“I know a guy”

Sometimes, knowing who to call is worth gold, so just for the hell of it, here are 2 tradies I keep on my books for the inevitable.

The first is Elvis, well known in SE Melbourne for whitegoods repair.

The second I found when I have problems with the central heating.

I find both very down to earth, get the job done, right, and charge justifiably. In both cases, if they say something needs replacing, then it means it needs replacing, and is not some ripoff.

Not so sure about the 3rd one 😉

April Woodfest

A sales weekend at the Woodworking Warehouse is on again, on Friday 8th April (10am-4pm) and Saturday 9th April (10am-3pm), 11 Citrus Street, Braeside.

Entry is free, and as with previous Woodfest events, there will be new products, run out items, specials and bargains, demonstrations, door prizes and the obligatory sausage sizzle!


Pocketwrench II

Another interesting small tool from Carbatec (following the same lines as the Veritas screwdriver washer) is the Pocketwrench II.  Inexpensive at $16, it is made from 400 series (surgical grade) stainless steel, and at 1/8″ thick, has plenty of heft for its size.

Funny thing is, for such a simple design it is surprisingly effective.  It is certainly well thought out.  The teeth vary in size, getting smaller as the nut size decreases, and the hexagonal hole is the right size for this tool to be used as a high torque socket or screwdriver bit insert handle.

As a wrench, it will grip both hex nuts and square, even wingnuts. It works with metric and imperial from 5mm to 17mm and 3/16″ to 11/16″

The flat screwdriver end is less useful as a screwdriver, and more useful as a pry end for paintcans and the like.

Simple + cheap + effective = a valid formula for a good tool.

Working Bees

Was down at the local kindergarten on the weekend, as part of the working bee.  A fun little evolution, I’m surprised just how important the voluntary parents’ committee is to the integral running of the organisation.  If the parents don’t make something happen, it doesn’t get done!

From painting, to gardening, sweeping and spider hunting, it was a busy, self-driven morning.

Fun though.  Now I just have to work out how to get an equivalent team running around my backyard sorting out all the gardening and mess!  Hmm – the Stu’s Shed kindergarten for sheddwellers!

The road signs got a bit of a touchup – made the edges of the stop signs a little thin, so took the Sonicrafter and cut them down to half the height, resanded, then repainted.  The beauty of doing a raised detail sign means the letters and edges are very easy to paint (and repaint) with a small roller.  The signs are already quite a hit (and from what I hear, I could quite easily make more and sell them to some of the families!  The kindergarten is always looking for fundraising – perhaps some additional signs wouldn’t go astray for the next marketday!), and after the weekend, there is now the start of a black road for them to ride along.

iPad 2

If you are not interested in a post that has nothing to do with woodworking, and instead is a discussion about the iPad2, then read no further.


The iPad 2 came out in Australia on Friday, so I’ve only had the weekend to have a chance to play with it a bit.  However, I have been a heavy iPhone 3G and 4 user for the past few years, so the transition to using the iPad is seamless.

It is impressive to say the least.  The touch interface over a larger surface is something to experience, and not just in a quick shop-based play on a demo model.  The next generation of computers (the table based ones that area already being depicted in near-future based movies) that are in development are going to be interesting indeed.

However, it isn’t all completely rosy – this isn’t the perfect device.  For one, it is not the Kindle-killer it is made out to be.  The backlit screen is stunning, but not for reading text for longer periods of time.  The Kindle screen is definitely superior for that, (requiring a traditional reading light when it is dark), as is its battery life (if you are specifically considering it for being an electronic book).

The other negative is typing.  I thought it would be really good considering typing on the iPhone is functional (but it is a tiny keyboard for obvious reasons), and the iPad screen is so much larger, but I find it difficult not to make mistakes on it, despite being a touch typist (or perhaps because I’m expecting to be able to touch type).  There is an easy workaround of course: use the onscreen keyboard when necessary, and use a bluetooth computer keyboard (such as the current Apple wireless) when you can.  With a stand for the iPad, this gets very close to recreating a traditional laptop style of working.

With the ability to create Word, Excel, Pages and Numbers documents, surf the web and email, it is a small laptop killer (more precisely a netbook killer).

It is here that you can start to see the issue of price: the claims that it is expensive are really more valid if you are considering it a bit of a novelty, a toy.  But when compared to other netbooks/laptops, the price is suddenly at the cheap end of the spectrum.

