Tuesday, January 29, 2008


As the saying goes, "to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail". I was inclined to think that to the traveling woodworker everything becomes woodwork-related. Yes, so the reason for this peak off-peak travel was to say goodbye to a woodworker, but it seemed to go a lot further than that.

It seemed to be a Good Omen when the customary stop in Devon had a couple of Snow's Timber lorries loitering.

All well and good, but my mind was occupied with more accessible timber - at Yandles. If you cast your mind back to June last year and the Mini Bash you'll recall that a stop at Yandles for lunch was, quite literally, a stop at Yandles for lunch. Your intrepid correspondent didn't see so much as a chip of wood. Well that wasn't going to happen again - this time I lined up a picnic lunch, so while the seekers of Yandles cakes and ale filled their faces (okay, strictly speaking cakes and soup), I was drinking in the joys of the Woodworking Centre.

Just my luck that the shop is undergoing some refurbishment and is subsequently in something of a pickle. The wood sheds, on the other hand, were unharmed. I've come to the conclusion that not having the exposure to stacks of boards, like wot Yandles provides, is three-quarters of the reason my strike rate is so slow. You only need to look at the stacks of Sapele, Yellow Pine (by gum, I think I've fallen in love with Yellow Pine. That's what pine should be), European Walnut (ooo, there was a slab there that I'd have loved to have taken home. Stupid small car...) Anyway, you only need to look at the wood to be itching to go and make something. I was beside myself with self-pity that I didn't have any means of getting any of it home. Instead I made do with exchanging an arm and a leg for a spindle blank each of She Oak and Tulipwood. Not for proper furniture making of course, but idle tool-related naughtiness. Would have liked to have taken advantage of the price on the 8" grinder, but stupid small car... There was a nice offer on some small packs of veneer too, which greatly tempted me, but as I haven't done any veneering for so long, I decided to be good. It made me think of Christopher and the reason for the trip though, seeing as he it was who gave me my first veneers. Sort of comforting somehow.

Anyway, as is our custom, an overnight stay at Salisbury followed - Salisbury Cathederal spire above. Apologies, btw, to everyone who I blithely drove past without so much as saying "hey, we'll be passing on X-day" - it just wasn't that sort of trip. If it's any consolation, I waved in the appropriate direction whenever I passed near the known abode of a woodworker... Indeed I wasn't sure I'd even get to Pennyfarthing Tools, such was the schedule. As it was, it required an effort of will to foot slog across Salisbury and darken their doors. I devoted myself primarily to the books, but managed to resist. Naturally had to check out the tools too, and my wondering eye beheld the very Yankee 41 push drill that I'd failed to purchase back in June. Wonder of wonders! Well the rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights reaction to real tool dealers must be wearing off with familiarity, 'cos I actually bought it this time. Not all the bits, but about six of them iirc and I think it'll work okay. 

Next morning, dressed in best going-to-a-funeral garb, off to Croydon. Found the Crematorium okay, but also needed to find lunch, so dropped beyond into the delights of Thornton Heath. I confess, at this point I was undergoing a severe bout of homesickness. That is not for for Cornwall, but homesickness for South London and in particular the red, double decker London bus. When I saw a #109, a bus number that had taken me to school for many a year, albeit not as far as Thornton Heath, well I was a nostalgic wreck. Luckily others are not so romantically rose-spectacled about these things, and concentrated on finding hospitality in The Wheatsheaf. Is it very bad that I told myself, as we entered, that everybody has to die somewhere? Nothing would have got me into a public house in London while we lived there, but needs must.

As it was the lady behind the bar was a proper "sarff Londoner, love" and all was well. It was also bizarre. Sitting down to await the arrival of jacket potato and cheese, I looked out of the window and saw the premises of Jeffrey & Collard. Now a gentleman from same emailed me a year ago to say they had an email address now - and I've yet to edit my page to include it - but I had no inkling I'd find myself sitting right opposite it! Naturally the potato was dispatched at speed and there was time for a quick glance round. In essence it's an old fashioned ironmongers (anything and everything hanging from every available surface) but with an area stuffed to the ceiling with old hand tools. Old as in rusty. There are genuine old tools, but also newer ones that are just unhappy. The better ones are in a couple of stuffed glass cases. Not perhaps a place worth making a deliberate trip for, but if you're passing you might get lucky. Whatever, it's nice to know such places still exist.

