Wednesday, December 31, 2008


My first job was making another handle for the axe and fitting that. Then I made four fillets of metal to hold eye bolts in the structure I am making for the reservoir driftwood processing area. Firstly by cutting them out from a larger sheet of metal with the Oxyacetylene torch. Then back to welding, but after about an hour the welder was once again blocking up, so I will be cleaning the wire hose once more tomorrow.
I remembered to use some metal offcuts to guide the longer straight cuts this time, which made a big difference to the time spent cleaning up with the grinder. If you leave the oxidized surface on the cut metal it fizzes and bubbles something horrible when you try and weld it, so the surfaces must be nice and clean.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Axe repair

A batch of firewood came yesterday, so I spent a while chainsawing that to make it choppable. Later in the day as I was fiddling with more welding Sammy came down to report that the axe was on its last legs ready to split at the neck. I told him how to get the split off section of handle out of the hole in the head. Use a sizeable metal drill bit to drill a couple of holes down through the wood and then use an old bolt to whack the weakened parts out from their home by resting the thing on the jaws of the big vise with the jaws open to the right width to allow the bits to pop out. He did that, but went out with friends, so never had time to make a replacement.
These drawings sometimes look a bit like they should be on the wall of a cave somewhere.

Monday, December 29, 2008


More acetylene cutting grinding and welding. TIG torch playing up again. I guess the water cooled wire has just seen too many days. I must look into acquiring a replacement. The object on the left is an attempt to draw the item I am whacking with the hammer and screw driver. If you imagine drilling a hole into the side of a bit of tube, your next imaginary task is to stick bare electric cable up the tube as far as the hole. You then smack the tube section housing the wire as flat as you can to crimp and hold the cable. Next you try and bend that flattened part into a U shape and stuff the whole lot back into the sheath of the electric cable. The main problem is that electric cable is constantly trying to pop back into its sheath. Anyway, I have done the final tamping and U shaping quite a few times, but there still seems to be enough crud built up in the hose to block the path every couple of hours of welding. Even so it is more economical than waiting for an air cooled torch to cool down after every two minutes of welding.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

27, 28

Missed one again. The picture for the 26th is really relevant to yesterday. I put one side of all the pieces of timber through the jointer part of the planer to get it flat. Then sammy helped out by passing the timber back and forth as we fed the whole lot through the thickesser a number of times to get all to a given thickness. Then in the afternoon we moved on to the larger timbers for the work, but by then the blades on the planer were showing signs of blunting down. After the breaker tripped a couple of times I called a halt and after a brief go at sharpening we retired to the warm of the upstairs rooms.
So, today began with an extended session of sharpening planer blades and then finishing up the job of thickessing the larger timbers.
The relatively mindless tasks seem to be having the prescribed effect and I am not yet under the harrow. Unfortunately the work of yesterday or playing soccer late in the evening seems to have had the opposite effect on sammy and he is in bed suffering today.
In the afternoon I moved on to cutting up a length of I beam with the acetylene torch. That will form some corner braces on our construction. Tomorrow should see me grinding and welding those cut out parts I hope. If you are not a regular user of these cutting torches, there are three knobs. Two control the flow of oxygen and acetylene to give a nice hot flame that heats the work to give a little spot of melted metal. When you see that you turn the third knob and that shoots a jet of oxygen down a central nozzle, which causes the steel to enter into some kind of chemical imbalance and river down through itself to form a chasm of gleeful molteness. I like the bit where one twiddles that third knob to start the river.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Crisp and even

