The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Posts Tagged ‘General’

A Dear Child…

Posted by Exile on May 21, 2022

..has many names.

That’s a rough translation of an old Danish proverb.

I just bought a dear child. It was quite expensive, but I’m going to love it.

I needed to cut rebates (rabbets, to my American chums) for a little woodworking project. How rebates got to be rabbets just by crossing the Atlantic, I don’t know.
The idea was to set the base board of a box into the carcass making the bottom invisible from the sides. A bit of research led me to a plethora of solutions all involving saws, chisels and other impliments, which I do have but I don’t necessarily have the skill to do the job with the accuracy it requires. My eyes aren’t that good either and that doesn’t help. I could attempt to do it with the router but that is a cumbersome piece of machinery for such a delicate job. Then I discovered the Fillister plane. Or rebate plane, or shoulder plane, or sash plane or any other number of titles for this little tool depending on where one lives and the vernacular one uses. To make it all a bit clearer, see the picture on the right. It is a Stanley no. 78.

A complicated piece of equipment. It has a moveable fence to limit the width of the cut and a depth stop to limit how deep one can go. Removing these two parts will allow one to use it as a normal, full width, plane although I wouldn’t be tempted to try using it as a smoother. The blade is a bit weird as well, being broader at the cutting edge than the part that fits into the body. It needed to be tuned up as a new plane always does. They may appear sharp, but they aren’t. They appear flat and smooth on the sole, but they aren’t. In fact the blade came with a little chip taken out of the cutting edge, so a little grinding and honing was required just to eradicate that. However, with a little fettling and honing, the thing is now ready for use. Cutting across the grain also requires that the “nicker” is brought into play. This is in fact a little knife like blade that sits in front of the cutting iron and it severs the wood fibers vertically before the iron gets to the wood. It is not required when planing along the grain. The cutting iron can also be moved to the very front of the tool where a second frog is positioned, turning this into a bull nose plane. Versatile. I like that..
Having tried it today I’m thoroughly pleased with it. The trick of it is, to keep pressure against the fence while planing down the length of your work piece. It will let you know when you’ve reached full depth. It simply stops cutting…

Now I can do this… and not cut my fingers!

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New Drain

Posted by Exile on May 16, 2022

The rat problem has finally been resolved. After determining the fact that the drain had collapsed we contacted our insurance company. It’s taken its time but, finally, we were contacted by the drain fixing company. They said they would come within a week or so. That week shrank to two days as we were informed that they were indeed on their way and was that OK? Yes it was, I said, come and get going.
They arrived. With a mini digging machine that wasn’t in any way going to get through the gate to the garden. You’ll have to get in through the hedge, I said. No problem was the reply. Where? I had an elder bush growing in the hedge. I never liked it. Rip that out, I said, and come in there. Goodbye elder bush, roots and all.
Once inside the garden and right beside the wall of my house the digging got going. Six and a half feet down we heard the thump of metal shovel on concrete drain pipe. The hole got a good deal wider now and my garden began to look like the Somme on a bad day as tons of earth and clay came up and out…
I decided to go and make coffee for the pair of workmen. I was otherwise only in their way. Returning with said coffee, I saw that they had now removed the broken pipe and were clearing out the debris and the old well that had otherwise given us a certain degree of access to the drain. It was basically a giant grease trap that will no longer be necessary. We now have a direct drain from the kitchen to the drainage system. Building codes change, apparently. I don’t mind. I used to have to get the well cleared by suction every now and then, which was expensive and wasn’t likely to be getting any cheaper with passing time.
The new outlet pipe was soon in place, sealed and deemed as being in order. I didn’t see that bit so I had to take their word for it. There again, they know what they are doing, even if I don’t.
I was expecting this process to take days. These guys were basically done with it in less than three hours. The hole was filled in, the old concrete junk removed and then we tidied up as best we could. The digger had to remain in my garden as the trailer it came on was now full of concrete pipe, the old grease trap and rocks. It disappeared early the following morning. I hope it was them that removed it because I didn’t hear a thing….
All I need to do now is put the garden back together. There’s no peace for the wicked. What am I going to fill the hole in the hedge with? No idea. Time will tell. Right now, I’m just glad to be free of the rats.

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All by Myself..

Posted by Exile on May 9, 2022

..for a few days.

