Sunday, 30 May 2010

Woburn Show

I've been commissioned to make a medieval 3-legged stool and decided to make the parts at the show from the Knebworth Ash.
Like this.

A mistake really as what should have taken less than a day has actually taken two, what with all the interruptions and distractions.

 At least I was being paid to do something I'm being paid for because sales aren't exactly booming at the moment. 

Vanessa's getting fed up with being Head of Sales so we're training up a new assistant...
Those beseeching eyes should do the trick... we could probably end up selling loads of dogs!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Bodger's Gold

Didn't get a chance to play with the Ash from Knebworth yesterday but I noticed that some of the splits have a great curve in them for the back legs of ladderback chairs.

David & Phillip Silverman were here on a course...
I can't believe the "Monty Don' effect - I've already had twice as many people here on courses than I normally have most years.  Long may it last.


The second tree in the ident which nobody guessed was a Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus).

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Blame the Weather

Some things that I've made lately have split in the heat - not the best weather for green woodworking.  I'd prefer it cooler, overcast, no wind - but it's good to see the sun and clear blue skies for once.
Some of my Beech lemon juicers split but I did use wood from two different sources.  One had also been cut a while and the other was freshly felled  so perhaps it was a combination of those factors plus the heat.  Also we have a dehumidifier going at the moment as we were flooded by our neighbour so that's not helping either.  It sucks a gallon of water a day out of the place and everything in it!


This afternoon I've been to see Wocko on the Knebworth Estate and he kindly gave me some of that lovely straight, fast-grown Ash that had been thriving on his cess pit.  Jed had a great time rounding up some pheasants while we quartered the logs and loaded the van...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Hot Dog

No internet access for the last few days which was quite liberating...

Althorp was hot and not much to say apart from that Jed won a rosette in the Dog Show!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Lathe vice

We're doing the Countryside Live event in Yorkshire at the moment so there's the never ending queue of kids waiting to have a go...

I have thought for several years that it's ridiculous carting timber from Essex to do an event on a well wooded site so this year I contacted the Ledston Estate manager and he arranged for some trees to be felled, cut to length and delivered to my stand.  Some of the Beech logs are a bit gnarly, knotty and curved but I've managed to get some fairly decent rolling pin blanks out of them and there will be plenty left to take to Althorp where we are doing a craft show demo at the weekend. 

We managed to improvise a vise from the lathe to hold the logs while sawing off the lumpy bits.

The branch is to show the kids what Beech leaves look like.

Yesterday evening we had Haddock, chips and scraps from Macca's Fish Bar in Garforth near Leeds.  They were better than The Magpie at Whitby which is supposed to be the best chippie in England (we've had 'em twice in the last year) and were half the price.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Another Surprise

Sylvine Barriere organised a surprise course for her husband Pierre here today - I think he thought she was mad when they turned up at our house.  He didn't have a clue what was going on as we didn't know it was a surprise either.  They arrived an hour early and I was still out walking Jed!
Anyway eventually the penny dropped and we all had a great time turning some Chestnut and carving some spoons in Beech.
 Sylvine also made some Hazel twig pencils and a whistle.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Rare Trees?

These are both on a housing estate nearby and, in my opinion, are lovely trees and fairly rare.


1. Close up of blossoms


2. Close up of flowering structures.

Any guesses?  If you don't know the common name just put the Latin name!

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Not much wrong with the look of this Ash log, about 60 years old.

But when I split it look what's inside!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Une Hache Nouvelle

Blade 115mm, 200mm long.

New to me that is, I actually think it's quite old.  I bought it at the weekend from Tony Bryant who comes over from France every year with a load of old French tools that he ferrets out in junk, antique shops and attic sales.
I like the fact that the eye is tapered like a pick-axe, so the handle will be fitted from the top.  I've roughed out a handle from some quick-grown Ash that Wocko gave me - it had been growing on his cess pit so let's hope it's not s**t!
A PITIE apparently means MERCILESS.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Ted's Cocks

Ted Dowling (a former chairman of the APT) won the Half Hour Challenge with these great little cockerels whittled from Birch twigs with a Swiss Army knife.
Usually when you cut yourself the maxim is - "Don't bleed on the work".  Ted did nick himself slightly and he could have used the blood on the combs - natural colouring if slightly macabre!  I think you can see a bit on the left-hand tip of the front cock's comb. (If you click on the photos twice they really enlarge.)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Spinning at the Ball

Had a really great time at the weekend.  It was very well organised in a lovely location.

 Sue Green, editor of the Bodgers Gazette, making her top.

Molly Lee drilling the blank - "I can do it by myself".  That brace is nearly as big as her!

Action shot of Callum Lee launching his top for the first time...

The kids made an obstacle course...

We held time trials on Sunday morning and I won with a time of 2.02 min. I decided to cede my position to 2nd place so Sue won.  Not sure if she got her prize which was an APT t-shirt.

Des Jones the Welsh Wizard and Research and Development guru for the Bodgers came up with his version which only has one hole and is easier to load.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Bodgers Ball

Off to Stratfield Saye in north east Hampshire for the Bodgers Ball this weekend.  The stately home and estate there were given to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by a grateful nation in 1817.  We were due to have our Ball there but they wanted to charge an outrageous fee so we're having it on the village green instead!

Unfortunately it's not open to members of the public unless coming as a Guest which does seem strange since the 'Monty Don' effect has just raised the profile of green woodworking.  However if you turn up at the village green (postcode RG7 2EB) I don't see you being turned away, specially if you join up to the Association of Pole Lathe Turners & Green Woodworkers (which you can now do by PayPal).

I'll be running the Spinning Top Workshop & Competitions, there's loads to do and see, tools for sale etc and it culminates on Sunday afternoon with the log-to-leg races.

Me, Gary Reece & Stuart King at Kingston Lacey in 2006.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


I was amazed to see the amount of Mistletoe growing in the Lime Trees on the Burghley Estate.

Maybe the air's a lot cleaner up there on the Leicestershire/Lincolnshire/Northamptonshire borders as it's pretty rare around here.   I have seen it growing on Poplar, Willow, Apple, Hawthorn and once on a Red Oak - anyone ever seen it on English Oak (Quercus robur)?

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Real, Live Bodger

A. Bodger

No, really, her name is Anne Bodger and her family originally came from High Wycombe.  I met her today at the Burghley Craft Show and we chatted about Bodgers and Bodging and chairmaking for quite a while. 
She ordered a ladderback rocking chair from John Richardson who was my neighbour in the craft marquee.