Sunday 30 October 2011

Jobs at Home

Well I know its always the way, but I have a habbit of putting off jobs at home (the cobblers childred always go bare foot and all). But this year I've been a little better. I fitted a new front door about a month or so ago which makes the house look much smarter in post box red - although I didn't take any pictures (which is unsual for me) It only took me four years to get round to it!

And this week we've had a new boiler fitted, major expense but the other one was so old I'm sure it was costing a fortune in gas. This weekend I had to fix the floor boards back down and I've decided to replace the skirting as its been painted so many times and looks really rough, I'm also going to replace the back door (the only bit of the house that isn't double glazed) and a new door on the much emptier airing cupboard, also going to box all the pipes and wires in with MDF. Should fill a few evenings!

Is there any jobs you've been putting off for years that you should start?

Saturday 22 October 2011

Summerfield Park

Well on Monday I finally handed over the park keepers cottage at Summerfield Park to the Council. The orginal deadline had no bearing on the end date as we unearthed so many problems that had to be taken care of. It went from this:

To this:

I'm really pleased with how the project turned out, on the whole I enjoyed it and made some good friends and learnt a lot in the process. It's a shame that we couldn't render the outside like the oringal plan or paint the whole of the inside but with the extra works we had to do to the roof and other areas the budget wouldn't allow it. That said I'm really pleased they decided to go with a new roof covering as this will last the building many years to come and looks really smart when viewed from the park. The other area I really like is the landing upstairs. The ceiling here was so low you almost had to be hunched up to walk around it. That ceiling pretty much fell down as we were working on it so under instruction we created a "vaulted" ceiling and a much larger feeling landing with the purlins on show, when painted out this area is going to look great.

I've been invited to go back and see how it looks when its all wallpapered and painted out and I'm looking forward to seeing the building in use.

Right next project please!

Monday 17 October 2011

Moulding planes

I'll keep this post short, I had a rather good time at the car boot on Sunday and bought one or two planes...

You all warned me what would happen!

I'll do a post later on what I've been making or this will turn into just a tool blog! Still restoring this lot will keep me busy over the winter months.

Sunday 9 October 2011

The Top of a Slippery Slope...

I did something rather rash this morning - I brought a wooden moulding plane.

Up until now I've never know enough about these planes to buy one or even give them a second look at the car book sales, but with what I've been reading lately I decided to look out for one and maybe try it out if I found a good one.

Rummaging around in boxes of old tools this morning I found one that looked quite good. The blade was in good condition, the wedge fitted tightly and the whole thing looked well made, the sole for the moulding even having a different timber fitted nicely in the sole of the plane.

It was £2 so I decided to risk it. It looked nice even if it didn't work very well!

Its stamped with the Hibernia Marple's & Sons Sheffield shamrock logo, I'm not great at dating tools but I guess that puts it somewhere from the 1937 (when they started using the shamrock) to when they stopped making wooden planes (anyone know more?)

When I got back from the car boot the first thing I did was to go down to the shed and take the plane apart to look at the blade, it was quite sharp and pretty much ready to go.

So I put the plane back together and adjusted it with a few taps to take a small cut. Pushing it along, two handed, felt great and with two strokes I had created some fine shavings and this lovely little bead.

The trouble is now I want to buy some more moulding planes, I think it will be nicer than using a router on a small project. Just need to do a little more research so I know what to look out for (recommendations of books will be appreciated).

Watch this space!

Making a Carving Mallet

I was looking for a simple project to have a go at during the evenings this week and decided to make a carving mallet.

Traditionally lots of different woods and materials were used to make mallets, from the heavy Lignum vitae (which is now like rocking horse poo to get hold of) to brass, to beech or fruit woods. Some were made from one piece of wood others had beech heads with ash handles (for example).

I brought some locally grown apple wood at a auction not so long ago with the intention of making a few mallets as apple is known to be a tough wood.

And tough it was! I had to sharpen my tools quite a few times during the project to keep them cutting cleanly. Unfortunately there is a little bit of woodworm in the wood and I only realised this once I had turned the basic shape, so I've treated it with woodworm killer and I don't think it will affect the way it is used as the wood is so hard.
I always worry when turning things like this as its difficult to know what shape to turn it as there are some many different kinds out there. From reading different articles about it and using the mallets a little bit, one that stands up is handy (as it wont roll of the bench) and a slight concave in the shape of the head of the mallet helps to land a clean blow on the chisel.

I've given it a coat of linseed oil and now hopefully someone will be able to use this and carve a work of art.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Anarchist's Tool Chest

I know I'm probably the thousandth blogger to mention The Anarchist Tool Chest, but for me - living in England - it was a really decadent purchase to have it shipped from America.

I'll keep this short though so I don't repeat what other people have said.

This book is only for those that have a really keen interest in woodwork, like me, and I loved it. It focuses on furniture making tools mainly and how to choose and use them, with the last section dedicated on how to make a traditional tool chest. The section on Tool selection has already made me start looking a little differently at car boot sales and I might even venture into the world of wooden planes for a bit of fun as well as to start making items in the workshop that require a bit of hand preperation work first.

I realise one of the main principles of the book of keeping tools to minimum I already do. I only buy more when I can't progress further with what I have (unless its a chisel and then I buy everyone I see!). The hand tool only route is something I think a house carpenter like me would struggle with, at least to be productive enough on site (although after three O'clock I'm very reluctant to get more tools out of the van!)

A good read for anyone into their wood and a beautifully made book as well - I've already decided what book I'm next having from the Lost Art Press!

Saturday 1 October 2011


Well this week I had to take my CSCS test again as my current card is going to expire.
To work on a building site (not on a private job) you now have to carry a CSCS card which is supposed to mean you have basic understanding of health and safety on site and the card also displays your trade and the level you are qualified to.

It's a funny test as most of the multiple choice questions are obvious but there are one or two to catch you out. A few half hours spent reading the book normally ensures that you wont fail but there are a few questions that raise a smile with there stupidity, like this one:

Q: To help keep rats away everyone on site should:

A: buy rat traps and put them around site

B: ask the local authority to put down rat poison

C: Bring a large cat to site

D: not leave scraps of food lying about

I think bringing a large cat to site would work best but I don't think its the answer they're looking for!

Anyway I passed so now I can renew my card for another 5 years (and my supervisors card next year) and keep working on the larger building sites.
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