Wet Sunday

Posted by jerry on October 3rd, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Motorcycling, Woodwork

Well, it looked fine this morning when Eve was trying to improve my circus skills – yes I can walk the tightwire, even walk on stilts – after a fashion – but the unicycle utterly defeats me for the present. Anyhow, we now have the loan of a pair of strap-on stilts from which I can take a pattern. I’ll let you know how our version turns out, both in the blog and on my site at http://www.lostbiro.com/ where I have the plans for my traditional stilts (as well as the tightrope).

After an exhausting morning doing circussy stuff we had a bite to eat and headed off to Bungendore for an excellent ride on my bike – I adjusted the chain yesterday, providing me with an excuse to do a little test run 😉 We followed the sunshine up to Bungendore and stopped at the wonderful woodwork gallery There were some great chairs and other works by Neil Scobie and there is a current exhibition of work by Terry Martin.

Eve and I had milkshakes in the cafe there and came out just in time to catch a heavy rain shower – luckily we had our wet weather gear and aside from some mild wind gusts, the trip home was quite pleasant – and we had the benefit of a truly fabulous rainbow as we came down the hill into Queanbeyan.

We made a nice curry and rather than watch Titanic yet again, I thought I might get out into the shed and finish off some trellis to complete the final side section of the carport – it looks great – even got the mitres on the corners right this time! I’ll throw up a photo here when Sharon returns with the digital camera.

And now I have the trellis stuff out of my shed at last, I have a bit more room to make the next round of bookcases – so that will be the next little project


Just another day

Posted by jerry on October 1st, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Music, Recipes

Actually the start of a four day weekend for me wooohooo! Up at the crack of 8.30, leisurely breakfast of cereal and coffee, then a browse through the latest Australian Woodworker magazine – good piece on Egyptian lathes and the questions over evidence they had them, and a good article on Angel Polglaze – a chainsaw sculptor. Also a good readers tip on converting a jig saw to a scroll saw.

While my partner busily packed for the Southern Cross Crazies quilting retreat, I put in a bit of practice on some strathspeys – now have Monymusk down fairly well – though probably still too round and Irish sounding for the discerning Scottish ear.

Second breakfast: Apricot lattice (or Danish as we call them) and coffee

A quick bound out to the shed to cut a length of rod for a quilt, and put a couple of grooves in the ends to stop the hanging string from slipping off, then back for more tunes – damn need more waltzes too…

Lunch – some cheese and honey on crusty bread, and coffee

Then late afternoon expedition to cart stuff to the quilters retreat – held at GreenHills at Birragai on the Cotter Road (a beautiful location, even better on the motorbike). They seemed pretty well set up there for the weekend.

Back home, polished the fiddle (it really needs stripping back and re-varnishing – maybe after the China tour), hammered out some more tunes (repaired my old shoulder rest – now about 28 years old and the rubber feet had perished, so I did a quick repair using old bike inner-tube rubber. It’ll do the trick. I use another one on the hardanger fiddle, but it’s convenient to have one on each fiddle because different tunes sometimes demand different instruments.

Prepared some satay and rice for dinner – I love the Pataks simmer sauces – they make life so easy: just chop up an onion, some capsicum, a potato or two into cubes, add some Chinese stir-fry vegies throw the lot into a pan with the sauce and a half-sauce-jar of water and simmer for about 20 minutes (meanwhile dump a couple of cups of rice, dash of salt and a couple of cups of water into the rice cooker and set and forget). The smoke alarm tells you when it’s ready 😉 …er actually no, you remember to stir the satay occasionally and cook until the spuds are no longer crunchy, and serve when the rice is cooked – easy!

