Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Xmas

Just a quick post to say "Merry Xmas" to you all!
Looking forward to a relaxing week ahead-and I wish the same to yourselves.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Ahh. It certainly is nice when you finish a project. No nagging urge to get in the workshop, not even to clean the place up. Is it just me or have you noticed what a mess the workshop becomes the closer a project comes to completion? I had the Woodkateers round the other weekend and was thoroughly embaressed by the state of the place. (although the Chaps were even more impressed that I could complete ANYTHING in such a messy shop)
So what next?
Well Xmas is WAY too close. Some serious shopping to do. Darn....
And I have some picture frames to knock for a Chum. And a display cabinet for another to finish. So I guess I should get those done. Like now......

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Finally Got A Handle On It

Well, here it is. Finally finished (kinda) the cherry cabinet today. Tried out some handle designs and came up with this. Many thanks for all the help on this front (you know who you are-NOT!) Just joking ;)
Guess you wanna hear about my last second cock-up?? Yes?
I'm fitting the top with buttons, all pre-drilled and tested so they don't go through the top. Take a look at the back edge and think "be nice to take 10mm off here". Well, took it off on the tablesaur and then a quick swipe with a block plane. Tearout, both directions. So, as its too big to hold and plane with a bench plane I put it in the vice and prop a bit of timber under the other end. Mid stroke and BANG the support falls out and the top smacks into the floor on the one end! Also leaves a nice deep scratch from the vice face.
I'm currently re-finishing the top.......

Durable Knowledge

Hi Folks,
Was reading some Krenov in the bath last night (as you do) and read this little section. As it made me feel all warm inside I thought I'd share it with you.

"So the things we picked up stayed with some of us. They went far back, to Gimson, the Barnsleys, and other quiet craftsmen. And they are timeless. With this start, and during years of working alone, I learned more about the flexibility of such durable knowledge. And I became certain of this: Knowledge like this is no-ones property; it abhors ego. We learn, we share, someone else carries these things on, and on. Their meaning only seems to change and be warped by fashions and whims.
For a surprising number of craftsmen, even today, the inherent simplicity and integrity of our craft remains-to be rediscovered and enjoyed."

For me, this sums up our craft. The discovery of truths, the realisation that all problems have been encountered and solved hundreds of years before, it makes me proud (and not so alone in the workshop) to be part of it.
I hope you feel the same.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sticky Situation

It's glue up time......
Now this should be straight forward. I've dry fitted and assembled all joints. Pre-finished all components so I can easily remove any glue squeeze-out without staining the timbers. Glue, brush, clamps, water, cloths at the ready. Quickly apply the glue and assemble the parts. THEY NEVER GO TOGETHER AGAIN WITHOUT A FIGHT!!!!
Try and stay calm, loosen the clamps, tap with the rubber mallet (gently, don't want to dent anything), start sweating, tap a little more, feel panic rising, tap, remove clamps, disassemble, try again, etc, etc, etc.
Why is it so difficult? Or is it just me??
Maybe it's just psychological ;)
Anyway-completion is getting closer by the second.......

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Well BLO Me.....

I'm up to my elbows in boiled linseed oil at the moment. I'm determined to use this as the finish for my cherry cabinet. On the test samples the BLO looked the nicest, giving a lovely satin look to the cherry. Also darkened the colour a lot, a good thing on freshly planed cherry.
The first coat was thined 50/50 with pure turpentine and I've rubbed two more full strength coats on since. The colour change is quite amazing!
Hopefully I'll start gluing up tomorrow night (I'm working away at the moment so play time is limited) and have the thing done on the weekend. Ah! The sweet smell of a completed project!
Also been knocking up some "sample joints" in beech/walnut to go with a magazine article (hopefully) in the offing. There's just not enough time in the day...... ;)

