Monday, July 31, 2006

If I had a hammer

Warning - Website update contained herein.

Well the hammer handle phase has continued long enough to deal with my backlog of hammer handle orphans (viz: one) and knock up the inevitable page showing how I did it here. It may be another sign of my increasing insanity, but going from this:

to this:

doesn't seem to be a waste of time to me. Sure as hell beats faffing about with that #55, I know that for certain sure...

You may notice I had another go at the cross pein's handle - and managed to make it much worse in the process. Oh well, that's a useful lesson too I suppose; don't try messing with a handle shape once you've got the head fixed. Heigh ho.

The key thing now is to avoid getting The Bug and going round buying every unhappy hammer I see. I need another tool accumulation Slope like a hole in the head...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fred and Barney

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they're the modern stone age fami -

Ah no, a different Fred and Barney. This pair were used by Bob "Good, Fast and Cheap Bench" Key to demonstrate a similar point to that made in the comments box below. Unfortunately Bob's site has expired, gone to meet its maker, joined the server invisible etc, albeit it lives still via the Wayback Machine. But I'm sure he wouldn't mind me copying it here, for the greater understanding of the populace, 'cos linking direct to it in the archive seeems to be problematic. Take it, Mr Key:

I have a theory: in woodworking, no matter what tools we start with, we end up with about the same tools if we stay at it long enough. Take Fred and Barney, for example:

Buys a table saw and a router
Makes some crude stuff
Buys a thickness planer and a power miter box
Buys a bunch of clamps and makes better stuff
Builds a router table, adds a band saw and a dust collector
Builds some nice stuff
Feeds tip of left thumb to his table saw
Buys a hand plane and sharpening kit to improve the surfaces of his finished work
Gets some offers to build serious stuff
Builds a workbench
Quality of work improves with knowledge of handwork
Adds a fine set of chisels, and some nice saws
Uses power tools less than he used to

Buys a Workmate and a few hand tools
Makes some crude stuff
Picks up an old manual miter box and a sharpening kit
Buys a bunch of clamps and makes better stuff
Picks up a few more planes, some really nice chisels, and builds a bench
Builds some nice stuff
Slices left thumb with chisel - six stitches
Buys a band saw to cut down on the grunt work
Gets some offers to build serious stuff
Adds a table saw and thickness planer to eliminate even more grunt work
Quantity of work improves with addition of power tools
Installs a dust collector
Produces more work than he used to

Me again. 'Course the detail will likely differ. Personally I've yet to need stiches from injuries of either sort so far - touch wood. The tablesaw remains an anathema to me and I think the dust collector should feature a bit earlier in both cases, but I did indeed start seriously by buying a router and table. Regretably though, I also differ in one quite annoying way. I don't ever seem to have reached the "produces more work than he used to" bit. ..

Friday, July 28, 2006

Definitely not sure about thee...

Hah, get's better (see the post below) - all bar one of the replies so far has been "hand plane". Yay. The other one?

I take most of the material off with a large mortising bit in a 3hp router using a ramp jig. Then clean it up with a block plane and or sanders. Once made, the ramp jig can be used on straight or curved edges.

Oh deary me. But it gets better, the respondee signs himself off as (names altered to save embarrassment/being sued etc):

Joe Bloggs -ABC Handcrafted Woodworking

I hope to stop laughing by the time I blog next, but no guarantees...

But what else does my wandering gaze fall upon? The PWW Blog and one of the more hilarious lines of small (or should that be "fine") print available on a T-shirt or mug. Someone's going to be really not happy about that - while others are going to just love it.

Yep, Friday night is comedy night all right.

Not sure about thee

For the love of Norm, someone give this guy a crash course in how hand tools could improve his woodworking experience:

I have made small table tops e.g. 14 to 20 inches square and beveled the edge using a table saw and a fence height extension and it works well since the board is not very high when running the edge through. I want to make a hall table about 4 feet long and would like to know if there is any advice on how to bevel the edge since the short edge would have me holding a 4 foot board up in the air through a table saw. Do people mainly bevel this edge by hand? BTW I usually use about a 25 degree pitch which is not common for a router bit. (Culled from the pages of the FWW Knots forum.)

