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Richard Kell no.2 LGE honing guide (ie large roller)

... not everyone has spent so many years making things, tool manipulation comes easy to me; but for people coming to this as a hobby and picking up my richard kell no.2 honing guide heres a few hints as to how I go about handling the device.

I have to admit i am a 'dyed in the wool' freehand sharpening man, I sharpen many odd formed hand tools, tools for the lathe and milling cutters but this large wheeled honing guide of mine ie richard kell no.2 LGE is an absolute winner for any chisel or plane iron and without question is the tool to reach for, both for sharpness of edge and for quick results.

Due to its repeatability there is no wondering "have I raised the burr yet" .... in addition my 3mm riser concept ie two slips of polycarb under the back wheels provides a five degree lift for final hone / bevel very quickly indeed, no need to touch the clamping at all. Because of all this toolmaker repeatability ie close tolerance manufacture and by nature of its design, merely two strokes on the finishing stone will often get you back into action for most small chisels.


Above is ready to measure / set projection of tool to achieve the desired angle, I just use 1-1/4 inch for most things, the jig can slide up or down the chisel as you wish before tightening.


Above the no.2 LGE is in use on my roughing stone, is balanced and sharpens perfectly on the push stroke, for the last couple of strokes I centre both wheels on the middle of the stone to get the best chance of both repeatability and a square end, minimising the time for the finishing stone. Its all about 'feel' and thinking with your hands  ......

You would be perfectly okay to remove the hind-end on the bench grinder and jig mount merely for final hone (my preferred method).

Another advantage of my honing guides used in the above set-up is that I can utilise every part of the stone, not just a central trackway.


Its important the chisel itself beds onto the two stainless rods. Polycarb washers either side of the chisel provide excellent grip (ie 'stick-tion') and once inserted and set I give the hex nut the slightest of tweaks to help secure all firm.

Also above I am using my felt tip pen trick to verify repeatability.

Note that I have 3mm strips of polycarb available so that for the final five degree finishing bevel we merely run on the 3mm elevated track, again two strokes will do all we want, saving time and precious chisel steel.

short youtube to follow....  in meantime see my youtube channel ....

heres my website with paypal facility to order one .... http://richardkell.co.uk/

Please operate sensible and correct working procedures at all time, no liability accepted for any loss or injury E&OE.

copyright richard kell 2014


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The blade guides on my Startrite 352 bandsaw could not be excused any longer, likewise the replaced thrust blocks to take cutting pressure were re-ground to flat, merely rods of hardened steel I made say twenty years ago to replace the beyond hope originals.

The machine itself is a good one, no qualms, but once I got the side blocks out there was no option but to regrind. I use the Bridgeport vertical mill for this, an aloxite cup wheel permanently mounted on its own arbor solves lots of proplems, can be rigged for tool and cutter work too. Advancing a thou at a time (ground dry) soon cleaned it up to flat again.

Once re-assembled and aligned a joy to work with.....

Above is before I break the sharp edge (ie deburr) the edges on a fine aloxite wheel.

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I subscribed to the Crafts Council  'Crafts'  magazine for a full decade but finished it in 1988 when along with other subscriptions I ceased the handful of mags that arrived here each month, it was becoming too intense; I needed space, quiet and of course never having anyone to be able to talk with about these things didn't help. Undoubtedly it was a valuable education and as with most subjects that are worthwhile, at first way above my head and then once able to understand it better becoming extremely important to me. The Crafts Council did a lot to 'up our game' and certainly they need to be applauded for that.

I'm fascinated by what others can do, the Bernard Leach 'A Potters Book' is an easier read than Cardew above; Cardew is deeper and it takes me far longer to digest. Bernard Leach and the publishers Faber did a very good job at producing a more accessible guide.

Its also a rummage back in time, the whole world of what can be termed British Studio Pottery from the First War into the seventies.  The names of the important players in mid twentieth century British potters ring like magic, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Michael Cardew, Michael Casson ... perhaps I need to unbox and re-read those 'Crafts' mags but I do know they are indelibly fixed in my minds eye.

I've got two copies of Bernard Leach 'A Potters Book' as well as a few other suchlike books, I will read that along with Michael Cardews 'Pioneer Pottery' in the next few weeks. Both are books I've had here on the shelves for more than twenty years and to my shame I know the Leach book well but have never read the Cardew, the lucky find at our local library sale. Silly them for getting rid of it, the same can be said of several books here on the shelves. Cardew draws in geology starting wuth the broadest picture, heat processes, transformation of glazes, form and early Chinese work are all things that already exist in my mind in fragments, exactly what I think of already, so how can it be but interesting !

tootling around we find such gems  ...


ie for the above  .... http://youtu.be/mKqoCcg0jek

theres lots more on youtube tags  ....

but what baffled me was the lack of the full length Hamada tv documentary of forty or more years ago, I can well remember watching it and other peoples reaction the next day, all i can find is a brief clip ....

