November 28, 2005

Eggs 15th Century Style

[05:48 PM]
History

I recently got a copy of The Medieval Kitchen (ISBN 0-226-70685-0) and have tried at least one recipe, paraphrased here. Quantities are for two people, or one hungry person. This is low fat, filling, and tastes very rich.

You need: two eggs; two or four slices of lightly toasted bread, quite thickly sliced, and crusty is good; some olive oil; some Dijon mustard; 1/4 cup of red wine; arbitary amount of water; 1 onion.

Slice the onion up, saute until golden, set aside. Fry the eggs, sunny side up, in the same oil, set aside. Put the onion back in the oil, add the wine and a couple of teaspoons of mustard, and water if needed. Bring to a simmer, and dip the bread into it, both sides, so it absorbs some of the liquid without going soggy.

Put the bread on a plate, put the eggs on the bread. Reduce the wine and onion mixture a bit (this won’t take long) and pour over the eggs and bread. Sette it Forthe.

November 24, 2005

Busy busy busy

[01:30 PM]
Craft

Theoretically on holidays. Well not theory, fact. Although proponents of Intelligent Design seem to have some difficulty differentiating the members of the triune of Fact, Theory and Fantasy.

Nevertheless, keeping busy. I finished off the first of the Christmas boxes, and the bookmarks, with considerable application of elbow grease and carnuba wax, resulting in a mirror shine finish. Yesterday I woke up, designed a small desktop tidy thing - a box with a draw, and cut and glued the box part. I finished tidying that up today, and will polish it tomorrow. I also began cutting the parts for the drawer today, which involved more adventures with the bandsaw, making some very thin pieces out of thick piece - 15mm chopped in half to make 7mm or thereabouts planks.

I came up against the problem of planing those small pieces again, as it’s difficult to hold them still and plane them as well. I might investigate a cabinet scraper, and see if I can retain all my fingers and patience. Anyway, tomorrow there will be more small fiddly pieces, a trip to carbatec to buy a new bandclamp and a handle for the drawer, and some medieval cooking.

Thinking of things medieval, I also began preparing the shield for painting on Sunday. It’s damp and cool here at the moment which means that the gesso I applied is taking forever to dry. The technique is fairly simple: slather the shield or whatever with lots of glue (I use PVA glue, slightly watered down); smooth fabric over it, size the fabric with more glue; paint with gesso when dry, sand it, paint with gesso again.

Thinking of painting things medieval, I sewed up a knife scabbard as well, after partially disassembling it first in order to decorate it with a mix of scribing and stamping. I’m toying with the idea of picking out the design with enamel paint, but the piece I’ve got downstairs that I used as a sample is taking a log time to dry. After 24 hours it’s still quite tacky. Thinking is in progress.

November 20, 2005

Ouch!

[07:54 AM]
Woodworking

I was doing a certain amount of fiddling about yesterday, primarily tidying up and polishing a box I’d made (note to self, making boxes with 45 degree mitres is a real pain in the butt). I also was playing with my bandsaw, trying to work out some ways of doing things. So at one point I was fiddling to see how thin a piece I could resaw freehand, that is to say shaving a slice off the side of another slice. For what it’s worth, i can do about 1mm without cutting my fingers off. I gave some of this to Robyn as a bookmark…

So you can guess what I spent a great deal of time doing today, since it’s coming up to Christmas. The sequence of events, the sorry tale, went like this: use the tablesaw to rip a piece off some of the left-over end of random hardwood stair tread, about 50mm thick. Chop that in half, resulting in two chunks about 50mm square, and about 120mm long. Drill a hole through the end of each one (so that when I slice them up, each bookmark has a hole in it to tie a ribbon through). Use a router bit to round over the corners (so that when I slice them up, the corners will be round). Run them through the bandsaw, slicing them about 1-2mm thick. Result, about ten slices before the blocks got to thin to chop any more off and still retain my fingers. This is where the fun started.