The funeral was, well, grim. 'Nuff said. We weren't able to stay long afterwards, but I did have a good long look at a couple of Christopher's pieces (I may be in love with Black Bean now as well...). One item was a curiosity - a "rackett". Only about 8in tall, but apparently there's 5ft of passages in it?! Turned (beautifully, of course) in Mulberry with a Cherry base and Ivory top (reclaimed billiard ball). I hasten to add that I wasn't peering at these things against the wishes of his family; his sister and only relative, G, also a good friend, was very keen that his work should be appreciated. The whole house, as indeed is hers, is like one of those better class of curiosity cabinets with something amazing that they've made on every surface and every wall. Fabulous.

Entirely unexpectedly, G had set aside some books from Christopher's library for me. I've been prevaricating over buying a copy of Joyce for years now, but now I'm so glad I didn't. A new copy or one owned by any old person just wouldn't be the same. I was within an inch of buying the Workshop Devices book in PFTools the previous day too. I'd a thousand times sooner have the man himself, but, well, it's the nearest to a next best thing...

I'll have to see if Phil wants that, now spare, copy of Goodman I talked him out of last year!

Anyway, then it was on to Kent to stay at my bro's - and give some advice about the new oak floor, or rather the mouldings round parts of the edge. Hopefully I've saved them some grief in spotting the steel pins before they apply any finish... They were advised to use one of these wax poly finishes that seem to be "in" at the mo'. The one everyone seems to favour is Osmo Polyx but they've used one from Fiddes that seems to be identical. I'm supposed to finding out if one is better than the other now! I've not been there in the winter before, and I have to say their various trees look rather good when you can see the "bones" of them.

I also renewed acquaintance with something I made some years ago - the stand, not the salt and pepper. Not great, but not bad considering I didn't have the tubes at the time I made the stand.

Of course, after all this I was in prime mode to be in the workshop - and wasn't. Oh well, you can't have everything. We made our way back to Salisbury on Sunday and had a look at some possible alternative accommodation for future use, although certain persons seem to think the view outweighs the lousy service. Hmm...  

Oh yes, anyone visiting PFTools should definitely pop into The Red Lion Hotel just down the road. They have something of a wood carvings fetish as regards decor, and there's a long case clock that has to be seen to be believed. Don't think we'll be staying there though, despite the obvious convenience...

So after all that, and well done if you got this far, we returned home via no woodworking sites of interest whatsoever, and found Popular Woodworking on the doormat. The hammer is put away now, until the next venture out of The Land That Wood Forgot.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Twenty million

Well a desperate plea "please stop making tools, or at least leave them out of your blog" can only result in one thing really, can't it?

For my friend Lee's benefit. He's newly returned to the madness that is woodworking with wild claims that there'll be no more time spent on making tools or workshop gadgets. He thinks to make lots of furniture instead, forsooth. Hah! Not a challenge to be resisted, methinks. So I haven't. ;-)

Anyway, should anyone care, I used a split dowel method of holding the blade - boxwood in this case. It's too short really (one of the 20 million things), plus ideally the blade width and dowel diameter should match up a bit more, but it was a narrow jigsaw blade. Heigh ho, you live and sometimes learn. Wood is padauk - which split on me again. Grr. Yet another of the 20 million...

Opted for a ball rather than an acorn; not keen on pointy things on the end of other pointy things. Besides I wouldn't want anyone to mistake it for one of Dave Jeske's Blue Spruce knives, would I? Hah! Fat chance...

Meanwhile, as I was replacing the envelope that guards the corner of the doormat from the, erm, "deposits" of the parrots (who like to sit on the door handles above), it occurred to me it'd be nice to add a little ovolo corner decoration (poorly executed, but I was using wallpaper scissors...).

Apparently, in one man's opinion, this could be viewed as bordering on the obsessive. I didn't think so, but on reflection... What say you?

Whatever you do say (be nice), say it quick or it'll be stuck in limbo until Monday. The blog will remain mute now probably until Tuesday - enjoy the peace and quiet!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


So instead of organising myself for funeral and resulting trip up country, I got a little side-tracked - again. Approximately 20 million things wrong with it, but we'll see how it goes and what I want to change for version two.

