Thursday, May 12, 2022

Long Spoon


On the principle that there can never be too many spoons, I made another spoon, out of a bit of rimu this time.

It's quite a long spoon at 420mm, but probably still not long enough to safely sup with the devil. However, my experience in that area is pretty limited.

Chaos Critter Doodle


This sort of thing is mindlessly recreational. It requires not much brain, since it's not representing anything recognisable, and there can be no mistakes really, since any and every little scribble can be absorbed somehow.

It's the essence of doodling.

Thursday, May 5, 2022



Since I had nothing much else to do, I made a spoon from a scrap of some unidentified wood.

It's about 170mm long and 70mm wide.

One of these days I must get around to making myself a round-ended scraper for smoothing out the bowls of things like this. But it is not this day.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Copper ferruled handle


I turned this little oak handle from a scrap fished out of the rubbish for no particular reason but to experiment with using some 15mm copper tube as a ferrule. It works pretty well for small pieces like this.

I might find a use for it some day, but it would be no good as a general purpose chisel handle or the like — the piece of oak has some pretty serious checking going on, so it probably wouldn't survive much mallet work. It might be okay for a paring chisel that wouldn't get much walloping. I don't have a suitable blade right now, but you never know what might turn up.

It's about 140mm long.


I put a chainsaw file in it.

Maybe it would have been a better idea to get a file that fits my actual chainsaw blade, but I'm not one to truckle to The Man like that.

Friday, April 29, 2022



Today I made myself a square awl from an old drill bit (4.4mm, probably some weird archaic Imperial size*), a bit of 9mm brass tube, and a bit of white oak.

I planed a facet on its base so that it will stand upright, as seen here, and another on one side so that it will rest on the workbench without rolling around.

The whole thing is about 110mm long.

I might sharpen it with a more acute point, but I'll see how it goes as it is for a while first.

* I'm told that 4.4mm is a #16 drill bit.

Monday, April 25, 2022



I don't know what this wood is, but it's rather nice I think. It might be black maire.

I did this mainly as an experiment in deep hollowing, and though it's not totally successful, it has shown me several things that I needed to know.

I don't know how food-safe or water-tight this would be, but that's not likely to be much of an issue.

The goblet is 160mm tall, and 70mm in diameter.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Evening Sky


Walking home from the Richmond Working Mens Club after a pint of beer and a few games of pool, and we were treated to this as a dusk sky.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Bell Jar Base #02


This is another bell jar base. I'm not sure what the timber is; I think it might be black maire.

If the first oak base was teetering on the edge of the envelope for my little lathe, this one is definitely over it. It can be done, but the vibration when spinning something this heavy is slightly terrifying.

If I ever win Lotto, I'll probably buy myself a bigger, meatier lathe. And also a new workshop to put it in.

And here we are with the bell jar in place.

The monkey is a very old, fragile doll that belonged (I think) to my great great grandmother. It's Victorian, though I don't know precisely how old it is.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Glass Dome Base


Some time ago I bought a couple of glass domes, the sort of thing that used to be used for amusing taxidermied dioramas of mice fighting frogs, or monkey skeletons, or that sort of thing. This is the taller of the two; the other is smaller in diameter and only about two thirds the height.

They came without bases of any kind, so today I turned one out of some laminated oak.

This is about the largest diameter my little lathe will handle, both because of the distance between the head and the bed of the lathe, and because the lathe's motor is pretty puny. The turned oak base is about 230mm in diameter, and roughly 40mm thick.

Sunday, April 10, 2022



I am somewhat challenged when it comes to reaching high shelves and the like, owing to being what is technically known as a shortarse.

For that reason, I made this little footstool out of some very raggedy bits of gnarly, knotty oak off-cuts.

It's about 300mm (12") tall, so not too high to easily step up on to, but high enough to get me within reach of the top shelves in the kitchen.

It's pictured here on the hearth, in the warm, so that its coat of linseed oil will cure within my lifetime. The weather is starting to cool down a bit now, and out in my workshop the oil would probably take about three days to go off.

I really should do something about cleaning up that hearth a bit too.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Plinth (video experiment)

I turned this little plinth from a piece of cherry that I chopped off one of our trees in the back yard, and stained and waxed it.

While the timber was drying out it became infested with borer, so it's not a great piece of wood, but I was interested to see how this cherry would respond to my manipulations. I rather like it; it looks rather like a piece of lignum vitae I once had.

I edited the video down from its original 250 megabyte size using Windows 10's internal video editor, which was pretty simple to use for my very basic requirements. Unfortunately I couldn't find any way to crop the frame, so all the background clutter on the photo stage is still in shot. Blogger's video handling is pretty basic.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Mezzotint Scraper Handle


I made a set of mezzotint burnishers and a scraper many years ago, about 2005 I think, out of some silver-steel rod.

Up until now I've been using them in a graphite-stick holder, but I thought I might as well get on to making some permanent handles for them.

The scraper is the first out of the gate. I turned the handle out of a bit of beech dowel; it was once a broom handle I think.

This one is a burnisher, for polishing the scraped copper. The smoother the metal, the less ink it holds, and the whiter the resulting tone in the print.

