Mini beast boxes

I’ve been finishing off a couple of mini beast boxes for schools today.

I’ve made a rectangular hole in each one with four punge cuts with the chain saw, and then removed the core by a plunge cut at the bottom of the hole from the side:

Today I’ve been making the dowels to fix a lid on over a cut down milk carton that the bugs fall into.

The lid is deliberately ill-fitting so that the wee beasties can get in.

Without the milk carton it can be used as a mini-beast haven when filled with straw or shavings etc.

These oak ones come with added resident woodworm.


Early this week I went to learn about making charcoal with Maurice Pyle.

The process runs something like this (watering eyes omitted).

Catch your empty kiln


Make an airway under the floor where your wood will be stacked

Get some wood in there, but make sure the air can get underneath and put some brown ends in the middle where the fire will start.

Get more wood in there, and make sure there is more wood than air

Then light it with a rag on a stick with some fire juice

Get some smoke going

Put on the chimneys after an hour

Burn for several hours

Once cooked turn the oven to slow

Alow to cool and serve

Can’t wait to do my own run!

Craven Arms cruck barn

Went to Appletreewick and had a meal in the newly built cruck barn extension with an after dinner talk about its construction. Unfortunately they were selling some rather good Hetton Brewery ale, so I promptly forgot about my camera, and pictures of the inside will have to wait for another visit. It’s just in the next village to Bolton Abbey where I work and the timber was extracted from Strid Wood, even using the old horse and logging arch! It’s a great building in true vernacular tradition using local materials e.g. local wool for the roof insulation and a heather thatch.

Here’s their own website: Craven Arms.

Bodgers Ball, Doncaster

Had a great time at Cusworth Hall, Doncaster this weekend. Met lots of interesting, enthusiastic people from all over the country (and Sweden) and learnt lots and lots. I picked up a contact for used conveyor belt that I’m going to attempt slitting into 3/4 inch bands for bowl turning belting using the strapping cutter I have for leatherwork. My contact is from Scarborough and is an engineer in the Post Office, he’s going to post me a sample, then I can send him some strips back – if my plan works out.

I bought quite a few secondhand tools  as well as some bargain joiner’s pencils – 3 for a pound from Maurice Pyle with whom I also discussed my order for a charcoal kiln – sounds like a double ring 6 foot diameter one is best bet as the top ring can be manhandled by one person. H also has a two day course on burning coming up, which I would like to attend.

Drank quite a bit of Wentworth Brewery’s beers too – but next time I must remember to take my own pot – possibly a shrinkpot, if I can master the technique of making the bottom fit close enough to be water (beer) tight.  Although none of my entries in the craft competition won prizes they swelled the numbers and added interest for people looking at the entries.  However, I did get second place in the half-hour challenge, in which you have to make a saleable item for making at a demonstration. I made a couple of elves

The idea came from a great Swedish site Slojden i skogen

Time flies

April has been very fast, mainly because the speedy change from early to mid Spring is so visibly evident in woodland. Bursting buds and shooting plants, busy, noisy birds and warming weather. Lots of little tree seedlings a couple of years old are now flushing with leaves and become visible from the leaf litter. There are Mallard ducklings on the River Wharfe about a week old now.

The log milling is going well and I’m stickering the boards I’m producing to dry and they’ll be used for chopping boards etc. I’ve got an order for some bug traps, so I now need to bite the bullet and adapt the pole lathe for bowl turning. The centres are high enough for anything up to about 12 inches, but the tool rest will need some arrangement to get close up to the work. I may need to make tools for the job, although I have a couple of scrappers, acquired in an auction lot, that I will try out first. The bug traps are just a partly hollowed out log with a loose-fitting hinged lid to take a plastic container that school children will be able to take out for studying their catch, so I’m hoping the turning cut will be fairly straight-forward – experience will tell though.