Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saw-stool of DOOOOOOM... and more booty

I bought a couple of cheap kitset saw-stools (you may know them as saw-horses) from Bunnings a while ago. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, pretty crap, but they can still serve as trestles.

In the spirit of "if you want something done right, do it yourself", I went ahead and made this for myself. The top and legs are all 50mm pine, and the top is about 400mm wide and a metre long, so it can serve as an impromptu work bench, or I can set up my mitre saw on it and all that sort of thing.

Being so big and heavy, it's a bit of a pain to hump about, but I'll take that in exchange for having a good, solid, portable(ish) work surface available.

Sitting on top of it is my latest score: another Record woodworker's vice, from the same place as I got my other one. This one is a bit smaller, a No.52, but otherwise basically the same. It could do with a bit of cleaning up, but there's no rust that I can see, and it's all square and in pretty good nick. Having more than one vice on one's work bench comes in very handy all the time, so I'm glad to have found this one to act as my secondary emergency back-up thing-holder-and-squeezer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Camping Trailer

This is kind of cool, in a dorky kind of way. I' want one.

Friday, November 30, 2012


I'm pondering just what sort of stats to give this guy for use as a PC-chomper, and whether he would have any abilities beyond his ludicrous mandibles. I'm thinking smallish, maybe chicken-sized, and appearing in flocks of up to a couple of hundred.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More woodwork

I just made this little worktable for Annette, to replace the shitty bargain-warehouse piece of crap she's been using ever since the earthquakes forced us to rearrange our whole lives. It's radiata pine ( a much under-appreciated timber in this country, I feel), and it took me a couple of days of ambling, low-stress endeavour to machine and assemble. It still needs to be oiled up with three or four coats of linseed or tung-based finishing oil; that will take another couple of days at least.

It has a wide, shallow drawer in front for pens and pieces of paper and what-not. It's only 35mm deep, which hopefully will save it from the fate of most drawers, which is to become choked with so much useless crap that nothing can ever be found in them.

The drawer has a cove cut behind its lower edge, to get your fingers into to pull it open. That way it doesn't need any handle sticking out, and the front can stay flush and clean.

The top has a a deep (50mm) splay, leaving only a thin, delicate 8mm edge showing.

That could be a concern; pine being so soft, such a thin edge could be prone to damage. We'll see how it goes; if need be, I can always plane it back a bit.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sin Was All I Knew

She doesn't seem to be particularly worried about that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Today Annette and I went out for a picnic, at a little tarn out towards Arthur's Pass. It was bloody freezing, but nice.

On the way back we called in at a bric-a-brac shop at Darfield, where I found these.

The vice is a Record 52½, in very good nick, and it cost me $128 — about a third of what it would cost me to buy one new. I've been looking for a decent vice for ages, so this is an excellent score for me.

The brace is also in excellent nick. Because nobody much uses them any more, they're a lot more expensive to buy than they used to be... Bunnings has them for $175. This one cost me $24, and the lady threw in the bits for free.

All in all, a very productive picnic.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I just made this blackboard to replace the soulless (yet efficient) whiteboard that hung in our kitchen for writing grocery lists and what-not on.

The frame is pink birch, the little chalk shelves are made from beech. The blackboard itself is just 6mm MDF slathered with blackboard paint.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Aaaaaaand...... relax.

In spite of his many failings, and in spite of his inability to overcome a gigantic shitpile of obstruction from the lunatic fringe (big, big fringe... like Cousin It's fringe) of the Republicans in Congress (or the Senate? I'm a bit hazy about U.S. political systems), I'm profoundly relieved that Obama has managed to retain the presidency.

That Romney guy, there's something about him that just makes my skin crawl, and whenever he does his "sincere" face I throw up a little bit in my mouth.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Toilet humour

There's no way he'd fit in our think-plan chamber.
Imagine how much toilet paper he'd use.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Press Dream

This is a picture by Karl Larsen, from 1910, of his workshop. I'd really love to get back into intaglio printing, but I don't have anywhere I could keep a full-sized press. Something like that little one he has mounted on his table would be fantastic though; I've never been all that bothered about doing large images anyway.

There are people who make presses in that sort of size range, and from what I've seen of them, they look pretty good. However, even a weensy press like that costs two or three grand to buy brand new, and that's way more money than I could swing.

