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2023 Blog Index

- Aussie Grown Walnut, Australia Day

2- Making An ACRS "Lee Enfield PH" Bespoke Pattern 

3- They Know Not What They Do

4- An Odyssey Nears Completion

Scroll down to read entries.

Australian Walnut

 Australia Day

It's Australia Day, and like most of the warmer months I was up and out the door before 6 in the morning, making use of the best part of the day. 

Late yesterday, I washed and rinsed the detritus from just 42 blanks I cut in 2008. I've done a lot of that lately, and the numbers soon add up. The seasoning and storage conditions which ACRS blanks are subjected to are very deliberate. So far as I have witnessed and discussed the process is probably unique nowadays. One consequence of the process is an accumulation of muck on the outside of the blanks. At some stage after a decade or two, the blanks must be cleaned up to present for sale. This layer on muck is best washed off, gently but thoroughly, or the planer and thicknesser blades don't stay sharp long. Too, if this is not done, the cast iron in-feed and out-feed tables will be wallowed out soon enough. Like most of my blank production process, it could be done quicker, easier, more efficiently - but quality would suffer.

In the warmer months, blanks are washed in the late afternoon as the sun goes down, and left standing overnight. Drying of the blanks is best done fairly slowly. If it's windy the blanks are covered with a layer or three of hessian, as is deemed necessary, to slow the drying right down. The blanks have been through hell and back over many years during seasoning, but at this late stage, even with a wash literally with water from the mighty River Styx, one does not want to go looking for trouble. In cooler weather, the blanks can take a full day or more to dry out - but done right it does them no harm except for the near-freezing water temperature affecting the hands for hours on end! Whilst that little detail is hardly a vital step contributing to the production of these blanks, it is a small insight into the work involved.

Up and about this morning, the latest washed and dried blanks were yet again double handled into a neat pile next to the planer and thicknesser and dressed off. It's an interesting time, seeing each blank full dressed after all this time. The operation is not without some skill, particularly because one side must be planed flat first, and if this is not done with consideration, precious wood can be lost in a few moments which ought to have been left. Ditto the thicknessing. It all took a long time to grow, cut and season and yet the wood can be lost forever in an instant.

Like any morning, the majority of these blanks made my machines growl. Fresh, sharp blades are needed (and expensive) and you'd think a blank that is only 8" or 9" deep on average at it's deepest end would be a joke to a good 20" capacity machine - but no! - not even 40 thou at a time with many blanks. Some need half that per pass, and the slowest feed position selected in the feed gearbox. This walnut cuts freely enough, generally to an exceptional finish - but yet it is deceptively resilient to sharp steel. It still surprises me today, but it also makes me smile. The reasons for such resilient walnut are the deliberate choice of walnut trees milled, and the myriad of production techniques that profoundly influence the quality of the wood.

Australian-grown European walnut is much celebrated, and the best of it is generally regarded as some of the best stock wood ever cut. However, much of it I won't touch. Walnut trees often grow too fast in mainland Australia (I'm talking seedling trees, not irrigated orchards). Where they grow commonly, I find a combination of vigourous genetics, enough water and reasonable soil. On top of that, crucially most areas have a too-long growing season and if all of these factors combine, a walnut tree will grow like a weed. I don't like to see that, unless I'm looking for the nuts and not the wood. Many trees lay down a LOT of wood each year, but my experience is that much of the wood laid down by walnut trees in Oz tends to be on the "hard, brittle and porous side of the spectrum of acceptable for stock wood". Irregular seasons produce wood of irregular texture, which is also not a good thing for the stocker. That too, is a problem in Oz in some areas. No matter how pretty it be, I walk from such trees and look for something closer to what I know is ideal. Stock wood needs to be resilient. Workable, but tough and yet not too heavy. In some areas, the genetics, soils and climate collide in such a way that more ideal trees grow for stock wood. Such trees are very rare in Australia, and the  vagaries of distance and economy in Australia preclude any notions of competing with nearly all suppliers w.r.t. price. Value, on the other hand, is a more relative term. What are you really buying for the price?

