Thursday, May 31, 2007


Today's efforts all following on from yesterdays decisions, bandsawing planing and finally a couple of tenon joints cut on wood cut to final length for the top and bottom. There are quite a few joints on the door, but I think I have all the timber for the rails and stiles. Next I have to sort out some wood for panels with a bit of grain figure in, but I think that can wait a couple of days while I get the framework up together. I lent my big sketch book to my daughter to have a go on today, so back on smaller sheets. I don't think she liked it much, but she really needs to do more preparatory drawing for her architecture work with a bit of vim in it at the brainstorming phase.
Mighty rain outside and thunder a plenty.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Planks everywhere and not a mote in sight, but my eyes do feel a little stingy from the dust.
Starting up on the door, so surrounded by all the planks that I had stacked as possibles for use in that. It is always a challenge to get what you want from the timber without wasting too much or making a dumb move and missing some better arrangement of parts that will work better, once you cut, you are pretty much stuck with your decision. These projects are all with solid timber and often found or recycled, so, nails, knot holes, checks and rot are some of the features I have to take into account as well as warpage, past present and future.
Aside from that rather pondersome task I chiselled away at the surface of a counter top and trued that up with a variety of planes, and sharpened some of the same
Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lift off

I still don't seem able to pick up the drawing, I'm spending more time on the piano instead. I got sammy to help me haul the table bits off of the bench and set them up at the other end of the shop again. It is covered with a blanket now and serving as a temporary bench until it gets shipped out. I must get in touch and arrange a date for lift off with the client.
The tree frog egg saving effort is still ongoing. They have only laid one batch over our pond so far, but the loopy ones laying on the outside of the concrete pipe standing in the field made a huge souffle yesterday that needed shifting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

T slots

The sofa bound work is still not done, but I escaped down to the shop for a couple of sessions on more manual work. I have a bit for the router that cuts out an inverted T section from the timber. I drill a hole down to the depth I need and plunge the bit to the depth of the hole and then run it laterally to give purchase under the surface for the head of a bolt. There are little metal brackets on the stem of the table and they have holes to engage the bolts. There are two of the special T holes in line down the center of the plank for the table top. If you fix a plank like this across its width so that it cannot expand and contract with the changing seasons it will crack in no time or in the case of zelkova even snap screws or bolts. There is little or no change in size along the length of the timber, so I should be safe enough with this method.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I am camped out on the sofa again with rewriting work to wade through. I had a brief trip out with sammy to buy supplies including a few little fish to liven up our pond. Watching them explore their new home we dicovered a lot else.
I am not sure if newts can actually snuggle, but these two seemed to be giving it a good shot. They really seem to like these plants we popped in last year for laying their eggs on. These have black bodies with a fiery red belly when they turn over. You might have to click on the picture to zoom in. We also spotted tree frogs and snapped one of them from the step ladder you can see the top of in the reflection. There is a concrete drain pipe in the field next to the house where these frogs sometimes lay their foamy balls of eggs. Unfortunately the pipe is full, so this year and last they have laid on the outside of it where the eggs don't stand a chance, so we moved this year's batch over to a spot just above our pond today where I hope they will be happy enough until the tadpoles are ready to squirm out.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I went along to the primary school sports day in my capacity as school councilor and doing nothing all day has left me drained of anything to pop in here. Better to take a break.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Site frame

All went well with the door frame fitting despite the rain and we finished in a couple of hours, so about a six hour round trip all in, getting home around noon. I was on a bottle crate doing the business most of the time while Sammy handily passed up bits and bobs. He drove back, which was handy, too. The Job site wasn't far on enough to warrant taking the window frame in the end, it would just have been in their way until they get the interior walls done. So I have that in the shop for a while and I can make up the window itself as I get on to the door and other stuff.
Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Twistable 8