Incidentally, the blade may look like the notched sword of some bash 'em 'n' hack 'em Viking warrior, but trust me, it's the photo. I would have taken another but the adjustable lamp came apart in my hands. I'm starting to worry about the number of things I'm breaking at the moment...

And I'm sure I'm way behind everyone else on this, but there's rather an interesting interview - sorry, podcast - with Chris Schwarz here. A whole hour, no less. It's very nearly persuaded me I needed a copy of his workbench book; just so I know what I'm arguing against... ;-)  Listened to it last night, so you almost got a blog post entitled "In bed with Mr Schwarz" but I decided to forego the scandal. ;-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Modicum of chuffidness

Now I did warn you that the door panels are turning out to be a little on the Technicolor side of things, didn't I? No danger of missing the join lines on these babies... Actually the colour's a bit off - very poor light over the weekend.

The only thing to be said for them is that at least they'll match - each other... I tried all sorts of combinations, but this worked out as the best way to avoid as many of the old nail holes as possible. Hey, it might look good - who knows? I'm not really that fussed about it, to be honest. 

However, that's the extent of my progress on the doors. The combination of having to go up country on Thursday, plus a hefty dose of The Voice of Conscience arriving in the inbox on Friday afternoon, means it'll be shelved until next week now. Given that I wouldn't be able to get the panels planed up, moulded, finished and fitted in the time available, it seemed a bad idea to get some of it done, only to leave a big gap before completion, during which time the wood would probably move again.

Perhaps unusually, my Voice of Conscience had a Canadian accent and enquired how things were going with the article I'd volunteered to do. Ack. What was I thinking? Never volunteer! But the deed was done in a moment of weakness, and I've been dragging my heels ever since for one reason or another. This is a Bad Thing and my guilty conscience was warbling in my ear about it as well. So I bit the bullet and managed to get the practical part done while the first panel was going off in the clamps. Workshop multi-tasking, I hear you ask? I know; virtually unheard of. The theory was typed up while the second panel was in the clamps, proving that my usual output is pitifully small for the amount of time spent.

But fear not; it wasn't all efficiency. Possibly only I could get side-tracked from a side-track, but I managed it. I devoted considerably more time and effort to an aspect of the article than it warranted. It'll probably not even make it into the finished product, but nevertheless I took the time to cut my first mitred dovetail. Not secret mitred, I hasten to assure you - I'm not insane. No, one where the end dovetail is mitred at the end to either conceal a groove, to run a moulding round uninterrupted, or just for neatness.

As ever, my dovetail guru is Mr Rob Cosman; in this case his "Advanced Handcut Dovetails" DVD. I did exactly what he said and here's the result:

Allow me a little modicum of chuffidness. I've been putting off trying this joint for ages, terrified of the mitre, and I confess I came over all smug when it went together so well. (I'll probably pay for that smugness with 2 or 3000% interest soon enough) I'd show you the join on the edge too, but the pic was out of focus. No, really! Honest! Look, I'll take another one tomorrow and prove it, okay?

Edit: as promised.

And yes, it is the same joint. I amputated it to free up the remaining board length for other things.

And before you ask, I don't think "chuffidness" is a word either, but what the heck. For non-Brits, a definition of the root may help. Or maybe not...

Friday, January 18, 2008

The slipper fits

Okay, looks like I can get away without a major design opportunity, so pressing on with trimming and fitting the tenons. Thought I'd have a shot at the router method - no, not that kind of router. When I've come this far? How dare you... There's a design or two out on't net for "tenon routers" that basically put a great big base on the thing, the idea being that you heave down on the end of it that's on the work, which'll stop it tipping. Instead of that I just used a piece of scrap the same thickness as support. Previous trials of this router method haven't been that great, but this time it went brilliantly; I'm inclined to credit the Veritas's closed throat giving one less place for the tool to dive. Talking of which, I read someone on a forum somewhere who said they couldn't see how anyone could find anything to complain about with the Veritas's knobs. Ha hum... Still can't like them; not keen on handles that angle the focus of your efforts away from the seat of the action and, alas, that's just how 'tis. Like the rest of it okay.

Then on to cutting the haunches, which I'm sure is the wrong order to do things, but never mind. I doubt the end result will enable anyone to tell the difference. And the "old" Wenzloff comes out to play. Ack, I'd forgotten how well its handle fits my hand. How could I have thought the tenon was perfect? This is perfect. And the tenon... Notice the early Philly Plane there? I'm assuming it'll be worth thousands at some point, but, heck, I'm still using it.

