Monday, 29 June 2009

The Treen

Robert Turner reminded me the other day about the Mekon in Dan Dare. He is the leader of The Treen - or perhaps he just collects old wooden artefacts ?

We're going up to Norwich tomorrow to demonstrate at the Royal Norfolk Show on Wednesday and Thursday. It'll be good to meet up with all the other crafters.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Sunday News

Was able to use the Superjaws for the first time today to glue and clamp the shavehorse body back together. I decided that repair is more in the spirit than making new - screwed and glued a piece of maple across the split. I'm sure it will hold together for years to come . . .

Made a pair of spoon earrings from Silver Birch - they look like tiny, chunky, Medieval ladles. I've found a way to make a lot of blanks quite quickly which I'll post about soon.

A wren has built a nest in my workshed just above the lathe - it's been there for several months and we thought it was abandoned. Now you can hear the babies cheeping when the adults come in with food.

I knew there were a lot of wrens around here as you often hear their shrill song but they seem quite secretive - you hardly ever see one. These are quite bold and seem unconcerned at us being there.

Friday, 26 June 2009

By Axe, Drawknife & Chisel

This is Robert Turner who has been here on a course today and has lived up to his name.

He made a spurtle, but an English one with an acorn on the end, as he is a big porridge fan and a lemon reamer. Both were from the Birch I borrowed from Epping Forest recently.

Spinning top query

I recently had this email message from Owen Churchill regarding the Spinning Tops post on June 3 . . .

"hi robin
i enjoyed scrolling through your blog the other day. i'm a young and naive woodturner doing a pole-lathe demo/stall at our village festival this weekend, and am short of ideas other than spinning tops, eggs and mushrooms, since most of my turning is seasoned faceplate stuff on the electric lathe. i was interested by your design of spinning tops, does the top have a hole through the stem for the string or does it work by just wrapping the thread over itself?
any other small project ideas or tips on the tops so to speak would be really greatHi Owen

My answer
Why not get a Google identity and leave a comment on the blog ? - I'm interested in getting some discussion going.
The top does have a hole through the stem but you could probably wrap it back on itself when you "load" it.

P.S. It's not my design of top - probably Victorian and there will be a "how to make one" article in the next Bodgers Gazette.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


I was just wondering if everyone has heard of Spotify yet ?

It's an online music site where you can play the whole tune of a very big library of tunes. NOT like iTunes where you can only play 30 seconds of a track. It's an application which you have to download - no big deal . . .

The Downside is that you have to listen to madverts every so often.
Also there is no Beatles, Led Zep or Floyd for you old hippies. The Stones are all there . . . and Bowie . . .

Give it a go.


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A New Tool


This is my first purchase from eBay I mentioned recently.

A chunky, foot operated vice. A well designed, modern work horse. Very robust and portable, useful for spooncarving demos and any number of other things. I'll have to make some wood and leather jaws. It has a massive clamping force worked by an ingenious system of lock and levers.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Melford Hall

A young Medieval re-enactor learning a bit about working wood. I was cutting the point on an acorn which I formed on the end of a spurtle (the English version - the Scots have a thistle). He was very interested and asked me a non-stop stream of questions.

My Shop at the show

I made this table/stool/bench/sawhorse about 15 years ago before I had a shavehorse. It still gets a lot of use, the legs fall off when it's hot and dry, the crack's been there since day 1 and it's out in all weathers. Mike Abbott told me off for making stooltops from Sweet Chestnut but this one's obviously a survivor . . .

Unlike the shavehorse . . .

It wasn't that old, maybe 5/6 years and made from fairly quick grown Scots Pine from a local estate.

I thought this plank of Italian Black Poplar could make a possible repacement for the shavehorse body - not sure about the position of that knot though . . .

Oh yes - I bought my first ever item from eBay today, it got quite exciting toward the end !
(more soon)


Saturday, 20 June 2009

I killed my horse . . .

. . . By accident !

Jed looking on in sympathy.

I stood on it to put the cover over the lathe and split it. It was quite a shock - you expect these things to last forever. Another demonstrator, Dave, let me use his so I didn't have to just axe my billets.

The rain came down which was quite depressing and I started to think I didn't want to be here anymore. Luckily John Abel, a student of mine, turned up after having seen yesterday's post and cheered us up. Here is his thought for the day . . .

"What's the difference between a rut and a grave ?"
The depth.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Apple Spoon

Going to demonstrate at Melford Hall near Long Melford in Suffolk for the weekend. Last year it was a very interesting show - let's hope the weather's good and loads of people come out.

