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Couldn't resist having a go at another of those bloody awful poems.



Someone I usually respect shared this horror on Facebook. Argh!

Here's what I think.


"And unto him that fisteth thee in the one hole offer also the other..."

Christian attitudes to porn are usually pretty amusing.


...I fucking LOVE complaining!

I'm a feminist. Not sure about this lot, though.


This guy:

Blah blah pseudoscience blah blah logical fallacy blah blah...

REALLY pisses me off.

He's a Christian apologist called William Lane Craig. He appears in many debates and speeches on Youtube in which he peddles (among other things) the notion that he can rationally justify his theological standpoint.

For various reasons I recently found myself asked to watch one of these videos and render an opinion. Well, I watched it, but found that a couple of paragraphs explaining my response wasn't going to cut it. Guys like this need to be responded to in the following way:

1. Watch the entire video and transcribe it, word for word, into a document.
2. Painstakingly annotate the document and point out every logical fallacy, misrepresentation, questionable claim and dodgy argument Craig makes.
3. For the sake of completeness and fairness, do the same to his opponent (in this case, the not-so-effective Dr. Alex Rosenberg).
4. Upload to teh interwebz.

So that's what I did.


After a long hiatus, I finally have more content! Apologies for the neglect; I temporarily lost my camera. Well, not so much "lost" as "accidentally buried under a pile of junk". Anyway - head here to see a predictably silly but (I hope you'll agree) quite neat bit of woodwork.

Also, I'm taking delivery of a Hegner VB36 Master Bowlturner lathe today. This thing is about as meaty and overengineered as lathes get - I can't wait to give it a whirl on some truly back-breakingly vast logs. Assuming I don't hide my camera from myself again, expect pretty pictures and lyrical waxing soon :-)

Turning a joint of beef at high rpm gets fat everywhere


Ever wondered what happens when you shoot an LCD monitor with an airsoft rifle? See below. My mate Pete's 24" Samsung (a 2433BW if memory serves) had a crack in the screen (visible at top right) which rendered the monitor unusable, so before sending it to silicon heaven we took the opportunity to do some mature, methodical research. Lessons:

1. This monitor can withstand punches to the screen remarkably well. We both wellied it in the face and ended up with bruised knuckles, and the screen showed no ill effects. Impressive!
2. A 0.43g BB at 200mph, on the other hand, does have an effect. The two places where we shot the screen are just visible in the picture towards the middle and bottom left as circular areas of mild discoloration.

LCD monitors: easily buggered by guns


Here we have a purpleheart and pau amarello bowl I knocked together for a special pal of mine. The yellow shapes form a message if interpreted correctly, and I wish she'd hurry up and decode it, because the message is a question to which I'm eager to know the answer... ;-)

Lovely purple colour - but this was the hardest, brittlest, tool-bluntingest wood I've ever used. It made even cocobolo seem friendly


A Super Mushroom (I think that's its formal name, anyway) and a bowl with its intended recipient's initials on it, or at least the binary representation of his initials' ASCII codes. Cute huh?

I'm totally doing a 1-UP mushroom next


My preliminary efforts at segmented bowl turning:

Will it fly apart and kill me when I turn the lathe on? Click to find out!


Anyone played "Chain RxN" on Facebook? It's a cute little blowing-up-coloured-blobs timewaster. After a good long while trying to beat my high score and trying to figure out how best to play the game, I figured I could look for the answers systematically...

Old-school games: the best

Check out my efforts to understand this strangely addictive little game's deep dark secrets.


How manly is this :-)

A textbook example of safe lathe usage

Have a butcher's here for a quick spiel about turning bowls from hunks of unwanted tree!


So. Bowls:

Spalted beech, about 10" by 4", finished with linseed oil

Having done a buttload of spindle turning (i.e. chess pieces and coffee tampers), I thought it was about time to get my bowl on. This is my fifth bowl so I'm still learning basic techniques, which are really very different to the techniques used in spindle turning - although there's enough common ground that I don't feel like a total novice doing this stuff.