It's almost the flip side of the coin that's had me wondering about neanderthals trying to cut stopped grooves and sliding dovetails with a slope on both sides - why make your life so hard? But then maybe I'm just crazy not to think it natural to do this kind of thing on a tablesaw or with a router? Is it in fact a sign of my own insanity that I believe using anything but a plane for the job, no matter if it fits on the tablesaur or not, is just plain nuts? Well I say "A" plane, but maybe a jack and then smoother. Perhaps something skewed for the cross grain finishing cuts...

But then as the saying goes, all the world's mad 'cept thee and me, and I'm not so sure about thee...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boat Anchor?

Hah. I wouldn't trouble to tie the rope to it - just lob it in.

Yes, been back to the #55 to renew the battle and, well, that's it. I ain't doing it any more. I'll write about the #405. I'll wax lyrical about the #043. The #50, #044 and #46 hold no fears. But that darn #55 I ain't wasting a second longer on. It's the total pits. The straw that broke this camel's back? That ruddy fence.

Following my vow to go by the manual and do what it showed next, I started to set it up for chamfering. The rosewood faces on the #55's fence have a profile on the backside that should make setting the fences up at 45° a snap. See? Where the blue arrow's pointing.

Well the smaller, less fancy fence was spot on. The other one though, it didn't look good, so I offered up a square to see how far off it was.

I believe my annotation expresses my feelings fairly adequately...

Now I daresay I could scrape the profile, or maybe it's the casting that needs - guess what - a file, but frankly this has got ridiculous. How on earth can I give a balanced view on the #55 and how well it works when I'm basing it on this stinker of an example? Well I can't, can I?

'Course it's gonna take delicacy to express this to the would-be article requester, but as I say, anything you like on the 043, 044, 50, 405, 46, Lewin...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Before and after

So, the rust haul from the weekend. Dunno why but sometimes all sense flies out of the window and a pile of stuff I wouldn't even bother to stoop to look at normally suddenly becomes appealing enough to be bought. Must be a masochistic streak I think. Anyway, this lot came to the over-priced total of two quid; frankly I was pretty convinced I'd make a serious mistake over the hand drill almost as soon as I bought it, but the deed was done. It's all nestling on a plastic bag 'cos they're filthy enough that I don't want them on the benchtop even long enough for a photo...

What did I get then? Well the aforementioned hand drill of the smaller sort. Incredibly useful thing to have handy, a short drill. Had my bacon saved more than once by being able to use one in a confined space where a standard eggbeater won't fit. Never yet found one with a makers name on - didn't Stanley, Millers Falls et al make 'em? Was it down to the unnamed, cheap tool makers to realise the usefulness of same? Hey ho. Anyway, they usually have the three little spring design of chuck jaw, so I made sure they were all there, everything seemed to move - after a fashion - nothing that a soak in citric acid wouldn't help, all in all I had hopes. The rest went in the citric acid solution too; two wad punches (I think I'm getting an addiction to them ), a pair of 4" dividers, another double-ended screwdriver bit for the brace and, just when I said I never saw them unless they were busted, a twist drill for a brace. This one's bent instead.

I'm now just using the citric acid to start the cleaning process, then switching back to fine abrasives and the ol' polishing routine so as to avoid any dead look to the metal. It's always good fun seeing what gets revealed as you clean, as well as having the odd should-I-shoudn't-I moment. F'rinstance, I had to remove the original black finish on the smaller punch and screwdriver bit in order to remove the rust - luckily the latter's a fine example, beautifully ground, so it's come out looking great, but often the black finish can hide some awful stuff. Bit of a surprise to find the twist drill is marked Mathieson too, while I hit the Starrett jackpot again with the dividers. Bit stiff, mind you, but fine for my purposes. The wad punches cleaned up and sharpened easily enough (maybe that's why I like them?), although the larger required the mushrooming ground off, natch. The drill required quite a bit of work, not least rescuing a few of the threads on the chuck spindle, but it works just fine now. Overall I'm fairly pleased; I reckon they look clean but not shiny new, except the screwdriver bit, which is what I aim for. Time'll take care of any excessive shininess...

