Monday, 27 April 2015

The Sun

Hi all,
I'm afraid I haven't managed any new projects this week, mostly because I had an ultimatum from my wife. Well not so much an ultimatum as a request. She wants me to finish doing the garden before the end of April, so I thought I best take advantage of the decent weather.  I have some trellis work and some crazy paving to still do, but I' almost there.  I look forward to posting a few pictures in my next post.

Now then, one issue came to me during the week. I discovered the power of the sun, not in a sunburning type of way because I already knew about that, in fact, in my younger days I peeled for Britain. What I discovered was the suns ability to bleach the colour out of things. Of course I knew that some items like pictures, carpets and the fabric of furniture can be susceptible to the power of the suns bleaching rays, but not the colour of wood.

A few months ago I made a box with a walnut lid that had a rose inlaid into it. I was going to sell it on but my wife bagsied it and stuck it on the window sill in our bedroom. This being the case, my only course of action was to make another and sell that on Folksy. So I made a second box and wrapped it up and put in a draw so that it would be nice and safe should anybody want to buy it.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I looked at the original one on the bedroom widow sill but it didn't look as nice as I remembered, so I got the second one out of the draw to compare them.
Here is the original.
And here is the one that hasn't been in the sun.
It is quite shocking really, because the sun hasn't just taken the colour out of the walnut, it has actually affected the pyrography. So if you don't want any of your precious items to fade, keep them out of the sun.

By the way, readers of this blog might like to know that one of my books "Bossyboots" will be free this week-end 0n Amazon. The actual dates are the 2nd-4th on May inclusive. If you would like to find out more about "Bossyboots" or any of my other books, here is a link to my website .

My next project involves a bit of recycling. I'm still working on the image for it, but I hope to show it you in my next post.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


Hi All,
It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was singing along with the Beatles track "When I'm Sixty Four," but all of a sudden I've reached that milestone. Another twelve months and I'll be drawing my pension.

I don't know about you, but the older I get, the harder it is to come up with ideas for birthday presents for myself. My wife used to buy me surprise presents but after she got me a spade, which I still ridicule her about, she insists on me telling her what I want for my birthday. So I had to make up my mind and it came down to two choices, some watercolour  painting equipment or some wood for scroll sawing. It may surprise you, but the watercolour paints won.

The biggest problem I have at the moment is sawer's block. My inspiration for making things out of wood seems to have disappeared. I'd like to make a few more boxes but I'm running out of places to put them, and to be honest, I don't like selling most of my work.

Don't worry I'm not giving up on the scroll sawing or the pyrography, but it is going to have to fight for my time against my watercolour painting ambitions. What are your watercolour ambitions you may be asking, well I tell you.

I have always been interested in art and while "When I'm Sixty Four," was in the charts, I was painting an eagle with the left over paints from a painting by numbers set that I'd had for Christmas. I also did a self portrait of myself when I was in Australia, but then life's hectic train pulled into my station and like a fool I jumped on. Courting, getting married, having kids and working all hours to pay the mortgage meant there was little time to be arty. Any spare moments where I managed to escape were spent either fishing or blotting out stress in the local.

Anyway, after getting married for the second time and the kids left home, life became more mellow. I got the urge to paint again and over the next couple of years I tried a few different mediums. I would like to say that I was a success but things didn't go to plan. I fell foul of life again and caught another train to nowhere. Promotions at work and several years studying took away my art time and events took on further complications with my redundancy and a heart attack. Then we moved into a house that would be better described as a hovel. It was one of the places any sane man wouldn't normally have touched, but it was cheap. Every room and the gardens needed doing and, although it has taken me about fifteen months, I've almost got it done.

So, peace of mind may be just around the corner, I have given myself one year to paint my heart out and see if I can do anything worth hanging on a wall. I've made a start by building a stand for my brushes out of bits of scrap wood. It incorporates a jar at the the back to hold my clean brushes and some holes at the front to hold the ones that I am currently painting with.
My wife was so jealous I had to make her one too. Who knows, I might get around to doing a painting one day soon. If I happen to produce a masterpiece with my watercolour paints I will show it to you on here and, for those who like a good laugh, I might even show you some of my disasters.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Free Book

Hi All,
Just a quick post. I know that some of you just follow the stuff on here about pyrography and scroll sawing, but others are also interested in my books. Well, I have just been going through my books to sort out where each one is distributed. You would be excused for thinking that I'd have them all with the same distributors but I'm afraid it isn't that simple. Due to certain issues about exclusive rights, I have four different distributors and each has a different selection of my books.

