Saturday, 31 October 2009

All souls

A lot of little trick-or-treaters knocking on the door at the moment as Vanessa has excelled herself this year and put her jack o' lantern in the front window.

Well if you can't beat em...
I scared one little boy who ran away when he saw my fake vampire teeth!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Night shift

Maurice came to have a go at green woodwork today.


It was dark toward the end and you can see his gold badge of courage caused by talking and tiredness but mainly by the bad lighting.  I don't think I'll be able to run courses much later into the dark half of the year.

I gave the new Worksharp a go and sharpened half a dozen knackered chisels in about 5 minutes.

Get one...

Maurice was impressed!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Scouting in Croydon

Spent yesterday running a workshop for scouts and guides at Frylands Wood Scout Camp near Croydon which was organised by The Woodland Trust.
We drove down on Tuesday afternoon and stayed overnight in their Crew Cabin which was quite luxurious with washing and washing up machines, microwaves, central heating, tv and stereo.  I haven't slept in a bunk bed for years and Jed loved it as there was a plentiful supply of rabbits for him to chase.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Had a meandering walk today through the Lea Valley Park and up to the top of the hill where the ack ack gun was sited to protect the munitions and explosives works at The Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills during WW2.

This is what Jed's looking at...a blurry impressionist image of the Smoke - wish I'd had a tripod.

The big building on the left is the Gerkin in the City of London, the King George Reservoirs in the middle and the M25 in the foreground. The right hand side of the picture is where the Olympics are being held in 2012.

Finally got the new woodburner in place. Vanessa's saving a bottle of champagne that we'll use to toast the first fire so there's some incentive to get on with it!


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Essex Tyke

I posted on the Bodger's Ask & Answer forum asking for any greenwood leads or don't-miss places to visit in Yorkshire. Someone suggested a disguise of a flat cap and a whippet would help. . .

That's sorted then!
Well Jed's got quite a bit of whippet in him.

Elephant Man Beech pollard.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Work sharp

When John Abel was here last week he brought his Worksharp for me to have a play with. I got this razor edge on a derelict old, chipped, multi bevelled chisel in about a minute with no heating of the edge.

I was so impressed I bought one.
Unfortunately the first one to arrive from Rutlands didn't work but the replacement arrived today.

A clever, innovative sharpening system using abrasive discs.

The back of the chisel is also lapped on a diamond stone at the same time.

Also today the new woodburning stove was delivered which is exciting...and we have organized a holiday in Yorkshire next month...can't wait.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Small world - Big ideas.

Malcolm & Graham Pinch came for the first of two stool making days and made the legs which will have to dry before we can fit them to the seat.

As you can see they're twins which made it slightly confusing trying to remember which was which.
The day before we had a visit from our old friend Itzik Henig who now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA. He used to work for Ford Research & Development at Dunton until he moved to the States. When Malcolm and Graham arrived we got chatting and it turned out that they had both worked for Ford at the same place and knew Itzik really well! Small world ?
In this recession when cars aren't selling Itzik was made redundant from Ford and has developed a solar powered water purifier for some of the 1.6 billion inhabitants of the planet who have no access to clean water or electricity. Have a look at his new website.


Saturday we were at Ely Apple Day, an event I always look forward to. One of my stalkers, Jon Warwicker, showed up with another John and took an active part in my demo. He shaped an ash seat rung for a chair we have to repair and reseat. Thanks Jon.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Saxon Froe ?

Nick came on Saturday & Sunday and was initiated into some of the arcane arts and secrets of Green Woodworking.

Such as bowl turning . . .

and spoon carving . . .

* * *

John Abel came for the day yesterday and told the following fascinating story . . .

He had found an old cleaver and was taking it to a welder to have a ring welded on to make a froe when he decided to do some metal detecting on the way. He was on a known Saxon site and amazingly turned up a froe!

The welder straightened the bends (possibly from the plough) and welded a crack. He reckoned it was very old metal...

He wanted to make a handle so he could use it. The eye was definitely tapered toward the blade so he made it with a lump on the end which he'll trim to fit when the Ash has seasoned.

John also turned a nice bowl from that spalted Birch.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Tree climbing Dog

Herbie, a talented local lad came for the day last Thursday. He made some handles for a drawknife he'd made with Dave Budd and a couple of handles for some gouges he'd bought.

He brought an ash longbow he'd made to show me and some lovely leatherwork - knife sheaths etc. I was really impressed and I wish there were more youngsters being encouraged to take up these sort of creative activities.


Next day we had a fabulous walk in the Forest and Jed climbed a tree!
A big Beech pollard had blown over and split in two. One half had hung up in a tree and I climbed up it - Jed was about 20 foot below barking like a nutter. When I came down he decided to have a go and ran up it further than I'd gone - my heart was in my mouth but he calmly strolled back down the trunk. He's very agile, sure-footed and FAST.

This is a picture of him and Vanessa on the other half of the fallen tree.

A wonderful tree we saw that day.

I've also had Nick on a course here at the weekend, John Abel today and got a couple of twins coming on Thursday...busy.
Ely Apple Day on Saturday is our last selling event of the season.

Friday, 2 October 2009


At the weekend we're doing the Knebworth Game & Country Fair. Priests always seem to sell well to the hunting, shooting, fishing brigade. Here's how I make them.

I drill a five eighths inch hole

Cut off a strip of lead roof flashing a bit longer than the depth of the hole and roll it up into a slug.
The 6" wide flashing when rolled quite tightly just fits into the hole.
Coat the inside of the hole with Araldite adhesive and then with a ball pein hammer and a bolt for a drift whack it so it compresses the lead and spreads it into the hole.

Trim off the excess lead and trim with a sharp knife or chisel.

PS. I make the priests and let them dry out for a month or so. There's nothing worse than trying to drill into wet end grain.