Voting at the Point of a Gun

Imagine that your neighbor takes a gun, starts shooting at your house, and moves the fence between your gardens onto your land, eventually taking your children in the treehouse hostage. Then he points the gun at your children and tells them “You want to live with me now, don’t you?” and after one of them says yes, fearful for their lives, he declares that they all said yes and their wishes have to be respected and thus they, together with the piece of the garden he fenced off, are now properly his.

No analogy is perfect of course but this is roughly what Vladimir Putin has done with regard to Zaporozhnia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts. There were no true referenda, there was just a publicity stunt theater with maybe some people saying “yes” on their own, some were (or felt to be, which is effectively the same) coerced and some said nothing but were recorded as saying “yes” anyway. The only surprising thing about the results is how predictably absurd they are.

I do not for a minute think that Putin or his toadies like Lavrov actually believe what they are saying. They do not believe that the referenda were fair and representative or that they are not waging a genocidal war of conquest against Ukraine but merely an intervention against Nazis. They just lie through their teeth and want to use force to make everyone else behave as if the lies were true. And that sums up the whole of Russian foreign policy over the last hundred years or so, and it only got worse under Putin.

I expect some of the local FtB tankies still think that “the West” and Ukraine should negotiate peace with Putin. For the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around that stance. Putin has lied so many times over the time of his reign with regard to Ukraine that he is on record saying mutually exclusive things (the same goes for Lavrov). Anything he says today, any promises he makes, any guarantees he gives, any oaths he swears, none of that can be believed. And how on earth is one supposed to negotiate in good faith with someone who gives them absolutely no reason to have any good faith whatsoever? How are we supposed to believe the promises he gives today when he broke literally every promise he gave in the past?

I do not like war. I am a pacifist at heart. I do not like to hurt living beings of any kind, especially not humans. But I am also a realist. I destroy weeds and kill pests in my garden. And I also know that I am capable of hurting others in self-defense. I know that it is not possible to negotiate with someone who does not respect any moral rules and laws except their own power. In the analogy that has started this article, it would be the police who would be tasked with restraining your violent neighbor. Without the existence of the police, it would be up to you to get your kids and garden back and teach him a lesson to not try and hurt you again, perhaps with the help of your other, sensible, neighbors.

Putin has put the whole world in danger and he will keep doing it until he is stopped. If we give him 15% of Ukraine today, he will demand more tomorrow, killing or deposing millions of Ukrainians in the process anyway. There are clear historical precedents for how these things go, WW2 being the most obvious one. Dictators of this type have never enough.

As much as I do not like war, giving Ukrainians the arms to defend themselves and push the invasion force back into Russia is the only way to stop their genocide. The only way that does not direct military intervention that is. Doing nothing is not a pacifist stance. Doing nothing is allowing the genocide to take place unopposed, thus effectively supporting it. If you do not oppose Putin, you support genocide.

Showing off My Wood – Part 4

My mother continues to get better. I have harvested over 50 kg of plums and about 10 kg of apples this year and she has been removing the pits and making marmalade, compotes, and prunes for over a week. The freezer is full of de-pitted and halved plums, we have 2 kg of prunes in the cellar and a huge amount of canned fruit product, thus we are set up for years. This is good because a harvest like this is exceptional.

My father seems to be well after the reduction of antipsychotics. He is able to move and do something again whilst not getting any psychotic fits for a few weeks by now. Today we were at the psychiatrist for a check-up and his long-term memory is apparently in good shape for his age, but he has a short-term memory problem for which he was recommended to exercise a bit with games and puzzles. Alzheimer’s or any other type of severe dementia is, for now, not an issue. If he continues to do well, the antipsychotics may be reduced again at the next check-up at the beginning of next year. At least he genuinely enjoys cracking nuts with the Nutkraken and is positively eager to do it.

I have so much work in the garden and around the house right now that I have barely time for anything else. However I still have some pretty woods to write about, so lets go to it.


Tamarisk (Tamarix)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

My favorite aunt used to have a big tamarisk tree in her garden but they felled it a few years ago. When I was visiting, she gave me some of the bigger pieces in case I can make something pretty out of them.

