I’ve been busy


For some time now, I have wanted to build myself a proper woodworking bench. Nothing to big – I haven’t got the space – but a small, solid bench, along the lines of the Petite Roubo. I’m thinking about 5 feet long, 18 – 20 inches wide and just shy of 3 feet tall. The top needs to be about 4″ thick and the legs roughly 3″ by 5″. The top would be attached to the leg assembly with through dovetails and mortices, and there would be stretchers on all four sides supporting a low shelf. I also want to make and install a leg vice, and conceivably a sliding dead man, although the bench may be too small for that. I already have a vice that would do as an end vice and I would drill and array of dog holes along the front edge of the top. I don’t want a tool tray, but I might make a small rack to go along the back edge, to keep chisels and squares etc. safe while working. Continue reading “I’ve been busy”

Guédelon Castle


Last month, Goatgirl and I took the kids on a camping holiday in France in our recently purchased motorhome. Starting in St. Malo from the ferry, we travelled across Northern France taking in Mont-Saint-Michel, Bayeux and Rouen before meeting up with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend in Maubeuge. From there we drove in convoy across the border into Belgium for the Formula One Grand Prix in Spa. That was an amazing four days, even in spite of McLaren’s poor performance. I hadn’t been to a Grand Prix for over 20 years, and it was a first for Goatgirl and the kids. A good time was had by all.

The day after the race we went our separate ways; my brother and his girlfriend headed home, my parents went on into Germany, and we went south back into France, travelling for another week in a loop that took us south of Paris and then west, back across to St. Malo. Midway through this return journey we had a scheduled stop in Treigny to experience something truly awesome – Guédelon Castle.  Continue reading “Guédelon Castle”

Step 2: Staining the wood

The latest post from my nipper Porkish Chop!



Last Time we were cutting the wood on this work buddy!

Source: Step 2: Staining the wood

Palm tree wood

20150801_122446I haven’t posted for a long old time, but I’m still around, beavering away in the workshop. I’m working on a project at the moment, which is nearing completion. No doubt to seasoned woodworkers out there, this project will appear to be fairly elementary. But for me it is the most complicated ‘hand tool only’ project I’ve attempted so far. I’ll probably post about it soon but, for now, I need some more advice.

A while ago I posted about my brother’s exploits with my chainsaw and the fact that he gave me some willow logs, which are still drying in the rafters of my workshop. Well, this weekend he borrowed the chainsaw again and I ended up with a log from a palm tree. 20150801_122347It is about 3′ long and 6″ in diameter. I’m not sure what I can do with it, if anything. The end grain seems to be very furry, but I’m not sure if this is because of the chainsaw or not. I haven’t tried cutting it with a hand saw yet, to see if that makes a difference, and maybe things will be different when it has dried out a bit. I’ve asked my brother for another smaller piece to experiment on while still green, if he has any left that is. Failing that I’ll probably leave it for a few months before doing anything.

The reason I’m posting about this is that I’ve had a quick look online for information on this species of wood, but everything I turn up looks different to the log in my shop. I was wondering if any of you know anything about this that might help. Perhaps someone out there has some experience with this type of timber, and could let me know in the comments if it is good for anything.



The Bowler Hatted Turner

The other day, a woodturner from the UK came over to Guernsey to give a woodturning demonstration at our local woodturning club, and Porkish Chop and I went along to take a look. It was four hours long which, for some people, might sound like a nightmare, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. The Bowler Hatted Turner is quite an engaging chap and, to a total noob like me, a real wizard with a lathe.

I haven’t got a lathe, apart from the unholy abomination I made for the turning saw build, but I have long wanted one. A few months ago I had toyed with the idea of buying one, but I decided that I couldn’t justify the expense – it’s not just the lathe you see, it’s the tools, and the means to sharpen them as well. I gave up on the idea until I struck up a conversation with one of the club members present at the demo. He advised buying secondhand, which left me at a loss as to why that hadn’t occurred to me already.

