Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shelf hugging

I seem to be falling into the grip of some kind of cold, shame really, I don't think the pottering has been unproductive. Last job today aside from sitting down to draw was fitting up another shelf block just outside the door of the shop. The same 25mm plywood put to another use. 150height by 45width and 45depth. I missed having sammy on hand, but just managed to hoik the thing up into position to be screwed to the wall. I had to lean over backawards to get its bum up on the stuff I had in place for it to sit on while I was putting the screws in.
I remember the one occasion when I made the mistake of underestimating the nastiness of falling over backwards carrying a load, I picked up a stack of timber too low down and when it came down to settle on my shoulder it took me skipping back to try and save it until I landed on my bum. I didn't want to drop it, but I should have. You never want to be falling over backwards with a load, there isn't anything much you can do to stop yourself. I suppose those kind of mistakes are best made while you are young..
Lifting very heavy stuff usually makes me laugh, as it is such a ridiculous activity. I also had a snigger at myself this morning when I took the lid off the coffee pot and dipped the knife in to spread it on my toast, weird that I managed to get that far into the routine before realizing that it wasn't the correct substance, lucky I didn't use a spoon or I would probably have got right through to the chewing stage before I noticed..Something funny about this butter....
The shelves got half filled with metal parts and motors I am not using. That has nearly freed up the shelves under another bench which I am keen to get rid of so that I can build something better suited to the purpose.
Anyway, doing the little drawing seems to have cleared my head a bit, so that is most efficacious.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Handling stanley

My main useful activity of the day was handling a couple of tools, a hand axe and a small hammer. I have a couple of record or stanley type spokeshaves that I never used to use. If you ever buy these or if you already have them, do yourself a favor and buy a nice fine toothed flat metal file. The blade adustment and everything works fine on these tools, but the manufacturer fills the mouth where the blade passes through with gunky paint. You take the file and flatten off the bottom lip of the little froggy mouth part so that the blade will be clamped down flat on it by the thumb screw. This little adjustment gives the tool a whole new feel. Without it the tool jumps and chatters like an idiot, but as soon as you get that blade held firmly all you need to learn is the grips for pushing and pulling until the time comes around to sharpen the blade. The reason you need two spokeshaves is that one has a flat bed and the other a slightly convex one for diferent degrees of curve. You need two grips so that you can change direction according to the grain you are running into without having to change the position of the work. There is nothing special about the grip, but you have to feel where the blade is biting and keep that happening along the cut as you work. I put the handles in the vice and pop a stick or block underneath so that they are held poking up from the bench.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I've worn myself to a frazzle with another day of non specific fiddling. I visited a friend yesterday and popped in at the junk yard on the way. There was a huge bin of bearings pulleys and shafts that I dug about in for a bit. I had nothing specific in mind, but found a short shaft that would fit two bearings and a few pulleys that looked hopeful, then tossed in another few bearings that looked about the size of stuff I had already. There were also a load of tool steel teath for some kind of nasty machine, so I grabbed a few of them as well. I had taken in a carton of copper offcuts that had been lying around for ages, so it was a little exchange deal. The junk yard chap is a kind of acquaintance as he does the load up for the recycling collection at the primary school the kids went to and I helped out on that many times.
I used one of the pulleys with a shim to get to size on the bandsaw. That has taken the rotation speed of that at its minimum down to a place where it is OK for steel at a push, so that was a good find. More fiddling about with spanners in confined spaces. Also repairing a gripey jigsaw and a couple of other mechanicals.
Meanwhile the insect morgue is filling up as the autumn comes in. This is a Tamamushi that expired in my little shed area, not too common these days, but I usually see a few about. They are particularly nifty when flying as their long pointy wing cases are held up to dazzle in the sun.
One of the snazziest local beetles.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Flying giants