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So far I don't feel particularly overwhelmed by any great sentimentality in moving out of my workspace of thirty years to a new location, but as sure as God made little green apples its something that must happen; maybe my progressive emptying over six weeks or more and a full years notice to get used to the idea have helped smooth the transition. Its really just a huge collection of 'stuff', where it is housed matters far less than what is achieved with my own hands, but as would be obvious a man with so much stuff both accumulated and made by me over thirty years it will prove a disadvantage in some ways to disturb the immense amount that I knew the exact location of for retrieval, being unusual / driven at this game has its drawbacks.

Since learning of the closure for a year now my natural sleep rythmn has been disturbed, I get to sleep well enough since being told we were being closed down but my waking day starts much earlier as if in 'fight mode'. An instance was this morning when I took these pics, at work for 06:30 ..... already been up for two hours!

An unforseen big effect a few days ago was taking down the workshop clock for the new place, losing time from the old unit seemed to very clearly declare it finished.

My first unit for a few months at Plessey Road Workshops was three times the size way back in September 1984 but the expense of it pushed me to get into the smallest unit available at 168 sq ft as shown above; one of the secrets of business in my opinion is to control costs, to live tight, to spend no more than is neccessary to achieve the desired effect.  Actually its odd how the camera sees the image, its really not as grubby as it appears, is actually swept clean and the stainless drainer is gleaming ... I've done this because whilst I was in there it was crammed full of gear and I want no-one to think I was less than clean !

I've had so many instances of good luck recently, being able to use a big unit across the gangway for overspill made life so much easier, considering the old place was only twelve feet by fourteen it is utterly incredible how so much was crammed into a fully operational and mostly comfortable workspace; I'd had thirty years to achieve this. However i did have tricks to enable this (needs must etc) such as six foot racking perched on brackets above head height. The walls were much thicker than the new place appears to be, could bear weight, the new place is single thin breezeblock, definitely not load bearing.

Next week when all keys are handed over I will be a fortnight short of when I moved in at September 1984, ie thirty years ago.  Another tiny instance of unexpected luck was the morning the machinery movers were to arrive, so there I am at 06:45 17th July and half an hour before their scheduled arrival at 08:00 on the topmost shelf of some aerial racking that I'm clearing there precisely on cue are the nuts and bolts needed to secure the one loose plank of the heavy bench top to its frame so it can be slinged and lifted by the Hiab lorry crane. I had utterly no memory they were there, how could anyone after thirty years, completely out of sight but exactly where they would have been placed thirty years ago by me and as needed for departure, last thing to be taken from the uppermost shelf. Thankfully the machinery men had rescheduled to four days later, their original date wld have been impossible for me even with a continuous fortnight of getting ready !!

As with many projects triple the expected timescale to get nearer to reality.

The new place seems fine, only bug is increased rent to pay and issues with minor subsidence with the end wall otherwise its a pleasant enough space mostly retaining the central most used area layout as a pattern of efficiency; my immediate neighbour and his wife seem nice folk and its a space I'm happy to get to. The terrible incident of my beagle Smud being loose for more than half an hour was also astounding good luck, the one man that had said hello indeed remembered him and knocked on my door when with even greater good fortune a work colleague of my wife that miraculously lives nearby found Smud lying down in the middle of a busy road. It struck me last night many days later that he must have placed himself so visible so that his master would find him as he would be disorientated and baffled. I shudder to think what might have happened......

Once we are all cleared 22nd August its all to be demolished for housing. The main complex itself was as good as new but a huge old shed next door was dragged onto the rentable list by a tenant that apparently accrued rent arrears and hence created rates payable by the Local Authority following his bankruptcy, so inevitably the whole operation came under scrutiny by accountants and commitees and planners and the axe has fallen.

The move in some ways has been pleasant, a total month out and probably more from my usual activity ie manufacturing, I've been able to take my time to be sure to group and collate all like things together and i know full well much of it will never be unboxed and probably unrecoverable even when needed. Its been quite an experience, something totally different from my usual day to day work and something I never wish to repeat. I've had various windfalls, excellent good as new steel racking abandoned from another unit, boxes full of educational material again abandoned that distracted me from the tedium of the shift and other bits and pieces that fell into my hands.

Plessey Road Workshops was a very good facility, a success and allowed many many people to try their hand at small business. Losing Blyth Valley Local Authority (in my opinion also a retrograde step for the locality) meant a protracted hiccup in credit control, already having developed problems from the wrong person occupying the role and Landlord problems snowballed .....

Pics for the archive .....



Here I am saying I'm unsentimental but admittedly I am posting pics of the empty unit ! .... more accurately I feel the need to document the now cleared space that has been my workshop for thirty years, as it is a complete novelty for me to see this unit cleared, it was not an easy task, very time consuming and for thirty years these walls have been my working space.

The easiest bit was the day of the machinery move; otherwise my endless clutter and bits and pieces (mostly made by me) hampered progress .... this is not just a desk a monitor and a tray of pens job !!

postscript; the temperature of the new place drops much lower in cold weather, at Plessey Road i was well embedded into the depths of the building, an additional cost will be background heating for whenever i'm not there; but the bonus is that its easier to get the temp up and keep it there, no draughty main doors to blow it all away. Once the heavy machine tools (any steel tools in fact) cool down too far theres always the likelihood of rusting when you warm the place for the days work. Months later after winter the background heating works well, the unit seems quicker to get to a comfortable temperature and it is not draughty, sound proofing is good and its a pleasant place to be.


