Things Worth Mentioning

I have had a busy week with lots going on behind the scenes. The video on perspective sketches seemed popular so I am glad we did that and put it out via YouTube. I am never sure whether some things are helpful or not but I did want to encourage people to start drawing. This is clay on the wheel to see where it goes for folks. I think it’s worth spending an hour a week at the drawing board because it brings greater clarity to your thoughts and is not crowded out by the computer. We also let everyone know about the giveaway which is the actual drawing from the video so if you haven’t entered here is the link for that too.

Some things are good and some things are not so good. Some things invasive seem to make sense at first glance but then they can seem like that screaming motorbike in the midst of a quiet road or someone’s radio blaring from their car at the lights with the driver visibly euphoric in an oblivion to the distress they cause all around them.

I walked past big ponds and gravel pits now filled with wild life along paths in pleasing places to recoup. I’m enjoying the ambience; the woodland walks open my senses; a green woodpecker sports full colour; a silent nuthatch punctuates where I am; the equally silent treecreeper spirals up and down the tree trunk before I stumble across these two hideous signs. I know, they are meant to forewarn people not to do something or be aware of something. I get it! But whereas these signs somehow give the impression of temporariness, we all know they will remain muddied and ragged until they eventually disintegrate. But they occupy a scenic place and plastic coverings to paper innards intended not to be permanent remain there until they breakdown and filter their way into bird nesting somewhere along the pipeline of devalued life. After a few days of wind and rain they become evermore ugly and we, well we feel powerless somehow; invaded by thoughtlessness. So here in Oxfordshire there is some amazing work for wildlife and sustainable culture enhancement and we appreciate efforts people make. I ask if we couldn’t please be a little more creative for appropriate and pleasing signage. Consider all elements of environmental pollution. It’s not just the plastic that pollutes. Signage almost always pollutes when not done as it should be.

Two spokeshaves came in this week via eBay and I will be providing more info on this soon. The one spokeshave was very nice, new and unused, never sharpened. The other of the same vintage came with incorrect screws but something that just filled a threaded hole and what looked like low grade Dremel buzz work for removing rust. It was one of those quick flog it things with no heart behind it. Perhaps this owner knew nothing of the wrongs but perhaps he/she did, who knows? For my part I knew something was wrong by the pics. I knew i could fix the wrongs so I bought it, alongside the new one. I wanted to show something and buying the two suits my purpose.

I made a picture frame today using a mitres tenon joint. It came out nicely and this evening `i put some coats of shellac on it to finish it out. Tomorrow I will most likely vacuum press the drawing that’s to go into it and then get it into the frame.

I love fountain pens and I bought two identical ones from the same eBay seller. In fact I made an offer for the two for £9 instead of the £5 each and also got free shipping. When they arrived i loved them. I filled them and tried them, both with very fine nibs and they wrote as smoothly as any of the finest pens. If you like fine fountain pens you should buy one of these because they are just lovely. Where are they from? China. Personally, I think some of the well known pen makers with a name established over two centuries could learn something here when it comes to fineness and scratch free writing. At least Parker got the colour if the ink write (pun intended).

Honourable mention

I own a few bevel-up planes. Some, one especially, dates back to the early 1800s. I like them well enough, quite. I think these two are worthy of honourable mention because they are so well made and I have tested them out over a number of years too. The small one is the small bevel-up plane. I keep it close to hand for a certain type of unpredictable work. Small work mostly. That unheavy work I come across from time to time that I might use say a #3 for but not a block plane. These are both made by Veritas under the titles bevel-up jack and bevel-up small plane. Something like that.

Another plane I bought on eBay is a vintage #3 Stanley with a broken handle. It looks like the handle would just glue fine but I though it was time to make a video in making a replacement handle because they often break or arrive broken. The glued up handle is actually very solid so I left well alone and simply reshaped it for a smaller sized handle. All plane components are in good shape with hardly any wear at all. I love #3s though I didn’t need another. This one I bought for just £18.50. Most likely I’ll pass it on after it’s done.

So I ended up here. It feels very nice now. Solid and smooth.

27 thoughts on “Things Worth Mentioning”

  1. Diego Demeulemeester

    Looking forward to all your these things you mention coming…

    I already bought an old no 3 to rehab for my little boy. He has my interest in figuring out how things work. Even though he’s only 15 months old.


    1. My boy is the same age and has the same interest. Maybe a no.1 is better suited for a toddler 😉

      1. In my view and generally speaking at least, it’s best that toddlers should not really be using hand planes at so young an age. By toddlers you are saying 12-18 months old. That is too young for just about any tool for a child that age in my view. At that age children can be unpredictable as well as unable. They are tenaciously enthusiastic but when the result does not match expectation, be that theirs or the parents, it becomes frustrating to all concerned but especially the child. There are many things parents can do to encourage their children and a rasp and sandpaper are two safe sources of adventure. Of course all children need constant supervision and encouragement. Parents are the best to recognise age-appropriate tools but only if indeed they are familiar with using the tools themselves. By tools I mean hand tools and not machines, hand held or stationary.