I do wonder if it would be possible to make one oneself. They're not mechanically complex, and the biggest issue would be cutting the heavy-gauge steel one would need for the frame. I suppose one might also need access to a lathe to smooth and polish the rollers, but maybe not.

I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by not having a decent workshop space. Grr.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lovely Emma

I've had the most massive crush on Emma Thomson ever since I saw her in The Balkans Trilogy on telly in the early 80s. Here she is reminiscing with and tormenting Stephen Fry on QI.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Behold, the mighty Games Chest! This is the most recent Thing I Made, and is now full of most of my board-games, dice and such-like.

The top is veneered in various woods — from centre outwards they're burr walnut, kahikatea, mahogany, kahikatea again, black walnut, and then more kahikatea. The little rectangular bits in the centre of each edge is silky oak I think, or possibly rewarewa — they look quite similar sometimes.

The framework is pink birch, and the panels are veneered in red oak.

The chest has a sliding till (the drawer-thing with the round tin in it) that slides from side to side on wooden runners. I'm keeping dice, pencils, erasers and what-not in there.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012


This is an old table top I painted black some years ago, having intended at the time to scribble all over it with pastels. Then I forgot about it, and it's been sitting out in the weather all this time. As you can see, the paint is mostly falling off — that's because I was too lazy to prep the surface properly before I painted on it. The paint would have fallen off even if it had been inside, in a relatively benign environment; it would just have happened a bit more slowly.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reaper Bones - my first look

I'm a sucker for miniatures. I buy all sorts that I know that I will probably never actually use in a game. I'm also kind of a cheapskate — admittedly, a cheapskate with poor impulse-buying control, but nevertheless.

I suppose it's because when I first started buying gaming figurines, they tended to cost less than a buck apiece, and figures designed especially for wargaming were often as low as 20 cents. That makes modern metal figures seem very, very expensive to me, and when it comes to companies like Games Workshop, ludicrously expensive.

Reaper Miniatures have a very extensive range, mostly of pretty good quality, and for a 21st century company, their prices are fairly reasonable. You're still looking at six to ten yankee dollars for a 25-28mm metal figure though, which is a lot when you want to buy a whole horde of orcs or something.

They've recently started producing much cheaper plastic versions of some of their range. The plastic figure range is called Bones, and I decided to try them out. I bought 3 of the Great Worm (77006), Rats (77016 — you get 6 in a pack), and 5 packs of Kobolds (77010 — also 6 to a pack).

The figures are made of a white polymer of some kind, which is bloody hard to photograph effectively. The Rats and Kobolds, shown here, I eventually laid on the platen of my scanner to get an image that didn't blow out the highlights.

The detail appears a bit softer than I'd expect from metal figures, but to what extent that's due to the modelling, and how much to the nature of the medium I don't know. The detail on the Great Worm (below) looks a lot sharper, but then it's also a much larger figure.

The kobolds, by B. Siens, have been mastered in quite flat poses, which tends to be a feature of injection-moulded plastic figures due to the issues the process has with undercuts — attaining a well-rounded, dynamic figure often requires some pretty tricky multi-part mould-making, and that (of course) increases the production cost.

The Rats are by Sandra Garrity, and are pretty good; the proportions and the three poses provided are suitably ratty.

The Great Worm is decently monstrous, and it's with really large figures like this that you stand to save a LOT of money. It costs $US2.99 in plastic, and I doubt that you'd get much change from three or four times that amount if it were made in metal — plus it would weigh a ton, and that means paying extra freight as well.
Reaper say that you can slap paint straight on Bones figures without undercoating, and I certainly didn't have any trouble with the Vallejo acrylics that are my preferred paints these days.

Of the Bones figures I have thus far, I've only painted the Great Worm, shown here with an old WotC metal figure (circa 2001, I think) for scale. The Worm does stand on its own moulded base, but it's slightly out of balance, and I glued it to a honking great steel washer for the sake of stability.

I'm pretty happy with what I've seen of the Bones range so far. I don't think metal figures are going to disappear overnight, but I do think they're going to be reduced to more of a niche market within the next few years, if only because of their expense. A cheaper alternative like these allows me to buy more figures, which means I can throw larger hordes of mooks at my players, and that can't be a bad thing.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yet another little table

 One of the things we're learning about a 'tech at the moment is veneering. It can be fiddly stuff to work with; the standard commercially available stuff is less than a millimetre thick, and some timbers (hardwoods, especially) tend to split very easily under the knife. It's not generally terrifically difficult though, as long as you take a bit of care and don't try to go too fast.