Boxing day and even Christmas day go without note in Japan and I retain but a few tendrils that connect me to these Christian holidays. Touching the bottom in the depths of winter at the solstice seems to be a stronger force to me these days, but I don't have a personal ceremony to perform in recognition of that. Christmas is established in its place and we exchange gifts as is traditional and popped a bottle of bubbly yesterday, too.
A greater concern today was convincing my body that I have work to get on with and it must not take this latent holiday as an opportunity to lapse into illness. The cold my wife has succumbed to seems to be nasty and indeed it must be particularly pernicious as she is rarely hit by winter maladies. And is almost never the first to succumb in our family. So in order to pretend I am in emergency mode I embarked on a bout of dimensioning timber for a minor project coming up. The tropical hardwood packing case material I picked up a while ago to be specific. It is all very roughly cut to size, so I cut thirty pieces to length and to a rough thickness. I was glad to have the fish bowl helmet for this as there were crisp and even drifts of saw dust covering the assortment of objects on the bench at the end of the day.
I have also taken to dousing my throat with a spoonful of honey whenever I feel that something hideous may be sprouting there, of course it is impossible to prove a negative, but there have been many colds I have felt approaching and never had to welcome over the door mat, which for me constitutes some kind of evidence that honey is of the essence in repelling these miniature Jehova's witnesses when they come calling.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas cat

I couldn't get started properly with making some kind of little gift yesterday morning, but I had a fresh start in the afternoon and decided on a simpler plan. Not really enough time to refamiliarize myself with the tippy tappy tools, but this should serve if I can find some kind of cord to turn it into a necklace. I did a bit of finishing today and welded on a little eye at the top. that meant some welder maintenance as it was very tiny, then on to a bit of solsticial cleaning.
I am hoping the little creature will be taken for a domestic cat, not anything more exotic. I suppose a little more practice would have allowed me to give the thing markings like our tomster, but there we are. Perhaps for the next gift giving opportunity.
Methodology wise, I was smart enough to leave a big tab of metal extending from the forefoot to allow me to grip the thing and also made the tail separately to save on cutting out complex shapes and wasting metal. That is also welded on, stainless is quite kind when it comes to welding and flows fairly happily.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Busy making a little decorative item for Christmas today, but also fiddling with a sketch of the seasonally adjustable sofa bench. I have some idea of which bits of wood I will be using and the practicalities of joinery are also beginning to take shape. Still lots of changes along the way I suspect. The little line blobs with numbers in the middle are the dimensions of the cushions in millimeters.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I forgot to say that the new owners seemed very pleased with the new addition. The final dimensions are 140cm w X 122cm h X 37cm d. It looks a bit lonely at the moment even with the sun, but it should settle in a bit when it gets loaded up with stuff. 
Today turned out a little damp by the afternoon, which was fine with me as I was in front of the computer for most of the gradually lengthening daylight hours.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The bookcase has left a nice big space in the workshop. 
The way up to the house had a short run of winding steps, so I took a couple of planks off of either end from the book case to allow us to get a grip on the shelves from both sides. The same idea as pulling out a drawer on a wardrobe to get a better grip. These are the new owners, who wisely stayed out of the way in their little field of a front garden while we huffed and puffed on the moving job. They were digging up a few taro potato type items for us to bring away home with us. 
 We had a fairly wending journey back, visiting once and future clients for work, so I have my next projects ready to go. We had the sun in our faces all the way down in the morning and then again on the way back. As well as the taters, we also got a bottle of shochu and a few heads of broccoli at our other stops. Some of the broccoli went straight in the pot. Delightfully fresh with a slight lemony flavor, it went down very well with a drop of lamb.
The weather seemed a lot milder as we got nearer to the sea, but we brought it back with us and felt the same balmy breeze on our faces when we got out of the truck in the early darkness. That breeze turned into some of the strongest winds we have had this year and made me pop out into the darkness clad in pajamas to sort out some sheet metal making a racket in its bid for a flight to freedom.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Blurry memories one day, but for today this is a blurry image of home.
Sammy and I had a good go at sorting the remainder of our haul of firewood. We even got a little addition from Mrs P who came home from the town with a load of branches in the back of the truck. Apparently from some trimming work in the car park or thereabouts, good to see that the bug for wood collection has spread.
As the day was drawing to a close and the hour of skyping approached we got to grips with the challenge of carrying the book case up the steps to the truck. I nearly came a cropper at the top, but no damage done. I had considered assembling this unit on site, but it didn't seem appropriate somehow. I will have to make the next project to break down in some way or it will be us breaking down instead. I seem to remember there are some steps to negotiate at our destination tomorrow, so fingers crossed for a safe splashdown in Yokohama.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I got the shelves all glued up by lunch time and then went back down and just trimmed all the back boards to fit and gave the whole thing a bit of a going over with stain and elbow grease again. I thought it might be good to see some of the differences in shelf texture close up. As usual I'm not the captain's kippers when it comes to photographing the work, but I did dig out a bigger light.
I was in the middle of gluing on one of the base parts when the lady who is going to put her books in here rang up, so that was fortunate, and we are on schedule to deliver the thing this weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nearly done

