Friday, 29 January 2016

Saw Review

Hi all,
In my last post I told you about how I made a 75 mile trip to purchase a table top circular saw. Well it is now time to find out if the trip it was worth it.

The saw in question is the Proxxon KS230 and my first thoughts were that it was much small than expected. However, they say that great things come in little packages so I decided to reserve my judgement until I'd cut some wood with it.

The first thing I did was to put the fence into position and the fit the mitre cutting aid. Both of these items seem to be well made and fitted to the saw in such a way that it felt like an accurate cut could be achieved. After all, that is was the main objective of lashing out 100 quid on the saw was in the first place. Cutting 6mm thick wood by hand isn't exactly hard work but doing it accurately and with a high degree of repeatability is.

The next thing I did was to fit the rubber outlet for the dust extraction and fitted the end of my hoover into it. The fit was slightly loose but I reckon that it will suck up most of the dust the saw produces without any problems.
Okay, it was now time for the moment when I would find out if it could cut 6mm walnut without problems. I had two strips of walnut that I'd cut for the side of the box that I was working on; I had cut them by hand and they were a bit off because one of them was a bit wider than the other. I decided to set up the fence and slide them through the saw to level them up. The cutting was great and the blade went through like a knife through butter, however, there was a problem. My workshop smelt worse than a kipper's jock strap. The odour absolutely filled the room and seeped into the kitchen where I found my wife sniffing the air like like a big bear within striking distance of a bee's nest.

At this point my my dinner was declared ready for the table, so I opened all the windows in the workshop and decided to leave the saw alone untill the following day. I was of course concerned that I had wasted 100 quid and I didn't fancy driving all the way back to the shop to return it.

The following morning the smell had almost gone, so I decided to cut some more wood. You will be pleased to know that the saw worked brilliantly without any smell being produced at all and I was very pleased with the results. This little saw is well made and I'm sure it will help by box making.

Regarding the horrendous smell, the only thing I can put it down to was the fact that I was taking such a thin sliver off the two pieces of wood that I cut, that the blade was spinning so fast that it slightly burnt the edge of the wood. This would have been exacerbated by me pushing the work piece to slowly through the saw. If you have done any pyrography you will probably know that each wood has its own odour when it is being burnt and more than one smells like an over cooked kipper.

Anyway, the problem is solved and I can now get on with some box making. I show you my progress on the card box in my next post.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Change of Plan

Hi all,
Isn't it funny how the weather changes just at the wrong time and upsets one's plans. My wife gave me a commission to make her a box and I even went out and purchased a new table saw to help me  complete the task. I was really looking forward to getting out of the house and into the workshop for a bit of peace and quiet, but then the weather decided to turn Polar on me.

Perhaps it's because I'm getting old, but I can't stand the cold weather any more. I often think back to years gone by when I went fishing in the winter. It was sometimes so cold that we had to break holes in the ice to wet a line but it was all part of the fun. Now, I'm too nesh to take rubbish out to the wheelie bin without my thick cardy on.

Even the fact that I am part Finish doesn't seem to help any more, and all inclinations to beat myself with birch sticks and jump into the nearest frozen lake, have diminish along with finding something half decent to watch on the telly.

Still, I shouldn't moan, at least the cold weather has forced me to stay in the warm and practice my drawing skills. I've taken to pen and ink drawing and here's one of my first efforts. I did it from a photo that I took of Lake Conniston about fifteen years ago.
I'm quite pleased with it and looking forward to doing another. By the way,  if you are interested in art, you can see how I'm getting on with my personal watercolour challenge by clicking here.

Back to the box. I had a bit of trouble with the lid because I can't source a piece of walnut that is big enough. The sad thing is, I'm only half an inch short. The box need to be 4.5 inches wide, but the only  wood I can find that is the right thickness (6mm) is only 4 inches wide. So again my plans have been altered. I was going to do a walnut lid with 3 butterflies made from Baltic birch plywood inlaid into it, but now that is out of the question. Instead I'm going to use the Baltic birch plywood, that comes in big panels, to make the lid which will have a combination of scroll work and pyrography.