The trick is to only cut those walnut trees that are best for stock blanks, and then process them to best advantage. The production process, which also profoundly affects the quality of blanks, is an equally profound input cost. It is ruinous of time, money and body - but it's been strongly reinforced to me through repetative experience that the rewards are worth the heavy price paid. Corners just cannot be cut without sacrificing too much. The blanks might seem expensive, but considering what goes into them, and the quality, I honestly reckon they are a standout bargain.

I for one am very happy that the few pioneers who planted the majority of trees I've milled, did what they did so well. Without them, I'd have been without the raw resource from which to cut my supply of blanks. We have some fine native timbers in this country, but my own experiences tell me that they (sadly) just don't begin to compare with the best walnut on gun and rifle stock applications I was going to take a few photos of some prime blanks to promote them a bit - but decided it was not a worthwhile thing to do. Why? A stocker cannot tell much from a photograph about the way a blank will work, or how stable it will be. Photos can promote an obsession with appearance over more important aspects of a stock blank, so I decided against photos for this post. I feel that too often, photos bait folk into buying pretty blanks based on appearances alone. That has become a main focus of most traders, buyers and stock makers. Photos like that are easy to do. Walnut that works well and is stable is however, the best bait for accomplished stockers and discerning shooters who demand more than skin-deep aesthetic thrills. Good walnut with excellent texture and working qualities is difficult to obtain, so that is not often a focus for suppliers and buyers have been conditioned against any strong focus on such. That's what I see, anyhow.

Stock blanks are nowadays much harder to market locally. It's true that the market is awash with rival offerings, though in reality it always has been and diversity in itself ought never to be discouraged. What has changed, in my honest opinion, is that folk who are able to accomplish high quality work and who really know good walnut and how to work it to advantage, well they are getting increasingly less common - and they have always been rare anywhere. 

I'm looking forward to working as much of this walnut as I can. It's character is distinctive, and it's working qualities are profoundly good. It appears I'm likely the last bloke left standing in the trade who is stalwart to the grand nature of the best Aussie walnut blanks, no matter the cost. A newcomer in the scene who does good work, and predominately in high quality local walnut blanks, would be a fine thing to see and a long time coming.

26 January 2023

Making An ACRS "Lee Enfield PH" Bespoke Pattern.

This post offers some insight on a Lee Enfield "PH" butt-stock pattern taking shape. It is one of a fair few of the SMLE/MLE family of patterns I have made to date.

I chose a decent XXX grade walnut blank to make the pattern from, seasoned such that I will always have confidence in it's stability. It was also firm in texture and will prove hard wearing under the stylus/followers of the duplicator. 

For me, the first stage in making a stock like this is a technical design drawing, which lays out all the nitty-gritty. Essentially, it's a blue-print of the design. 

This pattern was to be made to the customers bespoke order. The customer, an iconic PH from a "rival" outfit, required a pattern created specifically for his requirements as to stock fit, balance but still in the PH style he admired.  Naturally this added to the time/expense of the job - but then what is the point of a stock if it doesn't fit well? One major advantage of such a pattern is that the customer has the opportunity to handle the job, and any adjustments can be made such that the pattern is "just so". That is money well spent. So many customers concentrate one a general style and are fixated on the beauty of the blank chosen - rather than the fit and balance of the completed stock/rifle/gun.

