Coincidence across th’Atlantic

When I was in Pennsylvania earlier this Summer we met our son Will and his wife Eva at Baldwin’s Bookbarn

Unbeknownst to me Will bought “Akenfield, a Portrait of an English Village” written by Ronald Blythe. It’s an interesting book about the changes taking place in life in a rural village in the 1960s. Will came over to the UK and stayed with us in July and we had a happy time visiting gardens, drinking beer and chatting.
image

I read the book after Will and enjoyed it, well worth a read.

Pass on a couple of months.

I’m sitting at my shave horse making pegs for the oak chest I’m making.  Along comes a chap, interested in what I’m doing, we have a chat about an oak bench he’s made with an chain saw, a heavy outdoor bench. We get chatting about how he converted the log, the woodland where he sourced his oak, and it turns out he comes from Suffolk near Ipswich. Not just there but almost exactly where the book and film Akenfield were set. What’s coincidence.

So what else have I been up to this Summer?image

Making the mural cupboard door, it’s just about ready to hang now, I’ve turned a little knob, thanks Peter F for the photos, and polished it with a medium oak wax to bring out the relief of the carving a bit. Got a second prize (out of four entries!) for it at the local agricultural show.

My brewing sacks of malt and bread making rye four need a home, so I’m making them an oaken one.  I’m calling it a chest, but I guess it show really be an ark. I’ve scraped together left over riven stuff from previous jobs, but still have had to use some sawn through and through oak that’s been on hand for about 30 years, time it earned it’s keep. The stiles are sawn stuff, they are good 4 x 2s and very stable by now. I’ve spent some time working out what carving to do and I’m leaning towards just decorating the front panels, stile and top rail with carving. S-scrolls for the rail and stiles and a big floral piece for each of the panels, maybe two or three different ones, there are three front panels.

I’m just about decided on this version of the S-scroll:

blog-1

This is a prototype, based on a chest which is at East Riddlesden Hall.  It needs a little refinement but I particularly like the extra V-tool vein in the middle of the main S (which I’ll be joining up with the leaf veins) and the little ‘peas’ in the V of the leaves. I need to do some work on how the middle raised vein at the centre of the leaves will work too.  The half-moon cutouts need to move away from the centre a little.

Here’s the original:

Copyright National Trust

Copyright National Trust

The chest’s  provenance is not from East Riddlesden as the hall was empty when taken on by the National Trust except for some amazing grain arks which you may have seen before:

SAMSUNG CSC

Copyright National Trust

SAMSUNG CSC

I need to check with the staff if they know whence the chest was sourced.

I’ve made a scratch stock for the lesser members based on the one Peter Folansbee uses in his Carved Chest DVD, a very useful resource.  The scratch is a repurposed Silky saw blade, ground and filed to shape.  There are a couple more details to the profile I’d not filed in at this point.

SAMSUNG CSC

I’ve assembled together all the parts for the chest and started joining the rear frame first from a setting out of the front one.  I’m waiting for a couple of the front boards to dry a little before I carve those prior to joining.

Fixing things up

SAMSUNG CSC

Assorted fire and weather damaged ridge components.

Today I have been mainly fixing the ridge poles on The Bodgery.  The flue pipe from the lil wood burner stove (Do you mean that stack of fire bricks on two lorry wheels? -Ed) was fixed to the side A frame at the ridge.  Some days the tar gets a bit thick inside and we have a roaring chimney fire – cleans it out well, but the pipe gets a little hot and so do things around it. The ridge juts out into the open and gets plenty of rain and sun, beech and sycamore can only stand so much of that treatment and after 8 years have given up the ghost.

Rolled back the tarps after unfastening a couple of dozen or so ropes and misc. wire and bungee fastenings. Shored up the rafters for the back elevation of the roof, well they’ve been shored up for about a month waiting for me to get round to this.

SAMSUNG CSC

New load-bearing ridge half way up with shoring holding the back poles up.

Made me blink a bit with all that light.  The benches, chopping block and lathe make good foot stools, but there are no steps up to them, so rather an energetic, stretchy day.  I put in two poles at the ridge.  One to carry the back poles and one to take the tarp above the level of the rafter ends.

SAMSUNG CSC

One ridge good, two ridges better for the tarp.

SAMSUNG CSC

Pull over that sheet there boy.

Then on with the tarp.  I have two – a white under sheet for light reflection and a green very heavy duty one on top.

SAMSUNG CSC

Good to have the sign boards back up off the floor.

OK there are another half dozen kicking about around the sides over the shop, making a porch, stopping the rain at the lathe tool end and one in reserve to unroll when the vile East wind blows.

Got that stove pipe away from the inflammables a bit:

SAMSUNG CSC

Oversized ash ridge with heat protection, need to think about weather protection now. In the meantime it’s the luxury of carefree chimney fires.

Thank goodness for forked branches. what useful shoring up tools

SAMSUNG CSC

Never cut a forked branch end off.

