Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Hi Folks
Just finished a plane in Cocobolo, a timber I've been itching (excuse the pun) to try for a long time. It is a "Baby Smoother" and I think it looks pretty good - the Coco is certainly a pretty timber!
But. There's always a but......
What nasty sawdust this timber produces. Evil, clogging, itchy stuff. I've been scratching for days now and felt positively giddy on Monday when most of the finishing was done. Not good - no wonder Cocobolo come out so highly on lists of hazardous timbers.
So take a good look - I probably won't be using Coco again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Visitor

HI Folks
I had the pleasure of a visit yesterday from a Gent who must win the award for "Furthest Travelled Visitor". Norberto is from the Phillippines and has travelled to the UK to study at the Maritime Academy in Southampton. As a keen hobby woodworker he came across my site and contacted me to arrange a visit.
He was eager to see the workshop and we spent a few hours swapping stories (and wood - thanks!!). Bert was also kind enough to show me how to sharpen end mills free-hand - very useful!
It was an enjoyable time and a later I realised how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource we call the Internet. It certainly makes the world a smaller place :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


HI Folks

Been reading some Douglas Adams stuff today (you know, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy bloke). He came up with a set of rules that describes our reaction to technologies. Read on......

1: Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2: Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3: Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

I think he's got it just about perfect :)


Monday, February 18, 2008


Hi Folks
As you have probably gathered, I now spend more time in the workshop than I used to. Last week was probably 50 hours, slightly more than the odd evening I used to do. This has a good side (I get to spend more time in the 'shop!!!!!) and a bad side. Let's talk about the bad side........


There - I've said it.
When time is short it is pretty easy to put off essential workshop maintenance - planer blades a bit blunt? "Ahhhh...leave it 'til next time." And this goes on until the planer is unusable (not that it stops you using it) Grinder need the wheel truing? "Maybe next time - I've only got this blade to do" And before you know it, it takes half a day to true up the Tormek because it is now shaped like a jelly bean.......
So I have been spending precious time carrying out much needed maintenance wherever (and whenever) it is needed. This has elicited quite a few sarky comments from the Wife (i.e. "you spend more time moving your workshop around than you do making things", etc.......) and she is right, it does seem that way. And why?
Because I let things go too far. The old saying "A stitch in time..." is so true. So go on - do yourself (and your workshop) a favour. Keep it in good condition - you'll work quicker, cleaner and to a higher standard. And that's gotta be worth it :)
Have a good week,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ally Pally and Home Made Veneer

HI Folks
Went to the Ally Pally Woodworking show yesterday (with Waka as my trusty sidekick!) It's the fourth year in a row I've attended - we had a good time but there's no avoiding the horrible truth. It's getting smaller every year :( I don't know if there is a single reason for the decline in the size of woodworking shows but I do hope they don't die out completely - it is a great day out and a chance to see tools in the flesh, watch skills demonstrated and meet other woodies in person. Support your local woodwork show while its still there!!!
Met up with a few of the chaps from UK Workshop (Hi Paul, Dave!!) as well as Andy King, Phil Davy and Bruce Manning from Good Woodworking magazine. Andy was filing away at hand saws most of the day - hope your eyesight returns, Andy ;) Also had a good chat (and a coffee!) with Ben Plewes, the new editor of The Woodworker magazine. Sounds like he has some exciting new ideas for the mag!

Managed to grab an hour in the workshop today, when the Wife wasn't looking. And finally did something I've been meaning to do for a while - make veneer. I am planning another Krenov style cabinet so thought the best place to start would be the timber. My last cabinet was built from solid timber and, although I have had no problems with the doors warping (thanks to well seasoned quartered stock) I would like to veneer this cabinet with "home grown" veneer. A big plank of spalted beech has been drying away for a few years in the workshop and it was time to see what it held. I cut off a piece 9 1/2 inches wide by 24 inches long, 3 inches thick. And I ripped it down on the bandsaw (with a fresh blade installed) giving 2mm thick slices. It turned out really well and I didn't lose a slice, which was lucky. A fresh blade makes all the difference!
So I need to sit down with the various book matches and see where inspiration takes me.

And for you guitar fans - I'm still tweaking the Tele scratch plate. Pics tomorrow, promise ;)


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Strings and things...

Hi Folks
For a change I've been tinkering with my guitars. The Telecaster that I recently refinished is back together and a replacement scratchplate arrived today to add the icing on the cake. Sadly it doesn't fit quite right so you'll have to wait until tomorrow for a "post tweak" picture. She looks really pretty, though. Kinda Tele Keith Richard would be proud of.
Also did a little upgrade on my Strat (yes, there is a Fender theme here!) I fitted a set of "Texas Specials" single coils, the ones in the Stevie Ray Strat. And what a difference a set of pick-ups can make - transformed! If you ever wished your guitar was a little posher sounding don't buy a new one - upgrade!
Made another pair of "Black Beauties" and thought you might like a photo. A friend has recently discovered a treasure trove of Indonesian Rosewood" and I aim to ransack some of it so stay tuned for more rosewood tinted planes soon.