Friday, October 31, 2008

First Third

I just got in by the skin of my teeth for the Friday post. Just doing some final chores on the table, polishing and applying preservative mixed with oil stain.
Although it is a little late I have just realized that this October is the first third month on the list of postings and what better day to make this realization than the Thirtyfirst. The eighth of this month marked the end of my second year at this. Many times I have thought this to be a bit of a waste of space, but even with my recent fragmented posting it was fun today to look back at this month's posts and be surprised once again to see that some things had happened while I would otherwise have been sleeping.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Getting a bit patchy with this end of my day. Yesterday I started on a little object to mark my wife's Birthday, which will be upon us shortly. This morning I had to go out for a little conference on work and went back to the mini sculpture type work in the afternoon. I am a fan of Inuit sculpture, and she is a fan of penguins, so you might be able to imagine what the object might be. I'll put it up when the day arrives. I am using a scrap from the end of one of those pieces of pallet from the metal yard, it has heart wood and sap wood in, so there is a slight color difference.
For hard wood I often use the tines of a piece of antler to burnish the work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cat napping

You will have to forgive this past sell by date picture of self and younger kitten, it is in the way of a tribute to some friends. This afternoon they phoned and later came round for a visit. Their cat had died and they wanted somewhere to lay it to rest. It was dark by the time they got here, but they dug a reasonable sized space for the chap, so he shouldn't be disturbed. They lavished a lot of attention on our cat, luckily a friend of theirs was also on hand. He had recently lost a dog of the same breed as ours, so there was no need for petty jealousy among the livestock with enough kind hands to go around.
I don't think I am a cat lover, but I do rather like having animals in the home, they often remind me that the form we have come to inhabit is a very abstract thing. As species we are each so different, but with all the parts of varied form classified under the same nomenclature. A bit like the notion that dolphins communicate in sound pictures, these thoughts on unknowns help to tease my mind into a finer form of semolina.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Sammy had a day off college today, so we ordered in a half cubic meter of concrete to get those shop wall foundations in. About half an hour before the truck was due the company rang up to say that they had leftovers of just the amount I had ordered, so please could I take that instead. It was a beautiful sunny day and this gave it an added sparkle.
There is always a bit of a jip in my tummy when concrete is on the schedule. I think this stems from a childhood experience involving an underground room rapidly filling with concrete coming through a little window at street level. All very fine for laying a floor, but when the floor was laid and the flow kept flowing I think panic set in.
So far our worst experience was with a tiny patch that I wasn't quite ready for. The chute failed when the first wave hit a joint and baulked at the fence as it were. The weight build up made the chute buckle and we had to call a halt for a few minutes while repairs were made.
I was on hand today to push the build up along its way at the joints and once the first wave has gone down the chute the rest follows along quite happily.
I think Sammy was a bit daunted down at the bottom as he assumed the first wave was going to be the rate of flow for the whole session. Anyway, we were kept very busy ferrying buckets of gloop into the shuttering for a few minutes. We had just enough left over to fill our stretch of foundation ditch too.
I ended the day fitting threaded inserts into the table top to attach the base and top.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The table interior didn't seem as stable as I had hoped, so I added some corner braces and a couple of blocks to run bolts through for attaching the top during the warmer months. My other manual job was making a little stretch of trench ready for concrete in a continuation of the digging Sammy and I were working on.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday eve of autumn

Sammy put in a good session at the firewood and we now have just about a full trolley load. I went overboard with feeding the stove for the evening and nearly wiped out the livestock. The bottom right is just a stuffed toy, but the other two aren't much more use when the stove is on. It looked like one of those disaster preparedness drills where injuries are assigned. Heat stroke would be the correct diagnosis here.

Friday, October 24, 2008


The bench top is still slightly out of kilter, so my little support brackets have been called into service again to hold the table legs true while the glue sets. Most of the internal gubbins is now glued in also, but I don't have the heater device on hand to fit, so that will have to wait till the thing reaches its home.
The one strap is the only clamp on here. I did use one long pipe clamp to pull in two diagonally opposite corners just to make the drawer sit true. I think that means it is just about true and square. All those skimpy bits on the inside will make sure it stays that way once the glue is dry.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This and that

A bit of a blank day as I deliberated over how to strengthen the table interior with little bits of this and that. I looked out the handles for the doors ready to stick them on at the weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Outer work

After my day of sidelong glances I got back in the fishbowl helmet and various forms of dust proceeded to fly hither and thither. The whole has now been shaped, cooked up and given an initial polishing. My next task is to fit the drawer in its slides and make some suitable bits of reinforcement for the interior of the carcass. Despite having a drawer full of screws I didn't have any the right size for that.
I was testing out one of the solar lights from our stairway yesterday and forgot I had stuck the batteries from the camera in it, so I had to get out and retrieve them. Two out of three of the lights had died due to some kind of moisture intrusion or battery failure this was the sole survivor.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Doors no walls

