Workshop Update

The enforced national lockdown back in March last year began just before we were about to travel to Jersey to see our daughter, so instead I had the added bonus of a week off spent in my workshop.

Having managed to get to grips with my newly purchased CNC machine by making some signs, clocks and a crib board for my dad, I was keen to explore new things to make. I’d also ordered a pallet of hardwood from eBay, which would give me plenty of material to use as well.

Firstly, I wanted to try to produce a brass stamp on the CNC which seemed quite a cool thing to try to make. I had already ordered some brass blocks from eBay and so set about designing the stamps on the Vectrix software. The plan was to make a stamp that could be used for embossing my woodwork pieces; my very own makers mark. What I didn’t realise was that cutting metal, even a soft metal like brass, isn’t as easy as you think. My first attempt caused the router bit to break but once I’d sussed out the correct feed and speeds needed I managed to produce a pretty functional stamp.

I then thought I’d have a go at making some cutting boards, again out of left over oak worktop, but this time I wanted to try engraving onto them using the CNC. I made three different sized boards and a stand and then used the CNC to produce some pretty good looking boards.

Having no use for the boards I stored them away after first sharing photos on Instagram and shortly after an ex-colleague reached out for me to see if I would make her a set. As they were not required at home, I duly posted them to her and are now regularly used in her kitchen. Another project successfully completed.

Over the next few months my CNC output increased as I grew more confident in designing and creating new things. I even managed to get a couple of commissions from a chap in Scotland having seen my photos on social media.

Firstly he asked if I could make him a sign for his newly installed hot tub and then a sign for a work colleague. He loved them, especially as I only charged him for the postage.

Ideas were coming thick and fast by the time we came out of lockdown, not before dabbling in making some keyring, nick-nack trays and boxes, more signs and BBQ trays.

As the workshop warmed up in the summer, my activity slowed as the temperatures got unbearable but I still managed to knock out some football signs for friends and family.

In my next blog post I’ll run through some other projects including making beer bottle openers, signs for the garden, a box for a baby and a clock for my dad for Fathers Day.

Family BBQ

DSC02298Had a great day today, drinking copious amounts of wine and managing to cook food on a BBQ, without poisoning too many of the family.

Bit disconcerting when my six year old niece said she said my sausages were a bit burnt though. Kids just don’t appreciate good cooking these days!

The idea is to drink sufficient alcohol to not worry about what the food actually tastes like, but then for a six year old that’s not really possible!


Happy reunion

For the first time this summer we experienced a lovely, warm day yesterday which was fortuitous as we had organised a BBQ for the friends we met in Egypt in 2010. For the past three years we have held a reunion at one of the couples houses and this year it was our turn. We kept an eye on the forecast all week  and were relieved to see that yesterday was going to be perfect outdoor eating weather, with temperatures likely to rise up to the high twenties.

Everyone duly arrived late afternoon (including an edition to the group as one couple had a baby girl earlier in the year) and we were soon catching up on news, enjoying the warm weather which reminded us of our happy times in Egypt three years earlier. It was really nice that we have kept in touch especially as we are such a diverse group of individuals, with a wide age gap too.

The youngest couple, Santosh (postman) and Catherine (solicitor) were blessed with a girl, Riya, in January and she was so laid back and calm throughout the day. Catherine told us all about their recent trip to Nepal (where Santosh was from) and how they coped with a baby under six months old in such a remote part of the world. Karen (Teacher) and John (between jobs) hadn’t changed at all and were grateful for the invite, using the opportunity to see Karen’s brother who lives at nearby Sywell. John had explained that he’d lost his contract job at the MOD earlier in the year and was considering his  employment options but was enjoying working outdoors in a temporary job clearing lakes. And finally Stuart and Barbara who have been retired a few years and had recently become great-grandparents.

Of course for us the news was of Rio, who was the new addition to our family. I was a bit apprehensive on how he would be with so many people in the house, but he behaved remarkably well. We had to keep him on a close lead for most of the afternoon/evening and everyone said he was a lovely, well behaved dog.

I cooked the food on our new BBQ, using it fully for the first time this year and it was such a nice, relaxing evening; it’s amazing how some decent weather can make outdoors eating such great experience. The only downer was the insects that decided to join the party late on. As soon as the sun went down we started getting bitten; both John and I being attacked by ants on our feet and others being pestered by kamikaze mosquitos. I woke this morning with two itchy bites on my legs and a large, double bite on my back which I know will drive me crazy for days to come.

Still, it didn’t really spoil the evening and as everyone left we were already organising the next reunion in 2013 when Karen and John will play hosts at their house in Dorset.