As noises go, there’s nothing much worse than banging.
About the only thing that’s completed in my life at the moment is my workshop door.
I spent far too much money to get it right. We focused on the acoustics to keep out the noisy world when filming, and put in some beautiful reflective glass to allow in the light without too much heat.
The door’s just right.
Except there’s these two bastard crows that whale on it every single morning. They’re not tapping, they’re knocking the crap out of themselves and the door.
Every morning they wake me up at 4 o’clock. It’s ok because that’s the time I like to get up, but then every night it’s the same. It’s none stop banging. The amount of scenes I’ve cocked up when filming due to these crows; it’s become my new frustration.
Machines For Peace & Quiet
Whenever I’ve touched on recommending any kind of machines it’s been for your donkey tools. A bandsaw and possibly a planer to save time and energy at the roughing stage of a job.
But something else that I would definitely consider if you were doing apartment woodworking, or working in a built up area, would be one of those dead cheap little bench top morticers.
Banging on a chisel will do nothing but do your neighbours’ head in.
Woodworking by hand is a quiet hobby bar morticing.
But morticing is the most anti-social job you can do. I feel guilty now even though I live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so I still don’t like to mortice in the morning.
Hollow chisel morticers are highly efficient, and you don’t have to spend much at all. If I was worrying about creating too much noise then it’s a machine that I would consider.
Just because the mortice and tenon is such a staple joint, and I like to work early.
This is the kind of way that I look at machines now. It’s not necessarily how can I give myself an advantage on speed here, the speed’s not the issue, but sometimes a machine can give you advantages in other ways.
A cordless drill for example gives me a spare hand. It’s not that drilling by hand is slow, it’s just that I don’t have to clamp the work when using a cordless drill.
It is weird that as you progress with hand tools you look at machines in a different way.
I like hand prepping because it allows me to take some time and watch a bit of YouTube (last week I watched a chap eat about ten pizzas in one sitting all whilst productively prepping. And he was built like a rake?). You can listen to a bit of the radio if you want. I actually look forward to this stage of a build because you’re thinking about the project. Let’s say you’re building a big old chest and have a lot of prepping to do, you can really mull things over and get to know the project in your head, because it’s just repetitive work.
Planing on machine, it’s a pair of sweaty ear muffs, sticky goggles. It doesn’t give me owt.
Unusually the issue with morticing by hand is noise.
And a morticer is bloody quiet compared.
When I was building workbenches I burnt through quite a few morticers, so whilst I’m no machinery expert I do consider myself a bit of a connoisseur with these things.
The reason for this broad experience was that I tried to get by using the wrong machine for the job.
The joints were huge and needed several passes, and the piddly mortice chisel just bounced right off the kiln dried ash.
It was hateful work because it was so beyond the ability of the machine.
In the end only a nigh on one tonne hunk of cast Wadkin with a chain got close to being man enough for this daily grind. But then I got impatient with that and returned to a good old stout chisel.
The moral of the story is to get a machine that’s built a little beyond your needs. You can get some good kit pretty cheap if you follow this rule, and it’ll last you well too.
If you’re cutting mortices in pine then a lightweight bench top machine will be a joy to use.
These machines are simple and dependable when used within their limits, though don’t push beyond that or things may start getting messy.
Forcing a blunt, crappy chisel through hardwood will give you some grief – burning and a tendency for cutting on the piss.
And cutting wide mortices around the inch mark will certainly be testing on even the biggest machine.
But for general furniture making you’ll be fine with a nice cheapy, and it may well be kinder to the neighbours than banging like the bastard crows.