of the arm is sort of ready; the other still to do. It's crazy of course; I'm using a few hundred quid's worth of hand tools to do a job I could probably do quicker and arguably more accurately using 50 quid's worth of router and table. There's nowt so daft as neanderthals...

Monday, March 13, 2006


Further website update - Record 050 manual uploaded. Sheesh, it's all go, isn't it...?

Alas, the anticipated detour into plane refurbishment came to pass, but not before I did indeed finally make myself a Shave Pony. Huzzah! And here's yours truly giving it a test gallop... As you can see, it's not a thing of beauty; more like one of those rather scabby-looking Dartmoor ponies than a well-groomed Pony Club beast. But all holes bored with brace and bit; rather proud of myself that I didn't succumb to using the drill press for accuracy, which is why there's a "spare" hole in the upper jaw... The grooves running the length of the jaws were freehanded with a V-groove plane from the toolchest (cunningly converted from a skew rebate).

Anyway, further detour today as a new 'puter arrived. I'm typing on it now, having eventually got all my various bits and pieces transferred over. The screen is an enormous 19" flat screen (new to me - neanderthal that I am) and somewhere inside the box of tricks I'm reliably informed there's a telly tuner - I'm looking doubtfully at the remote control that came with it even now. I'd have swapped them both for something a little less rattly and spongy in the keyboard line to be honest. I'm not usually someone who bothers to change that sort of thing, but this one could drive me nuts... Still it's all very whizz bang and I shall enjoy loading it up with all sorts of junk so it slows down to a snail's pace just like the other one!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tick the box

As my home page now unwisely advises visitors to check this Blog for site updates, I'd better mention there's a new old tool dealer added to the Dealer List.

For the more project-inclined reader, the shave pony seems to have got the upper hand and the parts are largely cut and just waiting the technical bit (glues and screws) before being a fully working 'ickle pony - I hope. Meanwhile I'm being lured into a side track from my side track into doing something about a wooden jointer I bought, er, "some time ago". I shall try to resist but if a plane features on this Blog either tomorrow or Monday, please don't be surprised...

Finally, as various fora threads tread well-worn paths, I was thinking that 'net woodworkers really need to go round with an easily read profile ticking or crossing the more frequently encountered boxes and/or just general things you really need to know. Viz:
  • Tails or Pins?
  • Dado blades, yea or nay?
  • Match planing, camber, sense of plumb or jointer fence for jointing?
  • Leigh or 'Rat?
  • Cheapest, oldest or best of the modern tools?
  • More tools Good or Bad?
  • Ruler Trick?
  • Tormek, waterstones, diamonds, oil stones or scary sharp?
  • Knocked off corners or camber on smoother blade?
  • Norm, good or bad?
  • Pocket hole screws, spawn of the devil or not?
  • MDF - likewise?
  • Krenov - genius or loony?
  • Tanged or socketed chisels?
I'm sure there are others (feel free to suggest some) but don't you think it'd make it so much easier if we knew everyone's prejudices right up front? Mind you, might not be as much fun...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Arm but not legs

Well the legs are still with their feet metaphorically up on the fender in front of the fire, drying as much as possible. Except it's not their feet of course, but their tops. Meantime I thought I might as well make a huge assumption that the leg/seat thing won't be a disaster and cut some stuff for the sticks and arms. I figure a three part arm and doubler will work, four parts in all, with lap joints instead of dowel joints. Naturally the beech is as straight as an arrow and no help to me at all, so I was trying to visualise grain direction and short grain issues and generally getting in a muddle while I was setting out. I'm not convinced it's right now, but thinking further about it wasn't getting me anywhere so I took the plunge and I'll just hope for the best.

Taking a leaf out of the JB book of chair making again, I decided to cut the arm shape in full thickness stock and then resaw to create book-matched arms. I spent an age setting up the bandsaw to cut as exactly halfway as possible - and still managed to make a hash of it... One side is a full inch, the other 7/8. Bum. A hurried perusal of JB's articles drew forth the info that he uses/used 7/8" - 1" thickness, so I can get away with it I think. Amazing what a difference in appearance that 1/8" makes though. If I'm still not sure when I look again I'll just have to cut another one. Not a disaster, but an irritation.