I am off to fit the door frame tomorrow, so tidied up the workbench a bit after loading up everything for the trip. This will be the last picture of the table before it gets scorched. I had sammy help me lift it on to the bench. I need to see it once in its new colors before I decide whether to call it quits and take it to its new home, so it will be exposed to the flame in the next couple of days. Sammy is off school at the moment as there has been a bit of an outbreak of measles, so they have shut up shop for a couple of weeks. He will be coming along to the fitting tomorrow, so perhaps we can share the driving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I got the rest of the glueing done on the window frame and cut the little rebates for the hinges on the door frame. Then when I was fairly happy the glue had taken hold I popped the frame in the vice and had at it with the arbortech and the belt sander. As I've said before, the vice can be tilted and swiveled, and here it is tilted back a bit to give a good cross light that will show how I am doing with shaping the profile. The wall timber on the house is 12cm, so the rounded part sticks out about 12mm beyond that to make the timber of the shaped part just proud of the plaster board or drywall, which will cover the square bits on the corners. The window is in an iterior wall between an entrance way and a corridor, so there is no need for weather proofing or anything. The other side will have to wait till tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I started making up materials yesterday for the window sketched back on March 24th. Today I managed to get as far as an initial glue up of some of the laminated parts for the frame. Here I am using a little wood block as a spacer to draw in a curved line ready to bansaw out an arch a bit smaller than the other pieces already sawed to provide a rebate for the window to sit in. One of those fiddly jobs where the little finger gets in the way and has to stick out genteelly. I will make up some little lipping pieces eventually to hold the window in place once it is made. I hope to get the frame done to take along when I go to fit the door frame later in the week. Low battery on the camera meant I rather rushed it and it got a bit blurred, never mind.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Epson salted

I think it is in a Kipling book that there is a story about an elephant that has an iron ring on its foot after escaping captivity and it struggles month after month with all its might in its obsession to free itself of the loathsome object and eventually gives up, then one day many years later a little baby elephant notices it and plucks it off with ease as the old ring has rusted nearly right through.
A while back our printer suddenly packed its trunk and displayed a message saying it wanted its internals serviced. I made a few sallies into the world of printer maintenance on the web, but after trying this and that we wrapped it in a cloth and left it in a darkened room to moulder having found that the maitenance cost was about half the price of a printer.
Today I ventured once more onto the webby waves and found a suggestion about button combinations being pushed when turning on the printer rather than any special utility application, so I experimented with their suggestions with no luck, then tried obvious combinations eventually pushing all three big buttons on the right and ON, and there it was "Ink waste counter restart complete". Of course it has left me rather tired, especially as I was tying myself in knots on the floor at the same time, but it was nice to defeat Epson in some small way.
It goes to show that there is a time and place for everything, it just might not always be now, so it's best to get on with other things until the time is right.

Pencil sketch

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I've been down in the shop all day with the dust shaping up the table and welding some stuff up and it has left me a little shell shocked. I realized a long while back that the respiratories need attention, so I had the piggy mask on, also defending the ears with a set of mufflers. There is still something rather fatiguing about working for extended periods with machines.
These were the little bits of glass I mentioned the other day. They will be about seven foot up on the inside corners of the door frame facing. I shall aim to return to drawing duty on the morrow.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Late, but not great. I left the sketching just a bit too long and dinner came around.
We have a friend staying and here we are gradually wilting around the table as dinner digestion takes away energy for conversation. The music we have on is that version of somewhere over the rainbow and what a wonderful world all mixed up by Isreal whatsname which makes bombings anywhere seem impossible while it is playing.
Artrage sketch

Friday, May 18, 2007

Glass pig

Today was another of those distracted days with translation work etc, so I decided to focus on glass engraving work for the door rather than the sanding on the table. Glad to have got two of those bits done, I was not sure if my idea would work out, but after a bit of a false start on one piece it went OK. I had the design drawn on a piece of plywood taped under the glass and worked with a little router tool with a flexible shaft. I didn't want to get everything wet, so I had to wear a mask to avoid hoovering up all the glass dust. I did the work in the sink out of habit, that makes it easy to wash the bits off when done and gets rid of the glass dust once finished, otherwise I end up breathing it in when sweeping the floor or something. A sink is useful in the shop for sharpening tools with water stones and whatnot.
Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I got my copper boots on, and spent a couple of hours with the kids making knotted misanga bracelets. They seem like a nice bunch of coconuts this year, some of the boys were a bit bubbly last time, but they settled down for the most part. One chap seemed to have one of those attention whatsnames and couldn't keep a grip long enough to do one row of knots. I guess he manages OK in school, but he must either get special attention or be gradually sinking. I couldn't decide whether to draw that session or something else, so opted for being stuck. It seems like I have to decide on a drawing during the day or it gets difficult to focus as the evening draws on. Anyway, even if I have a drawing in the brain box I think I spend quite a bit of time like this figuring out the shapes in my head, and doing very little with the stick eraser and the charcoal. I do have my sleeves rolled up, so I am set for action when ready to strike.
I was told about an episode in this area a while back to do with a teacher of near retirement age who had been riding a motorcycle when under the influence and crashed into the back of a truck. I don't think he was badly hurt, neither was anybody else. He was sacked from his job and declared ineligible for a pension. I guess somebody somewhere has decided he is to be made an example of. I could understand a suspension from duty, and a fine, but to cross somebodies life out just to make an example of them is mighty dubious. I am surprised not to have heard of any strike action. Meanwhile in Tokyo school teachers are being suspended from their jobs if they refuse to sing along to the national anthem at ceremonies where the flag is raised. I wonder when common sense went down the drain, they really ought to get that U bend off and see if it isn't stuck somewhere down there with all those other things that didn't seem useful to spin with. I guess the worst thing is that this is how the people that run the education system feel that they should be doing things. I shall be on the look out for little moustaches.
Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Copper boots