Then off to the bus depot to collect my daughter from her trip to Sydney where she is appearing (briefly) in a movie being filmed there – the “Mary Briant”. Eve was most appreciative of a hot dinner after a week of 4.00AM starts and a long cold and wet ride home on the bus. We shared a cup of tea and a exchanged news – her costumes look fabulous… but what have they done to her hair!! I guess the 1780s were a time for big hair and bustles…

Otherwise just a normal day really


Making a violin in 24 steps

Posted by jerry on September 29th, 2004 — Posted in Music, Woodwork

I was giving some thought the other day to how best to put together an online course in fiddle playing. But I am easily distracted, and out of idle curiosity started searching for instructions for making a violin – preferably in as few steps as possible and in the simplest manner possible. But this is a violin we are talking about – they aren’t meant to be easy are they? Well, structurally we are just talking about a box with a handle on it… Anyhow, I encountered Derek Roberts’ site devoted to detailed instructions on making a violin in 24 days – or at least 24 episodes. It is beautifully structured and well illustrated. Even if you are not thinking of making a fiddle – the site will give great insight into what goes into making up a violin. He starts with selecting the wood, and goes from there. It has full marks from my point of view – and I’ll be adding a link from my band’s web site. After all, if you are thinking of doing an online course in fiddle playing, you’d better think about getting yourself a fiddle! Highly recommended 🙂

Shaping the violin neck


Early electric motors

Posted by jerry on September 27th, 2004 — Posted in DIY, Technology, Woodwork

A while ago I made a primitive electric motor using instructions from an old school science book – My excuse was that I wanted my then pre-teen daughter to see how they worked, but really it was as much for my own satisfaction and fun 😉

The one I made used a large bolt (with corresponding nut and washers at each end for balance) which was inserted transversely through a pre-drilled hole in a cylinder of wood. The axis of the cylinder had a couple of nails inserted as axles – and the rotor assembly was supported on thick wire supports. I wound a fairly long length of insulated wire around the bolt and set up two electromagnets made the same way and lined up with the head and nut of the bolt. I used a couple of pieces of tin can tacked to the wooden shaft as contacts for the brushes (which were themselves made from the springy tin cut from a tin can and sanded to make a good contact surface. There were not that many windings so it took four of the big square ‘dolphin torch’ batteries to make it go – but it worked – to the amazement of my neighbour 🙂

A slightly similar (and simpler) one can be found at this site – their motor looks like this:

Electric motor

and they give instructions for making it.

Today, doing a bit of surfing I came across a web site with images of a wide range of early electric motors and their precursors – some fascinating devices! I loved the magnetic beam engine…

Magnetic beam engine



wood finishing – a new technique

Posted by jerry on September 26th, 2004 — Posted in Woodwork

I read about a great finishing technique in Fine Woodworking magazine – it involved treating the varnish as though it were French polish. Now I’ve never been really great at applying smooth finishes – I usually wind up rushing things and putting on too thick a layer of polyurathane varnish and then trying to sand back runs and making a general mess of things.

This week a friend came over bearing an unfinished wooden box, and asking very very nicely if I could just make a small lid insert and slap on a coat of varnish. Obviously she had never seen any of my finished work or she might have looked elsewhere.

I did have some 3mm MDF for the insert and was able to cut it accurately but the finish was the daunting part. Now, I have in the past been able to get a slight french accent on my polish, if not actually achieve the essence of french polish.

Enter Fine Woodworking… the box was assembled, but as yet had no hinges or catches – a good thing – but it was just in roughly dressed timber and still had quite a rough surface. So I set to work with 300 grit sandpaper on my triton orbital sanding attachment, and gave all six surfaces a bit of a going over, then went to a couple of finer grades up to 1500 grit until the surface felt like talc. Then making sure all my brushes were locked away, I cut up some chux superwipes into thirds and folded them over to make a pad, and using a small amount of Wattyl Estapol Gloss I rubbed the gloss varnish into the timber as though it were shellac dissolved in spirit – and voila! one of the best smoothest finishes I have achieved so far!
Wooden box

I reckon the box should be finished and assembled by about Wednesday – more then!

Addendum: And here is the completed box
Completed box

The embroidery is by Annie Whitsed