Anyway, the arm parts, the legs (in between toasting their toes) and numerous 3/4" sticks ready for shaping. I'm not totally convinced by some of the grain run out in some of them to be honest, so spares seemed a Good Thing. Still in a dozen minds about shaping them; JB and planes? Or the more traditional spokeshaves? The latter would really require a diversion into making a shaving pony, for which I have the necessary materials ready with a view to just such a move, but that will eat up precious workshop time. On the other hand one's been on the tuit list for years now; if I don't seize the "need it" moment now I may never make one...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Shooting and such

Question: Is it a good idea to turn tenons to fit hole size X in damp weather when the finished article is likely to spend its time in a centrally heated enviroment?

Answer: Not really

Result: No further progress to report. A couple of bouts of visitors (tidy before they come, tidy while they're here, too late to get untidy by the time they've gone) hasn't helped anyway. But I've been thinking about the arm and wondering if I won't depart from JB's dowels in favour of lap joints. I do so hate dowels that I think this may already be a rhetorical bit of wondering... Anyway, the legs are sitting in as dry a spot as I can find while I wait for the right moment.

Meanwhile Traditional Tools has suddenly popped into life with some discussion about that perennial favourite, cambered edges. All comers welcome, although you'll have to join to post - a recent move to erradicate spam.

Finally, I had cause to post a little shooting board link dump elsewhere, so I thought I might as well post it here as well, for my own reference as much as anything. At some point I hope to get as all-encompassing page of shooting links and such in one place - but goodness knows when that'll happen.

Mitre Jack
Alternative Mitre Jack
Shooting board how-to
Fancy mitre shooting board
Bob Wearing stylee
'nother Wearing-a-like
Brian Buckner mainly for the mitre plane...
Derek Cohen
Yours truly
From The Woodworker
Jeff Gorman

Monday, March 06, 2006

A leg to stand on - potentially

Ladies and gentlemen, we have woodworking!

Yes, you thought this Blog was relegated to nothing but dubious Workmate worship and theoretical stuff, but 'tis not so. The workshop is reclaimed, the floor crunchy underfoot. This can mean only one thing -

My thumbs hurt.

But apart from that, progress has, er, progressed. For a start we have legs! Okay so I bandsawed off the worst of the waste for the taper, but the rest was strictly scrub and jack plane - promise. Hence the crunchiness underfoot. I've really, really got to stop using that Veritas Scrub - it's getting to the point where I shall be sorry to see it go. Talk about it growing on me... Anyway, the legs, were planed up in all their octagonal loveliness. Couldn't be called perfect octagons, it has to be said, but they look right, which is a relief.

I've also taken the Fatal Step, the thing I've been dreading for the last month - boring the holes for the legs in the seat. Once I'd done all the marking up and such, the actual brace work took me an hour for all four mortises. I had to keep stopping frequently to check angles of course, but mainly it took time because the bit wasn't ideal and, frankly, I could have done with a large sweep of brace that the very lovely Stanley #901 10" sweep I used. Okay, yeah, so I'm a whimp. Wanna make something of it? What did come up trumps was the little wooden homemade bevel I picked up a year or so ago at the car boot. Dunno why I bought it really, except I just liked it and it was only 10 or 20 pence IIRC. But the shortness of the blade, the lack of metal edges to damage the seat if it fell over, and the wider footprint all made it idea for this job. Thank you, V Bennetto, who presumably made it as well as stamping his name on it.

I've marked up the centres on the legs so I can use my, ah, erm, "rounder" to do the tenons. Okay, so it'll be on the lathe and I was going to make this a lathe-less chair, but it makes the most sense, doesn't it? Only when the legs are in the mortises will I know if I've made a hash of the angles. I'm rather dreading that too, but all I can tell myself is I did my best - and hope for the best too... Now where've I put that PWW with the chair-making dodges? There was a tip for cutting wedges IIRC...

