Man cave talk.

Cornwall is quite alternative in many ways.

Firstly most of the villages round here have adopted an entirely different highway code to everywhere ‘normal’ and by my observation also seem to run on a completely separate sense of time as well.   Many of us sailors here will know about mediterranean time well known as  ‘manana’ which loosely translates as ‘after siesta sometime next week’ (on a good day).        Cornwall runs on ‘dreckly’ time which is local-speak for ‘i shall attend to it directly’ but which is actually translates as  when i am not completely stoned or off the planet on cheap booze.     This might seem a cheap jibe except that most of the villages really do have a high rate of alcoholism and drug use.   A very sharp and perceptive nurse colleague describes her observation of the school run as partly those that live on a diet of country pursuits, she calls them the Farrow & Ball set, and the other lot who had heroin for breakfast.     In many ways Cornwall reminds me of my time living in north Wales, not the mountains and beautiful coast but desperate small, run down villages with abandoned chapels, angry and depressed locals and  sticky floored unwelcoming pubs.

Tourists don’t see this side of Cornwall, i guess that i see different sides to the county because of actually living here and not going off to work every day.  There is very little work here so most people that do work commute into one of the local towns or the city 20 miles away.

Anyway, now that i have thoroughly depressed my readers let me show you what i have been doing for the actual second project of the year.   The second or current project should have been working on the little boat but i have had such bad problems with one knee when i have worked on it that i have put the project aside again until i can work on it and have any chance of standing upright again.   For an open boat it’s surprisingly hard to actually work on because all the spaces that i need to work in are just that bit too small … trying to work in-between the side tanks and the centerboard case. I did finish hacking the old and nasty expanded foam out of the buoyancy tanks and did get the new hatches on but not much else has happened.  I do have a load of scrounged-up parts ready to go for when the weather (and my knee) is better.

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The second big problem i have run into again is that i’m not really set up to actually work on projects like the boat at home which is strange given that the boat is literally outside the workshop.  In the past i have always worked on boats at a distance, usually at the boatyard or when actually aboard and at sea.  My usual way of working in the last few years has been to work out of the back deck of the Pajero so everything, tools and materials etc, lives in crates so that the workshop is more like a store and less like somewhere that i do jobs.     Added to that we have just finished a big project, the bathroom, before which i had to ‘organise’ the workshop so that we could get the new building materials and all the kit in there.

Organising in this sense meant piling everything over to one side of the benches to leave the larger space free.    During the project itself i had tools scattered everywhere, some inside where i was doing the ply panels, some in the workshop, some in the bathroom and so on.  At the end i just piled everything back on the bench and into toolbags just so that i could empty and clean the house.   No surprise then that when i did decide to start on the boat project i could not only find anything but hardly get to the bench or see much floor.


What i really need now is one dry day so that i can empty the whole workshop out, sort out the useful scrap and offcuts of building materials (the ply offcuts will be useful) and sort/re-organise everything back into workshop mode.    Yesterday when i got in there it was of course raining steadily just as it seems to have been since last ‘summer’ so there was no chance of pulling stuff out, instead i decided to do a very fast and dirty project that i have needed to do for some time which is make a tool rack so that i can see and access my common tools quickly rather than delving through boxes and bags.   I have to mention this …..i had to find something when i was doing the Henderson hatches and i had an idea that it would have fallen into the bottom of my bucket-style toolbag.  There is often an awkward tangle of tools in there unless it is organised exactly but what i hadn’t noticed was that the small and ultra-sharp flexible Japanese saw had been stuffed in there and i managed to run the side of my hand down that !.   That’s why everything then ended up on the floor and i had the second coffee of the morning until the bleeding stopped.

Just for an experiment i found a piece of scrap plywood that would just about fit a space on the wall near the bench and played around with laying out the tools i use most of the time.  It looked as though it might just work and with plenty of scrap timber lying around i just set-to with the aim of getting it done in one day.



I could have spent some time just drawing and designing but even with the first one-dimensional layout i figured that a better approach was just to build a layer quickly and then see how the next might work in relation to that.   The final (for now) layout is much more compact and 3 dimensional than the original and a quick count at the end of the day showed me that i had given a place for just over 60 tools and the only things not on it and that i wanted on it were 2 tape measures and 2 sets of allen keys and even after that there would be space left over.  Up and on the wall at the end of the day with the main tools stowed.  Its a fast and dirty job….but it seems to work fine.



The bench is still a mess and there are now a whole load of less commonly used hand tools to stow away, the materials and fasteners crates to re-organise but at least i can see my working tools for the first time here.     Obviously it’s a rough and ready job done very quickly but i figure that a bad job on this one that is actually functional is much better than a nice set of sketches in my project notebook.  Of course i can see a dozen ways to improve it already, i know that many here strive for ‘right first time’ but i don’t seem to be able to do that, rather i need to get the model roughed-out and then get a better version done ‘dreckly’.

Just for a bit of workshop porn here is the famous ‘Studley’ tool chest which i think was built by a woodworker/piano builder.


This is rather nice too although a new larger toolbag would be more my style.


A custom travelling rig would be really nice so that the back of the truck can go into workshop mode when i get WABI”’ back to base and will be working at the yard again.  That would entail having 3 sets of tools on the go which seems a tad excessive even to me.


Today i was also going to recount the next stage of the totally blocked roads through the village saga and the day’s fiasco down by the GP surgery (itself a bad local joke) which is another choke point for local traffic but… usual involving the little old lady parked in the road outside, at least 2 busy and impatient white van drivers, an angry (female) BMW driver….and me.   You can guess most of it but i will leave the gory details for a furure post.


  1. Very tidy Steve, I have various storage things built out of Tri board which is a chipboard core with a skin of hardboard very useful as its stable when dry and cheap.
    I did a job some time ago that should have been done years ago that is to sort out my threading taps from a heap system (ugh) to a draw system with liners made from tri board with groves routed in them, oh the joy of finding the correct tap in one go, this of course involved the purchase (on sale of course) of a new bright red tool box system which apart from the 3 draws allocated to taps and tap wrenches contains milling cutters lathe tools etc etc, need more room or less tools mmmm


  2. Looks like you’ve nearly slain the workshop dragon Steve. As for the rural wilds of north Wales, I lived there too for a few years and can only agree, especially the bit about the pubs — this was a regular occurrence!

    I wonder what “The Slaughtered Lamb” is yn Gymraeg 😉 Still. overall I enjoyed my time there.


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