Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Hi all.

I've migrated my blog into a Wordpress site, which is now my main site

Meanwhile I have not remade the gallery portion of the website. Who looks at those anymore? I guess I'll have to make some sort of portfolio at some point, but I have to find the energy for that.

I managed to import this blog into the WP system (that'll be except this, last, post) comments included, and there it is now. I wrote a post about it here.

So, if you follow this blog via RSS or something, (and you still want to) you'll have to update it. I think this should work:

So long, Blogger!

Well, not quite.

I don't know if I'll also migrate my other blogs, the gardening diary and the renovation notes. I'll see.
It's nice to have everything together...


Friday, 3 July 2015

Equipping the (woodworking) workshop

I've been acquiring more woodworking tools since my last update. eBay provides relatively great deals (that may still amount to a lot, of course), but some things I buy new.

My greatest concern is to buy the wrong things, or to buy things in un-refurnishable condition. Since I have little idea and less experience, this is always a possibility. I try to do a lot of research before I make my choices and then a lot of and digging in order to get what looks like a good tool for a fair price.

Right now I cannot focus on woodworking proper since we have more urgent things to do, and we are on a schedule to get them done before the winter (we should have the back building sort of emptied and the windows and heating installed before it starts freezing - it's a lot of work) but already we've been able to use some of the new tools in the home renovation. And I do hope to squeeze building a workbench somewhere in there, but if it has to wait until winter, so be it, the workshop is a very cosy room (in fact, in the middle of a heatwave at the moment, it is not particularly pleasant).

I've scraped the paint off the front door (and I found green goo underneath) and am also fixing a spare door we found in the attic to install it in the attic bedroom.

I painted the areas I didn't feel like scraping, laaazy
They really weren't in good condition

On the front door I started testing a few card scrapers I got, it has a lot of mouldings (see link above) so I got different shapes.

I you look closely you'll see I have already altered two profiles

This took me on a journey to get them sharpened properly, which was my little odyssey (it still is). Finally I got everything I needed: a mill file (I really did not want to buy yet another file, but it does make a difference), 3 diamond sharpening plates (coarse, fine and superfine; this was ouch, but am convinced a very solid and necessary purchase), a really hard burnisher (I could go on about my burnisher frustrations, this one works); so I am getting there. I need a little more practice. It would have been difficult to justify such expense just to sharpen the scrapers, but all these things are also necessary to sharper other tools. And all the tools need sharpening...

I also got the small sharpeners
"To save on shipping", I'm sure you've heard that before ;)
Comparison of a double cut (top),
and a single cut file (bottom)

Just this week I received a Record 080 cabinet scraper. I needed something heavier to remove the paint and varnish from these doors. At least I hoped it did the work... even after my first inept sharpening session (with all proper tools this time) it performed brilliantly! first clear win in this adventure :D

This is joy!
I hate sanding
Record 080 with a pretty good blade

It seems it belonged to a Ray

I've also been trying to get the most basic equipment, and my main goal is to get the best tools I can afford, so I do not have to buy them twice: I have too little space available and too many interests (and a limited budget) to go on tool collecting for collecting's sake.

We also are building a frame for the door in the bedroom attic. We have no idea what we are doing but it is taking shape nonetheless.

We cut some housings for the top "beam" and for the door hinges. I cut one housing for the "joint", and Pim cut everything else while I was busy with the door.

From the tool list below, I already had the AI chisels, but not the router plane, so we did all this with a chisel (which I didn't sharpen yet because they came pretty sharp and I want to have more practice on cheaper chisels before I ruin these), and the marking the best we could with my steel ruler and flat metalworking square from the jewellery bench (less than ideal).

Anyway, the point of the story is that after cutting these housings Pim said: "This is a lot of fun". You have to understand that Pim is the king of understatement. I'm still giddy about it! it will be great if he also develops an interest.