I carved this tiny spoon in an idle but creative moment. Almost took longer than a full size spoon as it was fiddly to grip. It is from Applewood and I have used a Pink Lady to give a sense of scale. I'm going to make another so Vanessa has a pair of earrings.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

New Tool Shed

Spent yesterday assembling the new tool shed on our plot (and the day before that waiting for it to be delivered). Thank god for cordless drills !
All those old tools which I took out of our loft in the Winter will have a proper home rather than cluttering up the other sheds.

The finishing touch

We've got a great big tub of proper creosote so that'll be getting slathered on all over - I can't bear these water based preservatives ha ha.

Jed slept most of the time on the shaving pile although we did let him off the lead for the first time and he didn't wander off too much.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Garden Life

The weather was fantastic and we spent most of the weekend living in the garden. In between bouts of playing with Jed I managed to carve some kitchen utensils from Sycamore and Lime. Also spoons from Cherry & Apple.

Strange day Sunday.
We went off to a boot fair (people selling and buying junk in a field) early and arrived to see a "NO DOGS" sign. So no junk for us . . . although you do hope to find some treasure like a book or tool. Decided to go up to High Beach in Epping Forest for a bacon butty and a cup of tea but the caff was closed. So we had a nice walk in the woods and I skanked a nice straight piece of freshly felled Silver Birch (which is a wood I find it strangely difficult to get hold of). When we got back to the van the caff had opened but despite me shouting "Hello" for 5 minutes nobody came out to serve us. We came home and made our own bacon sarnies.

In the evening I lit a fire in the barbecue and we sat out till late.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Tractor seat

I thought this old tractor seat could be good on the shavehorse . . .

It feels really comfortable - you could shave all day. I'll have to find some way of fixing it.
I think it was from a DB, a Fergie or a Fordson but someone else may know better ?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

1st Bowl

. . . turned on an electric lathe.

Went round to my mate Bill Munroe's this afternoon and had my first proper lesson on a power lathe. He showed me how to make a lidded box and then I had a go at making a small Ash bowl.
Someone mentioned using fruit to give a sense of scale and the avocado was all I could find - it is quite a big one !
The shaping happened very quickly but I couldn't feel the rhythm of the machine or contact with the process. Funnily enough another friend, Jon Warwicker, came round today with 2 spacers for the tailstock of my treadle lathe to bring it up to the same height as the headstock. I'll have a go on that - still using leg power but spinning round the same way rather than reciprocating.

Bill also gave me this lovely old box handled spoon gouge and a bottle of red wine - what a generous guy.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Somewhere in England

Elton Hall was a great venue for a craft show and Charlie & Emma had worked really hard to make it a good one - something for everyone. What a shame about the weather though. You'd think we'd be used to it by now having grown webbed feet in the last 2 summers but it's still depressing. The only bonus was that the rain stopped in time for us to pack up in the dry.
I always enjoy meeting up and chatting with the other craft demonstrators that we may not have seen for some time. Mark Cottrell was there with his sons Henry & Roger. He comes from a line of broomsquires going back at least 100 years - not many people working today can make that claim.
Jed really enjoyed his first show - mainly eating sheep shit and tufts of wool.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Spinning tops

I've been preparing some blanks for making spinning tops for a demonstration this weekend at Elton Hall near Peterborough.

Drilling those 7/8th inch holes through a 4 inch Ash billet with a brace and bit keeps you warm.

This is the finished turning

I quite often hear children asking their parents what I'm making?
"Must be a chair leg because that's what people make on those old lathes" . . . isn't it?

Some tops in Ash & Chestnut

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Fire loves me

I got this heart shaped burn last weekend when I drunkenly and recklessly picked up a brick from the barbecue.

Monday, 1 June 2009

New lathe

We camped on our plot this weekend and after being inspired by the lathe makers at the Bodger's Ball recently I decided to make myself a bowl turning lathe.

The bed is a lump of Cedar of Lebanon which I've had for quite a while - smells lovely to work - I thought all the legs were Sweet Chestnut but one turned out to be Oak and the poppets are Elm. I'll look forward to finishing it soon...

A Dude turned up for the evening barbecue looking a bit fierce but soon lightened up with the convivial company.

Jed loves it over there. We tie his lead to a long bit of rope with a smallish log tied to the other end (a bit like a ball and chain!) so that he can get around but not run off. He's very good at tying himself and everyone else in tangly knots and useless at undoing them.

When I got up the other morning he seemed to have doubled in size overnight. Here's a picture with one of my sandals (size 11) for scale.