Friday, December 21, 2007


Thought I was done for now, but then this post by Larry Williams on moulding planes caught my eye so I thought I'd draw attention to it. If you're even remotely interested in wooden planes then I'm sure it'll prove worth the reading. The more the breadth of my ignorance on the subject is brought to my attention like this, the more eager to get hold of those two DVDs by Messers Williams and McConnell I become...


It's all about focus. Focus, or rather lack of same, is why I haven't a proper completed project to my name this year. Let's face it, it's looking distinctly dodgy vis-a-vis finishing the saw till by the end of the month... But focus saw a successful raid on the local food emporium with only minor casualties this morning. A pincer movement launched at 8.30am (wince) swept up sprouts and mince pies before it with the minimum of foot-stamping and banging of head against nearest pillar. And that was just The Management... It was only when we returned home to the reward of a mince pie (purely to test the brandy butter of course - it's good, but by gum, you don't want to drive after eating any...), it was only then that we remembered all the things we'd forgotten. Heigh ho.

Anyway, for our final gamely distraction from the festive fever, the frankly bizarrely-named and darkly-animated Mr. MothBall 3, the snowy flakes. The music will drive you crackers (and totally spoiled my enjoyment of "Wombling Merry Christmas" that I had playing concurrently which is, naturally, hard to forgive...) but 'tis a nice simple premise requiring next to no investment of time from the fickle gamer. (Ooo, look, I've just seen you can turn the music off - that's better!)

And finally may I wish any readers still clinging on in the hopes of some woodworking content a Very Merry Festive Season and fingers crossed for some workshop-related blogging in 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Something of a tenuous Christmas connection to Goldminer's Holiday Haul really, but a a rather better example of the genre. My best advice is always buy the titanium rope and strength drink when offered - and purchase dynamite when it's cheap.

Gosh, advice like this could even help you in real life. If you were a goldminer. 

Other than that I am "mazed" by pulling the daughterly weight in helping with present wrapping, planning menus etc (we shall be nine in number on the 26th and there ain't no sparrow-like eaters in the Clan Alf, so knowing what food prep is needed for when is vital if all-out war is to be avoided). I'd give my right arm to nip down to the w'shop and have a refreshing view of The Saws, no chance of actually using them of course, but alas tomorrow brings the delights of The Big Shop. If you don't hear from me tomorrow you'll know I was bested in the Supermarket Trolley Demolition Derby...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brandy Butter

Brandy butter, two batches, mince pies for the use of - done. Marzipan fruits? No chance. We were freezing our appendages off all yesterday,what with no heating and doors bracingly open for the ingress and egress of plumber, plumber's gophers and rubber hoses to facilitate the draining of the heating system. But amazingly it is all done and works, so huzzah.

In celebration let's save Christmas by athletically swinging from branch to branch of a large fir tree in order to fix the star at the top in Merlin's Christmas. And to think I find just making marzipan fruits too much effort - shame on me... Rather harder to accomplish than it may appear at first glance, and somewhat addictive. Groan as once more your plucky little elf lands head first in the snow, wince as the jaunty Jingle Bells music loop goes round yet again... Yes, probably best with the speakers turned off in fact.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quick release vice

Having to move a little earlier in the day than usual - would you believe the plumber's coming again? The tap in the kitchen requires replacement, but in addition the old man's taken it into his head to have two radiators replaced, including the one right here in the inner sanctum. So I shall be forced to neglect office-y type tasks in favour of festive domestic ones. Viz: brandy butter and possibly marzipan fruits. But only if Victor does the kitchen tap first. Anyway, fingers crossed that it all goes smoothly; no, don't laugh...

So our game for today? Well I'm going to confess to a small vice (yes, another one); I have something of an addiction to the genre known as "Room Escape Games". In brief, you find yourself locked in a room and have to find and combine items, work out or discover codes and find your way out. Traditionally there's usually at least one safe to open (often containing something no sane person would bother to put in a safe, like a hammer), and a wastepaper basket to look in (or under). Some examples are just plain weird, I must admit; but possibly something of a window on other cultures. Many are Japanese and either tend to involve spirits and other mystic fings; or else overdose the cuteness a bit with cuddly toys, cats or other furry animals. Russian ones do rather tend to be violent. Naturally the festive season brings out a rash of themed versions of existing series as well as some one offs, one such being the imaginatively titled Christmas Escape.  Of Japanese origin but reasonably logical I think, challenging to get all the parcels but still escapable if you don't, and most importantly - in English!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Turkey fling

In my continuing quest to lure you all away from festive tasks, another game. As it's Monday morning something a little less taxing on the brain seems called for I think - fling dat turkey! I can't help but wonder who decided that this should be listed under "sports". Possibly the same person who thought the Olympics needed synchronized swimming?

May not be suitable for vegetarians, animal lovers or anyone with their little grey cells still intact...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Russian Cream

So bicycles are obviously far too serious a subject to be flippant about - I forget there seem to be a disproportionate number of serious cycling dudes amongst woodworkers. You should see my bike - it's actually worse than that freebie. At least I think it is; it may be fossilising by now considering how long it's been since I saw it last...

But enough of that - what d'you know of Russian woodworking practices? No, I don't either. But as a side-effect of asking about the "B" branded Russian copy of the Record 043 mini grooving plane a helpful soul on Woodnet not only translated the front of the instruction manual but also came up with this Russian site on tools. In case your reading of the cyrillic alphabet is as non-existant as mine, you can suffer the horrors of a rough Google translation here. So now there's no excuse for not knowing your Шпунтубель from your Калёвка.

I know it sounds pathetic and sad case material to say it, but the internet really is incredible. Here is little me, one day trip to Boulogne-Sur-Le-Mer to my name as far as foreign travel goes, and I innocently think it'd be nice to have a web page on the Record 040/043. Big deal. But as a result I've corresponded with numerous helpful folks and dipped my toe into waters concerning both Australian and Russian tool manufacturers that would have otherwise been as a closed tool chest to me. Extraordinary really.

Anyway, the festive season approaches and the newspaper tells me that in consequence there will be next to no work done in offices all next week. So what's new, say the non-office workers... Instead the diligent workforce will gossip, go to parties and generally slack off as though it was the end of the summer term and they'd just finished their exams. In order to help you get into this non-productive mood I think a few games could be in order, so first up the Christmas Lights. Just like the real thing, it's easy to end up with just one damn bulb that refuses to light...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You can never have too many bikes

Clamps are not exciting purchases in my opinion. A necessary evil and as we all know an on-going one 'cos a woodworker can famously "never have enough clamps". But Matthew at Workshop Heaven has done his best and actually made me go and look at the latest special offer. Yep, a free gift of one whole, grown-up, gent's mountain bike when purchasing four clamps. You can literally "clamp 'n' go" (ho ho). Alas, even viewing it as a £175 bike with four free clamps I don't think I can quite squeeze it into the budget, but hey, I did look.

