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I have seen all methods used Charlie, many years back when i worked for the local electricity board we had a warehouse full of copper cable broken into, the building was fully alarmed, yet when they drove a jcb through the back wall, no alarms were tripped.

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I burned the midnight oil last night and strangely enough I was awake bright and early and busy in the workshop before the beagles had woken up. As always I couldn't resist 'finishing' my project.

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At our old dealership site all the car keys were stored in a discreetly positioned cabinet which had a keycode pad plus manual overnight deadlocks. Unfortunatly nobody noticed the cabinet was located in an alarm deadspot. Nobody that is except for the thieves who cut out a massive plate glass window(also in the dead spot), crowbarred open the cabinet and had it away with quite a few motors.......nobody was any the wiser until the next morning when the reception staff turned up for work.


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Security measures at Timbo Towers include the usual lights, alarms, three-quarter inch marine ply coach bolted to the inside of shed frame itself and over the windows. It might sound daft but 'stickers' seem to work well as does the warning of Beagles. The local vultures attempting to investigate my garden for any scrap metal stop dead in their tracks when they spot the dog warning signs. 
"Ere Mister is yer dogs about?" I was asked once.
"Yeah do you want to meet 'em?" I asked whistling and making both port and starboard beagles bark.
i swear there were sparks coming off his boots as he legged it back the way he came and into his flatbed van! 



I'm sick of the wind and rain. Normally it does not bother me and I will be out in all weathers, but when it comes to woodworking the wind and the rain stops everything due to lack of space in what I'm now calling, no matter what Ellie says, my Micro-Workshop. Milling the lumber is the problem as I have to drag the table saw, planer and thicknesser outside to accommodate the lengths of timber and sheet materials. Once the timber is cut, everything is okay and I can get on and work, but I'm going to have to come up with a cheap, stable and decorative means of extending my work space. It's going to have to be something simple as I share the garden with the flat upstairs. I'm also going to need some help as I'm not up to mixing concrete, laying a floor surface and setting in posts which I think I will have to do. Any design suggestions and or help would be much appreciated.

While I was moping about in the drizzle, Ellie suggested that 'firkling' could also be done in the house. I immediately suggested the bedroom, but I discover that the kitchen and bathroom are the accepted areas of indoor firkling! So I set up my laptop on the kitchen counter and get down to watching YouTube while I firkle with the washing up.

I returned from dog walking and Ellie presented me with some of her famous rum cake for elevenses. Let me just say that when it comes to Ellie's rum cake you shouldn't cake and drive. So I popped Ellie down to town to do her store walk before the cake. When I returned home I'd had a parcel delivered from e-Bay. Toby the port-side beagle had carefully dragged the parcel from the door and into the centre of the living room ready to eat it should I not return before he got hungry. My new buffing pads and compound bars had arrived and of course, I would have to make a box to keep them in once the rain stops long enough so I can cut some lumber to size!

Kitchen firkling pays dividends and I found another e-Bay purchase I had made, opened, left on the side to look at later and then forgotten about it until it eventually ended up in a drawer. Opening the second package of the day I found what has to be one of the most useful tools I own. A simple tape measure. Well, a not so simple, simple tape measure. The case has a built in pencil sharpener and mini dry wipe board for jotting measurements.

The clip to attach it to my belt is robust and actually hinged but the best part is the measuring tape itself. It's flat so I can mark accurately when I'm using it. Better still, like most measures it's in metric and imperial, but here each imperial increment is labelled clearly and even I could manage to read it and understand it!

Mightily pleased with my new tape measure my brain runs through any other tool purchases I might have made and similarly put to one side for later. I can feel more indoor firkling is about to happen.

Before I get on with a quick firkle in my office a quick reminder of the new series Mynah Complaint where each week your host Maurice Mynah will tackle important issues impacting the modern world. This week 'what happened to 'pink' custard?



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A bit of a rough day yesterday. I woke up very late about ten thirty. The reset button must have been pressed during the night. Sometimes I get days like this. My personal theory is that the old damaged noodle has discovered a new connection and has rewired itself overnight. I feel crap for a day or two but usually find I have a bit more function afterwards. If I don't, then zzzzzpt...the bonce resets again. I'm expecting another reset as I feel extremely agitated.

Doug, Dave & Selsie will be proud of me as I have used some of my new found engineering skills. What happened was, I confused a tin of Stagg Dynamite Chilli for a tin of Dylan's dog food. All went well until the morning when Dylan's bum exploded.
“I reckon your big ends gone!” I informed Dylan using my new found knowledge as I let him outside and I donned gloves and broke out the cleaning gear.
See? I'm learning!

A quick firkle in the house and I discovered quite a few purchases that had been bought, put to one side and I never got around to using them or in some cases forgot I ever had them in the first place. I've started quite a little hoard.

So far there are two new razor saws for veneering. A Veritas dovetail marker set to the correct angle for hardwood. There's also the Veritas dowel former in imperial measurements. My rubber mallet for hitting rubber nails. Two 'T-slot' quarter-inch shank router cutters. Good game, good game. A box of magnets I'd bought for box lid catches, several machine spanners, a cuddly toy, assorted drill bits, screw driver bits and plug cutters.


An early night as I was feeling rubbish.'Zzzzzpt'.