A similar view to yesterday, but more light. I realized I would be pushed for time as I had a meeting this evening, so I took a picture of the copper fitting scene. This always seems like it should be simple, but ends up taking a long time. Getting a nice tight fit is the issue as well as making sure that you don't mess up any nails etc. Those one handed clamps are a big help. I only had time to get one of the little booties attached before seven o'clock came round and I had to sign off. That was the one nearest here with the copper still unshaped resting on top. I am leaving the wood scorching for a friend to do as he kind of needs the work. If that doesn't happen I shall entrust it to Sammy or do it myself. I have just scorched the areas around the copper as that has to be done first. The ends also have to be treated with preservative as the any traces of silicon I use to bond the copper on tend to repel the finish if it is applied later. Volunteer work with the kids again tomorrow afternoon, but I should be able to get all the feet on before it is time to head off to that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I thought I was in for another gap day as the Internet connection went down for a couple of hours. Strange how one begins to rely on these things. I must arrange an alternate link while the misery is fresh in the mind.
I had a bit of a reshuffle in the shop today after shaping up the exterior facing. The table is back out from its corner and a few other things are shifted around. The door frames always remind me of napoleons tomb when they are laid out on the bench like this, not sure why. I think it may be because the first one I did in the shop was a bit more scrolly and I had the door in the frame to match the shape of the door to the frame. I still have the glass to do and the copper clading, but I seem to have timed it about right. I had a call from the site supervisor today asking about fitting the frame, so I shall be off to Yokohama to do that next week. As you can tell by the lighting I stayed down in the shop a bit longer than usual, so my time space for drawing evaporated.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sam curry

Sammy is on dinner duty today, curry. I wasn't actually standing on a ladder looking over his shoulder, just visualizing the vegetable chopping scene from the sofa next door. I don't know how he manages left handed, but I suppose you just do when it comes natually. Anyway he is on the piano again now.
I can't remember what I said I would be up to today, but actually it was back to the molding work again, I thought I might as well get the exterior facing all done as well while I am on the job, then the copper booties can go on all the relevant bits at the same time. Sammy had a bit of free time today, so he helped carry a stack of wood outside to clear an area I want to get dug out to extend the shop floor space.
I planted out a load of iris bulbs last autumn and the color is just beginning to show in the buds of those that survived wild boar and bird attacks, so it will be fun to see what comes out. A smaller bunch of white and yellow I planted ages ago are already out and looking very delicate. One flower got its neck chewed off by some form of grasshopper, lucky for him he didn't hang about gloating or I would have taken measures. The flower is still on but hanging squiffy. It is nice that the weather is warming up so we can all go about the house barefoot again.

Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Gas welder

So, how was your day?
I was fiddling about with the door frame again and got another piece glued on.
I experimented with a tiny bit of glass engraving the other day as a little feature in the center of the interior molding and that seemed OK, so having that fitted in meant I could go ahead and glue the molding on.
Started truing up a piece of zelkova for a counter top that had once been used for a similar purpose but left out in the weather for many years to warp away to its hearts content. More of that activity of squinting across two straight edges to sight the twist and planing back to create a flat surface all the way around the rim making it easier for the counter to be screwed down to some support in the walls when it is fitted.
I was about to finish up for the day, but decided to have a quick go at gas welding to continue my moves toward getting back in practice. I had forgotten how much fun that is. TIG welding is similar, but there is all that UV light about. The other day I was having trouble with gas poping and so was the welding torch. Couldn't remember whether that meant a problem with the metal or the gas, so went on a little web search for it and found a nice page by some guy building his own light aircraft describing the gas reaching combustion temperature in the nozzle prior to exiting causing the explosive pop. Just hold back on the torch and let it cool and it is fine. If it still happens shield the torch or up the gas flow to keep it cool and give a hotter flame so you can keep the torch further away from the work. I also found a load of pages saying that it was to do with the type of steel being incompatible, due to differences in composition, just on the wrong track or a separate issue. It makes sense that if you can relight the acetylene just by playing the gas over metal that isn't even very red, then the stuff is reactive enough to blow up in the nozzle. Anyway having swept the floors pretty clear of shavings it seemed safe to risk a few pops of metal about the place. The welding work was just filling big gaps on some little flower shaped light shades I started months ago when I was trying out the fly press. Either copper clading for the foot of the door jams or back to the table legs tomorrow, I'll see how the mood takes me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Warm weather, I rolled up sleeves and trousers and had a bit of a tidy, sweeping the shop floor of its dust and shavings.
I think it was Stephen Hawking going on about "the arrow of time" in one of his books. Apparently that "arrow" points the direction of all things toward a less organized state letting us know which way is up in terms of time running from now until tomorrow instead of vice versa.
While making these doors or other objects a huge swirl of dust and shavings seems to confirm the theory of the arrow’s flight. Much of the beautiful organized record of the tree's life is jumbled into junk and falls to the floor of the shop, but a tiny part of that swirl remains as the object created. If there is an arrow of time I guess my role like all other living things is just to stall it for a while on its journey, steering it off course in a little circle or on a broader scale running errands in a cycle of birth and death. Many years from now the wood I saved from that yard the other month will hopefully still remain as a door frame on a house in Japan. Meanwhile the shavings and dust in the box here have gone into the fire and will later go on to the field to be partaken of by some other life form. On this planet we have a lot of time arrows circling about as wonderful creatures powered by the sun and born from a jumble of dirt that they later return to.
Everything is everything because everything changes.

Friday, May 11, 2007

One we did earlier

On a "one before the show" system for today. The smaller molding is pretty much as it was yesterday here with routing and evidence of rebating, but with a bit of material taken off and with the "save till last" fin removed. The other has been worked over with the sander having been in a similar state.
In the lower picture the smaller molding moves into the lead with the sanding etc done and the bits that show scorched and polished a little. The door lintle is the bit in the vice, the smaller molding will be glued on there tomorrow as all the interior facing can go on from the start.
The bits w
ith holes in here will be the corner pieces I spoke about the other day kneeling at the router.
So that's that for today.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

routing again

More on the router today making the two sections of facing for the top of the door frame. The method is similar, but because there is a curve I make a template out of plywood and use that to guide the router to make a groove that will give a fairly sharp line to follow when carving stuff out later. I also had to do a fair bit of hunting about to find a suitable piece of wood for both bits as I wanted something pretty fine grained. While searching I also started figuring out which bits I might use for the door, cutting the ends off and sniffing wood to check grain and species.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Back in the shop OK today. Making up some little corner decorations for the door frames. They will have glass inset in them like little windows, so I am routing out recesses in the back for that. I had the bits in the vice and knelt down to get a better view of the cutting. I had me dust mask on, too. But left it out, the right hand does the on switch with the thumb and the lock for raising or lowering the router bit.

Charcoal and compressed on cartridge 37x53cm

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Day away

No such luck with shop work, I spent the day on the computer instead learning about technical achievements in 2007 for a certain Japanese company. Drawing wise I revisited the one from the other day. The photo shows a view down the molding I was talking about and that is being roughed out in the drawing. I wear a light rain jacket type thing for these dusty jobs as it is easy to shake off the wood afterwards. I put the two pieces close to each other and just make a few marks where some convergences will match up and try to make the balance slightly wider or heavier at the bottom of the piece. Cross lighting helps in seeing how things are going, too.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Driver Sam

One of those days where I end up doing this at nearly midnight. Sammy did the driving to a cash and carry place we visit about once a month. He did great and it was very novel to be driven about by somebody new. It was nearly an hour's drive to get there, so his longest trip yet. It seems like a few moments ago that he was whimpering to get a chance to drive one day and there he is behind the wheel. He does seem to enjoy it, touch wood he will arrive safe at all his destinations.
Workshop wise I had a sweep up to clear the decks, carved in those moldings and set the frame up on the bench to figure out what to use for the top of the frame and decorative parts as well as digging out the glass I hope to inset in there. Hopefully onto that tomorrow.
Artrage squiggle on tablet PC.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Door doo

