Thursday, May 31, 2018


Bit by bit I'm sorting out places for all my hand-tools so that they're all in easy reach. Well, easyish reach, because I am something of a short-arse, and reaching over the workbench is sometimes a bit of a stretch. But all within reach anyway, easy or not.

This most recent spasm of organisation has been prompted by making a standing rack for all my most-used chisels (front right, by the battery drills). Up until now they've either been in a chisel roll, or more usually, just lying on a shelf or scattered about on my workbench waiting for an unguarded finger to pass by. This should keep them a bit more out of the way and accessible. All of my gouges — all the decent ones, at any rate — I keep in that box in front; they don't get as much use, so it's not such a problem having them all away in a box on a shelf.

That all seems like a lot of clutter, but I use everything here quite a lot. There are more tools out of shot as well — half a dozen more planes and various machines. Strictly speaking, you could probably do satisfactory woodworking with just a few well-selected tools. Personally, I like having choices.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Stung at last

New plane to the left, old plane to the right.
 I have been mercifully lucky with my online purchasing. Up until now.

I bought a Stanley 78 rebate (rabbet) plane on TradeMe, with the intention of repurposing it as a scrub plane. I had bought one a while ago to use in its intended role, so I thought I knew what I was getting; both of them ended up costing me about fifty bucks each. The photos on TradeMe indicated that it wasn't in mint condition, but they didn't reveal the true horror of the situation by any means.

Old plane above, new plane below.
The new plane is.... let's say it's a bit of a disappointment.

It's missing the fence, and it may never have had a depth-stop or nipper. It's missing the lever adjustment for the iron. It has a bodged-together replacement screw to tension the iron against the cap. It has been so corroded that the body looks like it's got woodworm, an indication that the steel its cast from was never of the best quality. It carries a US patent number rather than the English maker's marks, so I assume it's a US copy — probably a licenced copy, since it still bears the Stanley brand, and I suspect it pre-dates my English one.  It's been covered in thick blue paint, probably to disguise the extent of the corrosion.

I will give it one thing: it's got quite a comfortably-shaped grip.

It is probably still usable as I intend, as a scrub plane, though with the pitting of the sole it will never really be as good a tool as I'd hoped. However, if I'd hoped to be able to use it for its original purpose as a rebate plane, I'd be pretty much out of luck without doing a lot of work on it. Probably more work than it warrants.

This is maybe worth five or ten bucks as a curio to put on a shelf to look rustic next to a vase of flowers. I feel that I've been well and truly ripped off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


This double bead is done by means of a simple step-and-repeat using the basic single bead cutter.
This is the newest tool I've made for myself, a scratch-stock. It's made from oak, but just about any timber would do the job. I'd probably stick with a hardwood, just for durability.

Basically, it's just a holder for a shaped scraper. The scrapers can be shaped to produce beads, as shown here, or grooves for inlaying, or even complete mouldings. Usually a scratch-stock would be used for relatively small features, as the effort required to create the forms in the wood goes up greatly with the increase in the area of scraper in contact. In this case, the stock will take a maximum width of 35mm, and I doubt I'll ever get close to using that whole width.

I've made the scraper here out of a saw plate. I would have used an old plate, but I don't actually have one that's unusable as a saw and a pair of brand new throwaway saws only cost twelve bucks; they'll supply me with metal for scrapers and what-not for years. The steel is good and hard, but not so hard it can't be shaped with a file as long as you stay away from the edge with the hardened teeth.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Small Thing, But Mine Own

I found some old steel mapping pen nibs in the bottom of a little box of crap that had been lying around for decades untouched. I have no memory of when or where I got them, but they're of very limited use without a holder.

Now, you can buy a plastic holder for not much money at all, but why buy one when you could make one? So I made one.

I have no idea what the timber species is. It used to be a mop-handle, I think. Now it's a pen handle.

I do like the vibrant and responsive line you can get with a mapping pen and Indian ink, but it takes a little bit of practice to learn to control it well — the tines of the nib are very springy, and the nib is very sharp. You can't treat it like a pencil or a ball-point pen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Stool Time

Here's yet another stool, a very simple one this time, made out of reclaimed rimu.

The pieces of wood I had to work with were full of old saw kerfs and screw holes. I cut around the old kerfs and plugged some of the holes with dowels, but I see one that I missed — I'm not really sure that it's worth the bother of revisiting it, but we shall see how much it preys on my mind.

I do like rimu as a furniture timber, but it does have its issues. It can have a tendency to warp, but this timber is so old that I don't expect that. As it ages, it gets harder and more brittle, which isn't usually much of an issue when using it to make things, but it means that it tends to split and splinter when you're de-nailing recycled wood, and you'll probably have to be sure to pre-drill every screw hole.

I would have liked to have tapered the legs a bit to make it a bit more elegant, but by the time I'd cut the baulks down I only had 30mm square sticks to work with. Maybe a bit of tapering would be all right, but I worry that it might have made the legs too delicate for the hurly-burly of day to day use.