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Seems I have something nowadays seen as rare, ie lancewood.



The two long pieces of lancewood at left are 1-3/4 inches square, scale at bottom is in inches. Drumsticks too can be of lancewood.

Heres the text of the listing ..

Mainly boxwood, all items have been in my workshop for thirty years, also at left first / main pic is two lengths of lancewood and which I bought all those years ago to make spars for high quality scratch built ship models; also two roughed mallet heads of lignum vitae.

Scale is in inches, note the shakes and imperfections, don't get carried away thinking this is perfect, boxwood often shakes when dried in the round, however the lancewood is tip-top.

I am richardkell.co.uk ring me if you want to discuss or do a deal etc.

nb. seems the lancewood is like hens teeth these days, so what I'll prob do is take one of the 1-3/4 sq sections out of the auction as a collector of wood specimens is v keen.

end of ebay description.

Yesterday as soon as listed I got a message from a collector assembling a museum of wood specimens, I jokingly wondered how that affects the price, I'm not particularly money orienbtated, I don't crave it but what I wil try and do is distribute this as best as possible, so maybe take out one or even both pieces from the lot. Big problem is how to get this into the hands of the right people?

I bought the lancewood thirty years ago for the spars of high quality scratch built ship models, I would have been thinking specifically of Reg Collins 'Myrmidon' as serialised in the late 1950's 'Model Engineer' magazine, I have all the copies here (as all ME 1941 to 1980 plus a few earlier bound volumes bought at random) when it went to my mind drastically downhill say early 1980's, I think specifically Stan Brays contributions stand out as dreadful, poor workmanship, a drop in standards, hideous photography of castings not even fettled before a slap of paint, the man was obviously struggling with the lathe. Problem is I was raised on the best so to speak, boxfuls of ME, Practical Wireless and Woodworker all from 1956 through to 1964, the latter signifying when we moved north and all magazines were stopped. I can suppose I can say I know 'model Engineer' from its best days with both the best calibre of men contributing and a distinct and adept skill from layout and Editor.

Lets list some of the contributors that set the bar high .... EdgarT Westbury, LBSC, Duplex, Dr Hallows, Ian Bradley, Austen-Walton, George Gentry, Scotia, W J Hughes, Martin Cleeve, Martin Evans, Joseph Martin ..... there will be other names that spring to mind once I click off.

Theres two lots so far as above, Lot 2 having African blackwood, I've actually found more boxwood that would make for a Lot3, and alder and lime and hawthorn and plum etc etc the stuff just keeps pouring out of every nook and cranny ......



Some are blackwood waxed as from North Heigham Sawmills originally intended for the musical instrument trade and some are pieces cut from purchased quartered log. The two big bits of boxwood came from Persia before the Second War, I visited Lawrence the boxwood engraving block makers in the early 1980's when they were in their workshop up many flights of stairs at Bleeding Hart Yard, London. Interestingly one of the men told me his best mate in the Army was from exactly the same place as i live now, and there we were three hundred miles away in London! The boss had his 'secret machine' or machines for shaping or levelling the blocks and understandably this was one area he would not reveal; fair enough why give away your commercial advantage that you have devised yourself and laboured to make real.


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My apologies for dwelling on this subject, a once in thirty year workshop move deserves to be written up ....

We've had a whole year to worry and ponder and cogitate and yesterdays 0815 to 1215 operation with three experienced operatives and a big lorry with Hiab crane moved all the machines and benches in one morning, a bright sunny day and everyone working well. I regret not having my camera on hand to get a pic of the lorry fully loaded with the machines as for me its a once in a lifetime sight, its probable I'll never see it again; a sense of pride, all is old but serves well.

Perversely it was the machinery move that created anxiety yet it was all completed in half a day because of hired hands, a firm hired in to complete the task; working as a one-man business for so long engenders a curious one-man mind-set, only things that can be done by one man are possible in my world. All the other sorting, packing and boxing up has taken so far at a guess sixty hours to eighty hours to reach the machinery move and much in boxes has yet to be taken over to the new place or established at the new HQ as well as sorting through a myriad of bits and pieces.

I worked well with the machinery men, proving I'm no slacker dealing with the many items (toolmakers generate / accumulate 'stuff') and grafting the equal of the workmen, up at 0500 for an 0645 start. I have this guilt problem that i must contribute as the equal, I cannot slack or merely observe and so stupidly missed a lot of how they sling the machines for lifting. The machinery movers had put back from Monday to Thursday and thank goodness, I would not have been ready for a Monday even though I had plenty of notice and have worked continuously for the last fortnight sorting out and boxing up, as in times of emergency 'all leave is cancelled'. I'm sure many of the boxes will not be opened for a long time, bits of projects and tooling from times past.

There must have been half a ton of material sifted and irreducibly destined for landfill, mixed swarf, etc, all from an area 12ft by 14ft; for this landfill I feel bad but there was far more claimed as usable, worthwhile or recyclable and for past thirty years far too much has been retained. Basically I had to literally dig myself out. I sincerely hope at the new place I do not degenerate to such clutter; in fact i am going to have a 'clean floor' policy, at the old unit this was just impossible at the margins. due to su much in such a small space it approached the idea of working within a machine !!