A bit of judicious tweaking and it all comes together. And they're square. And they're the right size.

And the rails look like a completely different wood. Humph. 

Oh well, the assorted colours of the boards I have lined up for the panels should distract from that okay... I went through a small debate about cheating like crazy, 'cos I happen to have a piece of MDF (spit, cough, choke) that would be just right and I thought maybe painted to match the outside of the carcass...? But then I bethought me, "Self, the rest is real wood. You've been good and done proper woodworking thus far, don't spoil it for a ha'porth of tar". To which I could only reply, "Self, s'good point. Plus I'd quite like to use the panel plane." And thus both of us set to work. If I'd known I'd end up with so much disparity of colour I might have gone with the paint... Jointing and gluing up these multi-coloured toothpicks to make the panels is a joy to come.

My Lee Valley order should also be a joy to come on Monday (yes all you folks waiting for your bits and pieces - the end is nigh). Alas, I must now be firmly on the radar 'cos Parcel Force have nabbed me again (for VAT but not Import Duty? How does that work then?). That's, erm, two out of three, I think. Sheesh, pretty high percentage if other claims are to be believed. Heigh ho. Note to self: move to Canada and go broke more locally... ;-) 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Weeping willow

Tenon cheek trimming progress has stalled while I, ah, deal with a potential design opportunity that I've only just realised. One of these decades the whole idea of having a drawing or plan of what you're going to do may finally catch on chez Alf, but I wouldn't bet on it. So meanwhile I continue with I may henceforth refer to as the blogmanship of risk. Viz: telling the world what you're doing whilst you're still doing it, instead of doing the sensible thing of completing the project and then telling the world how easy it was.

Not that I'm going to tell you what went pear-shaped. I have a faint hope it may not show, and anyway there's a good chance I'll foul something up much more obvious and fatal, thus entailing making fresh parts and losing the, ah, adjusted ones anyway. But if it shows, well perhaps I might confess then.

Meanwhile it's that time of the year again - when one or more tree about the place decides it has had enough of being blown about and elects to break somewhere.

In this case a so-called  "corkscrew", "contorted" or "curly" willow. Which basically means it's 100% reaction wood as far as I can tell. It grows like this, see? All corkscrew-y.

Looking at the break, the view was expressed that perhaps it had simply got too wet. Now I thought willows were so keen on wet conditions they'd practically grow in a bath, but perhaps things have been extreme even for them?

The theory is that the darkening round the junction of branch to trunk is the rot, in which case it, and we, are in trouble, 'cos look what's just above.

And what useful purpose can this stuff be put to anyway? Anyone had any dealings with such wood? Decorative? Could you (theoretically) turn it into amazing vases? Or something? 

Perhaps a cricket bat to facilitate easier scoring towards fine leg*... 

*Okay, 'Murricans and others - fine leg is behind the batsman and might be easier to hit towards if the bat was screwy, see? And cricket bats are made of willow, right? Sigh. As a signing off joke of modest proportions this simply doesn't work as soon as you have to explain it, does it..? Go on. Move along. Nothing to see here...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wenzlovian Onslaught

Long-term inmates of my Musings are probably aware that it's usually at the tenon stage of operations that Cold Feet kick in and the lure of bandsaw or, more likely still, the WoodRat becomes more than I can bear. My claim to Neanderthalism is laid bare in the glare of reality as a pathetic fraud and I try not to catch the eye of any tenon saws in the vicinity. It's not just lack of will-power and the moral fiber of limp celery, although it's that too; the WoodRat is just rather good at tenons and I'm not.

Of course I'm not good at tenons 'cos I never give myself the practice, do I? Well part of the point of taking trouble over trivial workshop furniture is to use it as more meaningful practice of skills and techniques than just a stack of off-cuts turned into a smaller stack of off-cuts. So far I've been Good and jointed the boards, rebated for the back, hand dovetailed the carcass, ploughed the grooves for the door panels and chopped the mortises. Unaccustomed resolve set in and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to do the tenons by hand too.