The Woodkateers

First-the cabinet. I'm rubbing BLO into the unassembled parts at the moment. Coming along nice and it sure is exciting seeing the grain pop. Hopefully I will have finished the glue up by the weekend. Once I've done the handles.......
Secondly-had a Woodkateer-get-together at my place on the weekend! It is so nice to actually meet up in person and have a natter (and play with the latest aquisitions!!). Hopefully everyone learned a little something too. Just need to get Mike a cheap return ticket for the next one.... ;)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sight for Saw Eyes

This ones for you, Mike!
The Adria crosscut small tenon saw turned up today-and it is a beaut! It is just the right size-not too big, not too small. Comfortable and nicely weighted. That pretty Bubinga handle fits my hand spot on. I am amazed how well it cuts-and how cleanly. Knock out........
Guess I have no excuse for that "hand tool only" project, now ;)
I have arranged my back saws in a pretty pile for your delectation- Spehar rip tenon, Adria x-cut tenon, L-N rip dovetail and L-N x-cut dovetail.
Now that's almost gloatable...........;)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hand Tools

Hmm......Hand tools. I love 'em, buy 'em, hoard 'em. Even use 'em. And the more I work wood the more I use, enjoy and (amazingly) get better with them. Indeed, they are the reason that my woodwork has reached such heady (hah!) heights. If I had to rely on power tools alone my projects would be nowhere near as well made and finished.
Am I giving up power tools? You are joking! Deep sawing, ripping, thicknessing-these are hard, physical tasks that machines make easy. The age of apprentices is over-power tools are the new apprentices! But, (taking this analogy further) the Master craftsman would then take the boards that had been produced via a lot of sweat and would carry out the fine joinery work himself. And this, my friends, is where hand tools come in. They bring precision and finese to the bench. A swipe from a smoothing plane and the wood shines-no belt sander needed here! Joinery planes, chisels and fine saws to cut joints. And as well as performing so exquisitely they feel wonderful in the hand. You can FEEL what is happening, building an intimate relationship with your tools and also your chosen material, wood.
So I reside somewhere between Galootsville and Normtown. The best of both worlds? Maybe...

Tool rant over-the cabinet is so nearly, nearly finished. The cutouts for the wine bottles need to be made and I've started pre-finishing some of the components before glue-up. Don't start me off on glue-ups.......;)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Good Wood

Managed to fit the base to the cabinet today. It now looks complete-will fit the rails on the weekend and then I can glue it up.
Also receieved my copy of Good Woodworking today-the Maloof chair got 10 pages! I'm pleased, although a little disapointed with the pics. Dark green background, dark brown chair..,:( My pics came out o.k., but you can't mess up with workshop pics too much. Guess it is difficult to really show a piece of furniture off in a picture-it is something that needs to be seen in person. Nevermind, can't moan. Much ;)
Also placed a little hand saw order today-sorry Mike, I've gone for the Canuck!

Monday, November 21, 2005


The website problem has been resolved, a little progress made on the cabinet and it's COLD!
Funny how a bit of frost puts you off venturing into the workshop. It's not THAT cold in there, but it's not exactly sweltering either....
Just heard that the "Maloof" chair is in the new Good Woodworking magazine. 10 pages!! Nice!
I've spent some time thinking about stackable tool cases to store the hand tools in. My current wall-mounted set-up is fine but if I need to move the tools, say to a new workshop, it will be a hassle packing them away. So some quality time has been spent in Sketchup coming up with suitable (read "capable of being picked up by one person when full") design. Watch this space ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Doh! DOH!

Yes, the sound of Homer style progress......
Haven't been able to update my website all week. Problems at "their" end thought I. Seems I've been entering the FTP address slightly wrong. DOH! :{
Finished the back of the cabinet off today. Well nearly. Yes, another "Doh" moment. Was cutting the final shoulder on the final panel. Job done. Well it would of been if I had registered the piece FULLY against the fence instead of 10mm off it..........Needless to say, the glue is now setting on the replacement edge of the panel. Amazing how its always the last cut.
Regular service should be returning soon;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Back To It

