Sunday, 29 April 2012

Customer projects

 I've been sending a lot of tools across the pond in the last few months and it's always nice to hear how people are getting on. It's even nicer to see what they have made. Here is very nicely proportioned blanket chest made by John in Texas. He used my magnetic dovetail guide and mini smoother in the making of this piece.

That's a fine piece of curly maple for the lid panel.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Here's the box finished ready for the trays and lining to be fitted. The finish I used was 10 coats of thinned  melamine lacquer applied with a cloth. It dries almost instantly so it didn't take too long to apply. I then cut it back with 600 grit abranet followed by 1000 grit to leave a matt surface. An application of a strong carnauba wax blend left a nice sheen. 
The book matched spalted maple was very effective.
I bought these 90 degree hinges a while ago from box maker Ian Hawthorne, the grooves are cut on the  router table with an 8 mm bit as per the instructions. Unfortunately the the hinges were really tight and on checking them they were 8.25 mm wide which was a bit of a fiddle to fit. I suspect the chroming caused the size change.

I fitted a delicate handle from African black wood, it took a little while to shape and fit, but little details like this are worth the effort.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


The lid for the box ended up a fraction undersized. Rather than 'make do', I decided to make a new lid for the  box and a  new box for the undersized lid. The picture above shows the book matched panel being glued up using stretched masking tape on both sides to draw the joint tight.
Here are all the components for the second box. The coloured dots  keep  everything in the right place.
Here is the offending lid, it's only a tenth of a mil undersized but the hinge fitting method needs perfect alignment. 
The new box has conventional through dovetails and it's shown here being supported on a  notched planing board being planed smooth ready for final sanding. I'm not left handed but you need to come at this from both sides in order to avoid break out of the end grain.
Here's the new box assembled ready for the lid to be fitted.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

For cutting the very small dovetails on the trays I use a hand made saw by Mitsukawa along with a miniature version of my dovetail guide.

The fine dovetail chisels by Blue Spruce are great for working on a smaller scale. The handles are tough enough to be tapped with a hammer. I made a little tray for the set which is a very useful way of using and storing them. I allowed a space for one of my dovetail marking knives, also with an African Blackwood handle.

Fine, sharp tools are needed for crisp results on this small scale.

The trays all glued up and put on a flat surface to set. I checked very carefully for squareness, taking the reading from the inside of the trays so as not to get a false reading from the protruding dovetails.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Jewellry box

I made the outside of this box at the beginning of the year, it's one of those 'no rush' jobs. I'm now going to make the three tays and lid.

I like to finish the inside of the trays before cutting the dovetails, a sharp plane is best on these smaller pieces, sandpaper tends to round the edges no matter how carefull you are. Also the plane is quicker and with a slightly curved edge I can go straight to the shellac and wax finish.

The sides of the trays are 7.5 mm thick by 30 mm high and I like to get nice clean edges which is not really possible with the planer, especially on the curly grain. My method is to clean up one edge on the shooting board and then carefully size on the table saw. I then clean the other edge up with identical strokes (5) to keep the boards all exactly the same height.

My wooden jointer is both effortless and comfortable to use.

Here are the finished parts cut to excat length on the table saw. Note the coloured dots which are very useful. They tell me which is the outside, which is the top and which parts go together. When there is more than one set I add a number to the dots to prevent them getting mixed up.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Yandles show

Demonstrating cutting dovetails using my magnetic guide, I must have cut 200 over the two days, I'm glad I can do it sitting down!

The mornings got very busy. I didn't even get a chance to look round the show myself.

Just to show it wasn't all hard work.

I must make myself a bigger bench or get a bit tidier with my tools!

Phil Edwards was in the same marquee, flying the flag for Lie Nielsen.

James helped me throughout the show which was much appreciated. Here he is having some curly shavings theropy!

James brought in a high angle smoother he made from my plans published in Furniture and Cabinetmaking. He did a good job and it felt very nice in the hand.

The prize for the cutest visitor has to go to this 11 week old pug / chiwawa cross called Millie. She was having a very hard time time staying awake.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Yandles woodworking show.

Here's my stand set up the night before the show. I take my small bench to demonstrate dovetailing as well as letting people have a go with my planes etc. The show seems to grow every year and it was packed all day, I didn't get a chance to visit other stands, maybe it will be a little quieter tomorrow.

Yandles has always been a wood yard and here's a picture of the massive crane they used to use for moving logs across the yard.

I always get tools and furniture brought in which has been inspired by the many articles I've written for Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine. These photos are of some very nice pivot hinge boxes with some amazing marketry, see below.

Yandles is set in a very picturesque part of Somerset with some wonderful old country houses, this is Montecute House about 3 miles from the show. Now that's what you call a grand entrance!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Parcel from Sweden

Today an extremely robust package arrived from Sweden in a white washed pine box.

The contents were so firmly packaged I had to unscrew one side of the box to get them out!

If you hadn't already guessed it is a vintage screw box complete with sample screw for reference. The pair of cutters are held in place with bent screws and an additional screw, crude but effective. Access to the cutters is via a removable cover located with dowels. The size is 2 1/4" and everthing set and sharp enough to produce both the screw and nut.

I love old tools, they are efficient, economical, well used and 'warm'.

The story behind the this tool arriving goes back 4 or 5 years when I ordered a work bench from Leif Karlsson in sweden . He makes work benches in the old way and his father made James Krenovs work bench, some recommendation! I have made a dozen or so work benches since (it can be obsessive, just ask Chris Schwarz!) and asked Leif if he knew where I could obtain a screw box large enough to produce the wooden vices. A year ago he conatcted me to say a friend of his had a screw box he would sell, to which I said yes but I heard no more. Then just recently I received a very nice letter complete with photos offering me the screw box. The Swedish are very proud of their country and their laid back lifestyle, I need to slow down a bit!!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Left handed planes.

A customer in the US has ordered a left handed jointer plane which I will be making in my next plane batch. I used to make a small number of left handed planes for stock but there was very little take up. The one shown above, made from Indian Laurel, is the last of this stock made a few years ago which will be going to the same customer.

When I looked at the plane the mouth was a little wider than I liked and I wasn't happy sending it. This situation was resolved by fitting a brass mouth insert and this technique could equally be used on any wooden plane to bring it back to former glory!

The first step was to prepare a piece of 1/4" brass on the disc sander with sides dovetailed at about 10 degrees. The blade was then position with a small but even protrusion and the brass insert pushed so that it rested agianst the edge. I carefully knifed around the insert with a scalpel, going over my marks a few times in order to make a clear impression in the ultra hard Lignum Vitae sole.

I then set my laminate trimmer to slightly less than the depth of the brass and carefully excavated the waste and trimmed back to the lines. Note the protective duster in the jaws of my vice, I didn't want to have to refinish the plane as well!

Here is the finished insert with the blade set, now that's more like the mouth a fine smoother should have.

I used to make all my planes with a brass insert, I'd forgotten how nice it looked.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Giant Prawns

This hill top view shows a German fort in the distance. It is now being used by a fishing company to process the fresh fish they catch. They also have a BBQ and we ordered some giant prawns in garlic and chillie, this was the best food we've had so far, as well as being the cheapest and freshest!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Holiday in Jersey

Every year we go on a least one walking holiday and this time it's in Jersey. It was a lovely day but the wind was cold hence the thick clothing. I'm leaning against a German gun from WW2, evidence of their occupation is all along the coast.

My wife Lesley, equally well protected from the wind!

The jersey coastline is fantastic, changing from expanses of wonderful sandy beaches to rugged rocky coves.