14
Jan 21

New toys!

I often get gift vouchers for woodworking shops for the solstice holidays and birthdays and so on, and with Covid this year there’s been no real chance to go pottering round woodworking shops in person so those all built up; over the holidays I finally cashed them in and over the last week or two the delivery guys have been dropping off new toys at the house.

First up, no more burnt fingers when sanding bowls…

I finally found a BS10 Charnwood bowl sander kit after a lot of searching – it seemed everyone in Ireland and the UK and Europe was out of stock of this and none was expected till February, but Raitt’s up in Donegal had one or two left and even though they were technically closed for the holidays, I guess they were having the same kind of holidays I was having and they had it in the post before the new year started (I will definitely be going back there). I’ve had a small play with this since I got it and it’s such a huge step forward. I’m actually looking forward to the next bowl sanding now which seems a bit off ๐Ÿ˜€

Next up, I’ve been watching Colwin Way’s videos that he was doing for Axminister all last year during lockdown from his home workshop:

They were pretty good tutorials and one of the things he kept using is in that thumbnail – it’s a small platform that mounts in the banjo of the lathe along with a velcro-attached sandpaper disk on a plywood disk which has a metal faceplate ring on the back that his chuck grabs onto, so the lathe becomes a disk sander. It’s not a new idea by any means, but the way he was doing it was very straightforward and one tutorial covered how to build it and I have an Axminister lathe myself and a second faceplate ring for my chuck so the other parts (and they’re not hugely expensive for my lathe, came to about 25 quid in total) went into the order from the Carpentry Store

It’s a nice little bit of functionality to add for doing things like small toys and such on the lathe, as well as for ordinary rectilinear woodworking stuff. Now I just need to find storage space for it ๐Ÿ˜€

Next, I finally got myself a ring live center for the tailstock. Splitting stock with a 60 degree cone center is hopefully a thing of the past now (and since that caused some mushrooms to explode on me in the beginning, I will not miss it…).

That live center is the multihead one from Axminster so I can remove the ring part and replace it with one of a few others, and I’ve seen some examples on youtube of people turning their own insets for it for things like turning spheres and the like, so it looks to have some potential.

I also got a few carving bits from Saburrtooth for the dremel. I was watching Rebecca DeGroot making some experimental bits and pieces (seriously, you need to see her stuff on instagram, it’s phenomenal) and some of the techniques she was using looked like fun.

I only had a few minutes playing time with these so far, but there’s potential there. I also have had this idea in my head for the last six months for a bowl that I want to make that I’ll need these for (though that technique came more from Stewart Furini than Rebecca DeGroot). But that bowl isn’t even started yet, I’ve only just finished getting some resin into the blank to stabilise two annoying cracks…

I might have chosen the wrong pigments for those but I think I can work with it. If not, I’ll make another smaller one. Or something. I’m still working out how to get the thing I can see in my head onto paper, let alone into wood.

Moving on, one of the things Colwin Way was covering was pen turning and I kindof always thought I’d give that a try, it seems to be mandatory if you have a minilathe, so I got a beginner’s pen turning kit. I expect the first few to be the pen equivalent to a funnel, but hey, it’s all good fun, right? ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s a rather nice mandrel that one apparently, which is blind luck, it happened to be the one the Carpentry Store stocked that fitted my lathe. Anyway, I’ll give it a go and see how it works out.

There was a bit of restocking as well. I’ve used up all the black, yellow, green and red from my sample pack of Chestnut stains on various holiday decorations and things so I ordered bottles of those to replenish (I figure I’ll keep doing that as I use the little bottles up so that I only have to buy the stuff I’m actually using), as well as some more acrylic sealer because I was out. And I got one of the little timber kits for Calum to build and paint, which should be fun:

There was a light pull drive as well because I want a friction drive to try to get Calum turning little things on the lathe, and I don’t want him using a chuck or a pronged drive center just yet – if he sticks a tool into something with a friction drive center, all that happens is the work stops spinning, rather than there being enough of a connection between spindle and work that it can throw the tool around on him. That hasn’t arrived yet, but should be fun.