        1. Totally agree Paul Sellers could also be dangous planes have sharp blades that could cause a very nasty cut to a child I think far to young to be honest

  2. Hi Paul and Crew,
    Speaking of things worth mentioning, I wanted to make you aware of a new program just started. Narrow Gate Exchange is an NPO working with Wood-miser and Marc Adams School or Woodworking to equipment and train teams of locals in developing countries to start furniture businesses. Wood-miser is donating portable saw mills. MASW is providing free craftsmanship training with hand tools. Then the men spend time in Tennessee at NGE to hone skills and learn business skill. Check them out. They have some common goals with your organization. Cheers, Doug

  3. I would be interested in seeing more of you photography. You have an eye too see things that most people do not.

  4. Quink Royal Blue, it appears. And it explains the intense-blue of your drawings. Have a bottle of the same ink sitting unused in a drawer; I prefer Lamy’s blue ink, which has a more steelish/grey colour. Mostly because that’s what I grew up writing with in school and got used to, I think. The Royal blue is just too intensely blue for my taste. Have been refilling my own old cartridges from an ink bottle, using a syringe, since first year of university, as a cartridge lasted me less than two days. Buying cartridges at that rate was an expensive proposition for a young student.

    Have been using a Parker Vector since age 13. Now on my second one, this time with a ‘X’ (extra fine) nib. I can’t tell any difference between Parker’s ‘F’ and ‘M’ nibs, both are far too wide for my liking, feels like writing with a felt marker. In frustration I’ve ground one of the supposed-F nibs myself using very fine sandpaper (1000 and 2500 grit, followed with a leather strop with honing compound). First time I had a nib I actually liked, till I came upon another Parker pen that had an original ‘X’ nib (the Vector was never sold with an ‘X’ nib, to my knowledge). Transplanted the ‘X’ nib in my daily-carry Vector and have been a happy man ever since.

    My favourite pen though is a no-nonsense Rotring ArtPen EF (extra fine); much more expressive writing possible with that. Pity the pen is much too long for carrying in a shirt pocket, which is a requirement for me. So it’s the Parker Vector (stainless steel) that is my daily companion.

  5. António Santos

    Can you please elaborate more on the Veritas bevel up plane? When do you use the bevel up jack plane vs the stanley bevel down jack plane?

    Thanks, regards

    1. Generally the best use for bevel-up planes is on end grain in hardwoods that have dense grain. Cherry, walnut, ash, elm, beech, maple and then exotics if you indeed use exotics. That said, you can do everything with a bevel-down plane that you can with a BU whereas you cannot generally achieve all that you can with a BD plane using a BU plane.

  6. Some of your audience hangs on your every word when it comes to products they think will give them the advantage gained actually by years. I think an article about the no-name tools we discover along the way that turn out to serve our purpose would help them assess quality and utility instead of just buying a brand name. — Just a thought

    1. Phill
      If you look at most of Paul’s post that is often part of what he does. His last few serious tool reviews dealt with low end saws and planes and getting them to a usable state and/or what to avoid in the purchase.

  7. I look forward to seeing a video on making a replacement handle for a plane. I have one from my father and it needs a new handle…it would be a pleasure restoring it following your instructions.

    1. Hi Norval,
      I hope I am not speaking out of turn or butting in on Paul Sellers’ future posts – if I am, I apologise.

      The Lee Valley website has a bunch of templates for plane handles (or totes as they call them). The drawings also provide clues on how to make them. (The best template will be the handle on the plane if it is original, not missing or very badly damaged.)

      The ideal will be a PS video and a template but if you need a handle before the video appears, the LV website will enable you to have a go at it. Here is the Lee Valley link

      It all looks amazingly straightforward from my perspective of theoretical plane-handle maker (i.e. I have never made one myself!). A couple of my planes will benefit from my acquisition of this skill. One has a broken (but functionally repaired); one is an excellent plane but with plastic handles – it needs rosewood for reasons of pure snobbery!

      Looking forward to that video.


      1. I have a system for it that puts the hole dead on at the right angle and exactly where it needs to be. When you see it you go, “Oh, why did I not think of that!” No one’s done this to my knowledge. no guess work, no eyeballing.

        1. That, I believe, is one part of the job which, if not done correctly, can turn a nice piece of wood into a piece of scrap.

          I had started to work out how I would do it but will now wait to see your method. Typically your solutions to these challenges are quicker, easier, simpler and better than most other peoples.

          Looking forward to this video!

    2. Hi Norval,
      I hope I am not speaking out of turn or butting in on Paul Sellers’ future posts – if I am, I apologise.

      The Lee Valley website has a bunch of free templates for plane handles (totes as they call them). The drawings also provide clues on how to make them. (The best template will be the handle on your plane if it is original, not missing or very badly damaged.)

