High Head Green Gathering

Last weekend Jane and I went to High Head Green Gathering. We thought it would be different. It was!

Not having been to any of these green festivals before we didn’t really know what to expect. Essentially this one was a music festival based on a farm with woodland. No generators, just solar power. Crafts as a side-show (me and a blacksmith, a timber framer). A healing section (don’t know much about this – there was Yoga). Food stalls – The Pizza Slut was fired on hand saw cut wood burning ovens. Very interesting and very different experience for us.

Lots of smoak:

And fire:

We made some of it, here is Red Boy, a Vietnamese charcoal burning stove we bought in France a while ago, burning my charcoal it gets very hot:


(I’m not sure what that steel ruler is doing on the floor!)

We also found our Kelly kettle fitted it perfectly:

The new Dutch oven fitted it well too (sorry no photo) and we cooked a great all-in-one chicken casserole on Sat’di night, and fried b*con for Sunday lunch sandwiches. It’ll be bread next time too. We used the old boy so much it’s now needing a repair to the tin outside skin, luckily I have some olive oil tin left over from the blacksmithing lessons.

There was also fire at night, with lots of luminous balloons, glow sticks, nightlights behind white umbrellas and a bit of a fire dance:

Unfortunately there was a bit of audience participation too, but no injuries; “I can jump through those too … “:

I also did a bit of work with the festival goers’ children:

The shave horse and draw knife were very popular. I found that children’s arm joints are more flexible than mine which will not bring the blade in far enough to injure. So I rapidly made up a slab of ash on a necklace as a “Tummy Tector”, to avoid “spoiling your T-shirt”! They also enjoyed splitting billets.

It was a bit like the sixties that I seem to have missed out on somehow in my long lost teenage:

What we learnt about smithing yesterday

My friend Dave came yesterday to make a couple of three leggers for his grandchildren. We also continued our woodland smithing studies. We found out that the impeller in a car fridge doesn’t seem to push the air in the direction you might at first expect so this set up was rejected:

It was: tuyere of sturdy recycled mild steel oblong section piping with a handy 90 degree bend, then a corned beef tin with no ends in, then a sweet corn tin, and finally something like a choucroute tin. All bound together airtight with duck tape (that’s duct tape for people on the W side of the Atlantic Ocean) (chapeau to the inventor of this stuff!)

This worked fine though:

Same tuyere with an Aldi cheapo airbed inflator for the blower, this produced some serious heat:

We easily managed to straighten a piece of coiled road spring, toughen my Bohemian bearded axe, and start a froe from a leaf spring … then the bench set fire. Should have set up the anvil on a separate bench, the hammering dislodged the firebricks making up the forge. Anyway, next time will be better.

Stronger than steel

It was an interesting day at Strid.  When I was arriving at the gate to the wood, I thought I saw a heavy shower further up the valley.  Then I realised it was mist hanging over the River Wharfe it was very atmospheric:

I expected the Molly Aida to come steaming down bumping the banks like in the film Fitzcarraldo, I could almost hear the Peruvian Indians’ drums.

The river’s been rising with the recent rain and The Wharfe looks really angry when roused.  I stopped off further up to take more photos, and found this:

Yes that’s a soaking dead twig with leaves hanging by a single thread – a spider’s one no less!

The morning was OK weather-wise, but then the heavens kept on opening through the afternoon, I thought I was going to get washed away.

Now, yesterday I finished off another carved bowl.  Recently I have been struggling with the margin where the outside meets the inside.  I think I’m just about there with this one (still in progress here):

The edge really strikes the eye.  It’s easy to do the inside, and the outside is not so tricky with a draw knife and a knife.

But that margin needs a massive amount of concentration.

I’ve always been rather scared of leaving too sharp an edge on the margin because it doesn’t feel good and also is hard to finish and is very liable to damage in use.  I’ve now found a remedy.  Burnishing that arris with the back edge of the knife rounds it off ever so slightly and makes it much more serviceable:

I also found that splitting an alder log and leaving it for a week made it so much more workable, and removed the heavy orange red oxidisation effect that happens when the timber is very green.  Instead this mellowed timber has a stable pinkish colour which I’m looking forward to oiling up in a couple of weeks.

Workbench Book

Working with wood has a prerequisite of holding the wood while you work on it, even if the holding mechanism is your hand or another part of your body.

I’m currently reading this book:

It was written by Scott Landis and published in 1998 by Taunton Press (funny, I seem to be building up a collection of their books). The book sets out the development of the woodworking bench and then looks at a large range of benches currently in use in some detail.  I’m looking to rebuild my workbench in Strid as it’s a bit too rough and ready to work the tail vice properly, and I have a very tempting half butt of beech just asking to be milled for the job.

My old one (unmodified) was like this .

I’m also hankering after a dumbhead shaving horse, which get some good exposure in Landis’ book.

But first:

two more chestnut benches;

4 walking staffs;

internal dog gate and panel;

mend a Suffolk trug handle;

possible bike shed;

more dibbers;

more bowls;

more stools;

High Head green gathering ;

Get charcoal forge in operation;

harden and temper Bohemian bearded axe;

chopping boards;

and so it gos on …  makes me tired just thinking about it!

One for Mr D! Sorry I didn’t fix this up earlier :-(

Remember the Veritas dowel cutter.  Well I got it motorised today.

After sorting through quite a number of socket drives and hex drives I arrived at a workable solution ending in a half inch square drive that took the end of the band-sawed half inch square section dry oak.

I fastened the dowel cutter to a block of beech with two screws in the holes provided and clamped it into the vice.  The drill now turns the square stuff and applying pressure, feeds it through the cutter:

This set up works well until the drive gets close to the cutter blade.   Have to withdraw the drill/drive at that point and finish the dowel off somehow – rather tedious to withdraw as there is a lot of friction and a risk of upsetting the blade positioning.  Notice the edge of the bench supporting the outfeed from the cutter?

The solution was to drill an inch hole in the same beech block and inserting a handle (in my case borrowed from the 1 inch auger) makes finishing right through a breeze:

The output is accurately cut 7/16th oak dowel, just right for the dog gate I’m on with for a client.

Summer boat bowl

I’ve been making pairs of little carved alder wood bowls recently, but today I thought I’d have a change of wood species and bowl type.  I dug out some sycamore about 3 months felled.  Once I’d carved out the inside I took the bark off and found some really beautiful colouring from incipient rot:

It was a real pity I couldn’t get it into the bowl (so I’ve put it in my header):

But all that heavy outside stuff had to be axed away:

Turned out quite well I think, a bit heavy at the back end, but needs to tip up at the front to get that Viking ship effect:

Rides in the water quite well too:

It nearly escaped and went off down the Wharfe, which gave me an idea … (to be continued much later) … meanwhile …

Gratuitous Summer flowers:

Not forgetting the grasses (very tall!)