Later I'll include a pic of the empty unit for my own purposes, maybe a before and after, meanwhile I still have a few days of smaller items, machine parts, bits and pieces to move and store, now a full fortnight into the project and say a full week to get me operational in a basic way ie embedded with all my paraphenalia, and maybe some time after that to tweak storage and layout. The stainless sink worktop on point of personal standards at the old place will be gleaming (before it is demolished).  I'm also taking several steps to increase security, I take the Fort Knox approach, which again will take even more time. Budgeting total project time without exaggeration this must be a month of intense activity with zero production, but strangely I'm enjoying it, compared to the 'push-push' of normal working days on production its even quite pleasurable!  I'm also wondering how cold it will be in winter or how it will compare to the previous place of thirty years, the old place is now soon to be demolished for housing, time will tell .....

I cannot believe I've been there thirty years !!  Both my only remaining neighbour at the workshops and also my wife have said '"End of an era" ..... optimistically I tend to view it merely as an exchange of walls for the same old activity, ie my enterprise. However on reflection it certainly is the end of an era for all concerned, for all longterm tenants. Perhaps Smud my beagle has no more immediate grass to wriggle on as we return to the car after each session, but the new place has other grassy areas to compensate. Birds too, no more of the man that leaves two spoonfuls of birdseed a day at the side of the car, the latter demonstrated the lack of songbirds in the vicinity, this area of open fields and golf course is strangely not the optimum habitat for them; this quite baffles me. The only twinge of emotion was ringing ahead to tell my wife the 'convoy' will be driving by, but she's not sure she saw us!

What is curious and baffling is that though the new place is more than twice the square footage and already is filled to the brim merely with machines and benches there seems hardly room for the extra storage I had in mind and yet still theres lots more to move in. The old place ie Unit Five was extremely cramped, needing to twist and turn once away from the working triangle of flypress, Bridgeport, bench-vice. Now I will have the luxury of being able to use more than one of the four sides of a bench or machine, two sides, three and maybe even four! The old unit was more an 'organic construction' developed over the years of thrift and the retention of anything that may be useful in the future; I started with very little capital and near zero security in my self employed endeavours and this poor mans cautious approach cannot be shaken off. Perhaps this approach is mirrored in my advice to anyone 'to live as a poor man' ie to not get caught up in needless spending, get your pleasures simply.

Heres a quick sketch jotted earlier today to explain how at the old more congested unit so much was poured into such a small space because most benches and machines were only accessible from say one side out of four, such jobs as rebuilding my capstan lathe gearbox a few years ago was a very slow and cramped activity.

I've had incredible luck on this shift, a not planned for big unit across the gangway available for overspill that increasingly amazed as to how much was crammed into my original place of thirty years; a chance to recycle materials that otherwise were destined for the wreckers ball and little things such as a coach bolt missing to secure the floor joist bench top and as if by magic half an hour before the lorry and Hiab arrive, topmost shelf last box to be brought down and hey presto theres the exact ones used thirty years to build the same bench.


And what is utterly staggering is/ was the huge amount of jigs and tooling, devices, apparatus, cutters, spare parts, materials, offcuts, oddments, lumps of stuff, all crammed into every niche, corner, aperture. I even found a tray of three hundred beautifully first op'd (ie first operation) components from the capstan lathe, a trial batch to prove makeability and production times for a fishermans spoon and priest, a product that long ago fizzled; all in perfect preservation as wrapped in plastic sheet, these had spent the last two decades buried in accumulated swarf beneath the capstan lathe. I had utterly no idea they were still there!

Meaningless to others is the quick sketch above, but to me an accurate depiction of my previous workspace of thirty years. Six foot racking in two instances actually was held on wall brackets placed six feet off the ground, ditto a big shelf. The next place is so much easier to move around, perhaps too much moving around.  Also i've realised on the third visit I've a tree outside that provides green that is restful to tired eyes, signals the weather, changing light and the seasons and also to be able to focus on anything more than six feet away is a total newfound luxury whilst at work; good for the eyes. Watchmakers and many suchlke workers in years past would have a green painted area for fine work.

And we are good for many years yet !!

There surely can be no greater pleasure than your energy and health, work is only one part of life.  I do not allow it to overwhelm or stifle other interests; it seems to me that if you let something be your master and if it were to 'go bad' for whatever reason in the future then you are asking for upset.


Above from earlier this summer with our present beagle Smuddy Rossmaith, the second of two beagles we've had; each evening he wriggles on the grass, often its a trouble to get him to get into the car. For the last few years I've left two spoonfuls of birdseed where we park each day, but songbirds are strangely scarce in that locality, a spuggie (sparrow)  if yr lucky and mostly a pigeon or blackbird or jackdaw. Maybe its the lack of small gardens and attendant feeding, my own place is always alive with birdsong (a big garden and part of a 'corridor')  but they all have backyards, i can only assume very few if any people think of them.


