Monday, 26 November 2012


This morning I focussed my efforts on removing some of the detritus from the inside of the shop, in preparation for our opening next weekend. As some of you may remember from my post  back in July, there have been some fairly average alterations to the building. That's being diplomatic. Time and money wise we haven't time to renovate the shop front in the same manner as we have with the cottage, from the ground up. But as a friend Kath ( stylist to the stars! ) said to me the other day, people aren't coming to look at the floors walls and ceiling, they're coming to look at what's between them. .....and I don't think she was talking about the studs and noggins!

                                                         Hmmm. Pinus Horribilus

So with trustee cordless drill in hand I began to remove the hundreds of bugle head plaster screws that held in some rough cut pine that was cobbled up as a 100mm shelf on the wall above some faux panelling. Said previous owner should have been the poster boy for Selley's because for every 10 screws he jammed in, he used a tube of No More Gaps or Liquid Nails as well. My sincere hope is that the building doesn't fall over when I remove all the liquid nails! 

                                                                Pegus Maximus 

So in place of the rough pine I headed to the workshop, grabbed up some Elm off cuts and whizzed up 25 Shaker pegs. The shop isn't having any theme, Shaker or otherwise, it's just that they are such a handy thing to have on the wall, especially for hanging all manner of 'smalls' , bags and things. With the rails pre-cut I glued them up ready for Milk Painting and fixing this evening.

                                             Authentic Australian Swiss Cheese Wood

A long while back I picked up an old wooden bracket/shelf support that had been long ago discarded and left to the borers in a shed. It was such a nice shape that I held onto it until I had the right use for it. 

                                                               Work in progress

Today I cleaned it up and used it for a  template to make another 8 for a shelf behind the counter, replacing more Pinus Horribilus. A very simple Pin Oak  top and job done.

This afternoon at the cottage the last of the peg rail was painted and fitted into the bathroom, with Huon Pine Shaker pegs. It's the last piece in the puzzle and means I can finally remove every last tool from the place and concentrate on furnishing it. At last.

                                          Great colours, not too flash in your coffee....

Another late night of painting at the shop but it's coming along well. On that note, as an opening special we are offering our current stock of Original Milk Paint Co. product at the reduced rate of $13 per pint package, down from $15. 

I was the first to bring the product in to Australia nearly 3 years ago, for my own use and for other chair students and haven't raised the price since.  Recently I heard from an old customer that there are others bringing in the product now too and charging $25 a pint for it! Pretty outrageous really at nearly two and a half times the retail price in the U.S. 

Tomorrow, time permitting I will list a few of the unique classes available for 2013 at our new workshop and factory, just a short stroll from the shop, cottage and Piper Street. It's a great space, indoor and out with plenty of parking and plenty of inspiration too! 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Every which way

A few more garage sales this morning, this time in and around Taradale, about 15minutes from Kyneton. It's the time of the year for them and something I just cant pass up. You never know what bargains or treasures you might find! A quick coffee on returning to town, then back into it. So much to do that it's hard to know which way to turn.

Lisa and I have been lucky enough to have Dad come up and stay for a few days and lend a hand. As a result we've managed to get the deck oiled and the hand rails finished and painted. I have to say it's handy having the sawmill up here at the moment. Dad bought up some clean 200mm plus x 50mm  cypress boards. We went down to the factory ( oh, yeah I don't think I've mentioned that yet? ) put them through the mill and came back to the cottage with perfectly straight 120mm x 50mm hand rails. A bit of sanding and a couple of lap joints later and the rails were fixed to the posts. Then a once over with the router and round over bit. Undercoat and top coat, job done. I wanted the deck railing to have a rustic feel, like farm fencing, and I think it fits the bill nicely.

Sure the base boards need a coat of paint too, but that might have to wait a while. Then it was back down to the factory to get the old 'Tough' chisel mortiser fired up and mortise out the posts for another workbench Dad is making. One of them will be the donor for the vise screw and guide rail I posted about a few weeks ago. While I was down there I picked out a few nice Pin Oak boards. These will be for a new set of shelves in the shop

Back to workshop, planed, thicknessed and edged the Pin Oak into 3 shelves for fitting in the shop in the  morning. While I was at it I cleaned up a few off cuts of London Plane I had sitting around from making the built in's for the cottage.

