Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dovetails Are a Piece of Cake

Apparently - and it only strengthens my suspicion that there must have been a mix up in the maternity ward and I ended up with the wrong family - I'm the only one who thinks nipping out to the w'shop and cutting a dovetail joint or two is morale boosting.

Well it'd boost my morale anyway.

So instead, squint a bit (okay, a lot) and imagine very hard that these chocolate chip fairy cakes are, in fact, a chisel rack.

How's that working for you? No, me neither. But we can lessen the disappointment by having a cake.

Well I can, anyway.

And so can the Old Man, who is returned from the tender mercies of the NHS and already making use again of the fastest built foot stool in the West. Yay.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


At the beginning of the month I spoke of the router slash quirk beader slash not entirely certain yet woodie etc that I'd purchased, and promised pics. Being a woman of my word:

 Well so far, so unremarkable.

Underneath, it all gets a bit "Um". The fence is such as you might find on a coachbuilder's grooving router or some such, but otherwise it ticks the box for "homemade moulding router". Which appears to pretty much tick the box for "scratch stock", as far as I can tell. Unfortunately I'm not sure it ticks any box terribly successfully. I really need to sort out a better solution to the (overlong) wood screw holding the fence (because it's inevitably rusted all to heck) and then try it and hope my fears are not confirmed.

But even if it's a total lemon, I still kinda like it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Load of Buhl

Okay, I confess; tool nomenclature annoys me. There are perfectly good terms to differentiate one tool (or tool feature) from another, and some blighter comes along and tries to change it. One of the most annoying aspects of this is when they're actually changing it backwards to something it was before, so you feel that you probably can't even really get justifiably annoyed about it at all.

Oh, but I can. Easily.

Viz: Bench hook meaning a metal planing stop. Correct - technically - and yet oh-so annoyingly misleading these days. Bezel for bevel. 'Cos we've learnt to spell now, this is very irritating to me. And so on. Do not, absolutely not, get me started on the attempt to make "fillister" (however you want to spell that) mean "cross grain rebate". (Yes, that's rebate, you 17thC dwellers. We're all in the 21stC these days, y'know.)

In which spirit, let's talk about Buhl Saws.

"Do what now?" I hear you double-take. Well according to R Salaman's well-regarded (and occasionally not-at-all helpful) work, the Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, that's what we'd call a Fret Saw back in the 19thC. By a Fret Saw, obviously I mean a Buhl Saw with a frame, and not a Fret Saw that was back then, apparently, more like Keyhole or Pad Saw.

Get it? Perfectly clear. No problem. Terminology has evolved and we all know where we stand.

All well and good, except what do I mean by Fret Saw with a frame? I know what I mean, and what Raphael meant. (He provides both description and drawing, just to be sure) 12-20in deep (usually) metal U-shaped frame frame with a fine saw blade generally held by clamps. Handle on the end in line with the blade. Hobbies made thousands of them.

These days? Some blighter - and I'd like to know exactly who so I can put them in my Hall of Influential But Mildly Annoying Woodworking People along with Mr Dunbar, Mr Follansbee et al - some blighter has taken to calling Jeweller's Piercing Saws "Fret Saws".



Just 'cos they take the same blades? Does that make my compound mitre saw a table saw if it can take the same blades? No!

So everyone gets confused, and then people go truly insane and start confusing Piercing Saws with Coping Saws and any minute now some poor sap will call a Junior Hacksaw frame a Fret Saw and I WILL SCREAM.

*and breathe*

So, in this spirit, and in order that when someone says "Fret Saw" in a forum discussion I can just point them here and say "Which of these are you actually talking about as opposed to what I think you're talking about?", I give you

What Alf Thinks You Mean By *Blank* Saw.

Fret Saw. 
Takes fine, unpinned blades referred to as "Fret Saw" or "Scroll Saw" blades. It's not a Scroll Saw - a Scroll Saw usually refers to a mechanical saw. A Fret Saw is for Fret Work. i.e. Fine detailed sawing likely to make you fret more than somewhat.

Jeweller's (Adjustable) Piercing Saw.
Also takes unpinned blades referred to as "Fret Saw" or "Scroll Saw" blades. Is neither a Fret Saw or a Scroll Saw. It's a Piercing Saw. Piercing Jewellers with it is Not Advised as they have many evil tools of their own that would Hurt.

 Coping Saw.
Takes pinned blades referred to as "Coping Saw Blades". Designed with the "Coping" or "Scribing" of mouldings in mind. It could have been called a Scribing Saw. It wasn't. It's a Coping Saw. It's a modern invention; there is no 17thC spelling for it, so don't go looking. It's a 20thC tool. That's one of the reasons I like it.

 Another Coping Saw.
Also referred to as a Totally Unjustifiable Over-Indulgence. It was my birthday present to me; that's all the justification I needed. If you can't be nice, go away. Takes pinned blades referred to as "Good Lord, there are different TPIs available?! I must go mad and try lots of them." (Yeah, there was likely going to be a review-y kinda thing, but you got lucky and the Old Man broke his leg instead. He's doing better, btw. Thank you for the good wishes.)

So there you have it - what happens when Alf is feeling a little stressed and having to do Domestic Things like Bake Cakes and Remembering To Do The Laundry instead of playing with her new toy. No offence intended to any Influential But Mildly Annoying Woodworking People or 17thC dwelling North Americans. Love you all madly with your quaint terminology. Bless.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's Dark Under Here

Ah, the gods. How they do love to mess with the lives of men and woodworkers. Having spent altogether too long under a rock, I was actually feeling like I was back out into the woodworking sunlight for good. I'd even come up with a possible solution to chisel storage that would involve some real wood and joints and enjoyable 'shop time.