I still have the table up on the bench and decided to have a day where I just look at it out of the corner of my eye every now and again in passing. I put in the asymmetrical doors instead. Still no walls to go around them, but they will be there too one day. The concrete chute is still in place and allows rain water into this bare bones room. I have a hose in the bucket that collects the water. The hose acts as a siphon as the water builds up and that is him slithering along the floor between the two doors.
I thought I had gone to all the trouble for no reason at one point when the closers under the floor proved too stiff to do anything. I had a wee inspection and found some little adjuster screws that controlled the flow of oil to control the speed of closure and they are nice and smooth now. They fill a gap 2045mm tall by 1695mm wide. This view is similar to the one back on March 06 of this year, but not fish eye lens. Scroll down on the right look up the month and click on it, then scroll down again and you can find the dates going in reverse chronology as usual.

Monday, October 20, 2008


The now familiar workbench supporting the dusty low table this evening. Rather than worry over my butterfly tendency with work I have decided I might as well embrace it. I skipped between the sanding on the table and cutting an Aluminum door to size for the shop extension. I got a double door set from the local hall when it was demolished and I had intended to use them as they were, but that would have meant a weak set up with the pillars I was installing under beams, so I opted to slim them down width wise. They both have a big pane of 7mm thick glass in them and I had intended to cut each by 5.5cm to fit my door gap. I always seem to mess up this thick glass cutting, I guess I am too tentative. Anyway, sure enough the first cut messed up vearing off into the pane right at the end. I vented the mild frustration tossing chips of glass into a bin and wondering over the irreversible nature of time and whether I had another 6x3foot piece of glass. Then I thought I might as well check if I could change plan and just cut the one door down by 11cm and abandon the irrelevance of symmetry. The new plan would mean I could have another try cutting off another 5.5cm from the side and leave just a tiny corner of the failed cut and that would disappear in the door rebate. So I took a deep breath and immediately set too on another cut and this time the cut just veared away from true at the end away from the pane leaving a little tooth on the end, so I was able to snap off the remainder with pliers. If anybody has any tips on making long cuts in thick glass, do tell.
I decided to practice a little and tried cutting the offcut strips down their length, theoretically slightly more difficult, but of course as these were only test cuts they went fine with no vearing at all.
Once I had the aluminium frame cut to size I put it all back together and then went back to the sanding on the bench after lunch. Having to tidy that up for glass cutting meant I could get the table up onto it and so the day ended with some more dust making.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I had a go on the table legs yesterday with the bandsaw. I did a little work with the beltsander also and enlarged on that today. Also more sawing up of firewood and a little roof repair that has been niggling at me. It drips water on my firewood stack when it rains heavily, but I think I have it fixed now. Just nailing a strip of tin at the appropriate place to steer the water away. Lying down to get to one of those fiddly zones that meant using a pair of bent needle nose pliers to grip the nails for tapping in with a little hammer.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


A good start to the firewood supply. The chap down the road made good on his offer of a truck load on Friday evening and here it is in the morning light. A nice mixture of hard woods, mostly cut to a size where they can be just popped straight into the abyssal of fire and warm our cockles.
A big job of stacking to be done tomorrow. We can't even see the sticks for the chairs at the back, they got buried.
I messed up with my tardy posting timing and skipped Friday, I have administered a snappy slap on the wrist.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Start up

A chap from just down the road called to ask if I wanted a load of firewood tomorrow and I of course answered in the affirmative. When we were setting up the sculptures back on Monday I couldn't resist asking some blokes at the university for a few of the branches they were chopping off of the trees there, so I thought I would saw them up to make way for the new stuff. I have a double session of the kids class at the end of next month when we will be making stick chairs, so I set aside a few of these branches for that.
It is always a bit of a slow start up as the firewood season starts. Branches like this are easiest to tackle with the circular saw. You hold the saw up at the back and push it down on to the branch, then there is nowhere for it to go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Private view

I was impressed by the difference in temperature as I alighted from the train in Hino where the school group show is being held. I would have been fine with shorts and a T shirt there, but I had got firewood ready to burn before leaving the home in the hills.
I spoke to a couple of folk at the meeting, which I think would have benefited from a little more liquid cheer. I do try to give a friendly wave, but there was a note of awkwardness among the sculptor crowd there even though many seem to have participated in the show many times before.
My daytime activity hinged around a kind of inner web for the table supporting the heater and drawer under it, as well as making up the parts for the little drawer itself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This is my bit in the pamphlet for the group exhibition. A tiny little rest from English for the Japanese readers. So unusual for me to be in a photo or any form of print I thought it was worth putting in for novelty value.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day out

We had a kind of rerun of the sports day with a couple of sprints across the sports field with a trolley at this university to get the sculpture and tools into position. The sculpture under the stairs is not so cheerful and it could do with a bit of lighting. This one didn't look too bad in the green surroundings on what turned out to be a lovely sunny day. We got a couple of tires for Sammy's bike on the way home and one of those got fitted after we had had a nap to recover.
I was given a load of pamphlets to distribute, but I don't really have many people to give one to, so they may have to sit with the mountain of postcards that I am also at a loss to decide how to dispose of.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Swimmer 2

