Thursday, 30 July 2009

A Show at the Seaside

Some Sycamore kitchenware I've carved for the Upton Park Country Show at Poole in Dorset.
Looking forward to a nice weekend by the seaside . . .

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wanton Waste

Once again the Epping Forest authorities do their best to piss me off by pointlessly and needlessly cutting down these Birch trees quite deep within the forest, piling them up and leaving them to rot.

I know about biomass, habitat piles, stag beetle larvae, homes for adders etc, etc but those things occur naturally in the forest. What about me having some to make treen from? I'm an endangered species! but I will be fined quite heavily if I take some and get caught.

The forest gangs will do a reduction on the crown of a huge Beech pollard for no apparent reason other than to give the tree gang some work and a chance to play with the new cherry-picker. They don't touch the dangerous and dying trees which could do with some attention.

What a ridiculous situation... upsetting and frustrating.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Make a stock knife

If you can't afford to buy one - have a go at making one from an old billhook. I saw someone using one he'd made for roughing out spoons with.

The one I saw was a Suffolk or Hertfordshire type with a convex blade. It also had a socket rather than a tang.

Cut and grind off the 'beak' and weld on a ring or hook.

I think the handle should be solid metal rather than wood - on the one I saw it just had a crowbar jammed in the socket.

Someone on the Bodger's Forum mentioned possibly adapting a drawknife?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Spoon carving

Nick came to learn about spoon carving today and made a big, double-ended spoon from Sycamore and a Swedish-look, English Medieval style eating spoon from Silver Birch.

He already has quite high woodworking skills and a set of Frost spoon knives.

I showed him how to use the drawknife and shave horse, his brand new, virgin, unused Gransfors Carving Axe, the stock knife (see yesterday's post).

...and a chisel in the bench hook.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Stock Knife

I've been experimenting using a stock knife to rough out spoon blanks - with some freshly purloined Silver Birch it cut like a dream.

The long handle enables you to cut with a massive shearing action like a guillotine. Also known as a peg knife, it is used to make tent pegs. By far the most common use is by cloggers who use several different shapes to carve clog soles.

It's quite a rare tool. Vanessa found this one in an antiques emporium in Halstead, Essex several years ago. She was poking about and found it where it had dropped down the back of a shelf. It cost £14 - I also got a Philadelphia Disston Cross-cut saw with helper handle in very good nick for £4! - that was a good day.

I hadn't done much to it since except replace the old, wormy, willow(?) handle with a new ash one. Today I gave it a grind and sharpen and had a go. I'm glad I did . . .

Yesterday was Linslade Canal Festival which I always look forward to and enjoy. The bonus was that the sun shone all day, loads of people came out and we made some good sales.

I make no apologies for posting this picture again from last years Festival. Dick died earlier this year but he was really the reason that we got Jed. Here chatting with his old mate John Browning - thatching spar maker.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Mystery of the vanishing pictures

From the left - Lois - basket maker, Carole - corn dolly maker, Vanessa, Me, John - chairmaker, Richard (in the suit !) - Yorkshire Woodlands Products and organiser of our section at the show - Owen - oak spelk basket maker & Ralph - corn dollies.

This is the only picture we have of our week away on the Northern Greenwood Roadshow.
I got a pissed punter in the Members Enclosure at the Driffield Show to take this group shot of some of us demonstrators . . . when we got home that was the only shot on the camera . . . all the others had been deleted. What happened to them we'll never know.

The show was great - except for the wind and rain - very chatty, friendly and interested visitors. I think Richard will be able to build this into a brilliant showcase for professional rural crafts.

On Tuesday we drove to Pickering and took the North York Moors Steam Railway to Whitby where we had fresh fried haddock and chips from the Magpie - the best in England! Jed travelled on the train and saw the sea for the first time (Dogs aren't allowed on the beach)

* * *
Newstead Treefest was great fun last weekend - we had a gas. The music was a brilliant mix and went on til late (or early! ie 6am). I'm a bit out of touch with the festival scene these days - the last one I went to was The Cambridge Folk Festival in the early '70s . . .
We had a fantastic time and experience over the two days - well done to that tight-knit group of organisers - what an eye opener! Unfortunately it rained on Sunday but hey - what's a festival without some mud ?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

New Video on YouTube

My latest video is now available to view on YouTube.

Sad News - Bees dead

You've no doubt heard about the problems being suffered by honey bees. I certainly have and it's one of those things we hoped would never happen. It has and no one really knows what's causing this "colony collapse disorder".
We were never serious beekeeper's, a friend gave us a couple of hives and an extractor some years ago. We bought bee suits and occasionally used to steal the honey. It's not just the honey we'll miss - World watch out !

