Thursday 28 February 2013

New You Tube Videos Released

A year after my first set of videos were posted on You Tube, I've managed to produce some more. This one is on the permanent installation of the Bench Crafted Moxon vice in one of my benches. There are 9  other videos which I hope will be informative and useful as well a little entertaining!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Jointer Planes.

I'm making a small batch of jointer planes, her's one being glued up with the help of 17 bar clamps!

The first cut on the band saw defines the profile.

The shaping cuts start to form the curves and again this is done quickly (and carefully) on the band saw.
The pile of dust on the table is what happens when you forget to open the correct blast gate on the extract ducting!

This is the result after rough sanding on the bobbin sander, a much used machine in my workshop (I have two).

These are shots of box being made in Ireland using my magnetic guide, the dovetails look nice and clean. It's unusual to have just one dovetail but looks quite effective, it may be as well if epoxy resin is used on the end grain to avoid gaps opening up at the corners.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Dovetail Competition! AWR Magazine.

I subscribe to Australian Wood Review (AWR) magazine which comes out quarterly, it's a good read.  When I saw they  had a dovetailing competition called 'So you think you can dovetail' I had to send in a picture. This is a small chest in birds eye maple, curly maple and spalted maple, with an African black wood pull. It measures 20" x 10" x 8" high. You can view the entries at the link below where you can vote for your favourite. If you want to submit a photo the deadline is 12th April.

Friday 22 February 2013

Filming for You Tube.

After the success of the Videos posted on You Tube a year ago, it was time to do some more. It's hard to describe the amount of planning and work that goes into these, never mind the stress of a days filming.

One of the films will be on the wall mounted tool cabinet I made recently.

This is what faces me, no wonder I fluff my lines! To make matters worse I've got to talk to one camera while showing things to the other camera for close ups.

Here's the view from the other way, looks like an ITN news program.

Jon is the sharp shooter on the close ups, he doesn't like being photographed, hypocrite!
If there's one sure way to lure camera shy, cameramen from out behind their lenses it's with my wife's home made fruit cake.
Look out for 10 more videos on You Tube by the end of next week.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Wonderful Boxes!

Boxes are great things, they don't take up much room and on the whole are reasonably priced, so sell well. I enjoy making them because they're quick and don't bog you down for weeks on just one piece. I have a deep admiration for certain box makers and have acquired a few of their pieces on my travels.
The reason they're all in my workshop is I'm filming some more videos for You Tube and one will be on them, so here's a sneak preview.

These three are by Philip Weber, a well known US maker, who makes mostly very small boxes. He uses a lot of ebony and accents with other woods and metals. I don't know how he thinks up the designs let alone how he makes some of them. His website is well worth a look.

These four above are by my favourite furniture maker Matthew Burt
His contemporary furniture designs are just wonderful and the making is immaculate.

This little box has strong sentimental value. It was made by the late great Alan Peters and I bought it from his widow Laura along with a large quantity of fine wood. The drawers were missing and it had no back and may have been used as a demo piece on his teaching courses in the US. I completed the piece as sympathetically as I could.

Peter Lloyd like Philip Weber just makes boxes and I think this speciality really shows. None of his work is technically challenging but it has a real charm that comes from refining his craft. This one is in brown oak (one of my favourite woods) and features his trademark curved lid. If you go on his website have a look at his gallery and see his 'kissing' box, great stuff!
This last box is one of mine, looks a bit sad by comparison! This shaker style box was my apprentice piece, made many moons ago and the first thing I made with hand cut dovetails. I was very proud of it at the time.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Working With Metal

I made a prototype of a dovetail scraper knife to be used with an offset marking technique, more of that at a later date. I'm using Japanese scraper steel bought from Dictum in Germany, I'm so glad they changed their name from Dick! The steel is just 0.5mm thick and so needed to be cut carefully  in order to keep it flat. I sandwiched the steel in 2 layers of 1/4" MDF attached with double sided tape, very useful stuff.

I used a standard 10 tpi carbon blade which did the job but didn't stay sharp for very long. The Japanese steel had already been hardened to Rc 54, so if I had any quantity to do I would use a Bi Metal HSS blade.

With the steel still sandwiched I cut the blade to length as well as the 45 degree end. The holes for the rivets were drilled before the MDF was prised from both sides. The resulting blade stayed dead flat without any turned edges and the finished prototype knife came out well.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Advanced Dovetails.