The wood has developed a lot of cracks during the drying, it will need a lot of filling with epoxy. But it has interesting color and texture – the sapwood is bright yellow and the heartwood is reddish-pink with orange-yellow streaks like flames. I think that if I will the cracks with red or orange resin, maybe with glitter, I could get genuinely interesting-looking pieces out of it.

It is one of the few kinds of wood that I can smell when I work it and it is not pleasant. It stinks to the high heavens, to be frank.


Thuja (Thuja sp.)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I only got two pieces of Thuja put aside. I could put aside more from a tree that was uprooted this spring in my neighbor’s garden, but I do not think I will. It is a plain-looking softwood. I will possibly use it for contrast pieces and spacers for darker woods of similar hardness if I ever work with one but I do not think it is worth using on its own.


Yew (Taxus baccata)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Interesting-looking and reasonably hard softwood. Heartwood is reddish-brown, and Sapwood is creamy-white. It is similar to juniper wood that I have shown you previously. I think it might be interesting for both kitchen and bushcraft knives, but since it is poisonous, I will have to be very careful whenever working with it, especially when sanding or filing it. A respirator is a must, people can get – and did get – poisoned from inhaling its sawdust. I have several pieces big enough to make knife bloc, especially if I economize them and use them as veneers. I did not have a piece big enough to make a longbow. Pity.

That’s it for now, but I still have some nice woods to brag about, so stay tuned.

The Nutkraken

It is the season when the walnut tree is shedding its bounty. We still haven’t eatet yet all the nuts from last year and it will probably take some time to eat them, possibly a whole another year. And this year’s harvest promises to be even bigger than last year’s. Thus I have some nefarious plans with the nuts this year.

Howevah, all plans include cracking the nuts first. We do have a small hand-held nutcracker, but that is good only if you want to crack a few nuts for a snack, not when you need to go through a bucketful every day. I have tried to make a small lever nutcracker from an old drill press. It worked, but not great. So this year we brainstormed some ideas with my father about how to proceed and this is what I came up with later in the workshope when looking for suitable materials to materialize our idea – behold the mighty Nutkraken:

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I made it in about 5 minutes from a piece of board, two armrests salvaged from my father’s old armchair, a 10 cm piece of 4 mm fencing wire, and a bottle cork.

The armrests are connected on one end with the fencing wire. That end not only had pre-drilled holes. The armrests have an S – curve that has a nice short curve on the connected end and a long one on the other, making a nice indentation for the walnut and more than enough space for fingers. The lower arm has attached a perpendicular piece of board to it to stabilize it and to allow for it to be fixed to the table via clamps. After some testing I have added the bottle cork so the nuts do not get totally obliterated, making it easier to separate the shells from the meal. With a bit of additional work it could even be made to look pretty, but I probably won’t bother with that. I usually don’t with tools.

My father enjoys his new toy greatly and he cracked and shelled a bucket of nuts yesterday in no time. Those were low-quality nuts, and I intend to test some things with them first either today or tomorrow before I proceed to mangle the good-quality nuts that start falling next week. I will let you know the results of my sciency experimoments promptly.

The Nutkraken works magnificently. No sprain on wrists and fingers, no over- or under-crushed nuts, no problems whatsoevah.

My Shortest Chess Game

Sorry for the radio silence. Things aren’t going all that well with my father. The antipsychotics work, but he is extremely weak physically now, either as a side effect or due to some other cause. We have reduced the antipsychotics (after consultation with the psychiatrist) and now we are on allert if he again starts to have the paranoid delusions so we can eventually increase the dosage to find one that does not cripple him physically yet still works. If his weakness is a side effect of the antipsychotics, which is not entirely sure.

I am constantly on alert and I cannot find the motivation to write. I have managed to do some work in the garden nd the workshoppe, but when I sit at the computer, the only thing that I am capable of is playing a few chess games. For some reason, chess helps me to relax.

So in the meantime, here is the shortest chess game that I have ever played as black. I was really surprised at my opponent’s moves. One does not need a computer for analysis.