Another burnisher, with a curved blade (that needs a bit of polishing, by the look of it). This time the handle is ash.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Mortise Gauge


I ordered this mortise gauge maybe a month or so ago, and it just arrived. I got it via AliExpress from and it was pretty cheap; about thirty bucks including postage.

It's well made with no slop in the bars. The circular blades need a bit of sharpening, but that's easily done. The bars are graduated, though I think that's likely to be of limited use as the fence has a cut-out to house the blades, which means that the graduations will only ever be an estimate as there's no hard-cut-off to read them against.

The blades don't roll on their shafts, so the blades act just like a normal knife.

It's a decent enough piece of kit, but I don't like it as much as my traditional pointy beech mortise gauge. The lines left by the rollers aren't as definite or easy to see as those left by scratch-points or blades.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Sword Stand


I made myself a sword stand for my iaito.

It is oak, coloured with a walnut spirit stain. It's had its first coat of oil, and it will need a couple more and then some wax to finish.

I could do with some better tape for the sageo (the binding around the scabbard). The stuff I've used is just flat lanyard tape, and it's okay, but it's a bit narrow. I could do with something about half an inch wide, and neither too flimsy (like ribbon) nor too stiff (like nylon webbing). The genuine silk article from Japan is fairly pricey, and I'm not keen enough to spend that much money.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Iaito Tip Reshaping


I reshaped the tip of my el-cheapo iaito to give it a more curved profile, rather than the fairly angular pointy-stabby tip it had before, as can be seen in the shot of the sword on the bricks.

It could probably do with a bit more polishing, which I might get around to one of these days. But the blade is just stainless steel (440 I think) so there's not much point in getting too precious about it.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Very Tall Steed


I bought a box of cheap black roller-ball pens, because I like drawing with roller-balls.

These ones have a much thicker nib than I'm accustomed to though, and I'm not sure I like them.

Still, they were cheap.

This quickie sketch is about A5 (210 mm tall).

Monday, February 14, 2022



This Zona razor saw arrived in the mail for me this morning. I had completely forgotten that I'd ordered it.

It's very fine toothed (42 teeth per inch) and with a very thin plate. It would be quite impossible to resharpen, I should think.

I don't recall how much it cost, but it was not expensive.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

El-Cheapo clamps — usability modifications


I have some bar clamps that I bought years ago from the Warehouse. They have the single virtue of being very cheap.

They're perfectly functional, but they do have several issues: the jaw pads were never much good, and have all fallen off and been lost. I've replaced the screw-jaw pad with bits of plywood, and I'll have to do something similar with the fixed jaw as well.

The main thing that dissuades me from using them is the handles, which are both thin and smooth. They're difficult to get a good grip on, especially for me now that my hands are becoming more decrepit.

I've modified them by planing the grips down square(ish) and glueing ribs of scrap wood to the facets. Just making the handles square would be a great improvement, but adding the ribs increases the diameter of the handle as well, which will make them easier to turn.

The amount of work required to make these clamps usable means that even though they're cheap to buy, they're really not cost-effective. Still, since I've got them, I might as well be able to make use of them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Impromptu Moxon Vise


This is a Moxon-style vise, whipped up out of a couple of bits of 6x2" treated pine, a bit of decking timber, and some bar clamps. I suppose it would be nice to be able to make it out of nicer timber, but this stuff is perfectly serviceable.

Some day, hopefully, I'll be able to sort out a pair of hand-screws to provide the clamping force instead of the bar clamps. The clamps do a decent job, but they're more awkward to manipulate.

A Moxon vise is excellent for furniture making, as there's no obstruction to the work piece in the middle of the vise, allowing it to accommodate quite long bits of timber vertically for dovetailing and the like. Also, because the front face is more or less free-floating, it can clamp as evenly on tapered stock as on straight, and there's no risk of racking the jaws. This one has a gap between the clamp bars of about 600mm, which is quite a lot for my purposes.

This is a portable version, and it's just attached to the bench by a pair of clamps on tabs extending out the ends of the rear jaw. I'd normally mount the clamps with the handles downward, to keep them out of the way, but it is easier to mount them as shown here. If need be, I guess I could use a pair of long carriage bolts with hand-screws, for the lowest-profile attachment: it would be easy enough to arrange, since it's unlikely to be mounted anywhere but where it is right now.

The back jaw has a sturdy brace out the back to resist force pushing against the vise; it's probably not necessary, but it makes me feel happier.

Coupla Days Later...

The woodwork of the vise is essentially complete, and I've given all the non-meeting faces a few coats of shellac.

The photo demonstrates how it holds a tapered work piece; this would be about its limit in that respect while it's being held together with clamps. A proper screw system could probably manage a little more.

The threaded rods, when I get around to mounting them, need to be able to move a bit laterally to enable this tapered-thing-holding, but not vertically, so that they hold the jaws in the right position relative to each others' top edges. I have some ideas about how that might be able to be managed.

I think the holes in the wooden jaws through which the screws pass will need some sort of bushing, as otherwise the screws will chew the crap out of them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Farewell Box


I made this box for Annette to give away as a leaving gift for one of her workers who is moving on to pastures new. The top is spalted beech, the sides are rimu, and the corner splines are ash. The cartouche is copper, etched with a design of the Manaia.

The inside is lined with cedar, and in the bottom is black suede leather.

Dimensions are 240 x 135 x 70 mm.