Thursday 25 December 2014

12 Tips Of Christmas

Those of you who ‘like’ our Facebook page will have noticed that every day in the run up to Christmas, we posted a top woodworking tip from a host of woodworking experts who have worked with Triton in the last year. Those of you who missed any of the tips, don’t panic, as we've posted all 12 of our 12 Tips Of Christmas below!

Saturday 13th December – Nick Rawlings – Tip no. 1
Our first woodworking tip came from Nick Rawlings of N R Furniture, who came second in this year's Triton Woodworker of the Year competition with his ‘Shifting Sands’ table.
Nick's Top Tip: Use paste wax on the bed of a thicknesser to lubricate the beds and allow wood to pass through with ease. This helps to reduce the chance of injury from having to push too hard.

You can see Nick's entry and read about his inspiration behind the design on our website:

Sunday 14th December – Ben Crowe – Tip no. 2
We first met Ben at Yandles Woodworking show, when he asked us to prove our claim that our MOF001 router was the best router in the world. Needless to say, we did just that and he’s been a true Tritonite ever since!

Ben's Top Tip: When using a piece of sandpaper folded in half, it can sometimes slip and slide over itself as you work (if you're not using a sanding block that is). I fold it into three so that two faces of the gritted side of the paper are touching and therefore grip together so you have a more precise tool to work with.

Ben made a video to demonstrate his tip above, which you can see here:

Check out our blog to read about the specially commissioned Triton guitar (pictured) designed by Ben & his team:

Monday 15th December – Yandles – Tip no. 3
Our 3rd tip came from the team at Yandle & Sons, home of the very first Triton Academy!

Yandle & Sons’ Top Tip: When drying freshly sawn timber, the rule of thumb is 1 year per inch of thickness until workable.

Head to our blog to check out the video of our time at the Yandles Spring Show earlier in the year (we'll be there in April next year, too!) :

Tuesday 16th December – Anthony Bailey – Tip no. 4
Day 4 brought us a tip from Woodworking Plans & Projects Editor Anthony Bailey, who is a big believer in thoroughly planning a job to avoid problems.

Anthony’s Top Tip: While it is perfectly possible to just get stuck into a new project, I definitely favour planning the whole thing through from design, to working out material quantities. With larger items, it is crucial to ensure that transportation and access issues have been addressed. It isn't clever turning up to a client's property and realising that a tight winding staircase prohibits access or creates damage to both furniture and surrounding decor!

This is where knock-down or sectional pieces can be designed right from the start to be safe and easier to handle. Mouldings and other visual devices can be used to disguise joins effectively. I used to install a lot of fitted furniture: checking wall angles and shapes - and things like radiator pipework that could foul a piece of furniture - at the surveying stage, saved a lot of time and stress later, even if it meant using hand-shaped scribing strips to infill around the edges!

Earlier in the year, Anthony reviewed our Plunge Track Saw for the magazine, and you can read his thoughts on it here: 
Wednesday 17th December – Mike Booth – Tip no. 5
Our very own Triton Product Manager, Mike Booth, contributed our 5th woodworking tip!

Mike's Top Tip: When making larger pieces of work, there comes a point where you have to put the thing together and glue it up. Even with the best quality cramps, it’s important to make sure the job is pulled straight and square (even more so if you are using expanding polyurethane glue!). Try to keep glue off the cramps as this can cause a stain that might get transferred to your work and is difficult to remove - a sheet of paper between the cramp and the glued parts of the work can help, though worst case you can sand that off if it sticks. Wipe or scrape off damp glue before it sets, though once it starts to go off it is best left to set properly when you can clean up by sanding, either by hand or with a small sander such as the Triton Palm Sander.

Mike has had a very busy 2014 bringing us a whole host of new products which will be coming to a store near you soon (including the new T20DD 20V Drill Driver pictured above). You can read more about these new products in our ‪blog post from our time at the International Hardware Fair in Cologne earlier this year:

Thursday 18th December – Patrick Burnett Wooden Surfboards – Tip no. 6
We dropped in to visit Patrick Burnett from Burnett Surfboards in Kommetjie near Cape Town on our recent South African road trip, and he gave us the below woodworking tip on how to easily edge wood for clean laminations!

Patrick’s Top Tip: This is an easy way to remove unevenness, bows and curves along edges. It will mean that your pieces of wood will glue together seamlessly on any lamination project - tables, cutting boards, even wood surfboards.

