Oak & Ash side tables

The tops of these tables are made from oak block board for the top, with ash legs with oak shelves fitted below.

I decided to go with giant single dovetails leg joints, considering the top was almost as thick as the legs it seemed like a good idea at the time.

These little tables are extremely sturdy, I’m not even sure the glue was necessary, they are also quite heavy thanks to the 2″ square legs and similar thickness solid top.

Dimensions: 450 x 300 x 500mm

Built up oak block board for top, Ash legs and frame and panel Oak shelf below.

Portable Speakers

Batch of 3 speakers I made, now for sale at “Love and Wonder” in Lyme Regis, similar speakers are also at Herringbone in Charmouth.

These use the same innards as the mini rustic and the purpleheart speakers. Giving around 40 hours use from 4 AA batteries and a maximum output of around 90dB at 1m depending on source.

Two are made of Tulipwood with Sapele fronts, the darker speaker is Iroko with Maple front. All are made using hand cut dovetail joinery and carved top panel and dial.

Tulipwood is a soft, lightweight and light coloured hardwood, Iroko on the other hand is quite dense, hard and oily with similar properties to teak.


3/4 litre sealed enclosure

~ 250 x 100 x 65mm

12mm hardwood throughout with 3mm ply sliding rear access panel

2 x 2.5″ full range drivers

2x 3w PAM8403 class-D amp

Single stereo 3.5mm jack input

Power from 4x AA batteries

No Replacement for Displacement

Having been quite impressed with the output from my small battery powered speakers which used PAM8403 class D amplifier chip rated at a maximum of 3w, so after finding the pair of 10″ woofers I salvaged from the 1989 Sirocco a friend and I took to Africa I decided to see how the tiny amplifier chip would react to a 16 fold increase in cone area, also I was listening to a lot of Eric.B and Rakim and wanted to hear them through an appropriate system.

The prototype is made of light pallet wood and birch ply, but heavily braced with softwood struts. The result is a very stiff reasonably light box, a good thing as 10″ woofers aren’t exactly the lightest speakers in the world – The whole thing is still pretty heavy though, I need to sort out a sturdy handle or strap for it if its going to be moved anywhere.

I’m not quite happy with the look yet but the sound is pretty good when the tweeters output is balanced with the woofers (I only had 4 ohm tweeters around and the woofers are 8 ohm hence the one tweeter / two woofers).

It seems to be able to match the mini rustics 90dB output, and with bass extending an octave or two lower which is pretty good, it can average 96dB on some tracks, but its definitely running out of headroom at that point. So far power drain seems comparable to the smaller speakers, more testing is needed to see if it can play for days on 4 AA batteries, but it seems likely.

Next step is to clean up the design and build a more polished prototype, possibly scaled down to a more sane (?) 1×10″ arrangement – something closer to the classic JVC RC-550 maybe. . . probably should add more dials- maybe some sliders.

The other option is to scale up  and see how far 3w can go with horn loaded 12″ or 15″ speakers, I’m pretty confident it should be possible to get a clean full range 100dB+

A rustic bench

Thought I’d have a go at quickly making a new saw bench as my previous attempt was a little unstable (to be fair it was a really just a nice scale practice model I made before attempting my full size work bench, so it think its forgivable that it makes a serviceable saw bench- also its instability is mostly due to the heavy vice I decided to fit to it.)

This is in the ancient style in that its just a big board with angled holes drilled in it. its certainly much more stable than the mini-roubo (not hard) and took a lot less time to make, although making square pegs fit in round holes was a bit tricky. The hardest bit was actually cleaning up the big chunk of wood- it used to be a sill from a sash window, and had a lot of paint and filler in it . . also it was wedge shaped.

Too finish it off I just need to drill some holes for benchdogs and holdfasts and it’ll be ready to use.

Next project: a shaving horse.

Purple Speaker!

