Monday, February 28, 2011

Sturt Short Courses in Woodworking 2011

As a follow up from my trip to Sturt I'd like to mention some of their courses. In addition to their 1 year Cert IV in Fine Furniture Making they also offer a series of evening courses, 12 week courses and weekend courses. Info for the weekend courses is listed below with a link to their site for more details.

Basic woodwork with Paul Nicholson
2nd & 3rd April 2011                                   $260 including GST

Paul Nicholson is a furniture designer/maker and has been a member of the Splinter Workshop for 8 years. Paul is a graduate of the Sturt School for Wood and has a special interest in traditional wood working methods and the use of hand tools.

This course is designed for  absolute beginners providing an introduction to woodwork by exposing participants to some basic methods including marking out, sawing, planning, paring (chiseling), assembling, sanding and finishing.  The project is a serving tray with a dovetail joint at each corner and hand shaped handles. There will be some scope for personalisation if time permits.

Please bring with you writing materials, dust mask and wear closed shoes. An apron is optional.  All working materials will be provided (wood, glue, finishing oil, rags, sand paper and disposable gloves). All tools will be provided but if you have any or all of the following please bring them (and please put your name on them): dove tail saw, small cross cut saw, marking knife, pencil, tri square, bevel gauge, block plane, rasp, small chisels (6-12mm), card scraper.

Making joints with Jim Littlefield
18th & 19th June 2011                              $260 including GST

Jim Littlefield is a professional cabinetmaker of 35 years experience, teaching apprentice cabinetmakers for the past twenty and playing a large part in the restoration of the 100 foot steam yacht Ena in the 80s. At this time, Jim exhibited his work with the NSW Woodworkers’ Association,  editing their newsletter as well as being technical editor of Australian Woodsmith magazine. Jim advocates the mastery of traditional hand skills and traditional construction as the foundation of good and satisfying cabinetmaking and joinery.

Learn to use sharp, quality hand tools to produce a range of traditional cabinetmaking joints that may include housing and rebate joints, tongue and groove joints, halving joints, mitre joints, mortise and tenon joints and dovetail joints. A small project such as an instrument case will be produced using some of these joints.  Beginner and intermediate level.

Please bring with you writing materials, dust mask and wear closed shoes. An apron is optional.
The  course fee is $260 (including GST). Payment and the completion of an enrolment form are essential to book a position. Enrolment forms are available at or from Sturt Gallery: 02 4860 2083. These courses will be held from 9.30 until 4.30 in Sturt part time wood workshop. Tea and coffee are provided.  Students bring their own lunch or order lunch from Sturt CafĂ©.

Cnr Waverley Pde & Range Rd Mittagong NSW
Ph 02 4860 2083

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oh, so that's what it will look like....

The Anniversary table has been a long time in the coming. To check proportions and decide on final sizing and shaping I assembled the piece in our small courtyard. The shaker inspired modern table is a 2x1m trestle table with two benches capable of sitting eight comfortably. 

The benches will be assembled with long screws covered by ebony plugs - keeping the detail of the top.

In the shaker design which uses 3/4" timber (cf. 1 1/2" timber in my piece) there is a stretcher beneath the benches to prevent racking and increase strength. Although this is not needed with the thicker timber I plan to add a smaller stretcher for aesthetics. 

The top I've had completed and finished for nearly 6 months. Given the heat we've had lately the top has shrunk about 1.5cm across it's 1m width. The breadboards were designed for 2cm of movement so this isn't a problem (other than needing to tidy the breadboards).

Since this last photo was taken I've shaped the stretcher supporting the two legs. In keeping with the rest of the piece. It now has a gentle curve thinning the mid section. The ends will be tightened with keyed m&t joints which need to be shaped and sanded.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sturt School for Woodworking

Due to a few fortunate circumstances I was able to make it to Sturt School for Wood Hand Tool event this past weekend. The weekend appeared to be a great success with many positive responses from those in attendance. In contrast to the Sydney Wood Show it was more relaxed, more friendly, and more focused. In the well gardened Sturt grounds it thoroughly enjoyable to attend a few demonstrations and chat to some tool makers over a bbq.

The demonstration area with Matthew Doyle teaching on hand cut joinery.
Matthew Doyle demonstrating a Japanese style saw. 

Trent Prowie of Harold & Saxon Chisels
Terry Gordon of HNT Gordon Planes.