My good lady flew off to Spain for a long weekend with a pair of her girlfriends. Lord only knows what they’ll be doing in Torremolinos but as long as she’s happy, then so am I.
So, it’s been me and the dog for the past few days. Which hasn’t been unpleasant in any way. Actually, I got a lot done and the dog has had a few adventures he wouldn’t normally have. He’s been to two different archery ranges and he’s met a shed load of people who all thought he was cute. Being a chihuahua, he’s kind of used to that reaction…
I’ve been a bit busy getting the garden up to scratch. The weekend started at the plant school and I got some tomato plants and seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes, and a few bits and pieces to ease the work. Making it easy is the main thing these days, I am not the young spring chicken I once was. To that end, I have an electric tiller to get the rough digging done and then finish the job with a human powered rake. The toms went in almost immediately. We should be frost free by now. Then I planted the spuds and decided to call it a day after a few hours thrashing around in the soil.
Sunday was archery club, so I didn’t get much done there. Today has been an onion day and I discovered I had bought far more than I intended to plant. However, they are all in the ground now, so I have a bit extra to do in the morning as it took me an age to get them all in. Add to that the collecting of my dear wife who will be home again in the evening and I reckon I’ll have a long and busy day of it tomorrow.
I enjoy these little interludes where she isn’t at home. I get to see the TV I want to see, eat what I want to and come and go as I please. Don’t get that wrong, I miss her and worry about her, but a little absence is a good thing and definitely makes the heart grow fonder.
Both the dog and I look forward to her return.

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He Ain’t Heavy…

Posted by Exile on March 2, 2022

Remember that? The Hollies. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…
I’ve taken on some volunteer work. We have an organisation here that looks after our war veterans. We also have a huge organisation that supports athletes and all form of sports. Someone, at some point, thought it might be a good idea to bind part of the former to part of the latter and so it was that “Soldatersporten” (soldier sports) was born. I am now a part of that.
Long story done short; a couple of these veterans want to take part in the Invictus games in Holland later this year. They are archers. The organisation wanted someone to be the group co-ordinator. They were having problems finding someone so they contacted all the local archery clubs and then they found me. Well, they found our club chairman and he put the idea to me. I said OK and we let them know I was available. A veteran myself, a qualified trainer and I had the time to be there at the archery range.
I was accepted for the job in a moment…

A couple of them served in Bosnia. A dirty little war and it has left its mark. My lads are suffering with PTSD and, thankfully, no physical injuries. Others, I believe, served in the Afghan. We don’t talk about that much. I let them come and go as they please and we accept each other as we are. So far, its all been good and I do actually enjoy being around these men. They have a black sense of humour that I have sometimes missed. They train hard, two of them are doing extremely well and I can’t really help them any more. They are ready for competition already. Now it is just a matter of training and achieving the consistent accuracy. I cheer and encourage. And that is enough, apparently. Any problems that arise are placed in my lap and I have to get it sorted. This is mainly equipment and facilities and coordination that I am talking about. I’m not a therapist.
I have achieved some form of acceptance. One of them said, “We’re glad they found you. We were afraid they would find some civvie who doesn’t have a clue what we’ve been through.”
Commendation indeed, even if it was hard won in a totally different war torn environment.
We’re all damaged…. we just don’t show it or discuss it except, maybe, to or with each other.

That’s brotherhood for you..

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Made in Germany

Posted by Exile on March 1, 2022

And that is about all I have to go on…
I rescued this little no.3 bench plane from my late father in law’s shed. It has no markings on it other than “No.3” and “Made in Germany”, which was forced upon that land after the last great war in Europe. Everything made there had to be so marked. It was meant as a form of punishment for German industry but they took it upon themselves to produce quality goods, so the whole punishment thing backfired and their goods became desirable again. They turned it into a sign of quality. So, I reckon this was made somewhere shortly after 1945.
This is actually a good little plane. There isn’t much to go wrong. It was probably cheap to produce, which would have been important at that time in history. The body is cast iron, the blade holds an edge. There is no frog to speak of, the blade simply rests inside the body and the cap is merely a piece of pressed thin stainless steel with a screw to hold it in place. The blade is moved by two yellow metal barrel nuts, which fit into cut-outs on the blade, on threaded rods. I have no idea what wood the handles are made of but they are comfortable to hold. Probably beech, but I don’t know that for sure. Adjusting the blade with this arrangement gives not only depth of cut but automatically includes lateral adjustment. I know some purists out there don’t like this much, but I do. It is practical simplicity.