Perhaps it'll start a trend? Four of Screwfix's cheapest clamping devices: one free inner sole to cushion your feet (or one foot anyway). Or free sports car with every four Holtey planes... :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I take it I can gather from the comments box that I'm not the only one with issues viz-a-viz that cabinet then? I wasn't even going to mention the poly... Also I don't seem to be alone in my dissatisfaction with woodworking mags either. I used to get really annoyed when people described them as "comics", but my heart has much hardened.

Anyway, that small oasis of woodworking delight that is the occasional copy of a decent woodworking book for sale in the Truro flea market came up trumps again, and in consequence I've been perusing "Tables" by Anthony Guidice. Now I was a tad scathing about Mr Guidice's "Seven Essentials of Woodworking" - principally 'cos I reckon it contains enough baloney to open a small New York deli - but this Tables book has designs that actually appeal to me. Yeah, okay, so I've actually made a couple like the ones therein so that's inevitably gonna appeal, but the delicately-constructed hallway table and the display table are both projects I can actually see myself making (and finding a place for chez Alf). That's practically unheard of for a book of projects as far as I'm concerned, so something of an accolade.

I confess I'm also on the preparatory lookout for a "proper" project; number one nephew has signed up for a ball and chain in July next year and obviously I'd like to make something to help add to his problems as he embarks on matrimonial bliss. Hah! I know what you're thinking - it'll only be a burden once I've actually finished it, so he's probably safe until at least their second anniversary... 

Friday, December 07, 2007

New technology bad, old technology good

Lessee; excuses, non-blogging for the use of. 

Tuesday: PJ, small but aggressive Senegal parrot celebrates his tenth hatchday. Thus quality parrot - owner - bleeding finger time required. Actually he hasn't bitten me for a while, which is in some ways worrying...

Wednesday: Take a technological leap into the unknown and purchase a "set-top box" in order to receive digital television. Amazingly it works - except I still can't get Channel 5 which is the one with the cricket highlights. Bum. It's somehow ironic that this future of television allows me to catch up with television from the '60s (e.g. The Champions), '70s & '80s (The Two Ronnies), '90s (pretty much everything it seems, but helpful to brush up on one's Canadian with Due South eh?) plus whatever was on Channel 4 only an hour ago. Truly mankind has invented an amazing thing - boredom.

Thursday: I'll get back to you with a plausible excuse when I think of one. It might have been Doctor Who... 

Today: And here I am. Rejoice. Or not, as the mood takes you. Seeing as there was a power cut half way through composing this blog entry you're lucky I'm here at all.

And what do I see? Possibly the most interesting thing to come from Lie-Nielsen in some time - and a rather more reason to invest in Larry Williams' DVD. I mean not wanting to make moulding planes is one thing, but resisting making them when there are ready-tapered blanks for the irons on the market is another matter. If things go on like this it's going to be so much like the good old days we'll be able to buy wooden plough plane depth stops off the shelf... Mind you a three year lead time would possibly better suit my rate of conversion from "would like to do" to "start" on projects, never mind completion.

Also, thanks to a blog reader, and just for once being the first to respond to a Free To A Good Home post, I've also been renewing my acquaintance with Fine Woodworking. The reader's gallery stuff is of amazing standard and just the sort of unattainable (for me) inspiration that  used to subscribe to FWW for. Alas, if only the rest of the content would take its lead from that. There are a few flashes of joy, but I don't find I'm kicking myself for no longer having a sub which is partially comforting and partially ruddy depressing. Anyone else think the fine furniture grade tool cabinet in the Tools & Shops issue was horribly let down by the presence of so many power tools and accessories? Perhaps that's just me... ;-)

Monday, December 03, 2007


Another Monday, another opportunity to recount the woodworking deeds of the weekend, erm, goes begging...

Yes, you guessed it; no deeds to recount. I grow a trifle weary of this year, I must admit. It's not even close to Her Maj's "annus horribilis" but it's doing its proletariat best. The workshop is in reasonable shape to actually get used, the necessary materials for the albatross that is the saw till door project are there and merely await some attention, gorgeous saws practically hammer on the door and ask if I can come out to play - but no, the dreaded lurgy has not quite done with me yet and I spend would-be workshop time asleep instead. Gott in himmel.

On the plus side there's plenty of opportunity for the blood to gallop to my brian unhindered by gravity so perhaps I'll end up terribly brainy? Knowing my luck it'll all head for my feet instead...

On a woodworking note. Well, maybe a collecting note, I notice the second "Stanley Little Big Book" is now available. The first one covers the planes - and considering its truly diminutive size does it incredibly well; this one seems to do the rest, and in colour too. Yeah, okay, so one found its way into an order... As ever all sorts of other appealing goodies have made an appearance on LV's website and a mortal is hard-pressed to be sensible. A dozen nailbrushes is sensible, isn't it? 

Mmm, no, I wasn't convinced either. While it may be technically "my" order there's actually quite a few requests here and there from others which makes for something of an eclectic mix. Heaven help me if The Management work out how to browse the gardening section...

Oh, and I should probably add that I'm not in the habit of placing a fresh order just as soon as the last one is safely gathered in. The saws do actually date from August, in my defence. A flimsy defence perhaps, but defence it is.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chips and fish

Seems a small diversion from my own woodworking short-comings is called for, so a bloggist's thoughts turn to the long overdue overhaul of the blog list. Now occasionally I get the odd email essentially soliciting a reciprocal link to some other woodworking blog. Some of them are nicely dressed up in pleasantries; others are pretty much outright requests (and I'm afraid lose points accordingly). I must confess, and risk hurting feelings, that I tend to hedge in most of these cases. A recent spring clean of the RSS feed list shows that it's unwise not to so do - already at least a couple of said requests have simply ceased to exist. Staying power is a prime necessity for the successful blog link request. But my premier guiding principle has always been to link to the ones I read, but in truth I don't actually read that many any more, not with any degree of regularity. So I share with you the current watch list and hope that if there's anyone I've missed that you'll let me know so we can get the best of the rest.

