Christmas 2011

This isn’t going to be as scintillating as I would like. At least, not on the woodworking front, anyway. I’m sure there are others out there who discovered several wood or tool-related gifts lying under their tree this year and that’s great. I rarely ever ask for woodworking kit at Christmas because I fear that the buyer won’t fully understand what they’re buying or what it could mean for me. Neither am I in favour of identifying the item in a catalogue – where then, is your surprise and delight on the big day? Not to mention the fact that woodworking, as a whole, is rather expensive; regardless of whether you’re an occasional hobbyist or someone who works with their hands full-time for a business.

This year, I didn’t ask for anything at all! There are one or two power tools that I’d like to buy in the new year but again, cost becomes an issue and, really, I should be looking to invest in some timber for 2012, as I really don’t feel like I got much done in the past twelve months. If I have to, I can certainly get along with what I already have. It’s not as if I ‘need’ even one small item that’s otherwise halting all progress in my workshop. If anything, it’s a combination of the weather and life in general that’s keeping me inactive right now.

Regardless of all that; I was very happy to receive one particular gift, this year:

Two-years ago, I fell in love with digital radio when I received a more ‘conventional’ DAB system to use in my workshop. At long last, I was able to drown out all the dross on the FM frequency in favour of rock. In particular, Planet Rock. This PURE PocketDAB 1500 personal digital radio allows me to listen to what I want when I’m on the go. It’s a great complement to my iPod, which only plays MP3s. I’ve even discovered another DAB station that I like – Real Radio XS which, again, is all about rock and real music (in my opinion, of course). You know you’ve found a good station when the first track your hear is Still Got the Blues by Gary Moore (…If you like that sort of thing, of course). If only I could convince the older generation at work to switch off Radio 2 and move forwards, in to the digital age….

I got a few small items as well but, they’re hardly worth mentioning, here. Outside, the weather seems to be fairly mild at the moment so, as I’m not due back at work for another week, I’ll try to spend some hours in the long-forgotten workshop while it lasts. Speaking of the workshop, I did treat myself to a couple of items, earlier in the month…

A pocket hole jig is something that I’ve been thinking of buying for the past year. Ironically, I could really have used one when I built the cabinet for my table saw/router table station recently (which, I must admit, still isn’t quite finished…). My problem had been making a decision on which one to buy. I went with for the Kreg brand over some of the cheaper alternatives and I doubt I’ll be looking back. This R3 model looks like a good compromise and it is a successor to a previously popular ‘Junior’ model. While searching for opinions across the internet, I came across some intuitive ways in which to ‘convert’ this jig in to something that resembles the K4:

It’s strange that Rutlands stock just about every other Kreg jig but, not the R3. In time, I’ll try to report back with my own review and findings on how it really works.

My hollow-chisel mortiser doesn’t get an awful lot of use, even when I am busy in the workshop. But, I do understand and appreciate the importance of using sharp bits (as with any tool or machine). That’s why I purchased this affordable sharpening set from Rutlands, during one of their suspiciously-frequent sales, earlier this month. I doubt this set will last as long as the pricey Clico kit but, I don’t think I’ll need to sharpen my chisels often enough to warrant spending any more on this.

I’d like to produce a video in the near future on the sharpening and correct fitting of hollow chisels in to mortising machines so, I should be able to try this kit out for real, fairly soon. I also purchased a used 3/8in chisel for a reasonable sum not long ago which should prove to be the ideal test subject or candidate for this test.

Thanks for reading and a belated Merry Christmas to you all! I also wish you well for the New Year!

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