Once the specifications and drawing were complete, and with the metalwork ready to stock, the following stages of  work (in brief) were as follows:

The stock blank was band-sawed to profile, but somewhat oversized. Then it was inlet, which is quick to write but no small feat. In the case of the Lee Enfield butt stock, the labour included the deep-hole drilling and counter-boring for the draw-bolt (through-bolt or stock bolt). The draw-bolt was carefully checked for run-out of the threads c.f. it's main axis - most are nothing like true. This was the long No1 type bolt. In my opinion, the common short ones are not really suitable for most sporting stocks. The wood in the grip is often very thin in critical areas if the short bolt is used. Crooked draw bolts are only suitable for those who want to muss up. They push the stock around in a cork-screw fashion as the stock is tightened. We want it to be true, for a number of reasons that should be pretty obvious. When required, a replacement which is concentric can be made, or a good one found (increasingly rare). The standard draw bolt limits the cast somewhat, though a new draw bolt can be made to sneak some more cast in. The above photograph was taken after the blank had been fully inlet, but not shaped. Once the socket inlet was completed, the draw-bolt used for this job could be screwed fully home and tightened, with the new butt pattern showed no movement at all while doing this. One good trick is to machine up a concentric mandrel that screws into the draw bolt hole, that is the same outside diameter as the clearance hole in the stock, less a few thousandths. This allows a really true inlet to be had, with almost zero wiggle when inserting or withdrawing the blank from the socket. Not vital, but a really grand idea when working "from the block" or with a stock cut from a dedicated pattern. The variability of the original socket machining versus a machined stocks socket can make such a slave bolt more problematic if there is much of a difference. My own experience is that I've personally never had an issue fitting such jobs up, but my strong experience is that many others find it tough and I've seen some badly botched jobs. I've also seen some superb ones - it all comes down to aptitude, skill, experience and patience.

I ought to state that depending on the job, some pattern stocks are inlet by hand work alone, and sometimes fully or partly with a duplicated inlet. Duplicated inlets can be a trap, and in short I nearly always one I've done from the block, with rare exceptions. If I've already done a nice inlet on an earlier pattern, I can save maybe half to one days labour by duplicating the inlet and going on from there.  It all depends on the job. In the case of the pattern this article is devoted to, the inlet was duplicated from the pattern I'd previously cut from the block for famous PH Matt Graham (RIP) of Hunt Australia. The inlet has to be spot-on, as close to perfection as possible. 

With SMLE's and their brethren; the actual angle which the socket and draw-bolts' threaded hole is machined at - one or both will often be found to vary from the norm (compared to the bolt/barrel axis). If making a pattern the receiver ought to be made to a carefully assayed receiver known to be very close to "true", and the variability must be known and the ramifications of these various errors contended with. Assumptions will kick you pretty hard, eventually, if you want to do good work. So assume nothing and learn to measure everything -that is no small undertaking. For a dedicated pattern, or when stocking "from the block", this doesn't matter as the pattern must suit only the metalwork for that job.

Back to this Lee Enfield pattern:


With the butt-blank installed on the socket of the barrelled action, critical dimensions from the drawing are carefully measured, marked off and lightly scribed. For the benefit of readers, my very light scribe lines were inked over to better show what is going on in the photographs. The actual lines I work to are much, much finer. 

Next the profile was cut slightly oversize on the band saw, then made out precisely to the scribe lines. From here facets were marked-out and cut, which starts taking the corners off the stock. Once the primary corners are cut away, from then on, each facets corners are re-marked such that the excess wood is divided and progressively recut, leaving only the mid-line that forms an actual countour line in the stock. Each time this is done, the facet numbers double and they halve in dimension. Eventually they become almost non-existent, and the stock can be carefully smoothed. The latter-stage photos of this pattern stock depict the facets not quite half way there, but the stock is clearly taking shape. Taper angles and lines (straight or curved) are critical, and allow wonderful bilateral symmetry to be maintained if the stocker has appropriate skills. This method is quite a different approach and skill set, compared to free-form carving of the shape. Both are particular skills, the latter being very difficult to attain good bilateral symmetry in a stock - but which is a vital skill in rebuilding patterns (such as in my previous post). Both methods are very difficult to approach perfection. A stock struck out to near perfection is one of the hallmarks of best quality workmanship.

