Friday, 30 May 2008

Whistle making on YouTube

 Phew . . . what with dogs barking, ice cream vans chiming, film crew having nervous breakdowns and the star 'f'ing and blinding at his cock ups. . . here it is.

If you can't make a whistle after watching this . . . get in touch and come on a course to have fun.

I think I'll have to wet my whistle now because I'm spitting feathers and the camerawoman thinks that we could make another film of the out-takes which would be hilarious !

Don't forget about Wizardry in Wood next week - I'll be there on Thursday, June 5th.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Coming soon . . .

We were all ready to make a new video for YouTube today but the light went and it started to rain . . . so watch this space.

Come and see the wood wizards next week (4th-6th June) at The Carpenters Hall. You need to book a ticket first (free) though.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Oak, Walnut & Fonts

It was good to be demonstrating next to Neil Taylor at Blenheim at the weekend as we hadn't seen him for quite a while. He's a dab hand with the adze and makes some great seats, stools and chairs. The Welsh chair below is in Oak & Walnut.

I bought a stool from him a couple of years ago to play the guitar on but it never felt quite right so we took it to an event earlier in the year and sold it (as his). A lady contacted us afterwards and wanted to order 4 like it for her new breakfast bar so we were able to pass him on quite a nice commission.

In looking at the demonstrators stands I thought they looked a bit jaded and tatty (including mine) - same old dog-eared signs and props. So I have decided to spruce things up a bit and to that end have bought a typeface from MyFonts - Karacan Pro. I think it has the right feel to it - sort of slightly rustic and old-timey. What do you think ?
Also bought ArtText for doing clever things with typefaces but it's taking some time to get my head round that.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Blenheim Palace

Took this pic first thing on Saturday morning before the absolutely chronic weather moved in to ruin the rest of the weekend.

At the Travelodge in Oxford where we stayed (thank god we weren't camping) the wifi cost £5 an hour - which is why there have been no posts lately.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

How many hoodies fit on a shavehorse ?

Well obviously the answer is SIX . .

And here's the proof . . .

Just got back from Yorkshire. The meal last night was excellent especially the rare, Yorkshire Dales, Rib Eye steak.

Tomorrow we're off to Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire (birth & burial place of Winston Churchill) for a 3-day craft show over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend.

Travelodge here we come again ! (Wonder if they have free 24hr wifi there?)


Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Order & Chaos

We're sitting in our Best Western motel room, which is within spitting distance of the Countryside Live showground on the Ledston Estate, having some tea and relaxing after Day 1.

The stand

I love the way they form an orderly queue to begin with
and the fact that I don't have to do any of the legwork !

Pretty soon it descends into chaos

Some young ladies having a go with a bilboquet (where you have to catch the ball on a spike).

Time for a refreshing shower and then a meal in the restaurant here which is apparently highly rated - the menu looks interesting with a lot of local fare available. Thank god it isn't Brake Bros style catering - we've been living off snacks for the last couple of days.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Countryside Live

I hear and I forget

I see and I remember
I do and I understand

This is the motto of The Countryside Foundation for Education who organise Countryside Live to show inner city kids the sort of things that go on in the country. We're going to the one up in Yorkshire at the Ledston Estate near Leeds tomorrow for the 2 day show.

There are birds of prey, pheasants, gun dogs, farmers, corn dolly makers, sheep shearers, hurdle makers, charcoal burners, tractors, horses, donkeys, cows and goats etc. etc... and a bodger !

Around 2000 children attend each day over the two days and most of them want to have a go on the lathe so they do understand what's going on and they'll be doing all the leg work !

We do two shows a year. One in Spring for the Northern industrial cities and one in the Autumn for London. It's great to see the look on the face of a child who's got a bird of prey on their arm as a lot of them have never been into the countryside before. They don't know about milking cows and think that milk comes in a plastic container from the supermarket.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Shearing woolly maggots & real bodging.

Next to us today at The Woodlands Farm show today was a guy with a lot of little old engines from the 1920's & 30's. The one above was specially for powering sheep shears. One thing that amazed me was that you can still buy the cutters for these on eBay.

