Saw blades

Found a nice chap in Germany who makes, at a reasonable price, 700mm blades to fit my antique frame saw. Can you see how almost half of the old blade has been sharpened away? I never guessed it was a metric import. I bought the crosscut, rip, and Farmers flavours. Didn’t get the Japanese one because it can’t be sharpened, though it’s nice to know it exists. I’m hoping to use this for ripping small boards, like those in the recent casket. It has less kerf than the bandsaw and needs more skill. I’m hoping the farmer’s blade will also be an improvement upon my modern bow-saw which has a narrow blade that produces untidy firewood.

Guilt-free Saturday, today, so enjoying watching the wind and the rain. The waterfalls, opposite, are rumbling louder than the traffic. I’d forgotten that they do that after heavy rain so their strange noise has kept me awake, puzzling, for a few nights. I had blamed the neighbours’ fridge, the blood in my ears, the wind turbines, the leaky canal locks and the railway tunnel until I remembered the same confusion, at the same time of year, just after I arrived here. Does summer rain consist of lighter water? It was so loud, this morning, that I could hear it outside and get a directional fix.

A similar hum, in my first flat in Sydney. only bothered me when my head rested on my pillow. After a few nights, I got into the car at 1am, very cheesed off, and drove around until I discovered a gas tanker unloading in the next bay: a remnant of the suburb’s industrial past. The flat had to go, of course, but I always wonder why no-one else complained of hearing the noise. There were hundreds of houses closer than me. Perhaps the steel frame of the flats focused the tone onto my bed.


On my lonesome for the weekend while M takes the waters with her sister Una. An annual pre-Christmas natterfest.

Just got back from RDG with about 30kg of work-holding gear: milling vice, rotary table etc. How excitement!

I have invented an alternative, very effective password strategy: 
– First part of each password is created from the name of the site or service by an algorithm of you’re design e.g. fBOo for Facebook might be generated by “lower case first letter of first word; upper case first and second of second word; lower case 3rd of 2nd. You need a way to deal with edge cases like single-word sites.
– second part, always the same, is a made-up word or code that only you know. Mine conflates a one-time staff number and the call of an animal. We might have “fBOoA275grobble”
– third part, optional but highly recommended, is a sequence for when you change a password for an existing service. Not an easy sequence but, again, one you invent e.g. next prime, using ! for 1 and E for 3, just to keep it unsimple. Final password might be fBOoA275grobble!E
With this, you get moderate to strong passwords every time, depending upon the length of part 2, that you don’t have to remember. You generate the first two parts on the fly. The third usually remains the same but, if you think it’s changed, you can go through your sequence until you get it back. Have fun inventing your own password system! I might start putting pipe symbols “|” between the sections.

More wood, incoming, next week. Monica’s green oak floor joists, for me to play with, and oak floor boards for her to put on top. Not sure if I can remember any of my oak framing course, it was so long ago.

Starting to put together my planning permission change request, now, starting with a brief history of the farm so that I can bring their attention to what is significant. This is because they only care that the place looks like every other, not what makes it unique. On our barn, for example, should we be forced to use synthetic slate or be allowed to use the original material, corrugated iron?

Had a brain wave: to use my two table saws as outfeeds for each other. I’ve seen it done with two, rectangular, non-sliding tables but I was doubtful of the possibility with my odd-shaped antiques. Turns out, they love being together. This arrangement leaves all of the multi-machine’s other functions accessible and allows a side extension (where the rollers stand) to increase its ripping capacity.


The sun is setting behind the opposite hill at 3pm, these days. Soon, it’ll bang into Readyshore Scout, the cliff, and disappear before 2.30. I can feel the shed calling me into hibernation.

Lumps and bumps

November fog is my favourite flavour. As a kid, I loved the rapid progression from school start, to dark nights, then Halloween and bonfire night. Throw in a few pea-soup problems and Autumn is the funnest season.

Got a lump on my head from colliding with the lowered Smithy roller door. I was lubing up the new machines and had to block the bright, low-angled sun when I forgot to duck. M said, “Did Frys Hill teach you nothing?”. We had a very low kitchen doorway in Bristol.

The big lathe has been worrying me, hence the urgency for lubrication. Ken Dodde warned me to shorten the new drive belt and even provided connectors and pins but his admission that the machine hadn’t been used for a year sowed a seed. The first lump of cherry was rotating happily, though I could feel the belt slipping, when a sweet burning smell arose. The worry mounted until I realised that the old-fashioned fixed centre in the tailstock was burning the workpiece, as it should. In any case, I swapped in a live centre from Al’s one-year-old lathe and carried on turning for a while. Then, yesterday, when I was showing off the monster to Kevin, I noticed him wince as I engaged warp speed and a bearing started complaining. Rats! So today, having translated all the quarter-century old lubricant recommendations into just a couple of modern equivalents, I worked my way around the lube points: about eighteen on the metalwork lathe, half a dozen on the milling machine which aren’t addressed by its automatic pump, and about a dozen oil caps and nipples on the Wadkin. Chris arrived and, having not learnt the lesson yet, I engaged top speed and there was the same noise. Buggered? Nope: the Warland little folk had made the live centre’s bearing pack up, just to freak me out. There’s a reason such devices weren’t trusted by those old-timers. Back to the sweet smell of cherry, charring in the morning.