And that's why progress has halted - while I worry about it and generally put it off. People might have asked me whether I put on this prevaricating, cowardly persona for the benefit of this blog and Comic Effect. They might have asked me that, but they haven't. Perhaps it's all too obvious it comes naturally...?

Anyway, there's another reason for doing it "proper like". Previously the only tenon saws who's eye I haven't been meeting have been of the old, cheap, slightly undervalued persuasion. But now, gentle reader, I have A Wenzloff. That's not a saw you wish to avoid the eye of; no sir. So let battle commence.

Thus I marked up the rail stock, started with the half-back and sawed all the pieces to length. The half-back and I are not entirely au fait as yet; I'm assuming it's going to be one of those slow-burn relationships and we'll end up never to be parted. As things were a little fraught I went a little shy of my line and decided to take the extra step of shooting them to final length. Behold, another opportunity to point out the benefits of knifed line over pencil. See where the knifed line is clearly seen round the perimeter of the planed end? Still a bit to go though.

Once that was done, on to all the tedious and lengthy marking up. Occasionally I feel a modicum of guilt about a slight obsession I have with marking and measuring tools, but then I remember that getting the marking right is half the battle and I feel better. In that vein I, erm, recently invested in a set of TiteMark mortise blades for the cheaper Axminster Tite-A-Like gauge - never yet found a mortise gauge I'm really happy with and thought what the heck... I know, I know - I have Too Much Stuff. Actually I went with the tip to use the scoring blade and one mortise one and I think I may prefer it. Time will tell; possibly another slow-burn.

Where was I? Oh yes, the sawing. Let me say right away that the tenon saw is Nice and absolutely no slow-burn needed for this one. I shall enjoy using it - lots and lots. And indeed here it is in action. Early on I was (sensibly cautiously) generous in how close I was sawing to the line; not because of the saw but rather the sawyer... By the end I was getting pretty good, say it I shouldn't; thus demonstrating that they don't say "practice" for nothing. Well "d'uh". The wriggle on the saw is a scribble of wax - see? It really is A User. (And before you ask, yes, it's a crosscut and you could, fairly, point out that I have probably a "few" tenon saws filed rip I could have used for the cheeks. But they're not long rips, and the saw was calling me...)

It was a bit odd at first though. There seemed to be some funny effects going on; the work looked a little strange. Then it dawned on me - it's the reflection in the blade Chris Schwarz and people are always going on about. The majority of my saws aren't nearly as shiny as this one, or else simply not big enough to reflect so much. Well I felt a bit of a fool, I must admit - and frankly wasn't initially terribly convinced that it was helpful so much as distracting.

Sheesh, that apron looks shocking. If you look really closely towards the bottom of this action shot you can see the sawdust falling away from the Wenzlovian Onslaught.

Time moved on and once again a switch to arty black & white was called for. Alas, the woodworker is slow and the days short. The woodworker's also messy. Ack, terrible habits I get into... Anyway, by this stage I was confident enough with the saw to be hitting the line and in danger of getting carried away enough to cut the tenons off in my enthusiasm. Luckily I didn't and stopped short of a Mortise Chisel Shortening Incident type of disaster. Phew. I was also starting to make use of that reflective blade and Scales Were Falling From My Eyes in that respect.

Of course the tenons aren't actually done. Those sensibly, cautious cuts earlier will need some trimming. Quite a lot, in some cases. Hmm, now which technique shall I use for that...?

I was writing the above when news came through that a friend had passed away after a long battle with cancer. Christopher Whaite was a meticulous and talented woodworker, model engineer and clock restorer, and was the primary cause of my taking up this excellent craft of ours. He gave me a ten minute primer on sharpening a scraper, a whole stack of veneer offcuts and set me on the road away from balsa wood boxes (thank heavens). Over the years I'd tell him what I was doing and he'd ask for detail - and I mean detail. It was excellent discipline; made me think so much more about what I was doing and why. If anyone ever gets anything useful out of my whittering about woodworking, ultimately you can thank Christopher for it. I didn't see nearly enough of him, or learn nearly as much from him as I could have; and the world's a most definitely a poorer place without him.

I'd dedicate these prevaricated tenons to Christopher - but I don't honestly think he'd want them...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Socket Set

Easily side-tracked? Moi?