Now another advantage came up over the weekend.  My daughter has played on iPhones a bit, but the iPad as a teaching tool is incredible.  The interface for a small child (let alone an adult) is unbelievable to watch – it is so intuitive.  She loves it, and there is a lot of great apps (programs) out there for her.  Not surprising, considering there are around 10000 iPad apps (and 350000 iPhone apps, most of which (if not all) work on the iPad).  iPhone apps work, although smaller in size initially, you can touch the 2x button to fill the screen.  The quality of these iPhone apps on the iPad is lower than native iPad apps, but they still look acceptable.  If the apps were designed for the Retina display of the iPhone 4, I would expect it would be hard to tell these apps from the native iPad ones.

I didn’t get to experience the iPad, but I imagine most of what I’ve described so far would be equally valid on the original.  I’m sure I’ll start to discover what makes the iPad 2 an improvement over the original, but I’m still coming to grips with the advantages of the platform as a whole.  Facetime will be cool 🙂

My verdict?  The iPad 2 is an impressive device, and it is a purchase I am definitely happy with.  Only problem is, now my wife wants her own for work!  Thankfully, it will be a couple more years before my daughter thinks to ask for one for herself as well!!

Happy Birthday Mum


Kallenshaan Pen Kits

It was only the evening of the 20th that I ordered a couple of pen kits from the USA and they arrived 5 days later, from Kallenshaan Woods, who supply specialist laser cut pen kits (such as the Fire Pen kit I made about a year ago…

and the Betsy Ross I got as a bit of a memento from my trip to the US last year (sadly, I still have to actually make it!))

After seeing examples of Kallenshaan’s recent designs, I definitely wanted to get these:

A woodworker’s laser cut pen

And one for Wood Turners

It always surprises me how such fragile-looking components make it safely through the post, but they do.  Both kits will be interesting to make (and use), and I might finally get on with the Betsy Ross one as well. (I was waiting to source a supplier of Sierra Vista pen kits, but it is proving too hard to bother with, so I’ll stick to a normal Sierra kit)

Think I’m getting the pen-making bug back again!

“Soon the Hunt will Begin”

Not particularly shed-related (although this fellow would have had to have been made in a pretty impressive one!)

I was down at Designwyse this afternoon – I happened to hear they had some stock of iPad2.  Didn’t realise that today was the very first day they were available, and most purchasers had to queue!!! (Update, hear some queued in the rain for hours, just to get to be first in line.  I went to a professional Apple supplier, and got mine on the stroke of 5, having walked into the place a couple of minutes earlier – yes, I am skiting.  Only problem now is my wife wants her own one!!)

Once I picked up my copy, I found this fellow standing near the entrance – had completely missed him when I went in.

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Some people are seriously creative!

A Persistent Triton Sale

A sale of Triton products is still running at Carbatec. I’d question the advertising of it because I was not aware, and was left shaking my head at the prices on offer

Triton SuperJaws for $129
Triton Multistand $39!!!!
Triton Woodrack $39

Triton 1010W Router $149
Triton 2000W Router $279
Triton 2300W Circular Saw $279

At those prices, I’m tempted (and might just grab another woodrack for the hell of it – can never have too much wood storage!!)

Formula One

Petrolheads once again are savouring the start of the 2011 Formula One season, myself (and my wife) included!

However, there is another group of younger enthusiasts who could be (unfairly) described as airheads, but only because their Formula One passion is powered by compressed air, not petrol!  This is the F1 in Schools programme, which is closely associated with the Formula One, and where school kids get to start to experience some of the design principles and concepts involved in designing the technology of the premiere race.

They have very specific rules to comply with, common sources of materials etc, and go to the extent of testing their creations in wind tunnels in an attempt to come up with the optimum car to race on the official track, competing both nationally, and internationally.  The next race is the Irish National Finals in 2 weeks.

The cars are machined from balsa wood under a strict set of rules, then raced in a drag race for superiority.

There are a couple of races each time: one a computer launch that tests the car’s superior speed (all powered by an identical ‘engine’), and a second that given the minute differences between each car is much more a test of the ‘driver’ launching the car.

It is a big business, with schools able to purchase wind tunnels, smoke tunnels, CAD packages including virtual wind tunnel evaluation software

The races are run on a standardised track, so times can be compared worldwide.

School seems to have gotten significantly cool since I remember it!

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