So it's Wednesday. That means three days of work to sap the mind and body.
Well that's my excuse for not doing too much on the drinks cabinet;)
Seriously, I've pretty much completed the back. Fitted two rails top and bottom to hold the panels (its another panel back), raised three panels of London Plane on the RT and fitted them. A couple of cherry stiles to finish and that's the back. I think a panel back gives a real "quality" feel to a cabinet and doesn't take that much work. Although a piece of ply nailed on works just as well......;)
Just got to work out what to do with the "floor". Grain "front to back" or "left to right". Not got a lot of cherry left, that's all.
And I'm still thinking about the handles. So you lot weren't joking when you said I had to work it out myself?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sliding Doors

Here's a woodworking hint-if you have a delicate operation to perform don't go out for a heavy drinking session the night before! ;)
Yeah, the band played a Motorbike Rally Saturday night and the bar was free. I had one or two......
Made some great progress withthe doors though, today.(as promised, Mike) Mortise and tenons cut, grooves routed, panels sized, rasied and fitted. AND I cut the grooves to guide the sliding door and cut the matching tongues in the doors. And fitted them too! So have a look and see what you think......
Did I mention I shaped the legs?? A kind of cabriole shape, I think it's gonna work out nice.
I am really enjoying this project, the cherry is so nice to work. And I even got to use a plane on the curved legs, too! (compass plane, doesn't get out of the case often!)
So I need ideas for handles for the doors. Always get stuck on the handles........

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Now That Was Fun!

The Axminster show was a blast! It was great to meet up with friends new and old (and to put faces to names). Spent most of the day chatting instead of shopping........ Bought a few nik-naks for the workshop-saw, chisel, beading tool, etc. Nothing crazy (or too expensive)
Spent some quality time in the shop this weekend. Legs are carved, doors almost finished, stock for the back ready. Just the "floor" to work out and this piece is going to be finished. Maybe.......

Here's a link to my Tool Show Report. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Christmas comes early......

Tomorrow is the big day!!!!!!
Yes-the Axminster Tools 2005 show at Exeter. I am REALLY looking forward to this. Ticket is bought and in my wallet, some cash has been withdrawn and is safely stowed and credit cards primed and ready.
It will be great to meet up with my internet Chums-certainly is easier in person ;) Looking forward to seeing the "Overseas Contingent", too (Rob Lee and TLN especially).
On the drinks cabinet front progress is slow but steady. Had to re-do some panels for the doors as I didn't like the grain pattern. It's easier to do this know than tear my hair out every time I see the completed project..........
Anyway, fitted the side panels today. Need to fit the back and floor then I can make the doors. I'm enjoying this one!
I'll report back on the show tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sleep On It

How come when you WANT to get in the workshop the world comspires to keep you out?
Yes, its been one of those weeks......
Zero progress has been made since the weekend, my daughter has been ill (can you say "sleepless nights") and work has been busy, sending me around the country......
So not a lot has to update. Mind you, I thought this project was coming along a little too quickly....
On a different topic, don't you love Windows?? The most recent MS updates have now made certain websites impossible to access. Wasted plenty of time trying every possible tweak but my web-mail and certain secure sites (can you say Paypal and my bank) are now totally out of reach. Any ideas?? (bar buying a Mac.....)

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Week Excuse

Ouch! A whole week has gone by without a blog update. Sorry.......
Been having a lot of fun in the workshop though. Have finished the mortises, tenons cut and fitted on the side rails, top glued up and planed flat and the tenons cut on the front and back rails. The Lacewood for the panels has been ripped down on the band saw, thicknessed and is awaiting jointing and gluing up into panels. Yup, been a busy boy-and enjoying every minute. Sure is nice to be doing something you're familiar with.
Thought I would just have enough cherry to complete this project. In reality this was not quite so.....A visit to yandles yesterday has righted that though with two beautiful, clear boards of American cherry. Had to sort through 30 boards to find sap and mineral stain free boards, though.
I am amazed how much progress you can make when you are familiar with the techniques and have the correct (sharp) tools. Also, "friendly" timbers that don't tearout when you try to work them make the process even more pleasurable!
I'll post some w-i-p pics tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It's Like This....