Okay, it's like this: it dawned on me that it's no good pointing out the benefits of having a wide range of tools from which to choose, if the particular example from that wide range that you actually needed was unusable at the time. So I thought I'd make a handle. And it makes sense to make the other handles for the "set", doesn't it...? And that piece of beech was just hanging around and just long enough for the necessary three handles, wasn't it...

These aren't really a set at all, coming as they did, from iirc at least two different sources, but by a strange coincidence they are all by Ward & Payne. Perhaps not such a coincidence, W&P being a very common make. Because I absolutely hate hooped handles I thought I'd try leather washers and see how well they stand up to the task. 

These are larger versions of the Marples bevel-edged chisel handle I have. A little scale courtesy of the sash mortise chisel...

Naturally the blades need considerable work yet before I can call these ready for use, but perhaps that's enough prevaricating about the bush for the time being...

Now I've gone into black & white pics in part because of the poor lighting I was using (it was late and God's Light Box had gone out for the day), but also in celebration of the news that Woodworking Magazine, well-known user of black & white images, is finally offering subscriptions. Huzzah! They're also going to 4 issues a year, which I'm less excited about. Well part of me is, but part of me would rather stick with quality over quantity - but fingers crossed, we can have both :-)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Daily Grind

The demise of the Marples sash chisel has provoked a flurry of interest in the comments box. I was indeed a Bad Woodworker and levered when I should not have, but the more I think about it the more I feel the chisel was an equally Bad Chisel and gave up the struggle with rather disappointing ease. The irony is that as a side issue I was hoping to prove that you don't actually need an Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisel to successfully mortise. Hmm, maybe you don't, but old ham-fists here probably does...

Anyway that chisel isn't escaping that easily, and a lengthy spell on the hand grinder creating a fresh bevel on what is now a considerably chunkier cross-section seemed penance enough for me. (Tapered blade, see? So now it's not only shorter but a bit sturdier too.) At about halfway I was already flagging...

... but I persevered and got there in the end. Naturally I had to do further back polishing; when I did it originally I'd allowed enough up the blade to last my lifetime, which is now to be found on the shortest mortise chisel blade in the Western World. D'oh. Oh well, I'm not so sure I don't slightly prefer the shorter tool to be honest. No, not that really short 1" one - this shorter one!

Thus, albeit a trifle gingerly in comparison with my earlier cavalier attitude, I finished the mortises. Now I'm worrying whether I should have a centre rail too...

And finally a few pics to better clarify my brief comments box description of my mortising method. I'm not exactly sure why I settled on this particular one over the many others out there, but it's the one I tend to gravitate to every time. An alternative or variation is to bore the relief "cut", sometimes called the "Maynard" method after an article in The Woodworker, popularised by first Jeff Gorman and then Chris Schwarz in Woodworking magazine (Spring 2007 issue - excellent mortise & tenon-centric issue btw). The idea is to give somewhere for the waste to go. If you bore you can, of course, go full depth and subsequently chop full depth too. Or in my case break through the side of the stile due to my usually reliably unreliable hole boring... Chopping, Alf-stylee, goes more like this:

The intrepid woodworker is standing to the left, looking down the length of the stile so as to facilitate keeping the chisel, and thus the mortise, at 90°. First cut is with the bevel facing you, slightly "in" from the eventual end of the mortise (this allows for the "crush zone" where the chisel is inevitably levered against the end of the mortise and would ruin the end otherwise). One brisk tap.

Hell's bells, that looks deep; it's not really, just the wood is soft-ish. See where the area from the cut to the real end of the mortise has broken off slightly when the chisel was removed? S'one reason why you want knife or gauge marks. If that was just a pencil line then the wood would likely have splintered off beyond the finishing point; not a disaster in this case, but not neat and not good practice. In this case, because the end mark is at the bottom of the groove, I used the chisel itself to mark the line.

Now the chisel is turned round with the bevel facing away and slightly angled to cut towards the hole.

And the result; a v-shaped hole, into which subsequent waste can go.

All the subsequent cuts are bevel facing away, gradually getting deeper.

About two thirds done now, and you might be able to make out the changes of depth. By the time I got to the end I was chopping full depth. Then it's just a matter of turning the chisel round so the bevel's facing again and chopping your way back to the other end again. A paring chop (maybe two, depending on how generous you needed to be with your "crush zone") at each end on the knife line to finish up and 'tis done.