Which is a long way to take up enough space so you didn't get the before and after pictures right next to each other.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Found a few odds and ends of rust over the weekend, but this ain't them. The odds truly are odds, but they're waiting for the last bit of renovation to be finished before I dazzle you all with the before and after shots - or maybe just convince you that there must be much easier ways to scratch a tool itch...

No, this is an Exeter pattern hammer I've had skulling about waiting for a handle for "a while". Bit of a first, this. I've never so much as rehandled a hammer with a commercially made handle, never mind doing it from scratch.

It's far from perfect but it is tight and should last a few years. The Exeter pattern dropped off the radar a few years ago, leaving the Warrington pattern cross pein or nowt, but I've wanted one for a while. Well it seems more apt, being in the West Country and all. Pretty rough example, to be honest, and the pein is far from fine - in fact I had to file off a certain amount of mushrooming, which probably accounts for that. Might have to have a bit more of a go at it with the file, but I'll see how it goes. The handle is Ash shaped with Stanley #53, Mujingfang shave, scraper and the head fitted using a file. The Mujingfang is most excellent and a total bargain considering what piles of dross you can get for similar money.

Hmm, looking at it again I'm not so sure I won't have another go at that handle. It's a bit agricultural at the moment...

I happened to cast an eye at "my" eucalyptus while taking a breather between workshop boilings, only to find it busy bursting out of its bark again. I blogged about it some time ago here, but this time I actually got round to taking a picture of the darn thing. Pretty amazing, I reckon. Just about the closest you can get to seeing a tree actually growing!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Still I feel waves of negative vibes towards the #55 as a breed, when it's only this particular black sheep that deserves censure. Look even it did the dado really, really well. Honest! See?

And that was in that awful laminated pine board stuf that's 90% knots, 10% glue and 100% awful. Hell, I can hear #55s all over the world sobbing in neglected corners, asking why? Why did I let them down like this? I can't bear it...

Mind you, I haven't done any more with it for the last few days, which could explain my warm feelings towards it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Black Spot

Tsk. I seem to be putting folks off the #55 here. That's a terrible thing to do when you're a combination plane evangelist, preaching to the heathen. So I say unto you "Nay, 'tis not all Bad. It did dados amazingly well. Verily." 'Course I wasn't using the fence for that, was I? That helped...

It does confirm me in my observations though; beware the immaculate plane, usually New In Box. Often tricky to judge with combis, mind you, 'cos they tend to attract NIB status even if they work like a dream. But more ordinary tools like bench planes, really be on your toes. The one and only old bench plane still inna box I ever bought was, and indeed is, a Stanley #3. Not only does it have its box, but also its instruction leaflet and even the paper label that hung off the knob.

That plane is an utter stinker.

I must have spent hours trying to get it too behave, all to no avail. Been a long time since I even looked at it, but iirc the frog bedding is machined all wrong for one thing. I hope I've moved on in my plane fettling education since I last tackled it, but nothing will induce me to blow the dust off that orange lid and have another shot at the ruddy thing. It's just not worth the candle. Naturally I can't get rid of it either, 'cos I like to think I'm honest with potential customers and couldn't sell it with anything but dire warnings. And with dire warnings nothing will make it sell! Heck, I can't even give it away - not to anyone I like anyway!

So friends, if one day I should give you a NIB #3 Stanley GB plane, you'll know our friendship is entirely at an end. It's the neanderthal equivalent of tipping you The Black Spot...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Orange Invasion

Much excitement in these parts today - a brand spanking new B&Q has opened. B&Q being Blighty's equivalent to the USA's Home Despot, or so I believe. Definitely Orange, with a capital O. Even the tops of the street lamps in the car park are Orange. Clearly they seemed to be expecting opposition to their arrival on the local retail scene; a barrage balloon (Orange) has been hoisted high to deter any bomber aircraft sent by their rivals.