It looks like I might have to build a drum sander because Monica has ordered un-sanded oak floorboards; and it makes sense to finish them before they go down. Floor sanders are horrid. I have a 1 ½ hp, German saw motor and I can now make any arrangement of rollers, gears and pulleys. A two-foot drum sander with a 30″ disc sander on the end is in my mind.

I also envisage making my own router table with a crank height adjustment. 

Back to the shed; must learn to duck at the door! =:D

Slotting head uses

Just looking for uses of the slotting head on my mill. It cuts with a reciprocating motion and can do some things a rotating tool can’t; of do them with much cheaper tooling.

So far, I have:
Usual uses

– Slotting two or more items in alignment
– Keyways, of course, especially blind and inside shafts
– Gears, using a single-point tool
– Internal gears for epicyclic gearboxes
– Mortice internal angles eg square
– Stamping dies
– Splines
– Dovetail slides
– Irregularly-shaped holes
– Planing
– Moulds

Less obvious uses

– Filing machine
– Hacksaw machine
– Scraping rusty flat surfaces
– As a punch or nibbler for thin sheet eg 2mm aluminium or plastic
– Shaking small paint cans

Chortle =:D

Survey reference points

The mill and lathe were both built when we were at RR together.

There’s a wave of CNCery at the moment. Many of YouTube’s rich and famous have been given a CNC router by a start-up company; most are concluding that the set-up and speed of operation limit the thing to specific tasks. One guy who has connected his plasma cutter seems to get good, accurate results easily from stout metal sheet. Many folk are also automating their Myfords and Bridgeports but, if you really need the automation, it would seem easier to get a used CNC machine. So, for repeated, complex parts like lute ribs maybe the effort would be rewarded; for difficult to cut materials, I think I see the value; but I feel that I need to start from the beginning and get the feel for the materials and the tools. So, the apprenticeship starts here.

On Thursday, I’m taking Albert a cake in the hope he lets me loose in his tooling store.

Project Pigsty is officially over, though I’ll still attend to some of its unfinished business over the winter, such as building the forge. My work, now, is to survey the barns and get the Council to agree the changes. While I’m waiting for their responses, I’ll be starting the drainage and water supply work in preparation.

This weekend, for my edification and amusement, I attended the national Food Sovereignty gathering in Hebden Bridge. The attendees discussed many of the issues I bang on about: the power of supermarkets, reclaiming food skills like coffee-roasting and the value of small farms. Today, the young and earnest are preparing an action plan but, having had my say, I’m back to saving this small corner of our planet. Plus, there’s only so much veggie food I can eat. Some of the hippies were starting to look tasty.

I can hear Monica chipping away at the gypsum plaster in the Drawing Room. This week we’ll have our first go at ordering some green oak, with which we’ll make the sub-floor.

Anyway: on to the surveying. There’s a really good grid reference just below the yard wall—53°44’45”; 2°5’5”—that I’ll use as the starting point so that I can locate my Sketchup models onto Google Earth to see them in situ. I just hope that’s not in the middle of the old spring that arises there. After I’ve pounded in that marker, I’ll set up a reference grid as accurately as possible, including the yard corner and the Mickle Barn far corner, inside and out. That should allow me to start laying out and confirming my designs for the New Barn with its Bodger’s Yard, the Mickle Barn’s interior and its landscaping.

Then again, it’s quite nice to sit at the computer for a change!

New arrivals

As planned, the milling machine arrived on Wednesday. The vendor delivered and positioned it for me. I’m glad they did: it’s an awkward beast and the worn brick floor prevented any smooth rolling of their crane. Now I have to rouse Old Albert to sell me his unused tooling.


Unplanned, this Wadkin wood lathe arrived on Tuesday and I’ve just landed it on the Joinery floor. It’s a special build: four foot rather than six foot between centres but still able to turn a two-foot bowl. That’s over the lathe bed; on the far end, you can turn an eight-foot table top! It attracted my attention on eBay because it has a traverse like a metalwork lathe plus a complete set of accessories; and it was cheap. Ken Dodde, a retiring Wolverhampton pattern-maker, had turned down ridiculous offers from Americans to split it up because he wanted it to remain together as a kit. Bless him. My favourite colour, too. The traverse actually allows me to turn big lumps of brass and aluminium, as well as wood, so that I can step up from the precision Myford lathe to make metal handles, mallets etc.


