Monday 18 November 2019

Record Marples chisel set from 1987

This, hopefully will be the start of me getting into writing this blog again. It's been a long time coming, and hopefully there will be something here that you can enjoy.

I posted an image of what I was working on, on Twitter yesterday,
and one guy spotted that Rosewood handled Marples chisel in the photograph

The Marples chisel sitting next to my Calvert Stevens CS88 plane
So I thought I would grab the box, take some pics and tell you a little about them.

In 1987 I used to go to a hardware store in Cradley Heath called H.Case or H.Case and sons. 

They were one of the best tool hardware stores for miles around. Always busy, a huge shop and quite helpful guys when you wanted to know something... and i used to ask questions, like why don't they do this in a Nine set? They did in a 3 set and a 6 set, But why not a 9 set ?

Anyhow, they had their own catalogue every few months, or season, or year.

It was great to see what they had got in stock, or were waiting to come in. And I fell in love with these chisels. Why wouldn't you, brass ferrules, fine taper on the sides of the bevel edge chisels and then those Rosewood handles by one of the best British tool makers. When everyone else was going full-on plastic handles, Boxwood, these really stood out.

I've kept this box in the best condition that I could for 32 years.

The Marples logo

The view inside... and it's not very different from when I first bought them.
There are a couple of plastic edge protectors in my toolbox drawer

Well, these nine Rosewood handled chisels by Marples were the start of their 'back to quality' tools.

These were not cheap, high end was the direction to aim.

I'd got a pretty good job and wanted some fabulous chisels to use and show off to the older guys in the joinery shop.

I put a deposit down and waited for them to come in. The one thing that disappointed me, was that they only came in a 3 box or a six box, they didn't make a boxed set of nine. I told the guy behind the counter to ring them up and say we want a nine- set. Obviously it didn't happen.

So I had the six set and the three extra. The set consisted of;

 6mm  (1/4")
 9mm  (3/8")
13mm  (1/2")
19mm  (3/4")
25mm  (1")
32mm  (1"1/4)

The three extra were;

 3mm  (1/8")
15mm  (5/8")
36mm  (1"1/2)

*add prices to list later*

Well, they didn't stay at work, too many people were interested in them and I didn't want to risk one or all of them stolen. So they stayed at home in my workshop.

Then after a while, maybe a couple of years or so, I noticed that the ferrules were splitting. I'd  sort of forgot about them and carried on using my old Ward & Payne, & Marples etc.

Fast forward to now.. Over the last few years have I been replacing the ferrules. I'd found someone selling exactly the same sizes, but slightly thicker gauge brass.

In removing them, I'd noticed that every split was where they had been dimpled with a machine. So on the new ones I didn't dimple the ferrule. Obviously in creating the dimple it was case hardening the brass and creating a weak spot. 
Now they look wonderful again.

The SIX set and the extras to make my Nine Set..

Just what the Rosewood looks like

The three odd balls 

All the details

So there you go, I hope you enjoyed the information and seeing the images. That's what life seems to be about nowadays.. images. 

Anyhow, catch you soon.

All the best


Monday 8 October 2018

New Workshops updates

Hey.. hope you are all well, it's been a little while..

I've had a few people take up my workshops over the last few months and they're going really well. It's more of what you've learned and had hands on experience doing, not really what you physically leave with.

I want people to be able to go home and carry on woodworking, do more marking out, more dovetails, more practising. I want what I wanted years ago. The help, there.. at the right time to show me what to do. Which part first ?.. what would you do ? How do I get over trimming a little too much off this (it happens a few times at first) What if I do this ?

My One-to-one workshop is structured enough to do the important things.. but flexible enough to go a little 'off-piste' too. The Japanese way of starting the day (or workshop) with sharpening is a great place to start, it straight away gets you into how the edge tools work, what is important and what can be quite relaxed and also gives me the feedback on how the day is going to go. For me, I learn how the student is, and how they are going to get through each part of the process on that day. So it really sets us both up.

