Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wet and Dry

I washed the thing with vinegar and applied a sparse coating of salt. I left it overnight in a covered plastic box with some of my liquid byproduct in the bottom. The color is not really adhering to the surface, so I cannot guarantee permanence. I suspect a solid wiping after rain would remove most of it, but if left untouched it should gradually develop its own more natural patina.
The snotty side for reference below. The brass is about 3mm thick I think. Cut out at center to allow for the backset area with lettering. The nuts are brazed on and will be bolted from the inside of three small C shaped brackets with holes on the front and back arms of the C. The opposite arm of the C will be screwed into the block wall. I think I had better have a practice session at this operation, but no need to do it in the NASA water tank or anything. I shall try to use gravity to my advantage. I will end the week tomorrow with a photo of the tools used and the brackets.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Another session of taping and annealing along with assorted other activities got me here. The copper is now beaten on to a brass backing so I hope this will do. Next I must try and get some color onto it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A little warekomi job. Something up with my chemical balance after doing this, so the best I can do is give the literal image of something splitting and forcing its way in. A small job, not so painful in this case, that is undertaken while another is still ongoing. The copper plate is 0.5mm thick and 360mm wide. Another name plate for a new home, hopefully for the family named or I have a lot of reworking to do. Lots of people locally with this family name, so I guess I could flog the thing if not. A very nice couple actually, who I had the pleasure of meeting back on the 10th.
The thing with beating is to ensure plenty of annealing. Also don't get the idea of making wooden forms and beating the shape into them. It is a waste of time I tried it years ago and it is easier to just work away with little mandrels (also a type of primate, but I think it is the word I want) of various shapes driven with a little hammer. What does work is a nice block of lead and on occasion lead melted into the copper shape to back it up for flattening off and whatnot.
A new and useful trick for me was to have the letters marked on the front and back of the sheet for the first shaping. I made a center line vertically on both sides, then transposed a horizontal base line for the letters, too. I drew over the letters on a piece of normal copy paper with a felt pen that transfered right through the sheet. This scrap of paper about the size of the name had a corresponding set of lines on it so that I could register it properly front and back. The felt pen having passed through the paper it was easy to get the mirror version for the tracing on the back. Simple carbon paper tracing gives sufficient detail. This allowed me to strike in the letters from the back and then turn over and refine their outlines from the front as well as knock in the negative space for the Os and As etc. The first annealing removes all the pen and carbon marks, so you want to get a good sense of the characters before you heat and dip.
Still a way to go, but under the principal (if that is the one I want, not the chap with the cane and skeletal facial features) that the first step is the hardest we are more than halfway up the hill I am sure.
I took the precaution of experimenting with TIG welding this thickness of copper and the results were tolerable, so I may be able to save a booboo (like a big hole knocked through a letter) if I make one.
I didn't think I would like the thin sheet on its own, but now it has letters in I quite like the honest thinitude, just rounding over the edge might be sufficient rather than making it into a solid looking plaque. We'll see.
The only slight drawback to the project has been the necessity to collect certain bodily fluids in order to obtain the green patina so popular with copper objects. Raised eyebrows among the womenfolk as they pass by one of those drink bottles half filled with a clear apple juice type substance standing at the door to remind me of my duty when the urge to leave the shop springs on me.
"Ah the humanity", to quote the writers of Chandler Bing.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I am getting more use out of my monkey boots as the rain continues. The above represents most of my progress for the week. Some parts are not visible lying underneath, I thought it might be interesting to see the original sketch (below) again next to the work so far. I put the sketch on its side so that the two correlate better. I have had another rethink on the glass retention as I want to make it easier to replace something if it happens to get smashed. I will rip the back off of the top rail at the front edge of the groove for the glass, glue on an extra strip to bring the ripped off section back up to thickness and then have that fit back in with screws to retain it. Then the glass can be slipped out from the top if that strip is removed. More work, but without it the whole window would have to come to pieces to get the glass out.
The parts on the right are being prepared for some kind of decorative carving, probably very simple as anything too complex will be out of place. Having the blocks at corners makes it very easy to mate horizontals and verticals. There will be corresponding fascia on the outside of the frame, too. I suspect I may put glass in the blocks again, like a couple of the other doors have had. We'll see, it might be nice with just some different material inlaid.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Strange inheritance