A bit of cutting, shaping and hand planing and 3 spider legs and a cleat appeared for the candle table I'm making. I'd glued up and shaped the top earlier as well as turning and dovetailing the column from New Guinea Rosewood. I reckon the combination of the quarter sawn spalted Plane and the even colour of the Rosewood should be a good combination.

By dusk I had it sitting together. Now just to taper the legs, plane the top and glue and screw it together. These little tables are fun to make, incorporate the right balance of hand and powered tools and are a functional piece for the house. Another item you will be able to buy at Rundell & Rundell and from next year, book a a course to make one for yourself!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Hanging out

Last weekend we had a break from the renovating and racing about and headed to Bendigo for the day. The reason? One of Australia's best swap meets is why and boy was it worth the trip. With over 1600 stalls selling everything from pressed metal toys to parts for your '57 Chev, it was amazing. On the trip up I made a mental note of just what I was going to focus on....which of course was old tools, but I was also keeping an eye out for a nice old bracket to hang a sign on. Not just any sign but our 'shingle' for the new shop.

I hadn't walked 50 metres through the gate when I saw the familiar outline of a drawknife sitting amongst a few tables of fairly nice looking tools. As I made a b-line for the stall I began scanning to see what else was on display. Bingo. A very nice and full bladed scorp. So I picked up the drawknife, saw the name 'Sorby' on the blade, checked the back and it was as fresh as you could want for a drawknife. Not even a sniff of rust, let alone pitting. Great. As I held the drawknife I picked up the scorp with the other hand and zeroed in on the 'Matheison' stamp on it too. A very British affair so far. The Matheison had tight handles and again not much if any use. Two for two. 

Just when I thought I was on a roll, a very large hairy hand scooped up a old brace right before my eyes. It was one of those moments that happened in slow motion. As it passed by me I confirmed in was a 'Spofford' style brace and then I saw the nickel silver bands around the rosewood centre grip, meaning it was a 'Fray.' The type that Curtis Buchanan swears by and the very same type and size ( 6 inch sweep ) that I had made my first Windsor chair with in Tennessee.

The largish fella that now held it walked off to look at other stuff and I put the experience down to not being quick enough off the mark! C'est la vie. Besides, he was about 6'4", had a neck like a Mallee root ( a very large, thick and hard tree stump for my overseas friends ! ) and arms that would shame a silverback gorilla. I wasn't about to ask if I could have a look at it..... Another scan and I picked up a nice old Thor brand copper headed mallet which was a nice consolation. 

As I wandered over to the seller with my mitts full I couldn't believe what I saw next. The big guy casually walked past, popped the brace back on table and walked off. No sooner had the brace hit the Laminex, I gathered it up with the others and kept moving. With a bit of banter I agreed on a price for the lot ( including $20 for the brace with the bit! ) and walked away with a big smile on my dial. The day was looking good. Both the drawknife and scorp will be sharpened and honed ready for use and for sale in the shop.

Half the swap-meet later and I came across another great stall. A guy from Ballarat with everything including a kitchen sink. That's when it popped out at me. A beautiful old hand made, wrought iron sign bracket. It was a horrid green colour with about six or seven layers of old lead paint on it, but you could see just how well made it was and the hand finished detail in it. He would not budge from $150 saying that about 10 people had already picked it up and ummed and arhh'd over it. It's was a hell of a lot more than I wanted to pay, but I hadn't seen another like it and the seller made a good point. "Go get a blackmith to make a new one and see what it costs you!" Good point I thought.

Monday morning It was taken down to the local sandblaster who took a good 3-4mm of heavy old lead paint off it. Then, another surprise.....

A makers stamp. 'Vulcan Works Sheffield' and 'Sphinx' with a sphinx logo in the triangle. Bonus, made in England too and most likely when Sheffield was in it's prime as Britain's premier iron and steel manufacturing city

Repainted in matt black, replete with sign. ( ...a little touching up of weatherboards yet )

Keep an eye out for it when you come to visit.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"It's the final countdown.."

