Association of Professional Foresters Show, Cannock Chase

Back from a rather full three or four days camping on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire with a load of other old woodies.  This was the scene for the APT World Championship Log to Leg Race.  I think there was about a baker’s dozen of pole lathe turners and green woodworkers assembled for three days of racing and demonstrations for the benefit of the punters attending the huge biennial trade show for all things forestry.  We were in the Vintage and Woodland crafts area. This was about half of our set up:

As you can see, a beautiful day on Saturday, which made up for the chilly wind on Friday and Thursday’s thunderstorm with torrents of rain.  As I was camping in a freegun tent with unknown water-repellent qualities, I pitched it each night under the lathe shelter.  Somehow it always seemed to have got dark before I pitched it!

I was set up between Richard Ely And James Pumfrey who works at Kew’s Wakehurst Place where the James Bond type seed bank is housed in an extensive collection of gardens and woodlands.  It was all very friendly, to say we were all competing twice a day in a team and individual log to leg race.  Every time someone had a kettleful of boiling water, the excess was offered round.  There was also much exchange of useful information and skills.  Here are some of Richard’s spoons, turned from one piece and then split and hollowed with a spoon knife.

Barn was there making spoons too:

Barnaby has a peddlar’s licence and is walking around Britain making spoons and selling them.  Here he is in his residence:

If you meet him, do buy one of his spoons, they’re great – he’s made over 500 so far.

Barn was camped next to Mark Allery, he’s an affable chap, and 8th in the world in log to leg racing (I’m a mere 9th), amongst lots of other woody stuff Mark makes rakes (and an excellent blackberry liqueur):

There were many other interesting craft people on our bit of the site, someone hewing a dug out boat, vintage tractors powering a wood milling machine by belting, tools stalls, charcoal burners, Owen Jones making swill baskets and Gerry Atkinson making clog soles with a stock knife:

Sorry I didn’t catch his face, but he did warn me there’s a lot of bending involved.  A stock knife is what I need for shaping the outside of my carved bowls.  Gerry kindly let me have a go on his straight knife to finish shaping a bowl I had been demonstrating (OK half a bowl actually – it was an unsuccessful experiment with a poplar log).  It was really sweet, so much power and so much control.  I have various feelers (including one in France where there were many cloggers) out for obtaining one, but it may well be a long wait

Altogether an excellent three days.

Postscript: quotes of the weekend, “I’ve found out how to make those logs that burn.”; “Why is poplar not popular?”; “Richard Law’s guilty secret is that he used to be a capstan lathe operator.”; “We don’t want bananas.”; “The water stand pipes were condemned.”; “Is that in the bible?”; “You weren’t a vegetarian when you were in the army.”; “Put a shaving in it.”

6 thoughts on “Association of Professional Foresters Show, Cannock Chase

  1. Richard,

    quick off the mark – excellent photos and I think you’ve captured the spirit of the event. Great event and great company, the pleasure was all mine!



  2. Richard,

    I’ll keep my eyes open for a stock knife if you want. Since I live in clog coutry, i’ve seen them around.

  3. Mark, thanks. I’ve missed out so much, I hope no-one feels left out, but it would have been a minor novel to report all that happened (took me most of the afternoon to write as it was with constantly straying off on the internet searching for Gerry’s site, stock knives etc). Should have put Dan’s first race in and his new membership of the APT.

    Erik, Do let me know if you spot one in the Netherlands. I have two potential leads I’m following up at the moment, but these knives are not easy to come by int eh UK. By the way, I notice you have wired cleft paling fencing decorating the header on your blog, it looks very English! Is it made of chestnut timber?

    Best wishes,


  4. It is chestnut fencing but I’m not exactly sure whether it was English or French chestnut fencing, the difference was in the distance of the paling. I have the coarsest one since it is only to keep the dog away from the flowers and the food growing there. He has the habit of redecorating the garden. I remember well the laurel I bought once, it took him only seconds.

    I’ll tell you when I see a stock knife, one of these days I have to go to a friend who has a lot of old stuff around.

  5. Mr. Law:-

    Regarding your hunt for a Stock Knife. I saw a picture in one of Mark Allery’s recent posts (September 21, 2010. Traditional Pimps, Faggots and Benders – at the Weald Woodfair 2010) of the booth belonging to Mick Stanton. There in the upper left of the picture hangs a stock knife. I am sure Mr. Allery has already mentioned Mr. Stanton to you, but I thought I would bring it to your attention. I always enjoy reading your blog, thank you for your work.

    An American reader,

    • Nathan,

      MAny thanks. I’ve emailed Mr Stanton, and I have a couple of other irons in the fire. In fact I’m considering making clog soles, so I might buy in a full set of three knives that are required for the full sole-making process.

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