Fixed the pole lathe treadle again too, the last fix has only lasted a few months, the bike tyre I have used as a hinge for quite a while just broke in two.  Decided to use a redundant safety belt from the Land Rover.  First job was to make a tool to burn self-sealing holes:

SAMSUNG CSC

Yeah! Another used chainsaw file re-purposed.

I used a new lacing technique instead of the lashing method I’ve used previously.

SAMSUNG CSC

We’ll see how it lasts.

SAMSUNG CSC

Double treadle.  Note the hob nails for icy weather.

Had a weekend away in East Yorkshire and found a nice minimalist chisel&punch pattern in the choir stalls

English: Beverley Minster, Beverley, East Ridi...

English: Beverley Minster, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

at Beverley Minster …

SAMSUNG CSC

Had to copy it – it’s now a frieze on a chopping board.

Looks like they used a chisel that didn’t reach long enough to do the lines in one go.  That screw has got to be a much later repair.  There were some great misericords, of course I had to be sitting on top of five fools.

Also found some neat flowers growing on the porch of St Mary’s – the other church in Beverley.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

Going to master this style of carving one day.  But I’ll never be as good as this guy:

SAMSUNG CSC

Surprising oak grave ‘stone’ by Mr ‘Mousey’ Thompson late of Kilburn.

Also found a series of informal porch decorations – done by foresters, I’ll be bound.

SAMSUNG CSC

Halved pine dressings.

Heck, it’s nearly February!

Bee skep making again tomorrow and no post in between.

It’s been a little chilly and dark, but now we’re rounding the corner as Monday is Candlemas, when we turn off the Winter lights left over from the 40 days of Christmas fest.  Candlemas falls midway between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox, so either the depths of Winter, or nearly Spring depending.

I’ve been making lambs tongues (40 of ’em):

SAMSUNG CSCThey stop the chamfers on me new ‘window’ bars:

SAMSUNG CSCThis may look a little odd, but it is an opening in a wall that is outside on both sides and we wanted to get some light through to prevent a dark little corner.  I understand these opening fillers were used in the Olden Days before glass was extensively affordable.  Perhaps someone who knows more than I do about timber buildings will put me straight.  I have seen them in several period buildings and I like the look.  Mine may be over fancy and perhaps they should be like these at St Gregory’s Abbey in East Yorkshire:

SAMSUNG CSCAnd Great Dixter:

SAMSUNG CSCThis may have been messed about with a bit, as an extra wing was added in the 20th century.

SAMSUNG CSCWhile I was making the bars I used the double screw vice as part of the hold me down while planing.  Speaking of which, I fixed the bench last week, it had gradually grown two inches out of level. Consequent of a floor of rotting shavings.  It seems a little unfamiliar now level both ways, but things should fall off it a little less frequently.

 

New member of the woodland menagerie:

SAMSUNG CSCA lil girl is making one on a course next month so I thought I should have a practice one for her to copy.

Hope Spring comes soon, meanwhile more of this in the pipeline:

SAMSUNG CSC

Fixing it.

During the mad Winter festivities I had a semi-serious line: “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.”  Well that can only apply in limited ways and I really spend a lot of time fixing things.  I find this really satisfying.  Take this morning, the fire bricks lining our No. 1 wood-burner are getting way past their best.  A couple are broken in two, one side cheek has a bit missing, the top section that gets hit when fuelling logs is rather worn.  I considered buying a whole set and just replacing the lot.  Until I saw the price £272!  No.2 wood-burner entire cost less than that.  I had always thought about cutting new bricks and I’ve found I can get a sheet that will more than do the job for £60 delivered.  It’s mainly vermiculite so isn’t going to present immense difficulties cutting to shape and the odd holes to be drilled here and there.  I’m going to improve the cheek pieces so they are less likely to break again.  So that’s on the stocks, ordering the sheet today.

On a woody theme, I fixed a couple of parts of the elf making process recently.  I’ve made over a thousand of these little chaps, which sell all the year round – even in early January – first sale of the year!

SAMSUNG CSC The paint doesn’t dry when the temperatures get low, so I put them in their rack in the fire box (once it’s extinguished for the night, obviously).  That works fine, unless it rains, when, despite having a good cowl over the chimney end, water gets down and mars the paint work.  But not with the umbrella I added to the rack quite some time ago now:

SAMSUNG CSCI can cut these elves in about 19 cuts with a following wind.  Just before the Misrule Season I found I could reduce the cuts to about 13 by taking two initial cuts with the axe, makes a smarter job of the hats too.  I’ve made over a thousand of these elves over the past few years (I analise my sales as I prepare my tax return).  This all started from a great Swedish site showing how to make them step by step.

My friend David made me some V-blocks for general holding of round objects and one of them has become an essential part of the production line.  I use them when I saw off the carved elf from the stick.  In the bad old days the elf fell on the floor about 50% of the time.  Now they stay in the V-block 99%.

