Thursday, 31 July 2008

Big Axe

Here's the biggest, heaviest axe I have.

It's a seven pound Elwell felling axe - here's their logo . .

I bought the head from a gipsy called Middy at Hatfield Farmers Market a few years ago now.
I met him at Ashridge Estate on Sunday and although he looks as if he's going blind he's still giving it large . .
He reminded me of the billhooks he'd sold me which had belonged to his dad and his uncles. He remembered the big Elwell axe-head and told us that he'd used it for cutting and laying small trees in hedges.

But I'm sure that when he sold it to me he told me that his predecessors had used it to chop down Oaks on the Hatfield House estate !

It's also got the number 4512554 stamped - perhaps you could work out the date and maker ?!

* * *

Martin Crook came on a days course here today. He did really well and made a sycamore spinning top and carved a small spoon from cherry for his niece. We picked up the sycamore fresh first thing this morning from some tree surgeons working up the road. That's about as green as the Woodworking gets

* *

Tomorrow we're going to be preparing for a weekend at Blake Hall Game & Country Show near Epping/Ongar, Essex so I've been finishing some priest's, made of Ash and loaded with a lead plug and also some crow/pheasant scarers made from Gayne's Park Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa). This has an amazing smell a bit like sweet pickle and is a great wood to work.


Monday, 28 July 2008

Axe & Answer

Who has any ideas about what these two axes are for?

The first is German made by Ochsenkopf (Ox head - I think) has BBV.Wi-Nr.2493 stamped and No 23 which presumably refers to the blade length as it’s 23cm. The short handle is original and the blade doesn’t seem to have ever been sharpened.
Could it have been a shingling axe ? What’s the bit that sticks up on the top of the poll for ?

The second one is a real mystery - it has a curved blade ! Someone gave it to me at the Formby Point Bodgers Ball several years ago. It doesn’t seem all that old and has the remains of a sticker which I think says Diamond brand.
Could it be for chopping out curved shapes or cutting round corners ?


Saturday, 26 July 2008

Linslade Canal Festival

Didn't get off to a very good start today as some bastard nicked our milk from our doorstep again (4 pints of organic semi-skimmed and a pint of orange juice). This is the third time it's happened so next time I'm going to get the milkman to phone me when he leaves it (between 3 & 5 am) and I will be waiting behind the front door with a very sharp axe to CUT THEIR THIEVING HANDS OFF. The police aren't interested despite the fact that everyone's milk is being stolen round here.

Anyway - had a really nice day at the Canal Festival. It's the 4th year we've done it and it just seems to get bigger and better each time. (Linslade is where the Great Train Robbery took place!)
There are more rustic crafts than any other event we do. Being interested in bees - the one that really appealed to me was The Skep Maker


Wednesday, 23 July 2008


Ness putting the final touch of creosote to her bee shed.

Apparently although creosote has been banned from domestic use you can still buy it in 25 gallon drums (black or brown) from Agricultural Merchants costs 40 quid . . . I love the smell.

Going to Faversham to see my Dad & Velma tomorrow and then preparing for the weekend . . .

Saturday at Linslade Canal Festival &

Sunday at Chilterns Countryside Festival


Monday, 21 July 2008

Tool marks

I've been doing some more shaping and carving on my Rebec. Might have got slightly carried away as you can see light coming through at a couple of points ! Perhaps I could have the sound hole at the back ?

As I was carving off the shavings I wondered about the hand tools I was using - chisels, gouges, knives, drawknives, spokeshaves etc. If I had roughed it out with power tools and then put on a hand tooled finish would anyone know the difference ? (I would) Would the instrument have a different/better sound ?

Got to source a nice piece of European Spruce for the front now + horsehair + catgut . . .

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Bee Store

Now we've finished we can move all the bee stuff into it. Hopefully when I get my shed back I can have a go on the treadle lathe.

The bees aren't happy about this cold, wet, windy weather.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Skeleton Clock & Oak ID

Went to Wickes and got some wood for new bearers for the shed floor. Managed to get them level on some blocks and got the floor nailed down. So tomorrow have to get some tongue and groove and hopefully finish it . . . watch this space

Been to E Herts Turning Club tonight with Bill Monroe who was demonstrating making a Skeleton Clock. Unfortunately I left my glasses and camera on his wall so did not get any photos. But I will get a picture of one of his clocks and post it.