      The ideal will be a Paul Sellers video and a template but if you need a handle before the video appears, the LV website will enable you to have a go at it. Here is the Lee Valley link

      It all looks amazingly straightforward from my perspective of ‘theoretical plane-handle-maker’ (i.e. I have never made one myself!). A couple of my planes will benefit from my acquisition of this skill. One has a broken (but functionally repaired) handle; one is an excellent plane but with plastic handles – it needs rosewood for reasons of pure snobbery!

      My plane handles will wait for until after the video appears unless a bad break forces me to change priorities.

  8. You say near the start of this blog, “I am never sure whether some things are helpful or not…”

    Please don’t have have sleepless nights worrying about this! Even when a blog may not seem to be immediately relevant, it is still worth reading. Often the information can be applied to other tools, situations etc. Drawing is so often useful and my skills are pretty poor – so I appreciate a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes you give information about a tool I am ‘sure’ I will never need – that is until a few months later when I experience that, “What I need is…” moment and quickly finding myself searching out the old blog for the priceless information.
    I am guessing that you recall your apprenticeship days and your later teaching of apprentices in great detail (plus you have your notebooks). That experience gives you a first class insight into what we need.

  9. Fountain Pens: I use an ink called “Bernanke Blue” by Nooder’s – I am a lefty and also like to sketch in ink. This one dries very fast. It is a nice blue (but not the most beautiful blue you’ve ever seen), and the fast drying makes it bleed just very slightly (which is much better than smears from the dotted “i”s and crossed “t”s).
    I also tried the Bernanke Black, same concept, just slightly longer drying times.

  10. Paul,
    the signs on the gate in your photograph are indeed a bit of an eyesore, but I know that the Earth Trust who manage this site recognises this and uses them with reluctance for that very reason. It is difficult to get across to some members of the public that this is a nature reserve. Cycling and horse riding in the reserve isn’t appropriate and isn’t permitted. The water is deep and, in summer especially, due to algae bloom, swimming in the lake is dangerous. Finding signs that advise people of this without the negative overtones of “you can’t do this and don’t do that”, and which at the same time are unobtrusive, is quite a challenge.

    It is interesting that the prominence of the notices on the gate does draw the eye to them, completely overshadowing the fact that the gate itself is doing nothing! To the right and left of it the rustic fences have been destroyed, probably by horse riders and motorcyclists wanting access (yes, they occasionally get inside the reserve too). I’ve re-built these fences temporarily on several occasions myself as I’ve strolled through, but they’ve always been knocked down again by the next visit. A more permanent repair is on the to do list.

    As for the signs themselves, rest assured, in this case anyway, they won’t “remain muddied and ragged until they eventually disintegrate”. The Earth Trust warden checks the site at least once a week, as do volunteers such as myself. If any need removing or replacing I’m confident it’ll be done before they fall to bits and become hazardous to wildlife. More of a hazard is the litter that visitors discard around the reserve. The warden and volunteers pick this up regularly too.

    1. I’m sorry, Mike, I understand your defending an organisation you believe in and then too the volunteering that makes our outdoors pleasant to be in. My concern was more towards the pollution caused by permanent signage in temporary packaging. We all need a temporary notice now and then, but these two signs are really not temporary signs at all as the two dangers noted there will be ever-present for the long term future: they are indeed permanent warnings in temporary packaging. I have no problem with seeing good signage permanently displayed for the common good. If we just keep walking past the signs day in day out then we become complicit with it and it is an eyesore in my view so maybe time for a good change?

      1. Hi Paul,
        Yes, you’re probably right. It looks like it’s only the sign on the right about cycling that is in temporary packaging. Originally I don’t think there was a “no cycling” sign at all before the temporary sign; no sign of course is better. However, despite there being a Sustrans cycle route running adjacent to and around the reserve, more and more cyclist have been opting to cycle through it (perhaps we’ve made it too lovely!), hence I guess the temporary signs. It may be that the Warden eventually takes them down again anyway, rather than replace them. I’ll have a word with them and see what the plans are.

        1. I’m afraid it is a sad disregard in supporting conservation work by a narrow margin of people. The vandalism of breaking down fences and trashing with unnecessary litter too. It is shameful and I agree that the litter is worse than signage. If you can organise the art work I’ll gladly donate up to £200 for neat weather resistant signs. I love what Earth Trust does for us. And I still have two benches and tools to donate to Earth Trust too.

          1. Paul, that is a very generous offer! Thank you. I will let Lucy (the Warden) know. Just a thought, I know you’re very busy, but I’m sure you’d be very welcome to join us to meet everyone, if only for our coffee break, on one of our Thursday group meetings at the lake?

  11. Paul, I too love fountain pens and own several – some vintage and some new, but none very expensive. As with most things, I don’t believe that expense is a necessary corollary to the satisfaction/enjoyment one gets from a product. So, I wanted to check out the pens that you bought but you did not mention the brand or provide a link – could you share that?


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