So, apart from the things I mentioned in the previous post, I went on a workshop-equipping frenzy :) the holiday pay helped ;) I'll make a list with pictures because I can and because no one reads this anyway ;D in no particular order:

Ashley Iles chisels (1/4, 1/2, 3/4)
A box with three chisels and three files (sigh) from Aldi
1/4", 10mm, 12mm, 1/2", 18mm, 3/4", 25mmA couple of these are closer than I thought when I bought the box
(12mm and 1/2, 18mm and 3/4, I'm not good at imperial)
So now I have 7 chisels, and I hope this is enough for years and years! who am I kidding.

Guess which handles might not last
And check out how lithe the Ashley Iles' chisels are:

Top to bottom, Stanley, Aldi, Ashley Iles
Sooo, why did I buy three very fancy chisels and three Aldi chisels? (I had the Stanley since 2008 - trying to re-sharpen it, someone took it to some concrete... grr). I've actually been reading very good things about Aldi/Lidl chisels, but after being subscribed to their newsletters for months and months, I gave up ever seeing them surface. I ordered the Ashley Iles chisels. Guess what? like two weeks later I saw the chisel/file box in the newsletter. I checked it out, it was 30€... and we bought it, even though it is not the same set of (4) chisels I've been reading about. Not a bad price (although I REALLY do not need more files), and I thought despite the dreadful handles, it'd be good to have intermediate, metric sizes. Turns out two are pretty close, but hey. Hey! whatever.

On to more eBay:

A combination gaugeYay! finally! yay!
The next two are still greasy grimy:

Record 044 with... 14 cutters!
Stanley 71 1/2 router (this time with only one cutter,it is difficult to win one of these on eBay)
And shiny and new:
Starrett 10MEH-150, Stanley 10-049, piece of granite
I got the Starrett 10MEH-150 150mm combination square. This is supposed to be for students, with my budget, I preferred to get a quality small model that will always remain useful, rather than an unreliable full-size one. I found the Stanley 10-049 folding pocket knife in the local hardware store, so I got it for marking accurately. And our marble guy just gave us a chunk for free when we asked for a very flat one to sharpen/flatten on. This was in his refuse pile, so it is certainly not certified or anything, but at least against the combination square it looks perfectly flat:

And perfectly square:

It could be that both are wrong in the exact same way I suppose ;D

More eBay:

4 moulding planes that I probably shouldn't have bought (yet). I could not resist. They are things of beauty. For all I know they may be completely fucked up, but indeed, what do I know.

Cheap, boring and effective
10 Silverline sash clamps (60 and 90 cm).

And this is a group picture of the things I mentioned in the previous post:

Some planes, a gouge and a saw

I think this is actually all we need to build the workbench, and then some! from now on we can just get what we need when we need it at a more relaxed pace. RIGHT?

Monday, 18 May 2015

The state of the workshop

Long story short? Skip down to the very last paragraph.


This is all that's happened in the workshop in the last months.

It was the hugest mess that you can possibly imagine, with tools, materials and boxes piled high in no order whatsoever. You could barely step in to open the window.

Oh. This has also been going on. The resident pigeons rebuilt the nest after I had to remove it, together with two laid eggs, from the original hayloft windowsill so the window and roof workers would not disturb an occupied nest. It was a bit sad but I had to do it.
On the rebuilt nest, they have already raised three chicks, in two batches.
It's currently occupied:

Loki goes crazy over this, of course, so meanwhile I covered the window with some cardboard.

This past weekend was a long one so we armed ourselves with valour and cleaned up the workshop.
We put the still boxed contents of the workshop (the original ones) in the staircase landings, and then organised the contents of the workshop (the new ones, all the tools, paint etc we got for renovating the house). What took the longest was organising all the screws in a small cabinet with little drawers!

I was surprised that everything fit in the three shelves we put up there and a few toolboxes. All in all took like two days (not intense ones, it's boring work).
Then Pim put a tarp over it all and started to plaster the room. The ceiling is nearly done, then he'll do the walls. Then we'll paint. And then, finally! we'll place the floorboards and baseboards, then I'll apply the finish.
Hopefully by then this room will stop coughing up sand and dust into the rest of the house? And it'll hopefully be of some use, too.