Okay, so maybe it's an advertising blimp...

The adjacent supermarket desired our presence for the purchase of groceries anyway, so we popped in to have a looksee at the new place, almost as the doors opened. There was practically a queue, would you believe, with eager Pensioners lining up to fill in forms for 10% discount (on Wednesdays). Mind you there's nowt like the Cornish for enjoying both a party and coming round and metephorically kicking the tyres, not that I didn't do a reasonable job of the latter myself. Being so handy I can see it being a big help for some of the less lovely but nevertheless desirable items one needs occasionally. As I overheard someone say, "it's not cheap, but being so near it'll save us some money". I fear the local builder's merchants who've hitherto had the monopoly of DIY business are going to feel the cold orange wind...

First time I've been to an opening of a new store; slightly mundane to be honest, except I was accosted by a brightly smiling, slightly nervous employee and asked "would I like a free gift?" Hey "free"? My favourite word... "Sure, whatya got?" Hmm, a choice of "B&Q" pencil (cheapskates - not sure it was even Orange), a very Orange B&Q-emblazoned baseball cap (er, no, I don't think so) or a dinky pen-sized spirit level which, as the offerer pointed out, was handy for the pocket and could prove useful. Plus it wasn't at all Orange in any way, shape or form. To be honest I don't think she thought much of folks opting for the hat and absolutely no-one was going for the pencils. I took the hint and took a spirit level. It's definitely handy and does indeed fit in my pocket. I congratulate the brightly smiling one on her grasp of the essentials and ability to convey same to the customer. Probably be a supervisor in a year...

A long way round to say:

Went to The Borg and got a free tool.

Meanwhile, even as I type this, five burly postmen are postie-handling the piano out of the door and to its new owner. Naturally the weather has chosen its moment to add a little rain to proceedings, but they nevertheless seem to be managing okay. Slightly sad to see it go, it being my Grandmother's and all, had from new in 1968. A Welmar, no less, ivory keys and a beautiful mahogany case, modern in style. Sniff, I'm getting all nostalgic over it now. But the truth is I haven't touched a key of it in years and the only memories I have of it are the torture of weekly lessons where enough notes to pass as far as Grade 2 were painfully hammered out, massacring Mozart and Bach en route. I'm a far better listener than player.

Why five postmen? Well we stuck enough stamps on it and... Nah, the recipient's dad is a postman and he must have called in a good many favours, although there seems to be plenty of laughter going on as well as cracking muscles.

Ah, it's safely in the van - a bit wet but nothing that won't wipe off. Sigh. Oh well, wonder what would look nice in the space? Always fancied making one of those ladies' writing tables with a curved stretcher...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rocking Chair

Friends, Woodworkers, Blog Readers, I come not to praise Justus Traut, Edmund Schade and the Board of The Stanley Rule & Level Company, New Britain.

No sir, no way.

I finally decided I was sick of trying to keep this stoopid thing under wraps, mainly because I feel the need to Moan, and also I get more done when I have to Blog about it. So in a nutshell, I have to write something coherant about using a Stanley #55 Universal Combination plane. I said I'd do it, in a moment of weakness, and eventually a working example of same was assembled chez Alf. Well I say "working"...

This is the crankiest, low down, most evil-minded, sonofa... Ha hum. What I mean is - It's the worst example of a combination plane I've ever used.

It's already had a complete body swap because the original had the fence rod holes bored out of true, the fence has to be virtually bent to get it parallel to the skates, a spur cutter had to be sent from over the ocean, turned out to be for the wrong side and still needed to be filed to fit, the fence face was upside down, etc, etc. I've always felt a little superior to folks who say they need to use pliers to get the thumbscrews tight enough on their combi to stop the fence moving. I apologise unreservedly - this monstrosity is one such plane.

Just today I discovered the shoe thing that fits on the auxilary centre bottom doesn't - until I filed the bolt hole. Ack, and I've only got so far as doing the basics of ploughing, dadoing, T&G and beading. Norm knows what'll happen when I get to the tricky stuff - which is next...