Here is the rough sketch that I have made of the lid.
The dark buts will be cut out with the scroll saw and the rest of the wood will be decorated with my pyrography iron. My wife wanted the box to be dark and because the sides are made from walnut, that isn't a problem. She isn't banking on a light lid though, so I plan to make it as dark as possible with my pyrography iron.

Now all I need is a bit of warm weather so that I can get out into my workshop and get on with it.

Just a reminder before I go. My book, "The Reluctant Pom," which follows the 2 enforced years that I spent in a land down under is free today and tomorrow on Amazon.

If you would like a good laugh, pleased download a copy. Just click on the book tab at the top of the page and it will take you there.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Circular Saw

Hi all,
I finally threw off the malady that comes via the anti climax of Christmas and made a start on the box I am making for my wife. However, things soon ground to an halt. I don't know if it's the lack of wood working practise that is a result of my concentration on watercolour painting, but I couldn't saw a straight line to save my life.

I was sawing by hand with a lovely small saw, but I kept veering to the left. This isn't any good at all because one of the most important things when making boxes is that the sides and ends need to be exactly the same length and both edges need to be straight.

It was easy enough to square up the ends with my disc sander, but to sort out the length I would have to resort to the plane. This is where I encountered another problem because the nice little model maker's plane that I'd had for years had gone missing. I checked every draw, tool box and every place possible in my workshop no less than 3 times, but it had gone. There were two possibilities, some horrible little thieving bastard had nicked it or I'd thrown it out with some rubbish. Knowing me it was probably the latter.

Anyway, this whole episode got me thinking. Cutting wood to size with square edges and sides has always been a bit of a problem so I decided to buy a powered circular saw to make the whole thing stress free. I could then concentrate on the arty side of any projects, which to me is where the fun is.

Now you might think it easy to get a small circular saw and there would be a bit of choice, well you'd be wrong. I'm only working in 6mm (quarter inch) thick wood, so one of the saws a builders a uses would be over kill. I don't think that a saw that will cut roofing joists would be right for my delicate craft work. Most of them have teeth like crocodiles, so they would probably mince my small pieces of wood into tooth picks.

I did manage to find one saw that looked like it would do the job. It is made by Proxxon and the model is a KS230.

It got mixed reviews on Amazon, but like I said, there was no alternative so a Proxxon it would be. If only life were that simple, I would have ordered it from Amazon but it was mentioned in some of the reviews that it came with a European plug, which would be no good to me.

After scouring the Internet, I found that my best bet was to go and buy one in person from my nearest stockist and that was Axminster machinery, in Nuneaton. I knew the place because it was where I got my scroll saw from. So off we went yesterday on the 75 mile round trip to get me a new circular saw.

We were lucky because when we got there because we managed to buy the last one for a few pennys short of £100. I was also surprised about how small it was. If you look at the picture above, I have put my Dremel next to it, to give you an idea of size. One thing is for sure I won't be building a new garden shed with it. To be honest, the size isn't an issue, it will cope with making my small boxes and it won't take up too much space in the workshop.

I let you know how it performs in my next post, meanwhile I have a free book on offer on Amazon for the next two days. It is called "Bossyboots" and you can get to it by clicking on the books tab at the top of this page.

 It's certainly a book for the boys, but open minded ladies will enjoy it too.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Carp Rustlers

Hi all,
I hope you all had a very nice Christmas and peaceful start to the new year. This is an interesting year for me because in a few months time I will be retiring, that is to say that I will be reaching the age of 65.

To be honest, I haven't done what I would call a proper job for several years. I took redundancy from my management role in a factory in 2005 and since then it's been a bit up and down. I've worked for myself doing freelance writing work, had a heart attack and written several books mostly about fishing. I contemplating doing one more book before I pack up altogether but I'm not sure at the moment.

Anyway, you may be pleased to know that I'm going to fire up my scroll saw again during the next couple of weeks, and I will also be getting my pyrography iron out again. The project is a wooden box that my wife has requested to keep some cards in that she received for a xmas present.

