Tuesday, 20 March 2018


Vanessa trying out my new toy!  It's an Axminster Evolution respirator and a big financial investment for me.  I'm usually turning green wood so don't get a dust problem - usually it's sap spraying all over the place!  However I've been using far more recycled or re-claimed timber (such as broken chair/table legs, door linings, builders waste et al) on little projects, bottle stoppers and light pulls,  and I've found that this old wood is incredibly dusty even when using a razor edge chisel.

I had a look at the internet and found that the choice of protective masks was from basic to astronaut standard with prices to match.  I tried out several that mates have and was gifted a 'high quality' used one that I completely refurbished and found they all steamed up or had a visor that was a super dust magnet or I just couldn't breathe wearing it!  I read loads of on-line articles bits in magazines and listened to other turners experience. 

I only decided on the Axminster  Evolution after much humming and hawing and pondering - Vanessa asked why I didn't just get on and order something instead of all this procrastination and I explained it was going to cost around £350 + VAT and that I should probably buy some spare filters too and that I thought that was mega expensive.  Her instant response was 'Can you get a spare pair of lungs for less than £400 quid!'  She's an Essex girl and says it how it is.  Next day me and my mate Bill with his brother-in-law Tony (along for the ride and lunch with the lads) drove to High Wycombe and bought one each plus the spares.

It works a treat.  Visor stays clear.  It pumps clean cool air in to breath easily.  It's lightweight and well balanced.  Supplied in a convenient  container with handle so easy to store when not in use.

The wine bottle stoppers above from bottom are: 120 year old oak from my old front door linings.  A mystree wood from a skip.  Silky silver birch from Epping Forest (turned green) - just happened to have it laying around after carving some spatulas.  Another bit of oak door lining.  Each stopper is finished with a box wood bead at the bottom as I think it's the best way to keep the rubber gripper in position and it looks pretty.

The bowl is from some rowan with wonderful heartwood markings that came from Birchanger Woods - not far from Stanstead Airport - I was so surprised when I split this log open as I was expecting interesting grain but nothing quite as excellent as that colouring.  So I'm making a complete range of mountain ash kitchen ware including spoons goblets bowls & platters...
Had some very fast grown ash gifted to me and felt like having fun so here's one in action on the kitchen table...

Thursday, 8 March 2018



I'm always on the lookout for new timber sources and you never know when they'll turn up.  I got home the other day to find someone had left me with some good lengths of sycamore - very nice and thank you to whoever it was.  I've just had an offer of some laburnum which is very welcome and it's coming all the way from the Borders down to Essex at the end of the month.  So you'll gather from this that I usually get my wood for free. 
So onto the details of the most expensive log.  Now I didn't actually see this most expensive log for myself but my wife did.  She's very sharp on the profit margins and is excellent at adding value to bits of stick so she can spot a bargain at fifty paces and smell out a scam from fifty miles.  She took this pic of said expensive log whilst in France with her sister at the end of February in the picturesque town of Lesneven in Brittany.  I've been there in the past and it's full of interesting shops & nooks & crannies and the French equivalent of county ladies who like to lunch.  The photo is slightly odd due to multiple mirrors giving odd reflections but you can see it's only about 16inches high & 8inch diameter with a dinky little 'maker's' label inserted in a handy split and the price is 235 Euros!!!! She did make some purchases in the shop but this one she thought was rip off of the year so far... 
This is an interesting hillside near to Callac called the Valle des Saints and the plan is to have 250 statues by 2025.  There are 150 at the moment and they make a mystical sight in the distance.   All carved by different Masons in Residence on of my favourites is a Green Man Hunter.  All quite breathtaking and I can't quite believe how much the hillside has changed since I was last there.  I'm very interested in stone carving even though it's some years since I last traded in the tools of the stone carver.  They always look at first glance to be similar to those of a woodworker but are quite different.  Perhaps one day I'll get to speak with them as they work their sparkling granite and watch them work their magic on this stunning local stone...