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  • Pete

It's been a busy few weeks

Give it the boot or jack it in?

Neither actually, I finally managed to meet up with my friends and deliver the boot jack that was requested about 4 months ago. It should be a fairly simple task to make a boot jack, the internet has loads of designs, but they all pretty much have the same issue in that they are only one boot wide. This means if you have muddy boots you put one boot on it to pull off the first boot, then have to try and avoid the mud when using the socked foot to pull the other boot. So after a bunch of googling for better designs, I settled for just making a wider one so that you can step on two halves.

Then I got some dimensions from the internet and came up with a design. Mark's a Scottish Rugby fan, so it is supposed to resemble a ball on a kicking tee.

However, either Americans have small feet or the internet lies, because the dimensions were way too small, so a bit of redesigning and here we have the final product.

Mark's reaction when I gave it to him was "Wow, I wasn't expecting it to be good." Praise indeed.

Sun's out Guns out

Back in March I mentioned that I had a request to build some wooden cap gun handles for a friend's son. Well they are now complete and delivered so I can finally reveal them!

The toys guns were nice diecast items but were let down by the light, cheap plastic handles, so my task was to make some nice wooden additions. I found some scrap beautifully figured walnut pieces that would be ideal.

The basic shapes were cut, but there was a lot of faffing and hand dremelling to create recesses for the pistol stock to fit and attach to. The rifle was even more difficult since there was no internal frame to the stock so I had to make an insert that attached to the body and the stock then attached around.

I found some used shell casings online and inset these into the handles along with a monogram logo.

I also made a sheriff's badge out of some leftover walnut from the bottle coaster project last month, again with shell cases and the initials inlaid.

Finally I built a box out of some scraps from the lockup, (Idigbo I think?)

The space in the case is for the other pistol that he already has.


Whilst working on the guns I also knocked up a couple of coasters and a bottle holder from scraps left over from the previous bottle coaster project. I filled these using gold flake epoxy but messed up the mix so the coasters are a different colour.

Crate of beer?

Whilst I had the polystyrene and hot knife out I decided to line my beer box for insulation. I will probably line this with plastic sheeting and call it done since I can't find a suitable sized plastic box to fit. I also finished off the crate to go underneath to hold the recycling. This is the timber I was cutting when I had the table saw incident, but not a blood stain to be seen! Deliberately made of mixed timber, oak, oak stained black, ash, ash stained walnut, idigbo and iroko. Just needs a coat or two of polyurethane and it's all set to be used.

Workshop expansion?

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit the Sylva foundation in Long Wittenham, a local woodland charity that also has workshop spaces to rent. The foundation do a lot of work on forestry and promoting the use of native timber, but also offer business incubation facilities and have a great wood school too.

One of their small units had become available for rent so I went and had a look around and chat to the site manager. I really like the concept of working in a shared space with a variety of other creative wood businesses and whilst my main philosophy of reusing and recycling timber fits well with their ethos the units are awarded on application basis.

Unfortunately I was one of 6 applicants and although apparently there was little between us I was not successful this time round. To be honest I am not surprised however it would have been useful to have a local dedicated workspace if I was to take the ukulele business further. Instead I will actually have to hire a skip and sort my garage, lockup and sheds properly.


Several months back I mentioned I was looking at an opportunity to buy an existing ukulele making business. Pete Howlett is one of, if not the, top ukulele maker in the UK and internationally. He has built over 1000 instruments and has a dedicated following of clients including me. I have been following Pete's work for 10 years or more now on youtube, the ukulele underground forums and facebook. Everything I think I know about ukulele making has in someway been informed by him in one of those formats, and I consider him a virtual mentor even though he may not know it and we've only met briefly at his meet the ukulele maker festival in 2019.

Pete has Parkinson's and over the past few years he has been developing a model of ukulele called the "Revelator" (now trade marked). This unique design is machined from a solid timber block giving a thinline bodied acoustic ukulele but that has an incredibly full sound. I own number 2 of the early revelators and love it, but Pete has further developed the product and they are even better now.

Pete is looking to start winding down and wants to sell on the "Revelator" business for it to continue to be made as part of his legacy to ukulele making. Clearly when I first heard this I was instantly interested, CNC machining and ukulele making is what I have been trying to do for a while and this is an opportunity to get a headstart with a great product that is highly sought after.

So on Thursday last week I got up at 4am and set out for a daytrip to Snowdonia to visit Pete's workshop and discuss the business. It was a great day, although I didn't get time to enjoy Snowdonia other than from the car on the way home. It was great to see his work up close, learn some things about the production processes, talk to a couple of other builders who were also there and to spend some time building some components of a "Revelator". The trip re-enforced my belief that this is something I can definitely do, but I just need to work out if we can make the finances work from a business side.

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