The Traditional Tool Group (unposed photo)
Chris Vesper of Vesper Tools
Dovetailing demonstration by Paul Nicholson

Photos of the Sturt Grounds

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Carbatec CT-2042 Back in Action

The main dust extractor for my shop is a 2HP Carbatec CT-2042. Over a month ago it sucked up a large piece of wood splitting the case and bending two impeller blades. Various fixes were proposed and discussed. This week I've been able to test it out, and so far so good.


In the end the fix is rather primitive. After opening the weld and re-closing the case I had several options to reseal it. Without access to welding equipment I attempted solder and blind rivets. I didn't have too much success. 

With the epoxy out for other projects I thought why not. (After all the auto industry uses epoxy based gels as fuel tank patches.) With the glue set a new paint job was applied to neaten things up. 

The impeller was even more crude, using a hammer, an eyeball, and a persuasive swinging motion, it moved back into place. I don't have a photo but I was able to get a reasonable angle (just slightly straigher than the others)

Carbatec are still looking for a replacement part.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bench Seats Dry Fit

The two benches are nearly ready for sanding and finishing. The various sections will be glued and screwed together, with the screws covered in ebony plugs. 

Inspiration photos. At present I haven't prepared the stretcher beneath and are interested in people's thoughts as to whether it is needed or wanted.

Finally back to the shaker table...

I was getting a bit worried that this 'woodworking blog' had very little actually 'woodworking'. However with better weather, a dust extractor back in action, and some free time; today I was able to get back to work on the Anniversary Shaker table. 

On the power jointer/thicknesser I was able to mill the three remaining large sections of timber. The two bench seats are solid myrtle 290mm x 36mm x ~2000mm. (Unfortunately trimmed from ~310mm to fit into the planner.)

The stretcher to go between the two legs is at present ~100mm x 38mm x ~1800mm. I'm still debating adding a subtle curve like the rest of the pieces and would be interested in peoples feedback on that. 

There are still a few smaller sections to mill another day.

I'm still working on the final shaping for the legs and will start sanding in the next few days. Progress is slow, but there is progress none-the-less.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tool Review: 2 Terrys - Blow Fly Sander Part 2

I acquired the Blow Fly with a particular job in mind. That is to sand the curve on off the ellipse cut on the bench legs. There were rough marks left during the cutting phase. In the past I have used a spindle sander to remove these with good results. 



This is one task however, the Blow Fly did not excel at. The cloth backed abrasive sand paper folded around the wood. This preferentially sanded the edges and not the center, resulting in a curved edge. In the above left photo how the marks are removed only on the edges. I cut the sand paper as advised on Stu's Shed to stop the paper folding in the center. This improved things but as you can see in the right photo the consistent round over is altered. 

As it is so often a trusty hand tool saved the day. A vice, a rasp, and some elbow grease got things back on track. With most of the marks removed I could then used the Blow Fly not as a shaper but as a sander.

(In retrospect I would have made my initial cuts neater. Two options to improve the cutting radius of the jigsaw would be to use a shorter blade for tighter curves or remove the top section of wood with a large diameter forstner drill bit.) 

What the Blow Fly sander excelled at was sanding the natural edge portions of the project. This reason alone would justify it's purchase when using natural edged wood. It had just the right amount of flexible to round over the edges in a fast and efficient manner. Some hand sanding is still required but I much prefer this to more aggressive options like a grinder. The Blow Fly mounted in a hand drill would quickly allow the edge of a natural slab table to be smoothed.

In conclusion, the Blow Fly is a well made and innovative tool. Although it didn't fulfill the purpose I had for it, what it does to do it does very well and is a welcomed asset in the wood shop.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tool Review: 2 Terrys - Blow Fly Sander Part 1

Terry Walker and Terry Gosschalk are the men behind the Australian tool company TT Designs or the 2 Terrys ( They produce a small array of simple yet innovative devices for the shed and garden.

They call one product the Blow Fly. Essentially it is a drill mounted flap sander.  It is similar to a spindle sander in that it allows sanding of relatively tight curves. As the abrasive material is flexible it allows the sander to contour to the size and shape of the object being sanded. (This proved to be a blessing and a curse, but you'll have to wait for part 2.)

The Blow Fly was promptly delivered within 2-3 days of order. It was well packaged and included sand paper of various grit, scourger pads for cleaning/polishing, and leather pads for honing/polishing.

The Australian designed and made tool was of high build quality. Practical and solid.

The outer steel rods are sprung to maintain tension. To load the paper or pads you simply unhook from rods and slide on your abrasive. The process was fiddly but straight forward.

With the Blow Fly mounted in the drill press it was ready for action. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of this stage so that'll have to wait for a part 2. Results were a little mixed so stay tuned.

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