The finished product . . .

Mick the hurdle and besom broom maker brought along a chair spindle for me to make three copies of for a mate of his. The original was quite badly made from birch I think - it even had some bark left on it ! I find it impossible to make things badly so the mate will just have to chop them about a bit if he wants a better match.

At least it gave me a chance to demonstrate real bodging.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Green Town

I can't really believe that I haven't put anything up about this before now . . . !
Sorry for the oversight.

Oliver Swann was the guy who dragged me out of the Dark Ages and into the techno-revolution and all this webby stuff.

He first contacted me in 2005 about having a mention on his Green Woodland site. I sent him a load of blurb and a disc of photos - he phoned me shortly after to say "There's too much there for a mention - you need your own website. You've got a good domain name which hasn't been taken and I've reserved it for you".

I had thought that I would have a website in the future and I would have a lot of input in how it looked, typefaces etc but from the stuff I sent him it just popped up - - clear, concise and simple. My website has been so successful that a large proportion of my new business comes from it.

He regularly updates the site and has coached me in the ways and means of cyberspace. He also suggested various additions and improvements to the site. It is thanks to him that you can regularly read my diary on Blogspot as it was he who suggested starting it.

If you're thinking of having a website - he's your man.
Check him out at Green Town.

Back to reality now I have to sort out some wood and sharpen my tools ready for tomorrows demonstration at Woodlands Farm Trust Spring Show.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Spring Show

A clutch of whimmy diddles I just knocked up for a show we're doing this weekend - The Woodlands Farm Trust Spring Show

Chances are that we won't sell any. What usually happens is that we run out of a line so I make a load more for for the next show and . . .we don't sell any. You never know what to expect - "hope for the best and expect the worst" is about all you can do.

We'll also have a selection of tools and handles for sale even more interesting than these (and the billhook handles will be fitted).

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Wine rack

Dave Stovell, who came on a course with me on 13th March (see blog for that day), sent me this photo today.

Its a wine rack he's designed and made for which I made the ash uprights with wire-burned lines.

He's written the 'back story' which I think includes photos like this . . .

and also worked out the carbon footprint . . .

Provenance of Coppice wine Rack:
Cut at 51º55'11.56"N 0º32'53.40"E by Stephen Westover of Westover Woodlands
Mileage used 15.56 miles

Ash poles
Turned by Robin Fawcett of Treewright
Ash locally sourced from road works nr A10 and J25 of M25 51º41'43.31"N 0º03'38.51"W
Mileage used 32.8 miles

Ash base
Made by Robbins Cabinet making
source unknown
Mileage used 11.1 miles

Bottle Tubes
Metropolitan works, Commercial Road London
Chipboard source unknown
Mileage used 107.18 miles

Total mileage: 166.64

The wine rack is in this show of contemporary work which has just started and is on for a couple of weeks.

Apparently it is also worth having a look at the chairs that surround the walls in the second room, this is the Frederic Parker Collection of antique chairs.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


We went to Margate in Kent where my Dad is in the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital. He did look poorly and I really hope he starts to feel better soon.

Before we went to see him we had a jaunt round the town.

Had Fish & Chips in a caff overlooking the beach and the sea . . . .

Made friends with one of the locals . . .

There is some really gorgeous architecture in the 'old town'. This is called The Tudor House, built in 1601, although it has an air of being a bit unloved and unappreciated - I wouldn't mind living there.

Some very nice Georgian buildings

and quite a lot of semi-derelict and empty shops and buildings

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Whimmy Diddle video

Uploaded my first video to YouTube showing how you can make a simple toy from a twig and a shaving.
I was a bit apprehensive but the process is fairly straightforward and only took about an hour to shoot, edit and upload. It gave me a strange, childish sense of achievement. Only thing was that I didn't realise you had to upload an image to go on the 'cover' so it's just the camera ikon at the moment - I'll have to look into that.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Bodgers Ball

Beth Jameson showing that all bodgers are not old and grizzled! Shaving, I think, a sycamore billet in preparation for me to make a spurtle in exchange for a load of hazel rods supplied by her dad Peter.
Des Jones is in the background under the shade of his gazebo - we really needed shelter this weekend but often at Bodgers Balls it's from the rain!
Note the excellent style and posture and the Pole lathe 2000 design.