I woke up very early again and feeling 'bleah'. I had a case of the 'dropsy' and managed to smash my favourite coffee mug. Managed to clear it up, got the coffee going and after taking my meds and morning coffee I decided on a shower. I am incredibly lucky in that my entire bathroom has been adapted with hand rails and the like. The best thing is that the entire room is a wet room. The shower is incredibly powerful and has soon massaged and pummelled enough life into me to risk getting shaved. Floris No 89 this morning I think with Atkinson's 24 Old Bond Street Triple Extract Cologne.

Feeling human again, I take the dogs for their morning stroll through the woods. Lilacs are flowering and Lords and Ladies too here and there. Everywhere is fresh, lush and green. This could not be said of some of the fields we saw on the way to Lincoln. Despite recent rain irrigation systems were in operation along the Tillbridge Lane. Ellie get's annoyed with me in these conditions as I can't help but pull the car over as we crest the Lincoln Edge to look for crop marks in the parched fields.

We are on our way to visit Ellie's parents to continue fitting the new locks, cameras and lighting. Our route takes us through the villages that saw the end of the Pilgrimage of Grace during the reign of Henry VIII. I can't help but wonder if it was my love of Tudor history that helped form the bond with Royal Tudor? My favourite King? Henry VII because of his radical reforms.

I had to chuckle as we got on with cutting metal plates for to back the hasps and fitting them. It used to be the case that I would stand back waiting for instruction from those that knew better than I did. Today was an indication of how much I've learned over the last few years. Watching someone struggle to drill holes in a plate while it's clamped to a door prompted me to ask why they didn't use the pillar drill sat on the bench?
“But we'd have to take the door off to fit it under the drill!”
“Why don't you use a punch to mark the holes and just take the plate to the drill?”
My reward was being asked to contribute to the plan of action for fitting the camera and my decision to fit the camera the following day being accepted. I also managed to acquire a hefty piece of brass plate which will be part of yet another project I'm working on! Details to follow.

Two days roll into one and after a good night's sleep I'm walking the dogs through the woods when I come face to face with a MAMIL as discussed in another thread a Middle Aged Man In Lycra. This one was riding a mountain bike doing laps through the woods as fast as he could. The first time he zoomed past me I had to jump to get out of the way. The second lap he forced a young mother with a toddler and a pram to jump off the footpath and into a patch of nettles. On his third lap he suffered a Covid related injury as I stood my ground and forced him off the footpath and into a tree. If anything the tree was more belligerent than me as it too refused to make way for the MAMIL. I checked the tree for damage. These oaks were planted in 1715 following the great storm. There's not many of them left, where as there is an epidemic of pillocks on pushbikes. As it turns out there was also an epidemic of Middle Aged Women on Geegee's that morning too as the MAMIL now walking his wonky pushrod was forced off the FOOTPATH by a woman cantering her nag through the woods.

Back across to Lincoln to finish installing the video camera system. What a lot of faffing about! I was in my usual role of gopher and doing the fetching and carrying and holding of ladders. When it came time to drill the hole through the brickwork for the camera cables it was discovered that the management did not have a masonry bit large enough. One was going to have to be purchased. Of course all eyes dropped to me as I have a Screwfix account. So a quick firkle on the phone and a 25mm masonry bit was ordered and ready for collection. It was a bit like old times on RT as Watson and I headed out in the CooCoo to a hardware store for bits and pieces.

Once the holes were drilled, again all eyes fell on me as the camera and it's software needed installing on three phones and a computer. I'd rather have been doing the drilling. I really, I mean really hate dealing with other peoples computers, especially when those people never do the updates. The camera was designed to work with a phone app but all of the higher functions apparently could only be adjusted via a PC. After a lot of mucking about I got the apps to work on Watson's phone, my phone and Ellie's phone, but neither Ben Gunn's tablet or his laptop would play ball. Of course, turning on both machines meant sitting through two hours worth of the updates that Ben Gunn 'didn't have time to waste in doing'. With the application working on three phones we would be able to monitor what was going on anyway, so we got on with mounting the camera in its location.


A phonecall with Watson on the way home and Ellie and I decided we would give Ben Gunn my old phone, which has all of the software updates, as a dedicated 'security' phone. That way we can leave the software running on it and if we put a pay as you go sim in it too he can dial the police should he need them. On the way home we also noticed that the system was working perfectly and in real time as all three phones kept getting alerts. Back at home we rang Ben Gunn and Nanny who came out to wave at us over the camera. 

As the evening rolled on, Ellie and I have discovered a new reality TV series. It's the Ben Gunn and Nanny Show! Apart from the antics of the main characters there is also a supporting cast of a fox, a cat, three ducks, two and a half million moths and the bats that fly around eating them. All in glorious HD and an alert going off every time one of them moves in front of the camera. Beep:Moth Beep:Cat Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Fox Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Moth Beep:Moth

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Time to do some woodwork for myself. I've been itching to 'get at it' ever since I finished the initial firkle in the shed. Before I tackle any of the projects using my hoarded store of 'good wood' (things like cherry, maple, beech, walnut and oak) I'm going to recap some of what I've learned on some smaller projects just to get used to using my hands and my tools again.

