Monday, June 30, 2008


The corner from whence I write on the laptop, overlooking the herd of four chairs in defensive formation. I don't seem ready to resume paper contributions as yet, but as clearer weather begins to look more likely the urge to restart scribbling does seem to be growing. Pleased to see on the TV that Mr M has lost his mustache, I wonder what will happen next.
I got the chairs out of the shop to get started with work on a pole to raise the electric cables running to the house. New issues seem to arise every time I consult with the electrician about my wiring ambitions. Using the TIG welder was fun after quite some interval. I do feel rather like I should be buying solar panels and batteries rather than planing to increase my carbon footprint with increased grid ampage, perhaps one day.
If you click on these recent pictures in some ways it might be rewarding. I particularly like the light patterns on the divots left from carving the seat slab if that shows up after compression..

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Closeup three

Another apology due, I noticed that the number of page views spiked on June 24, naively I thought people might be looking at chairs, but I am pretty sure it was just because I used the word porn, whoops, did it again. Sorry to those disappointed.
I took a little snip out of the end of the back rail to give it a small accent. So the lip I like at the back comes around and ends on each side as the little divot that makes the end of the top kind of scrolly. As I have said, the top needs to remain pretty solid for strength, so only minimal cutting was permissible. To be honest I left that kind of spike so that it is just slightly uncomfortable if you lean hard with your palms on the back right there, I wanted to discourage that as it might eventually weaken the ends. The twists in the side verticals, are an echo of twist in the table structure and they give more emphasis to the supporting lean of the back. Twisting the other way would obviously negate that curve on the visible side, straightening it out. This is what happens on the inside where it is not so visible.
One other favorite part is that lip at the front corner of the seat slab. The tenon at the top of the leg pokes into the underside of the seat and the little set of curves set up by the lip between the curve rolling over the top and the underside feeling its way up from below make a satisfying counterpoint.
I hope this isn't too much of a pain in the potty, but with the other choice of subject matter for Sunday being a democratic election with one candidate and a unity of nations that blithers over what it thinks about that, I feel strangely empowered to do my own blithering over bits of wood I have spent some several hours in communion with. Apparently there are cases where age brings no wisdom, just a sickening desire for power, however tragically ridiculous the circumstances under which it is retained. I suppose once you have absolute power, and you have no idea what to do with it, the only activity left to you is clinging on to it until the eye balls bubble. I wonder what it is about the hobby of bottle brush mustache trimming that makes it so attractive to democratically elected dictators.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Closeup two

There are a series of curves that flow around the back, which I quite like. I like the lip at the tippy top of the back and the lip at the back of the seat slab. All in all, making these new planes within the form gives a lot of scope for steering the eye around within the piece. I did strain the brain a little over the junction between the verticals and the seat slab, but in the end, it seemed acceptable to have this as a simpler point of separation where joints are left as obvious structural elements.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Closeup one

Sorry for the crappy posting failure. I have heard that some people look everyday, so a particular apology to them. I just don't seem to be clicking with this at the moment, perhaps it is the general sense of negativity in the world who can say.
I wanted to do a little series of semi closeups and try to review what I have learnt from the chair project. My main concern in the design was that top rail, which is made from a section cut from a hollow log. The cut was made diagonally, but never the less it is basically a fragile moon of end grain. My hope was that the twisted nature of the Zelkova grain would hold it solid and so far this has been proved correct. A risky little game that may mean future repairs, but well worth the experiment.
A second period of doubt was with the flow of curves from the three verticals into the top rail. I realized that I would not be able to take much wood from the top, due to its already fragile nature. That meant finding some other solution to blending the shapes smoothly. I came up with the creation of a chamfered corner around all the mergers. That can be spread out and contracted to provide edges that grab light and make the eye follow that curve rather than the actual rather sharp clip between the pieces. Most evident here as the right side of the center vertical spreads up and out over to flow back down into the smaller right vertical.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cut wires