Philsville - well he's a mate*, innee?
A Woodworking Odessey - not just because rookster comments on this blog, honest.
Musings from my shop - despite using Musings in the title I'll let David Mathias in...
Toolemera - Gary Roberts could well be written-word buff enough to keep this going
A Shipwright in Training - one I really look forward to reading

The commercial ones, some more obviously commercial than others:
Arts and Mysteries - Adam Cherubini in PWW
Glue Tube - woodworking videos submitted to FWW
Andy Rae - also courtesy of FWW. Early days yet to see if it has staying power
Tools For Working Wood - if only it was set up with a proper feed
Lost Art Press - one wonders if Chris Schwarz has the key to perpetual motion or something; boundless energy apparently
David Charlesworth - at the very least a spirit of Westcountry unity demands the fingernailed one should be present

The ones I feel ought to be there but I don't actually read/listen to/watch (mea culpa):

And on an unrelated note, I've been indulging in some new DVDs recently, which in this case means I'm enjoying films everyone else was enjoying a year ago. One of which seems not to have quite captured the public imagination as much as I'd have expected, but I laughed out loud and am primed to bore the world with quotes from it. As it is I'll spare you and merely leave a weekend teaser:

What film hears distinguished French actor Jean Reno utter the immortal, and probably fully deserved line:

"You stupid English, with your Yorkshire puddings and your chips and fish!"

Yes, some bloggers will do anything to create an excuse for an unusual post title...

*Having recalled an email conversation some years ago, I should perhaps clarify for the 'Murrican reader that by "mate" I mean "friend" or "buddy".

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Well I can tell you're all terribly anxious that these fine saws should have a good home to go to, and frankly I agree - it'd be a shame to only see their narrowest profile. But d'you really want to hear of yet more long-term, hardly-ever-reaching-fruition plans of what I'd like to do in terms of tool storage? Obviously there is a plan. The great and the good shall find themselves in one tool cupboard, showing themselves (hopefully) to advantage while, more importantly, being handy for use. But after a year when project completion has reached an all-time low (and that's really saying something) planning ahead seems somehow unwise.

But I will try and finish that damn saw till before January. Really I will. I mean there's the whole of December to do it in, isn't there...? Okay, so March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and probably November (hey, there's still a day...) passed untroubled by any work on same, but I have confidence.

Self-delusion is a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From the ridiculous to the sublime

So the Parcel Force delivery man finally put in an appearance. Before asking him if he was the driver on the route yesterday I'd already planned to get his fancy electronic signing-for machine in hand so he couldn't get away without answering - my mother said this demonstrated I have a devious mind. It wasn't 'til later that I wondered if maybe she hadn't meant this as a compliment...

Anyway, he made the classic guilty party "I never stabbed him officer" "I never told you he'd been stabbed" mistake. Before I even opened my mouth he started explaining how he couldn't have delivered it yesterday because he'd never had it, someone must have forgotten to take it "out of the locker" otherwise he'd have delivered it, wouldn't he etc etc? Ha hum. There's no evidence on the parcel at all of what day it was scheduled to be delivered and I hadn't said a word. Banged, in my opinion, to rights, chum. However, you want to see saws:

No? Not what you had in mind? Ah, that'll be the flush cutting saw as recommended in Woodworking magazine. No doubt a fine saw in its own right (better be after the recommendation...) but somewhat outclassed in this triumvirate methinks. Let me share the full experience with you. First, the boxes; understated and yet pregnant with promise, no?

Unwrap the paper within - the latter always make me feel as though these quality tool purchases are a bit like unwrapping a fish supper, but without the vinegar - and clear and concise care instructions and rust inhibiting paper still separate the anxious recipient from their baby. Not for long though. Mwahahahahahaaaaa.

Et voilà! Phwoar, what a beauty. Ha hum, pardon the, ah, forceful exclamation of appreciation... A 12" 12tpi cross-cut tenon saw, my favourite size (being a bit of a weedy girlie).

Secondly, but only in terms of unwrapping order, the legendary half-back - 16" long and 9tpi. Sort of a running leg-pull twixt Mike and myself 'cos I couldn't fully see why one wants one and thus teased him over its existence. Well this is putting my money where my curiosity is in order to find out. I have a nasty feeling Mr W and his boys have stacked the odds heavily in their favour by the simple method of making it hard not to pick up. It comes rather readily to the hand and in fact I was inclined to look round for something to saw then and there.

And there is the rub. I've not tried them yet, 'cos I'm still in two minds as to whether I shouldn't be good and leave them for christmas. On the other hand my policy this year is no christmas pressies for me (or from me, hence the lack of usual panic at this time of the year) so really I shouldn't give myself anything either, should I...? Any bets as to which argument will carry the day? No one? How wise. You know me too well...


My lack of confidence in Porcel Farce has been fully justified. Around seven o'clock last night I finally gave up and checked the tracking status again.

"27-11-2007 18:52 Plymouth Depot Attempted delivery"

Attempted? How? Did the driver just wave as he drove by? Perhaps he sat outside in the van and whispered "hello, I've got a delivery for you" and then drove off? Hell's bells, there were two people sitting within 5 feet of the front door at the time! I have emailed a complaint to Parcel Force and asked what they intend to do about it. I do not hold my breath... In short, I am Not a Happy Bunny.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sister Ann

“Sister Ann, Sister Ann, do you see anyone coming?”—from poor cowering Fatima. And from the watcher on the look-out always the same monotonous reply: “Naught but the dust that blows before the wind!”

Not familiar with this literary gem? (the whole thing) To be honest neither am I, but it's a tradition at Alf Towers that anyone on the look-out for something or someone is "Sister Ann-ing". And thus that is what I've been doing, on and off all day.

Y'see on Saturday I had a nasty ransom demand, er, I mean invoice from Porcel Farce - sorry, I mean Parcel Force - telling me a certain parcel from Canada was within their incompetent grasp and if I wanted to see the contents released safe and unharmed into the bosom of its new family I must stump up the duty. And the VAT. And their clearance fee. Stump it up forthwith and arrange delivery. Which I duly did, via their website (which at least gave the appearance of being surprisingly efficient) the earliest for the delivery being this very day - Tuesday. So naturally today, Tuesday, I have been Sister Ann-ing like a pro.

Of course the charges were my own fault for opting for air mail, but given the nature of the content - saws, Wenzloff & Sons, drooling over for the use of (oh, and maybe some sawing in the fullness of time, once I've drooled long enough) - I felt it was worth the extra to ensure they didn't spend longer than necessary in transit and risk damage. Mind you, bearing in mind the Farcical Parcel delivery ones, that may not have made a jot of difference.

Wait! Did I hear something? A van door opening? I'll go and have a look...

... P'shaw. False alarm. Again.

To take my mind off the non-arrivals, I've been thinking about the saw till doors again. On reflection perhaps the saw till wasn't the ideal thing to take my mind off saws... Anyway, not being fully match fit again as yet, it could be that with a little intelligent planning and spreading out of various tasks over many days, it might work me back up to speed again quite nicely. Plus I'm sure there'd be sawing required.