Well it's been a good weekend!
Spent some quality time with the family, painted the garage doors (yawn!) and spent a lot of time musing over construction details for the new cabinet. An hour on Sketchup has got the design 95% of the way there. Have a look....
There are still some details to finalise but at least I can start breaking down the timber into smaller pieces and making some shavings! Obviously I will keep you informed.....
I'm loving the cherry-such a nice timber to work. The pile of shavings on the floor is quite impressive. Also enjoy the "rose" smell when cutting it down on the table saw. Yum!
I even spent an hour this evening sharpening-man and tools in perfect harmony. I do enjoy using 'dem planes ;)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Off We Go Again

Hoorah! I started a new project-and it doesn't involve sanding........;)
Seriously though, it's nice to be making something planable again. I missed using the ol' handplanes.
New project is a drinks cabinet in cherry and lacewood. I'll post some pictures soon.
Started breaking down the cherry today, been hoarding it for a couple of years. A nice timber to work, it really shines when you swipe the plane over it. Yum!
Missus is really happy. I quote....
"Where we gonna put another cabinet!!"
Heh-where indeed!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Right-first things first. Here's the link for photo's of the completed chair.
Hope you like......
Got the photographers from Good Woodworking coming by this morning to photograph it for a future issue (hopefully). Spent last night dusting the workshop-yes, I am sad!
I am in the "between-projects-limbo" at the moment. Nice but frustrating at the same time. What next, what next.........
Sure is nice not to be sanding, though ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yeah, I'm Done!

Right-that's it! I have reached the end. The wax has been applied and buffed, felt feet attached to the bottom of the legs and the chair brought into the house. It is Official! I have completed the Maloof style chair!
What's that?? Pictures of the finished item?? Ahh......
Having been caught out with the "mattress" incident the final photo's are going to have a little more time spent on them. So you'll have to wait 'til the weekend. Sadly work has me running around the country this week, so no chance.
Nice not to be sanding.......;)

Monday, October 10, 2005

I Think I'm Done

Well, another week of sanding, tweaking and a little bit more sanding. I must say that I will be glad never to see a bit of sandpaper again. With the temperature droppping slowly as the fierce Dorset Winter approaches the oil is taking too long to go off. So out comes my other fave finish, Shellac. I've applied a goodly few coats over the oil and it really is looking good. I keep finding small scratches and blemishes though. Every time I think "done" I see another one. Grrr.....
This is the week, though. Honest..........;)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Enter Sandman

I hate sanding.......
Yes, I really mean it. I am so sick of sanding this chair. Spent two hours working on some areas that needed work. Stand back and take a look-yup, another 10 hours to go, by the looks of it. This piece needs so much detail work. Now I remember why I like using hand planes......
On the up side, I do like the chair. It looks really good (IMHO)and that is only down to the hours put in. Really looking forward to saying "It's finished" though!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Well "Oil" Be!

Isn't sanding fun?? Eh? No, thats right, it isn't. Nevermind, nearly there. I have put the first coat of oil on the chair and it certainly brings out the colour of the walnut. Can see how its going to be, now. Still some more sanding left (funny how a finish shows up scratches on previously flawless looking surfaces....) and plenty of coats of oil. But the end is in sight!
Spent the weekend painting and DIY'ing it around the house (when not sanding!). Almost a pleasure to be sat around the office "hard at work" today.........

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cough, Snort!

