A month  ago I decided that the Boatshed required a good, low-angle block plane  for special projects….so, after much research, I purchased one: the Luban Low-Angle Block Plane made by Qiangsheng Tool Co.,  a Chinese firm with a world-wide reputation.

It is an excellent plane, with a nice weight to it, and handsome bronze fittings – as you can see in the accompanying photos.

About a fortnight later, Simon Scott alerted me to a massive auction of vintage woodworking tools at the Unley warehouse of Small and Whitfield. It was, I suppose, meant to be….after submitting my modest absentee-bid for the only low-angle plane listed: a vintage model made by Stanley, in the UK, some time betweeen 1913 and 1950 -I forgot about the whole business….until an unexpected email message (and invoice) arrived, informing me of my good fortune.

As it turned out, a previous owner had lost a vital component, and that might explain why I emerged victorious. But no matter: I found a replacement part easily enough through The Tool Exchange, and we now have a second, Low-Angle Block Plane in the boatshed, just in case one isn’t enough.

You can admire the Stanley plane below. It might look less spectacular than the Luban model, but it has its own value and fine reputation.

Between those two purchases, I discovered a miniature Japanese ebony plane (at Japan Tools Australia) especially designed for instrument-making, and reasonably priced. It seemed to me that this important and necessary tool must be secured without delay – and so it came about.

It is three and a half inches long, beautifully crafted, and thoroughly adorable.

Who could resist such an item?


Call it a whim, or stubborness, or yet another example of eccentricity….whatever the case may be, I decided last year that I would attempt to grow camellias in this unfavourable climate. The growing of camellias is a sort of family tradition and – perhaps as a result – I have become fond of them.

Early on there were a number of failures. Indigenous plants thrive in the salt air, but not much else.

I am pleased to report, however, that Japonica Bob Hope and Camellia Beatrice Emily have produced flower buds which look set to blossom in the next few weeks.

Sam will keep his camera close at hand to record further developments….



Mark, the master Tank-maker from ‘Betta Tanks’, delivered this  sturdy tank a few hours ago, and kindly helped Sam and me get it into place. We don’t yet have the appropriate plumbing – but even so, I think it looks comfortably at home.


Simon Scott returned to help his roofing apprentice with the installation of a little wind ventilator. The apprentice learned a new skill, in a fashion – and can now admire the ‘Supavent’ all day long, if he so chooses: such an elegant and homely device, which seems never to be at rest….and yet is most restful to look at.



The barges went up nicely. It was a  productive Day, thanks to my excellent Team of Barge and Fascia Specialists.

Months of prevarication and mild anxiety vanished in a moment.

Next job: installation of the galvanised gutter and flashing.

And construction of a tank stand: the Ironbark posts are already set in concrete; Ironbark  beams  cut to size;  notches for the beams completed  (after much sawing and chiselling and general hardship) – and in short, it seems likely that another significant structure is about to emerge.

More of that next time.