Various gauges, templates etc make some of the layout and shaping work a little quicker, and easier to aquire symmetry and repeatability.

It's true that this adds to the labour and expense of a custom stock. I've got no problems at all knocking them out of the block, and foregoing the pattern and duplicator - but I rarely do it on an actual job except to indulge in sentimentality. Those stick-in-the-mud types that proclaim a duplicator is a shortcut, I'd contest that if they actually learned to set up and run a duplicator, properly prepare patterns, they'd find quite a monumental extension to their skill sets is required. That, and it takes some mettle to run a cutter into decades-old blank that is worth thousands. Even a cheaper blank is a great loss to stockmaking if it's a quality, properly seasoned bit of tree. So, why do it then? For pairs, trios etc, it's a no-brainer, but that is but a small part of the full weight of my reasoning:

A bespoke pattern stock allows the customer a unique opportunity to benefit from the opportunity of highly refined stock fit, and the ACRS stock machining methods allow for the very best to be had from each blank when it comes to colour, grain flow and stability as discussed elsewhere on this site. A manual machine gives feedback to the operator, lots of it, and depth of cut, feed and rpm can be chosen for best results. Work demanding of fine tolerances on complex shapes and inlets is very, very demanding machining indeed. I think it's well worth the extra labour.

Do enough of the above, and a maker can end up with an awful lot of patterns if they have the ability to work in a broad array of action inlets and styles. That might be the beginnings of a unique stock duplication service when combined with a large excess of seasoned blanks.

Sadly, it is commonly assumed that a stock duplication/pantograph service is nothing more than a "cookie cutter" business - often one that does not offer a truly good pattern making service. Granted, this is most often the case and there is a fair place for it if it's done well and fairly. The patterns are the Achilles' Heel of most makers, and the volume of work I've done for other makers patterns supports this (immense undertaking). Other than that, a few of us set up to do this work to extend our skills and services, not to make up for a lack of them or to just machine cookie-cutter-customs that are all alike. Most gunsmiths and duplicator owners don't fully understand pattern and duplicating work except for the most basic aspects. That combined with generally very poor journalism has hampered those makers who offer so much more. I've always looked up to denizens of the work such as Hoenig, Echols, Anderson and other legendary makers. It's to that level of accomplishment I aspire - though I'm not sure I'll ever get there.

26 January 2023

They Know Not What They Do

I held this one back for a few years, but it's a prime example of what I've seen so much of. I've had a bit of time off with a lurgy, and the best work I could manage follows:

A while back, I received a machined stock set from another supplier or such. I'd been asked to checker the stock.  Evidently this was an attempt to duplicate the original butt and forend, which were also sent to me. Looking at the original butt and forend I can clearly see it has been copied - there is a myriad of fine marks on the outer surfaces of that original butt/forend set which display a lack of care and poor technique. A poor attempt had been made to epoxy bed the metal to the wood in preparation for a stock duplication job, about the worst I have ever seen. 

My heart fell out my trooser legs when I saw that it was just a rough machining, and had not even fitted let alone finished and ready to checker. 

To put it politely, I'd been Skunked. 

I reckon a corpse could see that this entailed far, far more than a checkering job! Like a fool I got cajoled into trying to make it whole, and it joined the queue - another in a long line of similar jobs I'd completed over the years.

In short, this set was completely unusable, and I will also say that is constitutes the worst example of stock machining I have ever witnessed, and by quite some measure. Thus, the work expected of me now rose to having to complete a proper replica pattern for the job, machine the new stocks, fit, finish and then I could do the damned checkering job. 

I will list most, but not all, of the deficiencies of this job. Comments as I see fit:

- Blank used is brittle and not of a physical quality I'd expect to see on any gun. It was brittle in nature, too heavy for the job, with poor grain flow. To boot, it had large pin knots in the wrist of the stock which weakened the grip far too much, especially considering the brittle nature of the blank. The blank was also too plain, considering the grade and Maker of the firearm. 

