Friday, April 28, 2017

Spokeshave Sharpening Grip

This is a design by Paul Sellers for a simple sharpening grip for a spokeshave blade.

It uses the spokeshave's own cap iron to hold the blade firm while it's being sharpened, and the length of the wooden grip gives me much more control and power than I can achieve with my fingers alone.

The body of this grip is an off-cut of laminated bamboo, but just about any wood would do. The little brass locating lugs are a pair of brass screws with the heads cut off. The cap iron screw is a 25mm pan-head No.10 screw with its point ground off. The front end of the grip is bevelled at 25°, leaving about a millimetre thickness in the front and with its heel rounded off. The but-end is rounded and bevelled for more comfort in the hand.

It only took about ten or fifteen minutes to make this little thing, and it's improved and eased spokeshave sharpening enormously.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dice Tray

An issue that arises from time to time is that of keeping dice from scattering all over the place, knocking around playing pieces and disappearing off the table and rolling away under bits of furniture, never to be seen again.

To ameliorate the problem, I knocked together this little dice tray. It's about 180x200mm with an oak frame and a cork inner, flat enough to make dice like the d24 readable and soft enough not to knock the corners off them. It's compact enough to not take up too much table space, but large enough to allow reasonable freedom in rolling the dice, and the frame is deep enough to keep them in (as long as you don't get too enthusiastic with your throwing) while being low enough to see them clearly from any angle. The feet aren't really necessary, but they're decorative and I had them hanging around, so why not make use of them?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Psychedelic!

Krita includes a tool they call Multibrush, which repeats strokes on a user-selectable number of axes. By default, the centre of rotation is the centre of the image, but that too can be changed. This image uses 16 axes throughout, but the number of axes can be changed on the fly.

It makes the creation of kaleidoscopic mandala images like this one very simple, but I don't really see much use for it other than that. Still, it's a fun toy as far as it goes.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bamboo eHDD rack

I'm making a little rack for my external hard-drives, of which I have several in action.

I was originally going to make it out of 12mm untreated pine plywood, but for some unfathomable reason Bunnings doesn't have any in stock. They did have some 16mm laminated bamboo boards though, so I thought I'd give that material a go and see how it is to work with. The individual shelves are just 7mm ply that slide into housings in the walls of the bamboo shell.

This is by no means a complex construction job, and I haven't attempted any dovetail joinery or the like; I tend to suspect the bamboo laminate wouldn't particularly suit that sort of thing. However, it cut, routed and planed easily and cleanly. I think it would be quite unforgiving of tools that aren't absolutely sharp; being bamboo, the long fibres are quite tough and stringy, and if they're not cut cleanly they'll tear. Likewise, the arras needs to be taken off the edges or else the fibres will start to fray and tear away from them in use.

It's quite a heavy material, a lot heavier than pine or birch plywood of equivalent thickness. The laminations are a lot thicker than traditional wood ply too, which I rather like — I find the porous-looking end grain quite attractive. So far I've just oiled the inside and the top and bottom, and the oiled colour is quite attractive. I don't know how well it would accept stain, but my gut says it should be OK. I have no idea about its stability versus warping or cupping; in a piece of this size and conformation that's unlikely to be an issue in any case, and laminated materials, in my experience, are fairly reliable as far as that goes.

I'd say that so far I like it as a construction material. It's not especially expensive, and from what I hear it's pretty hard-wearing (I think it's used as flooring) so it would probably work well as desktops and the like.

Next Day...

Well, here's the finished article.

It just needs time for the oil to dry and then I can fill it up with hard drives.

In retrospect, I'm thinking that maybe I should have stained the shelves, but I think I can live with them as they are.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Modular Sharpening Station

I recently bought some 80x230mm diamond lapping plates in 100, 180, 320, 800, 1500 and 3000 grit. They're on steel, about 2mm thick, so they need some support to make sure they stay flat and still while I'm sharpening things on them.

I've mounted them with silicon on individual bits of 18mm MDF, sealed with acrylic varnish, and rebated down the long edges underneath so that they'll sit handily in a vice for use individually, or in the four-plate station you can see here — the blocks sit snugly in cavities in it.

With the blocks in place, the sharpening station probably has enough mass that it's unlikely to move around under normal use. However, I might add a tab underneath that can be gripped in the vice, just to make sure. Or maybe a non-slip rubber mat will be sufficient — I'll try it and see.

I was originally going to make a station that would take all six blocks simultaneously, but that would be rather unwieldy, so I settled for four. The blocks in place now are the ones I think I'm most likely to want most often, and if need be I can swap in the 100 and/or 3000 grit plates, or just use them individually in the vice as and when I need them.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New earrings, in the flesh

These just arrived on my doorstep from Shapeways — my most recent earring design.

These ones have been produced in their Raw Bronze material, and I'm pretty happy with the way they've turned out.

They can be had at https://www.shapeways.com/product/KPPBBKAES/filligree-cone-earrings

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

Minis

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

Pillbox

 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 https://www.shapeways.com/product/HVQVPHG4V/corroded-cone-earrings?optionId=61787471

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.