Oh Dear.......
Sanding on the chair has started in earnest. I don't like sanding-it's smelly, dirty hand-aching work. I have a fine air filter that cleans the air in the workshop and am wearing a powered respirator. Still I have been coughing my guts up the last three days. I won't go as far as to say "I'm alergic" to black walnut dust but it certainly doesn't agree with me. Running nose, aching ears and eyes (?) loose chest. Not good. Thank goodness I only have a couple more hours of sanding left.
On the good side the chair looks great-I am so close to finishing it I just want to get oiling. But every time I return to look at the chair I see something else to tweak. Real close though!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Busy, Busy

Chair is now all glued up, all holes plugged and final shaping is underway. I have a fair amount of walnut sawdust if anyone needs it? ;) Really looking forward to getting the chair finished now-if only to be able to use it.
Had a busy weekend-Friday night in London seeing The Offspring. You certainly see it all in the City! Spent most of Sat and Sunday re-tiling the kitchen. Not the most fun job but it does look good now its done. Why didn't we do this years ago??
The Racket played in Christchurch Saturday night and a lot of fun it was too! I certainly feel happier when the band is so loud the lights keep going out........

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Kinda getting there

So-does it look a bit like a Maloof chair or what??
Yes, progress is happening on the chair, all legs are glued, screwed and plugged. A bit more shaping before the arms are glued on-its easier to shape them at the bench than glued into the chair.Final fitting of the back and then its sandpaper time. Certainly can't wait to apply the first coat of BLO!
Work has been busy so time in the workshop has been seriously limited. Isn't that always the way? Off to London tomorrow to watch "The Offspring"-ear plugs at the ready!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Good Weekend

It's been a good weekend! Spent a few hours on the chair and managed to get the main shaping completed on the seat. You can now see how its going to look-even the Missus was impressed!
Went to the Yandles Woodworking Show yesterday. It was pretty quiet there-quite a shock!! The usual suspects I spoke to said it was probably down to the weather forecast and the cricket. Hope it's not just tough times biting deeper. Had a lot of fun though and met up with a couple of "Uk Workshop"ers. Also managed to come away with some goodies-sorry Waka....
Look forward to getting the chair closer to completion this week. Mind you I have a busy week ahead so who knows?

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Came up against a little boo-boo today.......
The right leg of the chair featured a small amount of the rounded edge of the plank (sapwood). Thought I'd be able to get away with it-until fitting the arm. No chance! So had to do some head scratching and repairwork. Think it came out o.k.-time will tell if it sticks out like a sore thumb.
The shop looks such a mess at the moment, it really is a bit embaressing. But there never seems to be enough room, even when I re-arrange things. Guess I just need some extra time to sort that out. Hah-don't get me started on time............

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Where did that week go????
Spent Tues/Wed in Exeter fitting a kitchen-went pretty smoothly apart from the kitchen not turning up.......
Played at the Dorset Steam Fair in Blandford on Friday and Saturday nights with my band (Check out for useless info!)Was a lot of fun-although the locals were a bit scary! Must be all that scrumpy.
The chair is making steady progress. I've final fitted the left arm and am finally happy with the shape. Back is roughly sized and clamped in position and I can sit in it to try it out. Gonna be a nice chair (fingers crossed!)

Friday, August 26, 2005

It's a chair, Jim, but not as we know it....

Making some sawdust now! The legs all have their joints cut and are fitted. I've roughly shaped the front legs and today the rear legs get some work. It actually looks like a chair, now. Well, a really rough looking, primitive excuse for a chair!
The router bit made quick work of finishing off the joints. Funny how the right tool for the job makes for quick progress?
I've also been trying some different finishes out on samples of walnut. BLO certainly looks nice on walnut-maybe a Maloof style 1/3 oil, 1/3 poly, 1/3 tung oil mixture will be worth a try?
As it's Friday I'm looking forward to a long weekend-hoorah!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Excuses, excuses.....

Where has the week gone???
Progress has been a little slower than expected with the chair-front legs have their joints cut and fitted and I'm carving them into shape. Popped into Axminster Tuesday and picked up the router bit I needed to complete the legs. Great shop-well worth a visit if your wallet can stand it!
Been a bit hectic at work this week and also having stress with the "Band"! We are playing at the Dorset Steam Rally nest Friday and we need to get ourselves ready for that.
But good news-yes, it's a bank holiday weekend!!! Yeah!