No, I'm not referring to the immortal words of 'Europe's' '80's super hit. But the home straight in our renovating journey. 

It's probably no surprise by the lack action here on the blog, that things have been busy. Things have dragged on a little with delays here and there so Lisa and I made an executive decision and gave ourselves a dead line to not only get the cottage finished but the shop open also. And that's the end of this month. So come high water or the other place, the doors to both will open to the public. 

On the cottage front, the kitchen received its final coat of barn red paint from Lisa this morning and the Ringed Gidgee drawer pulls and door handles from me this afternoon. I'm quite happy with the final outcome and I think it reflects what a contemporary Shaker kitchen should look like. Lets not forget that the Shakers embraced technology ( some say they invented the washing machine too ) so I think a dishwasher would feature in a modern Shaker fit-out. Add to that an electric fan forced oven with gas cooktop and that's the conveniences sorted. I think the solid Elm bench top compliments the barn red paint too.

Little details are there too if you look for them and icing on the cake will be a traditional hanging wall cabinet, which I will get a start on this week.

Lisa has done a fine job of the curtains with just a few finishing touches like small flat lead weights that are to be hand sewn into the corners to ensure they hang neatly.

Lastly the drawers of the 'chimney cupboard' are yet to be made, but I'm saving that for the end of the week. Nothing like hand cutting more than a hundred dovetails to see out the week!

Before the end of the week I'll be posting more details of the cottage as we begin to fill it with the furnishings we brought back from the U.S. and others I have made. Then it's all systems go with the shop.

It's going to be quite an eclectic assortment of products made by mine and Lisa's hands and also by others both local and abroad. There will also be everything that a budding ( or experienced for that matter! )  chair maker could want, from chair parts, chair making tools and milk paint etc. So stay tuned it's going to be an action packed 10 days.....

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Some privacy, please....

Working on the cottage over the past 9 months or so has really been an eye opener. For a number of reasons. It's not the first home I've renovated, I've done more than a few for us and have helped renovate more than I can recall for others. 

Timing is one aspect. There was never a rush previously. In fact final touches were put on most of our previous homes just before we sold them. Money is of course another, it's an expensive business, especially if you are sub contracting out all of the trades, therefore I've been attempting to do as much as I physically can across the board. 

Styling. I use that term specifically as we have chosen to set out the cottage in the 'Shaker style.'  Of course it cant be authentic as I'm not a Shaker and we're on the wrong continent for a start. 

But more specifically, it's building and decorating as accurately as the historic references allow. Then,  in the absence of any previously known details or examples its putting together the missing pieces sympathetically, as you might expect original Shaker carpenters and furniture makers might have.

There have been a couple of occasions where I could simply find no reference to an item, or perhaps it did not exist in a Shaker community at the time. For instance we had to take some liberty when it came to the kitchen, as the kitchen in the meeting house at Hancock had a trough like sink on a stand with a couple of garden taps over it. Not the answer for someone coming to stay and wanting a clean and functional kitchen. There is also the issue of current building and plumbing codes and regulations.

This week it's the curtains and rods. I've seen several examples of long curtains that have hung on the peg rail but again it has to be practical and there would be a number of people who simply could not be bothered hanging individual tabs of curtain on to pegs, especially on 5 windows, so a curtain rod is required.

Searching books, hundreds of photos and the internet turned up not one useful image.  So I settled on a wooden 28mm rod, strong but not oversized. I then drew up a simple pattern for the rod holders, as I needed at least 10 and 16 if I end up doing the French doors too. Lastly the curtain rod ends. Stopping the rod in the rod holders looked wrong. Rounding the ends of the rod, too modern. So I again referred to other known Shaker wooden ware and furniture and thats when it became obvious. A ladder-back type finial. 

So with not much more than the diameter of the curtain rod in hand I headed off to the workshop again. I pre-drilled a blank of Blackwood on the drill press, giving me the 28mm female socket. This also provided an accurate centre for the tailstock drive. The rest was simple, just turn off all the wood that doesn't look like a finial ! When I removed it from the lathe it looked just fine, so I turned another just to be sure. Another 8 to go then I can hand over the reins to Mrs. Rundell to make the curtains!