Making and fitting some little scissor hinges and other hardware for the window. I thought I could use a couple of small piano hinge type things, but realized they would become inaccessible for attachment with the design I have made. Aside from that little change the scribbled sketch notes at the start of the week have now materialized into a unit that looks like it will work.
A one time client who was himself a carpenter died recently and I have had several excursions round to his residence which is crammed with all sorts of odds and ends. Mainly there to tidy up taking away some of the hoard of timber offcuts to burn. The window is actually made from one of them, but most are the kind of composite material I don't use much. The other week I went on a more extensive tour of the ruins with his widow and we came across a great load of little oddment boxes full of all kinds of hardware in the form of screws and whatnot. I am keeping some of them under the sink for now until I learn what they live on. I needed some tiny stainless steel screws to attach the hardware and what with the frame filling the room on the bench making it hard to get in and out of that corner of the forest I just crawled about down among them in search of something suitable. One of them coughed up a nice little box of blackened things just the right size.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roddy boots

Not a visit from Roddy McDowell in his planet of the apes gear. These are a recent purchase to replace a terrible pair of wellies I had. The toes being separate does actually give some kind of improved sense of balance. These are rubber and waterproof, which is useful as we are getting all day April showers and the walk down to the shop involves encounters with mud..
Another day or two and I will have to switch to Mary Poppins mode and tidy up some of the incredible clutter that coats most of the horizontal surfaces in the burrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trying to figure out my task for tomorrow with some sketch drawing, making the hinged window for the top of the door frame and cutting a groove in the existing parts to retain some insect mesh to prevent entry of unwelcome aliens when the window is open.
Inevitably looking for any developments in the Americas. The DSLR camera Sammy has makes it well worth zooming in on pictures. I spent quite a while examining the feet and plumage of his gull. Those ankle joints at the knees are fascinating too.
A day of distractions with the men from the ministry coming to suck out the cess tank and the dog needing his hydrophobia injection. Civilisation at its best.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shoe filling

Still a little distracted by the upheaval. It is great that Sammy is posting on his blog so diligently. Perhaps a bit mean, but the shoes that didn't make the cut for the trip were out whimpering on the veranda today. Actually getting a dose of sunshine to keep them healthy. If they get too lonesome I will give them a few strides every now and then to keep them feeling wanted. The field in the background is beginning to become populated ready for the summer again.
The hand over meeting for our role in the community today. This marks the end of all my current volunteer duties, something of a relief not to have any obligations, but they do tend to roll around again as we all take turns, so probably not free forever.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Frame on the bench

Lots of little miter joints as well as mortise and tenon numbers for the top of the frame. The opening window will be on the other side. I have prepared a rebate for it, but so far it is still a thing of the future. I found it easier to concentrate once Osamu had set off yesterday and having heard he has arrived safe on the other side of the pacific it is easier still. Sorry for all those suffering from the shut down of the skies over Europe and thankful for the clear air in this hemisphere.
Once again the advice on horns (the bits poking out at the corners). Always leave them on until the last minute. They help when knocking things apart after trial fits and they protect the ends until it is time to cut to size.

Temporary Cessessions

Getting near the wire now as Sammy's departure draws close. The evening piano sessions will be missed. Hard to concentrate these days, but I thought I could have one more go at drawing. We also tried to record a few times this week, so I will have something to listen to when the urge comes along. I suspect I have been shutting the up coming long absence out of the brain box. It will be hard to get used to the absence, but we hope to meet up in June in the UK, so not quite cold turkey. The plans for Sammy's trip are not too clear, but the first stop is the west coast of america. I have added a link to his proposed trip blog on the right side of the page. I will be watching keenly for changes there.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Doors in frames

Not doing very well with regular posting. I had a visit to discuss work in the local town of Sagamihara and popped in to the door site to do some more measuring. I had Sammy take a picture of the doors set up in their frame so far for the clients to see. The smaller door is fairly fresh out of glue and the smaller bottom frames had not been given their final fitting. Getting closer to the goal. The top of the frame will have a window arrangement that can be opened to allow ventilation while also preventing insect entry with a wire mesh. Lots of joinery in there to contemplate. The original design was haziest around there and that was a long time ago now. August 07 2008.

Friday, April 02, 2010


Today went mainly on tidying up the shop after all the various activities of recent days. I then had a little time out welding up a bracket on the bike to allow me to fit a basket over the battery on the back rack. Didn't quite finish in time to fit it before darkness fell, perhaps I will give it a coat of paint tomorrow.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The cat has become pestersome with nightime demands for exit or entry. Luckily I am immune, but he sits outside my daughter's window and mews. I spent the better part of the day making a little hatch for the monkey to use whenever he feels the need. There is an area of wall that lies under one eave an above a smaller section of roof, there was just enough clear space under the beam to make his door. I am leaving the flap screwed open for now so that he will get the idea, then once he has, I am sure he will be confident enough to push the flap aside.