It’s always with a bit of trepidation that you start to assemble pieces or components into a finished piece. You don’t know if you got the measurements right, if you’ve mixed up left and right of, just plainly miscalculated how the whole lot will look.

Anyway, that’s the current stage in my marathon chair making project. The hours of sawing are over, the plane is sort of set aside, the mallet and chisel are resting and it’s all down to glue and clamps and sandpaper. Lots of sandpaper.

Some of the parts are already glued as you can see and it’s starting to look like a chair…

The spindles at the back of the chair are going to take a long time as each one is a slightly different length and at a slightly different angle … no mass- production possible, but then there’s no hurry.

I’m using wooden pins made from some peach wood to reinforce some of the joints that are likely to get most strain and they take a little while to make too, but it’s the sort of handwork that isn’t too strenuous and I prefer the idea of pins to metal screws.

Well, still a long way to go before I’m finished but I’ll keep posting as it changes…


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Comfortably out of my comfort zone.

Most of the stuff I do now, as a hobby, is something that takes me well outside my comfort zone. This has been the case now for at least the last 7 or 8 years.

When my heart starts pumping that little bit faster and I know it’s crucial that I get it right, that’s when I know I’m expanding my skills and treading new ground…. for me at least. If there’s not a video on YouTube to tell me how, then I’m really treading new ground.

I’m currently turning my cut-up bits of log into components, so this is no major feat for mankind, we have been doing this sort of thing for centuries. I just visualise each component as an individual sculpture and spend a lot of time making it as perfect as possible, given my limited experience.

The components are all stacked up against my radiator to dry off. Some of them twisted quite badly, but I knew this might happen so I cut them too large and, when I thought they had settled down a bit, I cut them to shape and planed them to size.

I’ve been reading Quiet which is about introverts in an extrovert world, and I’m finding it fascinating [and you know I don’t usually recommend books] as it touches a number of issues like patience, dedicated concentration and solitude, all primary requirements for me and others of a similar disposition during a creative/productive process.

The reason I feel comfortable outside my comfort zone [who doesn’t love an oxymoron] is because I give myself loads of Time to draw on my thinking, visualisation and concentration, all of which I am very comfortable with.

Breaking things down into component steps, setting small tasks and giving myself ample time makes it all quite possible.

Not much in the way of photos as yet, but I will post stuff as it starts to take shape.

Meantime…back to my solitude

Hugs to all and a happy new year


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Sawing over

….not completely, but all the heavy stuff is done.

All the wood I hope I’ll need is now drying off before I get to work planing and squaring up individual elements and starting to think about assembling them all into some sort of harmonious whole.

The unknown element is how much the pieces will twist and turn while drying, but I have over-dimensioned them all to allow for some movement. The wood was lying around for over a year, so hopefully it’s not ‘green’ although the moisture content is still quite high. They’ve all been sitting on my radiator next to the computer for a while. I’ve just gathered them all in one place now for a group photo.

I’ve cut enough for two chairs … the basic design looks something like this….

…an excellent use of Inworldz, I think, I have measured the prims and got the angles ….so a full-size drawing (which would be nice) is not going to happen …I don’t have a drawing table anymore, or any large bits of paper…

Anyway, I’ll be having a Planing Christmas break this year and filling the workshop with shavings…. but, unless I get a visit from Mr. Cockup, I shouldn’t have to saw up any more logs… *phew*!

Have a great break..


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Busy in the workshop

Sometimes you look and wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, but then, that’s what we do, mostly. Time and patience usually proves that we should have had a bit more self-belief.

That’s what happened with my latest bit of wood. Too heavy to carry I loaded it on the back of my client’s sit-on mower and drove it round to the car where I tipped it in and drove it home, then tipped it out into the workshop.

The first cut took 3 hours to get half-way … omg … so I went out and bought a new saw. The second half took an hour, but the wood was not quite so dense.

This is what it looked like after the first cut..

Nice lumps of spalted beech, just a few more days of sawing to see if there are two excellent pieces for my next project.

