Caol Áit

There is a Celtic concept of Caol Áit, which means the thin place, or the thin veil between worlds.  The worlds being referred to are those of the living, and the dead, and at the times and places when the worlds are close, it allows communication between these worlds.  It also can be regarded as a place where the living are able to have better communication with the Divine.

It is a really interesting concept from what is a particularly spiritual culture, and one with such a recognisable visual artform.

The photo of Stonehenge is one of my own, from a time I was based in southern England, training at HMS SULTAN. I took time while there to locate and visit as many of the stone circles and other ancient sites as I could find across the lower portion of England.  Amazing places, an ancient culture.

Even my wedding ring is a celtic one – made in New Zealand from white and yellow gold.

So now taking both the celtic artfoms, and combining them with woodworking is nothing new, and something I have been planning on doing, particularly with the pyrography set.  But the concept of Caol Áit is particularly interesting and one I am interested in representing through a parallel concept I have been working on, trying to produce turned items (bowls and the like) that are as thin as possible – strong enough to perform their role and hold shape, but no more than that.

You can see where I’m going with this.  Producing a bowl or similar object that represents Caol Áit, the thin place between worlds, with pyrography used to decorate it with celtic designs.

This will be particularly interesting to produce.

7 on the Richter Scale

Another precision object created on the Jointmaker from Bridge City Toolworks


Yet another simple, cheap and well thought out project as documented on BCTW blog

Such neat, precise work.

Tis the Season


Tis the Season to be shopping
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Time to fill that Christmas stocking
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Head down to the Woodwork(ing) Warehouse
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
It’s time for the Oktober Woodfest
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the specials in their splendor
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Grab a banger at the front door
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Check out all the range of Incra
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
And the latest from America
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Grab yourself a worthy bargain
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
And you know you don’t pay to get in
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Deck the shed with lots of shiny things
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to stock up again
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Woodfest comes around but twice a year
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
The 7th and 8th Oktober is when you’ll get in
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the guys from Professional Woodwork Supplies
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Pick their brains while hoping for the door prize
Fa la la la la, la la la la.


At the Woodworking Warehouse
11 Citrus Sreet
Braeside, Melbourne
10-5 Fri 7th Oct
10-3:30 Sat 8th Oct

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig…

Home again, home again, giggidy gig.

To Bunnies, to Bunnies, to buy some treated pine
Home again, home again, with two new sheds??!!!

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I went to Bunnings to get 3 lengths of treated pine, sum total about $24, plus some joist hangers etc totalling another $6. Max!

$660 later, I had the timber, the joist hangers (etc), two sheds, an outdoor storage box, and a balloon (well I did have my 4yr old along to help). It is not like me to accidentally drop a shed into the shopping basket, but I have been outside all day today conducting a big cleanup (and another day tomorrow doing the same).

I hung all the remaining cafe blinds that have been waiting a year for me to get around to (and the purchased timber is for me to finish that job off), and completely filled a 4 cubic metre skip I had had delivered in the morning.

Normally, if the rubbish around the place gets a bit much, I’d load the trailer and head to the tip, but the Frankston City council in their infinite wisdom had closed what was once an excellent sorting station (one where you can drop off your rubbish sorted by type- cardboard, metal, green waste, general waste etc, and the a massive front-end loader would sweep past, picking up all the offerings and dump it into nearby truck-sized skips for delivery to the respective disposal sites), and had allowed an external company to take over rubbish disposal for the area.

However, after closing their sorting station (they were putting a motorway through the site), and allowing a new tip to open (one where things were no longer sorted – you just drove to an empty piece of land and dumped your rubbish out onto the ground-real nice for environmental considerations….NOT!), then shut them down again for regulation breaches. Leaving us without a tip to use at all, good or bad.

The council’s interim solution – you can get them to take away 1.5 cubic metres of rubbish from your property, for a $50 fee (good), but you cannot put the rubbish on your nature strip- it must be within your boundary. Hang on, put it where? I don’t have a front lawn- that was lost years ago and turned into garden because of the 10 year drought as we endeavoured to live with the water restrictions. Now you want me to put a pile of rubbish on that garden that you’ll trample over to get rid of the pile? I think not! So I rung the council, and their solution- use your driveway then (uh, I use my driveway…for cars), so their final solution was – how well do I get on with my neighbours? Like I am going to put 1.5 cubic metres of my crap on my neighbour’s garden??? (They too no longer have lawn, possibly because of the same drought). Even if they did, I would not consider that an option. So my only solution is to store rubbish, piling higher and higher, until it was economic to get a skip (yes, I could have taken my stuff to another tip further away, I know, but let’s not allow logic to ruin a good story!)