The first two important lessons about woodwork were both things that I'm convinced the woodwork teacher should have told us from the first day in the very first class. Sadly this information was never imparted


Make sure your wood is straight, square and a uniform thickness before you do anything else.

Woodwork is about making boxes.

I don't know what it is about wooden boxes, but they fascinate me and have done since I was a kid. First is was the oriental button box my grandmother had. An eighteenth century Chinese import intricately carved with scenes of courtly life, made of boxwood with a lining of cedar of Lebanon. It smelled amazing! I still have that box. Next was fishing tackle boxes. As a kid if I wasn't fishing I would be organizing fishing tackle in my tackle box. If I'm really honest I collected fishing tackle, more often than not, just to have something to put in a box.

Don't get me wrong, I don't suffer from OCD. Like Sir Isaac Newton and other former members of my college I thrive on chaos. No, for me there's more to a box than something to put things in. I've always had a fascination with trees and timber. The materials used to construct the box are as important as how it's constructed, the shape, does it have drawers or a secret compartment? Is there a trick to opening it? More often than not, my appreciation of an object will depend upon the box that contains it. I have boxes all over the place. A house is nothing more than a box to keep boxes in!

Dramatic Black & White_1423669138998_1.jpg

So armed with my new tape measure and my notebook I start to design a box for the new buffing wheels and compounds. I'm actually having fun with 'numbers'! Next stop, a kids TV program beckons.


And...now I stop having fun with numbers. I'd forgotten how much of a pain in the posterior is the constant switching from imperial to metric and back again. Sheet goods are measured in feet and inches but sold in metres, as is PAR timber. So although the scrap plywood I have was originally sold as 10mm plywood it is actually eleven point eleven two five thick or seven sixteenths of an inch. The plans contained in my woodworking books are all in feet and inches. My tools are all in metric. Oh deep joy! It's not as though I have any mathematical ability at all. Ellie's resigned face every time I ask her to check my figuring means I have to do something about this.

Rooting through one of the many 'boxes of bits' I find something I bought several years ago. One left and one right handed self adhesive imperial/metric tape measure to affix to my table saw. The problem being my table saw expands and has two measures one above the other. When you expand the table beyond the shorter measure the needle points to the upper measure, BUT...the new self adhesive tapes would overlap the measure scales and if I shortened the width I'd have to cut off the imperial increments. Confused? Not as much as me!
So, yes you've guessed it, a kids TV show has beckoned and I start watching American kids TV programmes. Where else will I learn the imperial system? Our kids all work in metric...until you ask them 'how tall' or 'how much do you weigh' and then they answer in imperial of course.
And there was me thinking Big Bird was someone else entirely!

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Tim, i was unfortunate enough to learn both imperial and metric, up until the age of 11 i worked everything imperial, then we had decimalisation while i was still young enough to learn it,  then after school i started working as a draughtsman, we were still at the stage where half of the stuff was still imperial, and half was new metric, so i soon learned to do approximate conversions  on the fly in my head. to this day i use the most convenient system, for very small stuff its millimetres, then when it gets bigger i fall into inches, then bigger still feet, but then i will drop easily to metres, and bigger still miles.

As you say timber never comes in whole sizes, its always 2" minus a saw cut and planing or a near decimal equivalent. so my trick is to ignore the size it is supposed to be and go with what it measures, if the drawing is in inches i build it in inches etc. but i know 4 foot is 1248mm, 1 foot is 304.8mm, without having to consider anything.

a lot of carpentry tools ignore measurements, you set up a marking gauge from both sides to get it centred.

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I started my working life in engineering and we used Imperial units and, on some sheet metal jobs, even fractions.

 I’ll never forget the one guy who would say its 22 inches and a quarter and an eight and a sixteenth and a little bit.

The fun came years later when we started the change to metric. We were building units with components from USA --Imperial and from Europe--metric and we had to mate them together using interface plates

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I missed the change to metric. But as a landscape archaeologist I'm more used to dealing with the perch, the rood, the acre, bovates, virgates, carucates, the hide, the fee and the wapentake. I still find it weird that even today our shoe sizes are still measured in barleycorns.  A barleycorn is one third of an inch. A 'line' is a quarter of a barlycorn and a poppyseed is one fifth of a barleycorn. Decimalisation is something I lived through and remember well. Particularly the adverts that they ran on television at the time. We had just got our first ever colour television and in between Jacques Cousteau and Uncle Albert constantly exclaiming 'just look at the colour of that water' or 'I've been there', was the decimalisation public information film. I still think in terms of pre-decimal currency. Six pence is still a tanner and thirty pence is still 2 and six or half a dollar and blokes with funny walks still 'walk like they have a tanner shoved up their.'..where was I? Oh yes, firkling!

Talk about a sweatbox! By the time I had finished my chores for the day, dog walker and chauffeur, the sun was high in the sky and the temperature inside the workshop, it now qualifies as work has been done, was oppressive. Armed with ice cold Lucozade and a tub full of replacement batteries for all of my measuring tools I was about to attempt some woodwork. Digital calipers, gauges, angle boxes all set to inches I started to scout around for some timber for my project.

