Friday, March 10, 2017

Stanley 45

The Stanley 45 plough plane I bought on TradeMe just arrived.

It seems to be complete, except for the cutters (there's just the one, a ½"), but it's going to need quite a bit of TLC.

At the moment I just have CRC soaking into all the joints and threads to loosen it all up before I get in there with the steel wool and what-not.

Judging by the price people are asking for fairly basic sets of cutters on Ebay and the like, I'll be better off getting some tool steel and making my own.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Filigree Cone Earrings

Here's a new pair of earrings I designed.

They're available for sale in a variety of metals at my Shapeways shop.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Narsil Reforged

OK, maybe not Narsil.

This is an old dinner knife, one of a bunch that we've picked up over the years. It originally had a casein handle that was supposed to mimic ivory, but at some stage of its life it looks like it had been left to soak for too long, and the casein had gone all woogly and disgusting looking. The blade was a bit misshapen too, from some inexpert sharpening back in the distant past. Nevertheless, the steel is good; thin, flexible, and holds an edge. I like these old dinner knives.

So I thought I'd renovate it a bit.

The casein handle was stripped off and replaced with a piece of ash, a bit longer than the original handle. It's not one of my favourite woods, but that's what I had to hand. I re-shaped and re-sharpened the blade, so now it's scalpel-sharp — which is maybe a bit of overkill for its intended purpose, but I feel you can never go wrong with a really sharp knife.

So, now I have a knife that will definitely cut steak.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

First Order Retrievability

There is not much space here.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I'm getting my workshop organised to the point where I can be productive in it without having to constantly climb over things to get at other things, or fossick around in drawers and cupboards to find the things that I was sure were there but turn out to be somewhere else entirely.

Today, that has mainly meant hanging things up on walls so that I can see them and get at them easily. There's still a bit of space available on my bit of plywood for some more Useful Things, and I'll add hangers for them as and when I need them.

Wall-based tool storage

The next stage will be to move the right-hand workbench out into the middle so that I can lay a brick and concrete floor under it. At the moment it's resting on ancient semi-rotten floorboards on ancient semi-rotten bearers on ancient semi-rotten dirt, and that does not make for a particularly solid or stable work surface.

It's going to be a pain of a job; I shall have to unload all of the drawers and what-not to make it light enough to move, and find somewhere to store all that crap while I'm doing the concreting. Then I'll have to practice my contortionism to get the new solid floor down in a fairly constricted space.

Still, once it's done, the workbench will be much more pleasant to work on, and that's got to be a good thing.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Much fudging going on here. I got the hands very wonky.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stacks of Stacking

Today is the day when our firewood for the next winter arrives.

Now I have to stack it all. That pile is about 9m3, and on past performance, it will take me about three days of intermittent activity. Naturally, the next three or four days are forecast to be stinking hot.

I may need beer. Quite a lot of beer.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dovetail Gauge

Today I made myself a 7:1 dovetail gauge out of a small scrap of oak I had picked out of the bin, using only hand tools. It's a simple little thing, but it requires a high degree of precision in marking and cutting to work properly. It has a raked edge and a square edge on both sides, so it can be used for marking both the faces of the pins and their ends.

The hardest part was getting the blank absolutely flat and square on all its faces. My hand-planing skills are still fairly rudimentary; I just can't seem to master planing square. If the blank isn't square to begin with, then everything that follows will be subtly out of whack.

Once that was (eventually) achieved, the initial marking and cutting went smoothly enough, but carving out the body of the gauge so that the faces were smooth, flat, and even was trickier than I'd anticipated. I'd thought, when I started it, that I could flatten them with a router plane, and I could have, but I'd have had to make a jig to hold it and provide surrounding surfaces for the router to rest on. If I was making several, that would be worth while, but for this one I just finished the faces with a chisel.

The oak made that slightly problematic, because the grain made it difficult to see precisely what was going on with the surface, and it tended to either catch the edge of the chisel or deflect it. It would be better to make something like this out of beech, I think; absolute smoothness isn't strictly necessary on the faces for the tool to function correctly, but my perfectionist soul would prefer it.

Next Day

I made another one, this time out of a wood I can't positively identify. It may be a species of beech, or possibly pink birch, or even a pale mahogany, but I just don't know. It was originally part of a bit of furniture.

It's smaller overall than the oak one, though neither is particularly huge.

