how I made a watch case

I’ve finished making a watch case using indian rosewood, ash and suede, with brass lock and hinges. Here are the raw materials.raw materialsI started by veneering the rosewood and ash onto the base layer of mdf lipped with solid rosewood. I then routed grooves, which will house the base and lid panels. Then I accurately cut the ends of each side panel to a 45 degree components I used a steel band frame clamp to hold the sides in place during the glue-up. The box is glued up as one sealed piece. I cut the lid off on the bandsaw when the glue was dry.steel band frame clamp When the glue was set, I used a dovetail saw to cut 3 slots into each corner of the box. Each slot is about 0.6mm thick, which is the thickness of the veneer.key slots This is so that I could glue keys to strengthen each mitre joint. When I trim them down they will become almost invisible.veneer keys Next I made some 5mm thick inserts from the ash. I used my Woodrat routing jig to cut some 1mm deep slots to create the individual compartments. I find the woodrat jig is particularly good at cutting an accurate groove across the grain.woodrat I marked each slot with a pencil and lined up the cutter by eye.cutting a groove After dry fitting all the ash inserts to make sure everything fitted properly (which after the 3rd attempt they did!) I cut and glued the suede onto each vertical face. I stuck the suede to sticky card to make it easier to fit.suede liningHere’s the box with the hinges and lock fitted. Each compartment will contain a pillow for the watch to be wrapped around.
completed watch case open I applied an acrylic finish to the outside, with a wax polish.completed watch case

a new synth

I’ve made my own synthesizer! I bought it as a kit from Mutable Instruments. I soldered all the electronic components onto the circuit boards, and instead of buying the ready made enclosure, I decided to make my own from ripple ash.Shruthi topIt was tricky to cut all the holes in the correct places, even with a template.Shruthi backI was able to add a power switch to my design.Shruthi sideAnd here it is with the rest of my current rig. Even though it’s just a simple wooden case, it makes using the synth a more tactile experience, so I feel more inspired to use it. I’m looking forward to building another soon!



kitchen chests of drawers

Some photos of the completed chests of drawers…
petalsI was asked to make an extra piece with open shelves to house a microwave oven.

open shelvesThere’s oodles of storage space, especially with the inner drawers. All the drawers spring open by pushing on the drawer front.


I’m very happy with the way these substantial pieces sit in the finished kitchen. They complement the other solid items, such as the Aga, whilst the geometric patterns prevent everything looking too

hexagonal memorial bench

I was asked to make a memorial bench for Christ College in Brecon, UK. memorial benchIt was to match an existing hexagonal bench alongside it. When the school saw my version, the ground staff were asked to give the finish of the original a “refresh”.

bench closerI chose to make it from sweet chestnut, which is stable and durable for outdoor use. I left the wood without any finish, so it will turn a beautiful silver/grey over the years. The carving on the back rails reads “you’ll never walk alone”, in memory of a pupil who was a Liverpool FC fan. The tree in the middle is a red-leaf acer, to reflect the famous Liverpool kit. The letters were hand cut by expert letter carver Rupert King. Here he is in his workshop.

Rupert King

chests of drawers

I’m making 3 chests of drawers for a kitchen, with the following 2 designs…chest of drawers 2

chest of drawers 1I’ve selected the species of wood. The pale ones are ripple ash and aspen. The darker ones are plum and cherry.

Both designs are based on the same grid, so I stared by drawing this out full size.grid and compasses

I then had to decide on the direction of the grain for each piece by doing a rough sketch.

grain directionThere are many ways to cut veneer. The curves on both designs all have the same radius, so I bought a gouge with a curve that is near to what I need and roll it around the curve to get it as close as possible.cutting veneerI gradually piece the pattern together with veneer tape to form a patchwork.veneer tape This is how it looks underneath…taking

moon screen

I’ve made some screens to cover a bedroom alcove in a new house.moon screenThe house is by the sea, near Ramsey on the Isle of Man. I took some photos while I was there earlier this year and based the screen colours on a photo I took of a local beach. Dhoon BayI used 3 veneers to create the design. The dark wood is fumed oak. Fumed oak is made by exposing regular oak to amonia fumes until it turns to a dark shade. The light coloured veneer is poplar burr, and the the grey is a re-constituted veneer made by Alpi.raw materials

cabinet making course results

My cabinet making for beginners course has finished. We just about managed to complete the shelf pieces we were working on.planingHere’s Chris showing some excellent planing technique –  keeping the plane centred on the edge of the board with his front hand, whilst keeping the sole of the plane in good contact all the way along its length with his rear hand.finished shelfHere’s Francis with the finished shelf. He gave it a sparing coat of linseed oil. This really brought out the beautiful, natural lustre of the cherry.shelf fixed to wallHere’s the one that I made in place. It was a pleasure to have Chris and Francis as my first students. I hope they’ll be the first of many. Go to the Arts Alive Wales website for details of future courses.

double woodwork

I’m running a cabinet making course at Arts Alive Wales in Crickhowell. Here’s a photo of the beautiful space that we’re working in. As you can see, there’s plenty of space for more participants in the future.Arts Alive Wales spaceI’ve made 4 double workbenches out of plywood and MDF. They are substantial and sturdy, but can be taken apart after each class. I’ve provided a basic set of hand tools: pencil, engineers square, marking knife, chisels, tenon saw, mallet.

basic woodwork toolsHere are Francis and Chris cutting housing joints in pieces of scrap. The finished item will be a simple shelf piece in cherry.

watching TV in style

Here are some photos of the TV panel, drawers and shelves that I’ve completed and installed. I hope you like it all.TV panel, drawers, shelves and slate.The panel veneer is poplar burr with a solid cherry surround and ebony stringing for the dark line border. The surface is Welsh slate, Berwyn slate quarry near Llangollen.

drawers openI made the drawers from birch plywood and sprayed a high gloss lacquer on the fronts.

IMG_1524This is a detail of the drop flaps. I mitre cut the solid cherry edge and the ebony inlay. The hinges are hidden when the flap is closed.

glass shelvesThese two glass shelves are 12mm thick. I cut a 12mm wide slot with a router into the backing and simply slotted them in. The fit was tight enough to hold them in place without any more fixing. Phew!

Christmas craft fair

I attended the craft fair at Arts Alive in Crickhowel last night. It was a great evening, with a lovely friendly atmosphere. Here’s an auspicious photo of a double rainbow I saw over the Black Mountains as I set off.rainbow over Black MountainsHere’s a pic of my stall. I managed to sell quite a few of the cube tea-light holders you can see on the stall

And here I am being distracted by one of my most loyal customers!craft