This badboy is about 10" wide by 4" tall, and is a particularly nice piece of spalted beech from The Toolpost. The bowl blanks at The Toolpost are kiln-dried (unusual for such thick bits of wood) so you can take them from blank to bowl in one go - no rough turning and waiting for moisture content to stabilise. This one took a total of maybe 5 hours (I'm still a bit slow at this!)

When I try the inevitable open segmented bowl, I'll be sure to put up an article showing the process of gluing up the blank, how I got the catch that made it explode and what was left of my face afterwards :-)


HOW. ABOUT. THIS. Alex (my illustrious co-engineer on the insane air furnace) has used his awesome artistic skills to immortalise my incredibly cluttered workshop in an incredibly detailed painting. Check it out!

Hundreds of years from now, historians will think 21st century man actually lived like this

Interesting note: sat on the table in the middle you can see the glued up battenberg of purpleheart and maple which eventually became the spirally stepped queen below!


Am rather pleased with this: an ebony horse-shaped coffee tamper, made to fit Reg Barber bases (just like these ones). This one is for Bill at Taste of Bitter Love. The flamboyant horse hairstyles from this set have been taken to a whole new level in this super-bouffant design. Regrettably, this probably also makes it incredibly uncomfortable to use as a tamper handle! Well worth it though - just look at that gorgeous expanse of cantilevered coiffure.

Hair product developers can only dream of hold like this.


...and my mate Pete, who helped me euthanise (execute?) a dangerously unstable tree in my garden, is now the proud owner of an enormous queen made from its corpse!

It's huuuuuge!

Semi-interesting gibberings:

1. A Sorby Patriot chuck. I imagine these things are fairly good in general, and the selection of jaws is certainly extensive and useful-looking, but this particular one has something wrong with it - it was wildly inaccurate out of the box. Yes yes, I know it's unrealistic to expect to be able to re-mount a piece in a woodturning chuck without some loss of concentricity, but this thing is hugely, horribly off.
2. A Vicmarc VM120 chuck. This thing rocks. It's very accurate, has a very powerful grip, has really good jaw design and is just generally great to use.
3. My Jet JWL-1642 lathe. This also rocks. Best feature: electronic variable speed, and not the wussy DC motor/PWM speed controller type - this has an industrial single-to-three-phase variable frequency variable voltage inverter and a beefy induction motor. It also has a couple of hundred kilos of cast iron (good for stability), beefy toolrest and tailstock and excellent alignment. Surely the best lathe this side of two grand.
4. A humoungous queen made from a tree from my garden. Turned while the wood was still soaking wet, which means it's bound to crack like crazy as it dries. In a shameless display of intellectual and artistic self-deception, I'm going to claim that this is a desirable aesthetic feature :-)
5. This padauk queen (actually the tallest piece in this piccy) is sat next to the biggie for size comparison purposes. This one is about 11" tall and just under 3" across.
6. Steel wool. Great as a very fine abrasive for use on hard, close-grained woods just before application of polish. Unfortunately, even greater at getting caught on fast-rotating pieces and tearing fingers off, although, as yet, my attempts to recreate this effect have all failed.
7. My haphazard exotic wood pile - in particular, a 3"x3"x12" hunk of the driest, hardest, most crazy-grained cocobolo I've ever seen. Can't wait to turn this badboy, despite the 24 subsequent hours of allergic reactions, diminished lung capacity and incredibly viscous reddish-brown bogies it will no doubt induce.


My latest chop it/glue it/turn it recipe has produced this:

Maple and purpleheart spirally queen

Roughly speaking, here's how the recipe goes:

1. Find a lump of maple and a lump of purpleheart and use a milling machine to flatten one face on each, ready for gluing (yes yes, it would be much quicker on a jointer. I don't have one!)
2. Glue them together.
3. Bandsaw the resulting sandwich down the middle, flatten the inner faces, turn one half around and glue together again. So now you have a maple/purpleheart battenberg.
4. Cut the resulting piece into slices. Again, like a battenberg. But whereas an edible battenberg is invariably cut into very thick slices, since it's delicious and yummy, this inedible maple/purpleheart battenberg should be cut into more modest slices, say, 1cm thick.
5. Glue the slices back together, having rotated them so as to form the spiral shape. This is not nearly as simple as it sounds because if you smear glue between loads of slices and clamp them together, the glue acts like a lube and the slices mush apart and the workpiece explodes in a big sticky mess. So, you drill tiny holes in the middle of each slice and peg them together with tiny bits of cut-up wire coat hanger, because you've temporarily lost your reel of copper wire under a big pile of polishing rags.
6. Make a chess piece.