The bandsaw left some saw marks - I’ve yet to figure out why, and how to avoid it, but my reading so far suggests I need different blades for this sort of thing, and not the standard supplied-with blade. Now, if it was a big piece of wood, like yesterday, I could clamp one end and smooth it with a plane, like yesterday, and throw away the rough bit. No such luck today - no way to clamp it and plane it. Sand it? A lot of wood to remove. Ok, grab the belt sander. Try to sort of hold down one edge with my finger, and sand the other edge… zing, piece of wood sails off the bench. Hmm. Turn the sander over (you can see where this is going), try to hold little piece of wood down flat on the spinning belt. Zing, piece of wood sails over my shoulder and I sand the corner off my finger nail and a little bit of finger as well.

So I ran down the street and bought a random orbital sander (which I need anyway) and did it that way. The bookmarks still have some saw marks, and are thinner at the edges than the middle, but good enough for government work.

I’m now completely stuffed, and have a sore finger.

November 12, 2005

Sawdust, Redux

[09:52 AM]
Craft

One drawback to doing things with power tools is that I often have to stop and make a jig before continuing to do something. Tomorrow I intend to start on the first of the Christmas boxes, in Rosewood and White Maple, but before I begin I want to make sure all chisels and planes are super sharp and shiny. Fortunately I picked up a set of three diamond sharpening plates, and am already in love with them. Unfortunately, I need to stop them sliding around on the bench. So I spent the day making a box to put them in, three in a row, all ready for me to sharpen with - the box has wide edges so I can clamp it down.

Of course, this meant making a box first. A random lump of 19mm radiata pine was lying about, so that was the target. Of course, I needed to be able to rout the hollows for the stones to rest in. So I had to go out the other day and get a template following bit in order to follow the template to route the hollows. Then I had to make the template. After scratching my head for a bit, I realised the best way was to cut the two halves of the template as rectangular notches in two other chunks of radiata, so that there was lots of support for the router base. Whee! I love the bandsaw, I can cut to follow the line, keep my fingers out of the blade, and go straight. Worked like a charm.

Lots and lots and lots of sawdust later, I’d chopped the hollows out, cut a rebate all around the edge, then hollowed out the other half of the radiata plank to make a lid to drop over the whole thing. Rounded the edges, sanded smooth and shiny, then rubbed on some stain. Tomorrow I’ll whack on a couple of coats of wax, and sharpen everything to within an inch of its life.

I found, on a trial chisel, that the best bet was to work across the three stones, then do a final clean up on some fine sandpaper on a piece of MDF. All shiny and sharp after that!

November 09, 2005

Unabashed Avarice

[05:43 AM]
Personal

Consider this an exploration of some mortal sins. I do a pretty good line in Anger, Sloth, Gluttony and Pride as well.

I have mentioned BackPack before, and I’m still in love with it. It does what it claims to, nothing more, nothing less, and Just Works. For that reason, and because it’s mid November, and because I’d prefer not to receive more bottles of unusable spices, I have put a WishList up and published it. Be sure to visit it from time to time as I update it.

November 06, 2005

Sawdust

[11:16 AM]
Woodworking

Before talking about Sawdust that I made, here, for your amusement How the Death Star Works.

I made a little four-way divider for the box I made Robyn for Christmas last year. Boxes are on my mind, as I need to make a few for this christmas. To that end, we went out to the Redcliffe woodshow today, and I bought quite a bit of nice timber already milled down to 15 and 10mm that I can use. Combined with the timber that I got from the same place last year, I should have enough to see me through for a while. This is a good thing, as my experiments today show that I will need practice at resawing with the Giant Band Saw in order to be able to fulfill my dream of going nuts and making thick planks for chests out of giant slabs.

The little four-way divider required me to resaw some 3mm thick pieces out of random left-over recycled timber, then spend quite a bit of time with the plane and sandpaper smoothing them. The trick is obviously to keep an even and constant feed through the saw, to minimise the number of wiggles that need to be smoothed out.

After that, I went silly with some of the wood the saw had been crated in, and made some 1” wide supporting beams to go under some saggy shelves. This was very exciting, because I got to play with my newly sharpened plane. Amazing how well it works if it has an edge on it. I amused myself with trying to make paper-thin shavings. Let’s hear it for sharpening.

November 02, 2005

Animation

[09:51 PM]
Design

Somewhere or other, this lovely animation was bought to my attention. Highly recommended, if you have broadband. It’s sweet, gentle, lovely, and traditionally made, albeit digitised later.

oh, and just because I’m still playing with ecto:

La Noyée from the album “Quelqu’un m’a dit” by Carla Bruni