Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Driving in the US


The most obvious difference is that they drive on the right side (or should that be 'wrong'). The steering wheel is also on the wrong, sorry 'other', side. However the accelerator and break pedals stay the right way round which is a relief and you don't have to worry about a clutch, you can't hire a manual (stick) car over here. BTW that's not our car, sorry to say.


There are one or two other differences to contend with. At a red light you can turn right, in fact you are actively encouraged to do so by the car behind!


Another quirk is the 4 way stop sign, seen at many crossroads. This means everyone stops with no apparent priority. This turns it into a game of chicken, although being used to the manic roads in the UK I was quite good at this game.
Just to keep us foreigners on our toes I also saw these crossroads signed '3-way' and 'all way'.


Now here is another game of chicken I wasn't so keen on, the railway crossing. They only have two small barriers that come down, one on each side, leaving plenty of room to ignore the barriers and shoot straight through. There were lots of cars playing this game (not me) although when I saw the length of the trains I could understand why they were taking the risk.


On the plus side, the petrol (sorry 'gas') was very cheap, about a third of the price of the UK (I'm not sure which vehicles run on the 'skim milk'). Still it's good to know our onerous government taxes are being well spent on the healthcare, education and welfare of anyone and everyone who wants to come into the UK.

No doubt the low fuel costs explain why there were so many gorgeous burbling V8's on the road. These UV's were everywhere.


If I was going to buy a US car (and I might) it would be one of these. A retro styled Dodge Challenger R/T with a 5.7 litre V8 Hemi engine, chucking out 375 bhp.
Nice number plate.

I came on this trip with my son and for two days we had great fun on an altogether more sedate and more environmentally friendly mode of transport.
Back to the UK in the morning.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Handworks 2017


So that's it, the show is over! I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Jameel, Father John and all at Benchcrafted for organising this great show. They are very modest about the whole thing but there is an enormous amount of work goes into staging such an event and it was great to see it so well supported both by makers and woodworkers alike.

Above is a glimpse of my stand, I cut 40 of these joints (200 dovetails) over the two days and most were given away, signed if requested.


I must also give thanks to Mark Hicks from Plate 11 who kindly lent me one of his fantastic benches (again!) for the show. The finish of his benches is superb and it wasn't until we were dismantling it that the true quality and ethos of his work shone through. The hardware was top notch and beautifully installed and even parts of the bench unseen in its assembled state, were neatly chamfered. If you are looking to buy a bench just once, this is the one get.


Benchcrafted had a fine selection of their wonderful vices on show and this neat little High Vice was a beauty (as in I want one!)


Ryan was the only other Brit demonstrating at the show (Lie Nielsen), with never ending enthusiasm and a permanent smile.

Ron Underhill delivered a fine show as usual and was a great way to start day 2.


I was sharing an alcove with Dave Jeske from Blue Spruce and he had a fine range of mouth watering tools on display as usual. I had Chris Vesper on the other side but I didn't manage to get a shot of his stand as there were always customers in the way! Any thoughts of my long journey home were dismissed when I thought of his trek back to Australia. Chris (as well as Dave Jeske) will be over for the European Woodworking Show in the UK in September, a great opportunity to see his full range of wonderful tools.

Blue Spruce brought a couple of prototype fret saws which were very interesting. They had a beautiful blade tightening design and they could be swivelled easily to any angle. The fit and finish was superb (of course) and I would have bought one straight away if they had been available. One to watch for.

What I did come away with was a lovely adjustable square as well as sliding bevel, which will join my two Vesper bevels. It's a funny thing with sliding bevels, I don't use them that often but when I do (eg plane making) I never seem to have enough. Well that's my excuse for buying it and I'm sticking to it!

I'll leave you with a selection of other exhibitors from the Festahlle Barn. I'm sorry for not including makers from the others four venues but I didn't get a chance to get round once the doors opened.
Until next time..............






Monday, 15 May 2017

Dovetails are Addictive!!


Daniel kindly sent me some pictures of some of his recent projects. He's very pleased with his dovetail guide and has been putting it to good use.


This one is his tea/coffee station with some nice wedged tenons.


The next two are of his sharpening station.



Next up his radio box, he's on a roll!


Even a little hole for the Aerial
.


A double hinge lid for his screw gun (drill driver).

and finally Daniels lunch box which looks very generous, no doubt he needs the nourishment after all those dovetails!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Door Prize for Handworks, 9 days to go!


Here's my offering for the door prize, one of my angled dovetail boxes.
It may seem like offering sand to Arabs, but most of my work is bought by woodworkers, so I hope someone will be pleased.

There will be plenty of other great door prizes to win, not bad for a show with free entry!!!


Sunday, 7 May 2017

New Smoothing Plane for Handworks, 12 days to go!


As well as making some jack planes I've also made a small batch of matching smoothers. They are all in highly figured ash and brown oak.


The iron is 1 1/2" wide and a massive 1/4" thick and hardened to 62 Rc.


Like the jack plane, these will only be for sale at Handworks.


Friday, 5 May 2017

Dovetail Markers for Handworks, 14 days to go!


I made these cute little dovetail markers just for the Handworks show. They have a 1:6 angle and are made from rippled sycamore and walnut. They are stamped and come in a protective bag.
I've got just 20, so first come first served.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

New Jack Plane for Handworks, 17 days to go!


It's been two years since I retired from plane making, after making 800 planes I'd had enough.
However I've decided to make a small batch of planes to take to Handworks.


With all the restrictions on exotic timbers I've used some lovely UK timbers. For these two it's brown oak and some highly rippled ash.


Although the basic outline of these jack planes is the same as my previous design the shaping is different, instead of rounding everything I've used compound curves which come to a tactile edge where they meet the sides. This is all hand work (appropriately), starting with a spoke shave followed by rasps and then finished with specially made curved sanding blocks. It's time consuming and hard work.
The result is very nice to hold and the gentle curves remind me of the shaping of chair seats which only need a moderate curve to be comfortable.


I made a few others using birds eye maple and some nicely figured oak (one in brown oak). These had a more curvaceous front than the first two.


The maple and oak is a more subtle blend than with the brown oak, not sure which I prefer.



The figured oak is rock hard as well as attractive.


Here's a good shot of the intersection of the two compound curves.


All the planes are stamped on the curved toe, which needed to be done with care.
I finished the oak and ash with four coats of hand rubbed melamine lacquer which was used to fill the pores of the open grained wood. This was then sanded smooth and five coats of Liberon finishing oil applied (one every two days) for a lustrous sheen.