On the other hand I could have a go at tweaking the small plow a little. As I half expected (and to a certain extent dreaded) a contrary opinion to the general run thus far has lead to me being "proved wrong" all over the place. Heigh ho. It's a bugger telling it as you find it when you don't like all you find. I hated having to do the feedback for the R&D folks too; makes me feel like a heel. I should have done the small router instead - I like that. ;-)

Ooo, was that the doorbell...? Hah! No such luck. Hmm, just bethought me to check the tracking number via that strangely efficient-appearing website.

27-11-2007 05:01 Plymouth Depot Out for delivery

Eeek! It's been bumming round Cornwall since the early hours? What the heck's keeping them? Individual deliveries to everyone in Penzance first? Probably eye patches... (Penzance - pirates? Gettit? Oh, never mind.) Well it's dark now so you folks are doomed to see naught but the dust that blows before the wind if you're hoping for a pic or two tonight. I'll endeavour not to drool too much over 'em before I take their likenesses. Promise.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Veritas Small Plow Plane - an opinion

Forgive me the long, long delay on this one, folks. T'was not laziness, honest. The blog doesn't really lend itself to such long-winded stuff, so it has a page all to itself here. At the least I hope the pics will prove useful for the would-be long-distance purchaser - from observation thus far I'm fairly sure my opinion is very personal and all alone in the world. ;-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The perils of punctuation

See? I knew blogging when nursing a slightly elevated temperature was a Bad Thing. It also confirms me in my view that the modern claim that "punctuation isn't important" is so much hogwash. What I should have entitled the previous entry is "I want to be a lawn - query". So thanks you for your best wishes and all, but I'm not currently taking the black dog for walkies (might do something unspeakable on the lawn ;-) and my writer's block is solely concerning a certain tool, grooves for the making of. The latter, well it's been cooking and all that's needed is the time to put it to paper. So yes indeed, rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated, or to put it another way - you ain't getting away with it that easily.

So in a bid to start getting back into the saddle of routine, what woodworking delights can I share? Well the latest Lee Valley newsletter currently being dispatched to subscribers proves there's no actual getting away from me unless you try very hard, but more exciting than that - the Wenzloff saws are On Their Way! Yippee! Be still my beating heart. Although my excitement is slightly tempered by wondering what I can throw out of the doorless saw till to make room for them. And, ye gods, I wonder what state the workshop is in after three weeks absence. What did I leave out that may have suffered from the damp? Is the dehumidifier working okay? Ooo, I think I may be relapsing...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I want to be a lawn

"I want to be a lawn", as Garbo famously said. Something like that anyway... Enquiry via email along the lines of whether I'm still compost mental or merely desiring to become "Garboesque" have prompted me to blog. Yes, I am still alive, but no, I'm none too chipper. The damp string connection from Alf Towers to the outside world has been getting an unscheduled but probably much-needed break. Enjoy it folks; you don't know when this opportunity may come round again... ;-)

But alas, I missed the blog's third birthday on the 8th. I'm torn between "woe is me" and "whoa, three years?! How did that happen?"

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A quill in your tomato

Okay, okay, don't throw things; I'm having some serious writer's block here. The more astute might read into that what they will... Around 2am I was pretty sure I knew where I was going, nay, which furrow I was to plough (partially back into the workshop to try a few things and take a few more pics) but by the time it came to putting fingers (two) to keyboard, I was as a blank page. And I hate that. When it flows it's just great and you can do the whole Jimmy Cagney thing and yell "on top of the world, ma!" if you weren't worried that someone might hear you... When it doesn't - well you're the hero in Shakespeare In Love with nothing but cramp in your hand, screwed up bits of parchment and a quill in your tomato... Metaphorically speaking, forsooth.

I went for a walk instead and quite honestly that was no less worrying. It was warm enough for shirt sleeves (albeit a thickish shirt) and there was gorse (furze as it's called round here), campion and, gods help us, foxgloves in flower in the hedgerow. I could have sworn the calendar was turned to November this morning. Certainly the trees have got the idea and are as bare as Rowland Hilder could wish for, but honestly it isn't much surprise to see bees, wasps and a Red Admiral Butterfly about the place. It's not that I like it cold exactly, but it's helpful to know which time of year it is without have recourse to the calendar or seeing if all the newsreaders have poppies in their lapels.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Squirrel-Tail Palm Planes - an opinion

This pair of bevel-down palm planes joins Little Victor in Lee Valley's new range of tool "classic reprints" - modern versions of old designs. Like Victor, they sport the burgundy livery (no, it's not pink - it's just hard to photograph...) and like Victor, but unlike their Stanley ancestors, they have a lever cap-less blade clamping design. Some folks just can't help themselves when it comes to tinkering with tool design, eh? :-) One has a flat sole and the other curved (radius of 1 1/2" side-to-side and 12" front to back); for the purposes of this I'll give them the Stanley numbers of #100 and #100 1/2 respectively.

Also in common with Little Victor is the lapped flat sole (on the #100), 1" wide O1 steel blades (also lapped flat on the back), and, near as dammit, the body length.

This super-dooper flattening really is very effective and irons take next to no time to get in working order. Only downside is it makes the blade edges pretty sharp too, so it seemed prudent to break them with a fine stone.

I've no doubt many will enjoy getting their tool rolls in a twist coming up with clever ways of jigging the sharpening of the #100 1/2's curved iron, but I confess I did it freehand. Using the plane itself requires a certain amount of hand/eye coordination, so mightn't you just as well get in practice when you sharpen it? But that's a personal hobby horse that really shouldn't be here...

Setting the blades is amply covered in the instructions, available here for the curious, and the #100 is easy enough. Plane on a flat surface, a bit of pressure on the bevel end of the iron and tighten up the wheel.

The curved one is a little trickier 'cos of its natural tendency to rock on it's radiused sole, so I ended up sighting along the sole to set that one up. Again, it wasn't that difficult to do, so no worries.

I gather the tails on these burgundy beats are somewhat bushier than the original Stanleys - I've never tried the latter so have no idea. Whether they are or not, I found them very comfortable to use, both one-handed (as presumably intended)

..and two-handed.

I felt there was an advantage over Victor in that the tail naturally provides some grip into the palm, so you're not relying on your fingers alone to do all the holding, which can be fatiguing.

The obligatory shaving shot. :-)

Prior to trying it I was a bit sceptical about how useful the curved #100 1/2 could really be. Not having a suitable moulding or chair seat about my person, I mucked about making, well, what? The world's shallowest dug out canoe...? Dunno, but it was good fun. Fearful as ever that my ever-unreliable thumbs would object to some pretty sustained and concentrated work, I was pleased to find the #100 1/2 gave me no discomfort in use at all. In fact it really punched above its diminutive weight and would have helped a good deal during my chair-making adventures. Tsk, when will these toolmakers get their timing right?

