Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Dealing a quick deck

The house we are staying in (well squatting if you ask my parents) has a short decked path way at the front.  This deck must have been laid when the house was built, and that must have been a while ago.  It was loose, broken, creaking and bouncing all at the same time.  After a large cracking sound was heard the other day as I floated across it, I decided it was time to re-surface it.
It was a simple task. I measured the current decking wood to see if there was a similar size replacement (90mm x 22mm) which I discovered there were two.  The choice was treated pine or Merbau, I went the Merbau, it has a nice reddish/brown colour, is strong and hard wearing.
I am un-imaginative at times so I just replicated what was there already,removing the old boards and replacing with the new.  I was going to rip the whole old deck of but decided I was likely to get bored, it rain or I get called to work and didn’t think only half a deck would be appreciated by the family.  Previously the wood was held down by nails, this has been replaced by stainless steel decking screws.  I left the boards long to cut the shape at the end.
Years of watching Better Homes and Gardens had paid off with setting out the spacing.  It is really simple, two nails to get an equal gap each side, magic.
A few hours later and was done.  With a Jig Saw I trimmed the edges to the desired shape.  Now the deck is firm, and looking good, all it will need is a coat of oil each spring and it will last forever (well at least long enough for my house to be built, me move out and be a long way away).

Monday, 12 November 2012

That will take two weeks

Sometimes you just feel like shuffling up to a sturdy, well constructed, brick wall and smashing your head against it.  Customer service in this country has well and truly gone down the toilet, and the lunatics are running the asylum.  If I did my job the way many I have dealt with lately do, planes would be falling out the sky, and I would have to explain over tea and biccies with the boss my abject failures, and to my wife our new found poverty.

I will back up my stance with a few examples.  Moving house we needed to change Internet providers.  Our national telco was the go, but after ten hours of phone calls, they decided they did not have the infrastructure to provide us with broadband.  They could however give us wireless at twice the price for a fifth of the data.  We asked another provider who after one call had hooked us up with broadband, using the national telcos infrastructure.

Then there was car insurance.  Having bought a new car I phoned my insurer, only to find them closed on a Friday, apparently staff training.  In fact it was not training but the staff Xmas party.  Having been closed all day I held for an hour on the phone as they had not thought to put on enough staff to cover the extra calls.  When I was told somebody would phone me back I cancelled my account there and then.

Finally, my current leading frustration, house building.  We seem to have been going for decades on this project, though only a year.  I look physically older every time I talk to our builders and we haven't even gone to council for permission yet.  Every time I ask a question there is a two week delay in receiving the changes.  A month after signing a contract, we still have not heard how much eight extra power points will cost (not hard to do 8xcost per PowerPoint).  We need a bush fire report, yet after asking a dozen times, a month after contract signing it has only now been ordered.  If this blog suddenly ends, it's because I have gone loco and either attacked a builder or started building myself.

All I ask is that people take some pride and do there job properly, and in a timely manner.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A present for myself

I love a bargain, who doesn't?  My wife has trained me to always be on the look out for a bargain, and she has trained me well (though not yet to her standard).  So there I was in the local hardware store picking up a shelf for the bathroom when I stumbled across "Clearance Items".  Not only clearance items, but clearance Kinchrome tool boxes!  Yes, I was excited, there may have been a quick deep breath and furtive glance to see if there was any competition around for them. 

I have wanted a new big tool box for ages, but had said I wouldn't do it until we got the new house.  However, with so much less space everything that had hung on walls is now stuffed over flowing into my poor tool box.  The little demon in my head said buy, buy, buy! But the good angle of conscience said no, wait, wait, wait.  Don't you hate that little conscience fellow.  Think of what that money could be used for.

I battled with my demons and decided that I would walk away, possibly trying to with-hold a sob and trying not to look back. I did say that if I went back and it was still there it was meant to be.  Three minutes later I was back. Okay it was three days later.  But there it was, and she would be mine, oh yes, she would be mine.

A quick rummage through the draws behind the sales desk to see if they could find the keys and I was the proud owner of this bad boy.  Reduced by over $200, I could nearly convince my wife it was a bargain and folly not to buy it (I said nearly).

Now I can have the fun of transferring tools from one box to another and getting rid of my old tool box, well not rid of, just a bit emptier.

How do you keep your tools warm and cosy?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Quick Quartet


Having set up the new work shed today it was time to test it out.  Here was a quick quartet of acrylics.  Two Rifle Bullet pens in Australian camouflage, and green and gold Cigar and what I like to call the purple haze click. 


The purple haze was bought from a bargain bin for about $1, it was brittle and nasty to work with. Every time the tool touched the blank it seemed to chip, but a sharp tool, slow speed, some sanding and patience paid off. I think it looks great.


Christmas is coming and some of these pens are available at my etsy store, get in quick or contact me direct.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

In the Beginning

In the beginning there was a yearning, a need for something creative, a need for a hobby, a need for something for me.  I had always had an interest in wood (i think I've said that before) but I needed a push.  My wife had been nagging me to get a hobby, but I had been putting it off. It was only after a trip to Tassie that I caught the bug (and it is a bug).  A trip to Strahan where I watched an experienced man turning wood and I smelt the Huon got the heart fluttering.

On return from that family holiday I scoured eBay looking for wood lathes.  Everyday I would log on and see what was new out there, but they all seemed expensive.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money, I didn't know if I would enjoy it, or be any good at it.  Then one day it was there.  It wasn't a great looking lathe.  It was a fairly common Chinese made lathe that seems to have been produced for GMC, Ryobi, Dynalink and many, many more (mine was Brook Crompton).

It was very simple.  Four speeds changed by a pulley, with a disc sander on the back of the headstock.  I loved this lathe for two reasons, it was local and came with some tools, plus it was cheap, I guess that's three things.

I paid about $150 for it which I thought was good, especially when I found it came with three Robert Sorby tools as well as a pack of cheap tools.  All I needed to learn and practise.  I bought some cheap pine to play with and I was off and running.

This was my first effort, its abstract but I just wanted to combine steel with wood and make shavings.
After a few months I had realised the limitations of the lathe without a chuck and bought one of those (I will review that later). Then it was a pen mandrel, and lots of pen parts!  But I needed to upgrade and after twelve months I did (I will review that to sometime).  This old machine went back on EBay, and sold minus a few of the tools for $100.  All in all I had found a hobby and a passion all for the bargain price of $50, I love bargain!

What was your first wood working toy?