For all the pics of progress, I've finally got a project album going with the latest piccies here, if you're desperate for entertainment...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

How much is that Workmutt in the window?

There are some things so ubiquitous to the woodworker that you feel almost ashamed to admit to not owning one. A Record vice is one, for instance. We must be one of the few domiciles in the whole of the UK that doesn't have one somewhere around the place. At least that's what it feels like. Or a Stanley knife; that's a pretty standard one (and yes, we have "a few" examples of those). One that's been exercising me in recent months is the Black & Decker Workmate (TM). Okay, so we have one of those Chiwanese knock-offs that cost a tenner and has all the clamping ability of wet lettuce, but that doesn't count. It's to a proper Workmate (TM) what a Record SP4 is to a Konrad Sauer infill...

The Old Tools List didn't help matters any. Towards the back end of last year the Galoots got all excitable about old Workmutts and how the modern things couldn't hold a candle to them, even going so far as to mutter about type studies! Aluminium H-frame castings were king and anyone without one was virtually persona non grata. Call me a sheep if you must, but I'm easily influenced.

It was shortly after that that I started to notice the Workmutt in the front drive of the neighbour's opposite. From a distance it appears to have the desirable aluminium cast H-frames - as opposed to the less desirable stamped sheet metal ones. This poor Workhorse was being left out in all weathers in between duties as something to hold the firewood while a chainsaw was wielded dangerously close to those venerable castings. The fact that said neighbour is seldom there, and a total barsteward to boot, racked up the temptation stakes a notch or two.

But my mother didn't raise no amoral chill'un, nosir, so I resited. Coverted from afar, I admit, but still resisted.

This morning was coldish, but sunny. All together now - excellent car boot weather... Once again the parrots proved the perfect excu-, er, reason for venturing out (I found the desirable toy in the end, btw. I bought three!), this time in the guise of a half price offer on a parrot cage. Bertie's busy chewing his way through the plating on his current cage, and it's not good for him to ingest it, so something needs to be done (even though we'll have terrible trouble introducing him to a new "home", the bullet must me bitten). Anyway the cage was no good, but the place with the offer was admirably close to Pool Market and its Saturday/Sunday car boot sale. Mwahahahahaahahaaaa...

I cast my gaze about the place like an accomplished fly fisherman hoping to hook a salmon on the the Tay - and saw it.

Give me some credit for restraint. I went all round the rest of the market, including looking at another cage, before I came back to look more seriously.

I tentatively tried the clamping mechanism. Mmmmmm, smooooooooth. Smoother than the piece-o-junk-for-a-tenner one certainly. The plywood top a bit the worse for wear, hardly surprisingly, but emminently usable. £15 price tag. Well think of the price of a new, inferior, one - 70-80 quid? I was tempted. The seller sensed a sale and sashayed over. Give him his due; he didn't do the "looking to buy it for your bloke, love?" angle and was eagerness itself to haul it out and show me everything worked. And it did too, but something was, well, odd about it... Oh what the hell. I bought it. I must still be under the weather; I didn't haggle. I lugged it back to the car. Slowly. Stopping frequently.

It's bloody heavy.

If I could have remembered his name I'd have cursed Ron Hickman and his so-called "portable" bench every foot of the way... As it was it just about fitted in the back of the Jazz okay (useless little car that it is) and it was born home in triumph. Or rather in Honda... (ho ho).

When I got it home and turned to The Workbench Book and the 'net for guidance, the penny dropped. I realised why it was different, and why it's so darn heavy. No H-frames here, chum; cast aluminium or pressed steel. This beauty has welded on steel tube where the H-frames should be! The dog holes are also metal lined, which I'm not sure is normal, is it? For a fleeting moment I wondered if I'd bought a patsy - a reworked model with steel tube welded on afterwards to replace broken H-frames. But I don't think so.

T'was but the work of a moment to find the model number, but I Googled and came up empty-handed. It's obviously dual height, so a Mark II, and it's clearly a Black & Decker and not some wannabe. What was a Type XA? A heavy-duty model? I don't have a clue. But trust me to want to be one of the crowd and end up with an atypical example...