Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous 30 | Next 30

Aug. 24th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Experiments with Hide Glue

I've been sticking random bits of scrap wood together tonight with hot hide glue (AKA animal glue or pearl glue) because I intend to use it a lot in my concertina restoration and wanted to get a feel for what it's like to work with. This is the really good stuff, made from genuine boiled and distilled bits of dead animal, just like carpenters and instrument-makers used for thousands of years before the invention of modern petrochemical-based synthetic glues.

It's as strong or stronger than modern PVA wood glue and has several important advantages. The two big ones are: 1. It's possible to dismantle a joint without damaging the parts by steaming it until it softens. 2. You can often assemble joints without any clamps because it goes quite tacky in less than a minute as it cools and gels, then gradually pulls the joint tighter over the next few hours as it dries out, shrinks and goes rock-hard. It's also incredibly cheap - I bought enough of it on eBay to make up 3 litres of glue (that's a lot of glue) for less than £10. I'd expect to pay at least three times that for a good quality PVA glue (more if you buy it in small quantities).

Disadvantages are that it's more faff to work with (you need to mix it with the right amount of water in advance and then heat it carefully to liquify the gel), once mixed it has a limited shelf-life (though it can be frozen), it isn't waterproof (no good for garden furniture then), you don't have much time to assemble a large/complicated joint before it goes tacky (heating the wood a bit first helps), and it smells quite "interesting" when in its hot liquid form.

I also wanted to have a try at hammer veneering because I'm thinking of using this technique to make the new ends for the concertina. This involves using hot hide glue and a heavy smooth-faced metal squeegee to stick a very thin sliver of wood (often something exotic and visually attractive) onto the visible surface of another (usually cheaper and stronger) piece of wood. I don't have a purpose-made veneer hammer, but it turns out my largest blacksmith's cross-pein hammer makes an excellent substitute. I don't have any veneer yet either, so I glued a piece of scrap card of about the right thickness onto some scrap plywood instead. It was very easy to do (following instructions I've read on the web) and, as far as I can tell, it worked perfectly the first time.

The next thing to try is inlays, which is where you cut out an area of the veneer and replace it with something visually different of exactly the same shape and thickness (e.g. a veneer cut from a different coloured wood, a piece of mother-of-pearl, or a sheet of brass/silver/gold).

Aug. 20th, 2013



My concertina arrived today! Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Here's what I wrote to wibble_puppy when it first arrived this afternoon:

"Only when I opened the lid of the box did I realise that I have bought an item of genuine highly-concentrated Steampunk! Not that fake brass cogs stuck on with hot-melt glue nonsense, this is a real live Victorian music machine. Just gently holding it between my hands I can feel the excitement crammed inside; the thrumming buzzing dancing notes itching to be let back out to play."

Aug. 17th, 2013



I bought a concertina! It's an antique (roughly 1880s) 48-key English Lachenal Inimitable. According to the eBay seller it's playable as-is but could do with a fair bit of TLC to bring it up to a decent standard. Also the original pierced rosewood end covers have been replaced with plain aluminium plates. Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

I'm very excited by the challenges of restoring and learning to play it (though much more confident of success in the former task!).

Jul. 28th, 2013

Bigger hammer

New knife

The main reason I built a forge was to make my own wood carving tools. Last week I made my first knife. Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Jul. 17th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Cookie Monster

Am I the only one who finds web site cookie permission requests much more annoying than just silently setting cookies? I just came across a particularly broken example. It:

Pops up a translucent box full of legalese that obscures the bottom of the page.
Doesn't give you an option to reject cookies.
Requires you to tick a box to say you have read the legalese before you click the accept button.
Every time you tick the box and click accept, it redirects you to the front page of the site and pops up the cookie permission box again.

