It’s been a long day, spent mostly sat in the driver’s seat of my car. In the process, I’ve covered a good three-hundred miles… And I now have a new pillar drill to show for it!
Axminster ED16B Pillar Drill.
(…At present, it’s too heavy for me to lift up on to the ‘bench by myself. Also, note how it’s slightly taller than my 900mm workbench!)
It all started with a two-hour drive down to Plymouth, to collect this drill from Tim at TJ Wood Machine Solutions (we arranged to meet on-site where Tim was working). I couldn’t argue with the price I payed (less than half that of a brand-new model!) and Tim was very honest in making me aware of any “short-comings” before handing over the cash – it had been sat doing nothing in his workshop since the beginning of the year (hence the rust) and there were a couple of bits missing (no hardship).
So, that was another 80kg load in to the back of my Ford Escort – their were a few whimpers but the suspension didn’t groan anything like it has done in the past!! 😉
You might [well, I did…] think of Plymouth as a fairly pleasant place to visit; on the south-west coast and all that… But, as soon as I neared the centre of the town, with the never-ending roadworks, diversions and speed cameras every quarter-mile, I was quite eager to get out again!! (I also blame those roadworks for my inability to read a Google Map print-out and, thereafter, my delayed arrival at the destination….)
As this drill was missing the rise-and-fall handle for the rack-and-pinion mechanism that drives the vertical motion of the table, this meant a call in to Axminster’s store in Devon. It was the first time I’d visited and I didn’t come away disappointed. I got to lay my hands on two much-sought-after Festool tools (the Domino jointer and Kapex sliding mitre saw) – …It felt good!! But, I only went in for the spare part and a couple of new bobbin sleeves for my oscillating spindle sander. That still required a trip to their warehouse and – once again; but, not for the last time on this outing – my deficiencies in the art of map-reading were clear for all to see (I’m sure I went around one roundabout at least four-times…). Well, I did find the store without driving past – but then, I almost left without taking a look upstairs!
Some people have an aptitude for finding their way around unknown lands – clearly, I’m not one of them!! It might be handy to have a “navigator” [not a SatNav!!!] alongside me, sometimes – as long as they don’t stop me from over-filling my car with timber!! 😉
One thing I was pleased to learn on this adventure is that Yandles (home to the south west’s bi-annual woodworking show) is only about half-an-hour north of Axminster… Well, provided you turn left somewhere near Crewkerne and don’t end up driving a very long way around and back on to the familiar A303! 😳
It’s always good to just have a look around and meet one or two people at shows like this (you don’t “have” to buy anything!). However, I find I can’t spend more than a couple of hours there – with everything crammed indoors and undercover (unlike the Festival of Tree at Westonbirt Arboretum, which is mostly all out and open), it gets awfully over-crowded and it can be very difficult to navigate between stands (particularly where demonstrations are going on – I would like to have seen more from the guy building acoustic guitars). Without a clear showing or stand from Triton this year, I was unable to purchase the Dust Bucket I’m interested in. Looks like I’ll have to buy one full-price, online. At least, I did manage to drop off my entry in to British Woodworking’s Block Plane Challenge – if you’re attending the European Woodworking Show next month, I understand that all the entries will be on show.
This was the first time I’d made it to one of Yandles’ shows in eighteen-months. Last time, I wasn’t very impressed by the quality of a lot of the timber that was on offer – for example; highly-priced English walnut with less than 50% of usable timber; some other species were ridden with bore holes evident of insect infestation. This time, however, things were different… I was generally impressed by the quality of their stock overall. On this occasion, they also had some beautiful large stocks of English elm and chestnut in 1in thick boards, not to mention the thicker slabs cedar of Lebanon lurking around the corner – if only I had the spare cash! If you get the chance tomorrow, this show is very well worth visiting (both entry and car parking are free).
Much later than initially planned (!), the drive back home was about as frustrating any other time I’d spent in my car. Instead of following the ‘known’ (M5 or A37) routes that I’ve successfully accomplished several times before, I decided I would try to follow the scenic path through Somerton, Street, Glastonbury, Wedmore and Cheddar (something like that…) which, if you drew the route as a straight line, would almost take you straight to my front door (sort of…). It wasn’t so much the navigation, here though, as it was the constant red lights, stop-starting and general traffic in and around the narrow streets. Even on the country lanes, you’d find stretches where the ‘national speed limit’ lasts for only a couple of hundred yards before you’ve got to push down hard on the brakes and crawl right down to 30mph (actually, many town and village centres within North Devon and Somerset seem to have a adopted a 20mph limit :-P). Or, you come across a stretch of open road; the national speed is your limit and it’s uphill all the way – in a fifteen-year-old Escort with an 80kg load on the rear, that means only one thing… Third gear!!!
It’s no wonder why my car manage to consume almost three-quarters of a 1.3lt tank in the best part of a day! That ‘scenic route’ is never to be driven again. I swear it took me a good two-hours to get home like that, when my average journey time on this trip is usually little more than one-hour and fifteen-minutes.
That’s enough ranting for one night. I apologise for going completely off-topic!
Once I’ve had a chance to get to know my new friend better, I’ll let you know of my thoughts on the new drill and, interestingly, how it compares to the Clarke model I’ve been quite happy with for the past four-years.
Thank you for staying until the end! 🙂