Saturday, February 28, 2009


Skype day and more planks to the slaughter. Each one remains in limbo until it gets a decision made as to its position in the piece. Today the two end pieces for the main seat construction got their numbers called. And they were cut from their parent plank.
A go at hand tools at the end of the day.

Friday, February 27, 2009


More work running things through the thickness planer. There is a little indicator on the front where the wood goes in, so I stick the tip in there and rotate the handle to bring the indicator to where the plane will just take off a little bit. The hard part is getting a flat surface on one side so that you end up with something straight. Running wood with a warp in it through just gives warped wood of the same thickness. Sometimes it is just easier to sit under the wood and hold it up on the shoulder than try and keep a hold of it while reaching down to grab the handle.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


More of the video transcription work today, so out of the shop except for a brief whip round with the shop vac in the evening.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Warm shallows

A similar routine to that of yesterday, but as I was out messing about with the chainsaw in the drizzle a neighbor called out on his way down the road to ask if I wanted an old chainsaw chain that was still in fairly good nick. This prompted me to sort out my electric chainsaw, which was in need of a new chain. In the end the gift was the wrong size, but I took the bar and chain from a defunct Stihl saw and that worked nicely. Somehow that falling domino made way for me to start on the large baulk of timber in the foreground on the bench this past Monday. I had been hesitating over it as the saw chain was in poor condition and some polite chainsaw incursions were essential to discover the extent of various checks and knot holes that were not encouraging. The piece having now been probed and cut in half it is beginning to take shape in my mind. The two parts will form the arm rests for the sofa bench.
It seems like there is always some Achilles heel that has to be understood before things begin to tip into place. Or perhaps it is just that these object making activities are closely related to stone carving in many ways. At first it is a hell of a job to make any headway, but as time passes the accumulated stress in the stone from repeated blows from hammer and chisel makes carving easier. Carving is more my natural mode of work, the weakness that has to be exploited is known, I merely have to see what is waiting in the material to be pulled out. With the furniture making there is a more complex process of material preparation and assembly to be undertaken before any subtraction can begin. So at first I suppose it is natural that I feel rather like a fish out of water, once having floundered back into the shallows one is perfectly located for a tentative nip at the heels of the appropriate Greek god should he happen to pop in for a refreshing paddle.

Meanwhile practicalities have to be attended to and I burnt off batches of the mountain of planer shavings throughout the day. Just as evening was falling a rather excessive final bin load snubbed out the flames and eventually created an absolutely wonderful plume of delightfully dense smoke. For a minute or two I watched this as it was gently wafted off by the breeze coming down from the hills, then the flames burst back to life and it was gone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