A change of tack for the day. Left is the set up I was describing yesterday. Top right the piece I was making as seen in top section. I make repeated cuts along the timber to remove furrows of material leaving the "leave till last" bit to support the base of the morticer while the rest is removed. On this one I also routed a groove to make a straight curve and took off the corners. I sometimes make the whole edge wavy, so that has to be carved later too. on this one the bulge in the middle will be carved into some swirly shapes later. The three pieces that make up the door jam are now in the clamps downstairs. You really can never have too many clamps. The external facing or trim (bottom rightmost piece) will go on between the final coat of mortar on the house and the painting or rendering.
The left drawing kind of shows the way a sort of arm sticks out from one corner of my bench. I was going to chop it off when I was making the thing, but I had seen pictures of benches with a vice on the corner, so thought it might turn into one of those. It hasn't, but it is odd how useful it is, even just to stand timber and clamps against, but mainly to allow access to the back of a piece to clamp it or whatever. I also used an old panel door for the center of the bench. The panels come out now, so that gives me a lot of variables for clamping and fitting stuff to the bench temporarily. As the project progresses perhaps it will make sense. Anyway, it got too late for any more profound drawing efforts.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sketchy molding

The main job of the day making the two molding sections for the interior frame of the door. I use a zippy rebating tool to furrow out the basic profile leaving a raised section that I can carve some shape into with the sander and chisels. Laying out the pieces to be done side by side. The main thing that can go wrong is the fence of the tool drifting away from the wood giving a wavy cut. Even though the weight of the workpiece is sufficient to stop it shooting along the bench I clamp stops at both ends so that I can push in hard sideways on the fence all along the cut. Onr of these is in clamps glued on to one of the pieces from yesterday. I really must get some more clamps.
Charcoal on cartridge. 37x53cm

Friday, May 04, 2007

Another fine mess

Where's walley photo to end the day. You can just make out the table tucked away down the back. During daylight hours the river and field are just outside the door on the left, so it is not quite the dungeon it looks here. Some of the odds and ends from the scaffolding job came in handy for a bit of ad-hoc clamping using the ceiling. The parts under pressure will be the two door jams. Right, I think I'll have half a glass of red to start with.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I have put the table over to the side of the shop for a couple of days while I make materials for a door project. So now the planer and other tools have taken over the dance floor. I am worried about getting pressed for time on the door frame and I could do with a moment of pause before I do the final shape on the legs.
I am doing things a little differently on this frame so despite drawing stuff out I need to actually put the bits next to each other to make sure the plan is going to work. The roads were blocked solid by the sound of it, so a good time to stay in and work.
More graft work tomorrow cutting timber to rough sizes truing up and thicknessing, then cutting gooves for joints. Similar to today, except that hopefully I shall be able to finish up with a bit of gluing. Nice warm weather, so I am back to towels as head protection rather than hats.

Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blurry camera

Sammy on the piano, me on the sofa. It did turn out to be one of those days where translation work took over. Sammy went in to town yesterday to take the written driving test. All multiple choice I guess. Anyway he passed and got his license. He drove me to the shops this afternoon to get some odds and ends.
It sometimes feels a bit of a cheat just putting in photos like yesterday, but in the end I suppose they do give some idea of what is going on and they are certainly interesting for me to look at later if for noone else. I still like looking to see if there are any new red spots on the map down on the right and often wonder at the stupidity of the current conflicts in the world when that there in the map is all we have to go with. Let's hope something not too nasty comes up to get our minds off the neighbours' unusual habits and on to the bigger issue that as things stand we don't have any neighbors, so we should feel lucky to have even the ones we appear to find so upsetting. I hope sammy's first car will be an electric one.
Japan goes on national holiday from tomorrow, so we will be virtually house bound as the roads get so crowded the bicycle is the best bet to go anywhere.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Slimming and elbow grease

A friend came round to scorch the table top and brush it down. While he was on that job I started some selective chopping of the leg parts to slim things down a bit. I hope to get a good way along with that tomorrow, too. But it looks like there may be some translation work coming. Once the gent had returned home I had a go at sprucing up the top and used up most of my supply of elbow grease on that. The glove picture above is of a little bit of decoration on the end of the table top.