Not just a library project

It is not happening everyday, been given the chance to build something that is not a only a challenge, but also a real nice project. I started on a library project, an item that not only gives me the opportunity to use my skills as a woodworker, but also as a designer.

Part of the materials were already on side, although the idea of changing the original plans (without a backside) made it necessary to recut most of the wood. It is going to be an "all around the room" project.

All profiles are routed at the workshop. Yes there is "readymade" material available in different DIW shops but first of all in Portugal that's sold for ridiculous prizes and secondly, it will never fit custom made sizes. As this all is installed in a historic property, not one wall is straight, nor are floors and ceilings. It makes it more difficult but at the same time requires a feel for style and an eye for "simple details that fit the building.

Two walls are done... time for finishing touches...


Eight weeks away from home (part 3)

A week of almost a real holiday!

After the birthday party on the first of July we headed towards family around Almere, spend a day and a night and drove the next day to Haarlem where we unloaded the big BMW motorbike and, yes, loaded up an old moped for transport to Portugal


Although we wanted to meet some friends in Amsterdam and Bergen aan Zee, because of the one week delay, it turned out to be more wisely to drive from Haarlem straight to Den Helder where we would take the ferry to Texel, to visit family members who are living on the island.



At arrival we build a new bed in the van so we had our own place to sleep again. The nice weather, the see, the beach and the numerous moments of coffee or other liquid treatments on terraces, gave us a real feeling of being actually on a holiday. Sadly it could not last that long, and a few days later we would take the ferry, accompanied by a little niece that had a hard time letting go of our four legged Ella, back to the mainland and drive over the “Afsluitdijk” towards the North-East of the Netherlands.



Although The Netherlands are a small country, the distance between the western coast and the eastern border takes half a day when you are driving an old van like we do. It’s an enjoyable landscape though and having a dog traveling with you makes it necessary to stop at least every two hours. Time had come to meet old friends in Ter Apel.

Next time: a few days filled with old habbits...


Eight weeks away from home (part 2)

The first week in The Netherlands, A few small projects..

After our arrival at 5 in the morning we put out tent in the garden behind my sister’s house, we didn’t really know how much space we needed, as we never had put up the tent before. We bought it secondhand and it had been laying around for a few years. It turned out be a decent size with more than enough space for a couple and their dog. After a week we concluded that the quality was as promised, very sturdy and most important waterproof! Normally we would sleep in our van, but because of the big motorcycle we took along for delivery, we took out the bed that we normally have in there. The tent turned out a good solution because the van would be in a local garage for almost a week to repair the starter engine. In contrast with Portugal, it’s a privilege in The Netherlands for some garage to repair your car, it’s a service you should be grateful for to receive and in the end be thankful that they charge an hourly rate that’s only 8 times more than in Portugal. We had to change our plans, to first deliver all the goods, because of the repair and therefor had one week to do some small projects.


One of the reasons to go to The Netherlands was the invitation to a birthday party of an aunt, one that we should not miss, one more reason for our family to sponsor our trip. We decided to give her a new fence around her garden. It was a nice family project that turned out a successful birthday present.

As day’s past we got the news that my mother would get a new apartment, she sold her little house in the North of the Netherlands to return to the area my sisters live and we all grew up in. Only thing was waiting to get the keys so we could paint walls, decorate and move furniture. But it would take at least another week, so I started on a world map for my little niece, something she wanted for some time now and already asked me to make her before we left Portugal. Luckily there’s a DIY shop in almost every place in Holland, and so finding the materials and tools wasn’t such a big hassle as it is back home. It took some time cutting out the details with a hand scroll saw, and making borders with a solder iron, but in the end she got what she wanted on the wall of her bedroom.

After a week the van was repaired and we could finally start our tour thru the country to deliver stuff and visit family and friends...

Next time: A week that actually felt like a holiday!