Drinking beer, now, to calm down after the stress of moving half a ton of cast iron without hurting me or it. Tomorrow, all those machines huddling against the wall have to go back into place. As a bonus, I made a base for the morticer that raises it up to a better working height and will also allow me to put any length of timber through the window to receive its square holes. What fun.


Last evening, Tony’s old guitar presented me with a busted A string. I’ve shortened it so that I can practice while I find a replacement.

Here’s a thing:

And here’s another:

The former is already resident in the metalwork shop, the latter arrives next Wednesday. Both are in very good order. I’ll have to go back to see if old Albert is ready to sell me his tooling, yet. Custom machine heads, anyone?

Today, I’m taking a day off from lifting and lumping and will promote my seedlings. The mallow will be potted up, to spend winter with the rhubarb. Next spring should be an exciting, transforming time in the Forest Garden as all of these go into the ground.

Last week, I gathered our first filberts and lots of local sessile haycorns. I rescued two tons of cow poo from being pushed into the stream and had to barrow them uphill to the compost race (third input bay: full). Yesterday, we scored some long fence panels that will form a new apiary up at the quarry.


I love this life =:D

That was fun 2

Thankfully, all my mistakes will be buried with this piece! I am happy with my sense of design and proportion; there are loads of folk on t’Internet sinking hours of skill and good wood into fugly furniture.

Of course, I already have a string of musical instrument builds behind me. Here it is: male and female claves for Kevin made from his rescued Bubinga. Hard to decorate because burning and chattering failed on my test piece. In the end, those shallow grooves had to do but at least they spell his initials in Morse!


Project Pigsty is coming to a close with the end of September. The compost race is built and ready for action and the terraces of storage pallets are nearly finished. A couple of days of shifting all our materiel around and I can get on to surveying for the Mickle Barn build.


On any other farm, this would just be a set of rectangular boxes. At Warland it becomes a “race” because the slope will move the crap through automatically. Permaculture principles gone mad.

The leaves are starting to turn, here. Autumn is my favourite season and I look forward to more time with the dovetail saw. Haven’t seen our buzzard visitors for a few days but I have been in the shed most of the days. The kestrel is certainly busy and the screechey owls are enjoying their hunting. We caught a humane mouse in our new trap so I released it in the meadow, near where the owls seem to perch.

Off to Tod on the Vespa, now, bringing home the market bacon while Monica is walking in Donegal. Fancy a pork pie?

That was fun

This box was twenty hours in my hands, Tony,

Probably be less than that in others’, before it’s buried!

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the practice, achieved some fettling and sorting of many tools and had a fine excuse to huddle by the shed fire for a few mornings.

The beech, cut near Hebden Bridge last year, is still moving so I hope it lasts long enough to perform its duty. The dovetails—unglued by request—are holding through friction tonight but I may have to run a dowel through them before Monday. The Bubinga pins and a beeswax seal are to prevent Liz escaping on her last ride to Wales. I was planning a tung oil finish on the outside but that meant keeping my waxy fingers off it: too hard.

Funny how that degree of chamfering says, “Dead person inside”. 

My poor bench was hardly up to the job. Its gnarled surface put a couple of ripples into the boards when clamped and the tail vice won’t stay flat. I look forward to refurbishing it this winter. The planes were a treat, however. I brought an old skew rebater back to life; had fun with the Stanley 050 and made a tiny, effective router plane blade from a 5mm Allen key. What larks.




Let’s hope the client doesn’t complain.

Pigsty plan

After trying to interpret those flying maps on the wall at the gliding school, I realised that my brain isn’t happy with all those layers of information. It also hid in a corner when Steve Slade tried to show me all the airfields and flight paths he used for his Guinness record flights. The online traffic control sounds similar. I would not have made a good pilot in this country; Australia, out in The Bush, perhaps. Enjoy and embrace your geekdom!

I’m chuffed that Tony is sticking with the guitar build. I don’t mind being experimented upon as long as it doesn’t turn out to be an actual banjo. Although, that wouldn’t be a disaster, either. Must go practice!

Project Pigsty isn’t really about the area, other than clearing it out in a productive way: examples are to fix the Land Rover before parking it elsewhere; to build a forge with the bricks rather than just shifting them. The objective is to make good progress on lots of smaller projects before the Big Barn Build starts and shoves them aside, possibly for years. Having the area tidy and available to receive barn materiel will be a bonus.

There is a plan for the pigsty, of course. There are very few square inches of Warland Farm that remain unplanned. The right hand turret will have a bakery oven and sheltered dining area; the left will have the (high-security) brewing shed. There’ll be a large conservatory keeping the barn warm and growing oranges and coffee. In between, over the slurry pit, will be a wooden deck with covered walkways either side, leading to the dining area. Inside the (cleaned out and strengthened) slurry pit will be our cold store and, if needed, machinery like geothermal pumps that are required for the barn.

So, now you know. I won’t expect you to remember; and I’ll be as surprised as you if any of this comes to pass.

Now, back to my oak framing calculations.