Wednesday, May 29, 2024



My friend Nick gave me a couple of old saws that he'd picked up somewhere. These saws with a pistol grip and long, narrow blades are collectively known as compass saws, and are used for making curving cuts that would be impossible with a broad-bladed panel saw. The very narrow bladed ones are generally called keyhole saws. They're seldom used any more, since just about everybody has an electric jigsaw to do the job, but they are still seen in use by guys putting up plasterboard.

The top one I've cleaned up and reshaped the grip very slightly, given it a few coats of shellac, and replaced the old bent and wobbly blade with a 300mm one from a modern plastic-handled Bahco saw. The new blade has seven teeth per inch while the old one has ten or eleven; I'll see how it goes, and if need be I can always recut the teeth finer. It's a tedious job, but not that difficult.

The bottom one's blade is in much better condition, and it just needs to be given a bit of a polish and sharpen. I'll probably clean up the grip as well, though it doesn't really need much.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A Time to Rest


I got myself a new tool rest for my lathe, on the cheap thanks to AliExpress. It cost about 22 yankeebucks, it's 230mm long, and is chrome-plated steel.

How the plating will survive I've yet to see. I may end up having to get rid of it and just polish the steel underneath, but we shall see — no need to borrow trouble.

The rod spot-welded along the top of the new rest is much smoother than my crappy old soft cast 150mm rest, and it doesn't grab at the tool the way the old one tends to. Plus, it's longer, so I have to re-situate it a lot less often. I've ordered a 300mm version as well; that one hasn't arrived yet.

Next task is to turn a collar for it so that it rests at about the right height for my lathe.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Swatch Book


A few years ago I took a couple of sheets of Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper and broke them down to make this little book. It gives me a page size of 190 x 170 mm, and about 24 leaves (48 pages, front and back)

The paper is pretty heavy, about 380gsm I think, and has a pronounced tooth. That makes it a bit problematic for the sort of drawing I do, but it is excellent for watercolour wash.

I'm using it primarily as a swatch book, with examples on each page of various watercolours that I've acquired, so that I can see at a glance how they behave, while keeping the resulting swatches protected from the light.

The examples shown here are Schminke 787 Payne's Grey, and Winsor & Newton Cotman Sepia.

This is a pretty crude and amateurish binding, but I've learned a lot since then. I'd do better next time.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Hand Rails


I've been making some verandah hand rails for some friends, so that their Aged P can get up and down the steps without toppling over into the garden.

They're made from treated pine, so they should last a good while.

Working treated timber is not all that pleasant, and when the timber is also soaking wet it becomes a real trial.

They've been primed in this photo, but not yet had a finish coat of paint applied. They'll eventually be grey, I assume, to match the steps and the rest of the verandah decking.