Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holiday Travels and Family Fun - Christmas in Australia

It doesn't get much better than having all the family together to celebrate.  This year our youngest hosted the Sheppard Clan gathering, and it meant lots of travel for everyone else.  Flights from Western Australia and Far North Queensland as well as long road trips from Brisbane, and of course from the village.
Destination - Young NSW!

The South West Slopes of NSW in summer time can be a delight for the senses, and afternoon storms simply add spice to the experience.

The air is so clear and the colours sharper somehow, out in the countryside.  And after the storm we are treated to the occasional rainbow.

Xmouse Eve was HOT!
What better way to cool down than under the garden sprinkler.

Aphrodite and her helpers (my daughter and grand-daughters) ........................... and a bunch of Adonises (my boys and grandson) ................................. guns are us!

Xmouse Day - and breakfast on the front verandah.

Santa called in ................(really took a shine to my other daughter)

The 2012 Cherry Festival Charity Queen graced us with her presence ........................... (special thanks to Edwina)

Presents were handed out........................

The cousins called in to say hello to Gran..............................

Lunch was at Uncle John's and Aunty Val's.
Getting everyone together for a photo was something of a chore:

But it all worked out in the end:

Boxing Day was Picnic Day - a long standing Australian Christmas Tradition.

A game of bocce.............................

Throw a frisbee anywhere near water and ..................

And while the boys got wet, three generations of the family's girls went for a stroll:

Make that four generations ................

It was a fabulous recognition of family ....................... and a fitting way to celebrate the season of peace.

Here is some  John Williamson - Christmas in Australia -

Special thanks to the LOML for the use of many of her photos in this BLOG post.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Season Of Joy and Peace

As we approach the season of good will and gift giving, it is timely for us to pause and reflect.

What started all of this, was the unremarkable birth of a son to a carpenter and his wife.  The boy grew to manhood, and along the way started thinking of a different way of valuing and treating people.  He shared these ideas with friends - and they liked them so much, that they translated them into a way of life.  This, they shared with others - and like all good ideas, it took off.

And that's about it!  Period!

Everything else was added afterwards to guild the lily.

People have embellished and re-embellished the story until it has been smothered by trivia.  Then the trivia became holy writ and the original message lost in translation.  Angels, star, wise men, virgin birth, miracles blah, blah, blah - etc, etc, etc

Religions have built business empires upon it, and made war on each other in its name.  I think that Mary and Joseph's boy would throw up, if he saw how polluted his ideas had become.

So, at this time of the year, we do well to contemplate that little family and it's boy's gift to the world.

And so we celebrate our family, we re-connect with friends that we have seldom seen and rejoice with those we see regularly.

We give gifts to each other, and make an effort to be a little more patient, a little more kind, curb our boasting, and be happy for the gifts that others have and receive.

We honour others and put past wrongs behind us.

We teach our children to trust, to hope and to persevere in kindness.

In short - we show each other how to love.

These are the gifts of this season, and the path to true peace.

I hope that all of you will experience the joy that peace can bring, and the love of family and friends at this time - and for the future.

And if you are lucky enough to have a home to live in, a family to love you, and good food to eat this holiday season - spare a thought for those that don't.

Happy Christmas to all.

Have a safe holiday.

Drive carefully and arrive safe.

May Santa fill your stocking with gifts you need, and may you rejoice in the joy of giving to others.

Back to woodwork when the holidays are over.

....... and may you find peace ...................

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Old Hand Saws - Diamonds In The Rough

You can find them everywhere - garage sales, Sunday markets, estate auctions, ebay, Trade Me, Gumtree, and at the back of grandpa's work shed.

Old hand saws are the tools that few want, and most discard.  I have walked past the same bunch of hand saws at our local market every Sunday for the last six months.  While other tools sell, saws sit and languish.

Cheap power tools have made working wood by hand something to be avoided by the majority of people.  Of all the woodworking tasks that we perform, cutting timber by hand is - comparatively - one of the most laborious these days, and is much more easily done on powered equipment.

However, there are so many times when cutting can't be done any other way, and a hand saw is the only answer.

I have just spent the day with my eldest son replacing the dutch gable on one end of our home.  The old hardwood weatherboards were not only tired, but showing signs of rot and splitting.  Down they came and their replacements - weathertex - installed.

Cutting the angled ends of these was much safer and almost as quick as using a power saw.  We used my old Spear & Jackson 10 point cross cut - which breezed through the timber.  Even my son had no trouble with this, and he is not a woodworker but an auto-electrician.  I caught him grinning while sawing a couple of times.

Cross cutting timber with a sharp handsaw is an absolute joy.  It is a Sunday here, and I know that the neighbours are all at home relaxing with their families.  The last thing that they want is the ear-piercing scream of a power saw shattering their family day together.