Not a Masterpiece Sheathed

I have realized that I did not show this on Affinity, only on Instagram. With all that is going on, I haven’t done any actual work in my workshop for weeks now, but this one was finished months ago. In the end, I have decided to make a simple, unadorned sheath for my Not a Masterpiece knife. I decided to do that because I felt in the end that an overly decorated sheath would needlessly distract from the beautiful woodgrain in the handle. The striker and ferrocerium rod have simple stainless steel handles. The bronze caught patina, which was to be expected. It does require some maintenance to remain shiny.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The full set is for sale in the Knife Shoppe.

“Incoherent Scream Into The Void

Argle bargle gaahgh!

For several weeks, maybe even over a month now, Firefox has been problematic. Sometimes it did not load Google or YouTube, although all other websites worked OK. Sometimes it did not open links or search links, sometimes it did. I had to try to download reader submissions several times before the link finally worked and did not just open a new empty tab. I thought the issue would be resolved with the new version, but it only worsened. Both YouTube and Google worked only sporadically.

I thought initially that the issue might be something else, but nope, it was Firefox. First I tried the usual – clear the cookies, cache, etc. It did not help. Then I tried a clean installation and the problems persisted. I have tried other browsers and those were OK.

So I have to transfer everything to Chrome now, which I hate. It makes my eyes hurt for some reason, the proportions and colors are just not what I am used to seeing.

Screams

Greening the Balcony – Part 3

Avalus continues his balcony gardening adventures and he has shared some more thoughts and pictures. This is from somewhere mid-summer, I only got now to actually publishing it.


The Blooming Buzzing Balcony
Things are establishing, the tomato plants are continually exploding and I get a bowl of salad every day, although with late June, it gets so hot that the salads are racing to bloom. And they are not alone. So today we look at colorful hot plant sexy bits.
First, a quick overview of what changed in the meantime.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Yes, more green, tomatoes racing up, and the added board gets really bent by all the pots. Time for a support beam. A yes, parts of an old alu camping bed will be perfect!

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

On the other side, my usual chaos, more greens, a rescued kumquat bush hiding behind the table, on the table more plants waiting to be potted. The tomatoes on this side take their time. In previous years, these would grow much faster. Both pots got fresh earth so it is probably down to the variety.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Enjoy!

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Nasturtium. The camera really struggles with their red shine. I really like putting these in salads or on just bread with cheese and butter. Yum-yum!

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Sweet potato with an extra earth bee. Sadly the other won’t bloom and all the flowers fall off. I really would have been interested in growing them from my own seeds next year.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Ornamental Pea. I have them in a wide variety of colors but they grew down the outside of the balcony and I can’t get a good image (I am very afraid of dropping my camera).

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

A very prickly aubergine, I think I will need to cut most of them off, as the plant is still pretty tiny and I don’t think it could support the many flowers it produces.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Fiery red climbing bean, green leaves, blue sky. Contrast!

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Tomatoes. I can’t wait for tomato season, my sister is already drowning in fruits.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Cucumber. They had a slow start and are not as sprawling as the years before. Maybe it is because of old seeds.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Mystery capsicums, probably sweet peppers. This one I bought but the tag had fallen off.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Tagetes, bumble bees really love them.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Strawberries, a monthly variety that steadily produces new fruit and is nearly as expansive with its shoots as the non-blooming sweet potato.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Stalked celery. Somehow, the wasps really love these flowers.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Sage, this is a very small steppe variety. I bought this to attract more pollinators to the balcony. I think it worked and the smell is fantastic.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Red cloves or small onions, leftover from last year.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And more Beans to close it off.
Soon there will be more. The Echinacea paradoxa is still growing, as are the sunflowers and the calendula. Then there is the thyme and one of the salads I left standing.
Overall, I notice a distinct lack of honey bees on the balcony (and in general) this year, the bumble and earth bees are also few and far between. On the other hand, I get several types of wasps that crawl all over my balcony (and occasionally me, which is a bit unnerving). The climbing beans have had dozens of flowers but so far only three have started to fruit, all the others just fell off, which is disappointing. The tomatoes fared better, but a number were stung by stinking bugs and developed a rot. But these are acceptable losses, one should never expect to have 100% success while gardening.

Next time, I think I will take a closer look at my “exotics” – tropical and half-tropical plants and my experiences. Because I really just can’t throw out avocado and mango pits, or pass by sprouting ginger in a shop … .