This is the other piece that is off for a little trip to the outside world tomorrow.
We had the community sports day today, so we are all a little fatigued. I just took a snap of this as I was leaving the shop yesterday evening. I have to get up early tomorrow and pack up the truck with all the stuff I will need for the installation. I will try to remember to take some pictures of the work on the spot.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Swimmer 1

I have two sculptures that are going into a little group exhibition on Monday. Work on cleaning them and all sorts of other things on hand, so not much time for scribbling on here. Both the works are from driftwood and kind of swimming forms. They will both be exhibited outside, so I am giving them a good dose of preservative for their month long exposure course. This one is due to be suspended between two flights of a rather miserable little stairway.

Friday, October 10, 2008


These are the leg tenons for the low table. There is a little finger joint inside the leg. There is also a rebate into the leg in the shape of the profile at the end of the apron piece as in the picture yesterday. The letter box hole will house a drawer.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


So here you can see one of the finger jointed tenons in the leg and the shallow rebate in the leg to make a neat joint. The matching apron piece will fit in and interlock with the fingers inside. The next job is to make up a grid structure that will provide a home for the heater and the drawer, then I shall do the shaping on the legs and the edge of the top.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Scones on the table

I had to pop into town for a very brief meeting about a small sculpture exhibition and on the way back I dropped in at the metal yard and picked up the remainder of the mahogany type pallet material. Having spent the morning driving about I thought I might as well do the same in the afternoon and took the little table round to its new home. It seemed to fit in nicely and we had scones and tea at it to celebrate. I have just rememmbered I forgot to photograph it properly, but never mind.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Gas Upstairs

All the welding has brought us very low on Argon and I am down to one cylinder of Oxygen. Sammy and I spent ten minutes hauling an empty cylinder of Acetylene and the dead tank of oxygen up for the gas man to take away. There is still a sigh or two of argon in the tank so I am holding out for the last breath on that.
There is a short slope and then a load of steps to get up to the road, and those tanks are heavy.
Back to belt sanding on the apron for the low table today.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fish paper

Sammy often takes a wide glance at the paper when he comes home in the evening, usually while snacking on something. There are little fish for use as stock in soups called "Niboshi"and he likes to chomp on them sometimes. Even the cheap ones are quite tasty and they have a lot of calcium and minerals in them. I guess they are just baby sardines or something

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Grind 2

Things are working out well in the shop with the extra amps, I can get Sammy working on one thing while I do something else. Yesterday I was welding while he had a go on the belt sander and drill press. Today we were both grinding and brushing a few little metal brackets for our lake side plank job. I have missed Saturday, just too much on in the evening, I have added a sketch of the work at opposite ends of the bench for Saturday on to Friday's post.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I went to a construction steel vendor for the first time today. It was interesting to see all the varieties of metal laid out on racks. Not a big yard and just one old chap minding the wares.
I bought three 6m lengths of 75mmx45mm box pipe. I cut them in half on the floor there. That worked out as about 15 GPS or 3000 yen for a three meter length, pretty pricey.
While we were discussing the price of cheese as it were, the chap said I should feel free to delve into the scrap bin if it was of interest. He seemed to grasped my character pretty sharpish, anyway, the bin was full of uninteresting binding wire on top at least, but there was some packing pallet timber on it as well, so I asked for that. All tropical hard wood like teak. There was a stack of longer stuff in the corner, so I asked about that and he sprang to hauling that out for me to stick on the truck. Some firewood in amongst it all, but a lot of good looking material with many possible uses due to its properties of strength and resistance to water damage. Perhaps a veranda outside the kitchen.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I had the volunteer craft class with the kids at school today, only the four kids this year, so easy to manage. We did more on the stained glass soldering and two kids made little mirrors in frames by making a mold out of Plasticine and embedding a scrap of old mirror in it to pour plaster around and over the top. They put bits of stained glass around the outside to decorate the frame.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I chopped out the hole for the drawer today, so that is decided. I didn't want to use the circular saw, I have a very wide blade for a jigsaw that will cut nice and straight, but it wouldn't fit in the saw because of a bar across the front of the base plate. I chopped that off with the grinder and was immediately happier with the saw as the surgery allowed me to see the blade cut a lot more easily.
The morning went on transcribing a video of young americans at a diet boot camp. The longest stayed inmate had been there nearly six months at a cost of 90 thousand dollars. That is a huge amount of money to me. The other amazing feature was the steak and green beans they were eating up. They said they found it hard at first to get used to the small portions. They were talking about something of a luxuriant size I don't see on my plate very often. Hard times indead. Of course I wish them luck with their weight loss, but my goodness, someone is smiling on their way to the bank somewhere.