Monday, August 22, 2005


Well I’m finally making good progress on the chair. The seat blank has been glued up, squared up and the joint cut for the legs. That’s the “boring” stuff out of the way, time to get shaping next! The rear legs have had their joints cut and I’m starting on the front legs today (hopefully!!) I really love working with this black walnut- a great smell and so workable.
Had a lovely email from Nick at Good Woodworking-a chap had sent him an email saying how he bought the magazine because he saw my cabinet and Krenov on the cover-made me feel all warm inside.....
Went car booting yesterday (prompted by Martins’ annoyingly good finds). Came away with two Stanley braces (one an American made one) and some bits. They work surprisingly well, cutting clean holes with little effort (and even less noise!). Not sure if I’m ready to give up my 18v cordless yet, though.

Friday, August 19, 2005

No Stopping Me-probably.....

The walnut seat blank is now glued up-just needs to be squared up and then work can begin in earnest. Had most of yesterday free to get stuck in but unfortunately all sorts of stuff appeared to put an end to any thoughts of progress. I was not happy........
But today is a new day. I'm off to the workshop-see ya!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Actual Progress and Digital Distress

Finally started breaking down the walnut for the chair yesterday. Never worked black walnut before, a very nice timber. Lovely smoky smell! A real pleasure to hand plane, too.
Had a bit of a move around in the workshop-turned my workbench 90 degrees away from the wall. Don't know if it will work out any more efficient but time will tell.
Took plenty of photo's of me breaking down the walnut. Got into work this morning, put the memory card in the reader and.......nothing. Nada. Not a sausage.
All the photo's had gone. To say I was a bit peeved.......So popped home and took a few more. Bit late once you've cut it all up and glued stuff together, though! Computers, eh?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I say, I say, I spray......

I knew I should of left it well alone.........
One of the members on the Uk Workshop forum asked about spraying emulsion on the walls of his workshop to brighten it up. I had a quick clean about in the 'shop last night and got to thinking-maybe I'll give the walls a quick lick of paint. Before you could say "what about masking off the tools" I was off! Result? Whiter walls but no actual progress on the "maloof chair"........... And isn't cleaning a spray gun a lot of fun..........
So I was kicking myself for not getting anything done yesterday. The Workshop is a little brighter now, though.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pocket Hole and Hole-In-Pocket

Spent the weekend at my parents house in Wales, so a woodwork-free weekend. Well, apart from the 4 doors I built to finish off the built-ins for the spare room. Can't beat a bit of down-and-dirty woodwork-mdf rails and stiles, ply panels, pocket hole joinery and a coat of paint. Took about a hour start to finish and voila! four doors! I'll post some pictures soon.
Obviously haven't made a start on the walnut. Maybe later-better change the bag on the dust extractor!
Have had my eye on a Stanley 71 for a little while. The money people are willing to spend on them on Ebay is scary, though! Saw one go for £68 the other day-crazy! A couple of antique tool dealers are selling them mint for around £40-whats wrong with people?? So Philly's money making tip-buy a #71 cheap and triple your money on the 'Bay.......

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Chairman

The mock-up of my Sam Maloof chair is finished (well at least enough that I am confident to try the real thing!) It has been an eye opener making these mock-ups. I usually make flat surfaces in my woodworking, in fact most of the tools and techniques I use are expressly for that purpose. But this chair-there are no flat surfaces! All curves, blended into other curves. Of course, you start out with flat bits of timber whic allow you to work out the joinery. But from there its all curves.
Rasps and spokeshave do most of this work (although my Arbortech disc cutter removes a lot of the wood first) I was surprised what a good combo they worked out to be, the rasps removing the waste quickly and the shaves cleaning it up and leaving a smooth surface. It has been a pleasant change and I look forward to setting upon the lovely, knot-free Walnut that is destined for the chair.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Blogging-Philly Style!

A Blog-is it "cool" or "sad"??
Matters not 'cause here it is! The Philsville Blog, complete with useful, useless and everything in-between stuff fresh from the Philly Workshop.
I promise to try and keep this up to date-honest!