The Mesopotamian Advantage

It was not invented in Mesopotamia by any stretch of the imagination, but it was there that the oldest known version of the wheel was found, dating back around 5500 years.

Wheels have not really come a long way since those days.  Sure, they have pneumatics now (mostly)


bearings, treads.  But they are still round (usually!)

0Ok, so they may be the exception to the normal rules, the mainstream wheels are more like this

DSCN4299and as a pretty good rendition of the wheel, this

Hummer-Wheel-clipped-webIt is the last wheel that is of particular interest, for obvious reasons.  If you need to do a double take, go ahead.  Yes, it is a toy wheel, and what’s more, you don’t have to buy it – with a few typical workshop tools, you can easily make a set with a tablesaw, bandsaw, router table and disk sander.

If coming up with the steps required to make such a fine looking wheel looks a bit beyond you, the Toys and Joys DVD provides almost 40 minutes of step by step instructions on how to make them yourself.

Video_1_clipped136357461751467f59e7ffe13669327855179bd32005ccI watched it this afternoon, and now I’m really inspired to go out and make some myself (and the vehicles to go with them!)

FirefoxScreenSnapz002Yes, an excuse to show that Humvee again!  Of course if you want to get ultra-modern, you could make one like the tyre at the top of the post!

The same steps to make these wheels will also make tractor style tread wheels as well.

farm tractor plans

You can get the DVD from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and I was a little dubious – a whole DVD just on making a wheel?  But I did find it very interesting – a whole range of jigs they use (and show you how to make and use) to produce whole sets of wheels easily, to get all the different chamfers, treads, inserts etc from the gentlemen who are “Toys and Joys” in the US.

So there is no need to buy wheels like this, or compromise your realistic wooden toy with wheels from a wheelcutting bit.  With a few steps, and jigs, realistic wheels are definitely achievable, and it may be that manners maketh man, but it is wheels that maketh the toy.

A Christmas Mugging

Here I was, fighting the good fight, getting the job done, walking the walk, and I get blindsided.  By Christmas.

Where did THAT come from??  People wanting suggestions for Christmas lists, having to find presents (almost) last minute (ok, still 2 weeks or so to go, but didn’t I have a whole year??)

So here are some suggestions, in case you are stuck for ideas for the shed dwellers you buy presents for, or to add to Xmas lists of others for yourself!

Metric setup blocks: $96.50 (excluding case) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies

150mm Paolini Rule: $59.50 from Professional Woodworkers Supplies

Handmade Furniture Projects II (book): $29 from Australian Wood Review

Premium Tool Kit (inc mount): $189 from Australian Wood Review

AWR Backissues DVD Vol 1: $29.99 from Australian Wood Review

(Issue 2 also available, or as a double pack for $50)

A Polishers Handbook: $33.55 from Ubeaut Polishes

Rotary Sander: $66.00 from Ubeaut Polishes

Tormek T7: $995 from Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies

Wixey Digital Angle Gauge: $65.50 from Professional Woodworkers Supplies

Flai Mustang Multimaterial Blade: $152.35 from Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies

Vac Clamp: $73.00 from V-Clamp

I could certainly keep going, but at least this could give you some ideas (and these sites do have other things on offer!).

So avoid the Christmas mugging – time to get busy!

Digital Mags

Australian Wood Review have been working over the last 12 months to digitise their earlier issues of their magazine, and have finally gotten to a finished product.

Haven’t had a chance to look at it myself…yet!  They have the first 20 issues released on 2 DVDs for $50 (on special). Got this in my email inbox – thought it might be of interest 🙂

Temporary Video Problems

I’m having some problems with the crosslinking of videos from the site that I have host them to this site, which is causing a bit of grief for me, and probably quite a bit for you as well, for which I am sorry if you have been experiencing it.

I am trying to get the problem rectified as soon as possible.  The videos still work, but the thumbnails are missing (other than Episodes 51 and 52 where I have manually re-created the thumbnails).

In the meantime, your best bet is to do the right-click and save the video to your computer before watching, or even better, subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, and let it manage the downloading of episodes for you (which is how I manage it).