I'm assuming this is simply One Of Those Planes and that other examples of its breed are merely just finicky. But to all those combination haters out there - if you got one like this bastard, well you have my every sympathy and I can see exactly where you're coming from. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a Record #043 toot sweet; it might help with the traumatic flashbacks.

We have a sort of saying/shorthand in our family, when someone really wants a certain thing for ages and ages. We say it's their rocking chair. Somewhere in family history or something must be a tale of someone who longed for a rocking chair, but when they finally got one it turned out to be a terrible disappointment and not nearly as satisfying as the anticipation of the chair. The latter, of course, now gone forever. For a while now, as I drooled and begged for one month after month, year after year, the #55 has been understood to be my rocking chair - and, oh woe is me, so it is proving to be.

Monday, July 17, 2006

That old Chestnut

Despite hitting no less than three possible rust spots over the weekend, I came away with very little. Not that there weren't any tools at all, just that most things were either too far gone, too expensive - or both. However two things took my eye. First a craftsman-made marking gauge using the cam principle, the instructions for the making of same I've had on the Tuit list for some years now. Secondly, a London pattern Shoe Hammer (no, don't say "cobblers"; it's not nice...) Wanted one of these for adjusting wooden planes ever since I read Mike Dunbar's Restoring, Tuning & Using..., but this is the first I've seen with the head in reasonable condition. Loose on the handle, of course, so another learning curve of hammer handle replacement awaits me. But hey, at half a quid, it's worth the effort.

The amazing hot weather continues so the workshop is No Place To Be after about 10am. I finally bit the bullet and dived in for an hour in order to shove some stock through the planer thicknesser so it's ready for use before breakfast without resulting in irrate neighbours hammering on the door. Nothing exciting; just scrap stuff for that long-overdue article I keep putting off... But while I was at it I took the opportunity to put a short length of the local air-dried chestnut through as well; the stuff I got back in April. It was pretty wet when I stored it but a test now shows it's very dry indeed. In fact I worry just a tiny bit, but there don't seem to be any ill effects. The planed surface reveals glorious figure with a hint of pink, which I've done my best to get in the photo but failed rather. However it's a pretty busy piece of wood; if it's all like that it'll be a case of chestnut accents off-set with something plain or else it might be a bit overwhelming...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lost Afternoon

Right, website update first - Lewin Plane page all done, subject to further information coming to light.

Mike Hancock seems utterly determined that everyone possible should know about the Woodworking Great and Good who'll be gracing his Classic Hand Tools stand at Westonbirt at the end of August. I'd tell you every last detail, but mail troubles have resulted in my losing a whole raft of emails including that one. Anyway, sounds great, but there's not a hope in hell of my getting there. So I plug without affiliation, except I might ask Mike for commission...

Finally, spotted whilst I was having a bit of a goof at the referring pages that have brought readers to this blog, spare a thought for the poor woodworker who Googled for

repair sawn through workbench

Methinks there's a said tale behind that search, don't you? Naturally I'm reminded of the legendary occasion when Patrick Olguin (aka Paddy O'Deen) Sawed a Workmutt in Half. That inevitably leads to BIG hand plane in my mailbox (one for Philly...), Cutting Joinery on Long Boards etc etc, and the afternoon is, of course, lost. Heigh ho.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Little and Large

Worried about getting just the right bench height? The old solutions are so often the best...

Mmmm, tasty

I can report both Stollen and Lemon Tart were very yummy. Well they still are in fact, 'cos we seem to be storing the European Dessert Mountain here...

Other than that the woodworking muse has deserted (not desserted) me for the moment, so I'm wrestling with info on the Lewin in the hopes of getting something coherent together. In fact I think I might have worked out a mini type study on them, sort of. Exciting, ain't it?

All right, don't all run away at once...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Trepidation, Alarm and Consternation

Firstly apologies to anyone who's tried to email me in the last couple of days - somehow doing the Right Thing of backing up my web site resulted in gobbling up the remaining disk space until I'd worked out how to get rid of the back-up file. Result, no room for incoming emails for the duration. D'oh. S'okay now though; the flow of spam may continue unabated.

