Storyteller’s chair; part 1

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s started again.  A new storyteller’s chair, for East Riddlesden Hall.  It will be styled on a shepherd’s chair, but this time I’m building it properly with mortise and draw-bored tenons all round.  The bottoms of the legs will be way oversize again as the chair will live out-of-doors and needs to be seriously bottom-heavy.  So here’s the first back leg:

SAMSUNG CSCBit more shaving down to get the top ready for framing the back panel.  Proper quarter-riven oak.  It took Theo and me about an hour to bust open the first split.  Hedgerow-grown timber again with branches just where you don’t need ’em.  Makes splitting with wedges quite a challenge, but we did it.  I tried hauling the whole butt onto the trailer with my Lug-All hand winch, but the trailer side used as an anchor was starting to suffer.  I reckon it must weigh around a ton.  It was still heavy to pull when halved, and on rollers.

This is the other back leg I was working on today:


SAMSUNG CSCThe second half of the butt made a good impromptu bench.  Once I’d got rid of the bark, sap wood and pith, and shaped it up a bit, sawn off the ends, it was handy enough to carry inside the Bodgery and start some finer shaping with drawknife and scrub plane:

SAMSUNG CSCWatch this space for more heavy work in the green oak department.

Meanwhile, still a bit of room for cake stands (to customer’s spec., honest!)  This was heavy too.







Should have been a stonemason

Well I would have been a stonemason if I’d been born a hundred years ago.


My Great Uncle Martin.

Several of my ancestors worked in stone and what work those old masons used to produce.  Here is a selection I took from around my village on Friday, as the Winter bike having had a new chain fitted, along with new brake blocks all round (occasioning really filthy hands), has done the usual trick of complaining that it would rather like a few new chain wheels as I changed the chain too late and the chain now jumps at those tricky moments like when straining against the pedals uphill.  Anyway, to resume.  Here is a simple ball:

SAMSUNG CSCEach individual chisel mark can still be seen.  This ball is about 18″ in diameter and my brother reckons they used to take a day to make.  And they are not turned. Amazing in their perfect simplicity.

From a mighty ball to really delicate vernacular grave stone style:
SAMSUNG CSCWhat artefact could be more beautiful?

Reminds me of the strapwork of Mr Folansbee, but it appears so free-flowing.  The next is from a later gravestone, probably Victorian, but wow!



Almost makes me want a headstone myself, but I suppose Amazon would charge very highly for delivery.  I’ll make do with an oak sapling.
Now here’s one of the older properties in Farnhill:

SAMSUNG CSCIt has been altered over the years and would have originally had windows all the same as the upstairs ones with stone mullions.  Pure vernacular. I was over the wrong-side of the canal so I couldn’t get close enough in to see what has happened to the date on the door lintel, but here’s a blow up:


Looks like the date in the lower centre panel has been removed. Why?  A mystery.  Maybe it’s 1716, must get a closer look.

I have been doing a little woodwork between felling, tushing and trudging about in the snow.  Mended the horse, attempted three threaded rods for another screw clamp, but found what I thought was cherry was alder (wildly weak and unsuitable.)  Made a brace of hurdles.  The odd badger, preparing for a memory box and a set of these big boys:

SAMSUNG CSCCheese boards for a country wedding.  It’s spalted beech from a tree that has been left in log for three years.  There is just about enough nature left in it to get away with.  Looks pretty eh? Thanks Nature.


Ah well, blue skies returned last week and are still here, feels a bit Spring-like, but there will doubtless be a Wintery sting in the tail to endure yet – remember Candlemas was sunny too. Here it is bursting through over Silsden and Barden Moors:


And here it is over my felling site:





Life in the bodgery has been pretty brisk this last week or so.  Lots of frost, topped off the last couple of days by freezing fog:

DSCF1139Makes it easy to see where all the oak trees are with their curly branches

DSCF1139Even the backwaters of the River Wharfe started to freeze up.

Some pretty blue skies and cobwebs:
I’m still rather busy in the run up to Christmas with courses every weekend making woodland animals etc and orders to be fulfilled for anything from side tables to recorder stands.


Even better orders are now rolling in for what is usually my dead sales period in January and February, including one of my favourites; another ladder.

In and among I managed to find a few minutes to make this spatula in spalted alder.

DSCF1159Ah well, day off today so better get going.  Hurdles to deliver, Gus’ table above to finish off, shopping.  Sending out bowls and treen.  Make lunch for tomorrow’s course.  Fix the outside light again.  Make a meal for tomorrow’s Dales Jam gig and Jacob’s Join (pot luck) supper.

Potluck Luncheon

Potluck Luncheon (Photo credit: Tobyotter)

And at last it’s raining again, so after a couple of hours of total glaze over as the rain freezes we should be back to the normal dank, dark England. Hurray!

Yew’ll enjoy these draining days off in the meadow.

I’ve had a very busy week at home with my grown up children.  Some of the highlights were SSSI wild flower meadows (above). Finishing a yew draining borad, visiting Saltaire – again (still good), getting lots of bike advice, cooking and eating, drinking beer from Saltaire, Ilkley, Rose Cottage and Belgium.  And, of course, le tour de France!

The Wild flower meadow is at the site of the fever hospital between Grassington and Hebden in North Yorkshire.  It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it is a now rare example of the diverse flora that used to grow in hay meadows, now sadly almost all blown away by the change by farmers to making silage from mono-cultured perennial rye grass.  There are about 50 species in this meadow, here are some of the ones we spotted from the flagged path through the two fields.

Meadow sweet (the tall white ones), dog daisy, Great Burnet, ribbed plantain.

Buttercup, scabius, red clover, sorrel,  goatsbeard, yellow rattle (seed heads).  The latter is a very interesting plant, as a hemiparasite it attaches itself to the roots of other plants in the meadow to extract nutrients and water.  It prefers to paratise grasses which thus encourages growth of the flowering herbs and suppresses the growth of competing grass.

I’ve also had to get the draining board finished for my son and his wife to take back home to Brooklyn.  We decided to keep it as natural as possible with the draining runnels following the grain like rivers:

It is a beutiful bit of yew, even if it was a challenge to plane.

On the way back from the airport, we called in at Ravenden Wood at Smithills Hall, Bolton.  A clough wood – that is in a steep-sided stream valley, very peaceful after the big city of Manchester and its airport.

Dappling through the beeches

Fine spalting in the stump of a very recently felled beech.

Town and country.



The boy’s new fence

Theo built a dwarf hazel fence in situ yesterday, and made a really good job of it I reckon.  Especially as it was both our first attempts.  It’s woven from the thinnest stuff I’ve taken out of Wood Nook.  It replaces a rather naff-looking nylon cord I had in the same place to discourage visitors coming uninvited into the work area (with its attendant sharp tools, hot stove, etc.  It should also help keep the shavings in the workshop, rather than spreading over the track.  The fence has proper bindings on the top with under and over weaving and wrapping around the end sales (upright poles).

I’ve been working on a split hazel hurdle too.  Not as easy as it looks in YouTube videos, so this hurdle will be destined for an inconspicuous place as its neatness leaves quite a lot to be desired, although it does have the required strength.  Here is a small section behind this lump of spalted ash I’ve worked up for a caterer to display cakes on (they wanted it just like this, honest!).

I’ve also been making a shave horse for a customer this week, here’s the finished article

And today it’s log making, working on the oak bench, finishing that large sycamore bowl, which, as predicted, is now as hard as iron, even to the sharpest tool.

London at the weekend for the Heritage Crafts Association annual meeting.