Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Moving back on to the next table. Cutting joints for the apron pieces underneath. The red strappy thing holding the legs and apron tight is a truck tie down as seen in some other scenes. They make handy strap clamps. The little scraps of wood are from joint cutting on the bandsaw.
Everything needs shaping yet and I need to make a decision on whether to put in a drawer or not.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Pulling out the parts for the low table and scurrying about tidying up. The old PC had a relapse, starting up in some kind of crude graphics mode. This reminded me that the parts were from a machine that had been thrown my way by someone who was very frustrated with it. I thought it was just an issue with the Windows version of the day, but perhaps the thing is inherently unstable. It was nice to have the wireless playing in the workshop.
Posting muscles still weak, perhaps when the world economic situation starts to improve, or evenings begin to draw in I shall return to form.
Rainy weather has brought out the frogs and toads in search of safe winter quarters, some are lost to the unswerving progress of vulcanized rubber over tarmac.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Disaster day

The community event was to do with disaster prevention. I thought it would be over in the morning, but it went on a bit. The local fire and rescue folk played two videos after we all had a go in a little earthquake machine on the back of a truck. It was a very rudimentary room that was shaken about in various seismic rythms based on earthquakes of the past. Not nice to see how long and violent some of them were. We are not on any major fault lines here so that kind of severity is not very likely, but there are many places in danger from landslides.
Sorry about the intermittent service, I am still a bit distracted. I am kind of hoping to go back and fill in with drawings, but need to write down something to remind me what happened each day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I started the day with some much needed chainsaw maintenance ready for some tree cutting and the need for firewood. The cheap chainsaw has no engine problems, but the chain cover, guide bar holder and brake are terrible due to poor plastic, bad design etc. I overcame the problems with bits of welding and longer screws.
Then I devoted the rest of the day to making up a box for the computer parts and fitting the bits in it. The plank the display is sitting on is the lid. The only remaining task is to decide where to put the thing and to cut some suitable air holes to feed it air containing as little dust as possible. I have the display running off of the internal power supply and I will get the speakers plugged in there as well so that I don't need lots of transformers. The free OS is working fine and it actually seems to work better than my laptop at making a cache of radio to give a smooth playback. I tried it on BBC Radio 3 live first and that worked fine.
It does seem somewhat incongruous to have a computer on the bench, but I think it will fit in once it has a proper home. I hope it will make things a bit more homely down there to have live radio choices and I did want to use up those computer parts that were lying around rather than buy something new.
We have a community event tomorrow, but the afternoon should see me tidying up ready to move on with the other table.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I got on with the final finishing on the table, painting on and rubbing in preservative and doing a couple of other little tasks. I heard that the owner of the wood yard where I have bought a bit of timber died back in January. Sad news as he was a friendly chap and very helpful always. The first time I met him a few years ago he said he had been diagnosed with cancer, but he managed to keep going right till the end. He was only in hospital for three or four days and then set off on the journey elsewhere while asleep. I went round to visit his wife with the designer who first introduced us and we spent a little time there paying our respects and lighting incense. It is traditional to have a little shrine in the home here. There are all the accoutrement for making offerings and also photos of the dear departed. In this case, the gentleman in question, his mother and father were all smiling down from their places, which must be reassuring for those left behind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fittings TIGd

All the bits up together. The inspector came this morning to do the checks on our new electric setup. That went without a hitch, so I connected up the breaker for the slightly dubious workshop layout. That means I have to be careful how I wire up my plugs from now on or I might give 200v to something that wouldn't like it. I immediately gave the plasma cutter a go and it worked fine. I cut out the little brackets on the table here from a scrap of angle iron. Then I used the new and stronger TIG voltages to weld them together and finally painted them before leaving the shop for the day. The table top is about 80x110cm I think and it is about 73cm high. I'll try and make a pint of getting out the backdrop and photographing it before it leaves home.
I was getting bogged down with all the jobs on the go at the same time, so once I have fitted those brackets tomorrow, this one will be out the door.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Leg Glue

I spent some time roasting the high table legs and the bottom section is now in traction. The object in front is one of the items salvaged from up the road at the same time as the jack hammer. A rheostat I think, 100v modified from 0-130. I cleaned it up, painted it and rewired it. It works fine and was serving to slow down the wire brush on the grinder today. It did the same for the router the other day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Truant again. Wood shaping and digging with Sammy, got the wheel chair batteries to take a bit of a charge. Whacked myself in the shin when I pushed the toggle on the motors and the little cart sprang to life, not even a bruise, but silly.

