Anatomy of a forester, Day 11

Ahem.  Could I just apologise quickly for the lousy spelling in yesterday’s post.  It took a long time to do, and it was tea time just as I thought I’d finished.  But I hadn’t run the spell checker, then forgot about it. Doh!

If it’s broke – don’t fix it.

We are used to seeing ‘perfect’ objects these days.  It wasn’t always thus, ‘good enough’ was once perfection.  I’m not trying to argue for sloppy work, but I just want to say how much I like work that shows a hand-made it rather than a machine (not that the latter always achieves perfection! Just take out a hand lens or microscope and it will soon become clear that ‘smooth’ surfaces don’t exist but we can get close to smooth, or smooth to the touch.)

I am coming from a similar angle to that in “The Unknown Craftsman” where imperfection is valued for various reason

Let’s apply this to the Windsor chairs that have recently taken up residence in our cottage.


Windsor chair arm spindle showing a wild groove from a mis-held chisel when originally turned

This turning was clearly not done by a copy lathe!

SAMSUNG CSCThe beads and the foot of this leg have small flats arising from the stock not bein quite big enough to get the complete diameter.  But back in the day you wouldn’t want to waste a whole leg just for that little imperfection.  The leg is just used at the rear of the chair where it is less obvious.

SAMSUNG CSCGet the stick layout on the back of this one.  The far right hand one is about an inch further down than the far left one where they meet the bow.  Does that spoil it?

Let’s turn one over:

SAMSUNG CSCThis is the seat underside, fairly obviously pit sawn from the differing angles of saw cut.  There are also two larger holes in this picture, which I think may have been made by dogs to hold the seat still while it was being bottomed and fettled (shaped) in that typical comfortable saddle-shaped seat.  There are nine of these holes in this seat, and they are squarish in section deeper in the hole.  Why would you finish a wooden surface that was never going to be seen in everyday use?

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s the underside of a three-legger I recently made for a competition.  The judge criticised it because …

SAMSUNG CSCThe pegs were too long (or dowels as he called ’em).  Better than too short say I.

It was supposed to be the turning which was being judged:

SAMSUNG CSCWhich may or may not be acceptable, but I’m blowed if I can understand what the length of unseen pegs has to do with it.

Here’s a table in The Manor House Museum in Ilkley, near here:


Forgot the tripod again? Ed.

SAMSUNG CSCThe front apron is carved (love those diamonds) and the back apron isn’t as it was made to be at the side of the room where only the front side would normally be on view.

And you may have seen this one before:

SAMSUNG CSCWho put that moulding on upside down?

So, don’t worry be happy:

Whoa!  Steady there, we can’t take the Christmas decs down yet – must be down by sundown tomorrow though or bad luck is sure to follow.

2 thoughts on “Anatomy of a forester, Day 11

  1. I really enjoyed this post, Richard. The imperfections reveal the craft. That judge is clearly out of his depth. Keep on educating them Goodman!

  2. I’m pleased that at last somebody has come up with 5th January as being Twelfth Night. I’ve said it for many years and people look at me as if I was a primary school scholar (which I was 60 odd years ago!). Christmas Day is the FIRST day of Christmas and not Boxing Day – which, if it was, would make 6th January Twelfth Night. Aaaahhh – I’ve now got that off my chest – thank you. PS I haven’t been back to Allerton Primary School yet to see the reading seat you made – too busy helping sis renovate her vandalised cottage (anybody want to buy a lovely little cottage in Low Moor?).

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