Sitting on my timber racks are some beautiful panels of spalted beech, cherry, black walnut, tulip, oak, mahogany, sapele and yew. But for a quick practise project they were far too valuable. Instead a opened up the big box in which I keep a supply of 'pallet wood'. Pallets are regularly dropped off at Ellie's store and never collected. It was costing them money to dispose of them. So I now collect them, break them up, remove the nails and use them for parts of projects that do not require expensive wood like drawer backs and sides. Occasionally I find some exquisite pieces of wood that have been used to construct the pallets. Oak is quite common, as is cedar and surprisingly mahogany and once a small piece of ebony but for the current project I located some scrappy planks of pine and set myself the challenge. Of course, I'm making a box. A box to keep the new buffing wheels and compound I ordered all in one place so I don't lose them. Although the box is going to be very simple, the challenge I've set myself is to make the pallet wood box look as good as I can.

When using pallet wood, a magnet is a 'must have' bit of kit. Although I check the wood thoroughly when I break the pallets down, I double check for any screws or nails I might have missed with the magnet. I don't want that sort of thing going through the blades of my machinery. Having checked for metal I reach for a square and a number five plane and set about flattening one side of the boards. It's hot and heavy work but I am thoroughly enjoying getting up a sweat.

It's round about now that Watson calls. He's on the scrounge for some timber to repair the door frame of Ben Gunn's apple store.
“Can you bring your table saw so we can 'machine it'?” Watson asks when between us we locate timber that will do the job.
I explain the dimensions of the table saw and that it only just fits in my car and would need two of us to lift it. All the while I'm thinking we would need nothing more than a handsaw to so the job.
“Oh could you bring your plane?”
I will have to check with him in the morning to find out what he means as my idea of what a woodworking plane is will be very different to Watson's!

Talking of planes, I finish flattening one side of the pallet boards and then feed them into the thicknesser. The boards clean up well. Much better, certainly straighter, than anything you could buy at a DIY store! Creamy white pine with the odd knot here and there but nothing too bad. Over to the table saw and I take a smidgeon from one edge of the boards to give me a straight edge before taking another sliver from the other side. Now I can glue them up to make bigger panels for my project. Time for lunch while the glue dries.


Lunch break over and the glue is set but I decide to give the panels a little longer to cure. While I'm waiting a get on with planing down some laminations I made earlier. These were a little more difficult to deal with. A figured beech wood laminated between highly figured mahogany. By the time I'd finished just one of the beech and mahogany panels I was lathered. Cup of tea time!


Tea break over and the afternoon was getting on. I took the pine panels for the 'Buffing Box' out of the clamps and put them quickly through the thicknesser to make sure they were a uniform thickness and to clean up any glue residue. Back to the table saw to cut the panels to size. I've got a rough design and dimensions on paper and I was just going to butt joint the box using dowels, but I change my mind. Let's go for a box joint instead! So I recalculate, get Ellie to check my maths and set about marking out my new dimensions trying to avoid screw and nail holes in the timber. I manage to squeeze past any blemishes in the timber and cut the panels to length.

Time for the box joints. Over the last few years I've tried several methods of cutting these including the table saw, router table and by hand. I now use my Makita trimmer router and clean everything up with my Japanese pull saw and a sharp chisel. I like to cut the joints about a sixteenth of an inch long to allow some wiggle room and the pins about three-eighths wide.


The joints all cut and cleaned up and it's time to rub out my pencils marks with an eraser, do some sanding and choose which faces of the panels are the 'roughest looking' These will be on the inside of my box. I give all faces of the panels a good sanding but particularly the inside faces as it will be difficult to do this once I've assembled the box.

Pine might be cheap and cheerful, but it does rub up well! Everything sanded and I mask off the inside edges of the panels to prevent any glue squeezing out of the joints getting onto them.


Now it's time for the glue up. My favourite wood glue is Titebond. I use Titebond II on my decorative boxes and Titebond III on exterior projects as it is waterproof. Glue up is somewhat fiddly and on occasion downright annoying one handed. So I have a number of jigs and tricks to help me and try to avoid getting glue all over the place. I have a number of different glue applicators from a roller to tiny bottles with a syringe needle to apply the glue. Most of the time I will use a small kid's paintbrush and throw it away when I'm done. I have boxes of these brushes! I also have a glue up board with various bits of scrap wood screwed to it at right angles to each other. I can use these to keep the joint square but also to give me something to hold the box against while I'm trying to work with it. I label each part of the box on the masking tape and set to work applying glue.

Clamps! You can't have too many clamps! If I see good clamps going cheap anywhere, I tend to buy them. I adapt a lot of my clamps to make them easier for me to use. I'm also quite good at 'improving' cheap clamps, particularly the hollow aluminium ones, by adding a wooden core to the centre of them and replacing the handles with something more substantial. If I've cut the joints correctly, by the time the glue is added the 'fit' is quite tight and the joints will hold themselves in place. I add four clamps with some light pressure, not too much, to hold everything in place while the glue sets. It's a good job I used that masking tape as I was a bit heavy handed with the glue!


Time to tidy up and put everything away. I'm trying to get into the habit of putting my tools away as I go along, the minute I've finished using them. That's the plan anyway! I empty the bag on the dust extractor, clean the filter and start blowing down the table saw, thicknesser and router. Swap the hose around and go over the shed picking up the wood shavings. Table saw dragged back in and I'm shattered, but looking forward to taking the box out of the clamps tomorrow!