Monday, September 22, 2008

We are still in a bit of upheaval with the digging outside and the construction down the end of the shop, but the work on tables is still progressing slowly. I am also busy sorting things to throw away as compensation for picking up the wheelchairs and whatnot. A rheostat refurbishment was what took an hour or so of today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Scrap

So, I was busy tidying up and found a load of computer bits. Enough to make a computer. No case, but everything else. I laid it all out and connected up, then downloaded the linux operating system called Ubuntu in the form of an ISO file to make a CD and installed it on an abandoned hard disk. The biggest test of the system was the wireless network card. I found a site that gave me nifty instructions on how to get an application off of the CD disk I had made and then use that to grab and use the windows driver for the card off of the CD that came with it. So far all seems pretty easy to understand and it is all free. I will make up some kind of box for the thing and use it as a rather expendable Wifi internet radio down in the workshop. If you have parts you are not using I would recommend giving it a try as long as you have access to the internet on another machine to look up instructions.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I switched over to a little manual job for the minimal working part of the day. One of my near neighbors had a bit of a shock last week when someone deliberately smashed the rear window of his car. I don't know who or why, but it must have been a bit miserable for him. A few months ago he asked me to make a little carved name plate to go outside his front door and I have had the piece of wood set aside ready for some weeks.
I decided to move that job to the head of the list and hope that the result will be something of a boost after his brush with the world of random violence. It seems that these events occur more frequently and having made their way through the arteries of the world are now hitting even the tiny capillary of world commerce upon which we reside.
I find that on balance I am not positively effected by comments on the blog here. I will look in to removing that facility. If you feel like commenting, please try to have some kind of web presence of your own that will let me know who you are or at least what you are doing. If you look around I am sure you can find my Email address somewhere, but imagine you are writing a message not shouting at someone out of the window. I am encouraged to hear from friends and family that there are people out there who look in every day and I am very happy that people look at these pages, but random comments put the brakes on my gently spinning wheels of optimism simply because I have no frame of reference for them.
It is like walking down the street and hearing someone shout at you. You look round, you don't know them and you are not sure what they said, but they are looking at you for some reason with something on their mind and then they turn away and they are gone.
Not a particularly human interaction, and it sticks disturbingly in the mind because of that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A day nearly forgotten

Sammy went on with the dissection of the wheel chairs and I had a go at restoring some kind of walking space in the shop. The lady up the road bought us a case of beer and I went up to get that, then I had a phone call mentioning a new job down at the lakeside. I spent about half an hour with one of the chaps down there who hauls the driftwood and scrap out of the reservoir by the dam. I needed to see the actual job site as it is always difficult to grasp what is needed over the phone. Having grasped I think it should be easy enough and a good opportunity to get Sammy involved to earn some more pocket money.
While we messed about with all that the cat went through a range of activities that hinged around the mastery of interesting relaxation strategies. Hence the blurry photo.
I have been distracted by current events and had to work hard with my daughter to reconstruct the events of this day only 48hrs later.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I went and got one of those wheelchairs on a little detour after taking my daughter to the train station. A sign that the scrap business is booming, the chap was out again already at 8.30 am. Sammy stripped the thing down while I was busy on the computer. Drizzly rain all day. We had the electric men around for half an hour or so fixing our new line, breaker and meter. They only needed to disconnect us for about 15 minutes and we were all done. Miserable for them working in the rain, but they seemed a cheerful if slightly strange crew. I don't claim to be a genius or anything, but it does seem odd that the numbers on the new and old meter weren't made to match up. It must make for a lot of paper work, but maybe the meters are made not to be tampered with even by the crew so that no energy pilfering can take place. Anyway I noted down the numbers just in case we get a strangely exorbitant electric bill next time around. The final phase in the electric upgrade is an inspection some time later in the month. Then I will connect up the shop more permanently to the new supply.
As a break from work in the afternoon we took the bits of the chair we didn't want back to the scrap yard and picked up the other one. That too is now stripped down and we will pay another visit soon to return the unwanted bits.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Falling behind in pictures for posting again due to varied activities. I went up to the water pipe works one last time with Sammy. Everything is sorted out so Sammy got a little pocket money out of it. I need some good Karma, so I refrained from billing beyond that. I took away half a dozen old mining drill shafts and an electric bull chisel cum jack hammer that had once been the property of the old lady's husband. His was one of the many village funerals we have attended.
I also took a load of other iron scrap up to the local dealer for her and he had a router device sitting on top of a pile of stuff. I took that away and inquired about a couple of those electric wheel chairs he had. The motors and batteries looked interesting.
I put a new cord on the router which is now set up as a dedicated bench router so I will no longer need to bother with bolting the plunge router under there. It was a lucky coincidence that the chuck had the same thread as my Hitachi.
I investigated the bull chisel, too. That needed oil and it had lost one of the carbon brush covers. It was interesting to see how the old chap had whittled down a piece of pvc to act as a replacement and then bolted on a strap of aluminium to hold that in place. I have a jam jar full of brushes from odds and ends and one of the caps in there was a perfect fit. The tool came with a nice little shovel, so we will have a lovely little jack hammer for any more digging we do.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


