New for old

Last Sunday I went to see my mate Rod at the top of Bingley Five Rise, a staircase of locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal which is celebrating its 200th anniversary of fully opening.  Rod’s been blacksmithing for quite a while and has some great stories.  He was there with his bucket forge and a great improvement over his usual foot pump blower, a customised VW heater fan and a car battery.  Orders to Mr David Wadsworth.

No working pictures, sorry, I was in old fashioned mode with a swill basket of iron, so a camera was a bit if a no no.

As a change from the hooks and candle holders he’d been knocking out all morning, I’d taken him some real work, a stock knife to hook and a pair of tongs to adjust. I’ve had this clog maker’s knife for some years, puzzled by how it was supposed to be mounted with the 3/4 inch thread on the end in place of a hook. With several heats in the tiny forge Rod transformed the thread into a regular hook. I sharpened the hollower, as it is called, and gave it a test run on some ash.  Some adjustments needed, bit of slimming on the neck of the hook, and investigating why the edge leaves one if the raggedest finishes I’ve made for a long time.


I’ve turned a new carving mallet, my old one was starting to delaminate. I’m not used to exotic timber so I’ve no idea what this is, but it’s got a good weight to it.  I’m using the mallet rather a lot, making the decorations on my new carved oak grain ark.

The tongs are now adjusted to close on finer diameters like nails.

More coppicing tomorrow.

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.

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:


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:


Copyright National Trust


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.


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


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.


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.


One ridge good, two ridges better for the tarp.


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.


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:


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


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:


Yeah! Another used chainsaw file re-purposed.

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


We’ll see how it lasts.


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 …


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.









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


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.


Halved pine dressings.

Been busy


Coming in to land

Busy bee

Honey bee busy on a butter burr next to River Wharfe, Strid Wood


Mending benches at East Riddlesden Hall


Extensive oak baord replacement with a couple of them.


Need a rest from this woodworking now and then.


Snack sandwich at:

Holden Clough Nursery


And a break sitting on the ramparts of Clitheroe Castle, Lancashire watching Jam Factory doing their stuff.


Made seven of these beggars – all sold I’m afraid, but more 2″ thick milled sycamore available for to plane up for more


Spring busting out in Strid Wood.


I’m so small …


… have to eat my lunch with yellow blusher ‘srooms foraged on the way to work and cooked with improvised spatula in cold-pressed linseed oil.


This should be the other way up …


It was a leaning alder next to the river we felled this Winter.  Felled using the dog tooth cut, dog tooth at left, letterbox centre, gob at right.


… milled the main stem into boards.

Photo0348Using them on my stall – here at Otley Show last Saturday.  The shrink pots & spoons are John Mullaney’s – sweet.


New line – garden tool scrapers.


Monks hood by The Wharfe – garden escapes?


Tooled oak for an hotel breakfast servery.


Been to London too – row of cottages – Halifax Road conservation area, Forest Hill.


She’s busy too, solitary mining bee – onwards, onwards.

A grand afternoon out at Parcevall Hall,Wharfedale

SAMSUNG CSCI nearly saw a magnolia today.

SAMSUNG CSCThey were just bursting their buds.

SAMSUNG CSCBet they’ll be better tomorrow.

SAMSUNG CSCGood setting – masonry to die for.  All this stone has been hauled a long way and worked by hand.  Look how those steps are laid out.  I’d like to have been there when they were laying some of these stones – like that key-stone – must weigh at least 2 hundredweight or more.  Some of the coping stones on top of the walls looked like they would need at least four strong men to lift ’em.  Or perhaps a block and tackle and shearlegs?

More masonry:

SAMSUNG CSCAh, stone, valleys and stone field walls – that’s m’Yorkshire.  Pity nearly all the chimneys are capped off.  The double ones are particularly perverse.

Some one had a good idea about wooden studs in a door.

SAMSUNG CSCTurned out in the long run that it wasn’t so good, even though split-wedged at the back, some fell out.  I think we need more tapered drill bits.

I’d like one of these in my garden.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd mebbee a little one of these.