Jul. 7th, 2013

Bigger hammer


I made Horace for my youngest niece's birthday present: Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Jul. 3rd, 2013

Bigger hammer


G recently asked me to overhaul a replica catapult. Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Jun. 12th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Anonymous Morris Jig Doll

Last weekend I went down to Wimborne Minster to help out watervole, who was organising the dance programme for the folk festival (more on that later, perhaps). I also took her a gift that I had been intending to make for over a year. Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Mar. 25th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Dagger Grip

G asked me to make a new grip (handle) for one of his replica historical re-enactment knives. It originally had a rather horrible moulded bakelite grip with Nazi insignia on it. The new grip is the same shape but without the markings and hand-carved from seasoned Ash: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Mar. 23rd, 2013

Hijinks Ensue

Little Bruno

I recently whittled a little dog as a present for my friend SMS, who has published a lovely illustrated kids' story book called If I had a Dog. Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Mar. 14th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Angel Figurines

I recently made a little angel figurine for my mum, who collects them: Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Mar. 11th, 2013

Hijinks Ensue

Anyone want to buy an Eastercon membership?

Unfortunately my finances are in no better state than when I had to skip Redemption last month (and Return of the Ring last year), so it looks like I'm going to have to give Eastercon a miss this year. Does anyone want to buy my full adult attending membership at a discount? I'd be happy to accept £40, or make me an offer. Feel free to pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

ETA: Membership sold.

Fingers crossed that I'll be able to afford to go to Satellite 4 and Worldcon next year.

Mar. 9th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Little Box with Drawer

I made this little oak box with a drawer in it for my eldest niece's birthday present: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Mar. 8th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Little Oak Bowl

Here's a small oak bowl (about 4" diameter) that I made for my dad's Christmas present: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )
Bigger hammer

Bud Vase

Here's a little bud vase I turned from a pice of ash for my mum's Christmas present: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Feb. 16th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Little Rolling Pin

Here's a little rolling pin that my youngest niece and I turned from a piece of well-seasoned beech: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Feb. 3rd, 2013

Bigger hammer

Finger Tops

Flushed with the success of the big spinning top I posted about yesterday, I decided to turn a bunch of little finger tops to give away as stocking-fillers. Photos after the cut...Collapse )

Feb. 2nd, 2013

Bigger hammer

Turning Top

I've recently taken up wood turning[1]. One of the first things I made on my own lathe was an ornament for my eldest niece's Christmas present: Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

The surface finish is just beeswax polish, applied and buffed with the lathe turning at high speed. The knob on the top is made from oak IIRC. The first one I made flew out of the lathe chuck while I was polishing it and vanished. I wasted ten minutes searching for it before giving up and making another. I later found the lost one on the floor right behind where I had been standing! (Though actually I think the second one turned out better than the first).

[1] I made a tool rest and other wood-turning accessories for my Taig/Peatol lathe and have put together a nice collection of turning chisels/gouges, mostly second hand Ashley Iles tools found on eBay. The lathe is quite small and isn't as rigid as I'd like, but I've managed to make some nice things on it.

Feb. 1st, 2013

Bigger hammer

Tiny Trawler

While staying in the lovely Rhenigidale Youth Hostel we had a few days when wibble_puppy wasn't feeling well and it rained quite a bit, so we stayed in and rested by the cosy coal stove. One of the things I did to pass the time was to whittle a little model fishing trawler: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Jan. 31st, 2013

Bigger hammer

Eigg Whistle

The final thing I whittled while staying on Eigg was an egg-shaped whistle, which I gave to my littlest niece for Christmas: Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Jan. 30th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Barley Twist Whistle

I made this one a few months ago and gave it to my middle niece as a Christmas present. It's a small whistle carved from a quite dense fruit wood (possibly wild cherry): Photo behind the cut...Collapse )

Jan. 29th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Serving Spoon

This was wibble_puppy's main Christmas present from me. It is a serving spoon that I whittled from a lovely piece of burr beech while we were staying on Eigg: Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Jan. 28th, 2013

Bigger hammer

Beech Box

Over the past few months I've done quite a few small wood-carving and turning projects; mostly birthday and Christmas gifts for people. I'd like to show you some of them, so I'll be posting a series of photos over the next few days.