Showing off My Wood – Part 3

My mother is slowly regaining the sensitivity and mobility in the knee of her leg, so she is recovering from some of the negative side effects of the hip replacement surgery and she seems to be on the right track. She has no pains and is much more mobile and cheerful than before the surgery. Had it not been for my father’s rapid turn down, things would be swell.

My father has slept well for several nights in a row now, his anti-coagulant medication was adjusted after blood tests and he also finally got his prescription meds from a urologist again. He stopped complaining and takes the antipsychotics regularly. He will probably be never fully OK again, but he seems stable, for now. He was also finally able to do something other than moping, so his obsessive persistent thoughts might be going away and we might be on the right track there as well.

Thus at least for now, I have some piece of mind and I would like to present to you some more of my crafting material collection.


Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

I am not 100% sure about this wood. Some of it was given to me as apricot wood, and some of it I think is apricot wood based on its characteristics. Its looks are certainly consistent with the genus Prunus.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

It is very twisted wood, with reddish-brown heartwood and yellow-orange sapwood. It looks very interesting, but like many woods of the Prunus genus, it tends to develop deep cracks that are often invisible on the outside and become apparent only after one cuts the wood to size. So it is certain that it will require the filling of those cracks with epoxy. I do have enough of it to make some splendid-looking knife sets.

I suspect that trying to treat it with ammonia would turn it brown, just as it does with ordinary cherry.


Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

This one picture is only the tip of the iceberg. I have several large boxes and a few bundles of longer pieces. I will have to use it as a veneer for knife blocks though, mainly because of its peculiar properties.

Lilac wood has very nice colors – creamy white sapwood, and light brown heartwood with lilac-colored streaks. It is very hard and dense wood, probably the densest in my collection, although not the hardest. However, it has so small pores that it never really dries properly. When cut and formed to size, it tends to develop cracks (checking) on the end grain even when it was drying in the attic for years prior to that. That is an unfortunate property of many kinds of hardwood with small pores. Lilac is really not suitable for some big works because of this. Even big pieces – which are rare – have to be cut down significantly and the wood tends to crack, warp and twist for a looooooong time.

Ammonia turns the sapwood to brown and the heartwood to even darker brown. I do not think it is worth it, this wood is more beautiful in its original form. I will probably need to use some UV-stabilized finishes for it to preserve its color.


Staghorn sumach (Rhus typhina)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Not native species. Originally it was sparingly planted in parks and gardens as a decorative plant. It started to propagate beyond that and I am afraid it might become an invasive species soon.

I got a piece of this wood from my cousin about twenty years ago and I had some hopes for it. But now I am only including it here for the sake of completeness, I might just use it as firewood. The wood had a pleasant light-green tint when it was fresh, but not only did it develop an unholy amount of cracks during drying, the greenish ting has almost disappeared and the wood has now a dull greyish-yellow color. I certainly do not have high hopes for this small bundle and I am in no hurry to use it.


Plum (Prunus domestica)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Absolutely stunning wood, one of my all-time favorites. All woods of the Prunus genus are beautiful, but this is special to me. Not for any particular reason, I just really like how it looks.

The sapwood is yellowish and not very interesting, but the heartwood has a gorgeous reddish color. It is hard with small pores and barely visible growth rings. It works well. I do not have a lot and not very many big pieces. I might have enough to make a few blocks with a veneer but not many. I will have to combine it with other woods if I decide to use it for that.

It is a very beautiful wood and I do have big plans for some of the pieces. I really, really do hope those plans will go well. I already have one finished blade that I think is deserving of it. If only I had the time and strength to work on knives.

Eye ain’t done yet. There will be at least one more post of this. Possibly more.

Runner Beans Riches

Our south wall used to be shaded by a rabbit shed, later converted to a chicken hoop. Ever since I demolished that, the sun was directly blazing at it. It does not heat the house much because it is well insulated, but I felt somehow that the space is wasted. After some thinking, I have decided that it would be an ideal space for growing runner beans, one row, close to the wall. Runner beans do not mind the low-quality soil, so they do not need to be fertilized and thus there is no risk of polluting our well which is down the slope exactly on the opposite side of the house.