Well, yesterday around 4.30 pm we lost our Internet fix. We had a little fiddle with the magical boxes that do the work, unplugging them for a bit etc. That had no effect, but there were two ominous red lights on the primary magician or modem. I of course had to do all this again to placate the person on the helpline this morning.
The men I heard Mr Moore refer to as "those with the appropriate incantations" came to our aid this afternoon. Actually they were more like Lego men, wearing work outfits and helmets. It took them all afternoon to figure out which bit of fiber optics was squiffy, luckily for them the rain held off for the duration.
It has actually been an educational experience. We have been forced to comprehend just how reliant we are on this link for work and much other valuable contact with the outside world.
Having spent several hours up in the little bucket fiddling about, the men found that ants or some kind of insect had somehow damaged our connection about fifty meters down the road from us. I must admit I was expecting the monkeys to get the blame. I suppose I will now have to give them back all those house points I took away.
The head honcho was proud to announce that there would be no charge for the repair service as the problem was not inside the house. The words "Too bloody right there won't be a ruddy charge you cheeky sod!!" floated along in my subtitle space, but I managed to suppress the urge to vocalize the message, letting the bouncing ball run its course in silence. It was only the certainty that deep in our contract it must be stated in tiny little letters "the company is not responsible for any losses or damage and no refunds will be given for loss of service" that stopped me from asking for a refund for the lost day. We addicts are not to be trifled with when we have been made to miss an entire 24hrs of IT abuse because of some inadequate design consideration for ant protection. However, all ended in civilized politeness as it should and we are able to connect with the world at large once more through our microscopic thread of optical fiber.
Normal bloggery service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chair two

Chair number two from a slightly lower angle. Back on the veranda with the sheet. I'm feeling the effects of the insect repellent preservative today. I use timber hauled from the lake and various other sources, I don't want to be called in for spreading insect damage after the puppies reach their new kennel, so along with the scorching, an unhealthy dose of preservative is often in order for my work. I realized too late about taking close ups of cared for features and also seem to have got slightly back lit. All these images should be worth clicking on to get more detail. In a different universe this might become interactive chair porn and the interested viewer might send in requests for inspiring poses or close ups on a non profit basis of course. A couple of the chairs have lost enough of their odor to be shifted up to the living room now, so I have them to contemplate as I sit on the sofa here nursing the kitten in the crook of my elbow.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Today I regretted not fitting some kind of gas filters to my respirator. I spent a few hours rubbing a mixture of oils stain and preservative into the chairs. Sorry if these chair photos begin to wear on the retina, but I don't seem to have anything else to fill the page. I keep spotting little curves in them that I like. As yet I am still experimenting with the photos with not much success. I did borrow my daughters camera today, so the pictures are a bit better quality even after compression. This is the same little chair, but I think you can see it has a bit more color now after the rubbing. The shapes on the under carriage are a bit clearer, too.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Barrow frogs

Very heavy rain again today. I think there must have been quite a few frogs out there last night. When my wife let the dog out for his evening ritual she saw these two posing on the handles of the wheelbarrow. Hardly ideal positions for egg laying, hopefully they realized and gave up on their pole balancing performance soon afterward.
These frogs also have the ability to change color in order to blend in to the background. Only useful in the day time, but perhaps here during the brief flashes of light their brains are saying "must turn black". I should have had a torch on hand to get the camera to focus better.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tree frog

The main character of the season in suitably damp looking habitat. Mori ao gaeru as he is known. They are active during the day, but they seem to perk up more when the sun goes down. It took me a minute to spot this little chap in the tree over our little pond, and I didn't stick around too long to find more. I could hear three voices before they zipped it when I started lurking about under them.
I think I spotted a couple of tiny toads too. These newly metamorphosed tadpoles are taking advantage of the rainy weather to make their escape from the pond on their way to seek their fortunes.