A day of mixed activities. Sammy and I had a go at firewood in the morning, that involved separating the sheep from the goats among the stuff we collected on Sunday and chopping up one or the other. In the afternoon I returned to my planing.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Not too sure as to the level of curiosity regarding my workshop progress. So far I am just plank bound. A lot of those visible here will be finding their way into the current project. They are all in various stages of trueness, single faced, faced on both sides and even some with their edges trued up. Nearly at the stage where joints will be cut, but material preparation is still my main activity.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Quite a full day, starting with some general brush removal and minor tree felling down by the river with some local gentlemen. Then as I was thinking of having lunch another woody gentleman who runs the fishing and tourist boat concessions down at the lake dropped in asking about some planks of zelkova suitable for use as a sign. He had heard about my trips to the ailing wood yard and wondered if I could take him along. So after lunch I went along to his boat pier with Sammy and he followed us to the yard in his little buggy. It was a fairly productive trip for him and us as we were both able to heave some worthy bits and bobs from the massive pile of pick up sticks. Not really a shortage of pictorial motifs there, but I have opted instead for the end of the day where my saviour stretches rescue me from onset of back pain after these kind of strenuous activities.
I still remember fondly the first time I tried this stretch of the piriformis muscle after finding it described on the web. I was suffering a lot of pain back then and the moment I finished the first stretch I could tell that this was the bee's knees. It made me laugh out loud to feel the pain relief settling in as the stress disappeared.
I think it is fine to do this kind of legs crossed stretch even sitting up in a chair, but I find it easier to do it just before popping between the sheets still wearing my hat though. You adopt the cross legged pose, and then grab the supporting leg either above or below the foot resting on it (behind the thigh as shown here, just behind the knee or indeed in front of the knee). You should try to avoid interlocking fingers, grab one wrist with the other hand. I think that is for better circulation and avoiding pain in the fingers. Keep your upper body head and neck as relaxed as you can and lying on the floor. Then gradually pull the support leg (right here) up to heave the foot end of your other leg towards your upper regions. Let the knee relax and feel the stretch up in under the buttock (on the left side here). You should hold the stretch as long as you can without doing any kind of bouncing or repetitive straining and relaxing, this is not excercise. At least 15 seconds is good, but 30 or so is better, so be sure to keep breathing nicely. Any less time and the muscle you are trying to teach its new place just goes back to being mean and tense. I think there is a kind of pain in the stretch, but it feels good not nasty and when I let the stretch go I feel a real sense of mending and the sense of impending back pain disappears. The essence is getting the crooked foot closer to your head and your knee further away, so if you are keen to push it further use your hands in a different way to push the (left) knee down and away and pull the foot up by grabbing the right leg with the right hand and pulling.
Obviously reverse all and repeat for a couple of times. If you don't feel that sense of stretching deep up and under your bum you are not doing it right. You will probably also find it more difficult on one side or the other if you are strongly biased to one or other side of your body, just try to be patient and both sides should balance out after a few goes. If you are in pain repeat this a few times a day and you should start to feel relief almost immediately. The knowledge that I can relieve lower back pain by stetching my legs and buttocks has been a revelation to me and I now have full confidence that these things work.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Another day with the planers in the workshop. I am having trouble with getting down to drawing again, so I have three shots of the same drawing as it struggles into existence. Probably harder work than what we did on the day. Back to day two at the lakeside hitting the pin into one of the anchors to fix the thing in place. Standing on a ladder leaning against the Quay with its feet in the water. We lost the socket off the spanner once down among the detritus, but when the surface was swept clear of muck the water was clear, the little window allowed in enough sun to see the thing lurking on the bottom and I was able to get the end of the bar hooked on it and lift it back to dutiful service.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Blur out

Small progress in the shop and some translation work in the morning. Continuing the trilogy of one drawing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tidy Planking

Back to the woodwork today after tidying up all the tools from the past three days. I think I am ready to take the plunge on the main seat part of my sofa bench project, and once we start these things they usually take on their own momentum. Let's hope that proves to be the case here, too. This drawing represents a bit of a struggle on Skype Saturday, so I thought I would slip three shots of it in to document that over three days rather than skip on to another subject.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Job done

We only spent about an hour at the lake side today. This has been our base of operations. The stainless steel staircase used to run down to the left here. The dam is the big concrete lump on the left also, the concrete looking distinctly weathered and showing a whitened high water mark. I spent most of the morning on welding up the L shaped handrail with some little plate feet cut out from one of the old steps. I welded those on the the little landing through four 9mm diameter holes in each plate. Not an unpleasant spot when the sun is on it and even when the planet has put us in the shade the view is some compensation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day two by the lake.