One of those days, the computer froze in mid scribble. I was just thinking today would have to be all text and that if I had been drawing on paper then this wouldn't be a problem, when I realized I could just do the same as I do on paper and take a picture.
A couple of days ago on returning home quite late we spotted a marten running up the road. Now today I saw one of the giant flying squirrels out in broad daylight. I don't know where it came from, but it landed low down on our pear tree and then did another hop down to a cedar and then scuttled up that to huddle in the branches all day. It took me a couple of milliseconds to realize what it was, it was like two animals as it's tail was all fluffed up and heavy looking as it chased the body up the pear tree. I have never seen the flight attitude so clearly, having everything spread out as a canopy the animal really did look huge. It took me ages to spot where it was in the tree, hugging into the trunk and staring back at me it was pretending not to be there. I could tell that it was breathing very heavily after its action packed trip. Anyway, I wonder if the two sightings might be related with the giants being harrassed by the martens, or perhaps there was just a family squabble.
The drawing was of the thing pulling up vertical to land on the trunk of the cedar, no great loss.
I think real media player was the cause, I shall stop using it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No verdict

The turntable shelf got some additions today, but no shelves yet. As I said I needed to get the wood back in to regain space. The thing turns OK and it should prove useful, but the jury is still out on the issue of whether or not it is a huge folly. If I end up cursing it a lot, then I will know. So far it seems to make that wood pile a lot more accessible and I can get whole sheets of plywood stood in it as you can see in the lower view. The top view will be the one to get the shelves when things get a bit more sorted out, I think I need to keep adding bits and bobs as I use it. For example when putting a stack of timber through the planer I may be able to use it is some way. One side (bottom right) turned into a rack for pipe clamps today and the other side (top right) could be useful as a drawing surface one day. The damp had really built up behind the stack of wood in the corner as it was, now there is enough space behind for it to stay fairly well ventilated, but I suppose it will still be a fun house for the cave dwelling insect creatures. Perhaps a drop of paint might make it less homely for them. More tidying tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I got the huge wheel made and attached the casters today. This is the start of the operation, jig sawing four semicircles from the plywood, I have my left arm under the corner offcut to stop it dropping off prematurely. The sheets had little bits missing where they had been cut as a sub floor to fit around pillars and whatnot, so the final circle is a bit under sized at around five foot in diameter. I laid the pieces out on top of each other to have two circles like a layer cake with the semicircle joints perpendicular and screwed the four bits together to make a huge wheel. I don't know if you have ever messed about with wheels nearly as tall as yourself, but it does give a hint as to how they became so popular. You can imagine the first chappies wanting to stick wheels on everything. With a few other folk on hand it would be easy to move huge weights by attaching wheel segments to square blocks or whatever. Obviously entangled light and quantum mechanics make these discoveries seem rather simplistic, but it is fun to watch archeaologists talk nonsense about how hard it would be for people to build huge structures without modern machinery, it would just take longer and with no TV or blogging to do my ancient relatives were probably glad of the distraction from counting the hairs on their toes. Anyway, my wheel soon got laid down flat on its swivel casters and now I must decide on how to make the shelves and stuff on it and add some kind of axle to hold it in its place on the floor. I think it will work out OK, but it could just be a huge folly. Anyway, I had to shift all the wood out of the corner to lay the thing in position so the shop is now filled with all that and I must decide quickly to get it all tidied away. It will be great if it all fits on the turntable shelf device, fighting for space in the constant build up of offcuts and potentially useful timber is one of my main battles.
Unfortunately even making these circles I ended up with 8 weird curvy shapes left over from the corners that I will now have to find a use for, shelves for a tight corner or backing battens for a domed roof perhaps, I certainly won't be able to throw them away.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wood rack

I spent part of the day making up a rack to put hammers in. It is made from two bars running around the stump the anvil sits on as shown down on the left. Seeing all the hammers in their spots lined up around the circle pointing at the middle gave me an idea for a big wood rack to go in a dead corner of the shop. The corner is always full of timber stacked up higgledy piggledy against the wall. I thought I could use a few sheets of the 25mm plywood from the site to make up a kind of lazy susan thing with a horizontal rack on one side for short planks and a vertical rack one on the other to accomodate longer planks. Like one of those revolving wall things in a movie. They would just have metal pipes sticking out to rest timber against and the thing would swivel around in the corner to give access to the stuff at the back. I shall try and start on that tomorrow by looking out some big casters to go under it. It would end up about 6 foot in diameter I suppose. It would be great to have a permanent solution to house all those bits of wood that pile up when work is going on.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Press part