Friday, June 20, 2008


The jointed pieces from yesterday and another pair now form part of a little table. I'll probably end up photographing that tomorrow. This is an old sheet with a chair in front of it. This, the smallest of the chairs, is the one I was most worried about. Having now sat it next to the little table, which is the same height as the dining table these chairs are meant to live with I am satisfied that it will fit in OK. Tomorrow, just rubbing in finish and fine sanding to get a little more color out of the wood. Then I must borrow one of the better cameras in the home and try for some better lighting. The white is a bit sterile too, it makes the thing look a little pensive, like someone cornered in a padded cell.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Something simple. I needed to make a couple of lap joints as shown in the bottom left. I remembered I had made a little stopping attachment for the sliding chopsaw I have. That is the other insert at bottom right. It attaches like a tiny C clamp to a little flat ledge under the saw at the point where the circle is. There is an adjustable bolt there that lets you set the depth of cut, this attachment makes the cut depth much more adjustable to allow repeated cuts to a fixed depth. The wood between can then be knocked out to leave a pretty good lap or other joint. I made this widget back on August 08 2007 according to the captain's log here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Sometimes when you meet new people you find yourself picking up their mannerisms or modes of speech. I can feel something similar happening with the new kitten. I can see that I must emulate him and greatly increase the frequency and variety of stretches throughout my day. He is exquisite in his performance each time he arises from slumber.
Luckily, despite my regimen of depressing but informative video viewing there are still days when I awake from a nap or some such escape to find myself utterly unaware of all I have taken in since I entered this place. Things take shape and return to their positions in the jigsaw very quickly, but each time it happens I think some get lost and I sublimate a little of the horror of humanity.
This morning I awoke to find that the evil genius of pain was no longer home. I had Mrs P apply a couple of the excellent mustard patch type plasters they sell here in Japan and over night that has made things much prettier. I hope they are not just chock full of topical analgesic. I have high hopes that this is not the case and I can quickly return to normal service. I just hope I don't end up with the irresistible urge to chase bits of string and tiny moths like my much respected little instructor. I am afraid we don't have a name for the little chap yet, no doubt that day will come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I guess there are some days when no images appear appropriate. A day of great effort to get on with work while the evil spirit I mentioned the other day played intermittently with my nerve endings. Nasty degree of pain on many small occasions. I was able to concentrate sufficiently to get a little done and also attend a meeting of the school councilors in the evening. Unfortunately , the list of recently watched videos include one about how general motors killed their potentially hugely successful electric vehicle and how the art of propaganda was brought into the commercial world after the great war as the newly named public relations. The evolution of the modern capitalist society based on consumerism. On top of the recent spate of stabbing incidents in Japan this has rather jaded my view of curriculum development in the elementary school as a suitable deterrent against the decline of our society and at the same time made me wonder which bits of modern society are worth saving.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Leg ends

Scrappy drawing, but the brain muscles for that activity may be out of practice again. Trimming all the chair legs back to level and adjusting the heights. Now they all stand with nery a wobble. The final bit just chamfering off the edges with a chisel to stop them snagging on things and splitting. I did spot a few places I had missed with the wire brushing, so I will be back in the overalls and helmet to do a bit more dusty work and painting on finish tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Number two

I think this is number two, but the only remaining visible numberings are on the bottoms of the legs now and they will soon be trimmed off too. None of the units seem to be showing signs of poor glue application and seem quite solid on trial sitting. This design seems quite comfortable, there is just enough back to lean the elbows on and one can swivel about quite easily as there is very little side obstruction.
I must look around for some kind of neutral background for photographing them once I have applied a bit of finish and a drop more elbow grease.
After a week of plentiful precipitation it sounds like we may be in for some fine weather next week, which would be good as the recent earthquakes here and there are making me keener to get that concrete foundation in under the end of the shop.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Saturday as always distracted with skyping and also with a quick utility visit. I have the chairs up on the bench to check their joints for any unsightly glue residue. Nothing too distressing so far. I am a little concerned over leg lengths as I have made them all a little different. They are all a little off level making them wobbly, so I must trim a little. The beans are just visible in the background feeling their way skyward having reached the tops of their supports.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Later on I am taking this around to a friend's house. I kind of remember when our daughter got it in her first year at elementary school. Kids in Japan use these to learn music, they use the Do Re Mi approach. There should be a tube to blow into the thing and produce a little mouth organ type sound, that got lost. When these things emerge from the archaeological collection of past possessions they seem to light up a great swathe of intervening time that passed very quickly. I suppose it is not such a huge amount of time in reality, but the changes that happen within it make it seem so.
I retained almost no knowledge of music at school, but these days I am growing happier with it and a lot of that comes from finally understanding something of the logic behind the simple structure of the keyboard. It was interesting the other day when someone came to stay, they asked me to teach them something about how to play the piano. The simple stuff is easy to explain and it was nice to see how having some simple rules to rely on made them more comfortable. I do wish some of that had been on the curriculum back when I was wearing shorts in winter. Wishing won't make it so. I am endeavoring to catch up more than thirty years down the road in the newfound knowledge that it is actually my right to have fun making some noise.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Three and One

