Thursday, 29 December 2011

Drawers for my hand tools

I’ve decided now that I want most of my hand-tools within easy reach of the bench, so set to yesterday and today building some new drawers…


First I built the drawers themselves so they could have time to dry whilst I built the sides. I set these out on the bench and fitted all of the hardware before assembling the case.WP_000103

The case is a little strange in that it has no lid or base – it will sit on the bottom rails of the bench and I’ll fix it in place, so these extra pieces were superfluous (and I wanted to maximise the space I had for tools).


The last photo shows the drawers in place. I have some lovely Iroko that I’m going to use to face the drawers. That probably won’t happen for a while!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Pressies

I was a very lucky chap this year…


The paper is some 40, 30 and 5 micron stuff from which I’ve used to make the chisels ‘scary sharp’. And they are superb!

Friday, 23 December 2011

A vice!

I’ve had this vice for many years (I’d reckon about 10) but never really had a place to put it. I’m really glad to be able to use it now – it was a present from my folks and as they’re no longer around it gives me pleasure to use the things they gave to me.


It’s a quick release vice from Axminster, mounted with some massive bolts I also had lying around. I had to do some work on the vice in order to get the bolts to fit as they were just a little too large, so out came the files and a bit later the bolts fitted.

You might wonder why the vice is flush with the top of the door and not with the top of the MDF – I’ll be putting wooden jaws on the vice to save my tools, so a gap is necessary.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A drawer

To add some mass to the bench I’m adding a drawer to one end. Not sure what I’ll put it in as yet but I have some MDF left over from the top so I might as well use that up…


The handle is also something I’ve had lying around, so thus far this bench has cost me one sheet of 18mm MDF.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The new bench progresses

This evening I did a load more work on the bench, such that it now resembles one fairly convincingly…


As the floor isn’t level I was in two minds as to whether to build a bench that would need levelling, or one with uneven legs so it was level. I eventually chose the latter option as my bench will be so heavy I won’t want to move it anyway.

I’m using a simple MDF top as I can then replace it when necessary – a bench is there to be used so screwing into it is very likely to happen, as is scoring it with blades etc. Having something that is replaceable seems like a good idea to me.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A new bench

I’ve been wanting a larger bench for some time and today I decided it was time to start building it. I had a load of wood already hanging around so didn’t need to buy much for this project – the top is a 7’ door that’s been here since I bought the place, so I decided to use it at last (and a load of other wood that was part of the garage door I took down).


This evening I built the first trestle and also removed all of the mouldings from this side of the door. It’s a bit rough and ready but will serve it’s purpose. Next I need to complete the other end and join the two ends together.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


I’ve recently come back from a trip to Cornwall as my great Auntie Gwen passed away – she was pretty great too!. Anyhow, I used the trip as an opportunity to pick up some hardware that’s been languishing there just waiting for me to pick it up. There were 101 boxes of assorted screws, nails, nuts, shims and all manner of other clobber…


Now I need to find space for them!

Monday, 8 August 2011

More wood

One of my friends is renovating a house and has a tree cut down in the back garden this week. And today I picked up some of the offcuts to stick in the loft ready for some woodworking…


The Lathe is in place!

I’ve been doing lots of other things recently (I have an allotment, enough said) so the workshop has rather been put on hold, but today I moved the lathe into it’s rightful position…


I just need to bolt it down and I’m good to go. You might notice the concrete pad is wider at the left end – that’s because the floor dips down quite considerably in this side of the workshop. I considered just putting the lath in place, but decided a level lathe would be better.

So, some shuttering, mixing, laying, trowelling and waiting later, I have a level bed for the lathe to sit on.

Monday, 4 April 2011

An Alder bowl

This evening I popped over to the barn to finish off a small alder bowl that I started at the weekend. Here’s how I left it at that point…


I’d wanted to do a curled over lip but kept breaking the edge so decided to cut this off. I was also going to mount this on my screw chuck hence the small size of the base, however when I glued a block to it and drilled it out on the lathe I found that it was off-centre when I chucked it.

After a bit of investigation it would seem that it’s a combination of the chuck & screw chuck so I may have to make another screw chuck and see how I get on with that. Instead I made a dovetail in the base and chucked it that way.


At present I don’t have large jaws for the chuck so this is how I finish off the base of my bowls – necessity is the mother of invention. I’ve had one spin off into orbit like this (and needless to say it was ruined) but it seems to work well for small bowls such as this.