- Head of stock (front face) has a huge gap. I measured this by aligning the front pin "inlet/hole" into position as best I could and got exactly 0.060" on feeler gauges at the top, less at the bottom. This measurement is as accurate an approximation as could be expected because the front pin is not drilled to any sort of proper standard and so the reference of location is somewhat arbitrary. However, the gap is certainly in the order of 0.060" at the top. This is a monumental error - and makes the set unusable in it's own right.

- Front top strap pin (front tang screw) not drilled fully or properly. This hole is tapered and MUST be correct - it must time in with the head of the stock such that the tapered pin forces the head of the stock hard against the frame. This hole is one of the cornerstone foundations of a good job and if a worker does not know this, or how to do it, they ought not to bill out work as of merchantable quality. I realise we all make mistakes, myself included. This is a big one even though it is just an itty bitty hole. An epoxy repair would be a sin on such a job, as well as sound evidence of a lack of skill. 

- Significant gaps to top strap inlet. 

- Significant gaps and offset to trigger plate inlet. Significant cutter-slip in guard strap inlet. Distance from top strap inlet bottom to bottom of trigger plate inlet approx. 2.5mm excess wood. The machine operator must not know to check tolerances, or how, or both and probably not the significance of the error when actually stocking the firearm with the machined "stock". It's customary to machine in some excess wood at these points, an excess of around 0.007" is more along the lines of what is customary and 0.020" would be getting tedious. Once again, this aspect alone makes the job not ever of merchantable quality, and well beyond any sane potential use.

- Compared to pattern, lock plates offset by in excess of 0.040" combined extra wood. Lock plate inlet features poorly thought out machining of rear plate dog (hook) area and significant gaps shown in photographs. Lock plate inlet has been hogged out to allow for excess overtravel of mainsprings in the un-cocked condition, which is normally done as an undercut when essential, so it cannot be seen from the outside once assembled. The cutters have dug-in in this area resulting in an even worse gap at this point than seen in the original stock. This demonstrates a lack of requisite knowledge in restocking; a lack of control of the machine and it's use; and a lack of quality control. Lock-work inlet features a grossly undersized trigger stop inlet, resulting in grossly excess front trigger over-travel.

- Forend iron inlet by machine far too deeply, so much so that it would be touch-and-go as to whether the job could be used - I expect not. We are down to just a few thousandths here and when considering the quality of the rest of the forend machining,  The top surfaces also look undersized and my experience tells me to expect headaches fitting and lost time. Wood used is more or less as per the butt blank. I'd call it again, not of merchantable quality.

Outside machine work tolerances not otherwise measured or assessed, but the quality is such that I'd expect issues. I thought it pointless to waste time even looking at it, given the above.

All measurements witnessed by the photographer with an in-depth explanation for such - see below:

N.B.: Photos kindly taken on ACRS premises and supplied for publishing and my record of proof by B Comins

As if that is not bad enough, then there is the metalwork. The metalwork was in no fit shape to restock in a professional manner, to say the least. I've made a few quick notes about some, not all, of the problems:

- Knuckle heavily peened or "knocked up" in an attempt to tighten the gun, either to fool a buyer for sale to hide the gap between forend iron and knuckle. Or, because the bodger/s who inflicted this inane act upon the gun thought they actually knew something about such work. This is NOT the way to re-joint this area. Note, the gun has been fitted with a replacement hinge pin, probably at the same time. One of the worst examples of this I have ever seen. This can be seen in the raised, silvered portions at the sides of the knuckle, the loss of blue proving it to be a job done some time ago.

- The standing breech edges have in the past been heavily peened, to close the gap between barrels which were off the face despite the replacement hinge pin. I am unable to comment on the jointing of the barrel face, bites, hook etc etc as I have never seen the barrels. Note, a stock maker needs barrels in-hand to fit a forend!.