Last year was somewhat poor, the beans did not grow that much. There was enough rain, but not enough sun for them to really prosper. Even so, the harvest was big enough that we still did not eat it all.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

This year the weather was extremely hot and dry again. However, we managed to collect enough rainwater in the spring to be able to water the beans the whole time sufficiently, so they prospered enormously and covered the whole wall.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

They are still blooming and they will continue to grow until the first frost.  I will probably wait for two more weeks, then I will harvest all green immature pods and clip the plants so they do not waste energy on growing and instead mature the remaining pods quicker. But maybe I won’t bother. The harvest looks extremely promising even so, I will have to convince my mother to cook beans more often. I like them better than chicken anyway.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I am thinking about buying seeds of other vine beans and planting them next year en masse on the vegetable patch where this year grew potatoes. But I like runner beans the best because they are big and thus they require the least work per weight when shelling. We used to have white runner beans too, but  I haven’t seen them in shops for a long time. I could not put seeds consistently aside, because the white and red beans hybridized and after two-three years I had neither white nor purple beans but a mish-mash.

Greening the Balcony – Part 2

Avalus continues his balcony gardening adventures and he has shared some more thoughts and pictures.


Visitors from the Past and Visitors I want to go past!

(This is from about the middle to the end of May.)

Content warning: A spider at the very end!

Green stuff is growing and exploding everywhere!

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Salads, tomatoes, nostrums, herbs, and potatoes.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

More salads, cucumbers, strawberries, and radishes. One sweet potato in the middle for good measure. The climbers will be led along the different rails or suspended on strings dangling down from the piece of wood, that also serves as an extension to the rails for balcony boxes.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And on the other end of the balcony climbing beans, mangold, more potatoes, more salad and tomatoes On the bottom you can see capsicums. These really did not want to germinate this year, they took over four months to get this tiny.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

In the boxes, the bush beans are coming up, the ones on the right were from very old seeds, most did not germinate. The ones on the left are from new seeds. I did not take a picture of the broccoli box, but you can see, that it is still blooming. At a later date, it will sadly fall victim to tragedy.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This year, I used up a lot of old seeds I collected over the years, just to see if they were any good. I did not expect much and was proven right, out of around sixty seeds I got three snowpeas and four to five weak bush beans. Then I got rid of the rest of the old seeds by digging them deep under the soil and, surprisingly, I was greeted by fresh pea sprouts three weeks later. Of course, this was after I bought and planted fresh seeds. Well, more peas!

I just really like peas! The trellis is made from hazelnut sticks I gathered in the surrounding area. It looks very flimsy but held up to a massive storm already.

Also, notice something odd about this sweet potato?

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

There is a pumpkin, either muskat or hokkaido, growing on the left. How did it get there? Last fall I peeled pumpkin seeds and threw the supposedly empty shells in the empty bin and then later planted a sweet-potato shoot on top of the chaff. I very carefully removed the pumpkin plant. It will travel to my parent’s garden and will get a nice spot in their old compost pile. You can see the extracted plant in one of the pictures above.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This spring I cut down my sage (it was getting constant mildew and was too sprawling) and decided to try and multiply it via cuttings. So, I used some paper pots I had left over from last spring, trying to grow some kind of tomatoes. Nothing came of these seeds, the pots have been completely dry for a year. And this year, of course, three tomatoes germinated! I wonder what kind they will be.

With greens, there are aphids.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Especially my capsicums were hit hard, with leaves getting all curly or falling off altogether. As of writing in mid June, they are still very weak.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

But with aphids, there come fierce predators! Here is a ladybug hunting on basilicum.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have no idea what caterpillar/larva this is, but the empty aphid husks tell a gruesome story of brutal murder.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The same goes for these bright orange larvae that are dining on the aphids. Probably some kind of wasp?

Sadly, with aphids also come ants.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

In a garden, I like to have them around but on the balcony, they sadly have to go. That is the one time I use poison to get rid of creatures, but in past years I learned the hard way that ants become a huge problem in compact spaces, herding aphids and eventually invading the apartment.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Here is a very different caterpillar, happily munching on a cabbage. The cabbage itself was a result of an experiment: What would happen, if I were to just plonk the centrepiece of a cabbage I ate in a glass of water? It grew and has given me some nice leaves so far. I have no real plans for the cabbage other than pick some leaves every now and then, so the caterpillar can stay. Enjoy your meal!