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2 minutes ago, VetChugger said:

I ask the honourable member to reconsider his answer!!

Thirty old pence, half a crown, two and six, half a dollar?

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The thing about design is that it will and can change depending upon the intended use of the finished object, the whim of my Mrs, any chance encounter I have had with a design feature, new techniques or whether I've been at home to Mrs Cockup during the construction.

I awoke in a bit of pain with muscle cramps in my legs. I must have done too much the day before. A hot shower put some movement back into the legs and I set off for the usual morning walk and walked into a large pack of meanderthals. These once shy creatures used to inhabit human homes. Where as the bogie man lives under the bed, the meanderthal sits on the sofa gorging on a diet high in calories judging from their physique. Since lock down was initiated and humans were staying at home, the meanderthals have been forced out into the wild talking of a sudden need for exercise that they never needed before! By the time I reached home I was hot and bothered. The meanderthals had taken over the woods and their uncontrolled pet rats, which they dress in human clothing for some reason, had all decided to annoy and attack the beagles. Dylan was not happy at all.

Out shopping, but at my instigation this time. Have you seen the price of big nails? I asked an assistant if they were Roman and robbed from a reliquary. Instead, I spotted a thin metal rod for half the price of a bag of nails. This would be perfect. Next on the list was sandpaper. Ellie had to ask if I was okay when I nearly keeled over at the price of large sheets of sandpaper. Still, it was essential so I had to cough up the five quid for four sheets.


Back at home again I opened up the micro-workshop, dragged out the table saw and set about removing the clamps from the box I was making. Not too bad, not too bad at all! Time to break out the sandpaper I had just bought, but first I would need a very flat surface. My bedroom window would be perfect, although a bit big. So I put the window flat on the table saw top. I do mean my old bedroom window, not the current one!


When you own a wooden boat, mechanical sanding devices are a must have, and I must have ten different types. There are four orbital sanders, a belt sander, a micro sander, a small mouse sander, a large mouse sander, a flat sander, a curved sander, a bobbin sander and a bench sander. That's not including the various discs, cones and tubes that fit onto my pillar drill for those hard to get bits that need a good rub down! But, when it comes to making boxes, you have to go 'traditional' if not downright medieval!

In the good old days of the 1300's and even earlier, when Vaughan and Wussername were in their prime, sandpaper hadn't been invented yet. Wood was smoothed by means of planes and scrapers and for fine finishing dried rushes with a high silica content, marsh grass, rotten lime (a crumbly and gritty limestone) or sand was rubbed into oiled leather or cloth. For really fine finishing of wood, the skin of the dog fish or hundysfishskyn would be used. None of the materials, with the exception of the rush and grasses, could be easily folded. Instead they would be stretched and secured onto flat boards. The wooden pieces would then be ground against them. This is exactly the process used in box making. Incidentally hundysfishskyn was 9d each in the 1300's, given inflation that's more expensive than sandpaper today!

The sandpaper glued and taped to the window surface I started the laborious task of sanding the top and bottom of the box. Soon this...
became this.


Now onto the sides of the box, and I was building up a sweat.

My head was burning, the tops of my ears were starting to blister in the sun and all of my 'approved' hats are on RT. I do have a traditional straw hat that Ellie bought me in Cuba as a joke. I put it on. I looked a right bu...I looked a right pillock but my ears and head were no longer getting singed.

I worked on and soon all of the sides of the box were flat, smooth and level.


Now for the top of the box. I glued up two of the boards I had left into a panel trying to match the grain and avoid screw holes in the pallet wood. The boards were having none of it, immediately twisting and warping out of shape in the heat. I tired again, and again and again, each time re-flattening and edging the boards. Eventually I got them to remain straight in the clamps and remain straight long enough to plane them, glue the lid to the box and clamp it all up.


Time for a coffee, make some dinner and sit with Dylan who'd had a seizure just after lunch. The meanderthals had been too much for him. I will have to take him out earlier tomorrow!

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As someone who used to enjoy woodworking, until emphysema made me give it up, I have been following your pieces with interest.

Sorry but I have to ask - am I missing something here ?

"eventually I got them to remain straight in the clamps and remain straight long enough to plane them, glue the lid to the box and clamp it all up."

Are you perhaps planning access from the bottom of the box ?


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13 hours ago, MotorBoater said:

As someone who used to enjoy woodworking, until emphysema made me give it up, I have been following your pieces with interest.

Sorry but I have to ask - am I missing something here ?

"eventually I got them to remain straight in the clamps and remain straight long enough to plane them, glue the lid to the box and clamp it all up."

Are you perhaps planning access from the bottom of the box ?


Not at all. As Grendel says on some boxes everything gets glued up first and then the lid is separated from the box proper. It all depends on the type of box, the joints you used to create it,  the type of lid, the type of base and any locking mechanisms or 'tricks' you are going to insert into the box.

The most basic of boxes is the mitred box like my tobacco box here in this picture.  Almost everything is constructed on the table saw. The box sides are planned out on the wood so the grain runs around the box and starts and ends on a back corner (in this case I used mahogany so the grain is uniform). A rebate to take the top and bottom are cut into the plank on the table saw. Usually the rebates are set away from the top and bottom edges of the box to leave a lip. Because this box is so small (it's the same dimensions as the old tobacco tins and fits in my pocket) and I was limited for space I rebated the top and bottom to be flush. Once the rebates are in place the mitres are cut at the table saw. The top and bottom panels are slid into place and the whole box 'folded' together and glued. On something this size I use rubber bands or masking tape for clamping.