- Water table area has been "knocked up", which can be clearly seen in the photos I retain. This amounts to a lip being peened on the upper edge of the water table in an attempt to hide the gap between barrel flat and water table, which looks to have been grossly in excess. Note there is normally a slight gap - I'm talking peening to attempt to hide a massive gulf.

- During photographing that I noticed what I am certain is a fine crack at the stress raiser indicated by the scribe (pointer) in one of the photos. This is a deal-breaker, I will not work on a cracked action for safety reasons - even if to only work on the stock. 

That crack relegates it to being a wall-hanger (preferably rendered inoperable), or destined for stripping for what few sound parts it has and subsequent destruction of it's remains. In short, it's one of the worst clunkers I've seen. How anyone can think this gun is in serviceable condition is beyond me. Ditto restoration. Without that crack, it would be a potential major resurrection case, not a restoration (note I have no idea of barrel condition). I'd suggest this crack is the result of battering from the gun being so loose at to batter the buggery out of the metal in front of the hinge pin, and/or from ham-fisted fitting of the new pin. Note I cannot comment exactly because I was never in possession of the barrels.

The peening shows very poor skills. No attempt to tighten/rejoint was made - but rather the gun has been "knocked up" - peened to hide gaps.

Photos of a few of the major issues below:

The stock set was not ever fitted up, let alone be ready for checkering. More so, it's obviously unusable and much more than the simple, clean checkering job I agreed to complete. The whole project ought to have been identified as pointless - the gun is beyond resurrection. The gun was returned to the interstate dealer and advice given that I regarded the gun as unsafe, and not repairable, to be dealt with as per local laws.

- Folk who do decent custom gun work, almost always have a backlog of it. Almost always being measured in years. A surprising amount of that backlog is due to dealing with unforeseen complications in jobs received and agreed to - this one being a prime example. It seems increasingly common that, only in desperation, many jobs get handed to someone who can actually complete the work well. Rather than a much cleaner job go to them in the first place. Such customers are nearly always the most pushy, in my experience. I'm left dumbfounded anyone could ever see that this work was a good prospect. 

The worst thing is, the time spent assessing, photographing and writing about this job - well it took longer than it takes to checker such a stock!

Hopefully there is something in the above that a few folk find educational - that being the real reason why I took the time to post the above. Ownership (and use) of a gunstock duplicator does NOT the Stocker make! 

12 May 2023

An Odyssey Nears Completion:

Geoff Slee's Best & Final 

Classic Stock Pattern Range

From the 1980's up until his passing in May 2011, Geoff Slee was by far the most prolific stock maker in Australia. His output of many thousands of machined gunstocks in a broad range of designs over at least a quarter century was remarkable for a sole trader. Yet on top of that he left behind a body of semi-custom and custom stock work that is the envy of many. His products sold to buyers around the globe.

Combining both machined stock production and custom stock work was a tough gig (and remains so!). Geoff was self taught, an incredibly hard worker, and his love for and knowledge of fine British guns and rifles was equalled by few of his contemporaries. Geoff was also blessed with intellect that few can match, and a fair slab of it was devoted to his love of fine guns and rifles, and stock making in particular. He was also a gifted artisan. Geoff was brave enough to move away from the increasingly Americanised sporting rifle stock designs that the local gun trade had promoted. Australian shooters in the 1980's we still enjoyed a remnant British influence in our shooting and hunting sports, and just a few custom gunsmiths and stockers held true to that heritage. 

Geoff's commercial target, thumbhole and other familiar patterns were the main money earners, but it was his "English Classic" range that was dearest to his heart. His commercial English Classic patterns were a fine blend of slim, open-handed stocks featuring some cast, yet with drop-at-heel figures which were in line with contemporary thinking. That is to say, nearly all of Geoff's commercial patterns had a comb approximately parallel to the bore - his thinking being that is was practical for rifles mounted with telescopic sights, and that light weight, larger-calibre centrefire "stalking" rifles were more controllable under recoil with stocks with little drop. This was a commonly held viewpoint back then, though not all Aussie stockers held the same belief. The design worked well, and was a commercial success. Later on, an even slimmer variant of the English Classic was evolved, and the two designs are quite familiar to many. 