Kevin Warrington showing his skills during an early morning whimmy diddling session.

Nice to see these two old stagers who have been missing from this event for a few years . . .

Maurice Clother
& Hugh Roberts

Ben & Lois taking part in the half-hour challenge - you can almost smell the concentration and determination. You certainly mustn't distract them or try to speak to them at this point. Dave Partridge is nonchalantly hanging around at the back to try and pick up a few bowl turning tips from Ben.
Lois actually won this competition with her cherry lemon reamer.

Caption Competition:
Is something slightly odd going on here during Rob Wood's whittling class? What might it be? Answers on a postcard or just post a comment.

My demonstrations were slightly under-attended (2 people watched me make a spinning top on Saturday and 1 on Sunday) due to the fact that there was just so much going on. A lot of people came to see what whimmy diddles are (a notched stick with a propeller made from a shaving which spins when you rub another stick over the notches) and a lot got made and taken away by children of all ages.

A great time was had by all. The bar did a roaring trade (I did a half hour stint as barman which was a first for me). The beer ran out on Saturday night - probably a good thing as hangover + relentless sun is no fun.

Next years event is being organised by Ralph Sixsmith & the South Yorkshire Group at Cusworth Hall, Doncaster. Looking forward to that already!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

In Pole Position ?

This is an article from July 2005 Woodturning magazine by Stuart King. His articles are the most interesting thing in that magazine. Unfortunately they omitted to include any contact details so nothing really came of it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008


As I said - there were some real skills on show in the demonstration marquees at Woburn.

Here's some pictures of corn dollies made by Carol & Ralph Attewell from Leicester. They had a very impressive display of strawcraft and are members of the Guild of Straw Craftsmen

Nick Westermann a blacksmith from Machynlleth was also there. I like his work and he has made some tools for me in the past.
Here's a selection of knobs, knockers, handles, hooks and nails.

There was also a stick maker, felt maker, woodcarver, ladder back chair maker, calligrapher and a stone mason as well as the aforementioned.

Shame the punters weren't as good quality as the craftsmen!

Bodgers Ball at the weekend . . .

Monday, 5 May 2008


Ralph Hentall is Mr Spoon. He's been carving historic and commemorative spoons for over 40 years and there isn't much he doesn't know about them.To his left is an outrageous piece of craftsmanship, made for him and his wife Joan's wedding anniversary out of a single piece of sycamore.

A selection of lovely shapes . . . .

Spoons carved from oak from HMS Victory (which should really be returned to Chatham Dockyard where it was built - but that's another story!)

& some replicas of ancient spoons which have fooled museum curators . . .

Ralph is writing a book about spoons - it sounds as though it will be as comprehensive as he can manage and I can't wait to see it.

This was at Woburn Abbey Craft Show - there was an extremely high calibre of demonstrators - the 'A' team. I'll post more about it later but after a 3-day show I've entered an almost trance-like state and can't concentrate any more.

Friday, 2 May 2008


Been doing a fair bit of carving and finishing this week. The selection below are in Alder, Hazel, Cherry, Hawthorn, Field Maple, Sycamore & Apple.

I never sand things - can't stand all the dust - but Vanessa likes doing it and she reckons they are easier to sell. We do sometimes get asked for spoons that are only carved by re-enactors but they don't always seem to have much money!

Two scoops, a wiggly spoon and salad servers all in Sycamore.

Scoops and Swedish style salad or pasta servers in Sycamore.

These will all be on sale at Woburn Abbey this weekend . . . we also do Mail Order . . .

Thursday, 1 May 2008


This is Aunty Nessa with her 4 day old niece Charlotte Elizabeth Hoy. Parents are her brother Nigel and his wife Nicola who run Charnwood Antiques in Sawbridgeworth, Herts.

Don't worry it's not going to turn into a BabyBlog!