This is a small box that I carved from a burr beech log for my middle niece's birthday present while staying on the Isle of Eigg:Photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Aug. 7th, 2012

Hijinks Ensue

Return of the Ring membership for sale

Unfortunately I'm not going to make it to the Return of the Ring Tolkien convention in Loughborough on the 16th-20th August. Would anyone like to buy my full adult attending membership for £45 (half the current rate)?

Jun. 27th, 2012



Annoyingly, I don't seem to be able to post photos to LJ from my laptop since they upgraded Scrapbook. Both Safari and Firefox crash right after the progress bar reaches 100%. I know I could post them elsewhere and link to the image URL from my journal entry, but the Scrapbook facility was quite convenient.

May. 4th, 2012

Hijinks Ensue

Java Embedded Scripting Engines

Apologies for the reduced posting frequency; I've started Twittering (under the same user name as I have on LJ), and I'm finding it easier to put any brief thoughts and snippets of news on there than to write a proper journal entry.

I recently put an embedded BeanShell interpreter in ConText so that users can easily add new filters and outputs without needing to first download and set up a development system capable of building ConText. Long post that probably won't be of interest to non-programmers...Collapse )

Apr. 11th, 2012

Hijinks Ensue

Olympus 2012 Con Report

I don't seem to have written a proper public con report since DWCon 2008. I believe I have missed out Novacon in late 2008; Redemption, LX and Satellite 2 in 2009; Odyssey in 2010; Redemption and Illustrious in 2011; and Satellite 3 earlier this year. Bad Alex.

Last weekend I attended my seventh Eastercon. Long report follows...Collapse )

Apr. 2nd, 2012

Bigger hammer

Google Calendar doesn't import iCalendar Attendees

I'm putting this here where Google will index it, to hopefully save others from banging their heads against the same problem. There are some discussion threads around referring to this issue but few definite conclusions, and the Google Calendar developers appear to be remaining silent on the matter.

  • Google Calendar events can include a list of attendees (though it calls them Guests).
  • The iCalendar data format also supports attendees.
  • When you export a Google Calendar to iCalendar data, the attendees are included.
  • When you import iCalendar data into a Google Calendar, the attendees are silently ignored.

I've just spent over an hour trying to find a bug in a program I've written which generates iCalendar data. The attendees show up fine when I import the data into Apple iCal but they don't appear in Google Calendar. What eventually convinced me that it is a Google Calendar import bug/limitation rather than a problem with my code is this: Read more...Collapse )

Mar. 26th, 2012

Hijinks Ensue

Plural oddity

1. There are many crafts on display at the craft fair.
2. The are many craft on display at the aircraft museum.

Also: "craft fair" or "arts and crafts fair"?

Mar. 19th, 2012

Bigger hammer

How to force Java applications to run in 32 bit mode on Mac OS X

I'm writing this mainly so that Google will index it and hopefully it will provide the solution for anybody else who runs into the same problem.

If you have a Java application on Mac OS X that is contained in an application bundle created using Jar Bundler, it includes a native executable in your.app/Contents/MacOS/JavaApplicationStub that automatically runs the JRE in 64 bit mode when you run it on a 64 bit capable Mac. You can check if this has happened by running your application and looking at the Kind column in Activity Monitor.

My problem was that my Java application was trying to integrate with Open Office, which is currently a 32 bit only application. My program, running in 64 bit mode, tried to dynamically load the OO libraries and failed because they are only available in 32 bit format. I didn't discover this during development because I have a 2006 vintage Mac Mini that only has a 32 bit processor and a 2003 vintage iBook that has a G4 PPC processor. One of my beta testers had a newer Mac and was unable to get the program to output anything to OpenOffice. Read on for the solution...Collapse )

Previous 30 | Next 30