National Forest Wood Fair

Last weekend (well I suppose it’s the one before last now) I was in Leicestershire’s Beacon Hill Country Park for the NationalForest Wood Fair.  The National Forest has been a project for quite a number of years and for most of that was to me just a sign on the M1 motorway “National Forest”.  It now spans some 200 square  miles of established and recently planted woodland.

I was joined by a great bunch of the UK pole lathe fraternity for log to leg racing – twice daily.  Team event in the mornings and singles in the afternoon. Turning Windsor chair legs under pressure is not what I usually spend my working day doing, but it’s a bit of fun and entertains the crowd, helped along by the calm, informative commentary from Jim Steele

Here I am sweating away in my Winter vest:

The other chaps competing along were Dave Jackson (on his way to barrack me here, I think)

Peter Wood,

Mike Ashton at his bow lathe, calm, collected, precise.

and Matt Jarvis, a man very skilled in the art of cutting cords.

Peter  gave a great demonstration of steam bending, making four ash hoops in quick time.

Mind you he did have the massive advantage of the use of my steaming cabinet.  His steam generator, sitting atop my failed one, was very nifty; he draws the steam off from the top into a flexible pipe and introduces water via a pipe which reaches almost to the bottom of the converted gas cylinder he uses.  Thus he can get steam from about a pint of water and only tops it up when the inlet pipe emits steam, thus indicating that the boiler is running low on water.  Simple but very effective – just what I like.

It was a two-day affair this year so we camped (fun putting up a brand new tent with head torches!). It meant I had more time to look around.  The most exciting I saw was Phil Gregson wheelwright.  Phil put on a great display of shodding two cannon wheels with steel tyres.

Very fine joinery work on the wooden wheel parts:

He keeps very busy with wheels for hoop top caravans, private and museum commissions. I liked the way he gets the tyre out of the fire:

The hooping bench all ready for the tyre looks good too, especially through the heat of the fire:

Time devised methods like the inside dishing of the wheel which tightens the whole job if it drops into a pothole and the weight of the vehicle pushes against the nave (boss).

All in all a good weekend away, with pretty good weather, excellent indian food from Afia’s, local beer and good company.