The alder was nice to turn and looks nice finished off.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Another place for everything…

I’ve been neglecting the lathe for a few weeks as I’ve been playing with a MIG welder and having fun with that, but this evening I decided it was time to do some work on the lathe itself and so I built the following…


Sorry the picture’s a bit rubbish, it was taken on my phone. I had some galvanised sheet in the workshop from a garage door that I took off (it’s always worth hoarding some bits, you’ll never know when they’ll come in handy). I made a bracket on the left hand side with this steel and drilled/tapped two 4mm holes in the main column to attach it – breaking one tap in the process but thankfully I had another.

The other end is attached with a screw & washer through an existing hole on the leg. I used my forstner bits to drill the large holes for the tools, and had to make the left hand one larger still to fit the ferrule of my bowl gouge.

Happy with the new addition I turned the outside of a 6” * 3” Alder lump which was really nice to turn, and had a small area of spalting which looks rather nice on the side of the bowl. I’ll post a picture once it’s finished.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A huge ‘shroom

This evening whilst the family were watching Rocky 5 I escaped to the workshop again and had a go with a large lump of wood. Actually today is my day for large lumps as earlier I made a bowl on the outboard side, and this evening I loaded up the following monster…


It’s about 2’6” long and 8” or so in diameter. It was so large the banjo couldn’t traverse beneath it until I’d turned the outside off, so I progressed from right to left as can be seen in the above in order to turn it.

The wood had only been felled about a month ago, and I couldn’t believe the amount of water coming off it – I was getting soaked. As I’m sure this will crack badly I made the only thing I could with it…


That’s one for up at the allotment I think!

Turning on the large faceplate

I had a fair bit of spare time today so decided it was off to the workshop for me and one of the things I wanted to do was give the large faceplate a go.

I loaded up a large lump of Oak and off I went…


I haven’t yet finished painting the outboard part of the lathe (nor the lathe body itself, I’m having too much fun using it!). And I only have one tool rest which whilst easy to use isn’t cranked to getting close to the wood is a bit tricky (I can sense a purchase coming on soon!).

Anyhow I gingerly turned on the lathe at its slowest speed and started turning. A while later I was at the following stage – with some beautiful figuring in the wood…


I then went on to the inside of the bowl and the semi-finished article is below.


I’ll now leave it to season on the shelf and see what it’s like in a few months. There’s a bit of a hole internally but that all adds to the character. I just hope it doesn’t split whilst drying out.

A salad bowl

I’ve made a small salad bowl this week for a friend at work – but can’t give it to her yet as I haven’t sealed it. I went to Axminster tools recently (the one near High Wycombe) and bought some sealant in a starter pack. Or at least I think I did. Try as I might I can’t find it anywhere, either at home or in the workshop.

So the bowl will just have to languish here a little longer…


It’s made of an 8” disk of Elm which I found quite hard to turn. I did a piece of Hornbeam a few days ago (sorry, forgot the pictures) and that was gorgeous to turn – I’ll be ordering some more from Stiles & Bates soon.

I’m off down to Reading for a couple of days this coming week so will hopefully have time to pop into Axminster and buy something to finish this with then.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Finally - an outboard faceplate

Since I bought the lathe I’ve been after an outboard faceplate, and after hunting around for a while online (and being sent one that was wrong) I finally have my mitts on one. I popped over to the workshop today to check it was right…



I did at first think it was bent, as when I spun the lathe the outer edge of the faceplate was wobbling. However this was my fault in two places – the threads on the outboard end were partially full of muck (old grease, sawdust, you know the sort of stuff), and hence I’d not managed to screw the faceplate fully home.

After a quick clean with a wire brush and some meths I could screw the faceplate all the way on and sure enough the wobbles were gone. I’m a happy bunny!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A place for everything…

Today I made something that I’ve been wanting for years. I can’t tell you how many years but it’s got to be a long old time.

I’ve wanted a place for all my tools for many years and finally in June 2010 I managed to buy a workshop just around the corner from my house in auction (which was a very scary thing for me, I was shaking after bidding so much I had to wait 1/2 hour before going home!).

Anyhow, today I affixed 4 pieces of wood together and drilled a few holes and voila, I have the following…


Now I’ll agree that it’s not very special, but the significance is that I have somewhere permanent to put my tools now, no longer do they need to languish tucked away in my cellar. Now they can be out on show, ready for action.

I’m loving my workshop. Smile

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Some ‘shrooms

Today I did some tidying up of the workshop in order to make space for the mountain of wood I’ve just got. I recently bought some from a chap at work, then wondered across some whilst out walking (don’t worry, I didn’t steal it, the ranger was there cutting & burning logs and let me have some), and more recently they were clearing some land near my house and a chap near my workshop told me about it. Off I went to check it out, and after a small sum had changed hands I was able to take carloads of the stuff – mind you a carload in an MX-5 isn’t that big.

