“An yll wynde that blowth no man to good, men say.” John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546

The best thing about being on holiday is that you can do a bit of work for relaxation from holidaying.  On Christmas’ Day Even a high wind blew and brought down an old ash tree that has been a creaking gate for some years (I remember a bough falling off it when I was a child about 50 years ago).

SAMSUNG CSCIt fell rather inconveniently partly into The Leeds Liverpool Canal, almost blocking the way:

SAMSUNG CSCIt looked much worse before we started clearing it out with a handy winch, all my straps and a couple of chain saws.  It was a wonder, really that the tree had managed to stand up so long, the root-ball was almost entirely rotten.

SAMSUNG CSCI’m not an expert on tree fungi, but this one has been at work on the tree for a long time, and I’m expecting the stem to be at least partly hollow.

SAMSUNG CSCMost of the wood will end up in my log store, but there maybe a chance of getting out a couple of planks with the BIG SAW and Alaskan mill.  The thinning chain saw is certainly going to need a good sharpening, even though the muddy logs that had embedded in the bottom of the canal were avoided.


SAMSUNG CSCI’ve brushed off the worst of the mud and the wind and rain now falling should help out a lot finishing the job.  We’re certainly going to have plenty of good ash logs for some time.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd then fortuitously our neighbour’s fence blew down too, so that’s the kindling sorted out for this Winter too.  Just a bit short of newspaper now …



The door may open with a string







Last Summer I wrote a post which included the above verses by John Clare.  I should have noted his words – particularly “The door may open with a string” I guess I didn’t appreciate what he was talking about. However, I have just made a former problem door open with a string.


This iron sneck was part of the problem, reducing, as it did, the door opening by just enough inches too catch your elbow whilst passing through with a tray, ouch! Again!  The real problem wasn’t the sneck but the door opening which was 2 inches narrower at the sneck side compared to the hinge side.  So after 20 years of putting up with it, I decided to sort it out.  I called my bother down to have a look at it and advise whether altering the opening might cause any structural problems, there is a ceiling beam quite close to the door lintel.  He cunningly suggested that it might be easier to change the door handle.  Well thought.

It rang a bell that I had seen a wooden door mechanism somewhere, had a bit of a search online, found a very interesting book: Shelters, Shacks and Shanties, by D.C. Beard.  This had lots of plans for scouts to make shelters in the Great American Outdoors in 1916.  There were interesting foot operated latches and hidden ones concealed behind a nail.  All more suitable for a cabin external door than our dining room.  But there was one operated by a string that hung outside, but which was pulled inside if you didn’t want visitors barging in.  I’d seen this before somewhere – ah yes Eric Sloane!

Sloane latch


Again it was for a barn door, but our house is a cottage so still in keeping.  I started a prototype (which ended up being the actual) from 1/4 riven green oak.  All a bit fiddly as I had no dimensions to go on, apart from the restrictions of the existing door and its frame.


May God blind me if that isn’t a dodgy chisel – Ed

The spring was fun, you can adjust the strength by the length of the thin section and by adjusting the height and angle of the spring fixing block. As above, I rigged it on a piece of scrap to get the latch to open in the keeper without jamming.  However, could only really arrange the string live on the door.  Made a handle for the string, as we don’t really need to lock people in the kitchen, and it’s a lot easier to work.

SAMSUNG CSCThis is made from an interesting piece of dying hawthorn, it is almost purple where it is dead in the centre of the stem, then a band of black melanin – so presumably there’s a fungus at work in there.  The white stuff is the live sapwood (now dead, of course!).  I had to adjust the handle until it balanced level (not as above).

So it ended up like this:


Just about level, even though a little out of focus.

SAMSUNG CSCI’m leaving the screw holes in the door, to remind us to be thankful we don’t bash our elbows anymore.  I’ll fill and paint the one in the frame though