Apart from being a human saw-mill, I’ve also been planing wood for all I’m worth and have a few pieces drying next to the radiator next to the computer.

So… what am I up to? Well, I have in mind to make a couple of chairs. I saw a pair of ‘Danish” style armchairs on eBay and they were £900, so I figured I could try and make some. Even if it took 6 months (which it most probably will) it will be a real test of my skills … I’ll have to do things that I haven’t done before…. and they’ll be unique.

Spalted wood has been invaded by bacteria and fungi that create the black and brown ‘lines’ as well as bleaching parts of the wood. The trick is finding wood that still is structurally sound, and that sort-of matches the other parts. No wonder it’s usually only used for bowls and small items.

Well, I don’t have much else to do this winter and, unlike my sculptures, I have a client (me) who will use them.

Anyway … as they begin to take shape I’ll post some images….

…if my arms haven’t fallen off completely.

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Why I hate OSX Mavericks…

OK…so I know upgrades take a bit of time to get used to, but…

Safari has stopped working properly..

1) It sends a crash report everytime I log out “Safari closed unexpectedly ..” not really, dummmy, I just closed it.
2) left click “open as Tab” does work.
3) My bookmarks menu is shared with other users…why?

Gimp doesn’t work properly…

When I log out it takes forever…

and this is just after one day using it.

I HAVE repaired disk permissions … no improvement.

Now, I know there are often a few lumps and bumps that need ironing out, but the general impression is that my whole Mac has slowed down. Why release it when it’s shit?

I am not a happy bunny.


April 12th 2014 update… I downgraded to Mountain Lion at least on one drive to start with…

good stuff…


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Spalted beech and other news…’s been absolutely ages since I blogged and I’ve missed it, but I’ve been busy with planting an orchard for a client and other more boring stuff like mowing and weeding…

To bring you up to date with stuff I’ve been doing in the workshop… well, you remember the last thing I posted? This bowl was gonna get a face-lift…

…it’s all ready now for some paint…

..something I hope to start this weekend as both my arms have fallen off. [more of that later...]

Then…there were the two knives…I couldn’t have them rolling around on the bench so I cut up a pair of old boots and made temporary/permanent sheaves for them…

…and in a fit of general tidying-up-ness I made a draw for all my small files and chisels…

But, the big project I’ve started on is cutting up some logs for timber/lumber for a new project. I mentioned that I had access to tons of timber, one huge beech (deceased) and an oak. Well, I have large lumps of this now stashed in the garage and I’ve started cutting up the beech…

Two hours later….

…the thing is you never know how good or bad the timber is going to be. It could be full of worm holes …it could be boring and colourless … so it could be a waste of arms and hours…

Luckily it wasn’t and I now have some very nicely marked timber with good ‘spalting’. The colours come from bacteria and water seeping into the wood as it dries and the trick is to get it before it rots, while it still has some strength. I should make interesting woodwork…

Well, that’s about it at the moment…

.. more photos later as the bowl gets finished and I wear my arms out even more…


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My new knife

So, I finished my second knife … more of a heavy duty beast than the craft knife.

The blade is hand forged in carbon steel by a Finnish maker and 4mm thick, so it should take a bashing. The handle is peach wood and birch with coloured epoxy resin, epoxy ptty and epoxy glue all used as decorative material.

The design is maybe a bit ambitious as it’s very tricky to get the curves to match perfectly, but the result is certainly good enough for workshop use.

The silver ferrule was nearly two ounces of silver and really a bit much for my old blow-torch to manage so the smelt was not perfect but the added weight is excellent as it gives a certain ‘bite’ to the blade.

The end carving is Milky Way inspired … spiral galaxy, that is.

So, now I have a good pair of knives and I’ll have to save my pennies for a decent carpenter’s axe.

My next project, apart from making a rough sheath for the second knife ( I made one already for the craft knife from a pair of old boots) involves this nice wooden bowl. It’s a Munising dough bowl made in flame birch or maple, not quite sure, and bought at a boot fair (garage sale).