S'not probably the best way or the easiest way, but (thus far) it works for me so I'm not about to fix it :-)  No doubt the more knowledgeable will point out all the places I'm going wrong despite all I can do to stop them...  ;-)

Monday, January 07, 2008


So spent a little time dimensioning some stock for the doors for the you-know-what. Then groovin'...

...to end up with stiles and rails like so. Made the classic greenhorn error and used a fence face that was too deep for the narrower stiles; luckily t'was a simple matter to slip the 044 cutter into the 043 and complete the job. But still "d'oh".

Then selecting the only 1/4" mortise chisel (with a handle) that actually fitted the groove ploughed by the alleged 1/4" cutter. Viz: a Marples sash mortise chisel...

...successfully whacked out half the mortises. Well as far as I know they're successful; things going as they are, anything could reveal itself if I ever reach the tenon-fitting stage.

All was going splendidly on the other four mortises right up until this happened:

a) I don't know me own strength, guv.
b) The slight pitting on this pre-owned chisel was more serious than it appeared and weakened it slightly.
c) It hit a rather harder area of wood - possibly corroborated by the presence of a chip in the edge which wasn't there before the fatal blow.
d) Combination of two or more of the above.

I've not checked to see if it's still tempered beyond the break point (might also be a factor?) so I don't know if I can just grind a fresh bevel and carry on. Failing that I have a socket chisel of the right width (really don't want to complicate things by having different width mortises in different places, or spend my time trying to enlarge the finished ones). Only problem is it needs a handle, as do its two socketed companions, and I really didn't intend to get into a spell of chisel re-handling. After all, once started who knows when it'll end...

So other than that it all went swimmingly. After that it tended more towards going drowningly.

On the plus side, let me point out the wisdom of having alternatives available in the form of a wide variety of tools from which to choose. Hmm? See? Not always as stoopid as I look...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Things To Muse About

#72: Just how effective is the dust extraction from my bandsaw?

a) You could operate on its surfaces
b) One or two specks of dust remain
c) Not too good actually
d) A large family of beavers seem to have been putting the finishing touches to their dam-building materials within its precincts

Delete as appropriate...

Despite the ghastly nature of the task, both bandsaw and planer thicknesser are now freshly equipped with newly shining blades ready to renew the battle. The perishing planer knives played up something terrible and I had a monumental struggle to get them to set right. Hand planes are just so much easier. On the other hand the bandsaw was a positive lamb. And if I did improve the dust extraction I would kinda miss the pretty sawdust strata...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, reader - and brace yourself for startling developments...

... I've been in the workshop!

I know, I know. Gasp, shock, horror etc. Sit down, calm yourself; it's bound not to last. But the mood was upon me and I finally got shot of a task that's been looming somewhat. Viz: turning free rubbish into free wood. See? Only been waiting since July 2006; I'm speeding up something terrible... Anyway I'd had a go at a little of it last year which was probably a mistake because a) it demonstrated to me just what a horrible job it was, b) I picked out all the easy bits thus ensuring this time it would be an even worse job, and c) in the intervening time there was added cobwebs, sawdust and stuff to clean off. D'oh.

No idea who made these alleged windows but he (or I suppose conceivably, she) must have had a many and varied selection of screws from which to choose. These three, all different, were from attaching just one of the many bits of "stuff". It's by no means the worst example; I was flitting from Phillips to slot (large and small) with brief interludes for pincers and claw hammer like some deranged butterfly. That's when I wasn't peeling off lovely rubbery bits of dark brown sealant. Peel, peel, stretchhhhhhh, PING! Where'd that go?! etc. Lovely job...

But I persevered, even after stopping for me midday vittals when it became oh-so-tempting to leave the rest for another day. The bandsaw blade became progressively more blunt and hopeless, the planer blades nicked and generally in a sorry state, but the worst of the debris was cleaned off and I can now replace said edged items with new and fresh in some hopes that I won't knacker them on the first piece of this stuff I go to use. Yeah, like that won't happen... Oh, and I wronged the oak - it really is and quite a nice wide board to boot.

Naturally the plan was that this stuff should metamorphose (with my assistance) in to saw till doors but equally naturally I'm now looking at it and wondering if there's enough for a proper project. Maybe with legs to take advantage of the thick chunks that I usually don't have...

New year, same Alf. Oh deary me.