Sunday, February 5, 2023

Door Work


Some time ago — a year? Two? Three? I swapped out the door-handles on our kitchen door for these brass lever-style ones, so that I could open the door with my elbow while carrying two plates of food. The old handles had larger escutcheon plates than the new, and their removal left visible silhouettes in the varnish, not to mention ugly screw holes. So, I scraped back the varnish around the area on both sides, fully intending to take the door off its hinges and scrape back  and re-finish the whole thing.

As usual with renovations, I kind of didn't get around to that, and then winter came and we needed the door in place, and I sort of kind of forgot about it.

But no more! I've filled the old screw holes, and I fully intend to get the door off while the weather is good and I can work on it outside with my new(ish) Kunz #80 cabinet scraper.

I'm absolutely definitely positive that I won't forget about it this time. Absolutely.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Easel Shelf


My stand-up easel is too tall for the low ceiling in my workroom, which means that a canvas on it is too low to stand at comfortably. One option would be to chop a bit off the top, but I am loathe to do that, so instead I made a shelf to lift the canvas up to a more comfortable height.

It's made of scraps of pine and macrocarpa that I had lying around. I should probably get a couple of small G-clamps to hold it firmly in place, but I think it should be okay for the moment as long as I don't get too enthusiastic.

I have another (smaller) table easel, but I've almost never used it, as I find it rather uncomfortable to paint on a near-vertical surface when sitting at a table.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mahl Stick


I lost my old bamboo mahl stick, so I made a new bamboo mahl stick. This one is nicer.

A mahl stick is used as a hand rest for painting. The end is covered in a soft material that won't (hopefully) damage the surface; in this case it's some of that sticky silicone shelf liner.

The shaft is a bit of bamboo from our garden, the knob on the end is turned from a bit of an old broom handle.

When you're finished painting, you can flourish it at people and cry out "Expelliarmus!" It won't do anything, but there you go.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

looking Back — 2006 Working Drawings


Study for armour movement

Technical pen (Rotring) and fibre pen/watercolour

Brush and indian ink

Design for the key-block of a woodcut

This is the completed woodcut,
with some additional watercolour

Small studies for a fantasy map illustration

Brush and ink

More map elements

Fibre-tip pen

Friday, November 18, 2022

End Trimming Jig for the Vice


This is a jig for planing thin bits of wood, especially end-grain, square in both directions. It's essentially a shooting board, but everything is held in the vice. It takes up no bench space, unlike a regular shooting board, so it means I don't have to keep an area of my work-top clear to use it.

The body of the jig is thick enough to keep the sole of the plane level to cut the wood square across, and the stop keeps it square in its other orientation. I just ride the back end of the plane along the jig until the plane blade just kisses the surface, and then I've got a nice clean, square end. Very simple.

It will need to be re-squared as it wears, but that's no big deal, and the stop is just held in its mortice by friction and can be renewed as required.

The idea comes from Paul Sellars.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

That Bloody Moon


We had a total lunar eclipse last night, which created a small amount of nerdish excitement. Apparently the next one isn't until 2025, by which time the USA will no doubt have descended into full-blown fascist repression and/or civil war.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Dice Tray


I made this dice tray out of laminated pine, stained and waxed. It's about 255mm in diameter, and 50mm tall.

The outer ring, as you can see here, is to keep your dice-in-waiting in, and the central cavity is for rolling them. The rolling pit has slightly undercut walls, to lessen the chance of dice leaping out.

Half way through turning this, I blew the capacitor on my lathe's motor, so that'll need to be fixed. I can still use the lathe, but I have to start it spinning manually, which isn't ideal.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Wood Pile


The fruit of my labour, the last few days. It looks a lot less impressive than it feels in my arm muscles. All that's left to cut up now is a bunch of skinny scrapply branches.

That Bahco bow-saw is excellent. It's not exactly effortless, but it really makes short work of cross-cutting even fairly hefty bits of wood. Green wood is easiest, but it'll tear through old dry timber pretty fast too. It's a hardened-point blade, so it needs diamonds to sharpen — in theory it's a replaceable blade, but I've never seen the blades alone in Bunnings or Mitre10.

One result of all this is that the eastern side of our back yard is now a lot sunnier than it has been for years and years. Probably decades.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Silver Birch Goblet


I finished off the silver birch goblet I started turning from green wood a little while ago. It's been sitting in my hot water cupboard since then, which was sufficient to dry out the thin shell of the bowl, and the surface of the thicker stem.

It did not go entirely smoothly. In the course of drying out, it bowed very slightly, which made it very difficult to remount on the lathe to turn true. Unfortunately I'd already turned the shell down quite thin, and truing it up on the lathe made it thinner still.

Never mind, lesson learned for next time.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Green Turning


I had my first go at turning green wood today, and cut this goblet rough from a bit of the silver birch I cut down and cut up recently.

It will have to dry out a bit before I do anything more with it. The green wood handles quite differently to when it's dry, and it's a lot softer and spongier. It means I get nice long ribbons coming off the gouge, but the surface doesn't get as smooth as on dry wood and I doubt that I could polish it very well. You can see that the lip of the goblet is a bit furry, where the fibres have torn rather than been cut.