I had to have it as it is 13 inches wide which is a huge piece of expensive timber if I was going to try to get it today. The bowl is from the 50’s or 40’s and has warped slightly out of circular which happens to old turned bowls.

The plan is to refurbish it and generally colour it up.

More later…


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My new craft knife.

I just finished my new craft knife, it’s one of a pair of knives I need for general carving and hacking at bits of wood. The next one will be more heavy duty..

I have a bit of a problem with scalpels as they are so hard on the finger tips and so easy to break once you start cutting anything tougher than cardboard….so, the solution was to make my own…

This one has a 42 mm blade made by Lauri in Finland, a hard carbon blade which is said to be one of the best for the price.

I made the handle from apricot wood (from a garden) with a bit of birch I gathered myself from a “witches broom”. The resin (blues) I made myself too. The ferrule is solid silver which I melted down and bashed a lot, and the brass is cut from some old hinges I had lying around.

I set a little garnet into the end…

The whole knife cost me about $8, so I’ve splashed out on my next one…

My next knife is going to be done in peach too, I think, and I went mad a bought a bit of fancy birch. The blade itself is a Vikstom 95, hand forge by Kay Vikstom, also Finnish and cost a whopping $80 …

I’m starting on it this afternoon…


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Status update

Well, I’ve finished my work bench, more or less, and fitted a nice new vise which I am very pleased with…..

..and, I’ve decided I like this idea of commissioning work from me …for me. For one thing I don’t need to worry about selling anything, and, I get one (more or less) satisfied customer.

So, I won a bit of money from the UWA competition and I’m going to spend it on tools. My first project is to buy some top quality knife blades from Finland and make some really good handles and sheaths for them…

the post brought me this today…

Brass sheet, some fancy birch and a very small knife blade.

..and I’ve started melting some silver for the fittings. I’ve been a bit of a hunter/gatherer this week picking up pieces of wood from various gardens for possible tool handles, or other decorative bits. Trouble is it all takes so long to dry… oh well, “patience etc.

The weather’s been great here this summer and I’ve been very busy in other people’s gardens … work, work, work … quite boring unless I get a holiday out of it this year…

we’ll see…


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Beavering away at some old wood.

I was sitting drinking a morning coffee last weekend, outside, as the weather has been glorious, and heard the unmistakeable sound of wood being loaded into a skip. Being a veteran skip raider I wandered round to see one of my neighbours dumping lots of shelving as they are moving house….. I had the lot.

Now just previous to this I had decided to make myself a workbench, my logic being that I have two clients, one with about 5 tons of spalted beech and the other with about 3 tons of dry oak which I could use for whatever I what. Although I have been tempted to buy a glass kiln I reasoned that I have some woodworking skills from my misspent youth when, instead of raising hell in local bars, I had unlimited access to a full equipped joinery workshop.

Seeing as how I am determined to get a holiday this winter after 6 years of wishing for one, I decided I wouldn’t spend, say, $1000 dollars on a new hobby [i.e. glass] but content myself with doing some wood work.

The cosmos sent me a work bench…

There was one good size oak shelf and that I’m using on the left [top of the image] behind the [future] vice to take the bench dogs [pegs]. The pine shelving I’m laying down in two layers and using dowels to hold it all together. I stained them black for decoration..

I still have no idea what I want to make, but working off the floor is a pain in the butt, so I’m hoping that having a proper ‘work station’ will get me in the mood.

I first used epoxy resin and wood together when I was a youth and I think that my recent exploits with coloured resins could tie in nicely with some wood and maybe a bit of silver too…

Anyway… as long as I can resist the temptation to spend a few hundred dollars on a bench vice … I should have a bench for nearly nothing.

I’m going to reorganise my workshop too, the current set-up was just thrown together when I first arrived here and so far it’s served it’s purpose … but now I want a bit more order and space. Time for an overhaul.

I’ll report back when it’s finished.


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