Anyway, back to the day. So I got a skip, one I thought was going to be more than big enough. I guessed I had about 3 cubic metres of rubbish, but added 1 more to be sure. In hindsight, I should have doubled it! Boy was there a lot of trash. Even when breaking things down as flat as possible there was way more than the skip could take. (A side effect of running this website- an active shed seems to generate a lot of crap!). The cat run we had made years ago joined the pile as it had reached end-of-life. Not too bad for something thrown together with untreated pine and chicken wire.

There still seemed a lot of mess around the place- things without a decent home. It wouldn’t be because my collection of tools had outgrown one shed and had pushed the garden tools out of their home. Nah, nothing like that.

But the lawnmower, spades, shovels etc did look a bit out of place. So when I saw a little 1.5×1.5m shed, it looked just the ticket. Then, we were looking for what to do to replace the cat run, and rather than the commercial $1500 solutions, I saw a fowl house from the same shed brand for $170. Perfect- Sold! And finally, an outdoor storage unit, plastic (but vaguely made to look like timber) that would be excellent for the swimming pool paraphernalia.

Well that is one way to run up the bill! But it is good- a real garden shed rather than a combined dumping ground, and this means the second shed (which houses the dust extractor etc) can be better utilised as well. Probably won’t help my shed storage issues, but good for other things to have a home. (I feel another shed coming on…..)

So with the cafe blinds going up, the rubbish gone, the homeless garden tools having somewhere to live that is not under my carport/pergola, and the birds to discover that the roof of said structure is no longer home, and the ground underneath is not their personal dumping ground (those damned birds), I will, by then end of the day tomorrow, have the outside room that we want. This is in addition to the sizeable deck we have, that I surrounded with the same cafe blinds a year ago). Summer is coming, and it feels like it might be a bit more organised, and at least a hell of a lot neater!

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig.
Home again, home again, giggidy gig.

Actually, writing that makes me think of Glenn Quagmire from the animated TV series Family Guy. No reason to mention it, just one of those random associations.


Giggidy 😉

Nova DVR – a shocking development

Been getting a number of unpleasant small electric shocks recently while out in the shed.  Turns out, it is coming from my brand new Nova DVR XP lathe, which is rather disappointing.

It is when the lathe is plugged in (naturally), and doesn’t change whether I use one cable or another, one electric circuit or another, or which machine I earth myself to.  On some smart advise, I switched from testing if the current was still there by giving myself small shocks, and started using a multimeter.

Seems to be 1mA when the lathe is plugged in (which is a bit of a jolt), and 2mA when the lathe is switched on (not necessarily running).

I’ve eliminated all other possibilities, it is definitely something wrong with the lathe itself.

So now we have to get something done about it.


Cue Evil Laugh

Came home at the close of day to find a consignment I’d ordered had arrived.

The current conundrum is copious quantities of bird crap, carpeting the car and carport completely creating a caustic compound that I don’t care to consider cohabitating with the crud over Christmas. Confused?

Carefully considering the complex options to create a cleaner courtyard resulted in considerable choices. To create a condition of alarm in the common birds causing my confoundment, meant checking different options. I tried CDs. I tried chemistry (spraying vinegar), I cleaned away their circular creations (nests & eggs), I tried birdnet, but I came to the conclusion that the only course of action was spikes. A whole collection of them. So I contacted a company with a cache of them, gave my credit card details via computer and my condition of advancement is clarified.




Come here o common creatures – your chariot to another county awaits. If this doesn’t conclude the current condition I’ll be very confused.

Articulated Lamp

Picked up the 55W halogen articulated lamp from Carbatec, and got the optional magnetic base to go with it.

The lamp isn’t half bad- has the on/off switch directly on the back of the lamp head, and a decent wide throw which covers a decent area- certainly plenty for the lathe which is what I wanted it for.


Small photo from the Carbatec website – will get a photo of it in-situ next time I am out in the shed.

As much as the lamp is great for the lathe, the magnetic base is a complete joke. Magnetic – hmm, that is questionable- I can get a better magnet by making it at home with a piece of ferrous metal and belting it with a hammer. Perhaps I should use that concept on the ‘magnetic’ base! It wasn’t strong enough to hold the lamp on a flat horiontal surface without being extended, let alone if the lamp was extended or attempted to be fitted to the side of the machine.