So that's a lot of words on a couple of planes that, let's face it, a number of people are likely to slip into their virtual shopping cart just "because" on the basis that they don't make quite as big a blip on the spousal radar as, say, a jointer... More than a few are going to attract SWMBOs to exclaim "awww, cute" too, and well, they are, But they're also real tools that can do real tasks - I was pleasantly surprised.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Groovy weekend

You know that cup slipping I mentioned on Thursday? Erm, sorry... It's not as though I spent my weekend idly swinging my heels and gazing into space (no, that was last weekend...). Me? No! I was slaving away like a, well, slave. You should see the number of odd bits of wood with grooves in that now decorate the workshop. It's like the opening of a Grooves-R-Us Megastore, I tells ya. No, 'tis the nuts and bolts of getting pics sorted and words into being that I'd forgotten takes time. Out of practice. But look, some proof - see all those grooves?

I'm all grooved out. My fingers are grooved to the bone. My brow has ploughed furrows with the effort, dammit. That and, naturally, I have a rear tote issue.

Plus ce change...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Holy petrified pupae, Batman!

This week the Old Tools List brings news that the late Jim Kingshott's videos on things hand tool are going to put in an appearance in DVD format. Huzzah! My only worry is whether, like the video format, they'll be readily available in North America but virtualy unknown here in Mr Kingshott's native Blighty. So if any enterprising UK retailer happens to read this... Thanks to Phil over at Philsville I have seen the Bench Planes one, but like any good addict, one simply is never enough! :-)

Meanwhile a little woodworking crept up on me all unawares. Well sort of woodworking. After a noticeable time to further mature, finally some of the pre-used wood I acquired, erm, a while ago is now cleaned up and in useable state. This happy situation may be accounted for astrologically by Jupiter having been in suitable conjunction with the Small Boring Group of Stars. But really it's more like old bandsaw blade and already knackered planer knives being in conjunction in their respective machines, with added plane testing wood requirements to give me the final shove... Barely made any noticeable inroads in the stack though, so more petrified insect pupae and perished rubber sealant awaits me in the fulness of time. Joy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More new tools

Sheesh, it's like Christmas for the Tool-Afflicted at the moment. Not necessarily hot off the presses but in this case examples have found their way to Alf Towers so I get to have an opinion based on use instead of just prejudice... ;-) Yep, a couple of squirrels and a "plow" are awaiting my attention. Apologies; I've failed to get into the nights-drawing-in mentality and do pics early enough in the day, so had to use artificial light and decided to confine myself to black and white accordingly. Assuming this weekend goes to plan, I hope to do a little tool dissection on the blog next week. Mind you, many a slip twixt cup and lip so don't hold me to that come Monday...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A mailing from Matthew at Workshop Heaven has spared you a rant - so say "thank you, Matthew"... Yes, the season of New Tools continues with an interesting offering from Ashley Iles, viz; a dovetail chisel set. Big deal? How about elliptical faces?

Yep, not bevels, but half an ellipse. Still trying to get my head around that, to be honest. Is it an improvement for the user, or easier manufacturing? (Cynical? Moi? How many of you are still buying the A2 cryo stuff...?) And the skews are "fish-tailed"; i.e. flared. Must admit the latter tweak the "look good" gland a little... O1 steel too, my steel of choice. All told a very interesting email.

My only problem is I have an enormous mental block when it comes to considering Ashley Iles chisels. I can work myself up into quite a convinced state about them all, in the abstract, but as soon as I see one I wince. The tapered faux-socket bolster and the brass ferrule just put me off completely. Fickle, I dare say, but there it is. The dovetail set is a lot better in that regard, the tapered bolster being greatly reduced, but all it needs is a real octagonal bolster and I'd be in serious chisel-buying danger.

So perhaps it's just as well they don't have them...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Feet up

Not letting things slide, honest guv, but today is not a good day for musing - entertaining energetic little girls of two and four makes this a good day for a couple of asprin, ice-pack on the furrowed brow and feet up in front of the telly. Possibly this is a Good Thing as I find myself considering another rant about the tendency to over-complicate woodworking and I'll only get myself in trouble...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Free Rice

A bit of a departure from our usual programming, but I ran across this site called Free Rice. Doesn't appear to be a catch - you give your brain a workout with a little vocab and at the same time earn rice for the poverty-stricken. The more you do, the more rice for them and the better chance you have of keeping up with the erudite compositions wot I rite...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New tools

No, not my new tools - but new offerings from That Man in Maine, recently spotted at the LN Hand Tools Event in Philadelphia, US of A. Hope Michael won't mind me swiping the pics from his post on WoodNet. Go there for the Horse's Mouth report instead of my mutterings.

Now iirc, the chamfer plane has been on the promised list at LN since, well probably since folks first signed up for the infill smoother. The latter, I think, is unlikely to see the light of day, but here's the chamfer plane. Apparently it'll take the beader's cutters for mouldings-onna-chamfer happiness too. That's, er, good. But, please, why would most people need one? This is right up there with the perishing edge-trimming planes that seem to flourish like fruit flies on a rotten apple at LV. I dare say there are a limited number of woodworkers who's work can absolutely justify such a tool and good on them - but 90% of buyers are going to buy it and then try and work out how to get their money's worth of use from the darn thing, aren't they? Viz: folks who've worked out then can eke out some extra versatility from an edge-trimmer by using it as pseudo-side rebate. Erm, why not buy a side rebate plane and learn how to joint edges? (Sheesh, I'm in curmudgeonly mode today - consider yourself warned)

So the chamfer plane then. So successful at its job that according to Mr Leach, users found it helpful to drill holes in the Stanley original in order to fit a sole to make it useable on narrow edges. And it won't do stopped chamfers either. Aargh... So what do you get? A perfectly planed (through) chamfer that'll look, presumably, just like it was laid off with a machine. Hmm, and the point of that is...? Sorry, as far as need goes I'm utterly at a loss on this one. If you were doing large chamfers on straight stock all day long, then yep, mebbe. But otherwise we're just going to get a fresh rash of folks thinking they need a special plane and missing the basics of how to hold a hand tool to make it do what you want. Sigh.