There was even more clutter to move, since this pic was taken twenty years ago circa 1995.


The above two pics are circa 1995 with our first beagle that passed away ten years later in 2005, I've posted these pics before but as they are deep down in old blog posts it does no harm to post again. Snuffy Rossmaith is sleeping on my dads old ammo box (note that it was not his personal ammo, he was not a mercianary, merely an ex-WD purchase) ... nowadays our replacement second beagle tends to sleep in his deluxe insulated cabin at left. The first beagle is buried over in the Lakes at Netherclose, in a garden and house we stayed many times, beautiful views around Lorton Vale, a location he knew very well indeed. Smud seems to know fine well whats happening with the workshop move, at visits to the old workshop he stays in the car which I drive into the unit itself indoors and having seen his cabin now at the new HQ ... the penny has dropped.

postscript : taken my wife around the new place tonight, we think its fantastic, obviously thirty years of very cramped conditions have been remedied and for the first time in forty years I can see sunlight, green leaves and the changing weather whilst at work. And having spent the first winter Is also proving much easier to keep warm and for the first time have sufficient natural light to work with, sunrises are incredible.


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Its good to see this go to a new owner, its been part of the workshop for thirty years, but now I'm moving to new premises and it really needs to find a new home.

Ironic as the new place has twice the square footage of the three decades cubby-hole of 168 sq ft, but I want to minimise fire hazard and not the clutter that has slowly developed into my present 'nest' which can be said to be the result of my various interests and all the different work that I have done as a self employed toolmaker. There was a big tidy up ten years ago, excess offcuts and bits and pieces for electronic tooling manufacture and now i need to offload things that it would be silly to take with me. It is very difficult finding premises at an affordable price for the one-man craftsman, theres not many admittedly and there is minimal provision for them, the units we are vacating have served their purpose admirably, several people have said to me that Governments and Councils are no longer interested in this type of tiny enterprise; but i think its a valuable resource for the local community that anyone can 'have a go' at minimal expense.  Still, the problem for me looks to be solved, fingers crossed !

probably under-priced at £100 and it is worm-free, so hopefully it will soon attract bids, sorry collection only ... i can barely lift it ... weight 34 kilo.

I bought this elm burr slice from a sawmill on the edge of the Blagdon Estate, Northumberland nearly thirty years ago. I remember him telling me he was very keen on horses and carriage driving, a really nice man to meet. They had lots of elm and would be quite happy to slice up elm trunk for my first batches of green turned elm vessels in the mid 1980's as per previous posts here ie   http://richardkell.livejournal.com/tag/green%20turned%20elm%20vessels


Scale is twenty inches overall, graduated one inch intervals.

Its a beautiful object, as is the plank of yew and the blacksmiths leg vice I also have for sale, more items to follow ....


a beautiful piece of yew  .... http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/yew-wood-/221447969851?pt=UK_Crafts_Other_Crafts_EH&hash=item338f53dc3b

expertly seasoned as not the shakes that can develop with yew ...



Its actually not rusty, just how the digital camera has read the oily dusty surface. I have three leg vices, the largest is used  for a specific purpose. I bought this thirty five years ago from a scrapyard in the local town, got other bargains there too .. now is all gone and a modern supermarket (second build to exist there) covers the site ... to my mind a change for the worst.



Cube or engineers box angle plate .... grade A with invoice to hand somewhere to prove it .... 7x9x6 inches tall, complete with wooden crate it arrived in. Note slight tarnishing / discolouration at one end ie last picture, there is utterly no mechanical degradation or pitting, merely cosmetic.  No nicks, no dings, no scratches even!

Hardly ever been used, bought in 1986 as art of improving facilities in my place. Practically as good as new, twenty hours use ??  an utter bargain at £200 ... remember this is serious industrial grade kit and the new price is much more than this.

weight 21 kilo



Mid seventies purchase of castings for the J M Wild clock depthing tool. £30

Seller beware ..... not such a happy sale for the depthing tool castings via ebay, I lost £6 on postage and the new owner has turned a blind eye for my requests for the money; the wazzecks at the Post Office didn't tell me that i should be in the place earlier each day to catch Parcel Force and so then I would have had the option to send by seemingly lower cost Parcel Force for my big parcels within the UK, sending by Royal Mail which is the only service issued after the much earlier PF collection means higher postal cost. This had not been explained to me, they know fine well over say a hundred visits at the new place that my routine is a later afternoon postal drop.  This is bloody ridiculous.

No damage to the above castings, only the spigots on one casting have been turned otherwise there has been utterly nothing done to them other than some scraping and filing to fettle them. See mid seventies Model Engineer for the instructions; not a beginners project and in fact a poor solution to the depthing problem, the castings themselves are unwieldy and i wonder at what the accuracy of the finished result would be.

As a toolmaker used to devising original sloutions (which is what a toolmaker does) my solution would be totally different to this vintage pastiche and would be something far more reliable as to remaining accurate, this is the sort of tool that I would always doubt its accuracy.  Remember, I can routinely place and expect a drilled hole consistently to be placed better than +/- 0.002" ie two thou inch from its marked out and desired position and often much closer, marking out by means of vernier height gauge, centrepunch, tiny hammer and a magnifying glass.