I cut it out of a longer piece, which allowed me to carve the valleys flat with a router plane with its plate resting on the thick bit in the centre and the sacrificial horns on either end. Then I cut the horns away.

As I suspected, that made getting the valleys flat and even a hundred times easier.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Luminous Flash

I've had this guy standing on or about my computer desk for many years. I don't remember exactly where he came from; I may in fact have just picked him up off the street somewhere.

Today the morning light hit him just right to make him glow like Rudolph's nose.

Monday, January 30, 2017


 I made this little box (it's about 100mm long) to keep my sweetener tablets in.

It's made from a scrap of heart rimu, with a couple of strips of cedar inset.
Regrettably, the rare-earth magnets I used as latches aren't strong enough to hold it closed against the spring of the hinges, so I'm going to have to come up with some alternative means of keeping it shut. I have an idea, but whether it will work or not is yet to be seen.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chip Rack

 Today I made a chip rack — a rack, for poker chips.

I don't use them much, but when I do, I always end up with a bunch of messy stacks. This will tidy things up a lot, as well as making the chips easier to handle.

It's all plain old pinus radiata, except for the thin cedar gussets in the bottom of each column. The bays are each made of two pieces of moulded coving — I was going to make my own until I found out how much a 20mm radius coving bit for my router was going to cost.

If I were doing it again, I'd plane down one of the sides of the moulding a bit to make the whole rack a bit more compact; I think they're a bit too far apart.

I made the rack and stand as two separate pieces. In theory, this should make storage easier. We shall see.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Some new earrings

It's been a while since I designed any jewellery.

Here's a new pair of earrings.

They're available for purchase, in a variety of materials, at

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Scrap Box

When we were clearing out the workshop at the end of our cabinetmaking course a few years ago, I nabbed a bunch of 70 mm by 9 mm thick pine tongue & groove that was destined for the skip. Not enough for a project of any size, but it's a useful board size for making little utility boxes.

Normally I plane away both the tongue and the groove, leaving me with about 60mm of width, but this time I got rid of the tongue entirely but just planed down the groove side enough to take out the bevel and leave me with a square edge. Then laps were cut in the ends of two of the pieces and the walls were glued, butted, and nailed. It's a very quick and easy way of whacking together a box that doesn't have to withstand a lot of stress. The bottom is just a piece of 3mm MDF.

Total construction time for a simple box like this is about twenty minutes, I guess. What I like about it is the visual effect of the groove running around the lip, and I suppose if I wanted to make it just a tad fancier, it would be a pretty simple matter to inset some darker wood in the groove and use something a bit nicer for the bottom.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Photoshop Brush Experimenting

I tend to collect things like brush sets for Photoshop and then never get around to actually using them.

The thing is, most of them are unlikely to be of much use, but buried in amongst the huge pile are some that I really like. I'm trying, therefore, to work my way through as many as I can, experimenting with them, to see whether I want to keep them or not.

This guy is a combination of two brushes: a very large textural brush that I used to create the canvas vignette effect, and a rough charcoal pencil brush that I did the drawing in, in pure black and white. It's about a five minute sketch, so not much of anything really.

I like these two brushes enough that they'll go into the "keep" pile.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Box Project — WiP

Project for the moment: a box cobbled together out of some old rimu tongue & groove and some 1/8" meranti plywood. Next step, after the glue has dried, is to cut some slots for pine corner splines to give the mitres a bit more strength. I appear to have run out of the wide cedar venetian-blind slats I like to use as box liners, so it may be time for another trip to the Eco-Shed.

It should be big enough, when lined, to take an A4 thingy, so it will probably end up being a document box of some sort.

It strikes me now that cutting this into two parts — box and lid — would be a good job for a kerfing plane. Perhaps I should make one.

Next day

I've got the corner splines in, and I've part-cut the lid off — I cut it on the table saw, leaving about a millimetre of wood holding everything together. I'll finish cutting it with a hand saw.

The table saw blade has a fairly hefty kerf, about 3 mm. However, I think I can afford to lose that much on this box.

I really don't like meranti at all. I don't like the colour, I don't like the grain, and I don't like the fact that you can never ever get its raggedy grain feeling smooth to the touch unless you cover it with about three millimetres of varnish.

 Later on

Finished. Sort of.

I didn't notice when I grabbed them off the shelf at the shop that they'd shelved two different types of latch together, so I accidentally got one of each.