As far as "want" goes though, well that's up to you. ;-)

So what do we also see to enflame our desires? Match planes?! Oh no, please... I gather these swing fence types are very effective and efficient, and owners of old Stanleys and the like love them dearly, and the wooden tote and one-piece blade are nice improvements. But. Perhaps it's just me, but I have more options on making T&G than I can shake a big stick at - and have never yet felt the need to use any of them in anger. For strength and neatness I'd sooner use two grooves and a loose tongue every time. Surely, but surely, efforts put into a dedicated grooving plane would have been so much better spent? Or a decent rebate plane? Dado planes? And for heaven's sakes, it's ugly! Again. Swap the cherry for Bubinga and it could be you-know-who's... I just don't think I can take any more ugly LN planes without breaking down in tears...

So with hope in my heart I turned to the news on Larry Williams' dvd on wooden moulders. Rumours have circulated that there'd be one on actually using them, and that I'd be sticking down the cash for without hesitation, despite Larry being an irksome oik in the extreme and one of the principle reasons why reviewing became more painful than it was worth. Hey, maybe a positive review of his dvd will cause him to suddenly like reviewers...? But I digress into personal animosity and airing old wounds, which is a Bad Thing. But woe is me - it appears to be about Making the bally things! I don't want to make them; there are too many of the darn things chez Alf already. Dammit.

It's a Black Day when you find yourself underwhelmed by what's new from LN. It's like going to Santa's Workshop and finding the amusing "You don't have to be an elf to work here, but it helps" notices on the walls more exciting than what's going in the sacks. C'mon, Thomas, I'm relying on you to get me drooling after a pretty plane again - I can't just keep seeing the utility in everything! A Record 043 in bronze would tick all the boxes... ;-)

P.S. My rant about edge-trimming planes is, I'm sure, irrational and there are a 1001 uses for these joyous articles. They just annoy the heck out of me for some reason. I think partially because many people seem to buy them as a way out of having to learn a fundamental hand tool skill, which saddens me.

Friday, October 12, 2007


So the Greenslade sash fillister, for such it is. The very keen might have added that a previous owner was "T T Cocking" and he seemed inclined not to lose it judging by the number of times he stamped his name on the blessed thing. The body and fence arms are beech, but you'd have had to be a bit daring to risk saying the fence itself is boxwood, although the fine moulding and lack of grain might have encouraged the bold. One wedge has lost it's head and will need replacing, but no way could you have known that the substantial boxing was loose. Anway, with a bit of TLC and wax the transformation from grey ghost on the bottom shelf here to generator of rebates is complete:

Now all I need to do is remember why I was convinced owning a sash fillister was a Good Thing. Seem to recall a certain saw maker may have done the initial convincing...?

Also tackled the irons on a few others including the hideous Franken-rebate (that still ain't a looker, but sings its way through the wood satisfactorily enough), a rather basic Emir grooving plane (sometimes known in modern parlance as a "drawer bottom plane") and the Preston shave. The latter is, I fear, beyond redemption so a decision will have to be made on acquiring a replacement iron. It's turning into one of those "my grandfather's axe" tools, isn't it? Replaced the head and replaced the handle but it's still my grandfather's axe...

On the plumbing front we now have a new pipe all fixed up and working and Vic says (slightly thankfully, I thought) that we won't need to worry about it again for 50 years. We might worry about the hole in the bottom of the wall and the forecast rain this weekend, but that's up to us and as far as plumbing is concerned he was outta here PDQ.

And finally, for anyone wondering about the state of the villagers in the valley, well I can see some visitors have already noticed the link to a fresh valley and have gone to take a look. Is it a valley in which to hew wood unto the umpteenth generation? I know not. But my house is safely in another valley completely and I'm willing to see how fresh pastures suit.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hang Spring Cleaning

It's not Spring, we're not cleaning and no one here answers to "Mole", but the inhabitants of Alf Towers were in agreement. The weather forecast was unseasonably favourable and the collective soul required succor. So we went to the beach.

Now I'm not a beach person really. The lure of sand castles and chilly bathing in July holds no allure. I like them a good deal more in the winter months, when the visitors have largely gone and you can legitimately paddle in Wellington boots. A sunny winter day, to my mind, is best spent in two ways. Either walking (in boots) on an almost empty beach - or walking across London, preferably to Charing Cross Road and the welcome of a dozen different book shops. The latter is closed to me these days, but I can do the former still. If walking on beaches and stunning scenery were all that daily life required, well I'd almost say I was happy to be living down here in Cornwall.

The preferred beach chez Alf requires some travel, but it's worth it. My formative beach years have been spent there (if you discount Bexhill in Sussex and a brief picnic near Boulogne during my one and only foray in foreign parts) and I consider no other beach in Cornwall worthy of the name. It's not well-known, it doesn't have "surf" and there are absolutely no gift shops. Oh, and you have to go down really winding lanes to get to it, which is probably the real reason it's not much favoured. For us, we have to start by crossing the Fal River. Yeah, so we could the boring way via Truro, but why do that when you can use the chain ferry and get this kind of view while you're waiting?

Yes, a bit of mist this morning and more opportunity for atmospheric pictures than you could wave a camera lens at. That's the Fal River looking downstream from the Feock side. Upstream many an unseaworthy merchant ship has been moored up waiting for the money from the owners so works can be done and the inspectors let her travel on again, deemed shipshape. None today, which is a first in my memory. Downstream is Falmouth Bay, the docks and ultimately the open sea; upstream, Truro, modern capital of Cornwall. All along the length of it the trees grow right down to the water, so it looks like a silver ribbon flanked by green cushions. By all means go to the North Cornwall coast if you want rocks, and people do, but you miss the softer beauty of the south if that's the only place you visit.

Anyway, here's the ferry coming across:

On the other side you miraculously find yourself on the Roseland Peninsular. Many a chidhood holiday spent there - great place for holidays, but awful to live in. It's so cut off you end up adding a chunk of time and mileage to every journey. But I can't help liking it. There's a combination of Cornwall's natural dampness and the Roseland's warmth that brings out a particular smell from the hedgerows. I smell that and I'm transported back about 25 years to a holiday on St Anthony's Head (home of the "Fraggle Rock" lighthouse). I wasn't well, in retrospect my folks were more than a bit worried about me, but all I remember is that smell - more noticable for being so land-based when all around there's nothing to see but sea perhaps - and running round the footpaths on that headland so often that I knew them better than the back of my hand. I just know that if I was in some TV drama I'd be doomed to return there at some point for soulful clutching of cups of tea and staring out to sea while considering "Life". Thank goodness I'm not in such a drama...

Where was I? Oh yes, taking the route through Veryan, home of the famous Roundhouses to "keep the devil out" you eventually come to the beach. You're contractually obliged to go "ooo" at this point. "Wow" is an acceptable alternative...

And the view down-sun.