Our second day at the lakeside. We only spent a couple of hours there drilling holes for 16mm anchor bolts and fitting some Eye nuts for making fast the assorted craft that ply the waters. We had offloaded the stair sections at home and set to try and break them up with the plasma cutter, but the performance was so intermittent I gave up after one section and only kept the pipe for the railings as well as a few of the steps. I also had a go at welding and bending the hand rail that must go back on tomorrow. That was in the morning before departure while Sammy was walking the dog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day one by the lake

Our first day on the lakeside project to remove steps etc. We did a bit of all sorts in the morning borrowing keys, trucks and generators. We managed to get the steps severed from their moorings and hoiked out to bask on the side of the reservoir in time for a late lunch. They looked to be much longer than I thought. They were advertised as 11 meters, but most of that turned out to be buried under the mud, so where we were able to hook on just above water level was only about a third of the way down. That meant we had to depend on a precarious temporary landing while I climbed up and detached the belts so that we could resling the load nearer the middle. The post luncheon session was basically a case of butchering the thing into three sections that would fit onto the truck. As you are aware stainless steel does not succumb to oxy torch treatment, so this was a case of lots of grinding with some fairly dicey moments snapping off the last bits in each case. I managed to make one mistake where the metal grabbed a disk and shattered it, but luckily the nasty spinning wreckage merely grazed my gloves. That saved the doctors some work. Safety glasses in place too. Unfortunately we had to wear helmets on this job so I couldn't get the ear protectors on, so a slight ringing lingers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The walk to paradise garden

This poster was a present to Sammy from his mum. I made up the section for the frame yesterday. I cut the angle in some square timber on the bandsaw to give the grain texture. Sammy came down to give a hand with making up the frame today. Cleaning the glass we cut for the frame, etc. Then we put it up on his bedroom wall. A vision of a world to aspire to taken back in 1946.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Catching up, this is another view of Sammy and me cutting down a tree with the lever assisted method previously described on Feb0509. Having to work backhand with the chainsaw due to poor footing and the usual half wraparound handle on the saw.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Year again

Entering the workshop yesterday felt almost like taking on the territory of another individual with remarkably similar interests to my own. The level of detritus about the place did seem rather excessive, so I have embarked on a spate of tidying before I see what I can achieve using this other chap's tools.
Fetching and carrying, then burning up a load of scraps from the half remembered concrete work back in the summer. All sorts of odds and ends done, but still a lot out of place or with no set place to be.
Satellites collide and exhuberant Chinese officials burn their precious buildings while I feel my way gently back into my daily life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I felt able to potter today, but very much without any level of stamina. Sammy tackled some of the stack of timber to be chopped and I did some much needed chainsaw maintenance. Once we had joined forces to stack all the chopped up wood we had a little stroll down to view our felling site from up and under in the dell where the trees lay shattered from our efforts almost a week previous.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mr P Scum takes the road

This afternoon I felt sufficiently recuperated to offer my daughter chauffeur service.
Just the usual run to the station in the little truck, but it was astonishingly novel for me after four days in limbo. A little like the first go on a roller coaster where one is not quite sure how weird things are going to get. I had a heightened sense of how the front wheel movements dragged the remainder of the vehicle about. My logical mind and the memory of previous experiences acting as sedation while the various cells created since I last got behind the wheel protested that all the wobbling about must surely not be normal. The intricate differences in tug as the rear wheels adopted different rotation speeds around curves was also far more perceivable than I remember it being.
A little like the sense of motion sickness I remember getting from watching TV after a long time having not seen any, each time the camera moves it is like someone is forcibly dragging ones head about to bring certain things into view. This bossy attitude makes ones internal program controller scream out "Go back, I was looking at that other bit". It just goes to show how quickly we become unaccustomed to these things given the chance.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pond scum

