Lost in The City

.. well more misplaced really.

I was making for the Carpenters’ Hall in ye olde city of London.


Thought I’d divert from the main thoroughfare and walk past Dennis Severs House (Amazing inside experience, don’t miss it!)

severs map

It is in a well preserved Georgian area of Spitalfields.


I passed my favourite East End shoppe.


After many false starts and dead ends in those curly medeval streets I finally arrived in the Carpenters’ Hall just in time for the Heritage Crafts Association conference and AGM.  A stunning building originating from 1429 (rebuilt a couple of times).  It was a sunny morning.


The theme for the day was “Tool tales”.  There was a pop up exhibition of makers’ tools to which we were all invited to contribute.  I was too busy chatting and looking at tools to take a photo – but it would have been well worth it.  I took my everyday axe.

My favourite presentation of the day was by Dr Phil Harding.  Archaeologist, craftsman (flint knapper) and “that bloke off the tele”.  He said today he was not “that bloke off the tele”.  The tools he makes and works with are stone age.  That covers a long period which he explained thusly (I paraphrase).

Man started using stone tools about a million years ago.  How long is that?  Well, if you take a football pitch it is about a hundred meters long.  Imagine I’m standing on the goal line at one end looking toward the goal line at the other end of the pitch.  Let’s call that distance a million years.  Now.  If I take a small step forwards towards the other goal line like this … I’ve just stepped into the beginning of the bronze age.

He told a very detailed illustrated story of making a haft (handle) for a flint axe using flint tools only.  He managed to do this – it was his first time attempted.  He showed how he’d even cut the mortise hole for the axe head with flint, it was previously guessed that the mortices must have been burnt through.  Anyway.  We saw a photo of the completed axe it looked quite useable, and he had felled a tree with one, but a different technique is required with a very lean angled ‘gob’ as we call the angled cut at the front of the stem.

The completed axe is in the new interpretative centre at Stonehenge.  Only trouble was the haft had a couple of tiny rough bits that might lead to someone getting a splinter in their hand.  Guess what they did?  Sanded it – problem solved, work ruined!  Save us from bananas Health and Safety.



3 thoughts on “Lost in The City

  1. Richard, Terry Vetrono here, I live in Wisconsin and follow your blog as well as a few others. I put you on to the folks in Belgium, groenhoutatelier. Look, I seem to recall that you went to a fair of some sort last summer and posted a foto of a pole lathe similar to Mike’s 2000 but it had been modified more towards the German style that Roy Underhill replicates. In other words with out the “spring pole” as such. I have a copy of Mike’s I made for last summer’s Woodlander’s Gathering in Mineral Point but am desiring to modify it to that style which you depicted. Can you put me on to that foto? Thanks for any help. Terry.

    • Hi Terry,

      I’m not much of a connoisseur of pole lathes and I can only find this one is it the right one? If so I can enlarge as one is mine and the other (foreground) a friend of mine’s.

      Kind regards,


      • Richard,
        Not the beast, either I’m incorrect in my recollection or………?? It was distinctly from a fair where the person posting had been and was a definite conversion from a pole lathe 2000 clone to the German style and as such was perfect for my purposes. From what I recall the user had turned a spindle and likely rediused two separate sections to part off into two points(concave pucks)separated perhaps by 40″ thereby springing the pole. They had been attached to the back of the bed parallel with it and the pole was laid across them in the radiuses, one over one under, it was a bit more stout than what Roy Underhill uses. There then was an upright support on the tailstock end that provided the connection to an arm which formed a moveable parallelogram in conjunction with the two lines from the spring pole to the one end of the arm and from the arm end down and around the workpiece. Perhaps I have this all wrong, I mean it being you who posted it, but I follow very few blogs.
        Thanks so much for the effort though.

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