Friday, 28 May 2010

A dry and dull post




The above pictures are a before and after shot of a large block of hard, French stone being turned into two, and one of the finished finials that they were turned into.

Many years ago, I spent a couple of hundred pounds on a set of iron implements known as plug and feathers. I probably only use them about once every few years, but when I do, it is one of the most satisfying processes I ever go through - and it takes a lot to satisfy me these days.

If you have a huge block like the above which is too hard to saw through (or you just cannot be bothered), you simply mark out the size of the block you want to detach, drill a series of holes in the appropriate places, insert the 3 part sets of plug and feathers, then go round whacking them with a hammer. After a few whacks, the noise of the ring changes slightly, and you know that you have to get your legs and feet out of the way sharpish, because the combined pressure of the plugs becomes so great (tons per square inch) that - instantly - there is a sort of explosion and the marked piece falls to the ground with a thump, ready for use. I never fail to be absolutely entranced by the simplicity and efficacy of plugs and feathers, and I commend their use to anyone who is foolhardy enough to embark on a career that involves bloody great lumps of stone.

The picture of Venus Williams was to add a bit of spice and interest to what would have otherwise been a dry and dull post.

9 comments:

  1. Does that come from Tiranti? I used to buy my clobber from their funny little shop in Warren St. Nice name that too; 'plug & feathers'.

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  2. I bought a set from Tiranti to start off, but they were so useless (they looked like they were made from old, bent nails) that I sent them back. I can't remember where I bought this set from, but it was also in London - forgotten the name. These are the proper job. Cast and milled.

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  3. Thank you Jacqueline. I will check out yours too.

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  4. That finial is ever so impressive. And the lucky blighters have two!

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  5. Tom, that post was anything but dry and dull! The simplicity and effectiveness of the plug and feathers tools are amazing, but I suppose you've got to throw in a handful of skill as well. I love the finished result. I clicked on all the pictures (except the top one - she doesn't have the same effect on me!) I liked the rat chewing the rope you carved on the top of the sphere - wonderful!

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  6. Thanks for the finial compliments, Mise and Molly. There is a story about the 'rat' chewing on the rope. The client asked for mice, but the scale would have lost mice, so they became rat-sized. The 'rope' it is chewing on is - in fact - one of it's fellow's tails, as there are about 3 or 4 crawling about on the top. We ended up calling them 'rats' anyway, so his wife became accustomed to the idea. The original egg-shaped finials were plain, and they were stolen.

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  7. Vaguely interesting and juicy! I think Venus deserves her Goddess moniker as an example of an awe inspiring presence, don't know her personally but ... far out, that is one magnificent WOMAN.
    Nice to encounter you in the ether Tom.
    From Sarah

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  8. Nice to encounter you too, Sarah T. Let's hope she doesn't/does turn into the Venus of Gottenburg in her old age. I'm still daydreaming about the 'juicy' bit.

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