So to summarise, lamp good 🙂 optional magnetic base, bad 😦

Voices on the Wind

With the cool change passing over (which brings with it strong, gusting winds), I am reminded of a day many years ago now where the winds arrived and quickly made such a mark on my shed at the time.

Back in 2002 or so, (things are getting particularly hazy), I needed more space than the 3m x 3m shed I was using was offering.  An old Mercedes that I had was sold, and that financed a new 6m x 3m shed by Spanbilt.  It was an amazing thing, having so much more space than I had been coping with.

This was also as my Triton collection was undergoing a rapid expansion, and the Dingo that had joined the family needed a home.  You may have seen the resulting dog house, either on here or in a magazine (House and Home I think).  It was a heavy thing, with cyprus pine weatherboards all made on the Triton Workcentre.  It has particular relevance to this story.

One wet day, the wind was really gusting in, and I had headed out to the shed to see how it was going.  It was therefore particularly concerning when I saw the roof flexing dramatically above one of the doors.  The wind passing over was really lifting the roof at one point, so I started hanging on, while trying to reach  hammer, nails, screws or whatever might help stabilise the roof.

Watching the building closely (while literally hanging off it), I could see a real defect in the design around the door frames.  The roof was lifting right above the corners of the doors.  So while using my bodyweight to hang onto the roof above one door, the wind began ripping sheet after sheet off above the other.  Not only was the roof flying off, over the neighbour’s fence, but even the wall sheets and door were following.  If it wasn’t for the Triton Woodrack on the back wall heavily loaded, I have no doubt the whole half of the shed would have gone.  Even so, the damage was dramatic.  It was still raining, and all the tools that had suddenly been exposed to the elements were getting a soaking.

With a trip to the local box hardware store for a big groundsheet, the effort was in getting it across the roof, and secured against any additional winds.  This is where the newly built doghouse came in – with the decent weight it was placed on one side of the groundsheet to hold it down.

The shed repair was something else, with many panels bent, and some beyond easy redemption.  A call to Spanbilt yielded no joy – they claimed the sheds were more than suitable for Melbourne’s weather conditions, and not only were they not prepared to supply any panels to replace the damaged ones, they were not interested in doing so even where I was wanting to pay for them.

So instead, I sourced some treated pine and built a sub-frame that the tin was to be attached to .  Heavily bent panels were hammered flat an nailed to the new frame.  This design became the basis for the current 8m x 4m shed, and that has not moved an inch, even in particularly strong winds.

So that is the end of the tale, and the visual I still have when the winds get a bit fresh.  Seeing panel after panel flying across the fence – I can’t imagine what it is like for those in the States in the tornado alley, watching whole houses vanish in a puff of wind.

These days, with the shed built with the lessons of the past incorporated in the design and construction, let it blow – I can go back to enjoying listening to the wind and rain throw its fury at my place, content in the knowledge that the shed (and the tools therein) will be there, safe and intact day after day, storm after storm.

Invaluable Treasure

I had a cool idea tonight, so got my 4 year old to draw a picture of our family on a piece of timber, then used the woodburner to trace each of the lines drawn as precisely as possible.

What has resulted is an awesome picture that will last forever, rather than one that will be lost in time in the ever increasing pile of her endless drawings and paintings.

For those playing at home, from left to right is Jessica, Daddy, Mummy, our house, and our two cats.

Painting with Fire

I had a bit of a play yesterday with the Hot Wire pyrography set, rather than just abstract scribbles I tried to be a bit more serious and actually create something.

This is my first attempt- it isn’t very good (especially compared to those out there who have years of experience), but still, it is quite interesting painting with fire. It is not just charring the timber- you are right at the point of ignition of the timber.


I used a couple of pens, so I didn’t have to keep changing the nibs. I’m going to do a bit of an edit to the tool as well, so there are two plugs for the pens rather than just one, as I was finding changing from one to the other that everything felt a little flimsy, and if I kept doing it, one day something would break. So if I add a second plug point, and a switch so I could choose which pen was heated, then this will no longer be a problem.


The speed that the pen heats is excellent- no real waiting around for it at all- 10 seconds maximum from switching on to having it at working temp. Also means varying the tip temperature is very responsive as well, and at the end of a session, the pen doesn’t remain hot and a fire hazard for long either.

When you crank the temp up (800C or so), you really are painting with fire!


Quite fun all up, and something I can do without treking out to the shed if I don’t want.

Now I just have to get one of those computer controlled lasers (or a small CNC machine and give it the pen to hold rather than a router). Hmm- wonder what a computer plotter costs- give it the hot poker rather than its normal pen!

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