Would you believe it? “Words, words, words.” Hamlet Act II sc. 2.

F in E

“About time you turned up with that ale, I’m fair worn out treadling away here like billy-ho and the damn blank just doesn’t turn.”

On our recent trip to Massachusetts I bought the above book from an excellent second-hand bookshop in Boston – Brattles Books. In fact I bought two, the other is about treen in early colonial New England, but that is another, related story.

Peter Folansbee warned me to be wary of the contents of the book as it’s written by a dealer.  He also pointed out that there is an interesting point in the dust jacket picture of the Stent panel.  The strap on the lathe is broken off.  It was subsequently repaired and modern pictures show the strap complete.  Peter discusses this here.

Anyway I bought the book partly because it has pictures in it (“and what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?” Thought Alice.(Not found any conversation therein so far)).  Well reading all the stuff that isn’t pictures (nor conversations) I came across this interesting paragraph:


F in E-1

Well, well! green pegs – really?  I wonder when we found out about draw-boring M&T joints – did we ever forget?  I started feeling a little uneasy about what I was reading in this book, things were a bit whacky back in 1968 when it was first published, then I came across this:


F in E-2C’mon, you’ve got to be joking – Wagenschott doesn’t resemble wainscot that closely.  Well maybe it doesn’t, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary that is the current, if somewhat puzzling, derivation.  Apparently we English used to import oak from Germany and other countries nearby, for posh work to get the best quarter-sawn figure in oak.  So I learnt something, well two things actually, I thought wainscot just meant panelling (it does too) but it was first applicable to a quality of quartered oak.


Cover of "The Oxford English Dictionary (...

Cover via Amazon

So you can’t always believe what you read, and it’s worthwhile checking, sometimes you may be surprised.  There is a good post on this topic in a blog I follow about searching with Google, you may find it interesting.







Workshops part 1

I’m reading “The Workshop Book” by Scott Landis.

This is in preparation for the building of a Winter bolthole for when the mercury gets way low (for Yorkshire) so I can go inside instead of this:

snowy bodgeryAs I approach 61 years my fortitude diminishes and cold feet become not so much an annoyance as a complete distraction from work.  OK this bolthole is still on the stocks for 2013/14, but I am determined it will be real for 2014/15 (sounds like a long, long way off right now).

Anyway, on a very positive note, Scott refers me to a film of Ben Thresher’s Mill, runs off water power and makes real things.  If you have 58 minutes to spare, I promise you they will not be wasted in watching this film.



Seeking Henry Russel … and meeting Michael Burrey

Have you seen this man?

It’s Mr Henry Russel, respected timber framer of international fame and wanted in Massachusetts for failure to answer emails.  If you know this man’s snail mail address, or even better know him, Michael Burrey would like to hear from him, Michael can be contacted via me.  I’m sure it will be to Henry’s benefit (ie no paternity suit nor nothing).

I met Michael Burrey on our recent trip to Massachusetts.  He’s a great guy, deeply into historical restoration of timber-framed buildings, of which there seem to be rather a lot in his neck of the woods.  His interest goes deep enough that his back yard has kilns for burning lime for plaster, recovered blue slate – scarily similar to our familiar Welsh slate. There a Shakespearean stage wintering under a tarpaulin (are not we all!).  Bricks for recycling, timber in stick, recovered timber and an amazing timber-framed workshop.

My wife was taken by the vastly tall indigenous American Indian corn growing in the garden (sweet corn, or what I used to know as a young farm hand on a poultry farm “Indy corn”) and thereby hangs a tale of ravaged forest and lost lands, but that really is anwholeother story.

Inside Michael’s house there are treasurers aplenty, slipware, copper-lined flush cisterns with wooden cladding complete with mouldings, and the half bay (I think that was) extension.  I was too busy looking to get my camera going but the ceiling was done in close-beamed medeval style with hefty beams at about 18″ centres (I may be being a bit mean there, maybe they were nearer)  These beams are rebated to take the floor boards and a single board spans the gap and the floor above runs a repeat of floorboard – strip of beam – floor board. I’ve probably got this wrong, but it looked jolly sturdy and the tudor archway entrance with carved spandrels done by Peter Folansbee a real joy. I took a lousy photo, which does not do justice to the carving, there was a green man too on the opposite end, plus two more, doh, waited too long to post this, now I’ve forgotten the other two subjects.



I re-encountered “The Chest” here too, we having met before over the ether, the video is well worth watching.  Just note how unwilling PF is to jump to conclusions – there should be more wisdom like this around.

It was a grand day out in Massachusetts, with an added visit to view The Sagamore House – which restoration continues apace.  Many thanks for your hospitality Michael and Julie, and a tip of the hat to you, o silent one, Jamie Haines.

Dig that workshop in the background!

Eventually had to swap these Cape Cod views:

SAMSUNG CSCFor these (back to Wood Nook and coppice work):


Dig those reef knolls.  Their names are, from left to right, starting with the one I’ve cruelly truncated to the right flank: Elbolton, Stebden and  Butter Haw Hill.