I stood in my wellies in the shallows and felt very much better. I challenge anyone to find a more pleasant therapy for life's little bumps and knocks.The place was bimming over with canine joie de vie as our doggy chums, banished in the summer months, indulged in the joys to be found on a beach when you're a dog. It almost made one want to be able to hire a hound for the purpose of letting it also enjoy the fun. No sand castles were made. No rock pools prodded. No sandwiches shaken to remove unwanted sand. All told, it was bloody marvellous.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Don'tcha just love the level of detail you can find lavished on a fenced wooden plane like this? The moulded fence itself, the shaped area of the arms, even the inserted crosses of wood at the end of the arms. So much work and care.

Well you know my methods by now, Watson - what can you deduce from these pictures? And apologies to Barry and any others who can't see the pics while at work - time is too short for much text today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

New curtains

Maybe a few scatter cushions as well... Yes, the website appears to have successfully made the transition to a new host, email seems to be working etc and thoughts turn to fresh decor for the new home... Everything should be present and correct, but if anyone finds something has gone awol (other than external links, although it's nice to know about those too) I'd be very much obliged if you'd let me know. I confess I am greatly relieved it went so well, despite a few moments of the ohmygawdwhatsitdonenow variety, major thanks for which must go to Mike (mr) who offered up generous measures of fine advice and succour and generally held my hand despite it being his day job anyway and probably the last thing he wants to do in his spare time. Ta very muchly, Mike. And thanks also to everyone who made suggestions and recommendations - much appreciated.

What with that and the water pipe NOT doing any kind of impression along the lines of Old Faithful, the week is definitely looking up.

Monday, October 08, 2007

We have Bench Top

Just as I was thinking I'd never see it again, a concerted push by coalition forces resulted in a pincer movement (also moved were hammers, screwdrivers, chisels etc) followed by a sweep-up operation (followed by a vacuum operation for the last little bit) and Houston, we have Bench Top! Huzzah!

There's floor too. More floor than I remember, which was a nice surprise. Disappointingly the "new bit" is already filling up like everywhere else. i.e. any flat surface is in fact a shelf. I'd like to claim credit for thinking ahead so there was somewhere to clamp the grinder like that, but pure serendipity. To paraphrase C.S.Forester - the lucky woodworker is the one who knows how much to leave to chance. That's also the woodworker with the large scraps pile... The Maxi just needs a slight tweak in position to take advantage of that same area in case of longer boards through the planer/thicknesser and a few knobs need to be turned for the new cupboard and drawers but essentially it's done. Just don't look in the drawers. Everything is just shoved in any old where at the mo', but at least I can now use the space again. Just not the tools - unless I get lucky and find them...

Also took the opportunity to haul the wooden moulders et al from the toolchest - ever since I banished them I've found I've wanted to either refer to them or fiddle with them or even, ye gods, use one. There's sort of an order to them, but as much along the lines of "needs cleaning" as "side beads together". F'rinstance the sash fillister I acquired last weekend is showing serious need of help in it's undernourished grey hue on the bottom shelf, and the ones top right are in more serious condition than some others. Missing boxing, oozed hardened oil etc. I suppose about half a dozen of them I've actually cleaned up and are ready to go - shameful indeed. It's good to have them all together and visible though - can see what I'm missing... Er, no, what I mean is I can see and weed out the duplicates and also find out I have one or two rather good profiles in there to use. Cool.

Meanwhile, back in the real world I'm busy debating with myself. Is it more disrupting moving a website (and waiting for a sensible non-sales-speak response to a question) or finding out your mains water supply is in imminent danger of disintegration? On the whole I think the latter.

Yes, the 'puters are once more swathed in dust sheets just like old times, and we await Vic and his new mate on Friday morning. (Ben's started up on his own - a little premature IMO, given he was still drilling through pipes in May, but heigh ho) A whole new piece of pipe has to be put twixt the stop cock in here and the water meter out in't road. The current pipe is a shambles. There's some iron pipe of one diameter for a bit and then there's some copper pipe that's much smaller before it joins up with the bigger iron pipe at the stop cock. And where the small pipe goes into the larger there's a wee leak.... And that's caused my favourite oxide effect to eat the pipe. Viz: rust. So Vic thinks, yes, it might be a good idea to turn off the water overnight, just in case. Every night. Until Friday. Meanwhile half the front garden looks like it's been the site of a sett-digging competition by really industrious badgers, there's a "bit of stuff" over the hole in the road and some more of the wall lining in here has to be cut away.

I love plumbing, don't you? It's almost as much fun as electricity.

Yes, we had to have Trevor the 'leccy over as well. Right next to the water pipe, twisted round it no less, is a bit of rather good quality copper cable. It doesn't appear to be going anywhere though and Trevor is perplexed. So in the best traditions of this house, we'll leave it in there just in case. It'll go with that live bit under the corridor upstairs that we don't know where it goes or what it does either...

Aaaargh, I wanna go home! And this IS home! Nurse, the screens...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Strong back

Something I've been meaning to throw out in the ether for a couple of weeks has finally made it to the top of the list. It involves a bad pencil sketch drawn from memory (most of the memory being how to draw at all...), which may account for why I've been putting it off... Anyway, the Tall Scotsman was in "show and tell" mode not long ago, and he showed me this, in between selling me a nice pair of calipers for MrsW and tempting me with hollers and rounds by Madox (at least 230 years old - how the heck do they survive?)

Essentially you're average tapering octagonal handle like these, fitted to a 1/4"? 3/8"? in-cannel gouge (least I remember it as in-cannel). So far, so mundane. But one half of the handle continued past the bolster and down to within an inch and a half or so of the cutting edge. That's what the sketch is trying to describe (now be nice - if you can't say something not too derogatory, don't say it at all...).

The TS described it as a "strong back" which sounds familiar, and apparently the fellow he first sold it too, and subsequently had just bought back from, knew what it was for and why. I, meanwhile, am wholly in the dark. So now you can be in the dark too, unless someone can cast some light.

EDIT Once again,maker of fine saws and all-round good guy, Mr Wenzloff has provided the solution (see comments). Viz; from Salaman's Dictionary of Woodworking Tools:

"Gouge, Sash (Scribing Gouge)
Light in-cannel Gouges made in sets of six or nine sizes from 1/8 to 1in. Used for scribing sash or door stuff. When used with Saddle Templets they sometimes had their wooden handles extended along the back of the blade to act as stops."