It'll take a couple of months to dry out sufficiently for finishing (though I've read that you can microwave it for more instantaneous results... I might try that one day) and I'll just have to hope it doesn't crack while it's drying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Lumber or Timber or Wood


This may seem at first sight to be a pile of junk, but to eyes that can see it's a goldmine.

I shifted a bunch of timber from a place where I couldn't see it or get at it easily, to somewhere I will see it every day, and still can't get at most of it easily. There's a variety of timbers in there: pine of course, and also some rimu, kwila, oak, sapele, ash, and even a little bit of cedar.

All waiting patiently to be turned into something else.

It's not ideal; I really ought to get it all raised up off those damp bricks for a start. I have some pallets that will do that job, but that doesn't really address the access issues, which seem to be perennial with any lumber stack. I'll also need to think about protecting it from the weather, but a tarp or two will do that job, if in a fairly ugly fashion.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Rings of Power (so far)


I've made it through episode 4 of series 1 of the Rings of Power.

I think it's pretty clear already that for the sake of my own blood pressure, I'm going to have to get myself into the headspace of watching this as a very pretty generic fantasy show, written by some people who had been given a list of names out of Tolkien and a very abbreviated precis of the era they're working in... which they then mostly ignored. Because what the fuck did this Tolkien guy know about TV, huh? Nothing, that's what! He was just some kinda schoolteacher or somethin'.

On the plus side, I am very pleased that it's making the racists so enraged. I do like it when racists get enraged.

Also annoying a certain group of people is making the proto-hobbits cartoon Irish, but I note that those same people are entirely silent on the fact that the dwarves are all cartoon-Scots — I guess that trope has been well enough established by now. Though I do recall reading something from one of Tolkien's letters about his basing the clannish and secretive dwarves on  stereotypes of the biblical Jewish tribes (though he didn't use the word stereotypes himself, as far as I can recall).

If you don't watch it as an accurate retelling of the Akallabeth, but as a garbled and somewhat confused construction based on a fourth or fifth-hand hearing of some bullet points from that tale, it could be worse. The pacing isn't the greatest, but the acting is okay, and the design is spectacular.

The timeline is all over the place, and the dramatis personae are also rather shaken up — Galadriel, for example, has been given a pretty huge demotion, from one of the most powerful of the Noldorin from Valinor to what appears to be an insubordinate mid-level soldier with no people skills at all. The takeover of Numenor by Ar-Pharazon has been entirely ignored as far as I can tell, but maybe something of that sort will happen later on.

I'll keep watching, because if nothing else it is very pretty.


Having now watched all of season 01 through, I think that the word that best describes it as a whole is "unsatisfying".

The changes from Tolkien's original storyline and characters have not stopped being grating, and even if I try to watch it as a generic fantasy story with vaguely Tolkienish antecedents, there is a lot of  suspension of disbelief required.

It is pretty gorgeous to look at though. I'll watch season 02 in the hope that it will start to gel into a comprehensible and believable story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

C13th Cistercian Numbering System


This is, apparently, a numbering system developed by a Cistercian monk in the 13th century that allows any number from 1 to 9999 to be written with a single symbol.

I haven't fact-checked this, but it's pretty nifty nevertheless.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Small Snow

 I thought it was a bit chilly this morning, and sure enough, when I looked out there was white stuff lying around all over the place. And just in time for us to run out of firewood.

It is spring, in theory.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Paper Towel Dispenser


We've been needing a paper towel dispenser for the back of the kitchen door for a little while, so I made one.

You don't think 32 years is too long to wait to get around to some household task, do you?

Anyway, we've got one now, so that's nice.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Kwila Truncheon


I had a piece of kwila about 400mm long, and I wanted to give myself some practice using the skew chisel, so i made a truncheon. I have no use for a truncheon, but now I have one anyway. Maybe I can use it for Victorian Policeman cosplay or something.

I believe that actual Victorian police truncheons were made from lignum vitae, which is exceptionally hard and heavy, but my desire for authenticity doesn't go as far as shelling out an arm and a leg for an expensive wood like that, so kwila will just have to do.

Saturday, August 6, 2022


 I was exposed to COVID-19 last Saturday, at Winter Weekend. RATs persistently returned negative test results until this morning, when it showed positive.

I've been experiencing quite mild symptoms since Thursday — sore throat and a slight cough — but the negative RATs let me believe, hope against hope, that it was just an ordinary winter cold. Alas, it was not to be; last night my symptoms suddenly became quite a bit more severe, and this morning's test, as I said, showed the dreaded two lines.

Now I'm in isolation in our spare room / library until next Thursday at least. It is lonely, boring, and uncomfortable. I'm hoping that Annette can dodge it, but realistically I don't think it likely.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Birthday Box

I made this box for my friend Irene's 60th birthday from an old oak board.

The plaque is brass, deep-etched in ferric chloride.

The nails are square copper nails, and don't really serve any structural purpose; they're just there for decoration.

It's roughly 110mm square, 300mm tall.