And lastly… well, look, I got two nice woodturning tools last year, a Crown PM 10mm bowl gouge and an Ashley Iles 1″ skew chisel. They’re lovely tools but I’ve been afraid to go near them because my sharpening setup was… well, it wasn’t getting it done. I was grinding into the jig itself for one gouge, for another I couldn’t get the jig to clamp it at all, the axis line for the inside and outside curves on the gouges weren’t aligned anymore so I had asymmetric tools, it was a mess.

That last one is an old photo from April – I did change out the carborundum wheels there for aluminium oxide ones a few months back, but the jigs themselves are cheap knockoffs of the wolverine guides and they just were driving me nuts and they were wearing in places and I couldn’t see how to get better performance out of them, so I splurged and bought the BGM-400 kit, took the grinder platform apart and rebuilt it all…

So now I have the Tormek mounting bar, and the gouge sharpening jig, the general purpose sharpening jig that does roughing gouges and parting tools and so on, and the skew chisel sharpening bit. And it’s very very neat indeed. I’m hoping to be able to fix the bad sharpening on all of my gouges, stop shortening the tools quite so fast by keeping a consistent grinding angle rather than constantly having to grind off another bit of steel to correct a bad grind and so on. I know, it’s not a slow speed grinder and it’s not got CBN wheels, but those will have to wait for another day and with a consistent jig setup for sharpening I might be able to start using that lovely Ashley Isles skew soon…

There was one more thing, and I know this is all excessive but it’s birthday gifts and solstice gifts and some savings that would have been spent over five or six months all happening at once before Brexit really bites and we can’t get this stuff or the price doubles in the next few weeks. That’s more likely than not I think – we already are having increased problems getting stuff from the UK or Europe, DPD won’t ship to Ireland at the moment at all because Brexit has mangled both exports from the UK to the EU and shipping from EU to Ireland (we are still in the EU in case anyone was wondering ๐Ÿ˜€ ) via the land bridge over the UK, which has caused a few things to go astray (and I don’t even want to think about what’s happening to hardwood prices at the moment).

Plus as I said about the bowl sander, a lot of stuff is out of stock everywhere with no really clear restocking date; and we’ve already seen one major woodturning shop in the UK (the Toolpost) close its doors with Covid and Brexit being cited as the cause. Hopefully more don’t follow, but 2020 was not a year that gave us all a lot of cause for optimism, and so far 2021 has started off not getting out of the first week before the US has an actual coup attempt and the news cycle in Ireland has been something of a nightmare as well; we’re now 20% worse than the US for Covid infection rates per capita – literally no other country in the world has had positivity test results this bad or this fast a descent into disaster – and on top of that we just had the Mother and Baby homes report published which simultaneously informed us of nine thousand dead infants in the small percentage of religious institutions investigated and also tried to absolve from blame the religious orders running those institutions and the state that signed contracts with them. Maybe this just isn’t optimism’s best year either.

But I’m one of the very lucky ones in that I can try retail therapy for now instead of the internal screaming. This last present to myself is a real luxury – I bought a set of six cheap airbrushes (the suction variety rather than the gravity fed ones) to put the chestnut stains in. Changing bottles on the one gun was leading to a rather surprising amount of stain winding up on my hands and the bottles and the floor because of capillary action and general clumsiness – I’m hoping this will alleviate it (and there’s a seven-euro-special one as well for gravity feeding so I can try other paints). Now, the airbrushes from aliexpress aren’t exactly what you’d call good compare to a Badger or an Iwata (in fact I don’t think they’re good enough to even dust off an Iwata), but for the kind of thing I’m doing, I think using an Iwata would be an absolute travesty of waste. Those should be used by people who know what they’re doing on very fine work, not the stuff I’m doing, which is the airbrush equivalent of painting houses (badly). They’re cheap, they’re cheerful and they should be here before March and I’m looking forward to playing with them.


07
Jan 20

Lots of stuff. Like, lots.

Long gaps between posts are a sure sign of either nothing getting done or a whole lot of stuff happening. In this case something of the latter. Since the last post, I extracted the shop vac, which is now living happily in the attic with Bob, our friendly funnely spider who lives right by where your face emerges from the stairs to the attic and who we met while taking down the xmas decorations this year.

So Bob’s new companion shop vac joined the mitre saw which I have no room for in the shed, and I kicked and prodded the new cart until it fitted into where the vac used to be.

