Reading list 2013

These are all the books I read during 2013. All except for three of them were read on the kindle which is now my prefered way of reading.

A Clergyman’s Daughter – George Orwell
Nocturnes – Kazuo Ishiguro
Invitation to a Beheading – Vladimir Nabokov
Boy/Going Solo – Roald Dahl
Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
Extremely loud and incredibly close – Jonathan Safran Foer
An Anthropologist on Mars – Oliver Sacks
A week at the Airport – Alain De Botton
33 days – George Booth
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – Shunryu Suzuki
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time – Mark Haddon
The Garden of Eden – Ernest Hemingway
1492: The Year Our World Began – Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Post Office – Charles Bukowski
Thinking in pictures – Temple Grandin
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Coming up for Air – George Orwell

Posted in Administrivia

Baked Lemon Cheesecake


Some guy down the road has a lemon tree with a surplus of fruit. Each day he offers to the neighbourhood two or three on the top of his letter box and each evening during my walk I take two (or three if they are a good ones). So when life gives you lemons – make cheese cake. I used to following recipe.

250g plain sweet biscuits
150g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
3 eggs
¼ cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 160°/140° fan-forced. Grease a 6com-deep, 20cm round springform pan. Process biscuits until finely chopped. Add butter. Process until combined. Press mixture over base and side of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon rind together until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until combined. Add lemon juice. Beat for 1 minute. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until filling is just set (mixture may wobble slightly in centre, but will firm on standing). Cool in oven with door slightly ajar. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until cold.

Posted in Handmade, Notes

Weekend beachcomb

Beach Comb

My wife and I took a walk around the estuary in Australind on the weekend and there were many hundreds of these collected in the grass and rocks along the shoreline. They have the shape of a water washed stone and the texture of a dreadlock. I’m not certain what the origins of them are. They do look very similar to Posidonia oceanica but they are found only in the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps the regurgitated indigestible fibre of a sea grass matted in the belly of a sea creature?

I’ve put them on my coffee table for the puzzle. I hope a guest doesn’t try to eat one.

Posted in Handmade, Notes

Milk paint

Dont call me Mr Milk

If everyone jumped off a cliff, I wouldn’t follow. But I would be curious as to why lots of people were all doing the same thing. Sometimes there is wisdom in the masses. And so it is with the trend of milk paint so I stepped off the cliff and made some to paint a small box I’d made. The final result might appeal to someone looking for a pastoral antique effect but to me it just looks cracked. If I squint charitably I might imagine parts of it resembling the eggshell patina of Celadon pottery, which sounds even worse written out than it did in my head. Maybe I did it wrong?

Posted in Handmade

Uncommon words 3

Irascible — Marked by hot temper. Easily provoked.
Insouciance — A relaxed and happy way of acting.
Perfidy — Behaviour that is not loyal or to be trusted.
Inveigle — To dishonestly persuade someone to do something they don’t want to do.
Etiolated — Pale and weak. Feeble.

Posted in Notes

Reading list 2012

These are all the books I read during 2012.

The Journal of Best Practices – David Finch
The Trial – Franz Kafka
A Cabinetmakers Notebook – James Krenov
A cave in the snow – Vicki Mackenzie
Oasis of the North – Dawn MacLeod
The Age of Absurdity – Michael Foley
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
A farewell to arms – Ernest Hemingway
Heads and Tails – Danny Sheehan
Burmese Days – George Orwell
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian – John Elder Robison
Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
Half a Life – V.S Naipaul
Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer
Longitudes and Attitudes – Thomas Friedman
86’d – Dan Fante
Southeast Asia – Milton Osborne
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Making nature – Peter Timms

Posted in Administrivia

Completed wedged through tenons

Wedged through tenons
Stool. Pine.

Ages ago I posted a picture of a wedged through tenon I’d made on a stool I was building. At the time I intended to paint it to cover the horrible wood but some people on the internet made some suggestions that had me reconsider.

With my usual glacial work rate, I put a seat on the frame a few weekends ago then took another week to give it a couple layers of linseed oil and a final layer of rubbed wax. The oil darkened the Jarrah wedges to almost black, which I think looks pretty ok. I’m glad I was talked out of the paint job.

The seat is about an inch thick, edged joined in two parts with the curving end grain nicely lining up into a wave. The surface of the seat is randomly speckled with elongated spots I believe are caused by a disease in the tree. With the oil finish and seen in sunlight the spots have a shimmering, translucent appearance like spiralling galaxys or skittering mosquito larvae in a pond.

Posted in Furniture, Handmade

Wedged through tenons

Wedged tenons
Wedged through tenons. Pine with Jarrah wedge.

I made some wedged through tenons on a stool I’m making out of some spectacularly fugly pine. I thought through tenons would be a fun technique to try and wedging them with a contrasting hardwood (Jarrah in this case) would jazz it up and take the attention away from the awful grain, but nope, still looks like underwhelming so I’m going to paint it white and use a slab of some nice wood for the seat. The finished thing might be more interesting, but at my pace that will several weeks away.

Nonetheless I was compelled to photograph the better wedges before the paint went on and post it here for posterity.

Posted in Handmade

I don’t even own a TV

In the evening, in the pub, you will not find everybody talking about what they saw on TV the previous night. Amazing as it may seem, they can still speak of what really interests them. They have not yet entirely succumbed to the publicity-man’s world where flesh and blood has been turned into plastic and cardboard.

from ‘Oasis of the North’ by Dawn MacLeod. (1958)

Posted in Excerpts

Brand new knife

Marking knife. Sheoak. Brass, 7.5 inches.

I’ve wanted a proper marking knife to replace the plastic xacto blade I’d been using for the past year. Derek Cohen, a local woodworker I regard highly, makes a pretty nice one but he doesn’t sell them, and I expect that if he did they would be priced well beyond my budget.

So I made one this afternoon from a branch of Sheoak, a thick scalpel blade and a brass ring that serves some purpose a plumber could better tell you about. I don’t have a lathe so I had to shape it by hand with plane, chisel and rasp, which gave it a an irregular shape that nonetheless contours nicely to my grip. Several coats of linseed oil and a few more of wax to finish, impart a silky feel that seems far too luxurious for a tool.

Posted in Handmade