While all the water works and digging have been going on there has also been a simmering level of progress in the table department. The legs this time are a little on the formal side compared to my usual mode of making, but it seemed appropriate for the wood. The thing will split into three sections that will be held together by a bolt down the center. Still shaping to do, but all the bits are now made except for two little metal brackets to join everything together up under the table top.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Old is new

I found an old sketch book with a wadge of vacant pages, so a new old book with a new old theme. I must look into soldering up a stereo microphone and record some of the sounds to go with the image. Sammy on the piano in particularly fine form after a day of rest.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Around the bend again

Digging with Sammy more of a distant memory today, but that was what my brain latched on to. This little charcoal pencil is very convenient and fun to draw with. The B5 sheet here took about one sharpening and the wood was starting to scrape by the end. Today I made a polystyrene form and a bit of wood shuttering to make a corner piece for the gutter just where our shovels are. That left me with a little cement in the bag, so I went up to do a little repair on the water works of last week. One side of the little dam where the water is collected had given way, so I took up a board and some of those excellent screws that can go direct into a hole drilled in concrete or block walls without any kind of rawl plug or anchor. I used three of them to attach the board to shutter in the informal repair of concrete. There was a nifty little garter snake mooching about in the water tank looking for food to add a bit of wildlife interest to the project. I will pop up and check the cement is curing OK tomorrow if the rain continues to hold off for the holidays.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


It is a three day weekend in Japan, Monday is respect the aged day. The road we use to get to the station is very crowded at the beginning of such lengthy holidays. I am trying to get my daughter to drive more often, so she had to take us around a back route to get nearer the station and avoid the traffic. Having gone around there I decided to pop in to the shops on the way home and buy in a little cement and whatnot for our ditch construction work. My daughters had actually been to pop down to the seaside, but we didn't know that until she got back. She brought back some little stones and some of these beautiful exercises in fractal mathematics that a sea urchin had constructed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Round the bend

We got around the corner of the digging and laid a bit of guttering in our excavation. It is making me happy to know that the shop should no longer get flooded in heavy weather.  The sketch is from where I went out to help as evening fell, working at close quarters to scoop earth down from one leg of the trench on to a board at the corner for sammy to scoop out while standing in the other leg. I think Sammy is secretly hoping for rain to prove the effectiveness of the digging. 
The electrician came around again this afternoon and gave us the date for the visit from the electric company on the 25th. It will be great if that goes smoothly. Even with the same old 20 amps, having a better distribution system makes the whole system seem a lot more stable, so we should soon be even more stable.
I realized today that the 22nd anniversary of my first steps in Japan passed without me noticing on the 7th, never mind. I wonder if the next one will pass so smoothly. That will mark the divide as half of my life so far will have then passed on this side of the planet. 
I got sidetracked in the evening trying to find a way of playing the audio files on my computer on a chronically constipated ipod touch. Winamp remote was the solution. I had been having very little joy with something called orb, which the winamp product is based on. Obviously nothing from Apple as they have done very little to utilize the capabilities their product posesses and their new sofware version, which I foolishly paid to download does nothing much to change that. Microsoft is republican and Apple is Democrat, but they do indead seem to be two right wings of something pretty nasty to do with grabbing all you can.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pipe surgery

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Glue Strategy

Having sorted out the rats nest upstairs I decided to spend the day getting the electrics organized downstairs so that I can connect everything up when the system changes.
I made a more complex trial piece for the glue test on teak. I cut a mortice and tenon loint in some of the scrap offcuts and glued that up. It seems to be fine. I wiped the surfaces with laquer thinner and let that dry off for a few minutes and then applied the normal wood glue.
I also spent a little time making sure I have a proper strategy for clamping up the leg parts. That is the thing with the red truck tie downs wrapped around it at the back. The foreground item is the central post, now glued and clamped.
The new electrical system will have three wires, red white and black instead of the current system with white and black only. Using red and black gives 200v, red and white or black and white gives 110v as usual. And we have been struggling along on a 20amp breaker up till now, but that will go up to 40amps.
Sammy started digging a trench along the watelogged side of the shop to prevent the ever more frequent flooding that we suffer every time we get torrential rain.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Nearly tame