Once the box is glued and dried, for mitre boxes, I cut grooves for splines on the corner. In this case the sides of the box are mahogany, the top and bottom are veneered with a burl chestnut and the splines are in contrasting beech. The splines are trimmed to flush once dry and then the top was removed from the box on the band saw. I couldn't afford to lose too much 'meat' from the sides of the box. As usual, there's a lot of sanding involved to keep everything level, in this case I had to be careful not to sand too deep on the veneers.

The inside of the box is lined with cork to keep my tobacco moist and the top is held in place with a cork that is cut to be just slightly, fractionally, a gnats wotsit larger than the opening. Then it's a case of applying a French Polish in several layers and yet more sanding with ever finer paper. I was surprised at how tough French Polish is as a finish. I carry this little box around in my pocket all the time. Over the years I've dropped it on the floor regularly and it hardly shows a scratch or dent. The lid also stays tight too so I don't spill my baccy and it stays fresh. 

At some point I'm going to redesign this box to make it just slightly smaller and round off all of the edges to make it 'pocket friendly'. It do stick in the trouser department somewhat if you squat down over sharp!


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Let there be light! And Amazon delivered two five foot LED batons this afternoon. Unfortunately I have to wait until Tuesday before they can be fitted. If you think I'm dodgy at woodwork Dave and Dale can testify to just how clueless I am at electrics! I can fit a plug and change a fuse but that is my limit without making things go bang or up in smoke. Fortunately, we have a son who is a qualified electrician...who can fit me in on Tuesday. I swear he did the teeth sucking all tradesmen do before giving me a date! They must teach 'em that as apprentices. 'Right class, today is Teeth Sucking 101. What do you mean you have sensitive teeth Wiggins?'


What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours from glorious sunshine to drip drip drop little April Showers in May. I'll stop singing now. So while I'm waiting for the lights to be fitted I did a small spot of firkling inside the shed rather than out.

First things first, although sometimes I will do first things second but it depends on what mood I'm in, I took the clamps from the box I'm making. I mentioned yesterday that designs can change on a number of factors. Two of which are the whims of my Mrs and whether I've been 'at home' to Mrs Cockup. It was at this point that both of these made an appearance. First came Mrs Cockup. In my haste to glue up the lid I failed to follow my own advice and tape up the area inside the box to avoid glue seeping onto the wood. Then came my Mrs with a 'suggestion' that the box was 'too nice' to put my tools in. I knew it was a 'suggestion' rather than just a suggestion. My task was to work out exactly what was being suggested.

Mrs Cockup had not made too much of a mess and I was able to sort out some of it with a card scraper. I then trimmed the lid on the band saw making use of the small light fitted to that machine to see what I was doing in the dim and dark depths of the shed.


Then it was back to the sanding boards and getting the lid flush to the box sides. But was it a lid? I was wondering what Ellie had been 'suggesting' earlier as I sanded down the box again. Despite the boards warping yesterday the box was rubbing up quite nicely. Perhaps it could be the bottom of the box. Could I fit in a false bottom with a mechanism? But then what about the top? Do I have enough of the same material left to make whatever this box was becoming? Should I in fact act on the 'suggestion' and re-purpose this box or should I make another box altogether? Hmm! I think I need to sleep on this. Time for an afternoon nap! But I'm very happy so far with the joints and fit of the lid/base.


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Unable to get with the Westminster zeitgeist I decided on a third option of 'shake it all about' and go for a firkle in the shed. It turned out to be one of those days. The amount of pine timber I had for my project was getting severely depleted. I've got plenty of bits of wood, but that is the problem they are 'bits' of wood. Finding enough wood to make larger boards from between the nail holes and other damage would be tough. To then discover the meaning of the phrase 'a knotty problem', although enlightening was a damned nuisance! A particularly thick piece of pine had a knot that would not plane, whether by hand or machine. There was a reason why this wood had been turned into pallets!


So I had a good dig around in my scrap box and hiding right at the bottom of what seemed to have become an arachnid knocking shop for the uglier type of eight-legged monstrosity I found just enough to salvage one more panel from, but I needed two panels. I can feel firkle among my wood racks coming on!


The day was dark and dingy, permanently threatening to rain but never quite getting the dander up to sling it down. Oh to hell with it, I'd had enough dithering this last weekend! I dragged out the table saw and got on with dressing the timber ready for glue up. Wood in the clamps and the cauls fitted in place and I cleaned up the excess glue before putting the new panel off to one side to cure.


Let there be light! And lo, the eldest lad turned up to wire up my new LED light fittings for the shed. In order to finish the job I had to nip down to Wilko's to pick up a junction box as Mikey was not happy with the quality of the one supplied with the lights. A fairly large queue to gain access to the store snaked in and out of barriers and I got stuck with dumb, dumber and dumberer behind me.
“It's the 'Five G' that's causing all of this. I'm sick of waiting!”
“My husband won't have that 'Five G' he has the 'Seven G' an' I'm sick of waitin' an' all!”
“It's worse than the war is this. Mum says it's worse don't you Mum? But I said we've got wifi!”
“Didn't they 'ave wifi during the war.”
“No wifi then.What did they use?”
Fortunately it was now my turn to enter the store.