Anyway, I have now made one of my books exclusive with Amazon. It is called, "No Fishing In Here : Just Short Stories" and I thought I'd just let you know that it will be available free to download off Amazon for three day this week.

The actual free dates are Friday the 17th to Sunday 19th of April, so if you would like a free copy grab one then.
The book contains a selection of my short stories; some are funny and some are sad, but they are all based around emotions like anger, betrayal and denial. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Oak Box Done

Hi All,
Right, carrying on with the oak box, the next thing I did was to burn in the oak leaves with my pyrography iron. Once I was happy with the pyrography, I gave the lid a coat of ebonising solution. I did this because I wanted the oak leaf inlay to stand out against a darker colour. I don't think it would look so good against a plain oak background.

 Then it was time to carve a couple of acorns. I drew the basic shape of each acorn on a piece of 6mm thick bass wood and then cut them both out on the scroll saw. I did the rest of the shaping with a rotary tool and and finished them off with some pyrography. Below you can see a couple of the stages.
I used wood glue to stick the acorns in place and, while they were setting, I made two hinge posts in a similar way to those I made for a previous box.

The hinge posts, box and lid were then assembled together a everything was clamped into position while the glue set. The rest of the box was then given a coat of the ebonising solution and, after that dried, I gave it three coats of gloss varnish.

Here is a picture of the finished box which I am very pleased with.
 My next post will be something completely different, so I am looking forward to that. If you want to find out more about my books or other pyrography and scroll saw items please click Here.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Oak Box Continued

Hi All, Continuing with the oak box, I cut a piece of 1inch thick oak to match the size of the piece of 6mm oak that I had for the lid and then drew the shape of a box on it.
I then drilled a entry hole for the no9 blade I would be using and then cut out the centre of the box.
Cutting oak is harder than cutting pine, so make sure you have a sharp bladed fitted to the saw or you will get burn marks on your wood. The next thing I did was to give the box a good sandpapering. I started at 180 and then went through all the grades to 240. I could have gone to 400, but oak isn't the best wood in the world for a fine finish. I've never been much for flogging a dead horse so a slightly more rustic feel was okay with me.

With the box done, it was time to concentrate on the lid. I stuck my oak leaf design to the the piece of 6mm Baltic Birch plywood that I was using for the inlay and then Sellotaped that to the oak lid.

Next I did a few test cuts to make sure I got the right angle for the inlay and then I made a start. I drilled a hole at the end of the stalk for the blade, this was a place that would be easy to disguise and it saved me from having to cut a very tight corner. Talking about avoiding sharp corners, you will notice that the black cutting line on my design goes through the acorns, this is done to avoid what would be a very sharp corner between them. The acorns, when I have made them, actually cover that part of the design so it won't be seen.

All was going well until I had the first of two disasters. The fine blade I was using snapped when I was almost at the end of the cut. The air in my workshop turned purple as I let out a string of words that would make a trucker blush.

If a blade breaks when you are doing normal cutting it doesn't matter because you just go back to the blade entry hole and fit a new one. When you switch the saw on, the blade almost follows its own way back to the point of the breakage. However, this isn't the case with inlay work because the work is being cut at an angle, when the blade retraces it steps it will inevitably take off some more wood and the inlay will become a sloppy fit.

I decided the best course of action was to drill a new entry hole at the point of the breakage and disguise it as best as I could. Here is the lid with the inlay in position. If you look closely you can see the entry hole where I started at the end of the stalk and another about an inch before the end of the cut.
Now you may be curious about the gap in the centre. Well, that was the second disaster. Despite doing some trial cuts to get the angle right, I cocked up again and the inlay would not go flush into the wood. I pushed it in as hard as possible but it was still sticking out by about 1mm.  I was now fed up and about to chuck the whole thing in the wheelie, but I decided to take a deep breath and try and rescue it. I used some 120 grit sandpaper to remove a very small amount of wood from around the whole of the inlay and took a bit extra off from the curved area. By removing more wood from that area it gave me a chance to get the inlay to fit something like decently while knowing the gap would be covered by the acorns.

The next thing to do was the pyrography on the leaves and to carve the two acorns which will sit above the leaves. I will show you how I got on in my next post. Just a reminder, if you want to see any more of my work or find out about my books, here is the link to my website.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Oak Box

Hi All
A few weeks ago, I was walking around a shop that sells bric-a-brac and I found a small plank of 1inch thick oak. The price was only £2 so I dug deep into my pocket and purchased it. At that time I didn't know what I would do with it but I thought it would come in handy some day. Well, that day has arrived.

