DIARY: Lakes, pencils, mantels and amps

Unrelated to the workshop we spent a very nice couple of days in the Lake District last weekend, although I can only take a small amount of credit for it being named a UNESCO World Heritage site the Monday after... We climbed Helvellyn along Striding Edge which is spectacular but quite adventurous. While up there I accidentally took a picture in black-and-white on my phone which I liked for the contrast and old-fashioned look, so I'll add that to the gallery below. I also persuaded my wife to visit the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick on the Sunday - although its very small and barely a museum as much as an advert for Derwent pencils I did find it quite interesting, despite my friends saying it would be dull, plus they had a very large pencil - see below. Interestingly (at least to me) the graphite for the pencils was mined nearby and known colloquially as "wad". It was so valuable that there was serious organised crime around its theft, one of the graphite thieving felons was known as the "Dandy Wad Stealer", a fact alone worthy of the whole trip. That's probably enough non CNC related information, I should probably get back to what's happening in the workshop.

I've alluded to a mantelpiece project I've been working on for a while now. The specification for this job is to create a smaller facsimile of an existing rather ornately carved example which dates from around the 1700's. Rather than employ any kind of 3D scanning technology, which I do hope to explore more in future, I decided to do it the 'old fashioned' way, at least as far as CNC carving goes. This involved taking a lot of photos and then using Vectric's Aspire software to create a lot of 2D vector lines and then from those I was able to virtually 3D model all the components. I've been working on the models for a few weeks on and off and have cut a couple of samples of the larger panels. This week the machine was out of action for a couple of days due to the workshops electrical supply having some issues, that was fixed Wednesday so I was able to cut various pieces of the detail carvings on Thursday. This included the capital faces, the corbels and some of the decorative moulding. Images of which are below. Cutting samples like this obviously adds time to the job but it is very useful to understand where the models may need to be tweaked and also to think about how something relatively complex like this might be carved and assembled. Hopefully we'll move onto that stage next week.

One other excellent diversion this week was discovering Jam Jar Amps. One of my new hobbies/challenges is learning to play guitar. I've left this way to late in life but am really enjoying it and at some point would like to fool-around with making an Electric guitar or two with the CNC. As part of my research into that process I came across a small company in Wales who makes an amplifier for a guitar that is literally inside of a Jam Jar with the speaker in the lid, all powered by a 9 volt battery. I ordered one which sounds surprisingly loud and also has a great raspy sound. I also ordered two of the kits (just the electronics and speaker) which I intend to make cool little amplifier boxes from using the CNC. Picture below of the Jam Jar Amp.