Sunday, 29 October 2017


Hi All,
I've been doing a bit on my lathe although I have also spent some time making a bench to do some wood carving on. I like to keep learning new stuff, so although I will keep doing the woodturning, I will hopefully add a bit of carving into the mix.

I recently turned a small pot from a piece of rosewood. You can tell how it got its name because it has a beautiful dark red lustre.
I think it came out really well.

Regarding the carving, I have always been interested in the subject but have never been able to find the time to do any. Anyway, I recently came across a book about carving netsukes, which are very small Japanese carvings. Kimonos, the tradditional dress of the Japanese, have no pockets, so they used pouches that are attached to their belts via a netsuke. The carvings are very intricate so I thought I'd have a go and to that end I built this bench complete with dust extraction.

You can see the grid that is the intake for the dust that is sucked out via the camvac that also services my lathe. I have a quick grip connector that allows me to change the hose over very easily.
You can also see on the bench my dremel flexible drive which I think will come in very useful.

You may also be able to see under the bench a foot operated button, when I press that, it turns on the dust extractor and the dremel at the same time which is very handy.

Another reason for taking up carving is that I'm finding that come the afternoon my legs are getting tired from doing lathe work. I know I'm only in my mid sixties but I think the heart tablets are slowing me down a bit. Anyway, the plan is to do woodturning in the mornings and carving in the afternoon. I have sent for some woodcarving chisels so I will let you know how I get on, I hope I like it because the chisels ain't cheap.

My other bit of news is that the blade on my recently purchased bandsaw just snapped for no apparent reason. I was just sawing a very small piece of wood and it suddenlty went bang. The first thing I did was coun't my fingers and I'm pleased to report that I've still got a full set.

If anybody knows why a blade should just break I'd be pleased to hear about it. Bandsaw blades aren't cheap, so I don't want it to happen again. Keep tuned for my next post and I'll show you my first netsuke carving.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Yo Yo

Hi all,
The run up to Christmas can be very busy for a woodturner. Last year I discovered pen turning and gave them as gifts to most of our friends and family, mostly as extra gifts. It was very time consuming and took up most of November and December, so this year I'm not going to bother so much.

There is an old northern saying that goes, "If you are going to do owt for nowt, do it for thee sen."

Not very charitable and not exactly in keeping with the Christmas message that it is better to give than receive. But it is how I feel. I can't remember anybody taking the time and effort to make anything for me. The closet thing to it came several years ago when I unwrapped a Christmas present given to me by my brother in law. When I opened it I found it contained a cheap craft knife, a small block of wood and a drawing of a ship. Bloody hilarious I must say, especially when we went to the expense of getting him something proper.

Anyway, if you are thinking of spending the next 2 months making gifts that won't be properly appreciated, it might be time to think again.

Right, Mr Scrooge has now gone and I can tell you that I'm making an exception to all that I have said above. I have made my Grandson a yo yo, which he will get as an extra gift.
It is made from 2 pieces of maple and the turning went very well. The hardest part was getting the two sides the same, which they need to be to keep it in balance. A yo yo that isn't balanced, won't go up and down straight on the string, and is therefore about as much use as an ashtray on a bike.

The secret it to get them both to the same shape and then weigh each half on the kitchen scales. I was lucky and mine were only a tad out, so I gave the one which was heavier a few rubs with some sand paper and they were soon both the same.

Something else that need to be considered was the size of the gap for the string. I don't remember it being so small when I was a lad, but after looking it up on google I was informed that it should be between 8 and 10 playing cards wide. I settled for 8 and it works fine. Whilst looking up information about yo yos I also found out that there was such a thing as yo yo string. Up until then I was just going to use any old bit of thin string that I could find. Anyway, I purchased a pack of 5 off the Internet and the one I used works perfectly.

You can see in the picture that I burnt a couple of circular lines around the side. this was done by cutting a groove with a skew chisel and then holding a piece of cardboard in the groove as the lathe rotated. It's a bit of a tricky thing to do but it is well worth it. To give it that personal touch I also burnt his name onto the yo yo with my pyrography iron.

My only hope is that he treats it with respect and, after a couple of goes, doesn't chuck it to one side in a hurry to get back to his xbox or whatever the latest fad is that takes preoccupies so much of a young boy's mind. His Dad bought him a drone last year, so you can see what I'm competing with.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Free book

Just a quick one to let  you know that one of my books, "The Reluctant Pom" will be free to download on Amazon from the 10th till the 12th of October. It tells that tale of how my father dragged me to the otherside of the world in 1967. I became a reluctant pom and you can find out how I got on in this book.
Please download it, have a good laugh and find out what I thought of Australia.
A normal post will be along soon.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Death of a scroll saw

Hi all,
I had a bit of a disaster a couple of days ago when my scroll saw made its last cut. It hadn't been well for a while; a few months ago it jammed for a few seconds and then blew a fuse. I replaced the fuse, cleaned it and oiled it and it managed to struggle on for bit longer. However, it finally succumbed and whilst blowing a fuse it jammed again. I oiled it, replaced the fuse and unlinked the top and bottom parts of the saw to take the pressure off, but when I plugged it in there was a blue flash that scared the pants off me. It had blown its fuse again plus the house fuse in the consumer box taking out several other sockets at the same time. It also remained jammed. I had now had enough and chucked it outside for the next visit down our street of the scrap collectors.

Just a bit about the saw. It was an Excalibur 16 inch which I purchased about 6 years ago for around £400, so it wasn't cheap. However, I feel that it gave me good service even though I abused it by getting it to do stuff it wasn't designed for. I have never owned a table saw and, until a few weeks ago I'd never had a bandsaw, so all my DIY projects were done on the scroll saw, which was a lot of work.

It did give me a lot of pleasure and I made a lot of nice stuff with it. Like this box.
And this one.
I will miss it but I won't be replacing it. I will use my new bandsaw for DIY project and my creative vent will be serviced by the lathe. Should I need to do any small scroll saw work I will purchase a coping saw and do it by hand.

So what have I been up to on the lathe? Well not a lot really because my wife's had me decorating the bedroom which included removing the laminated floor and replacing it with carpet. I don't know who invented laminated flooring but I detest the stuff. Its cold, hard and noisy and deserves a trip to the tip to be with all the other rubbish. We inherited when we moved into our new bungalow and I've been slowly replacing it in every room. Here's what it looked like in the bathroom. A mess.

I made a bigger mess when I took it up.
 But it looked better once it was done.
Sorry that this post isn't very creative, but I did manage to finish making Xmas deccy blanks for my wife to decorate for the Xmas tree. Here is a few of the things I turned, that she has now finished.
Right that's it for now, I will be back on the lathe soon, poking a piece of wood with chisel and I've also got plans for my pyrography iron, so please watch this space.