One of the workshops saw Jay bring in his grandfathers Stanley no4 plane, it had seen better days but wasn't too far away from us giving it a slight restoration. Jay got on with sharpening the iron, while I worked on the slightly rusted sole. Anyhow, we got it done.. it was used that day, for planing and squaring up the timber that later, Jay jointed... how great is that. So its really good to be able to bring back some of these tools that get handed down, or picked up from markets or flea markets, yard sales or car boots, and that's a great bit of recycling too. Not just that, these old tools at normal lower prices can be so much better than new tools, when you really get into it (I suppose I am a little into it) then the tools can be worth a lot more cleaned up than new high end tools from top manufacturers not just in ££'s. But in the quality of the steel, the flatness of a plane sole, the keen edge of a laminated iron or chisel.. So it's all good, I get to share and students get to learn.. but we both learn really.

Now.... bang up to date.. 

We have done three #WoodworkingSocial nights. Wednesday and Thursday nights from 6pm.. Its taken me so long to put this into practice. Its too easy to get these things wrong... and that's the last thing that I want to do.

Firstly its about the exchange of knowledge... I wanted to not only teach, but share facts, experiences and it be a great learning environment. That's not going to happen if people are paying for just their place in the workshop. It needs to be flexible, so if I wanted to show something that I think they could be interested in, or learn from, they knew that it wasn't really going to eat into their time... and it would be like me demonstrating something. Which could be a whole other lesson, but here it is.. in front of you now.. so just relax and go with it. To do woodworking as a hobby is to relax and enjoy the process, it takes practice and the more you see great things happening around you, the more this will inspire you to be more creative.

Secondly... this crazy life we live in now.. it needed to be flexible.. over two nights... you can do one night or the other, that way if you missed one for some reason, you wouldn't lose a night in that month, just dip into the other nights class... 

But then what time do we start.. people work all sorts of hours and then the drive to my workshop can take... oh forever. So here it is, 2 hours workshop and a three hour window to do the woodwork... and if things are going really well... well another few minutes just to not leave something half done. That's a great feeling and good for creativity to get to a certain point and be able to pack up, knowing that next time I can carry on from this point.. no stress, enjoy the process.

That's it for now.. i've got a couple of images to share on here at some point.

I'd welcome comments and feedback is always good.

You can hit the SUBSCRIBE button too, I promise I wont fill your inbox.

Thanks for looking and if you know someone who really does need this in their life, then please share... It really could save someone.

All the best


Monday 18 December 2017

One day workshops are now available..

I've been working on making a workshop that works for all skill levels. Not the easiest to sort out on paper but much easier to approach from the practical side.
So now I'm offering the One day workshop for the complete novice, through to the amateur or semi professional woodworker who would like to improve some of their skills in one of the particular areas.
  • Sharpening plane Iron and chisel
  • Setting up the plane
  • Using the plane to prepare timber
  • Cutting the timber to joint
  • jointing

Contact me for details

or click on this link Courses

You can email me on
call me on 07801 289438

Monday 4 September 2017

How long...

Nearly two years since I last posted anything on here.

The last couple of years have probably been the worst and yet the best so far in my workshop life. I can't really pin-point the time or when things started to go off in a direction that didn't suit me. But I found that something wasn't quite right. However, this year has been a real improvement.

And here's why.. Attitude

I've just gone for it, and every job has had more time spent on it despite budget, every piece is the next piece of promotion not only of what I can make, but also to promote the person or business involved.

There's a saying I used to hear when someone was doing top quality work.. 'like a job in the town' meaning that the work in the town was of a higher quality than that in the countryside. I've taken that and pushed it higher.. 'Like a job in the City' .. even better and then putting images on.


So much more than just another medium to natter on, I've met some wonderful people who follow me and some I follow back. I don't and can't follow them all, but they make a big difference, some of them are like your neighbour from down the road, who knows all sorts of things and are a wealth of knowledge and a great chat too. Others are people who bring knowledge into our homes through books, magazines, the internet, radio and the television. Right now, this.. is really a wonderful period in time. Make the most of what's available and enjoy... I don't think that I enjoyed the blog, I always had to build up to doing the posts and then loading images. Whereas Twitter is quick and easy, and you cant say too much..  whoop, whoop.. 140 characters is wonderful.

Then there's Instagram.. Like a mini blog but based on images.. write nothing, a little or a lot and people can read as much as they want. A brilliant idea that gets seen by anyone around the world. The language doesn't matter, its all in those images. I love using it.

So my attitude to my blogging needs to change, less details of how I design and make things, that won't be easy for me as I like sharing, the problem there is that if I give too much detail, it makes my work easier to copy, and I don't need that. Then, there are hundreds of people doing YouTube videos of 'how to..' and who knows maybe that will be on the cards one day. But I really need an online place where the Non-Twitter and Non-Instagramers can find me and see my work.

