This post is a bit of a hodgepodge, just an update of what has been going on recently. First of all: The Biltong Slicer. I delivered it to my friend and it is fair to say that he was tickled pink. He says that he doesn’t want to use it because it’s too beautiful. That might be an overstatement on his part…
…or, it might be because when I was building it, he asked me how much he owed me for it and I told him to wait and see if it worked or not (joke!)!
That brings me to a serious point though: How much to charge people for items? I don’t mean for friends, as in this case, but generally. If I use the slicer as an example though, the cost of the materials were negligible – true I did pay for the wood, but the amount I used was tiny, and the price I paid for it was probably low. The hardware too was hardly expensive – the saw nut was salvaged from an eBay saw that cost me £1, the brass pin was cut from a larger piece that only cost a few pounds, and the blade was provided by the customer. So, materials can’t have cost me more than £5.
What about my time though? I didn’t keep a strict tally of the time I spent on this project but, at a guess, I’m embarrassed to say that this project probably took me about 5 or 6 hours to make – from designing it to applying the last coat of oil, and everything in between (not counting the drying time of course). Now, I’m just an enthusiastic amateur and so my time is not worth as much as that of a professional, for at least two reasons; (1) the end product probably will not be up to the standard of a professional, but even if it is (2) a professional wouldn’t have taken as long to complete the project as I did. One way around this is simply to charge a smaller hourly rate to compensate for the slowness of my work, but I still don’t think I’m sufficiently qualified to charge for my time.
Like I say, this project is for a friend, so normal rules don’t apply, but as I don’t know what the normal rules should be, I’m in a bit of a quandary. Hey ho, he liked the end result and that’s the main thing. If any of you have any words of wisdom on this subject, please let me know in the comments.
Secondly, I have been loaned a small table, by the same friend who commissioned the slicer in fact, and it is quite an interesting thing. The top is fairly unremarkable, but the legs are something else. All three are interlocked, with no joints, and appear to have been hewn from one piece of timber. My wood identification skills are not all that they might be so I have no idea what the legs are made of. My friend thought I might be interested in trying to duplicate the table, but I fear that it might be beyond my current skill level. I bring it up here as a curio to delight and titillate you all, and maybe one or two of you will have seen one before and have some tips on how to go about building one – once again, let me know in the comments.
Thirdly, my parents have just got back from a trip to France, and whilst there they happened upon a second-hand sale of a type that is fairly ubiquitous in France – ‘brocantes’ they are called. My Dad found this rather large wooden plane and bought it for me. It is pretty beat up and gnarly, but to me it is a thing of beauty. The Beast, as I have dubbed it, is 28″ long and seems to be made from solid oak, but there are no discernible marks on it and I have no idea how old it might be.
For a little while now I have been wanting to restore an old wooden plane. This one though may well be beyond repair. Fortunately I have another one, a smaller one (17″) that is stamped ‘I.Sorby’, and the iron is stamped ‘Marples and Son’. These are names that I have heard of, and it is in much better condition. Up until now it has been sitting on shelf in the shed is a more or less decorative capacity. I’m thinking that I might have a crack at fettling with it and getting it to produce a shaving or two, probably following this Paul Sellers instructional video. The Beast can then take its place as an ornament.
Finally, I wanted to spend a few hours sharpening my chisels and plane irons the other day. I still use a honing guide for this – my freehand prowess is still not up to muster – and so, in anticipation, I knocked up this little jig to help be set up the guide quickly. It is just a piece of iroko with a step cut on each side. One side gives me with the correct amount of protuberance for chisel sharpening at 25º (40mm), the other the correct amount for plane iron sharpening at 30º (38). It works quite well.
Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll probably post again quite soon about a small box I’m making to house my cabinet scrapers.