SAMSUNG CSCBut I would have to move home about ten miles, and it’s higher and colder there. It’s outcrop limestone.  Outcrop means it is the stone of the land coming up to the surface – not laid by man.

The cherry was in good heart, “If there’s not enough room on those twigs, I’m just gunner bloom from my trunk.”



Speaking of trunks, you need to watch out that some invader doesn’t choose yours as a good place to grow.

SAMSUNG CSCMistletoe growing on an apple tree.

So much wood, so many uses.


That’ll keep those bloody sheep out. (Not the underwater swimmers mind – Ed.)

PS In case you were wondering:

Sir Perceval of the Round Table marries Arthur’s sister Acheflour, but is killed in a tournament by the Red Knight. Rejecting knightly culture, Acheflour retreats into the forest with their young son, also called Perceval, taking only some goats and a small spear. After fifteen years she explains Christianity to Perceval and, excited by her stories, he searches for God in the forest. He meets Ywain, Gawain and Kay and, seeing their rich clothes, asks which one is God. When Gawain informs him that they are Arthur’s knights, Perceval resolves to be knighted too. He mounts a wild mare, and although his mother is upset, she advises him on courtesy and gives him a ring.

On his way to Arthur’s court, Perceval enters a hall and finds a lady sleeping; he kisses her and exchanges her ring for Acheflour’s. When he arrives, Arthur recognises his uncouth nephew and agrees to knight him, but as they dine the Red Knight bursts into the hall and steals Arthur’s goblet. Perceval promises to retrieve the cup: riding out of the court before Arthur can give him armour, he pursues the Knight and kills him with his spear. The youth takes his horse but, confused by his armour, attempts to burn it off the body. Gawain arrives and helps him put it on, but Perceval decides to seek more adventures. He kills the Red Knight’s mother, a witch, then encounters an old knight and his sons, who are delighted to hear that he has slain their enemy.

A messenger on his way to Arthur’s court informs Perceval that Lady Lufamour of Maydenland is being besieged by a Sultan. He immediately sets off, and Arthur, delighted to learn that Perceval is alive, follows him with three knights. Perceval arrives in Maydenland and defeats the Saracens overnight. He is welcomed by Lufamour, who promises to marry him if he kills the Sultan. The following day he defeats the Saracen reinforcements then rides against Arthur, mistaking him for the Sultan. He jousts with Gawain but they recognise one another and are joyfully reunited. The Sultan arrives, demanding to fight a champion: Arthur knights Perceval who soon beheads his enemy. He and Lufamour are married, while Arthur returns to court.

After a year, Perceval sets out to find his mother. On his way he meets the woman with whom he exchanged rings: her lover, the Black Knight who gave her the ring (a protective charm), has accused her of infidelity. Perceval fights the knight, but spares him when he promises to forgive his lady. Perceval offers to re-exchange rings, but the knight has given Acheflour’s ring to the Sultan’s brother, a ferocious giant. Perceval beheads the giant and retrieves the ring, but learns from a porter that his mother saw the ring and, believing her son to be dead, went mad and fled into the woods. Perceval replaces his armour with goat skins and sets off on foot. He finds Acheflour by a well and carries her back to the castle, where she is cured. They return to Maydenland together and Perceval joins the crusades where he is slain after many victories.

From: Mary Flowers Braswell, Sir Perceval of Galles and Ywain and Gawain. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995.
Manuscript: Lincoln Cathedral Library, MS 91 (Thornton Manuscript)

Old wood, old trees

This log store keeps on needing filled (as they like to grammaticise in Scotland).SAMSUNG CSCAt the moment I seem to be mostly cutting and moving wood around.  The logs above are old.  From about 3 or 4 years ago cuttings.  Straight-grained and ash, but no longer use for much else than fire logs.  I’m needing to move them out of the Bodgery wood pile to make room for more recent stuff, like this ash I collected this morning at 7:20am.

SAMSUNG CSCHere it is in the wild, on the canal bank.  I had to do a 90 degree right-hand turn from a busy trunk road into a fairly narrow field gate opening, hence the early hour.