Orderly as ever, number three is now the first chair fully glued up and number one is the last to go in for its first session of traction. I nearly forgot to mark the tops with tape after scorching them up, which would have made matching them up with their legs a bit of a pain.
Today was the first volunteer session with the kids at school. Again I was struck by how much functionality is missing from the tiny digits as they first start to work. We were making those little knotted bracelets I mentioned the other day. It always seems to take time for the coordinated little pathways from the eyes to the ends of the arms to get freed up. Not to worry, I suppose they will all earn their living somehow.
Today was also D day for the kitten. He (I think) has just crawled up on to the shoulder for a nap and seems to be happy there. At first meeting he did a good rendition of the wild cat; hissing, spitting and swatting with the paw. However, he seemed to realize I had seen it all before and he soon settled down after tiring himself out with that essential nonsense. I don't want to give him a complex or anything, so I should add that I am sure it is really very effective. I would have been very scared by it if I had just stuck my paw into a dark burrow to find out what was in it. I remember once sticking my hand into such a hole and whipping it out when a strange rustling hiss came out of it. Actually it was some weird feather rustling evolved as defensive behavior by brooding Great tits that sounded like a hissing snake.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shut up

I had to resort to place marking again due to an utterly frustrating experience with a fax machine during the evening. The rainy season is in full swing and the little leaves stay closed even during the day, either because they don't like the battering they get or because of the darkling skies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I was forced to take things a little gingerly today as some kind of evil spirit seems to have taken up lodgings in certain vital parts of the interior. Slightly more day time burnt than usual while I was laid out on the carpet.
I don't get much feedback on the blog, but I am sure if I did the outcry against chair torture would have dominated the mailbag yesterday. Those who are against the evils of clamping will be pleased to know that I did muster the energy to free yesterday's victim. However I felt it my duty to persevere and get another patient in to traction. So, the vice is holding another victim over night. I hope I get a better night's sleep than he does.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hold still

Behind the scenes before the DIY TV program as a poor wooden object is held in bondage ready to entertain the audience. An odd day as I was forced to pop off to the shops. I had forgotten to check whether I had any glue and found I had not got anything that looked fresh enough for the purpose. I am a little suspicious of glue that has passed more than one winter in the shop as I am not sure what effect repeated freezing and thawing has on these PVA emulsions. It does seem a little cruel to truss the thing up like this, but I have no choice if it is to become an item of utility.

My daughter was in the vast metropolis of Tokyo on Sunday, but nowhere near Akihabara. The man that did the driving and stabbing on that day stated that he was tired of life. I don't believe that statement, but I would urge all those who have similar urges or who are tired of life to devote their lives to the service of others or to end their own as cleanly as possible rather than harming others. I believe the suicide rate here is on the rise. It is not unusual for my kids to be delayed in their return from the city due to clean up activities on the Central line. I have heard that private railway lines charge the family of the suicidal person for the cost of the clean up, but this line does not, so they have the dubious honor of being the popular choice.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Patients awaiting glue up.
After another day of brushing, sanding and polishing with my head in the fishbowl respirator I think I finally have all my bits up together ready for gluing. Only one of the back rest parts is showing signs of weakness after scorching and I think I will just hope for the best on that one and mend it if some problem arises in the future. My dad mentioned that the legs looked less worked than the other bits, but I think the angle on the picture was a little deceiving. When looked down on, as chairs so often are, the legs play a lesser role and don't look too out of place.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Break time

As the weather gets warmer it is nice to sit out on the veranda at break time. I have a telescope on a bracket out there and sometimes scan about looking for things of interest. The problem is that the optics are so good that almost everything is of interest. These are the fresh delicate leaflets that are some of the last to unfurl on each trip around the sun. There are certain architectural qualities to them that fascinate. There is also a fairly regular traffic of ants patrolling this far outpost of their territory. These leaves are indeed so delicate that the tree has developed the habit of folding them up each evening to keep them out of the way of binge drinkers or similar nocturnal folk blundering about the place.