So, with all the wood scattered around the place I figured it was time for a move-around, so got rid of some stuff on FreeCycle and then went to work stacking up the wood…


There’s also some more to the left under the bench (and yet more in the next bay of the bench on the left too). I’ve no doubt this little lot will take some time to season, but I’ll turn some of it whilst green and see how I get on. Talking of which, I’ve not done any mushrooms in a while, so…


Little and large!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

More firewood

After doing my jobs at home today I popped over to the barn as I’d given a bed away online and the person was coming to pick it up. Whilst awaiting his arrival I started making a bowl from Oak. I turned the outside and left a key for the chuck to grip onto as shown below…


I then turned it round and chucked it, and progressed to hollow out the interior. I was just about to put the tools down and start sanding when ‘oops’ and this happened…


Bah. I guess I’ll have to make this into a plate now. I made up for it by turning another mushroom from a piece of Silver Birch (which soaked me to start off with as the outer layers were rather damp).


That’s another for the garden I think.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

New Wood to play with

I went to pickup a load of wood today, some seasoned and some fairly green from a chap at work. He had a fantastic pad out in the sticks (pun intended), and after selecting some choice cuts from the woodpile we were off to the unsawn trunks armed with a chainsaw. I now have Oak, Sycamore and some Silver Birch to play with.

Once I got the wood home and tucked away under the bench I thought I must use some of it to make a bowl. I chose a nicely figured lump of oak and the first job was to lop off the corners to make it fit on the lathe.


After knocking off all of the corners I fitted the faceplate and then attached it to the lathe, checking it would turn without hitting anything on the way. It’s a fair old lump!


Then began the job of turning this from a fairly lop-sided lump into something resembling a bowl. As this was my first try at something well out of balance I set the lathe to slow and gingerly progressed and after some time I got to the following bowl shape.


I then had to make a depression in the base that I could then use to mount it on my new purchase (a Robert Sorby Patriot chuck). I then turned the inside of the bowl to a rough size ready for seasoning for a few months before I finish it off. The (semi) finished article is below.


There’s a bit of a crack in the outside of the bowl but I’ll see how bad it it once it’s all dried out (it might add character, but will probably render this part as firewood).

I then went on to some fully seasoned oak and turned another bowl. I only have one picture of that shown below.


I wasn’t happy with the shape of the foot of the bowl to just after taking the above I shaved off most of the rest of the base which looked a load better. Unfortunately when I then turned the inside of the bowl I miscalculated the depth and so ended up with a very thin base replete with a hole. Another bit of firewood – at this rate I’ll need to get a fire to bung all this scrap into!

Monday, 3 January 2011


We went out for a walk today as it was a nice afternoon and we needed to blow the cobwebs away, and I’d chosen a wooded area on the map as I thought there might be a few small bits lying around that I could take home to practice on.

On the way from the car into the woods I saw some smoke straight ahead, and getting closer noticed that it was a bonfire being tended by a chap and his son. And all around was wood – lots and lots of it.

Needless to say I went over to the chap (who turned out to be the warden), explained my new found hobby and asked if we could take a couple of bits home. He was more than pleased for me to do this, and even provided a wheel barrow for us to cart the Oak (yay!) away with.

So, the walk was somewhat shorter than I’d expected but the result was way better. I now have two large offcuts and a fairly straight branch to play with. And I may have to pop back another day to get some more lumps too. Result.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A new year bowl

Sam and I went over to the workshop this afternoon for a bit of relaxation (I'd intended to get here earlier but as usual other events got in the way). Anyhow we selected a nice piece of Beech that I'd had for Christmas, mounted it up and off we went.

I did the initial rounding off, then let Sam loose with the chisels to cut the outsite curve of the bowl. The tools I have are pretty poor (I'm getting some better ones from my brother in a couple of weeks) so it took us both a while to get the outside sorted.

We then flipped the bowl over (I only have a faceplate at the moment, so did my best to centre it), then we cut the interior. It took ages to get the inner curve to looking satisfactory but I'm still not happy with it however it'll have to do.

We then decided to cut a couple of rings in the outside and I bevelled off the lip of the bowl and here's the finished article...

Not too bad for a first attempt after nearly 30 years (and in Sams case the first time ever). Now I need to get something to finish it with and also I'm lusting after a chuck so that I can centre things much more easily.