SAMSUNG CSCI ride my shave-horse side-saddle when carving elves, which used to make it tricky to put my foot on the treadle to nip the V-block.  Now I have improved, self-closing dumb-head:

SAMSUNG CSCGrossly ugly, but works, and is easily removed for conventional horse-work.

Then, there’s the Landy, oh no not the Land Rover!

SAMSUNG CSCUntil its last visit to Railside Garage & MOT test, the faults were: fuel gauge not working; windscreen washers u/s; dodgy hand brake; end of exhaust pipe missing; two front tyres tired out and  a broken rear work light.  All but the last item were fixed and it seemed like a new vehicle!

That work light … essential these dark evenings when I’m packing tools etc into the Landy.  The LR version cost £70 and they’d changed the fixings, so a bit of a non-starter.  Well, I found an £18 LED version that would mount properly.  Hey Presto!

SAMSUNG CSC

Let there be light.

What a difference.

SAMSUNG CSCLeveled up the chopping block that has had a jaunty lean on it for about a year, at the same time discovered that the shavings had crept up a few inches, much better working height now.  The shavings went into the newly instituted additional storage area.

SAMSUNG CSC

Hum, the bubble was in the middle before I put that heavy cup of tea on it. (Wouldn’t that have made the bubble run the other way? Ed.)

I’m doing some paid fixing too, this National Trust bench will be getting a little TLC

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCTo sort some of the problems out I’m replacing three of the boards, so I need some inch oak boards.  Chainsaw mill at the ready!  Slight problem fixing the wooden frame for the mill to run on for the first cut.  I either use 4″ coach screws into the log – but these would definitely have fouled the chain,  or use log dogs.  My two big ‘uns are already fastening the log to the milling ramp. And the beautiful little ones didn’t seem to be in any of the 4 places I searched for them. Here’s my fix, again rather ugly, but worked a treat.

SAMSUNG CSCIn festive mood I’ve also discovered the wonders of Sugru – putty that cures to a rubber-like compound in 24 hours and sticks to many things.  Won a few Brownie points fixing kitchen stuff.

SAMSUNG CSC

Before.

SAMSUNG CSC

Fixed

SAMSUNG CSCI’m not in the woods tomorrow, I’ll be in a massive tithe barn at East Riddlesden Hall learning how to make straw bee skeps (retro hives, now mainly used for gathering swarms). I prepared the long straw earlier.

SAMSUNG CSC

Working so fast you can’t see me hand moving.

I felt thrown back a couple of hundred years to the time when straw plaiting was a good means to boost the family income of agricultural labourers.  The ladies (OK women and girls really) earned more than the head of household in that way.  It must have been pretty monotonous work.

read more here.

Regional Furniture Society 2014, gouge work

The Regional Furniture Society’s 2014 journal arrived a few days ago, and I must say it’s an excellent read!

SAMSUNG CSCSorry, not breaking copyright, you’ll have to join – worth it just for this journal alone.  There is an American secretary too.

I’ve just read a really well researched and presented article about a press cupboard made in the Lake District.  It includes a detailed analysis of the carving by chisel type.  Brilliant.  I think it would be a good discipline to analise carving in this fashion as background to my 17th century-style carving (And lots more practice. – Ed.).

New logo for the Landy:

SAMSUNG CSC

Phew! Trenails love seats.

Pegged the seat on my littel riven oak crickit today without splitting either the top or any of the three legs.

Sorry

Sorry about the photo’fex – it was late and gloomy and the shot was out of focus. More to follow once finally completed.

Ready for next week’s …

small turnersI’ll be in London, missing lots of children in the woods discovering such seasonal goodies as this:

Bat

It’s a bat – I don’t need batteries for my crickit.

Chainsaw blues

I’ve been to the APF (Association of Professional Foresters) show for the last three days.  We were near the chainsaw carvers – 26 of them I believe, pretty noisy.  As you can see they have several means of making noise and carvings.  This guy had 4 saws, a drill, a blower, an angle grinder and something else I can’t make out.

SAMSUNG CSC

(He’s making a bottle to go with the two chalices for the three bears at table). Don’t ask.

Some of the carvings were impressive:SAMSUNG CSC
Others rather sad:SAMSUNG CSCYet others world-changing (Is the globe really that shape?).
SAMSUNG CSCWe, on the other hand, were doing our own bonkers activity, racing each other to make legs that will never be used in chairs.
SAMSUNG CSCKevin from Ireland won the singles International log to leg race on the Saturday, he didn’t use a shelter.

SAMSUNG CSCEven though on two days the weather was somewhat soft (as I hear they are wont to say in Eire).

SAMSUNG CSCHere’re the ash logs we started from to make a pair of matching legs SAMSUNG CSC Penalties were awarded for bad turning and mismatches. See those black dots – they cost you time penalties – 15 seconds each.SAMSUNG CSCMe, I was more interested in carving and a spot of lunch (I’m not entirely sure why there’s a drawing pin in the banana). No I didn’t carve with the Opinel – strictly for culinary use.

SAMSUNG CSC(Oh, I suppose you’re going to gloss over your double last place position in the racing – Ed)