Friday 30 December 2016

Very Useful Tools

I've had these Incra squares for years now and they have seen plenty of use, especially the 150 mm version. They have holes for a 0.5 mm pencil every 1 mm and then below holes at 0.25 mm intervals in-between. This may seem a bit odd going to the nearest 0.25 mm using a lead which is 0.5 mm thick but it really works well. You can place a sharp awl bang in the middle of an intersection of lines for marking pivot hinge positions etc.

Sadly the Incra branded pencil available then wasn't very good and the lead was always breaking. This fine pencil from Staedtler may cost a bit more (£4) but it works much better.

The lead is supported right up to the tip drastically reducing breakages as well as annoying blockages.

It also has a rather nifty twist rubber (eraser) which is replaceable.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Anarchist's Tool Chest Square

A friend Bern, made this wonderful square from the Anarchist's Tool Chest. He made it from some lovely quarter sawn rippled holly which I'd had stashed away for years. Bern is a very skilled woodworker, you can see his work on Instagram under berncarpenter

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Compound Angle Dovetailed Box

Here is the latest in my series of forthcoming articles for Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine.
With its compound angles dovetails and curved tapering lid it took a lot longer to make than the first two boxes, but I'm pleased with the result.

It has very discreet pivot hinge lid which, although nice and cheap, has to be installed very accurately to work well and look good. This is even more challenging in angled sides!

I really like this scallop for opening the lid, delicate and unobtrusive as well as easy to create using a rasp followed by sandpaper wrapped around a Sharpie.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Can You Gues What This is?

The latest issue of F&C as arrived and a good one as usual, including a test of the excellent Skelton panel saw, below.
But what really caught my attention was a new product launch. Now I've been in sales and marketing for many of my life and if there's one thing I can't stand its long winded bullshit! Please read this until the end, it's priceless!

Jeremy Smith, Marketing Manager. 'Tesa 62510 offers companies in various sectors a powerful solution for constructive bonding that creates new possibilities for innovative mounting designs through promoting new combinations of materials, enhancing the end result and delivering a more efficient means of processing.'

Has anyone guessed?......... yes of course it's double sided sticky tape!!!!!!!

But what really made me smile was the dry comment that followed from the editor

'Phew! You probably wouldn't want to get stuck in the lift with Mr Smith.'

Saturday 17 December 2016

First Time Dovetails from Tennassee

Paul kindly sent me these pictures of his very neat first attempt at dovetails.

In his words, 'I cut my first dovetails. I used all your tools to do it and I must say I'm pleased with your system'

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Work Benches from 1983

On my recent visit to Dansel gallery I picked up a few magazines from the early 1980's. This one with Alan Peters on the front cover immediately caught my eye.

It was interesting to see the work benches on offer from that period, both from Scandinavia and both still in production today in exactly the same design.

What struck me was that both benches have very practical shoulder vices, which are sadly lacking from any of the mainstream benches on offer in the UK today.
Both manufacturers have different solutions to the issue of moving the jaw in and out smoothly. The Sjoberg bench has a free spinning circular plastic face which works well except it has a tendency to twist the work on the final turn. The Lervad vice has a fixed rectangular jaw secured to the two rods. To me this seems the better solution with the only small draw back being its inability to hold tapered work. Going by the far greater numbers of Sjoberg bench that come up for sale on E Bay I guess this was the more popular.
It would interesting to know the prices then, perhaps I should do as the advert says and send a stamped address envelope and wait for a prompt reply!

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Blue Sruce Dovetail Chisels

A little package arrived yesterday from Classic Hand Tools. You may think this is a nice Christmas present, but I actually ordered it back on July! I understood that I would have to wait but when the first one arrived after about 10 weeks the handle was smaller than the others in my set bought about 10 years ago. At some stage the standard handle size was reduced, although the distributor was unaware of this. If you are looking to supplement your Blue Spruce chisels then it would be as well to quote the length when ordering.

After another 10 weeks the replacement arrived however it had a cocobolo handle which didn't match the rest of the set! This mistake finally got Blue Spruce into action and my correct replacement arrived in about 10 days. These chisels are great for finer dovetails and I now have the matching 3/16" to complete my set, all I need now is a new chisel tray!

Sunday 11 December 2016

Very Nice Wall Shelves

Joe from London sent me these pictures of a shapely wall cabinet he recently completed.                  The ash contrasts nicely with the oak and that looks like plenty of well executed dovetails.

Friday 9 December 2016

Curved Dovetail Box.

Following on from the box I made with angled dovetails, I decided to make one with curved dovetails. It's made from birds eye maple, Brazilian mahogany and amboyna for the lid.
The parts were all shaped before cutting the dovetails in order to scribe a curved baseline for even sized tails. The insides were kept square which helped in marking the pins from the tails as well as making the box easier to line.

You can see the angled lining which allows the top to be tilted and lifted off, which can be done with one hand. I didn't want a handle spoiling the highly figured amboyna. The padded pig suede base was glued in before the mitred lining was fitted.

I've written an article for Furniture and Cabinet Making magazine which will show the full making process as well as having an exploded drawing with all dimensions.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Krenov Style Wall Cabinet

I made this cabinet a short while ago using a piece of wonderfully figured ash for the door and quartered olive ash for the carcass (the shot above has come out rather pale). The front is gently curved with a corresponding concave curve on the inside, all hand planed. Even though the cabinet is only small (21" x 8" x 5") the door took a lot of effort.

The carcass is dovetailed and I carved a tiny scallop to open the door.

The shelves followed the same curve on their front and were double chamfered to add to the effect of lightness.

The tiny knife hinges were from Sanderson Hardware and are superbly made and small enough to suit the scale of the piece.

Saturday 3 December 2016

English Walnut at its Best.

A friend of mine, Andy, sent me this (teasing!) picture of a tiny bit of walnut root from a monster tree he is due to saw shortly. He is hopeful it will produce some wonderful timber and looking at this I think he's probably right. You can see his website here
Below is a video showing one of his logs being converted at the saw mill.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Bill Carter Plane Maker

Furniture and Cabinet Making magazine recently did an excellent article on pioneer plane maker Bill Carter. He has been an inspiration directly or indirectly to most, if not all, of the infill makers around today.

At 77 he is still making wonderful planes and coming up with new ideas, although his output is understandably a bit less these days. He currently has a few planes for sale on his website

Cupids bow dovetails above.

He's made infill planes from 2" up to these massive 36" jointers.

I'm lucky enough to have a few of his planes and this one is possibly my favourite, in all bronze with antique boxwood infill and a mouth so tight you can barely see through it! It is 6" long with a 1 1/2" iron and not surprising works rather well!

Monday 28 November 2016

New Book on Box Making

Although this book has recently come out, it's not strictly new as it's a rerun of 25 box making articles from Furniture and Cabinet Making magazine from the last 10 years or so. I like this format as it brings together common projects in one 156 page volume. They have taken the time to drop in new backgrounds and harmonise the text layout which gives a nice continuity to the book.

Each project comes with excellent exploded drawings as well as detailed dimensions which is great if you want to have a go yourself. I was pleased to see four of my articles had been included, a blanket chest above and unusual cufflink box below. well as a jewellery box and a Japanese style box.

Great box maker Robert Ingham has three chapters on his fine precision boxes.

Australian Andrew Potocnik with a lovely box below.

 ...and a couple of projects by perfectionist Ian Hawthorne, one of them a Royal wedding gift!
Talking of gifts this book would make a great Christmas present and is available at bargain prices on Amazon both here and in the US.