Fiddling with ironwork today. I made a jig with two pieces of C girder bolted back to back. These had a straight piece of flat bar and a piece of the same bar cut to form the arc of a circle sandwitched between them. This left a slot at the top into which I placed a flat bar edge up under the press. Tonking down on the bar causes it to bend into the same arc, I kept sliding it along and bumping away until it formed a semi circle. It is hard work bending flat bar end on like this, so I had been thinking of making a jig to help do it in the press. I also wanted to make one that will do angle iron, I am not sure if this one will suffice, but it might well do if the iron is not to meaty. The end product will be a frame for a little arched iron oven door. The next step is to make an extension to the press head so that I can make a full circle by having the tool mount out in front of the body of the press where there will be no obstruction to the end going over the top if I pass work through at about ninety degrees to that shown here. As you can see the work is about to bump into the back of the press after another couple of goes here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


As I said yesterday, I am tidying up a little. There are many things that I pick up to throw away having kept them for some future purpose. In tidying phases I try to drag some of these futures into the present by holding on to the object in question until it has become what it was intended to be. I kept this section of wood where a branch joined to a trunk intending to make it into a large mallet or maul. It was one of the pieces of wood that I got back on 18 feb 2006, so when I found it among the debris yesterday I stuck to it and now it feels like it should prove useful. The wood is a type of oak called Kashi in Japanese. It is used for mallets, tool handles and plane bodies as it is very durable. Because the branch is joined to the trunk with a twisty area of grain the thing is very solid and the grain of each part is pointing in the right direction for its purpose. I need a mallet like this for coaxing metal into shape, especially when it is hot and has a texture that would be damaged by a steel hammer. There is another smaller piece of chestnut in the middle of the picture, which looks like it could have some related function . I am also trying to fit handles to and shape up some of the other hammer heads I have acquired and generally pottering about. As I move about sifting through things, I suppose I am also looking for potential materials, allowing my subconscious to work on the roof project. It has already come up with a couple of better ideas while I have been working on these other chores, but thankfully, in the gentlemanly manner of Sherlock holmes it always allows me to take the credit or feeds me little hints so that I think I have discovered the solution for myself.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fire shy

Back on tidying duty today. I think I was inspired by a little news clip about the townships of south africa. I suppose the shots were chosen, but everywhere seemed to be coated in rubbish. There were a couple of guys just walking down the street and a kid playing with a plastic lid, I imagined walking down the same street and wondered how weird it would be to start picking up the rubbish. Anyway, I decided I should start with my own area before undertaking any unilateral tidying elsewhere on the globe. I managed to get rid of quite a stack of scrap stuff. It is hard to ask anybody else to do this job because there are too many considerations involved in deciding what will go in the fire.
Lots of fire tending strategies for getting overly large stuff to burn down and finally fit in the brazier. I had quite a few sheets of semi rotten plywood and the recent aquisition of 25mm spruce boards made the old stuff an easy pick for departure on a new trip around the carbon cycle.
Similar scenes to may 12 dec 21 of 2006

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I went round to deliver the pipe and was then taken around to visit a painter who lives just up the road. He was awaiting the return of his wife from a day stay to give him a break from coping with her speedy decline. He had a little device like the clicker on a cigarette lighter with a probe attached that gave him little shocks whenever he clicked the button. I guess it is the same as those little massage machines for stiff shoulders and whatnot, but no batteries and a lot more specific to one spot. He seemed in good spirits to have visitors and we chatted about this and that. I suppose I should have taken a sketch book then I wouldn't have been left with only vague memories of his face.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I did take a picture of the pipe, but the battery depleted syndrome made me panic on the button, so not a good shot at all. You can get the general idea.
I think I started out with hexagonal bar, then upset the middle a bit and also the fat end. I think I then drew out the other end and then ground off a bit, then I did the twists and drilled out the hole through the middle, then did the neck bend, repaired a crack and then drilled out the tobaco end with a big stepped drill and the small end to accept a rounded stub on the mouthpiece.
I was planning to deliver the thing today, but went sketching with sammy and then out on a big food shop and to buy soccer shoes for him to take on a trip. We hadn't noticed a hornet nest in a tree and as sammy was checking out the tree next door one of the aggressive little "Bs" stung him on the head. That made drawing a lot less fun, but he had a brave stab at it as it is part of college homework. Just as I was writing about getting stung, one of the smallest centipedes I have seen decided to bite me, he felt the horny heel of my foot. All these insects are on the edgy side in this season of change I suppose.
Anyway, Sammy was feeling OK on the way back from the shop so he asked to do the driving on the home run.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


