Sunday, 27 June 2010

Courses & Demos

This is the first weekend for 5 weeks that we haven't had to pack the truck and go off to a show somewhere to demonstrate and try to sell some woody products - it's quite a relief.  There's almost not enough time to recover from one before the next approaches and so far this year sales have been pretty poor.

I've realised that I can make nearly as much by staying at home in the back garden running courses...
Huw who came during the week to do spoon carving.  He studied Philosophy at Leeds University and decided he needed some practical skills!

Russ & Sarah who came and did some turning and spooning yesterday on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far.

Anyway we're off to do The Royal Norfolk Show on Tuesday.  I always enjoy it as it's a midweek event, people were still spending last year and we meet all the other craftsmen and women in the Woodland Crafts area - if you're around come and say hello.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Hail Midsummer

Well it must be midsummer - we had to put the heating on on Saturday night!  What happened to global warming?

The weather at Melford Hall was awful as usual on Saturday and brightened up, as usual, on Sunday.  The new lathe behaved quite well on it's maiden outing...

Except for some reason the back legs kept trying to lift off the ground even with the cover and guy ropes on?  Perhaps the ground was too uneven or I haven't given the legs enough splay.  In the end I had to resort to lashing it down to some pegs.  When I tested it out a few weeks ago with no cover I didn't have this problem at all - maybe it was the massive gusts of wind from behind me?

A fine old, stag-headed Oak in the grounds of Melford Hall - it's in a long line of very old Oaks.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

More Good News

Regular readers of this blog may remember my post from last July about our bees all suddenly vanishing.
We did try and get another colony or nucleus but most beekeepers suffered such huge losses in the long, hard Winter that there were none to be had.
Imagine our surprise and delight when we looked at the hive today to see a steady stream of bees flying in and out!  Wonders will never cease - it's certainly good to see them.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Craft Award

Today was the day that The Worshipful Company of Turners judged the entries for the 2010 Biennial Craft Competitions.  This year they had introduced a new category - A Candlestick to be turned on the Pole Lathe - which I entered.  I popped down to Apothecaries' Hall in The City of London having nothing better to do and was shocked, amazed and delighted to find that I had won 1st prize! specially as the runners up were Stuart King & Katie Abbott.
The competition was open to all members of the Association of Pole Lathe Turners and it's surprising  there weren't more entries as the 1st prize was £300.

Receiving the certificate and cheque from the Sheriff of The Plasterers Company.  Peter Ellis who is this years Master of The Turners Company is sitting in the background.  Also included in the prize was a years subscription to The Woodworker & Woodturner magazine.

I turned my candlestick from a well seasoned piece of London Plane and the two parts fit together with a screw thread.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Cambridge Country Fair

Cambridge is an interesting place and full of all sorts of zany, madcap, weird, strange, loony and eccentric types from all over the world.  We met and chatted with quite a few of them over the weekend spent on Parker's Piece in the middle of the city, also some very friendly and intellegent but definitely off-the-wall characters.  On Sunday morning I saw a guy cycling along wearing top hat, tails, swimming trunks and shades!

The show was huge and as it was on public ground and there was no entry fee it was really well attended - we had our best sales weekend for ages.

This guy asked me if I could make some clubs for Indian Club Swinging and proceeded to demonstrate with some rounders bats.
They aren't dissimilar to rounders bats - could become a new line maybe?
Strangely enough shortly after an Iranian guy asked if I could make some Persian clubs for swinging (he assured me they were definitely Persian and not Indian) - they look pretty massive, watch them here.

I made a new handle for one of the Medieval reenactors fighting axes - which looked better than the original and at least was made from Ash rather than Hickory.

Yesterday toward the end of the show a guy called Julian asked if he could try out my spoon knives.  He'd bought a piece of seasoned Yew in the market which wasn't very big so I showed him how to rough out the shape with the drawknife on the shavehorse.  When it came to hollowing out the bowl he informed me that he was left-handed... so I did it for him.  "Would I be prepared to swap one of my bowls and a spoon for a large piece of leather he'd had for ages".  I asked to have a look at it so he cycled off to his narrow-boat and came back with this...
I think I'll make some tool covers and get rid of all those bits of cardboard and elastic bands etc.

It's 3mm thick - any suggestions as to what I should use to soften and revive it? 

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Dual purpose lathe

I've just finished making a new tool rest for my bowl lathe which I made almost exactly a year ago.
It clamps to the bed with a threaded wooden rod and a big wooden washer.  It was a chance to use the ¾" tap & die I bought a while ago - I've never found that many sensible applications for it.

Now I can use it for spindle turning...
as well as for bowls...
It also means that I can leave it in the van and not have to keep schlepping my other lathe in and out of the garden workshop.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Wocko was demonstrating barrel making  at the weekend.  He's developed his own type of horse to hold the staves while he shaves them - a Stave Horse I suppose...

He's got a small wooden template to ensure the correct radius on the inside and outside of the staves.

The staves are laid out to measure the length of steel needed for the hoop.

Making the holes for the rivets.

Raising the barrel.

At this point I was told to "Put the bloody camera down and give us a hand!" so there are no pictures of the next bit which involved a fair bit of struggling and grunting.  Coopers swear silently as the expletives used are too disgusting for the human ear.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Bodging a leg

John Richardson, Gimson-style ladderback chairmaker, had this old Windsor chair to repair.

One of the back legs was so wormy that it had snapped off - could I make him a new one as his turning skills weren't quite up to it?

I made it from Beech and slightly larger than the original to allow for shrinkage.