Friday, June 06, 2008


On to some torching in the evening. This torch carries propane and oxygen, it delivers a very intense heat for a short time, the wood stops burning as soon as the flame is moved on. The camera eliminated the rather shapely jets of flame produced by the nozzle on the torch. Not a particularly noisy activity, but I was listening to something on the headphones. The wire brushing produces clouds of black dust, so I try to leave that until the end of the day as it tends to cling to all exposed bits. I wear the fish bowl respirator helmet for that to protect the lungs.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


All day repeating this kind of procedure getting the tenons on three chair backs to fit properly. Mainly tapping home and then marking up to remove little slivers of material from the shoulders of the joints to adjust the fit. The more pieces you have the more complicated it is to get them to fit. Machines are good for the rough cutting, but in the end it always seems to come down to jiggery pokery with a little chisel. The other part of the process is developing a clamping methodology to squeeze everything up together. So lots of trial and error, chiseling and whatnot. I had hoped to be on final sanding, scorching and gluing, but the joints were just no longer an acceptable fit. I don't know if you have ever made something that involves joinery, but there is something satisfying in having all the bits ready with their knobbles cut and ready to fit together. I enjoy the contrast between the practical regularity of the internals and the organic exterior.
Today is another family birthday, so I have been sparing an occasional thought for my pops as the day has progressed and will be raising a glass later on.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


This is the first day since I did the forest clearance where the rain has stopped for a while. As if to repay the effort, I got two little flycatcher visitors. I didn't have any binoculars or anything to hand, so I was willing my eyes to see them better. They were both striking in their beauty, self contained and multicolored jewels exquisite in their smallness. Not much of a drawing, but something of the abstract blobby elements I remember.
The hole I cut in the wall of bamboo stands out as a dark patch as it allows us to see through to the underbelly of the jungle across the river. The Blue and White Flycatcher on the right was perched on a twig of bamboo I had missed. Standing out against that darkness and really sparkling in its blueness. The Narcissus Flycatcher on the left was seen down in the area I had hit with the weed whacker and again shining out, but this time a sparkling yellow framed by its own blackness. That one I did try to get the telescope on, but I was too slow and the bird was too flighty. The birds are there every summer, but there is just too much jungle to see them. They almost seemed to be enjoying having a bit more space to fly about in, but I expect they were just taking advantage of the insects drawn in by the decaying vegetation.
I wonder what the flying squirrels make of the new landscape, I hope they take a second look before they leap if the rain holds off tonight.
Back into workshop dungeon photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I also enjoy using the spokeshave, perhaps all the more so because it means I can take off the dust gear. The amount of force used is also well within the tolerances of the pattern maker's vice. Here, using a pulling stroke to round off the underside edge of one of the seats.
As of a couple of days ago we are officially into the rainy season and this has also brought with it something of a chill to the air, so I am back in woolly hats. The tree frogs feel no such needs and they are in good voice, seemingly more numerous than last year.

Monday, June 02, 2008


I happened to see the end of an interview with J.Nicholson on TV this lunch time. Always a little painful to see these kind of things due to the lengthy gaps between question and answer thanks to the translation in which so much is lost. The final question was one of the more annoying, asking Mr Nicholson which Mr Nicholson was the best. Successful actor or private person, etc.. The answer was interesting, apparently advice from the actors mother for these TV interviews. "Self praise stinks and all comparisons are odious".
As with everything else on here, I hope sticking a few pictures of myself in the working habitat will not be seen as applicable to either of the above. It seems appropriate as the chair project comes to an end.
I like carving with the little belt sander, but it does mean I have to wear the space suit.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


This is the view back up the slope to the house from the bank of the little stream we look out on everyday and that pushes white noise into us 24/7.
I had another go with the chainsaw in the morning and then with the more ancient machete in the afternoon. With all the bamboo and stuff forming a chaos on the ground the chainsaw becomes too cumbersome. As I was heading home the variety of leaf patterns and the rickety shack we live in seemed to be worth a shot so I went up and fetched down the camera, but the mosquitos were out in force and I didn't hang about for long.