A day of serious rain. In the morning I drove up to Mount Belcher to look at a scratch in a table that I made some seventeen years ago. (The table, not the scratch.) The scratch turned out to be very minor, and responded to a light rub with 0000 steel wool soaked in tung oil. The cherry top has aged to a gorgeous deep glowing red-brown, largely thanks to the regular polishing and care it's had from the owners:
The chairs likewise have matured nicely. This is of course typical of cherry, which usually looks raw and a bit blotchy when new, and requires several months to really start to show some promise. I was so impressed by this that I came back in the afternoon and took some pictures of the table,as well as some other pieces I'd made for them but, unaccountably, had failed to record at the time.
Now the answer to last week's woodworking quiz - which is the indispensable tool?
No prizes offered for the obvious answer - the iPod. For the curious, the iPod is currently loaded with: Bach's Goldberg Variations; a collection of podcasts, including The Guardian Books podcast; The Guardian Daily; In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (this week: "The Discovery of Radiation"); the Macworld podcast (Office vs. iWork); Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's film reviews from the BBC (2012, "absolute rubbish") and Football Weekly (actually twice a week). Most of the iPod's space is taken up with an old standby - the complete Lord of the Rings, which I know so well as to relieve me of any need to pay close attention to all the words. After all, I do need to sometimes think about what I'm doing with all these potentially lethal tools when they're about to engage with some vital piece of wood.
I've been asked several times how I can concentrate on what I'm doing if I'm listening to Patrick O'Brien or "The Last Chronicle of Barset". Paradoxically, the answer is that audiobooks - of a certain kind - often seem to increase concentration, rather than diminish it; why this should be, I'm not sure. Somehow they damp down the trivial and annoying brain-chatter that inevitably accompanies repetitive tasks, making it easier to do things like sanding, finishing, repeat machining operations and the like. Naturally, when it comes to something requiring serious thought and problem solving, the pod is turned off.
Finally, here's a picture of my newest assistant, John, who popped over this afternoon (braving the downpour) and cheerfully vacuumed under the work bench:
I asked him abut the sunglasses. He told me that they kept his eyes from getting wet in the rain.