Eight weeks away from home (part 1)

(about a road trip to The Netherlands to get a new table saw for the Not Just Sawdust workshop)

Now here’s a story that started with our (fourth) cheap table saw breaking down during the making of a video for our Not Just Sawdust YouTube channel. Paul Wilmore from Wilmore’s World of Wood, started a crowdfund action, out of the blue, some followers donated by Paypal and within a few weeks we had a decent budget for another table saw. No, not for a top of the bill professional machine, but nevertheless a reasonable amount to think about a portable version of a DeWalt or Makita. I will be for ever grateful to the woodworking community, it is indeed a special bunch of people. However after reading reviews on all sorts of brands and models I came to the conclusion that all these machines are great for those who use it at weekends in their garage shop, good enough for the experienced hobby woodworker, but here in Portugal it will be used practically daily and often gets abused with hardwood, recycled beams and so on. Next to that I was looking for a saw that could cut at least up to 80mm or preferably more. After a few disappointments with sellers on Ebay and other websites, I finally got hold of a Metabo (well in fact it’s an Elektra Beckum with another brand name on it) that can do the job I want it to do. The only problem is that it was located in The Netherlands and I had to find a way to get it into our Portuguese workshop. What happened after that would turn out to be an adventure...

Hitting the road...

The van was loaded with our personal stuff, a big BMW motorcycle and some boxes to be delivered at different addresses in The Netherlands. All that with only one purpose, the extra budget to pay for fuel and toll roads. Next to the donations from family members it should be enough to reach Holland, from there on we could only hold on to the words of our family that all would be arranged.
You’ve probably heard the news about the bushfires in Portugal, on the day more than 60 people were killed by the flames, we found out that the van was leaking cooling fluid, and decided to call for help. Our friend and mechanic George, was out for a day and we had to wait until the next day, resulting in, us not driving these roads in central Portugal where the devastating events took place.

Yes, we would have been on that exact route where people got trapped on the road and died in their cars. It took some real good thinking to leave central Portugal for that matter, because fires had, and still are after almost 2 months, all around. Nevertheless we did leave for The Netherlands 2 days later than planned, driving on the toll roads towards the Spanish border. It went remarkably well, although the van had some troubles keeping up to speed when climbing a few mountains, but with such a heavy load that was to be expected. The whole nightly journey thru Spain was over before we knew it and we crossed the French border with the sun coming up behind us.

Casteljaloux, Aquitaine, France

We had our first real coffee and an ice cream, just relaxing on a terras to be driving of later towards Periguex and than Limoges. We slept most of the day at a parking lot just after crossing the border and although the first night went very well, France is something else... busy, toll roads, even the ones that should not supposed to be. And... no Leclerc or other supermarket open after 8 PM... it’s turned out to be even harder to find a fuel station, other than the ones on the toll roads. We ended up just outside Paris around 4PM, waiting for the end of rush hour. Hot, hot, hot! We drove during the night from the French border to Limoges and had some sleep outside an early closed McDonald's.. well everything was closed. No fuel station anywhere. Suddenly major problems with the van that just doesn’t start when we want it to. We slept a bit more in the morning, were forced to use a toll road to get the van tanked up with diesel.

After a nervous day, there we were, at Aire De Service De Limours briis sous Forges. Finally some service in France... Free WiFi and charging stations. Coffee was good to. (Non-portuguese prizes) Nervous again because the starter engine only worked when it wanted to. We took a gamble to stop there, parked the car backwards on a small slope just incase as we were both to tired to be concentrated in rush hour traffic... You could say we had an adventurist journey so far where all that was planned didn't happen....

Traveling thru Paris went well, we drove of at around 9PM. Never thought this could happen but for some reason my phone had lost all that was on.. apps, pictures, videos.. but, yes, despite the worries about starting again after a stop, we made it to the Netherlands. After an all night drive passing Lille, Antwerp and the flat parts of Holland, we arrived at 5am Thursday morning. We set up our tent in my sister's garden and chilled... Some real issues had to be solved with the van first, after that we could do a tour thru The Netherlands and deliver our packages and the big Motorcycle.

Next time.. A few small projects and driving around in The Netherlands.


Table saw purchase... an update.

Yes, it's been a while since the last update. I think it has something to do with "Murphy's Law" and so one disaster is mostly accompanied by a few others. We didn't have internet for 9 days at the lonesome hill and because of that also missed an order for a nice creative project. However there's some good news to! We bought a new (secondhand) table saw. Yes, a secondhand one but in a higher range of quality. It comes with a real exiting extra, namely that we will personally collect it 2500 kilometers from the rural vicinity of central Portugal. For that, lot's of preparations and planning has to be done. Our old Iveco bus was kindly repaired by a friend (new driveshaft, lot's of bearings, time belt, etc. which makes it drive like on the first day we bought it 17 years ago. It was our job to make the exterior live up to it's renewed technical state. It's a big van so the sanding took some time, but hey, we didn't have internet so..