The timbers in this piece are cedar (I think), rimu, kauri, mahogany, black walnut, rewarewa, and the body of the table is made from pink birch.
And here's the veneer in all its mostly symmetrical glory.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Passing of an Era

I'm getting old and staid, and more concerned with comfort than cool, so the time has come for me to sell off my trusty steed. It's a 1994 Yamaha XJR1200 with only 77,147 km on the clock.

At the moment it's not warranted, and the registration is suspended. It will probably need a new back tyre for its next warrant, otherwise it's fine.

I'm looking for $3,500 for it, as is, where is. If I have to take care of the warrant and rego myself, I'll be adding another grand to that.

NOTE: Unless you're in Christchurch, NZ, this is probably going to be of little interest to you, since shipping it anywhere else is bound to bump the price up ridiculously.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I painted this little acrylic (about 150 x 150 mm) for Annette back in '07. It has no hidden meaning.

Opus Completus

Observe the Coffee Table of DOOOOOOOOM!!!

Complete at last, and weighing in at about a gajillion kg. Observe also the Super-Secret Hidey-Hole that nobody would ever find in a million years (unless they looked at it).

The oak has been finished with three coats of Liberon Finishing Oil, which (though expensive) I really like, and a coat of wax on top. It took a great deal of rubbing and sanding and rubbing again, and then more work with steel wool and more oil, and so on and so on.

There's no real reason why this piece of furniture shouldn't last a thousand years and more. It bloody well better had.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Work In Progress

My latest opus is an oak coffee table with two push-through drawers and a central well in the top for putting stuff in, or for cats to climb into and have their photos taken and be splattered all over the internet for cat-lovers to go "Awwwwwwww!" over.

All that remains now, apart from a little bit of tidying up, is to attach the top (which is a very hefty lump of oak indeed), and to think about what I'm going to do for drawer handles.

It's been an interesting project, and I've learned lots of ways to make things much harder for myself than they really needed to be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I don't know who made this. If you know, please let me know. It's fantastic.

Edit: Thanks to the excellent search-and-find skills of  Annette (of Nut and Bee fame), it is revealed that it is by Stefano Bombardieri. Hoorah!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

There is so a spoon, Neo

I forgot to take a spoon with me to 'tech today, to eat my lunch with.

So I made one.

It's oak, American White Oak to be precise.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


My latest oeuvre, a little pine adjustable bookcase, seen here in the process of being oiled up with boiled linseed oil.

It almost certainly won't be used for storing books though. It's intended to accommodate some of Annette's knick-knack overflow, so that she has somewhere to keep the stuff she isn't displaying right at the moment.

I have still to install a catch for the cupboard door.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Recent scribbling

As you are probably aware by now, you can click on the pictures to see larger versions.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What could possibly go wrong?

That's just 80 kilos or so of mince in waiting. I don't really see this catching on.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

But will it do the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs?

For the first time in my life, I have a car of my very own. And for almost the first time in my life, I'm driving a car to get myself from place to place. I've been a motorbike boy pretty much forever, but now that I'm getting geriatric, riding a bike in the freezing cold sleet and rain is a lot less appealing, and I also now have a need for more cargo capacity than a motorbike can provide.

It's an automatic 1995 Nissan Lucino (which is, as far as I can tell, just a foreign name for a Pulsar/Sentra).

Within 30 minutes of buying it, I had already smashed in the front left guard, owing to my extreme incompetence at reversing in anything other than a straight(ish) line. Fortunately, a replacement panel from the wreckers only cost about fifty bucks. Unfortunately, it's a different colour — about as different a colour as it would be possible to be. It's white, and I'm thinking that rather than try to match the existing paint I might just paint it plaid or paisley or something. Frankly, I very much doubt that it will be the last dent-replacement this car will have.

I've always been faintly (sometimes not-so-faintly) contemptuous of cars, calling them "street zeppelins" and the like. But I have to say, I'm rather enjoying driving this one.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

End-of-year doodling

Happy 2012, everyone. Hope it's a good one.