Fit your router with a straight edge bit. If you're using a Triton router table, use the shims provided and place them in position on the 'out' feed side of the router fence. Using a ruler, set the cutting edge of the router bit against the ruler. The 'out' feed side of the router fence will also line up along this axis. The set-up is now such that the 'in' feed side of the router fence is slightly indented from the cutting blade of the router bit and the 'out' side of the router fence. This means that as you feed a piece of wood from the 'in' side of the fence, the blade will cut a thin strip from the wood before it moves onto the 'out' fence. As your stock feeds onto the straight edge of the router fence make sure that you maintain the pressure on the stock so that it feeds flush with the out fence. It may be necessary to do more than one pass, but after following this process you should have a clean, smooth edge that is gun-barrel straight.

You can see the video from our time with Patrick on our blog, where he talks about his work and the drive behind his creative process. There’s some pretty impressive surfing action too:

Friday 19th December – Nigel Rose – Tip no. 7
Nigel was a runner up in this year’s Triton Woodworker of the Year competition and sent us our 7th tip.

Nigel's Top Tip: I have now come to the conclusion that a clean work area is best and therefore I tend to hoover after most operations  - I have a small hoover by the bench so it’s really easy to get the hose and pick up the dust / debris from the last operation -  just makes the environment much cleaner and easier to work in. Also means dust extraction on all machine tools. As part of that I put the tools away a couple of times a session - very easy to get a build-up on the work bench which clogs the work surface. So every tool has a home and I try to force myself to put it back after use. If I don't do it immediately then I do have a clear up a couple of times each session. It’s the old adage - little and often!

You can see Nigel's entry of Woodworker of the Year - his ‘Anne Marie Spider’ table - on our website:

Saturday 20th December – Yandles– Tip no. 8
The team at Yandles are so knowledgeable, we were supplied with a number of woodworking tips, so we decided to squeeze in another from the Somerset timber wizards!

Yandles Top Tip 2:  When using an oil-based finish, apply the first coat and leave for 20 minutes, then use a soft rag to remove excess oil and leave to dry. Re apply second and third coats sparingly with a soft rag.

Yandles are running a series of woodworking and turning courses in the Triton Training Academy at their base in Martock, Somerset. You can see the full list of courses available on their website:

Sunday 21st December – Blackdown Shepherd’s Huts – Tip no. 9
The Blackdown Shepherd’s Huts team, based in South Somerset, apply a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern design to produce a range of unique, bespoke living spaces. We will be revisiting them in the New Year to look at their latest workshop upgrade.

Blackdown Shepherd Huts’ Top Tip: When joining multiple boards for a panel, such as a door or table top, make sure you alternate the end grain so the curve of the end grain goes in opposite directions.  This will help avoid warping and bowing of the panel.  See diagram below:

Check out our blog post from when we visited the team earlier in the year:

Monday 22nd December – Ben Crowe – Tip no. 10
Our 10th tip was another golden woodworking nugget from Crimson Guitars’ Ben.

Ben’s Top Tip 2: When sharpening a gouge or carving chisel, use waterstones or slip stones to get your initial edge sharp. However, a truly sharp tool needs a polished surface and perfect intersection between front and back planes.  I use the half-sharpened gouge or chisel to cut a groove or bead into a piece of soft close-grained wood which obviously perfectly matches the shape of the tool.  I then put a spot of chrome polish, Autosol for choice, and use that perfectly shaped piece of wood to polish up the edge of the gouge or carving chisel to perfection.

You can see more of Ben and his team's work on the Crimson Guitars website:

Tuesday 23rd December – Alan Miller – Tip no. 11
Alan was our Triton Woodworker of the Year 2014 winner and provided us with our 11th tip.

Alan's Top Tip: For a job - in this case a guitar body, but it could be a large box for instance - which requires a number of cramps, I use a potter's wheel. The jig is on a board and the wheel is turned as you add the clamps. The space under the tip wheel makes adding the clamps very easy.

To find out about the inspiration behind Alan’s winning piece, head to our website and click on the PDF link: 

Wednesday 24th December – Steve Hewson - Tip no. 12
Our final tip came from Triton's Brand Manager, Steve Hewson!

