A week away


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Established Member
19 Sep 2011
Reaction score
Nr. Swansea
I have just returned home after a week away. I went up north to Manchester to help a good friend out, she used to be a Member on the forum about 3 years ago and when she first joined was a raw beginner with no idea on the way forward so being the sort of chap I am I took her under my wing and guided her through the various stages of becoming a proficient scroller. In that time Tracey has had a couple of trips down to my place and this was my third trip up to hers.

The purpose of the trip was three fold, one to give her my old computer so she could make her own patterns, two was to get her some more equipment to make her workshop more complete so she could extend the range of items she makes for her craft fairs and thirdly to meet some of the members from the forum.

I set off at 6am one morning last week and drove up all the way through Wales hitting Chester and then on to Manchester. Some of the scenery driving through Wales was truly breathtaking and the whole driving experience quite pleasant despite taking nearly 6 hours to complete the journey.

Arriving at Tracey’s house just outside Manchester we unloaded the car, which was full, as I had several goodies for her. After a lovely cuppa and unwinding we set the computer up and I showed her the basics of pattern making using a variety of software previously installed for her.

The following day and after a good nights sleep we set off quite early to visit Martin, who was 60 miles away. The purpose of the visit was to kill two birds with one stone, one was to meet Martin and his lovely wife Fran and the other was for Martin to have a look at my Dewalt scroll saw. I had a new motor fitted to the saw some time ago and ever since I got it back from the dealer it did not sound right. I stripped it down some time back and consulted Martin, who was a great help. Anyway, I still had the problem and did not want to use the saw because I thought I might cause further damage.

We had a great time with Martin and Fran, it was a real eye opener for Tracey as she saw scroll saw work she never thought possible, some of the fret work we saw was very intricate and obviously time consuming to make, especially the framed locomotive that hung on the lounge wall, then there were the model planes that were works of art but the thing that I loved the most was a fly Martin had made that was on one wall, it was quite large and the detail was simply amazing. We could have stayed all day but we had so much to cram into the day and we had to say our good byes and bid Martin and Fran farewell but I was going back a few days later to collect the scroll saw as I felt that Martin would need a few days to rectify the problem. Twenty minutes after we left Martin sent me a text message to say the problem was solved and the saw was now running as sweet as a nut. I just could not believe what I was reading on my phone.

I have driven on many of the UKs motorways over the years and to get to Martin’s place we had to travel on the M62 for quite some distance and I can honestly say I have never experienced anything like it. It soon became clear that that this was totally different to what I am used to. As it was a weekday the motorway was busy, very busy, for most of the journey lorries occupied all of the first lane and most of the second lane. I have never seen so many lorries and many were almost bumper to bumper at 60mph. Then we had the kamikaze motorist ducking and diving between lorries and taking terrible risk. I was cut up 3 times and it seemed that every time we came to a slip road many motorist would force there way across 3 and 4 lanes of traffic to get off at the last possible moment. I am so glad I live in rural Wales.

Our next port of call was to see PeteG and his amazing workshop. We arrived and received a very warm welcome; Pete said it was as if we had known each other for years. It’s always nice to put a face to a name, especially after so long sending each other e-mails etc. Pete made us all a lovely brew and we sat under the porch and had a chat about many things scroll saw related and then came the big moment when we went up the garden to the workshop.

To say the workshop was a scrollers dream would be a vast understatement, it was more than that, very much more. What struck me when we first entered was how clean everything was, like walking into a doctors surgery, the second thing that struck me was the lighting, there was lots of it, every single item of machinery and working areas was very well lit. Then I was awestruck by the amount of equipment Pete had, every single machine and tool was a top quality product and very well looked after and maintained.

Like me Pete does the craft fairs and Pete showed me one item he made and he had just finished making 72 of them and the way he made them was so quick because he is geared up for that sort of production, he has recently finished making an intricate system in conjunction with his cross cut saw where he can cut lengths to an exact size, in this case birch faced plywood. This was a learning curve for Tracey and like out visit to Martin’s she saw things she never thought possible, especially Pete’s 3D reindeer. Again time was pushing on and we really did have to make a move for our next port of call so we said our good byes and away we went.