Unlike some of the US based blogs, I don’t run the videos inline because Australia’s internet is just too slow for proper Web 2.0 applications.  I downloaded the current video in mp4 format in 30 minutes tonight on a 512k ADSL ‘broadband’

If you need help working out how to watch the videos, please let me know and I’ll help as I can.

Also, as suggested recently (and to that person- sorry I haven’t gotten back to you, life has been very chaotic recently, and a lot of things have slipped), some people may not want to download the movies for whatever reason.  I’m considering offering backissues of movies on DVD media (still needing to be played on the computer) for a small cost (to cover postage and the DVD itself).  If you would be interested in this service, check the appropriate response in the following survey, and I’ll decide how I will approach the issue based on the responses.

Neil Scobie DVDs

Neil Scobie is a woodworker very well known in the Australian Woodworking community.  It may be that you recognise the name from the many articles and features he has written for various woodworking magazines (including the current edition of Australian Wood Review). Even if you don’t know the name, it would be hard to miss some of his classic designs, particularly this stunning creation that I have admired before (and again, I’m sure it has been featured in at least one magazine):

Suspended Form (in Red Cedar and Jarrah)

Suspended Form (in Red Cedar and Jarrah)

I was able to meet and talk with Neil at the recent Brisbane Wood Show, and from that I have had the opportunity to view the DVDs that he sells, that take you step by step through making three of his designs.  I must say that I started watching the first one today (the Wave Rim Bowl), and I was only intending to watch a minute or so initially (I had planned to do other things), but once started, I found I had to watch the entire thing – it was fascinating to see how such a free form bowl could be created.  The fact that Neil was an Industrial Design Teacher for over 20 years really came through – he has a presentation style which I found really got the information across in way that was easy-to-follow and understand.

When you see the final product, it is quite a revelation to realise Neil has made available step by step instructions on how to create it yourself – I’ve said in the past I have little turning experience, but found watching the DVD that I really felt that with some more turning experience that it would really be possible for even me to be able to make one.  Even the techniques required to turn a basic bowl came across loud and clear, giving me the clear message that bowl turning is not out of reach of my undeveloped skills (with practice!)

Neil also runs weekend, and week-long courses, which would be awesome to experience.

Wave Rim Bowl

Wave Rim Bowl

Just looking at that bowl, and I wouldn’t even think it possible for me to make one….until watching the DVD of course.

The DVDs that Neil has are:

BK12-88 BK12-87 BK12-86

Making a Wave Rim Bowl, Making a Tree Platter and Making an Erosion Bowl.  Each costs just under $40, and can be purchased directly from Neil Scobie by contacting him through his website and email

They can also be purchased through the Skills Publishing website if you want to purchase online. Click on the images of the DVDs above to be taken directly to the relevant web pages.

There are also a number of ideas I’m going to steal directly from Neil, including how he stores his turning chisels, ready for use – looks good, and practical, and the jig he uses (and sells to the occasional person who wants one for about $65) for sharpening the chisels.  Regular turners will often manage quite successfully to free-hand sharpen their chisels, but I don’t get to turn very often, so don’t get to develop those skills.  Having an easy, quick jig saves a lot of quality steel being turned to sparks and dust.  Wetstone wheels are all well and good, and are great for getting a chisel back to a perfect form, but are too slow to use while in the middle of a turning session.

Gidgee Erosion Bowl

Gidgee Erosion Bowl

Holly Nautilus

Holly Nautilus

Liz Scobie also makes some stunning creations in textiles, this one in particular really caught my attention:

Textile Boat

Boat Forms

But the work that I found the most inspirational, was where they have combined their respective talents.

Waves of Fantasy

Waves of Fantasy

Where the Rivers Run

Where the Rivers Run

Quite often I see stunning work such as these, and I wonder why in the world I persist with woodworking (not feeling I’m ever going to produce works anything like these) but this time is surprisingly different, and that is because Neil’s DVDs lift that veil of mystery on how such beautiful forms are created, like a magician actually revealing the secrets behind the illusions.

Please note, all images used in this article are copyright to Neil and Liz Scobie, and are used here by permission.