Our local radio station has a feature twice a week called ‘Ring and Buy’ where people phone in and give details of things that they either want to buy or to sell. This chap had phoned in and said he wanted a lathe and had barely put the phone down before he got three offers. He ended up with a lathe and sundry equipment for £50 – solid bloody bargain. Moreover, it seems that many’s the time when a chap or chapess ‘inherits’ a lathe, or else finds that they no longer want to use one, and the turning club is often contacted in these cases, for advice on how to offload it. The club secretary took my details with the promise of letting me know if she hears anything.

Anyway, I was urged to join the club – I got the ditinct impression that they need new members to join their dwindling ranks – and I’m seriously considering it. The fees are tiny, they only meet once a month, and it would be a good way to learn the ropes. I imagine that I’ll only be turning the odd handle or a small bowl or two, but I have zero experience so I need all the tips and advice I can get.

So, hopefully, in the not to distant future, I’ll be posting about my new lathe. Watch this space…

Maker’s Mark: redux



I haven’t posted for a while because I have been quite busy with non-woodwork related activities. Ever since my workshop build my garden has been something of a mess. The crater that was left behind after I tore down the old shed became a general dumping ground for all the rubbish that didn’t make it into the new one. That has all been cleared now, including a couple of tons of granite boulders that were under a tangle of weeds behind the old shed, which have now been moved to the top of the garden until I can find a use for them. I have also recently cut all my hedges, which produced 8 ton-bags full of cuttings for recycling; fixed my ride on mower so that I can cut my lawns properly; and cleared an overgrown area at the top of the garden, producing two more ton-bags full of green-waste recycling. I have also made a gravelled area to keep our new motor home on, shuttered with old telegraph poles. Continue reading “Maker’s Mark: redux”

Planes, planes, planes


I recently refurbished a #3 Stanley that I have had waiting in the wings for months. It performs very well now and I can see myself using it an awful lot on future projects. Since I was in the plane rejuvenating mood, I decided to have a first crack at the wooden Sorby I mentioned a few posts ago. Continue reading “Planes, planes, planes”

An update on The Beast


I took the iron out of The Beast this morning, and underneath a layer of rust I found a makers mark and some text. It looks as though the iron was made by Peugeot. I did a bit of digging online, and from the style of the logo, it was probably made sometime between 1858 and 1900. Apparently, the lion and arrow logo was abandoned by Peugeot at the beginning of the 20th century, and although it made a reappearance a decade or two later, it was always depicted within a shield of some kind.

The text below the logo, ‘A GARANTIE’, is fairly self-explanatory, but the text above is largely obscured because decades of iron adjustment, presumably with a hammer, has rolled the metal down over it. It might say ‘PEUGEOT FRERES’, which was a trade name used by Armand Peugeot and his cousin Eugène in the 1860’s, and would fit in with time frame of the logo.

This of course says nothing about the age or provenance of the plane itself, which has no markings on it at all. But I understand that it was quite usual in 19th century Europe for plane irons, rather than plane bodies to be stamped with the makers mark.

I suspect that this will be all that I can find out about this plane, but I’ll post back if I find out anything else.


Goat Skin

20150524_115823Lately I’ve had a hankering for extra grippage in my vice jaws. I know that some people suggest using shelf liner but I’ve always wanted to use suede/leather. 20150524_164403Unfortunately, it is a bit of a hassle finding small quantities of genuine leather so I need an alternative. The English Woodworker came to the rescue the other day when I came across this post where he suggests using chamois leather as a cheap alternative. I thought I’d give it a try and I’m very pleased with the results. As the post points out, chamois is quite thin and so will not last as long as proper suede, but it is cheap enough to be renewed more often.

Continue reading “Goat Skin”

Mystery Project

I have been charged with building one of these. What do you think it is?

I have been given my first commission, by a work colleague of mine. The item that he needs, although ubiquitous in his homeland, is something of a rarity around these parts. I must confess that I had never heard of or seen such a thing until he brought it up in conversation one day last week. Continue reading “Mystery Project”

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