I am afraid that any account of my current daily doings must hinge upon stories brought to you from the world of delirium. I did manage to perk up for the Skype session, but today find that I have once again slipped down the evolutionary pool to resume my post among the pond scum.
So far the bouts of weird vision have been quite varied and interesting, to me at least. Today I find myself utterly convinced that among the known forces of Gravity, Electromagnetism, etc. we must also do Life the courtesy of having its own calculations applied. We hear a lot about string theory and its quest for new dimensions curled upon those in which we dwell. Indeed one analogy intended to enlighten uninformed folk like myself is of ants crawling along and around a wire that we only perceive as a two dimensional entity. All happily within their own third dimension, which for us is therefore an invisible fifth. For my overheated brains we and our living partners squiggling among the inert matter are one such hidden domain, one can but wonder if we are actually invisible to the rest of the universe. Could it not be that the forces give rise to dimensions my brain tea cup demands as it boils. Gravity to electromagnetism, then on to the forces of strong and weak attraction until Time our 4th dimension gives rise to Life our much sought after fifth, which we fail to perceive as it dwells out of sight within us.
There you are, very feverish "thinking" pond scum with an Internet connection that briefly regains the ability to type between coughs. Happier times ahead I hope.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I seem to have inherited Sammy's stinker of a cold, yet to formulate itself fully, but definitely cloaked and waiting in the wings.
Having had time to ponder the challenge of the larger tree and its listing I remembered a technique I saw on a Stihl instructional video. I wanted to give the tree a heft into the void in the right direction and rope was not going to cut the mustard, delirious here, so please forgive the messy metaphors.
Anyway, I took along a 5m length of timber and cut a slot right through the trunk of the tree at an appropriate height and orientation to accommodate the end of said baulk. Then stationing the moderately recuperated Samster at the far end I gave him the nod to heave up on it at the appropriate moment. It worked a treat and the tree went over nicely. It caught on the branches of the tree at the center of pic for Feb03, but that just slowed it down a bit and it slotted nicely into the valley below.
After that things took a bit of a turn to the chaotic with the other smaller fellows we sent down to keep it company, but we ended the morning with all our fingers and toes and no damage to anything else. I think the delerium was already starting to kick in then, but I wanted to get that big bugger done before succumbing.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I finished up yesterday with a session of checking the transcription work, but I ran out of steam and had to leave the last part to be finished this morning. Filled in the afternoon with some tidying in the shop and then went back to my felling site and removed a big length of plastic drain pipe that would be severely at risk of being damaged by the falling tree to come. It was easy enough to detach, but meant more scrabbling at the end of a rope. Sammy still down today, but looking OK for tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Still mighty distracted for some reason, so pottering about with firewood again and then felling a few cedar trees at a nearby house to make way for a larger felling into the river gorge. The three stumps shown have opened a bit of sky ready to welcome the bigger tree that is our main goal. I had to scrabble about on a rope when one of the trees got stuck on the opposite side of the valley as it fell. It looks like the rotten one that is the target should fall OK, but I will wait for Sammy to recover from his cold so that he can help with the clear up afterwards or the general strategy.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Today we had another excursion into the city to pick up the remainder of my daughter's stuff from her college. We dropped the friends off en route. The final drop off was at the home of some people who had their car parked out front. I was surprised to see the state of it, covered in dust. I checked to see the neighbors car just in case it was a general problem, theirs was slightly better, but mighty far from perfect. It looked like someone had been sieving cement over the place.
This was later explained when I heard that a volcano to the north of us had been cooking up a storm and was dumping ash on all points south of it.
It reminded me of my first sight of the volcanic splashes out to sea from a volcanic island. That was when my daughter was just getting her first two teeth and fitted neatly into one of those pouches on my chest. I was out for a walk along the beach near where we lived and the memory is also tied to her first coordinated sounds, "DaDa" as she had just got her first weany teath the little surealist. She quickly learnt "Kore", along with a pointed finger, which meant "This" was what she wanted.
Unfortunately, aside from representing the preparations for departure the picture is just one of those weird juxtapositions that sometimes occur in the home, it was a nice day though.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


A slight improvement in the flow of translation work has meant my daughter is back transcribing a video or two for translation. Certainly boring a hole in the display with the intensity of gaze here, but I think getting near to throwing in the towel for a bit. I shall be in the same mode once she has finished checking through stuff. I had a go at the firewood in a couple of outdoor sessions today.