It was not in good condition when I retrieved it from the depths of a relatively damp shed. Light rust and the usual corrosion that comes with years of not being used. I stripped it down, polished the sole and sides, sharpened and cleaned the blade. Everything one does when initiating a new tool was done here. I intended to give it to my grandson but he wanted a Stanley, so he got one. Actually, the Stanley is very similar to this one. Same set up.
This means that I get to keep this little piece of history. I have used the plane, before I invested in my Clifton No.3. The two do not compare. The Clifton is superb. That having been said, this little old plane does work and, when set up properly, it works very well. It is also very light compared to the Clifton, so this is a plane that one could easily take along to any job and still get the work done. For now, it rests on the shelf in the iShed. I do grab it occasionally to do some light work that does not require a pristine finish and I’m happy to leave it there, within reach and within view and to remind me of a man that I much respected.

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Assault and Battery

Posted by Exile on November 27, 2021

Many years ago I had a problem with my car. It kept losing power from the battery and despite my efforts to find the fault, I couldn’t. It was also intermittent, which didn’t make that task any easier. Finally, I bought a cheap chinese jumper pack and that kept me going until I could get an electrician to fix the problem. After years of neglect and not being used, the thing was finally declared dead.

I hooked a battery charger up to it and left it for a while. No result. The battery was absolutely dead.
Not being the type to simply give up on things, I decided to assault the thing and open it up to get at the gubbins of it. I expected to see a lot of wires, electronic wizardy and various other things that would make any repair impossible.

Not at all. The guts are very simple. A large sealed battery, a small electronic board unit which steers the voltmeter, charge indicator, an on/off switch and a lamp.
But it is only a battery, I thought. A battery that could be replaced very easily. Off to the internet then and see what I could find. Which didn’t take long. A local parts dealer, not far away, had the exact battery.
I rang them up, reserved one and collected it today.



Replacement was simple and very quickly done. I hooked my charger up to it and topped up the battery.

That took precisely one hour. It lives again.
I have a slightly more expensive jumper pack which lives in the boot of my car. That one gets regularly topped up to keep it fresh. This one will live in the iShed with the motorbike. I’ll take better care of it now.

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Smooth…

Posted by Exile on March 31, 2021

.. as a baby’s bottom.

I’ve made some progress in my efforts to master the art of woodworking. I have also tried to pass some of that acquired knowledge on to my now ten year old grandson. We enjoy messing about in the shed together but he needs to learn stuff too. Things that he won’t learn at school.
He has inherited a couple of tools from me and now I’m going to give him one of my planes to put in his toolbox. Which means I need to get a replacement.
As I get better I feel the need to get better tools. I wanted to upgrade my tool kit anyway so this is killing two birds with one stone. A new plane then, of a better quality that the present one. The one I’ll give away does the job but why shouldn’t I have nice tools to work with? And one day, all my tools will go to my grandson anyway. So let’s get something good.

There are many makes out there. Some of them ridiculously priced. I have no need for a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen plane. The prices are high, as is the quality of them but there are alternatives if one looks hard enough. Similar quality but slightly less pricey. I’ve found a European supplier. I won’t buy Chinese shite. Dictum. From Germany. I have a block plane from them. Very good it is too. Open sided, full width blade and it is terrific for things like tenons. One can plane right in to the corners. They do make a nice a nice no.4 smoothing plane too. I know this because I just bought one. It is of the “Bedrock” persuasion, made famous by Stanley back in the day when they produced high quality tools instead of the mass produced, probably Chinese, rubbish that they do now. It is a thing of beauty and has some weight to the body. Straight out of the box, the sole is flat, the blade is sharp, but I honed it anyway, and the finish is very good. Solid wooden handles and all very well engineered. This thing feels good in the hand and performs like a woodworker’s dream. I know because I just tried it. Couldn’t wait to show it some wood.

So now I have what I needed. A large low angle no.62 jack plane from Axminster, a no.4 smoothing plane from Dictum and a block plane from Dictum. All high quality and a pleasure to use.

Bring on the next little project.

Block plane

No. 4 Smoothing plane
Axminster No. 62 Jack plane

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