Bicycles and Wood?

I had a friendly 'phone call yesterday asking if I'd be interested in contributing a piece (of what?) to a show and auction to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief . SRAM is a bike-parts manufacturer in Chicago, and last year they held their first pART PROJECT , which essentially gives the artist a box of assorted bike hardware and lets them get on with things. This is pretty much a catnip project for me, and hence it will have to be shoe-horned (un-mix that metaphor.Ed.) into the late winter and spring schedule. Frankly, there isn't a lot of space in this "schedule", since a trip to the UK and France and Picton, Ontario, is planned for March and April (six weeks??), and then there is the matter of boat bottom painting and general maintenance prior to a planned extended summer's sailing to the Broughton Archipelago, and then North to what is now called "The Great Bear Rain Forest" - otherwise more easily visualized as the bits and pieces on the East side of Hecate Strait, north of Queen Charlotte Sound. (She still rules the waves, but has been booted out of Haida Gwaii.)  I have no idea what parts will be in the box - that's rather the point, I suppose; but gears, surely? Chain? Crank? Hubs and bearings? The simpler components of the Orrery?

Well, we must pay for our fun — or, at least in our OAP condition*, a portion of it — so it's heads down in the shop, a re-run of The PIckwick Papers & Maturin/Aubrey on the iPod, plus the Guardian podcasts (Football Weekly etc.), and several long-booked furniture projects to complete. (As well as any bindery equipment that is ordered. Two fore-edge ("foredge"?) presses, certainly.)

* It surprises me that the Canadian welfare state is happy to pay us a monthly stipend to help us sail around one of the loveliest coasts in the world. Shouldn't we be "looking for work" - or at least employed in some 21st. century equivalent of oakum picking? Crushing cans and cardboard at the recycling centre? Sweeping the streets of Ganges? Rooting through the island's ditches and verges for discarded cans and evil looking black plastic bags of suspiciously squishy garbage? Painting yellow lines in the middle of the island roads? (Well, no-one else will undertake it.) 
What have I done  to deserve this, other than remain alive? The appalling Harper is no doubt meditating on the same subject, with similar conclusions. 

The Slow Learning Movement

I like to turn a nice little detail on the ends of all the wooden screw-threads that are used for book-binding equipment. It's easy enough to do - or it should be - but I kept catching the skew or the small gouge when forming the bead. I had rather thought that I was past such nuisances, but one never is. Various book presses have had  shorter screw threads than intended - which, since they're too long anyway, is not critical. On the other hand, approaching a simple detail with tightly clutched chisel and clenched teeth is the mental equivalent of planing against the grain. No good can come of it.

It took far too long to figure out why this was happening. Actually, it took about ten seconds when I actually got around to thinking about it; it was the thinking about it that took a long time; I quite like what I take to be the Confucianist approach to obstacles  - mere rocks in the stream, that in the fullness of time will wear away. Only they don't; they get bigger.

The solution?


The wooden thread is returned to the lathe for finishing. 

The cause of my problem should be immediately apparent.


Spinning around. Note the gouge rather than the skew. A sure sign of insecurity, water wings at the shallow end.


Aaargh. It happened again.  And again.

(Solution in next issue.)