As toolmaker trained my own solution would be very different to this slavish adherence to the traditional, my solution building in so much accuracy that would be both easy to construct and something i would have more confidence in, the castings are actually quite easily bent.


Bought 35 years ago from a scrap yard lamentably long since gone, I remember the man said "Its over the other side of that scrap" and as I had to move it uphill and downhill some old geezer in the hut was cutting up strips of old tyre to poke into the turtle stove, result being not only manhandling an anvil over a tenfoot pile of crap but also being asphyxiated with smuts of rubbery smoke.... as with my larger leg vice at home it presumably has coal mining connections.

It would be interesting to learn of the pattern and shape and size of anvils as the centuries rolled by.

23 in overall x 11in high, 75 kilo as measured on my bathroom scales.

In these modern days these look to be such 'ancient things', as with the leg vice nice to have around in the workshop, a reminder of how we would have worked in previous centuries.


swage block 12in sq x 4in thick x 48 kilo .... http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=221454311139

there will be other bits and pieces as the weeks roll by, some old radio components such as ex-WD tuning drives, valve holders, valves for amateur shortwave gear, whatever reveals itself as I complete the worshop move.


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In essence a fixture to machine / mill the windows or apertures in a bar-turned fly fishing reel, another contraption to move along in my thirty year workshop move, a vast amount of 'stuff' that the bods that decided to redevelop the site had utterly no idea about. It illustrates my approach of perhaps not much money to throw at it but lots of application and hard graft.

When I was at Hardys of Alnwick circa 1975-82 it was nearly all turned from castings from the foundry, the need for purer anodising spec bar material was not yet neccessary to any great extent but on reflection hazy memory tells me occasional batches of sawn billets had started to appear. The foundry product is a much quicker and economical way of doing things as opposed to masses of machining to reach the 'as cast' dimensions before finish machining, foundry frames even have the rough cast apertures for the windows and is nice stuff to machine.

All my own Richard Kell reels were hard anodised and probably the first in the world to be able to resist the 'Stanley knife test', a standard of anodising that is very specialised and few if any anodisers either agree to it or can be trusted to give the reel maker what he wants. In the design and development work I had three patent applications also that were I assume unique (and useful) features. But after a few months in the mid 1980's and another two thousand hours over three years 1996-99 my enthusiasm dwindled, I was tired of it as a one-man activity as it is an awfully tortuous and long route to a finished saleable product, and so I am left with a lot of dedicated tooling, work in progress and development work that only sold a handful of reels, lots of it probably unique because of my approach to such work. If you are given a regular wage at this activity then the pressure is a fraction of being a one-man business living from what you make and deliver, but when you are financing everything yourself such big projects are very dangerous, the pace as with all self employed price work is fast but at least with simpler products you arrive at something saleable much quicker. Points of quality and detail drive the completion time further and further away. My problem also is that my standards are too high, I am a fast worker and intensely applied but at too high a level, I see faults that others cannot, it pains me if something is not 100% correct.


There was a lot of innovation in the tooling as well as the product, not so much as 'development' as I usually got the tooling right first go in my head: I have incredibly good visual imagination, so that i can build/ make whatever i want in my head and run it, theres no need to 'lets see if it works' crap. This is as long as I'm interested in the problem, latterly with very occasional customers for one-offs I'm afraid I run up to a blank wall, I'm no longer interested.  All this multitude of new tooling and apparatus for the reels occasionally embodied new tricks that I've never seen elsewhere to achieve quality and repeatability. I'm not particularly clever but as it is what you do for a living therefore you are bound to become adept, have insights; probably merely just a little bit ahead of most workers and with the luxury of working on my own. I was obsessed with tooling and controlling the process, to generate the quality I was looking for and once fully tooled many imponderables would have been dealt with.

So this fixture is a good example of what I achieved.

To cut a long story etc this device is an excellent solution for a difficult problem, it is not a Hardy solution (they do it differently for volume)  but mine is merely a method that sprang to mind with the resources at my command and aiming for a flawless and repeatable solution. Engineering is all about minimising what can go wrong, to control the process. I was delighted with the surface finish I could achieve with this for milling reel frame windows, 'straight off the tool'.


So that is the start of it, bar turned and as shown above the need to mill the 'windows' cut with a homemade concave cutter, with a high quality finish straight off the tool, reflected light is the great test. Also fool-proofed in operation as already there has been a lot of time invested in the component ie turning, drilling (accurately) and engraving. All turned moulded features are hand turned and never touched with abrasive paper, real freehand turning. The 'art' of hand turning metal ie the trade of the 'brass finisher' is very rare indeed in this modern world and I couldn't personally count myself a turner if I couldn't do it, because in my own place handturning of metal adds so much more to product quality, for instance look at all the tiny gleaming chamfers on my honing guide bobbins, for other work I often apply double chamfers ie 30 and 60 degrees cut with razor sharp tools.