Foolishly I had taken the whole thing to bits this morning before I remembered to take a picture. I got the final fittings all done and was just at the point where it would be possible to glue the thing up, but managed to stop myself as it was really time to leave the shop rather than embark on a stamina session where mistakes would be more likely. I wanted to cut the back planks and fit them while the glue was still not dry also, so I shall be on to that tomorrow and take a picture when I am done to fill in here.
I am particularly fond of the second shelf up. I like the way the grain doubles back over the front edge. I wanted the same thing for the other shelf, but the grain wasn't suited to it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Misty cedars

The round window in the stove appears quite often, but this other round window in the home has not been on the box yet. This was the tonal vision of receding cedars out of it as I made my way to the kitchen for a little cup of solace. I had a good go at the shelves today and got the whole thing up together for the first time. I suspect that will be the image of the morrow.
Aside from some little bits of final jointing I had to cut the shelves to finished length allowing for a little warpage in the side panels. I use the telescopic nozzle assembly from an old sprayer that I found up the mountain for this activity. It makes it very easy to obtain an exact length measurement for inside surfaces like the two grooves to house the shelves, you just extend the telescope to butt against the interior surfaces and then slide the thing out carefully to transfer that on to the item to be cut without needing to remember any numbers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


A day of walking under loads, ferrying timber down the slope to the front of the shop. Not sure about a new venture in the drawing line, so I thought I would have a draw over the chainsawing effort from the other day. I still have to take care of my back, so I try to triangulate when I do things bending down, resting the elbow on the knee takes a lot of the effort out of things.
I think I am beginning to get my second wind on this project as I see repetitions in the annual or weekly cycle as interesting. I think I was getting caught up in the mistake of pursuing content as the be all and end all of media. Same content, different day.
My other Achilles heal is the ankle zone. My shoes are designed for basketballers and have a nice supportive strap with velcro that wraps around and stops the little beggars twisting every time they feel like it. The laces on these shoes are utterly useless and I keep threatening to melt the knots in place as they always come undone in two seconds. I somehow missed the shoe tying lesson in childhood, so I can still remember the kid in school who taught me his simplefied method, and do so with fondness. I don't have this problem with other shoes, so I am reluctantly forced to blame the laces themselves.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I had a morning of translation reworking and then got down to the shop from 3 till 7. I took a smidgen off of the grooves cut for the shelf ends and then cut some drop in dovetail joints inside the grooves. This is the set up for the smidgen cutting. The scrap of wood on the right is an offcut from one of the ends to test for fit.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Not the weather for outdoor work after all. Heavy rain until the late afternoon reversed my plans. I cut the rough grooves for the shelves and pondered the assembly for a while. I snatched a little effort on the chainsaw as it was drawing into twilight just to get a few of the bigger lumps out of the way.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


