6 feet in 1/16ths of an inch

I’ve been making informal seating from ash cheeses for a client.  I started with a sample one in the bodgery.

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Bodgery cheese

I’m using a 1 1/2 inch auger to get some beef into the joints.  I don’t usually work with cheeses as they have a good chance of splitting and ash splits in spades (they don’t call it most excellent splitter for nothing).  However, the client wants it this way, the cheeses were there and I’ve explained about the splitting, and they are partly dry.

I’ve been having to use heavy smoke methods to deter midges, which have been a real nuisance recently.  It does give a moody tone to photos though.

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Veritas, Veritas semper Veritas.

I use a tenon cutter for the tenons from those excellent folk in Canada, you know the one I mean.

Well the sample went down well, so yesterday and today I’ve been making the other 5 seats and a table.  Made the legs in Strid Wood, then moved to the client’s house today for mortising.

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Hobbit stools

I had to rig up a temporary vice as there is a lot of torque involved in turning that auger 3″ deep.

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Ratchet vice

I strapped each seat in turn to the underside of what would become the table top which is the biggest heaviest cheese.  Worked pretty well.

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Done.

Notice the tiny one sitting atop a full-sized stool?  It for the toddler in the family.

I managed to avoid a few potential problems – nails

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Hidden steel.

The tree was a couple of years older than I am.

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67, born from an ash key in 1948.

So … today 5 seats and a table, four 3 inch holes each, 5 foot of hole, each shaving from the auger is 1/16th of an inch, guess what’s coming … 60 times 16 is 960 turns – very good for the pecs, but also rather tiring, especially as the seats and table had to be leveled and the edges chamfered.

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Freehand draw-knife work.

No wonder then that I managed to cut a hole in my new work trousers (and my knee) with the drawknife. Well I was about finished and found a handy bandage in the ambulance  Land Rover, could have used a couple of Steristrips though.

Meanwhile, back in the woods.

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That’s no dog’s bark

Someone had been eating the beech bark, well stripping it actually and not eating any at all.

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Send them back home

Grey squirrels, they are no match for a 410 shotgun.

 

 

Fixing things up

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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.

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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.

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One ridge good, two ridges better for the tarp.

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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.

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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:

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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

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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:

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Yeah! Another used chainsaw file re-purposed.

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

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We’ll see how it lasts.

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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 …

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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.

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

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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.

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Halved pine dressings.

Been busy

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Coming in to land

Busy bee

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

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Mending benches at East Riddlesden Hall

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Extensive oak baord replacement with a couple of them.

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Need a rest from this woodworking now and then.

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Snack sandwich at:

Holden Clough Nursery

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

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

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Spring busting out in Strid Wood.

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I’m so small …

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… 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.

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This should be the other way up …

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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.

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… 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.

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New line – garden tool scrapers.

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Monks hood by The Wharfe – garden escapes?

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Tooled oak for an hotel breakfast servery.

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

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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Before.

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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.

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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.

Coppicing – not always what it’s cracked up to be.

Lack of photos warning.

Unfortunately coppicing is not always simply laying into grotty old coppice stools with a Stihl, slipping around, getting the saw stuck, hauling logs and covering levelled stools with hazel brash against deer.  Oh no my children, sometimes it gets dirty.

It hadn’t rained for quite some time and the ground has been drying up nicely.  Then today, coppice Tuesday, the heavens let down their gentle balm in bucketfuls.  Just coinciding with my having brought the trailer home ready to take out that hazel I cut last week.  Well crash on, I thought, not been raining so long yet.

The terrain in Wood Nook coppice is shallowly buried limestone.  Limestone has two properties, when it gets wet it gets slippery in spades.  I think this maybe because it dissolves in rain and becomes very smooth, must also absorb rain a bit I reckon.  Probably because it absorbs water so well, the quality of the soil on limestone, certainly in The Dales, at least, is pretty poor, that is thin.  Water drains away quickly, often into subterranean rivers and caves (good for the tourists and cave rescue folk).  So Wood Nook track up to the top of the coppice is short, steep, curving, littered with outcrop limestone boulders, narrow and in places has a thin layer of soil, read mud.