C'est magnifique, n'est pas? As the length of the blade wore down did the owner shorten the wooden extension? I suppose so. Rather clever - wonder how difficult it'd be to make such a handle... END EDIT

To depart from woodworking and enter the strange and wonderful world of IT for a moment - if anyone has any tips on reliable (but cheap) web site hosting (in the UK) I'd be obliged. Actually a hint of a likely place to go and harvest some independent info would be a help; I'm bewildered by sheer choice and strangely enough don't quite believe all the good things the various providers say about themselves as being gospel-truth. I know; getting cynical these days...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Little Dalek

Just in case anyone was wondering if the mess in the workshop could really be that bad, you may decide for yourself. Yeah, so you can see the floor, but only if you allow for the layer of sawdust... Looks like an Olde Worlde butcher's shop floor, like I can just about recall from my extreme youth.

The remedy obviously lies in the "shop vac", aka My Little Dalek - so-called partially because of its distressing tendency to topple over on anything but a dead flat surface. It doesn't say "Exterminate" as far as I know, which frankly is a disappointment. On the plus side there doesn't seem to be any great desire to conquer the human race either; you win some, you lose some. The trouble is, unlike its namesakes, it does tend to make rather a noise and I just can't face donning the old ear defenders and stopping every two minutes to pick the poor thing from its prostrate positon, wheels spinning all in vain. Its wheels, not mine. So I continue on my well-known course of "prevarication before everything". I'm not proud.

Somewhere under there is the workbench. I hope it's well and happy...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Just a short blog entry to thank BugBear for providing the reason for the recent mysterious footnote. He generously stepped up and offered up his own two spare Lee Valley catalogues for the unfortunates who's names weren't drawn first time round. Thanks, matey :-) Although why LV catalogues are unable to travel outside North America except in threes, I know not. Are they cowards? Can't they be trusted in pairs in case you open the envelope and find they've had lots of little supplements...? I worry about these things.

I'm afraid no woodworking to report and the workshop's still a mess - albeit one with a sound roof again. Huzzah. My mind's somewhat occupied by a strange vision; a vision that might make sense to a handful of visitors perhaps. Call it fanciful, but in my mind's eye I'm standing at the bottom of a valley. On the upper slopes to one side is the Lord of the Manor and his troops. He may have an unpopular Black Knight and one or two of the knights would perhaps rather not be there at all. On the other, exiled and actively unhappy rebels. One side seems to think it's occupying the High Moral Ground, except possibly the Black Knight who likes a fight, and the other's throwing things, except possibly one of the exiled leaders who tried to suggest peace and was shouted down. No, he's throwing things as well now. Meanwhile I'm in the bottom of the valley, and it's misty; could swear there's a lot of us down here, possibly local villagers who thought it was their valley they were endlessly toiling over to make rich and fertile, leased from the Lord of The Manor. But I can't see them, and presumably they can't see me or each other either, so we're sitting in the middle, all feeling on our own and lost, wondering what the hell's going to happen to the valley when the minority on the slopes have torn each other to bits. Some of the more optimistic ones are carrying on working in the valley. Occasionally some of the more spirited villagers dash past in the mist and attack the High Moral Ground to point out it isn't HMG at all, but are beaten back by the Lord of the Manor's more, erm, easily convinced peasants, or occasionally the Black Knight. The Black Knight is particularly keen to point out that the villagers have No Say thus enraging some of the more lively spirits who go and join the rebels on the other slope. Others just down tools and stop doing anything because, they say, what's the point if the Black Knight might smite us with his spiky ball at any moment? The Lord of the Manor is working on some improved armour and weapons for his knights under the impression that it'll make the Black Knight popular if he has a fluffy cover to go on his spiky ball. Now and again a villager will call out from the mist as ask what's happening, but the Lord of the Manor doesn't answer because the armour will solve everything. And me? I do nothing; my house is built on the Lord of the Manor's land and my hands are tied. So I sit in the mist feeling unhappy, wondering if there really is anyone else out there in the valley.

I told you - fanciful.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Router Fest

Not sure how many routahs His Normness possesses, but I think I may just have him beat. Yep, Coachbuilder's Router Central chez Alf now. Thank goodness for my copy of Salaman to turn to in order to explain the fine nuances. First, the "Boxing" routers. Would you believe coachbuilders had another name for rebates apart from "check"? Mad impulsive fools; they also called 'em "boxing". So a Boxing Router is identified thusly:

"This has a single iron 1/2 - 3/4in; no fence, and is similar in construction and working to the Router Plane. Used for finishing rebates to the depth required, and for cleaning out grooves already made and testing them for depth. They were used when one could not employ a coachbuilder's Tee Plane owing to sharp curves in the timber."

To sum up - it's a funny kind of router.

16" stock length (width?) seems to be the standard, then top to bottom:

3/8" cutter, ash or oak, guessing craftsman-made by the lack of an "eye hole" for the shavings.

3/8" again, beech with a plated top to stop the wedging action splitting it out presumably. A reasonably clear stamp of Williams, 42 Boro' Road, London. Remember the assorted Williams I had hope of with the Tee Rabbet? Well happily both Henry (1845-1852) and Thomas (1858-1868) occupied that address. I'll take that and make a reasonable assumption about the Tee Plane and an unreasonable one about the dovetail saw. Well I can if I want to...

1/2", beech, beautifully clear Edward Preston & Sons stamp.

1/4" (actually an old chisel - thriftiness theme continues), beech with a slightly convexly curved,plated sole. No eye hole again.

So got yourselves a handle on the Boxing Routers? Right, so time to get Groovy.

"The iron, 1/2, 3/16 or 1/4in wide, has a hooked cutting edge, and is wedged in the stock sideways. Made in pairs for working on either hand, with a metal fence adjustable within 5in limits and fixed by various means including a screw engaging a nut which runs in a slide within the stock. It is used for working grooves for taking a panel or glass, and occasionally for cutting away waste timber from a rebate at some distance from the edge of the workpiece. For this purpose a groove was cut to the required deth as close as possible to the finished outline; then with either a Chisel or Gouge the intervening wood was chopped away and finished with a Boxing Router."

You're wondering how you've managed without them, aren't you? Well I must admit to finding a sudden urge to give the saw till doors an arch...

Again 16" long is the standard and they all have plated soles. Don't seem to have an obvious pair within these three, but further study may find stamps to prove me wrong:

3/16" iron, left side fence, could be craftsman-made. In all honesty I can't read my own notes...

1/8" iron, left side fence, beech. The left hand side of the central area of the stock seems to have been cut away - not dissimilar to the skew rebate - perhaps to add grip? I'll need to try one to see I s'pose. It's a hard life.

1/16" wide, beech, right sided fence, somebodyorother & Sons on the iron, but it eludes me thus far.

So by now you've no doubt worked out the mystery irons. See? Easy when you have all the pieces of the puzzle ;-) And to finish our exploration of these tools, the inevitable tin box of "stuff" - a prerequisite of any tool chest or other collection of tools.

If anyone's short of a collar stiffener then you know where to look...