And for PZ, a newly hatched batch of tiny cute orb weaver spiders and their mom hiding in the rosemary. There are many of them around on the balcony, their nets are getting filled with winged aphids!

[Read more…]

My Father’s Mind Is Gone

I was thinking about whether to write this or not, and I have decided to do it.

I do not know how much/whether I will be able to write on the blog in the foreseeable future. I would like to but I might not have the strength.

In the last four days, my father’s mind has completely disintegrated. He is babbling incoherent stories over and over again, expressing paranoid fears that somebody, somewhere, somehow is out to get him, rob him or even kill him. It is impossible to reason with him or to have any conversation at all because he is unable to finish one sentence without trailing off to another.

I am not a physician, but this is probably some form of dementia, maybe Alzheimer’s, maybe something else. The trouble is that the very nature of the illness makes it impossible to even start to deal with it. He refuses to acknowledge that something might be wrong with him and refuses to consult a physician. He insists on “important” talks with me where he inevitably trails off to the same string of incoherent and irrelevant stories. He has a deeply held conviction that something is wrong but is completely unable to say what and why. Everything that is even slightly out of the ordinary is proof of some conspiracy against him or against me – the stranger who walked past the house last month, the nurse who was slightly glib with him a year ago, the change in his prescription meds, the unanswered call message on his smartphone – everything and everywhere. After I think we have dealt with one of his imaginary problems, he pulls out another – the same one that I thought we dealt with yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. We are moving in circles.

He had some signs of mental decline, but at a rate that seemed normal for his age. These last four days it has accelerated extremely and it took me completely by surprise. A week ago he was able to finish a sentence and talk normally, now he is not.

I tried to work, but I can’t concentrate. I tried to explain things to him, but I know that if he has dementia, I can’t do that either. I can’t do anything, except maybe cry. I love my father, but I cannot spend my whole day listening to his incoherent ramblings for hours a day every day. I am exhausted to the point of breaking.

Le Workshoppe Rearangeé

I think I did not show you the inside of my workshop, except for the pieces visible around the various pieces of knives and machinery that I have shown in my crafting posts. And since I have totally overhauled (and cleaned) the shop these last few days, I have decided to give you a quick tour of the new layout. The workshop is a bit ad-hoc and furniture is made from mostly scraps.

So let’s start with the north wall, right behind the door.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

On the right, you can see where my lathe is stored. I do not use it very often. Right next to the circuit breaker hangs my woodcutting helmet and fire extinguisher.

In the middle of that wall is a huge shelf packed with various things. At the very top are old baking trays, then a plastic tray with some pieces of graphite. Neither of those things I need often, thus the upper shelves. Then come abrasive cloths and papers sorted by grit. Under them are some cleaning, flammable and corrosive chemicals, and a little basket with magnets inside to collect steel dust. Next comes the shelf with various fixtures and jaws for the vice, follows shelf with knives in progress and knife templates, and a shelf with big massive pieces of steel and aluminium. The second shelf from the bottom is now filled with various lubricants and the lowest one currently occupies interesting-looking stones for suiseki and bonsai. The various plastic bottles are mostly sunflower oil for quenching and one bottle for cutting oil.

To the left of the shelf hangs a board with various chisels, scrapers, planers, and knives.

Leaning against the shelf are various wooden dowels, staves, bow staves, pipes, and long wooden prisms.

To the very left, you see the beginnings of my first workbench, made yonks ago. It is three meters long and would not fit in one picture.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Above and below the workbench are cupboards repurposed from kitchen renovations. In the corner, you can see two racks for thin metal profiles and pipes and the motor belongs to my tumbler. I have put it on this part of the workbench because it is somewhat inaccessible to work on and I have nowhere else to put the tumbler where it would not be in the way. I think I will be able to run it from there too, which is a plus.

