Pochette – finished at last

Posted by jerry on March 13th, 2008 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Music, Woodwork

Many of you will have been following my progress on building a pochette or travel fiddle on my other blog
After a total of about ten days work spread over about six weeks I now have a pochette! They said it takes ages to learn how to make a violin – they were right – I must’ve studied violin making for at least three hours, reading the whole book from cover to cover (ok looked at the pictures…).

Bit of work on the bandsaw, the drill press and the angle grinder and there it was…

And quite suddenly the instrument was finished.

As I tightened the strings I could hear that at least some of my wild guesses were right, and I was rewarded with a warm sound almost as loud as a normal violin. In fact it is as loud as my Maggini copy. That was my first surprise. The second was that with the first tuning up the wood moved to accommodate the strain and the strings quickly went out of tune. But after a couple of hours it stabilised and I was rewarded with quite a reasonable sound at good volume. Not too bad for a first attempt!

Here is the instrument that inspired mine

And finally – what does it sound like? I’ll let you be the judge!


Seventeenth century room panelling installation

Posted by jerry on March 10th, 2008 — Posted in DIY, Woodwork

Not my room (pity) but I thought this was a wonderful challenge to set a woodworker. It seems that a person in the US bought a whole room’s worth of Jacobean seventeenth century English oak wood paneling at auction and has commissioned a woodworker to get it ready for installation. Trouble is, it’s been stored for years in separate components and needs to be re-assembled and adapted to fit a completely different room – for the second time.

William Randolph Hearst the eccentric publisher apparently bought the paneling from an old country estate in the UK and shipped it to the USA. When the Hearsts auctioned off a pile of stuff in 1998, the paneling was among the goods sold.

Enter Woodwkr blog – the author of which has been given the challenge (!) of fitting this paneling in a new setting. His blog describes the process of sorting, digitising, designing and where necessary making new components to match, and getting the whole lot ready for installation.

The latest post has a great story of how he came up with an idea to get the panels so sit flat for installation.

Collapsible travel firestaffs

Posted by jerry on February 26th, 2008 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork

So you spin firestaffs and your transport is a motorbike eh? Bit long for the backpack? Ok here is the solution – firestaffs with removable ends. At least that was the design brief I was given. The key thing was to have matching firestaffs each of 900mm length but able to break down to a maximum of 600mm length. In rough terms in the old measurements that is two firestaffs of three-foot length, but breaking down to 2 feet maximum length.


The key tool here was a plumbers flaring tool and a hammer. I bought a couple of lengths of aluminium tube and one length of a slightly oversize aluminium tube – the one able to slide freely over the other.

The thinner tube I cut to 600mm (24 inches), the thicker tube I cut four pieces 200mm (8 inches). I then cut four short pieces of the thinner tube – about 100mm (4 inches) and used the flaring tool to expand ONE end so they would not slide all the way down the wider tube. I filled these with dowel shaved to fit. Then I inserted the shortest tubes into each of the wider and longer short tubes and drilled them for the wick.

Using 300mm of wick on each (one foot) I attached the wick wound tightly to the short ends. Once all four wicks were screwed tight with screws and washers, I slid these over the long tubes. There was a bit of slack so I wound a little tape around teh top of the long tubes so the fit would be snug.


Then I drilled two holes at rght angles through the short and long tube so they would match and bolted them together with 25mm 3/16″ bolts. This secures them so they won’t wobble even if the packing tape is worn away.

I also marked each end cap with the correct end by punching tiny dents on both the long staff and the short caps. That way the bolt holes will line up easily even if you haven’t drilled them perfectly evenly.


And that’s that – two matching collapsible fire staffs – Enjoy them safely.

Treecycle – the amazing wooden bike

Posted by jerry on February 12th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Woodwork

While most teenagers are content to kick a footy, 16 year old Marco Facciola was in the woodshop fabricating a bicycle entirely from wood – no metal or rubber parts – just wood, good joinery and a bit of glue. Even the chain is made from hundreds of wooden components and it all works – even down to the free-wheeling ratchet so he wouldn’t have to pedal down hills. As part of his International Baccalaureate studies he had to complete a non-academic project. In this case he recalled stories his grandfather told him of how during the Second World War, rubber was short, so kids made wooden wheels fo rtheir bikes. Marco took this a stage (or two) further and built the entire bike.

Wooden bike

It may not be the first (although the one pictured in Leonardo daVinci’s Notebooks appears to have been a forgery) but it is more sophisticated than most others in having a working wooden chain and freewheeling ratchet.

You can read more about this amazing bike in Lea Valley Tools as well as Gizmodo

and in newspapers, like the Montreal Gazette


Jimmy Carter’s Workshop

Posted by jerry on February 10th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

Former US President Jimmy Carter has been known for his Presidency and his international diplomacy since leaving office. But not many people know that he is also a very skilled woodworker.

Each year he produces a special piece to auction for charity – Since his first auction in 1983 he has raised over US$10m.

I a short video he gives a rare glimpse into his workshop next to his house in Plains, Georgia, USA. It’s worth a look 🙂