A day of all sorts. I revisited my motor collection yesterday after sorting through it to find something suitable for the belt sander. The drill press had a motor that needed a little spin on the chuck to get it started, which is not entirely safe, so I attached one that would start on its own. I also redid the sander with a motor of a lower wattage. The one I had in there was a little too powerful for the job. More welding of brackets and whatnot to get the new one in, but it had an adjustable sliding base as a bit of a bonus. There were still a few fiddly nuts to fit, but not too bad. The ancient motor also has a direction changing mechanism, which might prove useful. I ended the day working on a little present for a friend who I rarely give anything to. He is a very occasional organic smoker of sorts, so I started on a twisty iron pipe last year just before I started up on the blog that I never got finished. I got that down off the shelf to make and fit a mouth piece and finish it up, hopefully in time for or near enough to his birthday. The sander proving useful straight away. I started up trying to use a piece of shell for the job, but had to resort to a scrap of ebony type wood instead as the shell was too fragile. I'll pop in a picture of it when it is done tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cut up

Some of todays activity involved a cetain steeliness of heart, sawing up bits and bobs left over from the past few months of work that had built up in stacks around the shop. I am always tempted to keep wood that looks like it might be useful one day, but there comes a time when the circular saw must do its work before I have time to reconsider.
It is not yet time to light up the stove, but I have bagged up the off cuts to burn in there when october comes around. I found a couple of B5 sketchbooks that I had forgotten. I had to steel the heart to start up using them as well. I find little bits of paper more of a challenge than big ones, so perhaps I should take this opportunity to conquer the fear. There are surprising similarities to iron work, you have to think while the thing is in the fire and then strike while the iron is hot. It is the same with so little space to fill, with the larger paper it is easy enough to think as you go.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Moving on

This is my next job site. The porch roof where you can see a brown board stuck up under the eaves has suffered some water damage and needs renovation. The whole of that little roof needs to come off, so I am thinking of combining that job with an addition to the arch over the entrance to the cafe down below. As shown in the little inset. That would get more milleage out of the sign, which is not really very eye catching at present and also extend the roof out a little so that the whole of that entrance area would be covered. I am still fiddling with ideas at the moment and scribbling on photos is a good way to get an idea of how things will look.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Drawing an elipse

For want of something better, this was something that came up at the job site when we were going over ideas for a little decorative area in a house. We disn't need use it in the end.
It sometimes happens that I need to make an elipse for an arch over an opening or something. A while back I found this method in a book and promptly forgot the part that makes it most useful. It gives an elipse of exactly the height and width you need.
You start with the perpendicular height running up from the center of the width. Put a pin in at A to mark the height and use your tape measure hooked on the pin to find where a line equal to half of the width will intersect on both sides at B and C. You put two pins in there and loop a string around the three pins. Then you take out pin A and slide a pen around inside the loop keeping it pulled tight in a triangle of varrying dimensions to draw a perfect elipse the right width and height to fill the space. I haven't drawn one in here, the first one you draw is really good fun, give it a try.
I shall try to remember the method as a sailing boat with 1/2width written on the sail for when I need it again one day.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Color shift