The red vice is right under a light and in a spot where all the chisels, hammers, saws, rasps, and files are no more than one step away. On the cupboard right above it is also a thermometer so I know how warm/cold it is. Inside the cupboard above the vice are empty plastic containers for when I need them during work (like for example to sort screws into when disassembling/assembling something). In the drawer below it are small files and brushes, in the next drawer various pliers and shears, next wrenches, and the bottom drawer is filled with clamps.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The forge in the middle is there because it needs repairs – work for tomorrow. Under it is a place for storing the table saw when its not in use, a small stool to help me to reach the upper shelves, a bucket for steel dust, and a shop vacuum cleaner.

Above the forge is a shelf with various writing instruments, gomtry tools like compasses, rulers, curves, the most-often used screwdrivers, and a roll of paper kitchen towels. The papers hanging on that shelf are laminated steel heat-treating charts. I will add in near future data sheets for the steels that I use. Inside the cupboard are nails and on the very top shelf accessories for the greenhouses. Again, the upper shelf is occupied with things that are not used often.

Next, you can see my unbender, now permanently fixed to the workbench. I have also spent one more day making it sturdier and improving the design a bit. Next to it, at the end of the bench, is now permanently fixed my drill press. It is lifted slightly above the bench so I can reach under it with a small broom to tease out the metal chips that collect there. I have also put there a piece of PVC flooring to protect the workbench from dripping cutting oil. The tables hanging on the cupboard above it are a drill-speed table for various materials and a conversion table between trizact and grit abrasive ranking.

Below the drill are various small brooms and seldom-used cutting instruments. In the drawers are some abrasives for my handheld belt sander and some ppe, like gloves.

Above the drill press, right at the end of the picture, you can see a small shelf packed with old cookware for when I need to cook something that is not fit to do in the kitchen. Behind it is a small shelf filled with various drill bits.

Now we come to the south wall.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

You have already seen my abrasive belt rack and my small heating stove. The basket and plastic bucket are for wood off-cuts. Normally they are not this full, but I did not need to heat the workshop for quite a long time now, obviously. The grey plastic trumpet is a vacuum attachment for collecting wood dust from the belt sander. The black barrel beside it with a similar metal trumpet is for collecting sparks and metal dust.

The green shelf to the left has buckets with various chemicals and abrasives on the top, some drums for the tumbler on the top shelf, and various metal offcuts on the rest.

Now we are reaching the newest addition to my workshop, one that has spurred the complete reorganization – the east wall with a new workbench.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

On the right is now permanently affixed my small bandsaw. I hope that fixing it to the bench will reduce its vibrations and improve the lifespan of the saw bands, they were snapping rather quickly.

Below the bandsaw is a small cupboard with bonsaist equipment and various attachments for the belt sander.

The small brown shelf between the windows contains various screws, glues, popsicle sticks, bbq skewers, strings, wooden wedges, metal foils, and a first aid kit. On the right side (out of view except the baseball cap) hang various ppe, like face shield, earmuffs, respirator, and goggles. On the left side hang various bits of wire. Below it is a cordless drill and my two angle-grinders.

And on the left side of the bench is the belt sander. Originally it stood where the unbender is now, and it was a pain in the nether regions. It got in the way of reaching the cupboards and working on the drill press and it ate a lot of the workbench so some manual works were awkward or even impossible. Here it should not be in the way and there is enough space to the right side of it to build various attachments – I plan a lathe, a drum sander, and a disc sander.

The drawers in the grey cupboard below contain various measuring instruments, ball bearings, cork, popsicle sticks, and some other various stuff.

In the cupboard itself are boxes with assorted screws, spacers, springs, locks, keys, handles, and similar small diverse things that do not fit anywhere else.

Between the cupboard and the new workbench is about 9 cm space. I have thought about what to do with it and I have decided that it would be an ideal storage space for all of my knife- and tool-making steels, so I have put them there.

And on the very left of the picture you see where my various electric cables and gas burners hang.

That was the grand tour through my small workshop. Writing it took a lot longer than I have expected, I hope I did not bore you to death.

A New Workbench

Today was lazying-around-doing-nothing-in-particular-day. I needed it, my back hurt as if I were shoveling gravel. Four days in a row I was working as much as I could on making the best of the bad weather and making a new work bench for my workshop, something that was desperately needed for a long time by now.