One downside of the success of Geoff's patterns was that they were often copied - with or without permission, by folk with duplicators, lacking honour and without skill or grit enough to make their own patterns.

After a few decades, the original patterns were getting somewhat dated. Not obsolete by any means, but it was time for a major change, both for the sake of evolution and to keep ahead of the verminous stock rippers. Geoff's accumulated exposure of fine guns and rifles and knowledge of various hallowed makers stock designs was enormous. Too, after more than two decades of professional stock making he had the skills to make much better patterns than before, both in design and execution.

I'd known about this since August 2005 when Geoff first discussed the idea with me. I'd previously been taken under his wing and he'd been actively passing on his knowledge to me, and during the endless discussions he'd told me of the plan he'd hatched for a new range of patterns. At that stage, demand hadn't forced me into machined stock production, so I was no threat to his operation. In fact, I'd just refused a job with him, and he still encouraged me and passed on his knowledge. In hindsight, I was the only person he chose to educate extensively. Around 2009 the patterns had progressed to a small series of outstanding and entirely new butt design outside-shapes, but with no inlets - in fact nothing at all ahead of the head of the grips. Fate stepped in and Geoff became terminally ill. He continued quietly working on them until just before his business closed shortly before his death, but the new pattern range was left only partially completed. 

One of the last things Geoff said to me, was that he asked if I'd continue the work on his new range of patterns. I agreed to do so - as best I could, and that I'd acknowledge his involvement in their making. His response was that he'd be honoured on both counts, and that he was glad because he didn't see anyone else who had all the skills. I'd also been heavily schooled in his style, and could emulate it successfully.

The very last thing he asked of me was that surely I had a good blank in the ute, and I'd best get it out so he could see it. Luckily, I did. It was a good way to say our farewells, over a decent bit of tree.

It has been a monumental undertaking, 12 very hard years and thousands of hours spent on the new Slee patterns outside of my own work. One of the downsides of Geoff's patterns was that, for much of his career, the locally produced AU and NZ-grown walnut pattern-grade blanks that Geoff bought in, well the hard truth is that many of them proved unstable. These later patterns were no different. Completing Geoff's patterns that were without warpage issues has been an odyssey - but sorting the problems created by unstable blanks is akin to a Viking saga. I'd long known there were issues with them, but the true extent was not realised until I was in it up to my neck. Why he didn't use more Dargo blanks for the patterns I will never know. I expect it may have been that he'd had the blanks he used in storage for many years and expected they'd surely be stable. Now, they are just about done and the patterns will be proudly made use of for as long as ACRS can do so. My father Jock has been staunch as owner of Geoff's new outside shapes that I've transformed into patterns. This would not have happened without him buying those new shapes.

These are both Geoff's best, and final, word - totally NEW designs, and my best interpretation of what Geoff would have done with them from where he left off. They will be marketed as such, to be cut only from Australian-grown walnut, and until such a time as the patterns and/or blanks are sold will only be available from ACRS. I've actually tried to sell both the patterns and blanks for some time, but I have been messed around so much. With Geoff's words ringing loudly in my ears, it seems they must come from my hands in order to recover the costs of this endeavour.

A separate page announcing these new patterns will be published in the not-too-distant future. They in no way replace my own ACRS patterns. They are an additional range of new patterns, and it's important that they be bought to market as a quality product. In the meantime, pictured is Geoff's first, archetypal, refined pattern; completed as a show-stopper. Yes, it's a pattern - Geoff's spur marks shown in the photos are unique. It shows my great mentor meant business, and is a fine totem. From this pattern on, they just get better and better.

15 May 2023