Triton Sale Now On – Biggest, Best, and Last

Find it here:

Stu’s Shed Ebay Listing

And just so you know what is going (and all starting at 99c as I said (gasp – considering the total value of what is listed is around $10,000))

Final upload finished – 76 items all going….going……

BTW, although some are listed as local pickup only, if you have a way of arranging delivery nationally (you are good friends with a courier company for example), I’m happy to work with you in moving items won interstate.

Triton Workcentre 2000
Triton Router Table and Stand RTA300
Triton Scrollsaw
Triton 3 in 1 Belt Disk and Spindle Sander
Triton 12″ Bandsaw
Triton 15″ Thicknesser Moulder
Triton 13″ Thicknesser
Triton 15″ Moulder blades (3 different profiles offered)
Triton SuperJaws
Triton SuperJaws Extension Tray
Triton SuperJaws Tool Tray
Triton SuperJaws Log Jaws
Triton 2300W Circular Saw 9 1/4″
Triton 2400W Circular Saw 9 1/4″
Triton 1800W Circular Saw 185mm
Triton Jigsaw
Triton Jigsaw Kit
Triton Jigsaw Kit mounting plate
Triton Router Mounting plate
Triton Mini Extension Table
Triton Maxi Extension Table
Triton Compact Wheel Kit
Triton Biscuit Joiner
Triton Finger Jointer
Triton Multistand
Triton Dust Bag x2
Triton Bevel Ripping Guide
Triton Dust Bucket
Triton Engineering Jaws
Triton Biscuit Joiner (w/out router bit)
GMC Pendulum Action Jigsaw
GMC Pendulum Action Large Jigsaw
GMC Random Orbital Sander
GMC Mini Benchtop Drill Press
GMC 18V All Nailer
GMC Water Blaster (blown hose)
GMC 1500W 1/2″ Router
GMC 3 Blade Wood Razor
GMC Dual Height Workbench
GMC 3,000,000 Power Torch 12V
B&D Heat Gun
750W Induction Motor
Self Centering Lathe Chuck
Shed Armchair Couch
30 different Taunton & Jet Woodworking DVDs!

All at 99c (initially). Anything take your fancy????!!!

‘Slacking off’ as a Safety Mechanism

Gary Rogowski (woodworker (insert a long list of relevant titles here) and star of a number of woodworking DVDs) makes a great point on his blog in a post titled “Habits for your Stupid Days“.

As I replied to his post:

Some great points there – I particularly like that you have formalised the whole concept that there are a list of tasks for days when you just know it would be a little bit silly to even turn a tool on (and recognising that fact).

In my (modest) shop, I have a couch, a TV hooked up to an iPod with a stack of movies (and DVDs by….Gary Rogowski!), and a number of activities I can do there (sharpening, sketching plans etc) for just those days that I am too tired, too distracted, or it is simply too late to make a lot of noise.

However, until reading you post I didn’t realise that this is a perfectly valid safety tool, and not just slacking off!! )

Taunton Fine Woodworking DVDs for sale

I’m starting to go through my ‘collections’ around the house, and trying to decrease the amount of clutter that has been breeding in quiet! Some stage soon, that will include going through the shed and disposing of some unwanted tools (including my GMC lathe, which always surprised me in how well it worked for a cheap tool from a cheap brand).

Starting the purge is a collection of Taunton Fine Woodworking DVDs that I have – somehow I managed to end up with 2 lots the same, so these are brand-new, and unopened (and original!!). I regularly watch my set – I keep picking up another technique or trick each time, or at least refreshing things I’d forgotten.

They are being sold through Ebay, under Crafts-Woodcrafts-Books & Publications (couldn’t find somewhere more sensible that targetted woodworking). Hopefully this link will get you to the right place! Ebay Auction

Each picture is also linked to its relevant Ebay listing.


At this stage I’ve only made it available to Australia (seeing as I bought them in from the USA, doesn’t seem much point posting them back there!! (Edit – but if there’s enough interest, I can revise the listing!  Given the starting price of $A0.99, it might be tempting!) They each weigh just under 100g, so I can get 5 in one of the Australia Post bags, (or all in one of the large ones!) so will combine postage – or nothing if you collect!

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