Our next stop was to visit a tool store to get a sander for Tracey’s workshop. Initially I had planned to visit Axminster tools but looking online at their sanders I thought they were very expensive, especially the basic ones, we just wanted a bog standard 4 inch belt with a 6inch disc so we ended up going to Machine Mart at Openshaw. Sadly they had just 3 sanders on display. One was one of those that have a 6inch disc with a one inch belt, the second one had a 4inch belt and a 6inch disc but it was rubbish but the third one was something else. Tracey had been saving her craft fair money for the extra equipment she needed and the third sander was a bit more than she had allowed for, had it come to the crunch I would have paid the difference but as it turned out she had enough.

The sander was brand new to the sander range and is called the CS48. It had a 4inch belt and an 8inch disc and a really powerful motor and very well built. I have really knocked Clarke gear in the past and as we looked at the 2 scroll saws they do I felt the bad things I have said about them in the past was truly justified. The sander we looked at was the only one they had left so Tracey bought that one and I treated her to a selection of belts and disc, after the guy carried it out and put it in the boot of my car we went and found an eating place and had a late lunch, I was really stuffed after that but we had to plod on. We then went to B & Q where I had to get some other bits and pieces for Tracey and then we could finally head for home. Got another brew underway and while Tracey was doing that I rang the Toolpost and ordered her a polishing system like the one I recently bought and that came two days later.

We got the sander set up in Tracey’s workshop. I fitted the tables, tracked the belt and then emptied the huge box to make sure nothing else was inside when a couple of items dropped out. One of them was obviously to do with dust extraction and the other was a large cloth bag, and then the penny dropped, this sander had built in dust extraction, I could not believe it for the price Tracey paid. I could clearly see the dust port on the sander and then I saw how the fitting in my hand snapped onto it, there was a ring with a built in clamp, this obviously went over the bag and then the neck of the bag went over the extraction port and then the ring came up and clamped onto the port making it air tight. We switched on the sander and the bag ballooned out like a chip extractor. I thought it was brilliant, we sanded several pieces of wood and I would say the bag collected 95% of the dust produced, fantastic. I tried putting pressure on the wood being sanded on the belt and kept increasing the pressure but the motor never flinched, do that on the rubbish one I have at home and it would stop. I am so impressed I am buying one this coming week.

The following day we had the pleasure of meeting Bryan, again it was nice to put a face to a name and he was completely different to what we had imagined. What a gent Bryan is, one of the old school. We loved every minute he was able to stay with us and we had a great time exchanging ideas and just generally talking shop. Bryan very kindly brought Tracey some planks of beautiful timber already planed and ready to go and he had made a little name sign for each of us from an exotic hardwood. I shall treasure it for the rest of my days. Tracey has put hers on her mantle piece; she really loved talking to Bryan and learnt so much from him.

The polishing machine came and that was set up and like the sander I showed Tracey how to use it and as always went through the safety aspect first. It did not take Tracey long to produce professional results. Tracey had been limited with the things she could make because she lacked the equipment and I really felt sorry for her because she was missing out on so many sales, she did not make any key racks and did not make any wall plaques, she did not make anything that involved more than one piece of wood and she did not have a router for rounding over the edges so before my trip I spent some time selecting patterns and then gluing them to various pieces of hardwood. Then I cut the outside on all of them and ran them on the router table so all the edges were nicely rounded over, I made a selection of key racks and plaques etc.

Prior to all of this I bought one of those large storage boxes with many different compartments and then ordered a pile of stuff for her, which included drill bits, glue, picture hangers, various sizes of screws, countersink bits, key chains, wooden shaker pegs and many other items she would need and while I was with Tracey she made a doggie rack for a collar and lead, a variety of key racks, a plaque with Live, Laugh, Love on with a nice little design above the text. She was so excited. I had also given her a router so all she needs now is a router table and I don’t suppose it will be long before she gets one and then it will be another trip up to set it all up for her. In the week I had been with Tracey she had learnt so much and was thrilled to bits with out visits to the various members.