I decided that I would make a small, rustic box from the oak and inlay a couple of oak leaves into the lid. I also thought it would be nice to carve some acorns from wood and stick them on the top. Carving small acorns will be a first for me, so if you follow the rest of this project you will see how I get on.

The first thing I did was sketch the oak leaves that would form the inlay on the box lid. I did the sketch in some detail because it helps with the pyrography work later on. By this I am referring to the shading, which I doubt I would get right first time. If I just jumped in and did the shading with my pyrography iron it would be a disaster especially after I'd cut the inlay. So I sketched the leaves in pencil first and this gave me ample opportunity to practise the shading. Below is the finished sketch.
To produce this sketch there was a fair amount of erasing before I was happy with the composition and the shading. If you look closely at the left hand side you can see some shadow marks where I didn't erase some of the pencil marks properly.

Having produced the sketch my happiness was short lived when I realised that the wood I was going to use for the lid was only 4 inches wide, so my design was to big. The only thing I could do was start again and do a new design that would fit the lid better.
Now you may well be asking what the red dot at the top left hand side is for? That is where the blade entry hole will be drilled when I cut out the inlay. I have mention it before but just to reiterate, Scroll saws will cut sharp corners, but not as sharp as the corner on the end of the leaf stalk. So, by drilling a hole in that position I can cut all the way around the rest of the design without having to worry about sharp corners and end up back at the entry hole.

 You may have also noticed that there is a strange black line going through the acorns.This will be my cut line, and it saves me having to bother with the sharp angle between the two acorns. I can get away with this because I am going to carve two acorns out of wood and they will sit neatly above the curved line.

That's about it for this post, but in the next one the project will get underway and I will start cutting. In the meanwhile, if you want to see some more of my pyrography or scroll sawing work, or even find out about my books, including free offers, please pop over to my website.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Pyrography trinket pot

Hi all,
In my last post I mentioned the various reasons why people do craft work and one of them was to earn some money. Probably not stacks of money, but enough to a least pay for the material consumed by their past time. Some may make a bit more and I suppose it all comes down to a mixture of effort, skill and finding a product that people want to buy.

There has never been a better time for crafts people and artists to sell their work because it can be done over the Internet easily and cheaply. Of course, that brings more competition but if you can provide something unique that people like it is sure to be a decent seller.

I don't have time to make as much stuff as I would like too, and my wife always has first dibs on anything I produce, but every now and again I manage to put up something for sale in my on line shop on It is really easy to set up a shop and it only cost 15p to list an item for 3 months. There is a commission to pay when an item sells, but at only 6% it seems quite reasonable to me.

Anyway, if you have a pyrography iron and want to make something quickly that sells, here are the instruction for making this, "absolutely beautiful little trinket pot."
Those aren't my words, I took them from the review on Folksy that was left buy the purchaser of the last seed head trinket pot that I did some pyrography on. If you are interested in making one to sell or keep for yourself here is how to go about it.

Firstly, you will need a blank pot. These can be purchased from Wood work craft supplies for less than £2.00 each.

Step 1 The lid
Draw four curves on the top of the lid in a symmetrical pattern.

Then do the same around the sides of the pot. You should be able to fit six curves in.
Step 2
Using your pyrography iron, with a spoon tip if you have one, burn a small mark that will represent the seed. Then with the spoon tip inverted, burn the line that leads from the seed. Then, still using the pyrography iron spoon tip in the inverted position burn five short lines from the end of the line in a fan shape. I do the two outside ones first at about 45% and then burn another one in the centre. It is then easy to burn the last two lines between them. This needs to be done quickly on a medium heat setting. When making each burn, put your iron down onto the wood at the top end of the line and then move it away quickly thus making a burn mark that feathers away.
At this stage it looks a bit crude in places, but this project is a quick one and all will be well with the finished project. Once the sides are done it should look something like this.
Right, nearly finished already. With a small brush carefully paint the fluffy bits on the end of the seed heads. You can use acylics or watercolours, the only thing I'd say is this, if you use watercolours, make sure you use a spray varnish. If you use a brush-on type varnish the watercolour paint will come off very quickly.

I used some of my wife's watercolour paints on this pot and then sealed it with a spray varnish. I gave it two coats and it was done.
 My wife kindly put some felt on the bottom of the box and the whole thing was finished. In total, I would say that it took no more than fifteen minutes to create this little pot and I should be able to sell it for three times as much as I paid for the blank pot. I know it isn't going to make me a fortune, but the profit will go towards my next order of materials and that can't be bad.

I will put the box on Folksy in the next couple of days and see if anybody wants it.