As the budget didn't leave room for a professional paint job at one of the local body shops, we decided to go old fashioned all the way with just plane brushes and some masking tape. The paint cabinet was sorted out and we found 3 buckets of "Bronze Green", 1 "hammerite red" and one "standox industrial yellow" . The only thing we bought for this project were 2 buckets of neutralisation primer, some kind of chemical substance that makes it possible to paint a surface which has different kinds of old paint. It's amazing how well this went. Because of the limited amount of paint we had to decide how to use it... well yellow for the roof it is!

After 10 days our old mint-green van looks more sophisticated in a colour that reminds a bit of "English racing green". There was even enough left in the last bucket to paint the inside of the front doors, so it looks good from the inside to. The last stripe was done in Hammerite red, the bumpers were sprayed black. It took almost 2 weeks and just 36 euro to transform that old Iveco from a sour sight to a nice traveling van again. Our first ride was to a local Artisan fair....

Now, I can hear you think. What about the purchase of a table saw? As a matter of fact, the work on the van is one of the preparations to get that table saw into the workshop. All the pieces of a complicated puzzle will come together in a few weeks. We managed to get items to be transported to the Netherlands from Dutch people over here in Portugal (and some deliveries back), which contributes to the costs of diesel and toll roads thru Spain and France. The table saw (which I bought online in Holland) is collected by a fellow woodworker in The Netherlands and stored at his workshop. This whole adventure is to special not to make some video's of for the Not Just Sawdust channel, and so I will try to film the "road trip" thru Europe on our way to collect our new table saw. Oh.. one thing I can reveal, the brand name of the saw: METABO


A new table saw, the journey into the world of sellers..

As you might know by now, I'm looking to purchase a table saw. No, not the cheap crappy ones I used to buy every 18 months or so but, because of all the help from my fellow woodworkers around the world and especially Paul Wilmore from Wilmore's World of Wood who started a crowdfunding, this time a "real" one. The first thing I did was looking for a secondhand professional table saw. I always look for tools that fit in my 300 year old workshop, and so I found one that really stood out for me. The price was right, the brand something that would suit very well. Located in the Netherlands, but because all the family lives there it wouldn't be a problem to collect it. However, there are so many people who put a few pictures on a selling site, name a number and than... well, nothing! I offered the asking price, send a personal email to explain the situation of me being in Portugal, contact address, etc. Guess what... no response whatsoever.

That buying on-line is a mind scrambling activity became clear after looking for a new machine. First I had to find out that certain machines with Dutch and German like brand names are in fact just all the same Chinese machines sprayed in a different colour and marked with a fancy logo. Although the budget is huge from my point of view, a stationary table saw (of a decent brand) will be just a step to far. However there are enough options left within the budget that did make a name for themselves.

Now, at first I looked at a Makita, a well known brand and I do own a router that is absolutely the best quality tool, next to the Kress drill, I ever owned (bought secondhand her in Portugal). Reviews on the MLT100X are from calling it a disgrace for Makita, others are very happy with the saw (although everybody makes adjustments to the fence, but hey, that's what I would do to)

So this machine is still an option and there are certain sellers who will ship to Portugal for a reasonable price. The total price isn't all that different if you add the shipping costs. Of course there are two versions, for me it would not be that important whether it has a the carriage with wheels or not. I was on the point of ordering one but... The last couple of weeks I worked in a friends workshop (making a staircase out of reclaimed beech) with a Metabo magnum 1256, it's a bit of an older machine but it is impressively accurate and sturdy. On the search for a Metabo my enthusiasm was tempered by the prices for the new version of that Saw, the TS254. 
Yes, prized well over budget, but still.. a tool I now am familiar with, I do like and would fit (size wise) in the workshop. I gave up on that thought until I saw it appear at an other seller. The prize seemed to go down.

Still far over the limit of the budget but it made me decide, despite the anxiety to have a new friend in the workshop, to wait a bit and look further. And than... Yes, an other seller offered the same table saw for a price that is within the budget! I emailed to ask about the shipping costs to Portugal and was happily surprised about the answer. 

So I decided to order my current first choice table saw! But at the "Paypal payment section" suddenly the shipment turned out to be a problem.

I emailed again, asking what the problem is and how to proceed to order this tablesaw, no answer yet. So there you are, the stress of a woodworker isn't initiated by the danger of working with sharp power tools, it's how to get one.... I'll keep you up to date!