So I find I love the sharing and feedback on the social media. Whereas on the blog every comment has to be moderated. This saves strange comments being put below a piece, and believe me I've had some strange comments.


Expect more blog posts and less detail of 'how to' and communicate more.. How does that sound ?



Tuesday 15 September 2015

Half Plate, Brass and Mahogany Field Camera c.1860

This lovely camera came into my workshop on the last day of my exhibition..

Jo had been taking photographs with it in the courtyard in the centre of our site. When there was a gust of wind, and it toppled over on its tripod and went down to the ground. One of the tech guys had been to see my exhibition a few minutes before and handed my business card to her and said this guy could probably fix it. When Jo brought it in to me she put it on one of the benches with just a few screws.. we discussed for a minute. I then asked my Chloe to go with Jo and see if she could find any more screws, as there were loads missing from the bent up brass-ware. Chloe came back with even more, which was great as they were really tiny.

Well, I'd not done one before, but it was brilliant to get my hands on it and take it from a pile of bits back to better than it was before..

Here are some pictures and details

click on pictures to enlarge

This is how I first saw this wonderful old camera.
Just look at it closely, hinges ripped out, brass metal runners bent up, ripped out screw holes everywhere.. Mahogany just badly damaged. Tiny dovetails split out and ruined.
The only really good thing was the lens was not damaged at all.. and luckily the rear glass plate had not got damaged or the lens suffered too.. I know, after falling from over a metre off the floor (Tarmac) !! amazing really.

As I mentioned earlier, I have never really had my hands on one of these in good condition, so to have one broken and not really sure how it all works, was a little scary.

But all I had to do was only problem at a time, and the woodwork was without doubt the only place to start.

The photo to the left shows the hinges on this side piece were very slightly bent, it didn't close at all, and I could'nt just force it. It was about taking steps backwards to move forwards. These hinges had to be straightened up by 1mm. Then it worked.

Notice too. The bent piece of 'guide' brass in the background these were bent and screws ripped out of holes. Each piece of brass removed, straightened. The holes filled and re-drilled, then all screwed back together.

This part I was lucky with. Notice the first gear on the end of the rack right next to the hinge. See how it was bent over. Well the pinion would not go over this part, so I took it off, turned it around and..
hey-presto it worked, even the screw holes were in exactly the right place.

The hinge here had to be removed later on as it was slightly bent too.

The guide piece is to the left, this was before polishing up. Polished up not just to clean and look shiny, but to get years of grease and muck off it.

Notice to the left and right of the hinge, that the Mahogany is beveled at 45 degrees to allow the hinge to work correctly. Dont forget the rack and pinion has to still work running over that joint. A great piece of engineering.

This is the before photo of the gearing for the rear part of the camera to mechanically move to and from the lens.

Notice all of the dust and oil in between the gears.

Also the brass strip to the right, this allows the carriage to move without too much play, without this the carriage would just fall off.

Here's the opposite side after I have cleaned the gearing out, straightened the brass strip, filled any of the screw holes that were ripped out, and re-fitted the screws. And there were 27 screws 'ripped out'.

Each had to have the hole filled with a small slither of wood, glued into place, trimmed flush and then the brass pieces screwed back on. A time consuming job, but one that needed to be done properly.

This image shows the side piece removed to get at some of the other damage. The piece removed is in the background.

The brass plate in the bottom of the shot holds the moving carriage, this was bent all over the place. I clamped it up between two pieces of wood with leather to stop any damage to the brass patina.

You can clearly see now how the brass end plate tucks under the brass runner plate. The knob on the other side (out of shot) turns the pinion, this engages with the rack and slides fore and aft.

This was after I had removed the bellows. They were

I couldn't understand why the carriage part was not working its way to the front of the camera.

Then I noticed that 'T-nut' in the base was catching the bottom of the carriage. It was about 2mm proud of the surface. It had been added so that the camera could be used on a tripod.

This is what a T-nut looks like, very useful.

I removed it carefully.. wasn't easy as it was clamped in and some glue was around it.. and those barbs really do grip well.

Anyhow I recessed it in another couple of millimeters then clamped it back in the same barbed holes. Careful that it couldn't come through the base.

Here it is with a hardwood block on the inside...