My contribution to taming the rats nest was to expand the hole in the wall and reroute all the new wires through a slot I cut in my fresh bit of wall. I also rechecked what those were connected to with Sammy turning switches on and off as we went along. That all paid off today as the electrician came along and connected us up temporarily with the new distribution board. The work went a lot more smoothly than he thought it would thanks to that bit of effort the other evening. He also drove in a one and a half meter long chunk of copper as a new earth, and that went down very smoothly, too. We still have to use the old yellow main fuse and the same meter, so none of the advantages of being able to tap into 200v as yet, but we are on our way and must wait for the electric company to come and do the rest. Then we can put the cover on and forget about it.
I managed to do a little bit of work on the table legs shaping tenons to their final fit with hand tool as the electric wasn't back on until lunch time

Monday, September 08, 2008


Sorry if you have a phobia of these muscular little creatures. In our family we have all been bitten at least once by one of these centipedes. They are most prevalent in the home during the seasons of change when the temperature warms and cools. Unfortunately they are quite nocturnal and like to snuggle in between the futon. Not exactly what you want to find in amongst your personals.
This morning I was told that while I was asleep the kitten had awoken suddenly and made a B line for this munster near where we sleep thereby alerting my wife to the alien presence. I am afraid we all become buffalo hunters when these creatures hit our patch of prairie and we kill dispassionately. We all know they would really rather we didn't and once they know they are discovered they try to escape rather than turn and fight, but we know they don't have sufficient oomph in the brain department to stay clear of us afterward and it is easier to get back to sleep if you know there is one less scuttling about in the shadows. The cat has been popular all day and he will be encouraged to kip in the bedroom I am sure.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pipe Full

In the morning I dug out a lump of rubber from some fitting or other and used a couple of hole saws in the drill press to cut out an approximately sized copy of the O ring or olive for the orphaned fitting and trimmed it up with the belt sander. Then we went to measure the gap where there was none of the abandoned black pipe laying around and found a piece 7 meters long to fill that gap. It took a few trips up and down the pipe disconnecting and reconnecting and a bit of shaking about, but in the end we got a spout of water coming out the end and the flow of water down the black pipe is about three times what it was down the other. All the pipe is along a slippery slope through the woods, so our digging yesterday to put in a bit of a path and then a few footholds was not in vain, but even so the novelty of crawling about in the jungle with pipes had pretty much worn off by the end of the day. I reckon there is now enough water coming down into the pond to make a little fountain or something, but I am not sure whether such ostentation would be appreciated.
The old lady said it made her happy to see and hear all that water flowing and I encouraged her to utilize the tap in the kitchen once the tank has had a chance to clear up a bit. Tea is a lot tastier with mountain water than with the stuff we pay for in the city pipes. I must remember to tell her to get a little filter to stick on the end of the tap as well.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More digging

We had another go at digging along the water pipe to make it easier to maintain, and Sammy dug out the area behind a water tank to stop debris rolling down the slope in bad weather into the water. He also came across another water cock under there, which was the one for the pipe to the household kitchen. Digging became less fun and in the end we resolved to change over to the black plastic pipe that is much more resilient to freezing sunlight and exposure to the elements in general. So we had a quick shopping trip and bought some sushi and whatnot for lunch. I had cut off a smidgen of pipe to try for size and we found some compression fittings to connect the disparate lengths of pipe that had been left for dead along the route to the tank. One of the fittings had no little rubber O ring in it at one end, so we got that one for 25% off in the hope it would be possible to manufacture something at home.
As usual Sammy went in to piano mode as the evening drew in and the Saturday Skype sessions were over.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Freeing the pipes