SAMSUNG CSCYou can see why one of them was taken down by contractors to the canal trust, going hollow.  You may be able to make out a shiny round label on one of the logs.  It has a number on it and shows where there is a geocache. I could see the stash between the roots.  This is going to cause a few people some consternation when they come hunting for it.  Seemed a pity that some of the good-sized straight-grained stuff was going to end up as logs or rot away.

SAMSUNG CSCMaking progress with this beech limb, the wallers can get at the repair work now.  Hope they do a lot better job than this mess, a bit further along the road:

SAMSUNG CSCRight next to this is a rather jauntily leaning beech tree, that really ought to come down before it falls on the road.  I’m finding out about closing the road for a couple of hours to take it down.

SAMSUNG CSCI guess it got a bit carried away with splitting its stem, and then the SW gales have been at it.

SAMSUNG CSCThe wood on the left is where all that action is.  The wood is gradually creeping up the moor side, you should be able to make out the stems of the silver birches climbing up the hill toward the sky-line.  Well at least it used to be all silver birches, but now things are changing a bit.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s a pretty well established oak tree (with ivy creeping up it).  And in the back ground the underwoods are starting up – small holly bush, good and green in Winter.

Ah Winter, we are on its tail end here, but my walk was peppered with hail showers.

SAMSUNG CSCI was leaning over here to get a look at yet another tree that’s fallen on top of a wall needing removed (as they might say…).  One benefit of living in a valley is that you can see what weather is coming next.

SAMSUNG CSCThe build up of the new woodland now also includes some ash, here are a couple of little saplings.

SAMSUNG CSCSee how the floor is changing as the canopy of this beech tree fills out and blocks the light.  That’s bilberry bushes retreating.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some more regeneration; an oak tree which has almost died with dead branches sticking out of its canopy.  But regeneration is coming along with lots of new growth closer in to the stem of the tree.  It almost looks like one tree behind another.  Known as a stag’s horn oak when those dead branches poke out of the top.

SAMSUNG CSCBack at the ranch, hedge laying is finished, just need to burn the brash.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd functional things like guttering, doors, electricity and drains are all coming along at the outstead.


Half a hedge is better than too much

SAMSUNG CSCI’ve been laying the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of our garden.  This is a management method to fill in the bottom of a hedge and control the height.  I layed it 18 years ago and the bottoms of the oak 2 x 2 stakes have rotted away – but they’re only needed for the first couple of years to keep the cut hedge in place while the new growth comes on.

This is what it looks like before laying (you may be able to make out the remains of the old layer in the bottom of the hedge):


That’s the new workshop towering over the garden. Just needs windows, doors, plumbing and electrician. Waney-edge green oak cladding, and then fitting out by Joe Soap.

It’s with a little regret that I’m getting rid of the bobbles that are reminiscent of guardsmen in bearskin hats (or ‘busbies‘).  My father served in the Coldstream Guards, but never wore a bearskin I fear, he was too busy driving around in the Italian mountains in a bren gun carrier.  However, it is rather a teetery job, standing on the top step of a tall pair of steps to trim them and I’m not getting any younger, and down they must come.  I left the bobbles last time.  Once layed it looks like this:

SAMSUNG CSCNew hazel stakes from Wood Nook and hazel binders to hold the top down too.  The uprights are cut about 7/8th through and then bent over.  As some of the bark and wood is left on the pleachers carry on growing in their new position.  The pleachers are woven around the stakes.  The material was a little sparse at the left so I’m weaving in a bit of hazel to make out until the regrowth gets going.  I think that, while it would win no prizes at a hedge laying competition, it is stock proof and will keep the sheep out.

Look what turned up in the ashes.

SAMSUNG CSCThis came from the sycamore logs I obtained a couple of years ago from along the road, when a big tree was taken down.  This must have been embedded in one of them.  No sign of it from the outside.  What do you think it is?

The results of the skep making at East Riddlesden Hall are in:

skep making 2015

Yes Linda, although you’re but small, you were obviously just too big for your skep!

It was a good course.  Bring on the swarming season – not until May 😦  .