I have started by taking some ca 5 m long boards from their storage in my garden-shed half of the workshop building.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

These super long spruce boards are reclaimed from attic renovations when a few years ago the old board flooring was replaced with OSB boards. They have some insect damage, but not excessive so they are still strong, and they are super dry. Thus whilst they are straight lengthwise, they are slightly bent across. They also have fitting tongues and groves.

I have cut 10 of 2300 mm long pieces and 17 of 700 mm long pieces and cleaned all the grooves and tongues first with a chisel (they were full of decades-worth of dust) and then with sandpaper. After that I have put five long boards next to each other with the concave side up and I flattened them with my handheld belt sander.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The concave side of the boards required less material removal than the convex side would have, therefore the belt sander was sufficient. And it has also removed the oil oil/wax finish on the boards.

Flaterooned boards could be glued side-by-side together, forming the base of the workbench. To keep them together I have lashed them with four Spanish windlasses.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I have used PU-based glue for his bench but I have used PVA for my first one and it worked too. The PVA only needs a longer time to cure and the PU has a further advantage in that it foams up, filling neatly small voids, etc.

I did not wait for the glue to set, however, and I started sanding the convex sides of the short boards straightaway.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

When those vere sanded flat, I started gluing them to the base and attaching them with screws to hold them in place. That was my first workday finished.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

So I have two layers of boards, perpendicular to each other, glued at flattened concave sides. The next day I removed all the screws and then came the hardest part of this whole ordeal – flattening the convex sides of the bords in the upper layer and of the five remaining long boards.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The convex sides needed to remove more material than the concave sides, thus belt sander alone was not sufficient. I had to take out the one tool that I actively hate – the electric hand planer. I never figured out how to use it properly. It hogs material away quite successfully, but it also makes gouges in the boards no matter what I do and the gyroscopic force makes its movement extremely difficult and tiring. And it is extremely dangerous on top of that. And it makes an unholy mess.

But I have managed to get the sides at least somewhat flat so I could glue on the long boards as the top layer. again using screws to hold them in place. That was the second day finished.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The next day I again removed all the screws and I filled all the holes and gaps with bbq skewers, popsicle sticks, and/or a mixture of PVA glue and sawdust as appropriate.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

It has cured very quickly so in the afternoon I could flatten this side, using mostly the belt sander, but I had to use the dreaded planer too a few times. I made one unseemly gauge on the surface :-/

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I had to fill in some voids again, but I was able to give it the first coat with strongly diluted acrylic paint that very same evening.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

At this point, I was so physically tired that I could not even sleep properly. Fighting the electric hand planer made my back and neck ache something awful. But at least the 2300x720x70 mm workbench board was mostly finished at this point. It is not tutti flatti perfetti, but it is flaterooni enough.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The third day was thus finished, the first coat of paint dried overnight.

The next day I have again filled some cracks with sawdust and acrylic paint mixture, gave the whole thing a coat of undiluted paint and I weighed it. It weighs approximately 42 kg. It did take some work to get it through the workshop door and into the workshop, but I have managed it and I managed it solo. I was afraid to ask my father for help because he could easily hurt himself. I was more comfortable with banging the board about and eventually breaking something than with him getting some serious injury. Luckily I did not break anything, nor did I injure myself, I was just very, very tired at the end of that endeavor and I have not made any pictures of what I have done inside the workshop. I just remembered to make this one picture at the end.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The board is fixed to the wall on the rear edge and supported by two legs on the front two corners. Under it are some reclaimed furniture cupboards that were there even before, just without a nice continuous workbench above them. Because it is fixed to the wall, it is very sturdy and It can take my whole body weight in the middle without bending.

That was the fourth day finished. I was still too tired to even sleep properly, so I did not.

Now that it is in place, it will get two more coats of paint (one is drying right now) and then I will put on it the machinery. Either tomorrow or the day after that, depending on how fast the paint cures and how I feel.

I intend for this workbench to be a permanent home for my belt sander and band saw and also, in the future, a lathe. That should free my first workbench significantly, allowing me to do manual work more comfortably and have more than one vice.