Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Friday, 26 April 2013
This is a transverse section through a piece of hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) timber I picked up locally. It's a timber I have worked with several times over the last couple of years and I am always impressed by how well it carves - given that I can find a piece sufficiently clear of knots and splits. Around here hawthorn typically grows in a somewhat tortured state on windswept hills and cliff tops, twisted and fluted. But here, close up, you can see what fine grain it has. With pores spread fairly evenly the annual rings are faint and the medullary rays are packed tightly - around 10 or more rays per mm (that is a mm scale in the photo.)
Just recently I chiselled these simple candle sticks from a hawthorn branch. That's the typically grizly hawthorn bark of a larger log in the background.
The first thing I carved from hawthorn was this small cleat for a spruce ensign staff. I remember the timber carved so sweetly the cleat was getting smaller and smaller and was in danger of disappearing altogether!
Saturday, 13 April 2013
What clearly differentiates it from the pack is the choice of blade positions it offers, one at each end, with the usual block plane geometry at the handle end and a bullnose at the other. In bullnose mode the handle endows the plane with excellent control while the extra weight of the longer body - 8 in compared to around 6.5 in for a conventional block plane - gives it more authority.
Of course it lacks the refinements of the Stanley 9 1/2 - no adjustable mouth, no lateral adjustment lever or wheel adjuster for depth of cut, so you have to set it up by eye and fingertip. Compared to a Lie-Nielsen 9 1/2 it begins to look even more impoverished - and yet, coming back to that issue of weight (something in which LN invest a degree of pride) I couldn't resist placing this obscure Stanley on the scales. It weighed in at 1lb 8 1/8 oz and - guess what - that's a whole 1/8 oz more than the LN.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
We can't quite run to installing a cask of ale in the kitchen but wooden drinking vessels are a feasible alternative. Once everyone drank and ate from wood and it is such warm, comfortable material that I wonder how metal and glass ever caught on - let alone plastic.
I finished these cherry wood pots with a mixture of walnut oil and beeswax. It's a leak-proof, food safe finish which also lends the wood a pleasant nutty colour. Cheers!
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Owners of thick-topped workbenches may find this irrelevant but for anyone working at a lighter, leaner bench here is a method of installing a decent holdfast. This bench is about as cheap as they come with a 7/8 in top that is way too thin for a holdfast to cant and lock successfully in its mounting hole. The bench also has a drawer which precludes thickening the top with a block mounted underneath. But another feature which some (not me) regard as a drawback actually solves the problem - the tool well. It's the ideal spot to install a mounting block providing around 2.5 in depth for the shaft of the holdfast to lock in place as the beak is tightened on the work. The block fits snugly between the back and front members of the tool well and is fastened to a top plate which is itself fastened to the front member of the tool well; no fastening is required at the back. Otherwise you need only make a hole in the tool well for the holdfast shaft to pass through.