Similar to the mini-rustic with some refinements, this ones made of purpleheart as I found a small affordable piece at yandles. The main modification apart from the wood is the use of a metal plate to mount the electronics – makes the building of it much simpler.
Fine through dovetails and a lot of wax polish makes for a very pretty speaker.

I’ll be making a proper run of these very soon – though not in purpleheart as I don’t have enough, Oak may well feature however.

Specification, 25 x 10 x 6cm, 2x 3w amplifier, 2x 2.5″ drivers, 3.5mm jack input, combined volume & on/off switch, 4x AA batteries for power.

The amplifier has a healthy amount of gain so works to pretty high volumes with most inputs, however this means it can distort quite easily with louder sources. Typical maximum volume I found without noticable distorting was around 90dB @ 0.5m -which is plenty. This is mainly limited by the complexity of the music and its bass content, some pieces can be played louder others need to be played much quieter.

DVD shelves #2

Pair of DVD shelves, this time I made the shelves big enough to hold the DVD’s vertically. Made entirely from pallet wood. I decided to dovetail everything and add moldings the hard way with hollows, rounds and rabbets, also found a use for my 19th century No.113 in rounding the fronts of the shelves evenly.

So good fun to make – Theres something satisfying about putting cabinet joints on rough wood.

Saw Sharpening Vice

Recently I bought a fancy new Tenon saw, and in using it realized how blunt my other saws really were.

Previously I’d been G-clamping scraps of wood to either side of the tooth line and then placing that in a vice or some arrangement of items to sharpen my saws, it sorta works and I even managed to file entirely new teeth on a dovetail saw with this ramshackle method, but after seeing a recent episode of the woodwrights shop showing an interesting saw vice I figured I’d make myself one.

The main feature of this saw vice is its swinging legs- so you don’t need to re-clamp the saw to come at the teeth from another direction, also this makes it free standing so you can place it where the light is best for the task.

The jaws are tenoned in place on uprights held with coach bolts on the cross bar, a cam is held in place between the central legs which creates the gripping force. As well as the hollow cut out for the saw handle I made a tapered recess that runs most of the length of the jaws so that back saws can be sharpened on it as well. There weren’t any measurements to go by so I guessed at the height and judged the proportions to be pretty much the golden mean, made the jaws the length of my longest saw and went from there.

Roy’s one was made of oak, however I didn’t have any, so I used ash instead. I’m not sure if its the ash or if its normal but the cam is nearly impossible to turn, picture only shows it half cocked, not shown in the photos I drilled a 3/4″ hole through the cam for a lever but most attempts to used a wooden lever results in snapping, the only thing I found to work was a large set of iron dividers . . which probably isn’t the best use for them.

Not sure if the small collection of rusted saws are worth trying to fix, but they’ll make good practice pieces. Since making it I’ve managed to sharpen almost all my saws, mostly successfully – the main problem I’m having is getting the set right on the smaller saws.

Excuse the fuzziness of the photos, the aperture blades fell off inside my cameras lens so its stuck at a dreamy f/1.3.

Elm Kitchen Unit

This kitchen unit was made to hold recipe books as well as general kitchen stuff. Does it quite well as well I think.

The lower parts and shelves are made of Ash all tenoned into a 2″ thick Elm ‘slice of tree’ for the top. The ‘feet’ of the unit are rising dovetail joints (although in the orientation they end up they would be sinking dovetails I guess) which, in combination with the wedged tenons through the top, hold the whole thing in place rather well, in fact I didn’t end up using any glue in the final assembly, we’ll see if this becomes a problem later. .  .

The Elm worked surprisingly well at first, with hardly any tear-out even with my aggressively set No.5 plane,  but then started to dry out with further planing-  things then got a lot tougher.

The edges of the Elm were varnished to preserve the soft outer layers of wood, the rest of the unit was oiled with Danish oil.


CD/DVD Shelf

Sides made from (nearly) quartersawn pieces of padauk including the sapwood, shelves are tulipwood.  . time will tell if the colours will mellow out, if its anything like the camera cabinet the padauk heartwood will turn a darker purple colour, when cut it was bright orange- at at the moment half the workshop is tinted slightly orange.