Incidentally the purpleheart is from Moss Timber in Hammersmith (www.mosstimber.co.uk) - they have the best, purpliest, most purple-icious purpleheart I've ever seen. It's ridiculously purple.

Whilst making this piece I managed to pour a bottle of PVA all over my beloved Jet JWL-1642 lathe, I nearly cut one of my hands off with a bandsaw trying to cut a round piece without adequate support, I got polyurethane adhesive all over myself (evil stuff) and I buggered a hacksaw blade. This is half the fun of trying new things. Next time I do a stepped spiral queen it'll go fine because I know what not to do now, and it'll take much less time and cause much less hassle. And that's the other half of the fun of trying new things - getting better at them :-)


And a happy February to you all. 2009 is a month old already. Scary, huh?

If you're wondering what the funky image below is, head on over to this new article and read about my latest doomsday machine!

2009-01-31 - update

1,000 points if you can identify this :-)

Here's a clue - any guess what this is/how it was made? More later!


What is Alex cutting and why? All is revealed soon!

A sneak preview of the latest mad project! Here's m'verygoodfriend Alex Driver busily dremelling away at a metal something-or-other. To what end? Check back soon!


Here's a word which I think ought to be in widespread usage: Phallusy.

Now admittedly The Urban Dictionary already has an entry or three for this word, but I'd like to propose a new meaning: a phallusy is a ridiculously unjustified Freud-style statement about an innocent object either being symbolic of, or having been designed to resemble, a penis.

For example: rockets, swords, cars and guns. These are not phallic symbols, people! Imagine if we had evolved to have willies shaped like small-scale models of the London Eye - rockets, swords, cars and guns would still look exactly like they currently do! (Although in this scenario, the people who built the London Eye would have a lot of explaining to do). These things are the way they are because that's what makes them work best. In fact, it's willies that resemble them (if your imagination is flexible enough), not the other way round.

Together we can stamp out phallusy.


Well, so much for regular postage! New year's resolution: don't neglect this page.

Anyway, I realised the other day that my random collection of bits and pieces has four ebony queens that almost look like scaled versions of each other. They were made independently and weeks or months apart so the shapes don't match 100% perfectly. Still though, they're pleasing to the eye when arranged in a line:

Ebony queens! The one on the right has a base diameter of about three inches. A flawless, jet black piece of ebony this big is a very rare find - I took a lot of care turning this piece. I haven't been able to find a similar bit of ebony since


Made another couple of pieces recently, out of one of my favourite woods - Colombian verawood:

A pawn and a queen, both in Colombian verawood. The pawn is around nine inches (22.5cm) tall

Both exposure to air and exposure to UV light make the heartwood turn from a nutty brown to a deep rich green. The queen, on the right, has been turned green using my home-made UV rotisserie (a sunbed bulb and a geared down DC motor - seriously ghetto) and on the big pawn, a vertical green stripe is clearly visible where the blank had cracked and allowed air in. Over time the whole piece should go green. I wish I had the time and the money to make a whole set out of this beautiful stuff.


Oh good - the most depressing day of the year is behind us. Presumably the "scientists" who determined this are the same ones behind ads for shampoos which use the power of "natural silkaloids" to make your hair "36.2% more strokeable". Come to think of it, since "sham" means "fake", is "shampoo" just a synonym for "fake shit"? You read it here first :-)


Welcome to the newly polished, spruced up Hairy Brain! Do please peruse, and with a bit of luck you'll be interested and/or amused by some of my assorted articles, mumblings, musings, rantings and gibberings. At the moment I have a large backlog of stuff to write up, so hopefully there'll be loads of goodies to come in the next week or two. Happy browsage.

For now, there are three articles on here: this one, about the manufacture of a set of chess pieces and a board; an article about some of the fascinating and varied tropical woods I've had the pleasure of using; and finally one about a fun little custom turning project I was asked to undertake, which also has some nifty engineering in it. Watch this space.