Thursday, October 29, 2015

Test Box

I have an old counter-top that I intend to turn into a document box for Annette. I didn't know exactly what timber it is, or how it would be to work, so I made this little box — it's only 140 mm square — as a test piece.

I had thought, when I first looked at it, that the piece of wood was a single slab, but as I got rid of the horrible dark varnish and smoothed it, it became apparent that it's been laminated out of a multitude of small pieces. That's OK, though a bit of a disappointment.

The project showed me a few things: first, that I'm way out of practice with my dovetails, and second, that I should have allowed more for the saw kerf where I split the lid from the body of the box. Also that my Ryobi table saw is pretty shit, but then I already knew that.

I'm not much closer to determining what the timber is. It's quite fibrous, and tends to saw rather ragged. I think the most likely candidate is sapele.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Impromptu Road Trip — Wanaka

Since Annette is on holiday at the moment, we decided to drop everything and head off on an overnighter to Wanaka. It's about a 450 km drive from Christchurch, so not an extreme day's driving, but significant.

We hadn't booked anything, so we went into the first waterfront motel we saw with a vacancy sign showing. The view from our balcony was this:

Click to embloaten
It cost about average for a motel studio room, but it was a bit nicer than average, so that was nice.

One thing though: it had a great big mirror facing one right where one gets out of the bath, which makes it very difficult to maintain one's carefully nurtured illusions. Alas.

We had dinner (and quite a few drinks) at the Speights Alehouse, for two reasons:

  1. It was really close, and
  2. The motelier gave us a voucher for 10% off food and drinks there.

The food was... let's call it inoffensive and unexciting. Call me a snob, but I do believe a red curry should at least have some chilli waved in its general direction before sending it out to be eaten.

Anyway, it was all OK, if not a taste sensation, and it was pretty cheap. We were pretty knackered, so we went back to the motel fairly early and went to bed.

The view from our balcony the next morning was this:

Click to embloaten... you know the drill.
Then we had a nice breakfast at a nearby café, and then started off home.
Just an aside: pretty much everyone we mentioned it to found it quite incomprehensible that anyone would drive all the way from Christchurch to Wanaka in one day, which I found a bit odd. They were even more surprised to find out we were only planning to stay one night, and were going to drive all the way back to Christchurch again in only one day. Huh.
Anyway, just outside Wanaka is a truly amazing place: The Transport & Toy Museum. It really has to be experienced to be believed, there's all kinds of stuff just kind of shoved in together like a gigantic cabinet of curiosities. There are many, many, MANY model aeroplanes. There are many, many cars and motor-bikes and mobility-scooters and vacuum cleaners and old cash registers. There is a full-size replica of a Renault FT-17 made out of plywood. There is a fibreglass Gloster Meteor. There are shelves full of creepy dolls. There's a Morris Minor covered in teddy-bear fur. There are cabinets overflowing with Smurfs and Star Wars toys. And so, so much more.

There's sort of an organisation to the place, but not a lot, and unfortunately a lot of the stuff is showing signs of neglect and decay. Apparently the guy who collected all this stuff — just one guy — died very recently, and I wouldn't lay too much money on the museum being around for very much longer unless something miraculous occurs. So, go and see it while it's still there to be seen.

I don't know that I'd call the experience educational, but I did find myself often making a slack-jawed what-the-fuck face a lot, which I rate as a plus. Whatever the experience is, it's definitely an experience.

Overall, I'd rate Wanaka as better than either Queenstown or Tekapo. It feels friendlier and like less of a tourist-mincer than Queenstown, and classier and less transient than Tekapo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Some time ago, we bought a couple of cheap shitty $12 Warehouse folding chairs when we were on a road-trip and realised we had nothing to sit on while drinking our wine and slapping at sandflies. They were functional enough, but nothing to write home about.

As it turned out, they're not made of the sort of materials that appreciate being left outside in all weathers, and the MDF that provided their main structural sitting-resistance has become soft, spongy, and unreliable as a sturdy sit-upon. So, I decided to do something about it, and slapped on a new seat and back-rest made from macrocarpa.

From this....

To this.
It's not best-quality macrocarpa, but it's not too bad. Knots aren't entirely avoidable, but I managed to keep them away from any edges.