Steve's Top Tip: With the shortest day out of the way we are already thinking about summer in the Northern Hemisphere Many woods take on a very pleasing, deeper more subtle colour once aged in the sun, but did you know you can accelerate the process to achieve that look?  To do this, apply a generous coat of linseed oil and let it soak in for a while before wiping off the excess. Then put your piece outside fully exposed to the sunshine, turning it a few times to keep the colour change even. The effect will show within the day but keep it up for a week and you will have a deep finish that’s really pleasing. The outcome varies by species, with Cherry being one of the most effective

See Steve in action at the IWF fair in Atlanta earlier this year, where he talks about a product coming to launch next year. Hint: an Australian icon has been given a very big makeover! 

From a frosty UK, we are wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Woodworking New Year!

Monday 15 December 2014

Quality Woodwork; Factory Tour of Fechters South Africa

Fechters furniture manufacturer in Knysna, Western Cape, is the latest stop in our series of visits to masters of wood in South Africa. MornĂ© Smith is the operations manager for Fechters and showed us around their factory.  It is a fascinating place; one of the few yards where raw timber comes into the compound at one end and leaves the other end as finished goods.
Established in 1936, Fechters continues its commitment to the traditional “Cape Dutch style” designs and to training local young people to produce a high level of craftsmanship. 

That’s not to say this company is lost in the past: modern manufacturing processes and more contemporary designs coupled with old-fashioned skill and experience are producing some outstanding work.  Keep an eye out for the live edge table with a glass centre being finished prior to exhibition - the butterfly joint is a beautiful piece of work.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Best of the Woodworking Web - Shaped on all Six Sides: Wooden Boat Carpentry

Shaped on all Six Sides from New Canada on Vimeo.

Another golden nugget from the Woodworking Web. Andy Stewart is a wooden boat builder based in Washington. Boat carpentry is in Andy's blood, and the tools he is using today are the same tools his ancestors used in the craft generations before him.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Woodworking Book Review : Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing, by Jeff Jewitt

Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing By Jeff Jewitt

It's not how you start, it's how you finish! OK, couldn't resist that, but for many woodworkers the finish applied to their work is the crowning glory for their efforts. However, achieving that perfect finish isn't always easy.

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing by Jeff Jewitt is now ten years old but continues to be the reference guide for finishing techniques from the ever-popular stable of the Taunton Press. Though the book is written as a dip-in-and-out guide and a long-term reference to be used in the workshop, it makes no assumptions and is helpful for woodworkers whatever their skill level.

Much of the most important information is where you would expect it, at the start of the book with detailed instructions about setting up a suitable environment. Fortunately, the author recognises that, for most of us, a purpose-built spray room, in a separate annex wing of our extensive workshop is, though desirable, not always feasible, and he gives simple instructions for the mortals amongst us to achieve an effective working space within a reasonable budget. 

After the obligatory section on suitable tools required for finishing, where the general rule seems to be one more than you anticipated for your last project", the author gets into the meat of the subject.

Surface preparation: there is no easy way round this folks, if you want the very best result from your work before applying any kind of finish you have to prepare the surface thoroughly. For me, this is probably the best part of the book. All the basic techniques are covered, using both hand and power tools together with some great tips and techniques that on your own would take years to figure out.

The section on fixing defects will be invaluable for those of us who might be a little over-zealous with the glue pot or have to make do with less than perfect stock to make our projects. Recognising that a blemish must be hidden well before applying a finish coat is an important lesson and there are some excellent techniques here to help the woodworker master the art of concealment.

Using stains or adding colour, artificial or natural dye to your work can have a dramatic effect on the outcome especially for decorative / art pieces. Getting the dye to take with the shade you expect can be a trial and error process but this guide gives clear instructions helping you get closer to your goals with fewer experiments" on the way. 

The remainder of the book is a terrific work of reference to help you choose the right finish for each job, the materials you require and the application technique particular to each skilled operation. Not something to read cover to cover, but worth a browse as you contemplate how to finish that prize project you have been slaving over for months.

Would I buy this book? The short answer is yes; I can find no other reference with quite the depth of information on such a range of techniques in one place. Sure, there are books just about French polishing or applying a stain but this volume pulls all of the best information into a single place. Although it has been ten years since it was first published, this guide is as good as ever.

Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing (Complete Illustrated Guides (Taunton Press))by Jeff Jewitt is available from  and other retailers online.  ISBN-978-1-62710-767-9