14 May 2013
One of the things I like about Bank Holidays is that it allows me to not only get a break but by taking the previous Friday off before the Bank Holiday I can make it into a long weekend without actually using much of my allotted holiday allowance. Thus it was, and the chance to enjoy the sun when it deigned to appear, and to work outside for most of it. My back garden is a riot of outbuildings all with felted roofs. So a hot sunny Friday was the perfect day for climbing all over them for inspection and repairs. My workshop is the largest one with a mansard style roof e.g. the main area has a slight pitch in the middle and it has steeply sloping sides, designed to aid water run off and avoid a conventional ugly high pitched roof that would destroy the rural scene beyond. At about eighteen years since construction the mineral coated felt is showing signs of wearing out. I spent some time regluing many of the joints with bitumastic adhesive but in the knowledge that it has just one year of our unpredictable weather before replacement is almost certainly required. So what are my options? It is a big area to deal with, should I simply over-felt? This seems the simplest but it needs so much adhesive to get a good bond onto the mineral coated surface so that isnít really on. I could use a brush-on coating but that is expensive, it doesnít last and it needs constant stirring to keep the fibre content mixed properly while using it. Lastly, it seems the least attractive but the most sensible course of action, is to strip off both the heavy top layer and the thinner slaters felt underneath. This under layer is simply tacked on to the bituminised chipboard roof panels and a spade thrust underneath should make it lift off and hopefully take the galvanised nails with it. So at least I now have a course of action decided and I can budget for next year so the cost isnít a surprise. Iím really hot on maintaining roofs, gutters and drainage and preventing rising damp because itís these areas that kill buildings, everything in between is less of a worry. So how is your shed doing? Good I hope...
08 May 2013
Ah, thatís more like it, so long winterwear, consider yourself as retired as a red-nosed, gum-chewing Scotsman (thatís a topical football joke there). I hope you are all well and enjoyed the glorious bank holiday weekend. I came back on Tuesday after ten straight days out of the office, having spent last week away, and as always it was a struggle getting out of holiday mode, but I think Iím back in the world of wood now Ė just as well, as itís deadline week for WPP! And for that reason, thatís all from me for now!
SiContact Simon Frost
The sun has (finally) put his hat on!
23 April 2013
The weather forecasters have at last taken the hint and given us a modicum of decent weather (I do blame them for the poor weather...). So, I was out in the garden over the weekend like everyone else judging by the cacophony of lawnmowers and hedgetrimmers in action, not to mention the twittering of birdsong. Thus it was that I decided to give our Ďpirate gardení - a themed suntrap at the end of our very long narrow back garden, its annual makeover. Much picking up of dead leaves and uprooting weeds and raking gravel. There is still plenty to do to bring it up to scratch ready for the alleged summer, when we can while away some happy hours basking in an imagined tropical island paradise complete with authentic background sounds of waves crashing and pirates fighting (seriously). It has been in place for some years and seen on many a charitable Ďopen dayí for local causes. Consequently some of the woodwork is showing its age (you see, I get there in the end!). Exterior ply that looks more like puff pastry than ply, fence posts rotting at ground level and shadow faces of timber becoming Ďgreenedí. A day later and the worst cleaning up done and plenty of exterior finishes applied to all the critical areas and itís looking vastly better. Best of all as I am as economical as possible, I went through every finish I had stacked on the paint shelf in the workshop and used it somewhere in the refurbishment, creosote substitute, Sadolin exterior finishes, even boiled linseed oil for the rather splendid shipís wheel. Now down to detail items such as repainting the female figurehead and the substantial wooden anchor (itís not really going in the water after allÖ) and more besides.