Few of my handsaws have been bought new.  Most have been acquired as hand me downs, or knocked down at auctions or tool sales.  My father's Disston D-8 crosscut 8PPI is one of my treasured possessions.  It was the only saw he ever owned.

I was lucky enough, many years later, to inherit a saw from my wife's father, which has always puzzled me. I never knew who was the manufacturer.

We used it extensively, Lindsay and I , when building the roof of my first home - exactly forty years ago.  It is small enough to hang from a tool belt while climbing among rafters, purlins and collar ties, and was used daily in this area when cutting purlin props, roof battens and hanging beams.

It is unlabelled and without etch - even the medallion is plain - but it has a nib, and the medallion is distinctive.

It is only in the last month that I have discovered that this is a Disston.  Referred to as the Disston - Our Saw.  Here is what it would have looked like as a newer saw.  This saw is offered in the Disston 1914 Catalog as the No. 090 “special saw etched to order.” That catalog lists the smallest size of this model as a 16 inch panel saw, but mine is just a little longer - 16-3/8 inches. 
Apparently, the circle of dots on the medallion is typically of Disston origin.  While it's nice to know what it is, its value to me is in its history - including part of my own.

Other cross cut saws that have proved useful are these two - an Atkins Perfection 7 point,  and the Spear and Jackson 10 point saws.  I used the S&J for the weathertex because it is a manufactured board with fine fibre structure, and the 10 points left a much nicer finish that didn't need further dressing.  The Atkins Perfection 7 point is a great general purpose cross cut, that makes short work of  timber preparation in both carpentry, and wood sizing in cabinet work.  It is very good on tighter grained timber, but can be a bit too aggressive on open grained wood, leaving a ragged edge.

I don't usually like to use plastic handled saws, but I will make one exception.  This Sandvik cross cut saw dates back to the 1960's, and even though the handle is designed for a four fingered grip, it can be used with three. It is nowhere near as comfortable to use as the wooden handled saws, but it has a superb blade that will tackle just about anything in the timber line.

These are always cheap at markets and auctions. I got this one for $25 from an old tools sales store. I have seen them even cheaper.  My cousin, David, who is a builder - swears by them.

Finally it is worth considering the usefulness of a hand rip saw.  Absolutely no-one but collectors wants these, and they are difficult to sell, cheap as chips, and are often given away.

If you can't tell whether a saw is a rip saw or not, look at the teeth.  Rip saws are filed straight across the teeth (@ 90 degrees), and the teeth themselves have a more vertically oriented presentation to the wood.  They are flat across the bottom of the tooth - like a chisel.

There is an excellent explanation HERE

These three are all ripsaws, but with different features and uses.

The Bodman - top - is set at a very aggressive 4-1/2 points per inch, and is good for fast ripping of thicker timber stock.  The Disston - bottom - has 7 points and is excellent at ripping one inch or so boards that need reducing in width. The Tyzack Nonpariel has 6 points, and is good for those timbers in between these sizes in thickness, or for denser one inch stock.

Of course, ripping with a handsaw was a job often given to apprentices, as it was sooo physically demanding.  I still try to avoid it, but often there is no alternative - and sometimes - when time is not an issue, it can be very zen-like.  Get into the groove and become the saw.
Doesn't happen often, I can tell you.

It is a pity that these grand old tools aren't more popular than they currently are.  I can see a day coming when we will look back on the scrapping of these lovely old handsaws with regret.  Now is the time to grab some while they are still around.  They are the product of an age in tool manufacturing when quality mattered above all, and the hand saw maker was revered as an artist.

Happy woodworking to all ...............

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ukulele Orchestras And A-Cappella

Yes, I know, not necessarily woodwork but these are shared passions of mine - so bear with me.

It seems an age since my ukulele looked like this:

But it was finished - and is now showing all the signs of a well used instrument.

Sporting the tenor ukulele that I made earlier this year.

Ukulele nights and practice sessions are wonderful, but there is nothing like having to lay it all on the line in a public performance.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has always been our inspiration.  Here they play one of the favourites of the group:

We wanted to include this number in our concert repertoire.

And so it came to pass last weekend, that the Ukulele Orchestra of Telegraph Point, and the Village's wonderful a-cappella choir, combined forces to present an afternoon concert at the Telegraph Point Village School of Arts.
The concert lasted around an hour and a half, and was well received.

I will admit to butterflies before the event, and a sense of relief and accomplishment afterwards.

It was fun to do, success acclaimed and mistakes laughed at - family and friends can be most forgiving - thank goodness.

It is one of the strengths of any community when we support and encourage each other.  People who know and respect each other are the building blocks for happiness in any society. I am glad that my home is in a living and growing society of friends, where all are valued and our differences celebrated.

I love this place.

If this kid keeps practicing, he might be as good as the Village Uke Group - ha ha.
Enjoy some more Yestyn Griffith ...