No bigger than the end of my thumb this chap was really fond of his new found spot on the top of a stack of wet plywood at the job site. He had been on some blue plastic sheet that was covering a pile of earth to keep the rain from washing it away. His little body was busy using super power number one to change to a yellow color and put up some attempt at grain pattern, but I had to interrupt his efforts and send him back to the blue period so that Sammy and I could load some of the plywood that had been left to its fate out in the rain without running the risk of squishing him in the process. He seemed to have to do some fancy manouvers with his feet, twisting them about to get them unstuck from things, super power number two.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Volunteering at the school again this afternoon. I was supposed to be starting on stick chairs, but I changed tack and we did some polystyrene things to be cast into aluminium some time in the winter. I haven't had time to cut any sticks for chairs. I did a couple of little animals to show the kids some ways of using the knife to carve the material. They seemed to uderstand, but got frustrated when it didn't go as smoothly for them. Perhaps demonstrations are not so useful when there is no time for the learning curve to take shape and push frustration aside. These classes often make me wonder when these children will have a time in their lives to learn to use their appendages to good purpose, or at least for more than pushing buttons.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sitting down on the job

The last job was sweeping up, but just before that as dusk drew in I had a little bit more scorching to do on another potential work piece. Scorching and brushing back to get rid of the degraded bits and leave reasonably solid wood with a kind of natural shapeliness to it.
Sammy has been doing a lot of that over the past few days, but he is having a bit of a break with friends today with a barbi down by the river.
I am still having trouble getting real paper out, so relying on artrage to fill in.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More upside

Just to make absolutely sure nobody understands what I was trying to explain about the beam and brackets here are two more upside down world pictures with the proposed wall areas blanked out with a semi transparent fill of white. All the relevant bits for the site are now roasted up and polished off. These were taken just before we applied finish to the beam.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Apron strings

The last job I remember from today, aside from grabbing my tea cup as I left the shop, was getting the dusty old apron off. It is a bit like tying the towel on the head, putting on some kind of garment related to work helps ones brain get in the right mode and taking that same thing back off again has the opposite effect letting one know it is time to retire for the day.
One of those large dragon flies posed on a scrap of glass today and allowed me to stick the tape measure right on it, it was exactly 10cm. Perhaps the one from the other day was a different individual. I'll measure all comers if possible. The brackets are ready to be scorched up tomorrow, so one more piece near completion.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Brackets and beam

The world upside down to get an idea of how the beam and brackets will look. You can imagine an opening with two pillars on either side and a curtain of wall that comes down from the ceiling to meet this beam. The view here shows how the beam and the bracket wrap around the pillar on this side so that they will be just proud of the plaster board that will cover the walls that surround the opening leaving this standing out like a lintle supported by brackets.
I got as far as cutting the troughs in the backs of the brackets yesterday and went on with shaping today. I drew a profile on the blank shape and then ran the circular saw through at different depths of cut and chopped out the material between the cuts. Then once I had that profile fairly clear I ran the circular saw into the wood stopping at another curved line to scallop out the sides. The bracket held down by the holdfast in the inset just has a few of the untouched cuts still visible, which were knocked off with the gouge just after this. I'll go on with shaping tomorrow and then move on to the next piece in the hope that Sammy will be free to scorch this one up and sand it back a bit.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fish and potatoes

Not quite feeding the five thousand, but daughter and self were left to our own devices this evening and fed up quite nicely in the parable of the five fish and four potatoes. We only had room enough in the grill for two of the trout we had been given, so we popped the other three in foil with a bit of oregano tucked in their bellies and they turned out fine as well. The fish were already a day old and nearing extinction, so our choices were either to waste their biomass or make them part of us and lose a little aluminium. I suppose we could have got some of the charcoal I kept from the stove and grilled them over that as a more sustainable approach, but we were both already pooped from the day's activities. Everything we undertake bristles with question marks over the environmental burden it will impose, but we did manage to enjoy the fish.
During the daylight hours I made headway with the beams and brackets and enjoyed the clear weather after the passing of the storm.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Back to work OK today. Shaping up the beam I am working on so that it can be fitted post construction, but still look like it is part of the structural joinery. More fiddly than actually making it structural, but never mind.
These days I often get Oniyanma dragonflies in the shop. I usually just switch off the lights for a moment so that they can find their way back out, but today I got one on my hand to have a look at before poping it outside. I am sure it was longer than the 10cm I saw on some web page. Anyway, the largest species in Japan and very nice to look at.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More water