I'm working on the design for the lid at the moment and it will probably revolve around some butterflies that will be inlaid into a piece of walnut and then worked on with the pyrography iron.

If you would like to see how I get on look out for my next post.

Meanwhile if you would like a free copy of one of my books, the one pictured above, please click here and enter the following code at check out for your free download TY59A. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Another Freebie for Xmas

Hi all,
Just to let you know that "Bossyboots" will be free for the next two days. It should give readers a good laugh over the Christmas period.
Just click on the book from the tab above and it will take you to Amazon for your free copy.
Happy reading.

Monday, 14 December 2015


Hi all,
Although I have ceased scroll sawing and pyrography on a short term basis while I have a serious go at painting, I thought I'd just mention something that happened the other day. My wife asked me if I could make her a church and a building out of wood so that she could decorate it for Christmas.

Anyway, I'm always eager to earn some brownie points so I said, "Get me a picture of the type of thing you want and I'll knock you something up." All was quiet for the next ten minutes while she used her Kindle Fire to scour the internet, then she said,"Cancel that order, I've found what I want on Amazon and it is only £18."

I was slightly disappointed at not having a chance to display my scroll sawing and pyrography skills but at least it would save me the bother.

We are Amazon prime members which meant that the item came the following day and I was astonished. What she had managed to order was a small village consisting of a church, several buildings, a picket fence plus some trees. And what's more it had lights. It was made from plywood, with pyrography details and the quality was very good given that it was made by machines, probably cut out with a laser etc.

I just couldn't compete with that sort of stuff, to be honest, it would have cost me almost £18 for the wood let alone the time to make it. If I was to make it from scratch I guess there would probably be 100 hours work in it.

So what does this mean for scroll sawing and pyrography. Well it will make it much harder for anybody to make any money out of mass producing wooden objects because the laser cutters can do it much quicker. So, all we can do is concentrate on doing one off projects that are unique in design and have a bit of art about them. The more value that is added to the wood the better.

To this end, I have asked my wife to get me Dremel for Crimbo so that I can use it in conjunction with the scroll saw and the pyrography iron. I'm looking forward to doing a bit more scrolling and pyrography in the new year and making some stuff the laser boys can only dream about.

In the meanwhile, if you want to how I'm getting on with the paintings why not pop over to my challenge website and have a shufty.

Also I'm giving away one of my books, pictured above, for Christmas. It's the second book in "The Fishing Detectives series and is called Bun In The Oven. If you pop over to then type in coupon code VZ64V at the checkout you will get your free download.

If I don't manage another post in the next week, here's hoping you all have a merry and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Proof that the world's gone mad

Hi All,
If ever I needed proof that the world has gone totally mad, it came yesterday. I went into a shop to purchase 2 chocolate bars; a little treat for me and the mrs. It went like this.

I put the two bars of chocolate on the counter and was informed by the the shop assistant that it would be cheaper to buy three.

Thinking this was some cleaver sale pitch I said, "I don't want three, I'm on a diet."
She replied, "It's cheaper to buy three. Three bars are only £1.20, but if you buy just two they are 67p each so that will be £1.34."
For a moment I stood with my mouth open because I couldn't quite grasp what she was saying. To clarify the situation I thought I would repeat what I thought she said.
"Are you saying that two bars of chocolate will cost me £1.34 while three bars will cost me £1.20?"
"That's right," she said whilst looking at me as if I was practicing to be a village idiot.
What could I do, "charge me for three," I said, "and I'll pick another one up on the way out." And that is exactly what I did.

My wife didn't believe me when I relayed the incident to her, so I produced the extra bar for proof. She knows I'm tighter than a gastric band, so she knows Iwouldn't spend extra money without being drugged.

So there you are the world has gone mad.

Anyway the main purpose of this post was to let you know that the book below
will be free on amazon on the 26th and 27th of November, why not grab a copy while you can. Also I have just posted another watercolour painting on my Artistic Challenge blog. If you would like to check it out here's the link.