It almost looks tidy if you don’t look too close or turn around…

Yeah, that’s why you don’t want to look too close. Even with the dust barrel tilted right over, that’s a real tight fit for a 4″ pipe to get into that 2″ opening because of all the adapters we’ll need.

And that’s why you don’t want to turn round. The problem with tidying up any one corner in the shed is that you have to dump all the rubbish in the other three corners. Ideally, a shed needs to be pentagon shaped so you can have tools in four corners and all the rubbish in the fifth. I was hoping to get more storage into that cart, but I need to build something that can hang off the front and also not foul the 4″ hose first. Still working on that idea.

Also, have I mentioned that I share the shed with a tumble drier? And of course it’s collected a huge amount of crud as it’s a flat surface.

And since the floor is also technically a flat surface…. well, you get the idea. Time to tidy up a bit. Thing is, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a large green box on the end of the bench hiding behind chunks of 2×4 that I’m hanging on to for use in jigs and the like, and yes, that is a new interloper in the shed.

I honestly couldn’t point to a single thing and say “this is why I bought that” this time round. It came up in a black friday sale at the lowest price I’d ever seen this for, it has good reviews from everyone who used it for the kind of light duty hobbyists put these things through, and it doesn’t involve faffing about with belts and it has a tiny footprint for a pillar drill at 13″ by 13″ by 24″ tall. And yes, I have an idea where it’ll go, but more on that later, for now it’s just taking up a chunk of the bench and I’ve only used it for a few quick holes for putting away some sandpaper I bought off rutlands in the sales…

Yes, I’m very clever, I made a toilet roll holder. And yes, that is a faceshield and some custom artwork by the house’s resident Young Artist. It’s titled “the red car Daddy should have bought instead of our one”.

Around this time the annual winter solstice enforced holiday came up. The pillar drill was brought home on one of the last days before my vacation time kicked in. So there was some tree work instead of woodwork, and all of the lights had to be put up (this is what happens when you keep picking up sets of LED lights in the sales every year, your tree emits more light than your house lights). That glass of anejo was well earned, because along with the tree was the cooking…

Beef wellington only looks like a faff when you do it right. So here we have the beef which was sous vide’d to just under medium rare, then chilled overnight in the fridge, then seared in the pan and left to cool again and then coated in mustard. Under that is the duxelle mix of mushrooms and shallots, with the mushrooms not blitzed but chopped by hand so it’d be lumpy instead of paste and then cooked for ages until all the water was driven off. You don’t want liquid leaching out of the middle, it makes the dough soggy, so the duxelle has to be dry and still slightly chunky to act as a sponge as the beef will express juices in the final cooking. Then some parma ham to seal in the juice even more and finally two layers of filo dough instead of the traditional crepe to seal it in even more. Then just simply wrap in puff pastry…

…or do some lattice work and put rosemary leaves in the spaces by hand with tweezers.

Yeah, not kidding. I must need my head examined. It was nice though. And of course you need potatoes, but what happens if you mix 50% mashed potato (sans milk or cream please) with 50% savoury choux pastry (like the stuff you make eclairs with but with no sugar and a good pinch of salt) and then deep fry the mix in small dollops from a piping bag?

Pommes dauphine that’s what.

And there were desserts and starters as well. Gravlax and smoked salmon with pickled mustard seeds on guinness bread to start, and pecan pie, gingerbread cake and the above lemon meringue soup as desserts. Yes, soup. What do you mean, your curd sets up?

ANYWAY. After a day or two lying on the couch, floor and bed trying to digest several different animals and half a field of vegetables, I got back out to the shed and did a bit of tidying up and assembled the dust collection using all of the adapters in the plumbing section of woodies. You’ll note the dust barrel is over at a 15-20 degree angle and is held there with a tie-down ratchet and a slightly cut down strap (this ratchet now belongs to this cart, but it was a cheap lidl job so no worries). And I tested the dust extractor and holy crap. It lifted the dust off the floorboards, had a go at the dirt under the shed and damn near ate the floorboard as well. This thing is industrial. I think it might actually cope with the thicknesser. It damn near cleaned all the dust off the outside of the bandsaw from the inside when I used that for the next odd job to do in the shed which I thought would tidy stuff up.

