Monday, 26 October 2009
I absolutely love this time of year, there is so much going on. It's like the point in a run where you have just broken through 'the wall' and seem to be pulled along by a wave of momentum.
Christmas is a real make-or-break time for us and the work that began at the end of August is now coming close to fruition. Thankfully this year we have had a very strong third quarter, so cashflow for Christmas stock is much less of a concern than usual.
Around now we start receiving stock deliveries from our suppliers. All the new products have to be photographed and listed, the magazines need artwork for the Chistmas advertising campaign and in the warehouse there is lots of work to do pre-packaging kits and making room for new lines (including selling off all the odds and ends on ebay).
The C.I. Fall bevelled firmers are already up on the website and the first of the morticers will follow shortly. The new Famag carbide tipped augers and Forstner bits are up as well and we have just added new website sections for Christmas gift ideas and stocking stuffers.
A huge box arrived this afternoon from Mora of Sweden with lots of new knife blades and assorted goodies and we are eagerly awaiting a pallet of planes from Quangsheng Tools in China (don't worry we won't be trying to fob anyone off that they are American!). They have however been developed in close conjunction with Woodcraft, who are American, and are tipped to be reasonably good copies of early Stanleys made in cast steel, bronze and brass. Combined with a selection of optional upgrade blades by Ray Iles I think they could prove quite popular.
At the same time there are family traditions to keep up with as well - last weekend we got together with some mates and pressed a batch of cider for Christmas 2010, I reckon 80 gallons should be about enough to slake our thirst from next year's Christmas campaign!!!
Thursday, 8 October 2009
At the end of last week two big parcels arrived from Sheffield full to the brim with beatifully turned beech teardrop handles. I have some wallets on order for the individual ones and our French suede tool roll supplier was finally able to make a delivery last week as well, so I've got something to put the sets in too. The latest batch of rolls are a tadge lighter in colour than the old ones but still a superb example of hand workmanship.
I wasn't happy with the grinding on the morticers, so I reground a sample and sent it off with a couple of originals to a very talented bladesmith in Scotland called Chris Grant. We'll see what he comes up with but I've got a feeling it will be rather good!
The finishing on the bevelled firmers is still not perfect but bevelled firmers were never intended to be used for fine joinery, they are supposed to be affordable general purpose chisels that can take a bit of stick.
With Chris sorting out the morticers and John sorting out the wallets, I can get on with the finish for the handles. I tried about a dozen different finishes but the winner by a country mile was oiling with sun bleached Swedish linseed oil, followed a couple of days later with pure beeswax polish. I use 25% first grade Cornish beeswax and 75% natural pine turpentine warmed in the sun until the two blend together. It brings a warm golden hue to the timber and a really comfortable feel in the hand. The turpentine is also Swedish - distilled from pine roots - so even the finishing has a strong Swedish element and reflects the Swede's passion for nature and aversion to unnecessary complexity.
Here's the first batch after handling and finishing, 120 down and about 500 to go!
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Just in, news from Mora of Sweden that the military green version of the new 2010 is going into production. The 2010 uses the same stainless steel blade as the popular Mora 2000 but has a more ergonomic handle with a finger guard and small ridged areas for extra grip with a variety of holds. The handle is made from a similar material to our Gyokucho Eva grip saws - a hard plastic that feels soft to the touch and is amazingly grippy, even with wet hands.
As a general purpose knife I reckon they have got these just about spot on, the scalloped tip means you have a strong blade for heavier work but a fine, slightly flexible tip. We are be among the first companies in the world to stock the civilian version of this knife and will have the military version in stock as soon as the first batch are finished.