 ..and a softer ply pad on the outside to protect the Mahogany

The hole was already a bit chewed up. So I was doing my best to keep it as tidy as possible.

I put some epoxy mixed with some Brown pigments to fill the hole and to provide a little more support.

This is after I had refitted the bellows, the red tape is just temporary.

This was to hold the two parts together while the bellows dried overnight.

After I had repaired the remaining woodwork problems, I gave it all a clean down with my reviver. After that each piece of the woodwork was given at least two coats of French Polish

Here is the completed camera.. 
the remaining hole you can see on the side could be repaired at a later date.

The list of repaired parts is a long one,, but it works a treat
Wind that knob clockwise it turns the pinion and travels towards the lens,,

Like so..  Now just lift the far left part up towards the top of the carriage part,
then close the curved part.

Ends up like this. There are some well made, and well thought out catches too.
The catch that holds it all open, also works to hold it all closed. Very well engineered

Here's the back corner,
I didn't fill the damaged wood, just glued the splits and realigned them as best as possible, with the clean and polish it looks as naturally looked after as it should after 155 years.

The finished camera looked great. And Jo was really pleased, because it got a lot more than just repaired, it got a full service too..

I really enjoyed it, and would love to do another.

All the best


Monday 20 July 2015

Surfboard Meeting Table

This job took me back a little.

This is the second time I've made a Surfboard table; the last one was the Surfboard Coffee Table
back in June 2013 which I designed and created to expand my work.

This one is a world away from that one; at 3 metres long (10ft) and a very high 110cm tall (431/2").. it's much bigger, which was the initial brief from Sketch Studios.

The only way that I felt the Surfboard would look right, was if it was a 1950's style longboard, with quite a traditional look, sitting on the trestles or bench that it was made and finished on.

The juxtaposition of the stripey high gloss board with an old, well used and distressed frame meant the board could be complimented well. Made from Grey 'Sun bleached' timber that would work, and look great on the South coast of the UK.

Normally here, I would go through how I built this seriously cool table...

This time, a lot of the build was on Twitter with finer details and explanations for my followers to view.

We have taken so many photos, that when I came to edit them down, I had about thirty left and just thought I'd put loads on here for you (and me).

So here you go, enjoy (by the way, new photos added at the end of the table in situ )

Please click on photos to enlarge

In the display area of my workshop

The framework beneath

This timber was new, but Sun bleached.
All new cuts i.e. joints exposed 'new' wood, so it all had to be coloured to get back to the Grey finish.

We carried the table outside to get some natural light onto it.

Love the reflections of light through the trees.

The Ash & Sapele was a good choice as the woods 
compliment each other highly.

It was difficult to choose the images to not include,
 its just so cool.

Well, every now and then you have to be in the frame...

Probably my favourite (above) 

And you can't help but run your hands over it. Silky smooth, Cheers Matt

I'm 5'9" so this shows the scale

The underside in the daylight is just so great.. I love it

Hopefully you'll agree, it just doesn't look new, at all.

The paint splats and drips.
With my stamp just on the end grain of the through tenon.

Carpet over the top timbers to keep from scratching the board when you are polishing them up.

Love the Grey and the honesty of the jointing.. I've even used nails to show the simplicity of the framework that would be made for this 'workhorse'.

Another few in a different location..

Then back into the workshop to finish off 

More wax on the fin.

Satin finished on the underside, all sealed and waxed on here.

Under the bottom rail.

Had to be dated.

Back on the floor where it was distressed.. 

Just fits in perfectly as 'the bench they were made on'.

Rings and drips.. love it.

Remember all of this frame was only made last week. 

I hope you enjoyed that. I loved making it and especially the finishing on the base.

Thank you list.

Beth, for finding me.
Ruth, great communication during build.
Tom, intern with me. "Only a few weeks left now Tom"
Matt, for the high gloss.
Ellie, photos and delivery.

You can follow me on here and on Twitter, where you would see more work in progress shots and during build photos.

Thanks for looking 

All the best


Here are the photos of the table in the office, a great setting for this unusual table.

So much daylight.. 

Love the lighting above.. great colour scheme 

the contrast of the top and the base makes me smile...

The view as you walk in from the decking

The view as you walk in towards the meeting room.
The gloss is great, and you can now see the decking, with it's great weathered look

Do you want something different ? or need something different ?

Thanks for looking