A good session of hauling lumber again. One truck load of short rough sawn planks and firewood chunks. Then later on another of more chunks and odds and ends of planks and square timber. I hope it is fine tomorrow as we need a solid day of sorting, carrying and chopping to get that load stowed away for later use. I think I shall then be ready to get the shelf sides out of their clamps for the final session of joinery on Monday so that the unit can go on its way later in the week. 
The chap with the shop vacation problem is now regretting having got rid of all the materials he had stored up, probably because the tidying has given the place more of a sense of having potential again. I think we will just have to leave him to stew on that particular mental blockage for a while and see how it turns out.
My large chainsaw did a good job on the rough sawing, but the clutch pads all left their respective blocks and I don't see that trying to glue them back on will do much good. I think I will have to find a supplier for some parts to get the thing back in good order. At the end of the session I was just using it with the pads whiped out, so the metal clutch blocks were bearing directly against the metal drum that drives the chain sprocket, probably not a good idea in the long run.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I did get on to preparing the planks, but it was a bit of a late start to the afternoon. I pushed on to get them all wire brushed, leaving the shop covered in a nice layer of soot.
Today back to the sander trio and the grinder with fine disks. Tomorrow Sammy and I are off to help out with the tidying again. More firewood will result I think, hopefully not too much more hardware as my drawers are full of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Truck keys

The trip to the yard went fine. I borrowed the two ton dump truck again, hence the imagery for the day. I am not sure what function this totem serves, a little like those wounded toys I remember seeing adorning the rubbish wagons when I was a kid. The rubbish men don't seem to be allowed to decorate their vehicles these days. Anyway, the unfortunate amputee student was my companion for most of the day. My other companion, the chap from down the road, had a good session. The blokes at the yard had a fitted kitchen set they were offering for a thousand quid or so and when he mentioned that he didn't really know the size of the kitchen as the house isn't built yet the chap mentioned in his turn that they had the timber for a small bungalow all jointed up and ready to go. Apparently the deal had fallen through on it and they still had the plans and everything. I hope he goes ahead and snaps it up, because it looked like a real bargain to me all laid out neatly under a tarpaulin, everything down to the planks for the eaves. I shall look forward to piecing it all together along with any necessary extensions.
My own bargain finds were mainly more planks of zelkova, but there was an oven on offer that I thought had my name on it, but in the end when I did one last check I noticed a label that said it was meant for use with city gas, which we do not have. What a disappointment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The two side panels are now in clamps and I am off to the wood yard again tomorrow to see if there are any bargains on offer for possible inclusion in up coming projects.  Hopefully only a half day tour, then back to the shop work preparing the two planks for the middle shelves. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Not quite

I didn't make it to gluing, but spent the day alternating through sanding machines with different grades of paper. 60, 120 and 240 grit respectively. My wife said "Ooo", when she saw the top piece as she passed through the shop, so perhaps it is heading in the right direction.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I got the remainder of the broad categorization of hardware done and then moved back to the shelf project. I try to time wire brushing the scorched wood for the end of the day as it leaves one looking like a miner before hitting the showers. These are some of the back boards for the book case salvaged from among the timber I brought home from the last trip to the wood yard.
Tomorrow I will glue up the two side panels, which will have to be left to cure for a bit.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


My plan to spend the weekend on home chores went further south today as I had a go at sawing up the firewood and then only just managed to make a start on sorting through the gallons of bolts and whatnot I brought home yesterday. Sitting on the floor among the boxes. Meanwhile Sammy got the firewood sorted out and stacked.
Around noon another friend who lives further up the mountains popped in, surprising me among the hardware and we adjourned to the living room where we fell to chatting for the remainder of the daylight hours.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


A general tidy up day with a friend today. He had a workshop nearby, but has had to vacate it. The owners are in no rush to use the building, but they are apparently keen to get it properly emptied out. Sammy came along in the late morning. We came home for lunch with one truck load of firewood and then again at about quarter to five with another. We stopped for a minute or two on the way home to soak up some of the view. A wonderfully well lit sky soaring above the autumn mountain colors.
I gave the big chainsaw a little run at a big log to cut it into chinks to be chopped. It is working a lot better after a little maintenance on the clutch plates on various evenings during the week. The device had become rather clogged with gunk and was not disengaging properly to allow a good go at starting the engine without the whole chain wanting to rotate. Better than the alternative of not engaging properly, which would make the thing an item of slippery uselessness.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Twirly bits