On a slightly lighter note a leaf-cutter bee has made a nest behind my bench vice - don't think I'll be able to get any honey there though.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Boudicca's Camp - Epping Forest

We took Jed to Loughton Camp and let him off the lead in Epping Forest for the first time. He loved it - racing around like a dervish in the leaf litter and here climbing an old Beech pollard with Vanessa.
Loughton Camp is an amazing, magical place - like a time portal to another era . . .

We've been making another "How to Make" movie of a spinning top. Coming to YouTube soon...this one will be short and sweet.

Ash spinning top on Elm board.


Couple of Northern events coming up - "Treefest" at Newstead Village in Nottinghamshire this weekend 18th & 19th and The Driffield Agricultural Show in East Yorkshire next Wednesday 22nd July. These both promise to be exciting events and we're looking forward to them.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The Lee

We've been at a quintessential English summer fete this afternoon in a beautiful enclave in The Chilterns called the Lee. A couple of miles North(ish) of Chesham.

It's quite hard to find - there aren't many signposts round there !
It's on the village cricket field and there is a Flower Show, Dog Show etc. . . I love these events.

Me and Jake who was today's apprentice.

Him and his mate Lewis

took over the lathe and made a rounders bat from Ash which Jake's Dad eventually bought for him.


Had a bit of trouble uploading photos on Greenpress - the process is a bit over complicated, the blog header doesn't look as good as on Blogger, you have to provide captions for the photos and when you want to look at them you have to click to choose it and then again to enlarge it. Then I have adverts for meaningless products. Perhaps I could spend a lot of my time fiddling with settings etc . . . but CAN I BE BOTHERED ??? Being 'green' to me means NOT so long tapping keyboards and looking at screens in a puzzled manner . . .

I'm wondering what the benefit of changing blog provider actually is.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Turning over new leaves

Anyone care to name all the species of leaf in the new blog header ??

I'm going to use it as the background for some banners to refresh the image and also that I can take on The Plinth with me.

I'm also going to change my blog to Greenpress but they'll both be running for a while.

Those Triton Superjaws are really handy - here working on the poppets for the new bowl turning lathe.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

What day is it ?


As we do most shows on a weekend, the Norfolk Show which is on a Wednesday & Thursday throws out my body clock completely - yesterday felt like Monday and today Tuesday !

Eric Rodgers who organises the Woodland Craft area at the show does a great job in choosing some excellent crafstpeople to demonstrate. No royalty attended this year and the Minister for Agriculture had to dash off back to London.

Jan Watkins is a very skilled rushworker. She made me a hat last year which shrunk a bit so she wet it and stretched it for a better fit.

Dan Hussey makes wonderful steam-bent chairs, rockers and tables from coppice Ash. I'm going to buy at least one someday . . .

Jeremy Atkinson, clog maker extraordinaire, demonstrating the use of a stock knife to schoolkids (I already have 2 pairs of his clogs which he makes to fit your foot and he knows a thing or two about feet !)

Owen Jones making his oak swill baskets. I went on one of his courses several years ago. His workshop is only a couple of hundred yards from Lake Coniston in Cumbria - very well worth making the effort.

During the show a lad, Steven, asked me if I could make him a baseball bat as he plays Minor League. I had some Ash long enough so I got him to help make it.

Pleased as Punch.

I hope he manages to use it to hit some home runs.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Bodger's Ball 2010

Don't know where this will be yet but . . .

Preview: Bodgers Ball - New ideas for competitions

I love going to the Bodger's Ball and meeting lots of friends that I only see once a year. It'd be good to see some new things happening that would refresh the format.

Sean Hellman's fan birds were a new flyaway success this year.

Rob Wood suggested a new idea for making structures with old chair legs (from previous years log-to-leg races??) for 2009 which didn't get off the ground . . . anyone fancy doing that ?

Lathe making was a good idea, took up nearly the whole weekend and wasn't for everybody

How about an egg-and-spoon race where you have to turn an egg and carve a spoon (could be a team and/or individual thing) have a race and then be judged on quality/time etc ?

Hopefully in the next Gazette there will be my article on how to make a spinning top. How about a competition to make one in half an hour, and then see who's spins the longest ? Could have a sweepstake ?

What about a proper Bodger's shopping mall in a marquee/tent which brings together everyone who wants to sell things ?

Me and Vanessa would be prepared to help organise these. Is anyone else interested ?

One & Other

Much to my amazement I have been chosen to be a part of Antony Gormley's 4th plinth project in Trafalgar Square - One & Other.
My elevation to a great height is scheduled for Sunday 16th August between 4 and 5 am ! There will be live web streaming so if you feel like getting up early you'll be able to watch me doing whatever I decide to do for an hour.
My mum is delighted . . . my Dad, who is doing really well, I haven't managed to get in touch with yet.