Nearly ready for the next burst of sunshine and breaking out the Bermuda shorts and cocktails - ďHa ha me hearties!Ē
12 April 2013
Hope you are all well. I am feeling a little wistful myself, as I have decided that the time has come to part with some things which were (and as I have now realised, still are) quite special to me; my electric guitars. Once upon a time they were truly adored; I saved and saved for them, testing the guitar shop's patience with my frequent, penniless visits to play for as long as I could get away with, fumbling through the same old mistake-ridden riffs and licks as I tried desperately to impress the staff into giving me a discount (somewhere around 90% off was within my budget). When finally I could afford to bring one over the shop's threshold, there was barely a waking moment when it wasn't hooked up to the amp or packed into the bag for a gig. But alas, as time went by, bands split up, tastes changed along with priorities, and the guitars which I'd once cherished like a childhood teddy or the fabled first car gradually became something for the spiders to anchor their webs on; when I moved back to my folks' place for a short time after Uni, they didn't make it into the removal van on the way back out. It's all very Toy Story 3. Now that I've resolved to sell them on to people who will love them as more than hat stands, I've got a few little touch-ups to make to restore them to a state which I hope will inspire the same awe which they produced in me. (If you're not interested in guitars, have a great weekend and I'll blog again in a week or two!Ö)
First, a black Jackson PS37 Performer, a very well crafted, albeit extremely silly guitar, though that didn't reduce the pang of sorrow I felt when unearthing it from my old bedroom. The shape, an off-kilter 'V', is best known as the shape of the Randy Rhoades signature model, and is notoriously susceptible to nicks on the edges, as it has the equivalent turning circle of a London bus. Mine is no exception, so that's the first thing to sort out. I was going to strip the whole body finish off and refinish it completely (the back also has quite a few buckle scratches - a tip for guitarists: take your belt off!) but there are so many things that could go wrong...I pictured myself despairing after dismantling it completely and spending hours sanding, to be left with a jagged, patchy block of V-shaped wood which would perhaps never again resemble a musical instrument. The time and money it would take to strip it all down, especially the awkward edges, then get the surface even, prime, coat two or three times with paint, then get it back up to a high-gloss finish, and then to get all the electrics connected back in...no thanks. So instead, I'm going to fill in the small dinks with black nail varnish (not something I currently own) and the one substantial chip with wood putty. The zinc thread where the tremolo arm is received has worn away due to repeated 'dive-bombs', coupled with the fact that it is made of zinc, so I'm going to replace the thread using a stainless steel Helicoil kit. Finally, there's a missing volume knob, so I'll have to order one of those.
The next is a replica of the Gibson SG, made by Vintage. About 10 years ago I was playing darts in my room when one (not thrown by me) hit the wire and bounced point-first into my guitar, chipping away a section smaller than a 5p piece, but deep - right down to the bare mahogany, which on a highly polished crimson red finish, sticks out like a giraffe in a sheep pen. I found a little bit of it and crudely superglued it back in, but it was never quite the same. It is now in the GMC workshop in the capable hands of Mark Baker and his micro buffer...
Finally, another Gibson copy, this time a Les Paul by Epiphone in classic sunburst finish. There's a significant chip in the body, but thankfully it's on the top of the front face, where the finish has graduated out to a very dark brown, so the finish shouldn't be too hard to match after reshaping with putty.
Anyway, the clock is counting down to 5:30 so I must wrap this up now (just as well!). If you got through it all, well done!
All the best,
SiContact Simon Frost
A student of sharpening
04 April 2013
Record T5, abandoned, but still showing promise, the little thumb plane was bought at the same time
I don't claim to be an expert at sharpening edge tools. However I'm getting in plenty of practice and finding the methods that suit me having watched others better qualified than me or picked their brains for useful tips. Having got the basics sorted for the moment, I'm looking at the cost of sharpening by finding cheaper methods. My restored and favourite Record T5 Technical Jack Plane is a case in point. It's already been seen in the mag several issues ago when discussing bench planes and although it was made for smaller, younger hands than my own it is nice tool to use once I had restored it to something like its former glory. The rust was nothing, no pitting, there was a grimy lacquer finish over the body paint which was hard remove but the handle lacquer could be simply chipped off. After that it was fairly plain sailing although when I flatted the sole there were 'stress bumps' either side of the mouth suggesting the T5 had hit the floor at least once in its life. However with no metal cracks and plenty of emery work on a machine table, the sole came up nice and shiny.
More or less a mirror finish on the sole after half an hour of working through the grits
After a regrind on a dry grinder the blade is getting its initial 30 degree hand grinding on a 600 grit diamond plate. I have now adopted a water spray with a little washing up liquid added to reduce surface tension and help cleansing the plate
Flatting the back with the blade lifted a fraction to give a slight relieving bevel
Now for the 1000 mesh ceramic plate, again using the water spray bottle with washing up liquid which is a cheap but effective answer to lubrication
The back gets the same treatment, repeating until the burr has all but gone
A fine abrasive paste used on a cross grain block of MDF makes a brilliant strop for a mirror edge and no burr at all. I use camellia oil on all bare metal surfaces for protection
The blade was a foreigner, not a Record, but its edge keeping was poor. A shame after giving it the proper treatment
I have now learnt my lesson and spent some extra money by fitting a thinner version Ray Iles 01 carbon steel blade instead. It is very accurately ground and needed only a very tiny micro bevel to cut and it has good edge keeping of course. Shame the T5 side-shooting handle is missing, I might turn one up soon...