Should know better, shouldn't I? The gods laugh in the face of that sort of thing and respond with "Wanna bet?"

Yeah, so the Old Man has contrived to break his leg. Currently cluttering up a hospital bed and feeling very sorry for himself, not unreasonably. But of course it means my woodworking time and energy is a distant memory for now and the foreseeable future.

I'll try and come up with something for the blog, but really, don't expect any actual woodworking. Not until I can flip the light switch back on again.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Stone The Crows

Tsk. Nobody fell for the anti-April Fool then, and my hints that maybe I was claiming a larger find than I actually had; you're a tough lot of fish to hook. Or I'm too subtle. Should have got the North Korean news agency to do the photoshoppery - they'd have made it less convincing. Anyway, because the rule really doesn't give a good feeling of the size, here 'tis next to a 8x2 Washita.

By a stroke of good fortune, whist finding out about this stone, I was also able to identify one I've had for years. I think it came from the patternmaker's hoard, but not absolutely sure; would have to check my (sketchy) records. Anyway, rather a nice mahogany box.

Within which is a soft-ish, fine-ish stone with the most amazing "grain". Or whatever it is that bits of rock have. Very distinctive.

It appears it's from Bonny Scotland and is a Dalmore Blue. Around 4000-5000 grit, which sounds about right. Alas, bit of a chip from one end, but still, a nice stone to use. I'd kind of forgotten about it, but maybe I should dig it out and put it to work again. Seem to be slipping into the world of water stones without realising it here...

While in stone mood, I also put a straight edge across my translucent Arkansas, just to see how badly it wasn't flat after regular use and no flattening for several years. Apparently I've been so keen not to dish it, it's actually infinitesimally convex. Ah, the advantages of the largely guide-free honing life.

Monday, April 01, 2013


So Saturday was, shock horror, not a bad day. That flaming ball of gas in the sky, that I was starting to think was just a legend, actually put in an appearance.

Spring? Sun? A not-so-young galoot's mind turns naturally to The Hunt. Yep, I went to the car boot sale.

What with one thing and another, we were a bit on the latish side, but as there was little to no sign of any tool vending apart from the box o' rusty spanners and screwdrivers variety, I suspect I didn't miss much. Was I downhearted? Nah. Not really. Shouldn't be buying anyway - should be selling.

Anyway, went into the market to see what our long-established tool pusher had amongst his wares. Answer: lots. The place has suddenly blossomed into planes, and had the pleasure of seeing a Sargent VBM (Very Best Made, I believe) Jointer, which is not a make I ever expected to lay eyes on in the wild. Very nice it was too, and if I hadn't had a will of iron that I would not buy another jointer plane, I might well have succumbed.

Instead I just get to sit here kicking myself that I didn't succumb. Heigh ho.

Also a couple of small swing braces (resisted), coupla T-handled augers (resisted), a WS jack plane, that whispered that I ought to be ashamed that I didn't own a single WS Manufacturing tool (resisted) and many other delights. Also a router slash quirk beader slash not entirely certain yet woodie, which I didn't resist. I suspect it might be a regular coachbuilder's router that's been given a new beading blade, but have yet to clean it up to see. Or take a picture. I'll rectify that some other time; don't grumble at me.

Also, amongst the sharpening stones, was a larger pine box that caught my eye.

Filthy, battered and unlovely. I opened it expecting the classic sway-backed artificial stone with a lot of space around it.
No space. Big stone. And it's yellow. The size would have got me asking the inevitable "How much?" But yellow got a little bell going off in my head, because I suspected I knew what it was. Oily, greasy, and revolting as it was, I took a punt and bought it at the asked for Five Earth Pounds. Zoicks. I could end up feeling very foolish if I'm wrong.

After a little elbow grease - okay, a lot of elbow grease - you can handle the box without going "Ewwwww". I had to lightly plane the base to get it to sit on a level surface again, but otherwise I tried not to remove anything but the crud.

A previous owner took the trouble to nail a nice decorative bead round the lid. It's not the most attractive stone box you'll ever see, but I like it. You can see where it's been used as a handy backing for one or two boring operations, and a ring where I'm betting a glue pot was rested on it.

Anyway, after a good deal of scrubbing, and a bit of lapping, my hunch appears to be confirmed. It's a Belgian Yellow Coticule; a fine water stone from The Ardennes. They're still quarrying them now, but they're spendy.

Close-up of the surface. The straight razor enthusiasts appear to love them. I was a bit concerned the years of use with oil might have knackered it, but it made a slurry okay and seems to be fine. It's not the first water stone I've acquired that spent years as an oil stone and showed no ill-effects, so I begin to suspect that the variety of stone - and whether it's artificial or not - could be rather important.

And to give you an idea of the size. Trying to avoid casting a shadow and such I ended up with the rule at entirely the wrong angle. The stone is actually a whopping 12 3/4in long and a tad over 3in wide. Perspective, eh? Can be a deceiving blighter. As you can see, I haven't lapped the entire surface. I figure there's plenty of room to use at either end to bring the ends down level naturally over time.

Only reference to such a large stone I can find is from Jim Kingshott in Sharpening, The Complete Guide where he says:

"Belgium stones are available and are used in the musical instrument-making trade for sharpening knives and other small tools. This does not mean that the stone is only obtainable in small sizes. I have a piece that is 12in long, 2 3/4in wide and 1in thick (305mm x70mm x 25mm). The Belgium is a fine stone that cuts at a reasonable speed. It makes a good finishing tool; I use it for wide plane irons."

So I reckon I did okay, no? Not such a foolish purchase.