Not to worry; I think I'll be replacing those latches in any case.
I ordered some hinges and box-latches from China, and these are the first to arrive. They're very cheap — they work out to about $NZ 1.50 each, and they just some sort of brass-plated zinc alloy. This particular latch isn't at all secure; it prevents the lid being opened, but the latch just hangs in position over its studs, there is no spring action or anything like that. So it's more decorative than functional, but that's OK for this box. It looks nicer than the latches I was using before, and that's its primary purpose.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Desert Rocks

Ball-point pen and aquarelle pencils on A5 cartridge

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Technical pen & coloured pencils on A5 cartridge paper

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Project #01 — Shedlette

My first project for 2017 is the building of a little shedlette or shedling or mini-shed or whatever you want to call it. The first stage is complete, the clearing of the ground — in the foreground you can see about a quarter of the pile of crap that came out of that little area by the fence.

The space is an odd shape, because of the tree that's grown up over it. That tree prevents the left-side door of my workshop from opening right up, which is no big deal from my point of view but it does mean that the building will never again be any use as a garage.

My intention is to build it as simply and cheaply as possible, probably out of treated exterior plywood with just enough framing to join it all together and to hang the doors, and sitting on a couple of ground-treated wooden skids. What I haven't quite decided yet is whether to build it in situ, or to build it and then manhandle it into place — probably the latter, since it won't be very big or heavy, and that would ease construction enormously.

More than a week later....

Rain (or forecast rain that never eventuated) prevented any progress until today. However, now I've got some framing and a ground-treated fence post to cut up for skids.

Here's the state of play when I packed up for the day:

The floor area is 2000 x 600 mm, made of 18mm strand-board, and you can see pretty clearly here the carpenterial gymnastics I'm going to have to perform to work around that tree.

I kind of wish I had access to a Paslode gun, or at the least, a framing nailer I could use with my compressor.

I was originally going to make the walls of treated plywood, but I find that I've got about a dozen old sheets of roofing iron out the back (currently hidden behind a wall of ivy) so I'll probably use that instead. It means the framing will have to be a bit more involved, since the iron will provide no real structural strength, as plywood would.

Next Day

I've completed the back framing. I compromised on the joinery: rather than going all-out with mortice & tenon joints, I settled on quicker nailed lap-joints throughout. It's not a strong joint, but it does provide a bit of torsional support.

Now I will have to wait until I can afford to buy more framing timber, since I gravely underestimated how much I'd need.

The vertical section on the right will have a roof sloping up and forward, more or less following the line of the garage's roofline. The lower left hand side will slope down to the left, to avoid the tree.

Some time later

Having bought some more framing timber, the box is more or less complete except for a few more cross-pieces. It's threatening rain, so I've cleared up for the day.

Next stage will be to clad the sides that aren't accessible in place, then lift the whole shebang on to its floor and nail everything down.

After that, the remainder of the cladding is finalized, and the doors get made and hung, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

Owie on my fingy
I managed to skip off the head of a nail and smoosh the side of my finger. Which kind of hurt. There was swearing.

Coupla days....

Translucence abounds
I've clad the top, back and sides in gossamer sheets of only the finest plastic.

The sheets of corrugated PVC are cheap, but it cannot be denied that they look pretty crappy. However, little of it will be immediately visible when everything is in place, and the front will be in proper lumps of wood.

Now I have to get it on to its floor-pad. It's not amazingly heavy — one of the advantages of the PVC — but it's awkward, and I'll have to enlist some muscular help to get it shifted. Once it's in place, it will be usable to an extent, even without the doors.

Coupla hours....

Well, I managed to manhandle the thing into position and secure it on its base. No easy task single-handed, I can tell you.

Still, it's done.

I have to do the front now, and hang the doors. That'll be for another time though; I've already spent quite enough money on this little project.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

She'll be right, probably

This bit just fell off my lawn-mower.

Do you think it's important?

Also: Steel-capped boots, kids. They're not just for weddings any more.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Folding chair up-cycling: Number 2

This is the second of a pair of cheap and crappy folding chairs we bought some years ago to have something to sit on while we were camping.

The first is here.

This one is just done in treated pine, with a very light oil stain. Unfortunately one of the seat boards split when I was screwing everything together, but that's not disastrous — I just softened all the edges and called it "rustic".

Friday, December 23, 2016


Here's a couple of doodles I drew while I was watching TV. Both are in black ball-point pen.