So a lot of the little metre lengths of 19mmx40mm whitewood that’s been laying about the place since I built the workbench have found their ways into jigs, but the last few I actually have had a plan for since building the bench and that was to put them into the lightweight aluminium sash clamps I have to beef them up, an idea I first saw in a Paul Sellers video (and then in about six other youtube channels over the subsequent week or two as everyone independently thought up the idea. The gig economy at work, sadly. Hard to blame them really).

Ripped down on the bandsaw, then planed to the right thickness and depth, and tapped home.

Took a bit of fiddling so I got it right with one, then used that as a rough template for the other seven. Offcuts went into the sack for transport to the parent’s house – I’ve finally found a way to get rid of waste wood, it goes in the fire and the recycling center can stick that in their “we charge you for a full carload even if you have just one bag of shavings that could go straight into the compost heap” policy and smoke it in front of Greta Thunberg. Sometime you’d think this country is run by incompetent jobsworths who never think policies through and the rest of the time you wouldn’t be that naively optimistic.

One down, seven more lined up behind it (and now done). But now I’ve cleared some room, so of course what I should do is take the birthday and xmas gift vouchers I keep getting for The Carpentry Store and which have been building up over the last three or four years and drive out to Naas, just to have a look…

Sooo many toys and so much fun material to play with, it’s a good thing I was just lookin…

Now, to be fair, I’ve been trying to find this stuff here for ages for the masking tape trick and nobody wants to ship aerosol cans or any other pressurised container anymore so it’s not that bad…

And in my defence here, I have some western saws but they’re all quite old and not sharp and while I finally have the kit to sharpen them, unless I have a decent one already how will I know what they should be like?

Also, it’s very nice and it was a gift voucher and also, I’ve had things fit my hand this well before but I had to have a licence to own them and they came with sights and ammunition…

And it’s small and it’ll go on a magnet rack on the wall and it’ll be grand, it’s not like I got anything too larg…

I mean, okay, yeah, but they’re small and come on, they’re pretty and you want to know what that lidl lathe can do with real hardwood or resin, don’t you?

See? Small. And useful, and it’ll hang up on the wall (on a magnet, for this is magnetic brass, none of that nonmagnetic muck for me). Just little small things, that’s all.

Look, technically they’re still small things…

Um. Okay. So I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right.

….yeah. So maybe I shouldn’t walk round a tool shop with a lot of gift vouchers. Herself got me a woodturning course for xmas that starts in a few weeks, so it’ll live in the box for a while yet because this one really could do you some mischief, but it’s a decent solid beginner’s lathe and yes, yes, I know, there’s no room, but I Have A Plan dammit…

So about that tumble drier I was sharing space with. Well, it was long dead, and nobody wanted it anymore, so it went to the recycling center, who took AN ENTIRE TUMBLEDRIER FOR FREE but oh no, a bag of wood shavings is far too much to cope with…

Ah, right, yeah, the stuff that was on top of the tumble drier. Okay, let’s put it in the precious empty floor space for now…

Don’t you be making faces at me, you’re not there for long, I’m using up a chunk of the beech and poplar that’s taking up room in the far corner in order to make a lathe stand that won’t take up all of the space the tumble drier is no longer using up, and then I can put the lathe there and all this stuff can go in the far corner where there’s some room and under the lathe stand along with the pillar drill to make more space and weigh down the stand, and all will be right with the world.

Er. Yeah. Well. Er.
Look — good tequila, 3am on new year’s day and a 30% off sale on banggood.com aren’t the wisest mix, okay? Besides, look, it has actual uses for the shed. I mean, look at this nonsense:

I mean, come on, that’s daft. How many fittings? I damn near had to drill into the ceiling for this for pete’s sake. With the 3D printer I could just print off a cyclone that had a 4″ port right there. Or an adapter that fitted both the 4″ hose and the 2″ port perfectly and had a 180 degree bend as the hose is coming up from below. And there are lots of things like that you could do with one.

See? Now all I have to do is… oh, crap, I have to tidy up the lab to make space for the printer first.


…sigh…


Right. I guess I get to go visit Bob again so. Good think I bought that faceshield I guess…