Another instance of the cleverer man is the practical 'art' or delicacy in being able to both drill accurately and fit steel location pins as per the location plate above, unless anyones done it to an equal standard they don't know how close I can make it, as in the above situation there must be no slop or discernable movement, whereas in many jigs and tooling there must be a controlled clearance introduced so that the jig and component are easily manipulated ioe loaded / unloaded.  For instance knowing the feel of a transition fit and knocking off a half thou or a third of a thou to give yourself the clearance you are aiming for becomes intuitive, its mostly done in the minds eye aided with a micrometer to determine and verify; your hands are trained, they know themselves what to do. Also, I never use a drill 'straight from the packet', always doctoring it to produce better and more accurate results, I can control how a drill works or the size it produces to within say a quarter thou in small sizes, it is a developed intuition that comes form pushing ones-self to do better, mostly its minds-eye stuff. If I worked amongst others there would be too much of the 'near enough' ....  I have the luxury of being able to focus and concentrate in my own environment.


The frame of the fly reel clamps onto a multi-pin aluminium location pad that accurately registers onto the larger steel rotating faceplate and shaft, circular motion actuated by the large (ex lathe of 1895) changewheel and custom-made worm to match the DP (diametrical pitch) of the Edward Hines changewheel.  In fact the change wheel is going back to where it belongs on a stack of them, any (if any of say half a dozen makers in the world) is a potential buyer of this window milling fixture they will need to locate or have made a suitable replacement, its not an impossible task.

The white rectangle helps 'dampen' any potential chatter or looseness when cutting and also any potential slop when reversing the direction of rotation ie to achieve a very good surface finish, split at bottom to nip up onto the O/D of the rotating steel faceplate. The ally block underneath means for fast setting up, merely held in the machine vice, as small cutters are used this is quite tolerable, and its all done in the Bridgeport so we have the advantage of mass. I'm usually quite secretive re my methods but as theres a vast amount of other techniques and tooling, this is merely one tiny part of the whole.


I think this post illustrates my integrity as a workman, you cannot fake this calibre of activity, this pleases me.

On top of this chagewheel fits an ally plate with a fork and a pair of locknuts and allen screws that adjusts and clamps onto one of the changewheel spokes, this has to be deliberately set up so that the overlying brass plate with apertures to allow movement against a fixed index pin functions and provides 'windows' where they are needed in correct relation to the drilling and the engraving.

All clever stuff and a dream to use when its all correctly set. The changewheel is not my largest for the Edward Hines treadle lathe, merely an 80 tooth wheel; diameter 6-7/8 in, the fixture is 11-1/2in tall. The Edward Hines treadle lathe has been an inspiration throughout all of my working life, I bought it in 1976, just turned eighteen, impeccable design and workmanship that still astounds in this day and age !


note extractable stop pin in bronze block; forked block to engage with one of the changewheel spokes (that is the original paint from 1895) and makeshift detachable dividing plate to form handle.

What prompted me to write this post in the first place was brushing this down and being amazed how accurately and easliy the rig still worked, showing this next day to a neighbour at the workshops, a mechanical man, he too was very impressed.

I have mvi footage to add to this later  .......

see my honing guides and woodworkers tools on http://www.richardkell.co.uk

copyright richard kell 2014 all rights reserved. E&OE

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Note that anything metric pisses me off but i do happilly use their threads when not screwcut with a single point tool in the lathe ie fastenings, tapped holes.


I've always been interested in typography and printing and the machinery that goes with it. What I hadn't read about or perhaps hadn't understood was the decision firstly in the USA of 1886 and adopted by Britain in 1898 was the idea that 83pica = 35cm (pica is the printers unit of measurement) tieing it in EXACTLY as a subdivision of a particular number of metric units. And so this new height was 0.0014 taller than the old 0.9166 inch; the new 'idea' being 0.918 inch. Note that the French had the 'ligne' when reading about this.

Note that we are to divide 35cm by a horrible and difficult prime number ie 83 ... goodness ... what insanity. Anyone ever heard of accumulation of tolerances ?

What i didn't realise is that the number 83 actually has its own wiki .... and interestingly tells us that indeed '83' follows 82 and precedes 84 .... wow i am in awe of this, best laugh i've had for ages and indeed 82 and 84 have their own links.

Big question is and thats why I write this post is how did this affect the industry, the workers, printing houses and jobbers because the link above tells us it was a 'big jump' and thus would cause problems, at one and a half thou, how noticeable would this be, I'm guessing 'borderline'.

But what makes this the most baffling move is to tweak it for 0.0014 inch in the first place ... we read from the link above that the two heights of type cannot be mixed. Typefounders would have massive amounts of accurate carefully hand made moulds and tackle all tied to the old height which was shorter than the proposed dimension, in other words they needed to cast at a bare two thou higher, you cannot 'put metal on' so they would need new parts, note that the moulds are multi-part not a single solid block, so you only need replace the section that provides height.  Even small towns had printers, larger towns perhaps several, all needing and using huge amounts of white metal.  The volumes were terrific and it was all hand made.

I wonder how long it took for this 'directive' and adoption of an exact subdivision of 35cm took to trickle to ground level or perhaps a dual offering from the founders .... there must be articles and perhaps a book treatment of the subject somewhere, I'm stuck for time right now but certainly its worth exploring the changeover and its troubles and consequences and i think would make for interesting reading.

