First of all, I need to clarify something from last week’s Newsletter. One of the suggestions that was sent to us for the use of conkers was to feed them to horses to make their coats shine. There is a danger that this could be poisonous for horses so please don’t do this, just in case. Apparently boar and deer can cope with it, but not horses. I make no claims about knowing much about this, I’m only passing on feedback!
The winner of the competition is revealed below, and the spider debate continues as well. I almost wish I hadn’t started this!
Let’s answer some questions…

We were asked this week about the best way to connect the Large Mandrel from our Buffing Wheel Kit into a certain chuck. Rather like the Aerogun question last week, the answer is fairly obvious but only when you’re used to handling the items all the time. Try as we might, sometimes the written description doesn’t always give the full picture. But I’ll try…
To the best of our knowledge, the mandrel will fit any chuck; it’s a cylinder with a step in it. The narrow part has an 18mm diameter and the rest is 25mm.Fitting it in any chuck should be simple, the mandrel is mounted just as you would fit a piece of timber into the chuck. Which part of the cylinder you connect to will depend on the size of jaws you are using. The mandrel can be gripped on either section, using the 18mm section gives slightly more clearance from the chuck.

A question just in about Food Safe Finish; can we confirm that this will provide an effective sealing layer on the inside of a yew bowl, so that it can be used for food? Afraid not, sorry. The Food Safe Finish will maintain the safety of the wood, will protect it and won’t taint any food that is placed in it, but it won’t improve the inherent safety/suitability of the timber. As yew is known to be poisonous it would be best to avoid this timber when making a bowl for food, although how much of the harmful taxines in the wood might be transferred to food is debatable anyway. To be honest, even if the Food Safe Finish were able to protect against the effects of the timber, the very real possiblity of it being removed when being used or washed would also worry me.

A few weeks ago a good friend asked me for some information about abrasives. I like to think that I have a good working knowledge of them, but for more in-depth info I referred to our specialist abrasive supplier. A mine of information, it’s always fascinating talking to him, and as the initial question here was very broad I’ll be sharing some of his wisdom in the coming weeks.I was though, asked in particular about the theory that ‘old 180 grit cuts like 240 grit’ or the like.
This is myth, but for more complex reasons than you might think. The abrasive particles are a multi-faceted block, vaguely rectangular in profile. The smaller edge does the cutting, and is electrostatically charged so that when it is applied to the backing the majority of the blocks stand upright (think of iron filings on a magnet). In use, the blocks break down, but here’s the important part – they break diagonally, exposing fresh abrasive each time, which is what helps them stay sharp longer. Eventually, of course, they will break down to pretty much nothing, which is when it’s time to replace it. But the abrasive doesn’t get ‘finer’ with age, it either works, or it doesn’t!

So, the moment you’ve been waiting for… the winner of the conkers quiz is… Michael Harding! Congratulations! We’ll be sending you your voucher shortly.
In the meantime, I mentioned about spiders on boats last week, prompting Eddie P to send us a picture of his boat, in which if we look closely we could see a number of cobwebs around the tanks; Eddie also tells me that spider poo makes an awful mess and is surprisingly difficult to clean off. The situation is much better now with the conkers in place.
As to how they get there..? Well if you’re scared of spiders, you probably shouldn’t watch this video, but otherwise you’ll hopefully find this amazing.
And you thought you came here for information about finishing!

That’s enough for this week, I hope you’ll join me again next Friday (or whenever you read this rubbish!).

All the best