Meanwhile nephews Nos 1 & 2 have descended upon Alf Towers, spreading famine and desolation in their wake... No, that's really not fair at all - No.1 is making Chocolate Stollen (Christmas comes but twice a year chez Alf...) and a Lemon Tart even as I type. Mmmmmmm. No.2 provides the locust effect all on his own; although a large Cornish Pasty did slow him up a little, thank goodness.

Moved all the free mahogany (and stained pine and a dubious piece of alleged oak) into the workshop but still need to spend Some Time taking out all the screws, tacks, nails, pins etc and removing the old glue, foam and insect pupae before I know if there's really much there of practical use. Something to look forward to, eh? On the plus side bits of wood have to be really, really small before they're no use even on the lathe, so odds are I'll get something out of it more than just a covering of dust.

Also tackled a couple of backsaw sharpenings that I've been trying to get to for a while now - naturally just a feeble excuse to christen the "new" vice. Ironically one saw has so little depth under the handle I couldn't actually use the vice on it anyway, but it worked beautifully for the other. Two hours shaping 'n' sharpening at a time is about my limit though; after that the saw teeth start waltzing about across my vision and Sharpening Horror Ensues. Prior to that it's merely Sharpening Trepidation, Alarm and Consternation...

Gotta love the Theasaurus Widget for the Mac, huh?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Saw vices whilst sightseeing

Let me cast my mind back to the beginning of my travels...

(Imagine your own wibbly flashback screen effect if you would)

First port of call on Saturday was the South Hams (that's the southern bulge of Devon, geographically-challenged folks) where an appointment with a telly and England vs Portugal at a B&B awaited us. Yep. we'd 'phoned on ahead to make sure there was a television set available at the Bed & Breakfast and shuddered our way through the whole of normal time and extra time before leaving my brother alone to watch the penalties and tell us the worst. Luckily we were welcomed to the B&B with tea and freshly made scones, which ameliorated the agony considerably. See piccy for the view from my room. A really classic English farm, this one. Straight out of the Blackberry Farm books I used to be read as a toddler. Lambs baa-ed, chickens clucked, doves cooed, sparrows argued and football fans groaned. But we couldn't hang about groaning; din-dins and a belated celebration of No. 2 nephew's 18th awaited us, so off we hastened for an excellent meal and general get together before returning, exhausted, to our beds and sleep.

Until, ooo, 5am-ish anyway.

We all figured it'd be the cockerel that'd wake us up, but no, it was the thunder right over our heads that did the trick. Rumbling at a distance, such as the noise made by someone moving a large tin box, that I don't mind. Distant cannon fire effects do not faze me. Someone crashing a tin tray on the roof of the building, that I object to. What had been a steep and dusty lane down to the farm became a fast-running stream and it was all Very Exciting. I feel we earned our excellent Full English breakfast before, bleary-eyed, we hit the road.

Brother No 2 lives up in Kent, and as he and his missus had come down to Devon for the "do", it was decided it'd somehow be a good idea to go back with them for a few days. Dunno why, but that was the decision. They live in Ye Ancient Lodge with aforementioned beams, assorted floor levels with associated steps and other architectural expressions of cuteness. All in all making it a veritable assault course of hazards to wind and limb. All surrounded by a pretty large garden absolutely awash with trees; oak, ash, willow, hazel, holly, oh the works. Great for the wildlife of course; dawn chorus fortissimo every morning, with no escape when all the windows have to be open to avoid suffocation from the heat... We also had a vist from a fox that came within 4 or 5 feet of the french windows, which was a bit of a thrill.

Anyway, the beams are a right old mish-mash of stuff, but I took a pic or two of the bits that I thought were the most interesting. They're not the greatest, light being at a premium in these old places, but should give you an idea. The first is a mortise that someone has thoughtfully removed the tenon from and then replaced one of the pegs. Bizarre, no? Kinda cool though, and the spiders love it...