Yesterday I went off to see Martin to collect the saw while Tracey was making more stuff and getting it ready for her craft fair today. Again I travelled on the dreaded M62 but being a Saturday and early morning it was no to bad and I had a good run, again I received a very warm welcome from Martin and Fran and a nice cup of coffee. Martin took me into his Aladdin’s cave and there was my scroll saw sitting on a bench, he switched it on and it just hummed, no knocking sounds coming from it, it was as sweet as a nut and I could not thank Martin enough, what a brilliant engineer he is. The problem lay in the arm that is connected to the motor so he packed out the bearing and he said hopefully it would run for many more years. Of all the people I know on the forum Martin is the one man that I just knew could fix this problem. I shall be eternally grateful to him.

It was up early this morning and off to the craft fair we went. While Tracey was setting up her stall I went in search of the Tesco store and filled up with diesel for the return trip. I got back to Tracey just in time to see her make her first sale, one of the key racks she had made the day before, I was so chuffed for her and she was over the moon. Sadly I had to leave a couple of hours later for the long journey back to Wales but I will be going back sometime in the near future to set up her router table and then Tracey’s workshop will be complete in every way.

Footnote. After I had got back home I had a message from Tracey, she had sold all the key racks she had made. Earlier one customer saw one of the key racks and asked Tracey if she could do something similar but with MUFC on it instead of the word "Keys" and Tracey said it would not be a problem. Obviously Tracey is excited to be able to make different things now and while she was at the craft fair came up with ideas for her own designs. When Bryan called on us earlier in the week we mentioned the craft fair and he said he would try and make it over despite the long distance he would have to travel. Unfortunately I had to leave before he arrrived but he brought Tracey a selection of blades and some patterns.
Many thanks, an excellent read :)

Tracey is lucky to have you as a mentor :) Glad you got to meet so many other like minded people on your holiday and had a fantastic time :)


Excellent post there Geoff !
You've got me wanting a sander now

Is This the same model ?
Thanks for all the comments guys. Cordy, that is not the same sander. It's a brand new one that Machine Mart have just started selling and it's called the CS48. When I had it set up I wanted to show Tracey how to change the belt, because the sander was a display model the staff had lost the manual so I sent them an e-mail and they replied within the hour and sent my a PDF format manual so if anyone wants a copy just e-mail me and I will send it. I almost have the belt off but a part had to be unsrewed to allow the belt to slide off, reading the manual it all became clear.
That Clarke disc/belt sander looks good in the pix, Geoff, thanks for posting, I must seriously think about it.

Just in case anyone else is thinking of a disc/belt sander, I bought an Einhell a year or so ago, and my advice is please DON'T (note here, a bit like Bosch with their green n blue tools, Einhell do a blue version of many of their tools - blue is the "DIY" range - and a red version ("Profi" range ).

Mine is the blue, and I've stripped it and reassembled it 3 times, but the casings are so poorly made (bent sheet metal) that I just cannot get the bearings on the belt shaft to line up properly. As the belt and disc are permanently connected by a belt, the result is so much resistance to normal free rotation that the motor has barely enough power left to sand the skin off a rice pudding. An awful tool, to the point where it's now stripped down awaiting my attempt to turn it into a small thickness drum sander (without disc).

In the meantime I must see if that Clarke, or anything like it, is available here - there are many here, some very good, but at prices well beyond my pocket, hence my interest in the Clarke.

Sorry, this is a bit of a thread drift from the OP but hope it saves someone from making the same mistake as I did.

AES":1hkmy3mf said:
In the meantime I must see if that Clarke, or anything like it, is available here - there are many here, some very good, but at prices well beyond my pocket, hence my interest in the Clarke.
I expect you can find them badged under many names. I have the SIP version which, apart from the paint job, is exactly the same. Had mine for about 9 months and very pleased with it. No problems. https://www.toolstoday.co.uk/sip-4-x-8-belt-disc-sander-500w-230v?gclid=CK_OnOj5mcgCFQj3wgod9acLVw