Monday, 11 March 2013

Whacking Sticks

New Mallets

Small woodcarving mallet
 Small mallet
End view of Mallets

There comes  time in any workshop when you have to hit something - for all manner of reasons...
I have large and heavy mallets but nothing more subtle, so I made these.
The carving mallet has a hornbeam head and a beech handle, the small mallet is made from beech, with oak faces.
The handle design is my own - I find it works well whether you hold the end of the handle, or hold it next to the head for fine work, though the end of the carving mallet should probably have a bigger flare at the end.

The handles are glued and wedged to the head so they won't come loose.

In case you are wondering, the markings on the carving mallet are spalting lines, which don't appear to be any softer than the rest of the head. The beech I used for these mallets had resident woodworm at some point in the past, so I filled the holes and grooves with black epoxy filler - I rather like the finish, but I will probably avoid the wormy bits if I make any of these for customers.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Not so plain planes

New toys

   A good tool should be functional, fit the hand well and either last forever (usually means very expensive), or last well for it's price.
Some, like these Veritas planes are elegantly made, a joy to use,  and look good enough to hang on the wall. They also look like they will last and last. I bought one and liked it so much that I got the second, narrower one soon afterwards.
These are detail rebate planes, and are designed for cleaning up the bottoms of slots, or into corners.
I work with small things a lot and will use them for all the things that a block plane is too big for.

Veritas tools usually come into the expensive but very good category, but these are imperial rather than metric and are being discontinued so I got them for half price. Having tried them I think they are probably worth the full price (over £50 at time of writing).

I've started making use of the planes I own more lately, in an attempt to reduce the amount of sanding I do - and it seems to be working,  long shavings don't get into the lungs, and they are easier to sweep up.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cats in the Autumn

Cats in the Autumn

As the weather gets colder, cats should be moved into a greenhouse to keep them warm.
Don't bother to prepare a pot for them, they'll always choose the one you don't want them in.

Whatever you do don't wake them before spring (or mealtime) it makes them angry.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Pin Bowl Wizard...

Stages in making a pin bowl

Pin bowls are an attractive and functional item.
Even more so when they are made from striped wood.

First make a sandwich of three contrasting pieces of wood,  in this case two blocks of beech, and a 6mm thick piece of mahogany.
The beech came from a closed down builders yard, and the mahogany from the side of an old drawer - recycling again.
Both sides of the mahogany and one side of each piece of beech were sanded flat, then glued together under lots of pressure from four clamps.

 Here's one I made earlier, the woods are steamed pear and african blackwood, a plain bowl is shown for contrast.
I'm out of practice at working with striped wood, the black circle in the centre of the bowl was a pleasant surprise
The stripe is also at a slight angle so the circle is off-centre, it's a design feature obviously...

The one on the left was made for Helen and is in use in her workshop.
The plain bowl is for sale, and will soon be joined by more striped bowls.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Snow and Stars

Stars and Snow
or snow and stars

Coloured stars made from birch plywood, these will soon be part of moon and stars mobiles.
This was our neighbour's hedge a few days ago when the snow had just fallen. Whebn the snow goes away, I'll give the hedge a trim, before the birds start nesting in it.
At the bottom of the window is our cat Humbug, taking a very dim view of the cold snow, and wondering why the madman with the camera is wandering about in the cold.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Recycled wood

Recycled Wood
I use a lot of recycled wood from  variety of sources.
Drawers from old furniture are a good source of a variety of thin timber.
Beech sewing Machine bases like this are common, and aren't worth mending, but are a good source of solid, well seasoned wood.
Recycled materials aren't necessarily cheaper than new ones, when you take into account the time spent preparing them, and removing nails and screws, but there are a lot of advantages.
Often I'm using material which  would end up in landfill, or be turned into chipboard and I have built up a stock which would be expensive to match in new wood, and may not be available from renewable, or ethical sources.
There is very little waste from this, good clean wood is used for making automata, or tools for sale, the wood that is marked or stained is used for jigs, or parts that are not visible, and what is left goes on the firewood pile.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Rugmaking Tools

I've just added rugmaking tools to my website.
The next job is to work out the most efficient way to cut out stars from a sheet of plywood, for moon and star mobiles - so I'll be cutting cardboard stars to try different layouts.
The hard bit is getting them close together, but spaced so they can be cut out quickly.