Friday Woodworkers no. 3.

14 Oct 1988.

There were bits of wood I had been saving for the class lying all about the house, so today I decided to take them in. It took me some time to get them on the roof-rack, which caused me to start almost half an hour later than normal. Strangely, I only arrived about 5 minutes later than usual. Presumably I missed the worst of the rush hour traffic.

For some reason in the morning only 5 people turned up. Unless, that is, we count David Woody Allan, who came in to make a bolock of wood 1 1/2 inches square and 1/5 inch (what a strange unit) thick during the span of some 5 minutes. It is to glue inside a chest of drawers to stop the draw going back too far. He talked to everyone and shot out as fast as he had shot in. When he had gone the new Jim asked me if he was the principal. Why not? He`s just as competent as the rest of us - and probably more so than the principal.

Peter was spending most of his time helping Myrtle, and when someone remarked on this fact he responded "I`m all glued up", to which all jumped in with various cracks, including:

"Well bless my soul what`s wrong with me.....


I`m in love!

I`m all glued up.

Uhuhuh uhuhuh yea yea."

Nice one. Those who know Presley will understand. Really, it was all perfectly innocent. He had put glue on his joints (room for one more there!), cramped them up (and another) and was waiting for the glue to set.

Someone asked me why a try-square is called that, and how it was spelt. A try-square looks like this:

(illustration 0016)

and there is a perfect right angle between the metal and the wood. It is used to mark a line at right angles to the edge of the wood, by lying the metal on the surface and pressing the wood against the edge and running a pencil along the edge of the metal, thus:

(illustration 0017)

I didn`t know the answer. Any ideas? Some said they thought it had three uses (I think it has more), so was spelt "tri", and some thought it was to "try" things with. My dictionary does not seem to list it at all, although strangely I find that one type of square is given as "(approximately) an equilateral rectangle". I had always thought that the very essence of that type of square was that all angles were right angles and all sides the same length as each other.

We need a tea tray. For something just to have our tea on, nobody wants to spend much time. Here is what appears to be the simplest solution:

(illustration 0018)

Victoria is making another shelf. This time it is something to put potted plants on, and she wants to fold it up when it is not in use. She decides on legs that slide into a "housing" on the underneath:

(illustration 0019)

Perhaps a little too elaborate, but easy to make, since nearly all of it is bits of wood glued together. The only "joint" is a groove in piece A into which piece B is glued.

Vi has actually dared start designing! She asked me to check that the dimensions that she had worked out for her pieces of stool should give the shape intended. They did. It may not seem much, but it certainly is the beginning of self-reliance.

There have always been problems with workshop maintenance, and it has only been out of very strong enthusiasm that the students have kept on coming. Suddenly, however, I have an allowance for maintenance, and intend overhauling the benches and to provide storage for those jobs which currently are left standing all around the edges because they are too big to take home. The upholsterers, for instance, have settees and chairs, and it must be as much a problem for them as for us. I am making a large frame about 12 feet long and 3 feet wide to fix somewhere above floor level (big argument with Victoria about how high it should be - I think I shall wait till she is not there before putting it in position) so that some settees go under and some on top.

Bill is making a doll`s theatre/shop for the grandchildren. How nice it must be to have grandchildren, I say (I have none yet). He reckons it`s OK but they keep bossing him about. First it`s this and then it`s that. Now his granddaughter wants a pottery house, but as it might get broken he is making it in wood!

(illustration 0020)

Victoria has trouble getting the edge of her shelf straight. I see her putting the board against a large mirror and ask her why. She is putting it against the miorror so that she can run a pencil along the mirror and against the wood and thus "scribe" a straight line along the wood to work to:

(illustration 0021)

Amazing. You can learn something new every day.

Several people want to know about plane and chisel sharpening. The main factors are:

Have a good oilstone.

Keep the flat side of the blade perfectly flat. It must really be flat, rather than just look so.

Hone the bevel side (only) at about 30 degrees above horizontal:

(illustration 0022)

Finish by "wiping" flat side on stone (completely flatly) then bending backwards the microscopic burr that you will have made (by honing) on the edge against a piece of old leather (this is what I believe they call "stropping"). I actually use the side of my hand, but do not recommend the novice to try it without first getting some idea of what they are taking on.

If after this it is not sharp go through the whole process again. If you try to look straight onto the edge it is possible to see any bits that are not sharp because they will create little spots of reflected light:

(illustration 0023)

If you see any, that is good reason to try again.

At lunchtime, somehow Myrtle and Victoria and I get into who gets paid how much for what. I suggest that we, as a nation, must decide whether we should all be paid the same or have differentials. Either would do. What happens at the moment is that one lot of people start claiming that they are more important than another, and then just when that gets sorted out another lot say they want the same., followed by the original ones saying that they are more important, and so on forever. I don`t mind which we have, but I think the differentials are what we will have. But Victoria wants a bit of friction and chooses to interpret me as saying we should all be paid the same "and that would be ridiculous because we`d all be clones". My response is to ask who is worth exactly how much and how do you measure it? We fall into silence. I screw up my sandwich bag and throw it over the tops of the benches towards where I believe the dustbin to be. I hear it fall straight in!

I`ve brought my saxophone again this week, but this time because it is not working properly. After close scrutiny I make the tiniest adjustment (4 or 5 thousandths of an inch) and suddenly it`s playing like a dream. Deep Purple, which I couldn`t play last week, just flows out. What a delight! Myrtle and Victoria are trying to hold a conversation above it all and I stop because it is about something on Myrtle`s wrists and I`m inquisitive too. She tells me they are the tops of a pair of worn out pop socks, and they keep her cuffs clean and out of the way when she is working. There`s no end to the ingenuity we see here! I get impatient waiting for Myrtle to offer to make a cup of coffee and put the kettle on. Dear Me! How spoilt can you get?

(illustration 0015)