Monday 29 July 2013

Workshop Tip For Marking Out.

Next week I'm doing some one to one tuition for a couple of days and we'll be making a dovetailed box in olive ash with a walnut panel. I've had these offcuts of wonderfully figured English walnut for a few years and this seems like a good time to use them. When I'm looking for a specific size I find it very useful to make a negative template from card, it's amazing how a small movement can change the look. Below is a shot of the same piece in a different position. When I'm happy I just draw round the inside of the template and cut it out.

If you are looking for a book match you can mark the halfway point on the template and line up with a mirror to see the potential result. Book matches can change even more dramatically and you can get some wonderful effects.

I've been very busy with tools lately, I'd expected a slow down with the holidays but it's been the opposite. I'm making a batch of high angle smoothers from solid Lignum Vitae, this has great mass in the hand and is the ultimate material for wooden hand planes.
It's one of those woods which responds rapidly to direct sunlight, it can make the transition from medium brown to dark green in a days exposure! I intend to keep them out of the sun so that the new owners have the choice. Other quite startling woods such as Pink Ivory and African Padouk also change from their vibrant hues to something much more reserved. And you can't call yourself a woodworker unless you've been caught out by leaving something sitting on a board of American cherry when the suns out!!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Dream Workshop!!!

Glenn Livingstone from Woodjoy Tools sent my these pictures of his new workshop which is still under construction after three years work. He has used 100 year old pine from his property and it looks very spacious and pretty as a picture. Oh how I wish I had one like this!

Glenn's tools are very nice and well thought out, I know I own a few, and always seem to get good reviews in Fine Woodworking Magazine. Check out his website

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Full Set of Planes to Dallas Texas

Quite a few of my customers have acquired a full set of my planes, usually one at a time. It's unusual for someone to buy a full set in one go, particularly as this is their first purchase.
They range from 5" right through to 17".

The four larger planes are made from rose bubinga and they are a lovely colour, particularly the 13" jack plane seen below.

I try to make all my planes from quarter sawn stock so that any wood movement is from side to side which stops the sole of the plane from cupping. It also looks rather nice as you can see from these two pretty backsides!

The mini smoother is in Bocote often referred to as Mexican Rosewood and although it's not a true rosewood it's has stunning colours. It's also very comfortable to hold and with the blade bedded at 52 degrees is great on figured wood.
The planes were posted today and I hope they see plenty of action!

Friday 12 July 2013

Hitting the Finish!

I'm working on a batch of hammer handles from my stash of wonderfully rippled ash. When all the sanding is done it comes to my favourite part, the first coat of finish.

The olive coloured wood comes from the centre of the tree and it's rare for the ripple to go that far in.

The white ash is from the outer part or from younger trees where the wood is all white. The figure really pops but you have to see the wood as it moves to really appreciate it's depth.

Here's my favourite, where the handle has a combination of both white and olive. The line between the two is quite distinct which makes it all the more stunning.

The finish I'm using here is melamine lacquer, I hand rub on two coats and then cut back with 600 grit before a thinned finish coat. This much harder and more durable than French polish and is more durable and quicker drying than oil.

A box of 59 handles, to match all the heads I have left.  I've had quite a run on these lately.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Article on Making My Wall Mounted Tool Box, F&C Magazine

This months Furniture and Cabinet Making magazine looks quite up market and austere. The cover features a wonderful table called Sidewinder by David Tragen. This was exhibited at the Northern Contemporary Furniture Makers exhibition in Manchester along with many other fine pieces shown inside.

A bit more down to earth is an article on the making of my wall mounted tools cabinet. The very detailed exploded drawings give all the dimensions as well as a 3D perspective of how it all fits together. If you could see the scrappy sketch I send in, it makes these drawings all the more remarkable.

A forthcoming Exhibition called 'Inspired' is coming up in Bristol between the 28th July and 4th August. It's organised by Sue Darlison who makes some very graceful furniture like the table below.
Also featured is work by John Makepeace and it should be well worth a visit.

Sunday 7 July 2013

Great Band Saws on E Bay

Band saws are one of the best pieces of woodworking machinery to buy second hand for three good reasons. They are built much better and heavier than anything on the new market, they are cheap and they are also easy to repair if they ever go wrong. I've picked a selection that caught my eye which are currently available on E Bay.
Here is a fine old Multico band saw in great condition. It would make a great second band saw or ideal for a small workshop. You just need to check it is single phase.

This Startrite machine is a rarity, it's the more powerful 352 but in single phase (most are 3 phase). It is sturdy but still manageable with two strong men. Expect to pay a premium for this one

If you're looking for something a little heavier try this for size! A very old Wadkin which has had plywood guards added over the wheels (it would look much better without them as it was originally). The motor is currently 3 phase but you could run it off anything, single phase, water, steam! A fine old beast but not for the feint hearted!!
If you are looking for a sturdy table top band saw this

Burgess will be great. It has a wide throat three wheels and is much heavier than it looks. It plugs in and is a bargain!

Here's another one

Thursday 4 July 2013

Home Made Marking Gauges.

I was recently contacted by Jay in the US asking if I minded him making some marking gauges similar to mine. I think it's great to see and I did a whole series of articles for Furniture and Cabinet Making magazine on the making of each of my tools.
He looks to have done a great job and the whole article on Lumberjocks can be viewed here