Which brings me to... workshop work. I haven't enamelled or done any metalwork in like two years, probably more, who's counting? I don't see it happening any time soon either (and when it does, I bet it's gonna be some champlev√©: a house number and a postbox cover). First of all because the workshop won't be ready, and second because I want to make it real nice. Not just to have a real nice workshop but because I love wood and I've always wanted to get into woodworking and this is the best chance I’m gonna get.

So I'm determined to stick yet another pursuit into the workshop (and my time), and build the workshop at the same time. I had read a couple woodworking books over the years and overall just sighed a lot (and fawned upon and cleaned up old furniture) until recently I discovered the hand tool revival movement, or whatever you want to call it, and realised that *this* is feasible, useful, enjoyable as fuck and well within my capabilities, budget and space constraints.
I just don't enjoy working with power tools at all, and they're expensive, big and noisy. And ugly, I'll admit that’s a factor for me.

Anyway. I've been trolling eBay a little, getting a tool here and there*, reading lots, watching videos, got a subscription to (which is awesome) and bidding my time. I still have many tools to get in order to have a basic set (this prospect is heaven to a tool lover). Old tools in many cases! Most cases! I do my best!

And I have to build a workbench :) This is of course a large space investment in a smallish workshop (I've got 12 m² plus a staircase landing where the kilns go), so it'll of course double as metalworking bench. A nice woodworking vise is perfectly capable of holding a drawplate, amirite?
Not sure yet were I'll bolt the rolling mill, it may be bothersome on the woodworking bench, so perhaps it'll go on the jewellery bench. May have to put casters on the woodworking bench... The sort that comes up when not in use, you don't want to pull on a drawplate with casters rolling all over the place...

So now I'm busy in sketchup trying to come up with a layout. Pulling my hair out!
I need to pack a couple benches, a desk somewhere, a kitchenette thing (storage and a sink, basically), and LOTS of storage for all the shit. That while of course accommodating the boiler and water pipes which are in this room... and will have to be covered up with some cabinet.

I'm trying to get Pim interested in the woodworking thing, with little success... so far ;) I still think he may use the bench also, and accommodating our 20cm height difference might be a challenge. I do not want to do woodworking in high heels. If he doesn't show interest any time soon, I might have to ignore his height ;)

*you want to know which tools that might be? So far I got a tenon saw that needs to be sharpened, a fillister plane that needs to be sharpened, a pair of tongue and groove planes that need to be sharpened, a gouge that needs to be sharpened, a Record #4, Stanley #4 and Stanley #4 1/2 (the three were a lot) that need to be sharpened, a wooden jack plane and a shitty metal block plane (another lot) that needs to be sharpened... do you see a pattern? I need to get me some sharpening plates soon and start practicing. A random collection of tools... I only have one chisel that I bought years ago** when I needed to fix a broken chair! but yeah I pick the deals as I find them.

** do you want a footnote on a footnote?? 
I went to check. That was in 2008! and 2010 because that's how long it takes me to finish things (it says "because I have two chairs, second to be finished by 2020 or so" sounds just about right). I did this when I had no fucking idea whatsoever (literally, I didn't know the name for a chisel... in English anyway, and a rung was a "stick" :D). The chair is still fine.


Soooo, what I'm trying to say, is this is probably gonna become also a (not ever updated, it seems) woodworking blog.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lalique at the Calouste Gulbenkian museum

My workshop is still dismantled, and I expect it to remain so for a while still. I'm starting to pick up my knitting again, but I don't have a lot of free time.

Meanwhile, here comes a post with a few pictures I took in the Calouste Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon (Wiki link) this past weekend. I took them with a mobile phone since I did not bring my camera on the trip, but I still think they're ok and may be of interest. Pictures with no flash are allowed. I'd certainly like to come back and bring my camera. 

There is a great book available at the museum (which can also be obtained online, the online shop seems a bit clunky). It covers the entire Lalique exhibit (which unfortunately is only a selection of their entire collection).

Of course, visiting the museum is the best option whenever possible. I am only posting images of Lalique pieces, but the entire collection is outstanding. And it is not too crowded this time of year.

While I'm at it, I'd also like to recommend a visit to lush Sintra, with its hillsides, palaces and mansions covered in moss and ferns, and in particular the Quinta da Regaleira, which is nothing short of amazing.