This one is a beautifully executed, well, what exactly? Not sure what the technically accurate term for it would be (mis-placed my joinery book) but dovetail would be in there somewhere. Dovetail halving joint? Dovetail housing joint perhaps? I dunno; one of you clever blighters will no doubt let me know in the comments box.

And 'cos the countryside round there isn't that shabby, a couple of picturesque scenes; on the left, the view from their back garden, and on the right the neighbours, trying to keep cool.

Monday was spent recovering from the travel on Sunday - yes, okay, and probably from the excesses of Saturday night... Tuesday a case was made for going to Heathfield and Peter Hanman (Tools) therein. Actually the surrounding market wasn't bad either and I nearly bought an older Tyzack rip saw, but for some reason I resisted. Oh yeah, I remember why. I'd already been to the Tool Mecca by then...

I think it's fair to say you wouldn't come away saying using the phrase "got a bargain" or "for only" from there, 'cos he's not an idiot and knows what he's got, but there are some damn fine user tools - and not a few unusual and collectable ones too. And they're everywhere. Just when you think you've had your fill, you look above your head and see a dozen braces or whathaveyou. Lovely place. Somehow I managed to resist going totally insane, confining myself to merely spending more than I could afford in quite a limited way.

Quite early on in goofing I spotted the thing that interested me. Well the main thing. Obviously I looked at other things like the rather nice Slater bullnose and the Sargent VBM plane, and the saws did not escape me, but one thing really caught my eye. A saw vice. A metal saw vice. A Disston saw vice. I enquired and, well, yes, it wasn't cheap, but then where am I going to see another? So far the only one I've ever seen was in the rafters of someone else's workshop and Not For Sale. So I looked it over again, checked it all worked, and naturally I took the fatal step.

Turns out I seem to have done rather better than I thought. From what I've read it seems to be a D3, which is apparently one of best. Bet Mike'll know for sure, eh, boys and girls? Yeah, it's missing the filing guide gubbins, but I don't want that anyway, all the rest is sound and it's clean and ready to go. I'm a happy bunny anyway.

So I'm broke and on a roll. It seemed to be a sign when a brief log-on to UKWS found a post by someone who'd been to Timberline just days before - the Fates were telling me to go. Who am I to argue? We went. In for a penny, in for a pound. I went for the express purpose of finding a board or two suitable for tools - plane totes, maybe a saw handle or two, perhaps a scraper or three. The sort of things I can't quite squeeze out of available turning blank sizes. Well they certainly had a board or two, name an exotic hardwood and they had it. Logs of boxwood, hunks of ebony, boards of rosewoods and padauk jostling for space, tonewoods for musical instrument makers, gorgeous veneers, it was sensory overload. I tried to remain calm and focused and asked about rosewood and bubinga. The rosewood, well there was a choice of all sorts. Indian rosewood was in the form of disassembled "picture frames" - baulks of wood with mortises and tenons - made so in order to get round the export restrictions. Similarly 4" square sections had turned ball tops as newel posts - ebony newel post for your staircase anyone?

Anyway, a 6" wide board of kiln-dried Sonokeling Rosewood took my eye and I was sufficiently braced so I only winced a little bit when he worked out the price. I shouldn't ever need to buy any more at any rate! Luckily I only want short lengths so having to have the board cut in half was only mildly bloody irritating. I hate that stupid little car. The Fates let me down on the Bubinga though - I wanted it for the LVs, but it was huge, and more importantly, right at the back. The chap generously offered to dig it out for me, but we'd never have fitted it in anyway, so we may be looking at mail order once the finances have recovered. Some time in 2064...

Thursday, we came home again via a stop for lunch at Yandles in Martock which is conveniently about halfway home. I must have been feeling homesick 'cos I had a pasty, which was nice but in no way should have been described as "Cornish". Naturally I also had a bit of a goof around the place, but no offcut of Bubinga was happily waiting to be purchased so I came away empty-handed. Funny, I always do from Yandles.

Anyway, back home we found both cats and parrots equally happy to see us, which was nice, and then this afternoon a load of old mahogany window frames was dropped off by a friend of my mum's which does rather soften the blow of not being on holiday any more, don'tcha know.