My mind tells me it doesn't matter what your notional idea of an ultimate far-away standard actually is as long as all the practical real handleable type actually functions quickly as required, that the dimension at inspection level can be verified. Printing the old way must have often been a thankless job, customers would be blind to all the faff and manipulations required to complete their printing request at price and on time. The requirement of needing a subdivision of 35cm is so abstract, why metric ??....  why does it matter, why the need to be metric based? Perhaps they are thinking 'International standards' but metric based countries at that time were certainly in the background, not front runners in manufacturing and i assume never adopt anything Imperial.  I'm fully aware of metrology and in engineering the traceability and subdivision from a safely stored remote 'standard' and standards available in all countries around the world BUT for the practical man having to do this for a living and for the owner of a business needing to buy in type both replacement and new fonts was this new height a problem?

We had the same problem or worse with the loony adoption of the metric system in the UK in the 1970's, a move totally oblivious of the conveniences of the existing Imperial system and Britain at that time was stuffed full of manufacturing and machine tools; a best / worst case example being the use of the metric micrometer a most foul and so easily mis-read instrument. Oh dear, politicians stick their oar in ..... likewise with all index dials and leadscrews on machine tools, once a man has learnt and intuitively can manipulate an imperial machine all speed and convenience is torn away from him by going metric. Being a practical man my over-riding concern is what is easiest to use, repeatable and 'on-size' ie what is quick for us?

heres where i got my info .... http://sizes.com/tools/type.htm

fascinating  ..... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movable_type  .....but at first glance its section on 'punch-cutting' is a bit scant to say the least.

So thinking about this for an hour the author of the first link tells us the height difference of 0.0014 inch ie the change from 0.9166 to 0.918 (as an exact subdivision of so many cm) the two cannot be interchanged, but i wonder at this, after all, wear will occur based on both the standard dimensions, creating a spread of size or crossover. Being a toolmaker, gauge tolerance and wear allowances are very important.

This post raises masses of questions and fascinating avenues of thought ..... it has transmuted from reading an online post and the alarm of a new standard being forced onto an industry to consider a much wider sea of ideas and methods.

for instance, wiki states ....

  • 0.918 inches : United Kingdom, Canada, USA

  • 0.928 inches : France, Germany, Swiss and most other European Countries

  • 0.933 inches : Belgium height

  • 0.9785 inches : Dutch height

Which means we treat each country individually, which we knew already,  the type in my own twenty drawer Adana case measures 0.920 in.  bottom size, many at 0.921 and one or two 0.924 in. I wonder what the manufacturing tolerances are and the wear allowances? Googling for white metal type produces very little indeed contrary to the avalanche of information that seems to exist for most other imaginable searches. Yet there are still enthusiasts for moveable type, youtube has many fascinating films of old time machinery and methods. I shall delve into my own books here, theres half a dozen at least on typography and the history of printing and the relevant machinery.

see my prev post of a few years ago ... from May 2010 on the incredible ability and precision of punch-cutting by hand for casting white metal type ... http://richardkell.livejournal.com/9019.html .... this is utterly fascinating.



The book above and below is an excellent introduction, written by an enthusiast with talent for putting across his knowledge and fascination of the subject. Note the punches at left for striking into the matrix which forms the business end of the cast white metal type. My prev blog post has more on this.  http://richardkell.livejournal.com/9019.html


Highly recommended and nowadays I would have thought costing very little to find online, but having just looked online it carries a price.


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......this is so astounding as to fill me with wonder and delight.

It starts off with a journey through a part of London that includes the Peter Jones department store which I assume is at Sloane Square; a location I memorised in 2001 when I visited a furniture maker whose auntie at one time easily had the power to chop my head off and was stronger than any person in the land, ie the Queen.

So firstly its the embed of some old fashioned 'polari' chatter (London gay rhyming slang) and the pair of them get away with lots of dodgy innuendo, and then I googled Peter Jones Dept Store and from the map lots of street names are again familiar, this time I google the Grovesnor Canal and the wiki is what astounded me, ie the place where the Engineer came from that built this complex of locks and gates actually originated up here in Northumberland and is a place we visited hundreds of times for recreation and replenishment of our minds and bodies, the air is wonderful, scenery is a step back in time, masses of archaeology.  We still drive past the old blacksmiths shop which is perhaps older than we realised and so now will wonder if that is where the young John Armstrong gained his first knowledge of things mechanical. So the land that I have walked on many many times will have been the land that he roamed as a youngster. In fact one of the two pics i have on my richardkell.co.uk site is taken up on the land when out with my first beagle in the early 1990's, i think in May and in the evening after a hard days work.

to quote wiki ... The resident engineer for the construction of the tidal lock and upper basin was John Armstrong, originally from Ingram, Northumberland.

end of quote

All i can say is...  "Its a small world" and I am so proud of what John Armstrong achieved, originating from a location that has provided many peaceful hours 'recharging my batteries' in fascinating countryside, its also where I found my prehistoric stone axe, its 100% complete and of museum quality, without doubt exactly what we think it is. The stones in the riverbed, the vegetation even the microscopic algae was material for study.



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