Back at Timbo Towers and Mikey got on with wiring up the lighting while I had a final firkle through my scrap box in search of material for that one final panel. I found a plank that I might be good enough, but I would have to clean it up first to make sure. It was while I was putting this timber through the thicknesser that I started to smell melted plastic. I looked across to the workshop but Mikey was not the source. I stopped the thicknesser, took off my ear protection and as I did so heard a 'plasticky' rumble coming from the machine. The drive belt guard had popped away from it's mountings and was melting from the friction of the belt rubbing against it. Great stuff! Fortunately Grendel saved the day by finding the spare part I needed online and for only two pounds fifty! On his advice I've now ordered a couple!


Back outside and daylight blazed from the micro-workshop. Mikey had everything wired up and was busily planning what cable and fixtures he would need to wire the workshop properly with sockets behind each bench for the individual machines, fuse and cut off boxes and other electrical mumbo jumbo beyond my ken. Now that I could see clearly inside the shed, I quickly realised I would need to break out the dust extractor.


I opened up my trusty shop-vac and sawdust erupted from the split bag inside. Mikey took this as his cue to scarper.

My little shop-vac has been a work horse. The only problem being the bags needed to collect the sawdust. They are not reusable and cost a fortune. So of course I cut them open, empty them and reseal them with Gaffa Tape and use them again. My last bag was now lying in tatters with sawdust everywhere. Ben Gunn had suggested the other day that I get Ellie to sew me a collection bag that I can reuse over and over. However, Ellie was having none of it as she was busy finishing off her decorating. She did pass me one of the Henry hoover bags she had bought to make face masks. Of course, this bag was on the small side and the fittings were too small for the shop-vac. What I could do though was cut the top from the bag and use it to cover the filter of the shop-vac and collect the sawdust in the canister itself! An excellent spot of firkling that improved the efficiency of the shop-vac to boot!
I gave the micro-workshop a good blow through, left the dust to settle while I went for a coffee then gave the place a thorough clean through. I then immediately started making more dust by cleaning up the panel ready for gluing into place on my project box. With the box back in clamps again, I gave everywhere one last clean through. I was going to use my new lighting to spend some time sharpening planes but I was tired and the beagle brothers would need their walk.
Out in the woods and there was not a meanderthal in sight. After weeks of them waltzing over the landscape, the minute they are told they are allowed to be out...they all decide to stay in. However, I'm not complaining and neither are the Beagle Brothers as they crash through the woods in search of errant squirrels. I suppose one little complaint. I know where the meanderthals are. For several weeks silence and birdsong have become the glorious accompaniment to our walks. Tonight the unwelcome distant hum of cars has returned.



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A Chairman's duties are manifold
And can keep him from his bed.
Too much flaming paperwork make him tired
And send him 'wronger' in the head!


A couple of weeks firkling and trips to fit security measures to keep the 'olds' safe in Lincoln were beginning to take their toll.
“You don't look well!” was how Watson greeted me when we arrived yesterday.
In between holding ladders steady and playing fetch and carry I was busy on the phone with various authorities and organisations on NBN business.
“Who are you talking to now?” Ellie asked me later in the day.
“Honestly, I've forgotten and have no idea.”

I took a stroll to the shop to pick up some menthol filter tips only to discover they did not have any.
“They are illegal now!” said a member of the sandalled and raffia knickered mafia making the mistake of trying to hijack the situation to push her propaganda. All too late she realised her mistake.
“About time too...”
I quickly listed the carcinogens contained in the hemp bag she was toting and pointed out that the only thing standing between her and the full force of a good old 'mansplaining' session was the one remaining menthol tip I had left. The shop keeper produced the 'new alternative' a toothpaste flavoured monstrosity. So I made do with that and a box of medicated snuff. The Raffia Mafia left the shop at speed shuffling away in her plastic crocs which were destined to end up in a land fill or wrapped around some dolphin's nose.

Slowly, and probably glacially, my box project is coming together. In itself it's a simple project and normally would not take this amount of time. At the end of the day, it is just a simple and plain pine box. But the skills I'm relearning and the reasoning behind certain processes that I'm realising are really valuable and I'm finding a joy in the discovery.

A box is a tactile object. Looking at its component pieces it's just six pieces of wood. Put those components together and suddenly it is something that begs to be touched, the final shape and function of the object lays in the wood and begs to be discovered. So for me, the design of the object is an ongoing process. Particularly when Ellie 'suggests' an alternative use for what I'm making.

Having glued the lid or base panel, I haven't decided yet, onto the box, I remove the clamps. Again I'm happy with the glue-up and now to trim the panel edges on the band saw and sand them flush with the box sides.

Houston we have a problem! The gape of the band saw is insufficient to accommodate the height of the box. I'm going to have to do this another way.