Went for it, got up last week with just the Land Rover.  Engaged low box and diff lock, crawled up the first section, then took a run at the curve leading onto the top. Nah!  Not going up.  Put the handbrake on – slid back down! Hum, nowhere to turn round, and can’t go forwards.  Got out, had a look, got back in, backed back (as we say around here).  My backing is still pretty bad, but I always get there in the end.  The trouble here was, if I started getting the line wrong I couldn’t go forwards to correct it and try again.  Inevitably I ended up with the trailer pointing into the coppice I cut three years ago, at rather a jaunty angle.  Got out, took a look.  Hah I could cut that corner.  Just kick that old rotten brash out of the way.  Damn, there’s a badly cut stool about a foot high in the middle of it, right in line for catching the underneath of the trailer.  Saw out, rev, rev, rev.  Bit slow, thought I always sharpened the saw ready for next time, not this time – idiot.  So got the stool lowered eventually and shifted all the brash, plus an uninvited stump ball that had turned up on its own.  Ready to run further back, and either turn or abandon the trailer, must at least get the Land Rover out to get home.

Dear Reader, do you remember it’s raining?  By now it is soaking through my chainsaw trousers, my mac, my waistcoat and shirt.  Feet feel dry though, and forgot to put gloves on so they are still dry.  Hands are getting a little muddy though.

Climb back in, try to reverse with the hand brake on. (Really – Ed)  Back, back, back.  Trailer folds into an elegant jack knife, still can’t go forwards, despite laying little sticks horizontal (You’re too optimistic – Ed).  Get shut of the trailer, it’s far enough out of the way now to get away in the LR.  Unhitch, feels a bit light  with no load on, I wonder.  Pulls a bit on the jockey wheel (weighs about a ton though).  Back in the cab.  Forward, no, check hand brake off, yes, no go, line up wheels in a straight line, oh yes!  Escape in sight, at least in the motorised section of the train.  Pity to have to leave the trailer though, don’t really need it immediately, plenty of logs at home.  Hang on though, did I put those straps back in yet?  Out, round to the passenger side, flip the seat forwards, nah, just the blue ratchet strap, hum, might work.  Fastened the strap round the trailer hitch and onto the ball of the LR (sounds quick, took two goes to get in the right position).  Now this did seem optimistic to me.  The trailer was pointing away from the back of LR by about 120 degrees. maybe more.  Could I pull it round.  Have a go.  Worked like a dream.  Get out, duh, need to back up to get the strap off, Back up, park right on the strap.  Back in , back up, back out.  Strap off.  Back in. Back back.  Back out. Hole in one – ball right under the hitch.  Down the rest of the slippery slidey track – forwards, luxury.  Loaded up with some easier logs, and back to base.

More water.  Moved the grind stone to The Bodgery a couple of days ago and installed a water dripping tin.

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It is really cool to have fresh water running over the stone rather than the mud from the bath.  Try it!  I always thought it looked a bit silly.  I even have an easy drip control – a tack sitting in the hole that I can wiggle about.

Much drier at the bench.

bench work

 

Bit quiet

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Well, it’s that time of year, back to coppice work, elf sales fallen away, time for some bodgery admin.  New racking to store all those useful bits that might come in useful one day.

 

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I also repaired the woven hazel fence/shavings barrier at the front of the workshop and dragged back about six inches od shavings – I thought the chopping block seemed lower than it was.

 

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Coppicing here in this weather means wet gloves, sometimes three pairs in a day.  They tend to be covered in green algae from the bark so I decided to make a glove drying rack to fit over the porch radiator.  It was pretty much industrial strength, over-engineered somewhat for holding gloves.  The brackets are quarter riven oak knees and the rails are ash.  I was persuaded to lighten it a little.

 

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Prettied up the rails a little (“Now looks like they’re for table football.” – Ed)

 

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Axed away about quarter of an inch thickness from the brackets.

 

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I’ve also been doing some off-piste steam bending.

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Just for that little handle end on the adze haft.  It buckled a little at the vice edge, but should be OK cleaned up.  The adze head (shipwright’s) was only £3!  And probably unused, it’s a while since they build ships in Whitby whence it came.  But they did build Captain Cook’s Endeavour there.

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I’ve also been doing a little recreational spoon carving, and found that a massive stock knife is pretty useful for roughing out.

 

 

 

“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 …