The storm within has abated somewhat, but even so I am taking it easy. Computer work in the morning has meant the day was not entirely lost. I just stirred from my roost on the sofa to snap at the darkness from the veranda. Outside and all about us the typhoon is still rolling slowly on dumping huge waves of rain like someone playing a firehose over the place at increasingly frequent intervals. Thankfully not too much wind, but we are not truly within the grip of the beast proper as yet. I did manage a stroll down to the shop, but picking up tools and struggling about in the rain in search of materials to further my activities was not in me. I think most of my stuff is battened down, whatever isn't will have to go where it will.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Feeling like the young Robinson Crusoe drinking some kind of gunpowder mix and crawling into the back of the cave to curl up and await results while the storm rages both outside and within. I hope to lose consciousness and let some sleep intervene. I think it is just the influence of exposure to our nearest star, but tomorrow will tell.
Out chainsawing in the rain splattering about from the approaching typhoon earlier in the day, which may not have helped matters. I wanted to get a start on another beam structure and that meant getting the log into some kind of workable condition to haul into the shop where it is now taking shape nicely. Anyway, I hope to be able to pick up a pencil again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


It looked from the weather forecast like we would be in cloud and rain for the next few days, so Sammy and I took a chance on some sun and had a quick jaunt to the seaside. It was very calm and we flopped in and out for a few hours being scorched by the sun through a helpful filter of thin cloud. I had to hide under a towel as the day wore on like some camera shy athlete, and it was probably more tiring than work, but great fun to see and feel the ocean again. There were many of the red bodied dragonflies that symbolize the coming of autumn here, but thankfully no sign of the stinging jelly fish that are also a seasonal delight. Sammy did the driving on the way home and he has headed off for a nap. I ought to do the same.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Back to photos of wood in traction today. This is the L shaped counter top I am making at the moment, along with several other parts stacked on top. I glued up the short arm of the L yesterday and that has now been joined to the longer part. I screw angle blocks to the side of the wood to give a grip for the clamps. The outside edges will be hidden in the walls when the piece is fitted. The silver rail at the bottom marks the edge of the shop floor and just down to the right in the gloom is the big vice I was working at yestereve.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


It is always the last job of the day that seems to stick in my mind, here I am speedily threading a few holes in some steel flatbar to mount the motor under the belt sander. I'll weld the bars on to the frame tomorrow.
I got on OK with the woodwork thanks to more help from Sammy. One of the counter tops this time is kind of L shaped, and the joinery is a bit complicated, so I have glued up the short arm of the L and put it in clamps over night so that I have less bits sliding about when I come to glue up the whole thing. I had Sammy carry the big vice (recently acquired) outside to sit under the veranda and set it up on the stand it came with. It is pretty solid out there now even just sitting under its own weight. It certainly made threading the bar more fun with not a trace of wobble. There is a lot of grip changing with threading metal, having to change directions back and forth as you thread a bit and then back up to snap off the swarf. so that the tap doesn't get all bound up in the hole. I seem to remember being told to do a turn and then back up a quarter, but I don't trust my taps to do more than a half turn before I back them up.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Belts and pulleys

Sammy and I had a major session of sorting this morning organizing all the odds and ends imported over the past two days. We popped out shopping in the evening as I needed a pulley to get the belt sander going, but the shop where I remembered seeing a nice pulley collection laid out no longer stocked them. There are some things that denote the decline in western civilization and the tendency for the more fundamental tools to dissapear from the shelves while there is still room for a choice of 20 varieties of antiseptic hand soap may be one of them.
Anyway, we got back around seven and I couldn't resist having a poke about to see if I could convert something to do the job, and did that. Finding a smallish pulley and widening the center hole on the lathe to fit the motor shaft. The sander runs a bit slow, but the motor I hooked up for a quick trial is a one horse power number, so it is very powerful, just right for hoiking a lot of metal off of something with a rough belt on there. I'll get the motor bolted on properly next, and fit a switch, but for this evening I am happy to have the thing running. I shall have another potter with it tomorrow evening if I manage to get plenty of other work done in the day.
I wonder why all these machines require contortionist training to get anything in the way of maintenance done on them.