Its just the joinery holding it together, its pretty much entirely end grain to long grain so gluing would probably have been pointless.

The shelves are all stopped sliding dovetails, the top shelf back is a weird combination of dovetails, that I’m not entirely sure how I got together, and at the base theres a big chunk of padauk double through tenoned into the sides to lower the shelves centre of gravity.
I was a bit masochistic and did it all by hand, the exception being re-sawing the padauk into planks, which I did partially on the table saw, ripping through the last inch with a handsaw, which is more than enough believe me.

Dimensions: 133 x 23 x 16cm

Capacity: 171 CDs, 77 DVDs or a crazy combination of the two.

Bluetooth Workshop speaker

In the process of making my tool chest I managed to knock off my odd £1 junkshop speaker from the wall and it pretty much exploded into various pieces – time to make a new housing.

The original looked like something from the Look Around You lab, painted an odd blue-grey with large attenuator dial on the top and metal grills. The speaker within was a very old ‘G.E.C’ General Electric Company (UK) speaker, after the fall I noticed a distinct lack of low end frequencies from the driver, on closer inspection it was clear the voice coil had become trapped between the central pole piece and the magnet, the fall dislodging the pole piece from its normal perfectly central location. . .tricky.
Luckily it being quite an old speaker (50+yrs?) it was easily dismantled, and I had the ‘fun’ job of relocating the metal pole piece at the equilibrium point in the middle of a toroidal magnet – and then guiding the voice coil back in with out disrupting anything, alas no photos to explain it more clearly as I had my hands quite full.

Next the actual casing. The speaker was designed to work basically without a cabinet, so it would be a pretty simple build. As I had some odd ends of mahogany left over from the chest I used them to make a frame where the speaker would be the panel, then pallet wood to make the box to house it. The Chinese bluetooth amplifier circuit I’d been using survived the fall in its cardboard box, but this time I decided to fit it actually too the housing with screws, some Hessian to hide the speaker cone, glued the box bit together and job done!

I left the back open – which is a bit dangerous as its plugged directly into the mains . . but I’ll just make sure I don’t knock it off the wall again – its still probably safer than the cardboard box it was all in before.

Tool Chest

Finally got around to making the tool chest from ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’. It took a while to find a place that had board of light weight wood wider than 9 inches, in the end I found some wide 12″+ boards of tulipwood and managed to make a full height chest with one staggered glue seam.

I didn’t do a very good job buying wood, in that I didn’t work out how much I would need before going to the lumber yard, so I ended up forgetting to account for the skirts and internal stuff.
It worked out well in the end though as I found I had enough mahogany salvaged from leftover window sills, which was easily enough to make the skirts, dust seal and internal trays.

I still need a better way of storing the chisels, so next on the list of things to make is a couple of chisel rolls.

Its not finished yet, in that it has no finish to it- In the book he makes a point of saying all tool chests should be painted, I’ll have to think about the colour for a while.

A square

I think its squareThe metal one I have can be too small at times, and I had a small chunk of wenge knocking about so why not? I made the blade from possibly mahogany, it was spare was the main thing, I think it was cut from the foul smelling hardwood my dad got from a skip in Europort.

Inspiration/instruction was from ‘The Anarchist Tool Chest’ a book I bought in the hope I’d make the chest – but soon realized I needed the tools to make the chest, and the bench to use the tools to make the chest . . . so I have yet to make the chest – its going to be soon though, I have the tools, I made the bench and the backdrop to the photo is one of the boards that will make the chest.

After making it I realized wenge was probably a bad choice, its hard as hell, so truing it was heavy going, and on top of that its quite course so bits splinter and break off quite easily, oh and also the splinters from wenge go septic, so a fun tool for every day use.

Looks nice though, and it is square and does the job of a square nicely, although I have chamfered the blade accidentally while using it to make a knife line. .