A day of varied activities, morning computer, afternoon water pipes, evening tackling the taming of the rats nest. The water works partly in the company of young Sammy. All appeared to go well with pipe clearance for the elderly lady who lives up the way, but there was a recurrence of some sort of earthy thrombosis in after hours trading. I was called away from my electrical quandries to inspect the situation, but it was too late to do much except promise another attempt on the morrow. The pipes used to supply drinking water to the household, but now they just supply the pond, so only of vital concern to the fish therein.
I took a brief break to check out the goings on outside the republican convention. Apparently they established some free speech zones like the protest areas in China during the olympics. There was a video on you tube of an inoffensive woman being frogmarched off and sumarily arrested when she stepped outside of the area while politely speaking the unforgivable words "Please don't arrest me". I guess she had her own adgenda for the afternoon. In an unrelated episode on the BBC a middle american chap told how he would not be voting for Mr Obama because he knew the senator had been sworn into office with his hand on the Koran and had turned his back on the flag during the ceremony. It is amazing what happens to light and sound waves as they enter the human body, all kinds of refractions and conversions allow us to see and hear exactly what we want, or perhaps even what others want.
The campaign of terror and misinformation seems to be hotting up for the autumn.
I shall endeavor to add imagery for my own day later. Now added, Sammy carrying the tools back down from the digging work with me following behind clinging to all available bamboo supports. Sammy went with a no sleeve shirt and got bitten to bits by mosquitos.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Many and varied activities left me stumped for a theme, so I just did me drawing this. Missed a day yesterday optimistically thinking I would do it in the morning I forgot all about posting.
I signed up to participate in some kind of group exhibition of sculpture in the autumn and a couple of the organizers came round today to take pictures of self at work. The photographer snapped away happily while I fiddled with a chisel and a few other things, then we popped up to look at a sculpture up the road and he snapped away some more. I asked him to send me any that looked interesting, so maybe he will one day. 
I am trying something different for the table legs, which involved a bit of setting up and chiseling. When I first started working on this house I found a little straight chisel about 15mm wide that had a very long neck. It had been lost and forgotten under the floor of the house and the handle was pretty rotten. I heated and bent the neck to turn it into a dog leg chisel, which has proved very handy for taking shavings off of joints. The handle finally broke, so I got on the lathe for a while to turn a new one. That was a fun five minutes. Again making me appreciate work done ages ago making up parts to let me turn wood on the metal lathe I have.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Rats nest

Reaching a peak of distraction as the electrician has made a start on the rewiring of our connection to the grid. I am not fond of having people in to do stuff, but in this case I think a licence is required and the connection to the meter definitely needs to be done by the electric company.
Although the rats nest here is actually just about safe, it has been left this way with its guts hanging out for a while awaiting the upgrade surgery. The rest of the electricals pretty nifty in comparison. A classic "before" picture. Lots too many wires feeding into a few breakers. 
So far the chap has only put in the wire from that pole I went on about a while ago to the house. Not a big problem for the household as any break in service will have to wait until it is convenient workwise, but my workshop connection has had to take second place as it was only "informally" wired in to the system. I have just run an extension cord down there to make do while the work is underway. I had to do a little restructuring around the current mess of a breaker board making a suitable sized opening for the sleak new plastic thing that is soon to replace the ugliness. You can see the slightly grey putty color here that I put on over the plywood board additions that were my last job of yesterday. 
I had trouble finding my putty spatula in the morning, so I vowed to tidy up until I found it. I had actually already found it in the place where I thought it would be, but I took the part of the handle I glimpsed to be that of a saw I am aquainted with and didn't proceed to a tactile inspection.  So, ignorant of my mistake I swept up and rearranged things for an hour or two then went back and pulled on the handle speculatively to find that it belonged to the long lost spatula. 

Monday, September 01, 2008


In the junk pile there was also a 3 meter length of teak cut diagonally to be used as a rail around a Japanese style room I think. The section of it is visible on the jointed pieces matched up on the right here. I was not sure that I would ever find a use for the timber, but the next set of table legs has provided a use. They will have a central stem and probably be held together by a long bolt right down the middle as I am so unsure of the gluability of teak. One solution for putting a hole down the middle of timber is to split it and cut a groove. I thought I could use this diagonally cut length in this way. The problem is that there is then no good way of using a power tool with a fence to cut grooves because each cut would have to be individually set up. I used the grooving tool in the photo to cut a groove down the middle of the diagonal face of each piece with the fence of the tool running down the peak of the triangle. Then I made a little additional sole for the tool with three scraps of wood. A scrap of plywood, a batten to screw the plywood and fence together and another batten cut to fit in the groove I had cut in the face of the diags. This indexed the other grooves nicely so that I could cut them with one setting and four cuts. I just screwed some scraps into the ends of the timber to allow it to sit on the bench with the diagonal face up. Perhaps difficult to follow, but I was impressed by the activity of my subconscious in coming up with this. Other tools on the bench, the torch is there from redoing the finish on one of the joints on Table one. The tin snips because I needed something sharp to pry a missplaced staple out of the guide batten in my device. That was just tacked in place. The MizoKiri is the tool in question. It is on its back here. Right way up it is a bit like a circular saw, but the rotation is much faster and the blade quite heavy. At first that seems like a bad combination, but the speed and weight make it very stable, so even these bits of wood cobbled together are suffiscintly strong to keep it on a straight path.