In response to my last post on dovetails I received these pictures of dovetails from the workshops of E Jacobsen, very impressive!

The parts below are for the curved carcass sides of a Bombe chest.

 And of course curved carcass sides need curved drawers!

Here's a shot of the finished cabinet, I can't imagine how long it took to make.

Sunday 10 February 2013

New Dovetail Guides, Which Angles?.

Despite numerous requests I've always stuck to making my guides at approximately 1:6 (10 degrees). I'm investigating various angles with a view to producing a range of guides.
The traditional 1:8 angle is the one I get asked for most at shows, so I'll definitely be making that one. My initial thoughts were to produce a 1:4 as well although when I saw the difference 4 degrees makes I made a 1:5 sample too. As you can see there is a clear difference between them. Most of my guides have been going to the US in the last year and I know the steeper angles are more popular than here in the UK.
I don't think I'll do a 1:7 even though that was Alan Peters favourite angle.
I would be interested to hear from people as to their favourite angle.

In making these mock ups I had to work free hand without the aid of magnets, I haven't done that for a while! Now I know they're not perfect but they did go together straight from the saw and each was done in 5 minutes. I'm glad I can still saw straight!

Saturday 9 February 2013

Wonderful Walnut!

A friend of mine in the timber business tempts me from time to time with some wonderful wood. This board of English walnut is 30" wide x 80" high and 2 1/4" thick. It didn't take much tempting!
See his website www,
Andy loves his wood and is well worth contacting for timber that has been properly handled and reasonably priced.

A swipe of white spirit reveals the wonderful grain, this will make a stunning coffee table.

While I was at the yard I picked up these small boards of brown oak, another of my favourites.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Mini Smoothing Planes.

I'm making a batch of mini smoothers, it doesn't seem very long since the last one.
The review in Good Woodworking magazine featured a Kingwood plane and it's been no surprise that this has been the most popular one since. It's a bit like a kitchen showroom, most people buy one of the ones on display, we did!

Here's a plane in Brazilian Tulipwood showing the parts ready for assembly. I've made most of this batch using cross pins made from African Blackwood which gives a little bit of contrast. The cross pins take a surprising amount of time to create the tenons as well as shaping and finishing. Using a round bar of steel or brass would be much quicker and easier but would not hold the blade well, especially after a bit of use. As my old teacher used to say there's only one way to do things............ (properly!)

This is the evolution of the shaping, which by contrast with the cross pin, is very quick. The first stage is band sawing the block on it's side. Then the curves are band sawn free hand, a potentially dangerous but very useful technique. All the band saw marks are removed with a spindle sander and the curves are smoothed over ready for final sanding with the excellent Kirjes pneumatic hand held drum sander. The process pictured above takes less than 5 minutes per plane.

The batch of 24 planes following shaping on the band saw. All three of these woods (kingwood, Brazilian Tulipwood and Bocote) are becoming increasingly difficult to find, I cleared out the usable stock at Yandles on my last visit and they haven't got any more coming in. Anyone know a good supplier?

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Dovetails From Virginia

Here are some shots of a dovetailed box made by Bill in Virginia using my magnetic guide.
He is delighted with the results, a big improvement on his free hand attempts. He is also a very nice man and I'm happy to have been of help.

The wooden hinges are a nice little touch. Bill says he's been dovetailing like a mad man so I think they'll be more to come!

As an up date to my post on this complicated joint I've been informed by a friend of mine this looks like a showcase joint, as in a showcase cabinet with glass panels. This explains the need for the corners to be as strong as possible. The joint is shown in detail on page 210 of Ernest Joyce s .

Saturday 2 February 2013

Terence Conran

We are having a long weekend in London, postponed from a couple of weeks ago when the snow hit. On the coach on the way up I read the latest issue of British Woodworking which had an interesting article on Terence Conran. As a celebration of his 80th birthday the top craftsmen of the company made him a very nice tool cabinet, kitted out with tools of their choice. The cabinet closed is pictured above right.

Here's the cabinet open, very well organised and presented. If you want one it will cost you £12,000 inc £3,000 worth of tools. I wish I could command those prices!

By coincidence we also went in the Conran shop in Knightsbridge, what about that for a reading lamp!

The Hans Wegner wishbone chair is still being produced 50 years or more after it was designed. This is a special in walnut, it is a very beautiful and comfortable chair.

My wife Lesley relaxing in an oversized leather 'hand' chair, yours for £9,000!