Hand tool time, and my favourite Japanese saw the Dozuki. The Dozuki is a 'backed' saw with a similar purpose to a tenon saw except it cuts 'on the pull' rather than the push. This means the blade is thinner, sharper and the long handle means it can get into places western style saws cannot reach. I clamp the box in the bench dogs on my 'workmate' and whip off some of the excess on the panel. I will remove the remainder on the bench sander. That's the idea anyway.


Dust mask, ear protectors and goggles, I am PPE Man! Not so much Darth Vader as Daft Bleeder!


On the bench sander and I flatten the first side. It is slow going. The resin from the pine is clogging the grit on the sanding belt and I realise that I have not changed the belt since I bought the sander a couple of years ago now. Fortunately during the firkle to sort out my workshop I discovered two new sanding belts I must have bought with the intension of changing the belt at some point. I plump for an 80 grit as I use the bench sander more as a cutting and shaping tool than a smoothing tool. The problem now is that I can't remember how to change the belt.

I used to throw instruction books away, or store them with the tool until such time as the instruction got tattered and torn and I threw them away. Ellie's Dad, Ben Gunn, has taught me the value of putting the instruction booklets to my tools in a safe place, just in case I need them in the future. Out with the Ben Gunn Instruction Booklet storage and access device (BGIBSAD)!


The instructions are in German. The instructions show the changing of the belt, the alignment of the belt tracking but don't show you how to get the belt actually on and off of the machine. YouTube. The only video is in German or similar Baltic language. Through trial and error I work out how it's done, write down the steps in English on the instructions (as taught by Ben Gunn) and put the instructions back in the BGIBSAD.


Now we are motoring and the new belt makes quick work of rough flushing the panel with a neater and levelling sanding done by hand on the sandpaper sheets stuck to the window panel.


So I now have a pine cube. As is my way, it's time to get tactile. I can spend hours turning a box over and over in my hands decided on the final shape and design. Although I made the box to dimensions suitable to store my buffing wheels and compounds, the final exterior dimensions are large to hold what is only seven quids worth of bits and bobs. I'm sure I can come up with a more compact storage solution. Besides which, I'm enjoying pushing the boundaries of what I can learn and create from a few bits of old pallet wood. And then there's Ellie's suggestions to consider. My mind is now made up and the design process takes a sharp turn to the left.

My adventures with the desk sander may have given me inspiration. I now spend a few hours firkling making various jigs for upcoming processes. The first are a couple of toggle clamps to hold a workpiece to my bench. They are easily made, just a toggle clamp mounted to a block of wood, in this case plywood, which can then be screwed to my wooden work bench in any position I require.
I have a quick firkle among my timber carts and find a pine board I had scrounged from somewhere. It's bowed and cupped in every direction and dimension you can think of.


I cut the board into quarters and then whip those through the thicknesser 'smiley side down' first. With one side flat I can now flatten the other. I can now reassemble the boards into one large flat one!


Now it's time to start experimenting and designing...feet! I sketch out a couple of designs onto some scrap wood. My first designs are curved. I cut four pieces of wood, fasten them together with double sided carpet tape and then shape all four at the same time on the belt sander. Hmm. I need something more angular...and mitred. Hmm. I cut more test pieces. Hmm. More angular I think and I'm going to have to make a new mitre box to fit the Dozuki. But that's a firkle for another day!


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Ever had one of those days where if something could go wrong, it would go wrong? For me it started with a case of 'dropsy' with my phone. A quick spot of mid air juggling followed by a rapid decent to land face down on the concrete, despite the claims of the manufacturer of the protective case I'd bought for the phone.

Next it was my glasses. I've needed new spectacles since just before lock down. I certainly need them now. Just as I was cutting lumber on the table saw the screw fastening the arm of my glasses to the frame gave way. I would show you a photo of the devastation...if only my phone worked.

I tried to soldier on with my old glasses. Not ideal but I could sort of see. My prescription changes with every stroke I have, so I spend a fortune at the opticians. I can't seem to cut anything straight, so I hunt through all of my old prescriptions and find my regular glasses. I normally wear varifocals but I do have separate driving and reading glasses...so by constantly swapping between glasses I can sort of function, just missing the middle distance.

The straw that broke the Timbo's back was picking up the thicknesser. I had been keeping it under the benches that I use for the pillar drills. Trying to lug the thing out from under the bench and 'twang' my back went for a burton. Partially sighted and in pain I headed indoors for a coffee and to take my medication. The start of my stroke problems was a back injury from running. I have three vertebrae fused together and two of my discs removed. Consequently I have some 'interesting' and 'potent' meds all of which state 'do not operate machinery' on the label.

So once the medication had kicked in it was back out to the shed for a 'super-firkle', a complete reorganization of the micro-workshop so I could mount the thicknesser on wheels and roll it in and out of the shed via the ramp.


That evening with my reading glasses perched on the end of my nose and my distance glasses perched on top of the reading glasses, I took a good look at the box I was making and my designs. I'm going to have to rethink a few of my ideas based upon my eyesight, operational practicalities and the amount of timber I have left. Much to ponder, and an update once the opticians get back to me with an appointment and the insurance replace my phone!

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the method i use to put tools on wheels, especially if they already have a stand, is to make a base unit of a sheet of ply, with the wheels on, then stand the tools base on top, with upstands to enclose the corners of the legs. i use casters, with the two front ones able to be locked to stop movement when in use. i will get a picture in a moment

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