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...