For all you budding dendrologists out there . . .

Here's an Oak ID - lets have the Latin names as well . . .

As the common ones !

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Jigsaw Puzzle Shed

We spent a while trying to figure out how to put that shed back together that we got from Freecycle some time ago - I had to butcher it a bit to get it in the van.

I think we figured it out and I pulled out all the old nails and staples - a few bearers, some tongue and groove and a load of nails then . . .

The wind had almost totally demolished the A frame shelter that we made last week ! but we put it back up and set up the fire and made a cup of tea . .

Going to be at Wanstead Music Festival this weekend.


Sunday, 13 July 2008

A Strange Weekend

We arrived at Leonardslee on Friday afternoon and were a bit shocked to find it was a tin-pot event, hardly anything of it, compared to some of the big shows we had done there several years ago for another organiser. No arena events, no entertainment but the real bete noir was this infernal machine which was situated about 50 feet behind us . . .
It started churning out its relentless cacophony at 10 am and was switched off at 5pm - for TWO DAYS !! - playing everything from Abba to Bach. I would rather it had been a bagpipe band which I can just about stand for 5 minutes !

I managed to avoid doing any turning much today as I didn't feel in the right frame of mind but I had a piece of wood on the lathe and did an occasional 2 minute demo . . .

Instead I sat on the shavehorse and managed to do the shaping on all that sycamore that I had roughed out the other day.

Sunday was a pleasant day, weather was well behaved and we spoke to some friendly and interesting people.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


* * *

We've just about sold out of all culinary treen lately so today with a few swift whacks on the froe and some quick strokes of the axe I reduced a small sycamore log from

this . . .

to this . . .

in a couple of hours.

Now I have to refine them with the drawknife, spokeshave and various other knives . . .

which is quite good fun but takes longer (more fun to do than to write about).

Also made us some new name badges from thin pieces of rippled Sycamore . . .

for our rustic corporate image !

Going to be going down to Leonardslee in Sussex for the weekend. Hopefully they'll want kitchenware down there.


Monday, 7 July 2008

Pump drill

We decided to go and mooch round some junky antique shops in Sawbridgeworth today and Ness spotted this pump drill . . .

Obviously that cord isn't original - anyone got any ideas on what type of bit would have originally been used ?

According to Salaman this type of drill was only used for metal, stone etc and not wood because the bit would have got bound/stuck on the return stroke.

We also bought an angle measuring gadget, a very clever boxwood corkscrew "A Present From the Seaside" and an interesting book about the History of the Rocking Chair

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Highgate Wood


Wet, wild, windy Woody weekend.

It was a bit like being at a party with hardly any guests. I used it as a chance to make up some stock and also got some cherry that had been cut down in the Wood.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Birdy Greeting

I forgot to mention that we had just moved into the "little home of our own" yesterday - We were sitting having a cup of tea and listening to the rain pattering on the tarp when a Spotted Woodpecker flew through (just missing my shoulder) and landed on a nearby Ash tree.

Then a very entertaining thrush (also known as the Stormcock) started singing in the tree right above us - it's chorus was wild, mad, free and slightly clownish - we laughed at some of things it was coming out with . . . !
No pictures though.

Today, among other things, we skanked a few hazel rods from some nearby stools and made a load of crayons and pencils for Highgate Wood at the weekend. There are good quality punters round there but sometimes we might sell £100 of crayons & pencils in a weekend . . . if nothing else.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

New Shelter + ID.

We've got a new den !

Actually we HAD to put this up today as it was raining - Vanessa's making our first lunch in our new home. (We've already thought of several improvements).

A new challenge for the Tree Buffs out there . . .

What tree is this and what is the fruit ?


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Sharp tools = no dust

These are the gouges I've been using to carve out the inside of the rebec with.

The top two are favourite for spoon carving which I've been doing for quite a while now and . . .

they take and hold a really good edge.

The thing about a really sharp tool is that it imparts its sharpeness to the wood that it cuts.

I have a Power Strop which came from Tilgear - I use it in the electric drill held in the vice - apply some white stick and you get those mirror- finish bevel edges. Give the edge a touch up every so often. Save on abrasives and dust.

We'll be demonstrating at Highgate Wood near Muswell Hill this weekend coming. Hope the weather holds as last year at this time we froze and Vanessa got a chilblain !