I thought the shelves needed some twirliness, so the other day I had a go at the scorched piece at the top when I needed to do something a bit more creative than cutting joints. Today I finished off in a similar mood by sanding up the one underneath. Actually these will be in reverse order on the finished work. The lower is at the center of a strip that fits just under the top shelf and the upper on a similar strip, but almost invisible underneath the bottom shelf as a kicker board.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Thankfully kerosene has now dropped in price a little, so my trip to buy some for the water heater was not quite as shocking to the coffers as it has been of late. I popped in to the junk yard on the way there and dropped off some scrap iron. As usual I came away with a few odds and ends, too. A kind of stainless steel water heater tank that was designed to fit over the chimney of a boiler that looked interesting. A three ton screw jack, some scaffolding brackets and a hand full or two of bolts and whatnot. The chap there was busy with the torch as is often the case. Slicing the ends off sheets of stainless steel that had been soldered, that kind of contaminant is apparently not acceptable to his buyer.
Perhaps one day the water heater thingy will help to reduce my kerosene bills even further, if not it will find its way back to the yard again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fish scales

Solid blocks of time spent in the shop these days, this plank will be the bottom shelf of the book case. I shine a light across to check for areas I have missed as well as brighten up the spirits by highlighting the texture. One tries not to watch the clock, so I am not sure how long it took to chisel up the surface. I think I will limit the chiseling to the top and the bottom shelf.
It is sometimes fun to make the eye switch patterns like this from divots to bumps. The brain is always delighted to take responsibility for little chores related to editing sound and vision. If you can convince it that the light source is really from the opposite side it gives up and suddenly starts reading things the wrong way as if it were all true, in the same way that those 3D images suddenly flick into focus.
My head continued pondering the dolphin conversation issue long after I had left the water and I realized it was more complex than I had originally thought. I began to see that parts of speech like verbs would also have to be covered and immediately realized that the sonar images would negate the necessity for verbs in many circumstances as they would also be moving images in sound. They would include doppler effects that would convey relative speed, etc and make them much more difficult to interpret at least for my little noggin. I thought I ought to get that off my chest before I go off to the bath so that I can devote my time to some more productive thought.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dolphin like

Of course one does not wish to make comparisons, but I seem to be following a similar course to the race for space. Or at least the manned trips to the moon. Having made it into my third year of blogging I find myself a victim of the loss of novelty. However, the budget for this enterprise is minimal, so I shall try to push the envelope as far as I can in order to distinguish this particular endeavor from the more technological one aforementioned. Today's unrelated image is my first port of call each winter season morning, tending to the stove.

I had a peculiar session in the bath yesterday. We have several plastic dinosaur models on the windowsill left over from the era when the kids were wont to play with such things at bath time. The dolphin like Ichthyosaur often grabs my attention. But yesterday my mind quickly drifted off the peculiarities of evolution in repeatedly choosing such similar designs and onward into a lengthy discourse on the intricacies of interpreting the mode of communication between the marine mammals of the genus Tursiops. I am somewhat fascinated by the concept that these creatures may be able to communicate in sound pictures by vocalizing the sonar echoes they have "seen" directly to their peers. My mental activity hinged on methodologies for deciphering these messages by limiting the data and changing only certain features within the message. I am usually in and out pretty sharpish, but I lingered in the soup rather longer than usual due to these ponderings. They came to a close when I faced the fact that there was little point in going any further without extensive access to trained dolphins. Thankfully this was not to hand, or I would have been late for my supper.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Shelf life

I got to the point where I could erect some of the parts for the bookcase to get an idea of where I am. I thought I might as well make the most of the photoadjustment time and stick in some copies of one of the shelf planks to mock up how the spacing will look. The rubber mallet coming in handy as ever.