This long marquee has many extra straps and wooden pegs/stakes to hold it up. No wonder, it was windy.
“Well I woke up this mornin’,
So glad our tent hadn’t blown down.”
We were in territories new and unfamiliar, East Sussex in the South of England, near the sea and the South West wind. The land where trugs are made and called trugs, not bodges, as in Kent. In Herstmonceux pronounced Herstmonzoo. Blimey, these names down South very long and complicated, not like Strid, or other Northern simplicities, OK well, there are exceptions like Mytholmroyd and Micklethwaite.
Now here’s Mike Church, working away like a good ‘un on trugs for an American order (I suppose a “Speed trug-making” video would have been good here – Ed)
Here’s their details:
Sussex trugs have been going for a long time, in fact they are “Royal” because Thomas Smith, their inventor sold some to Queen Victoria on the first day of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London in 1851.
Here’s the oblong I bought my wife:
I took no photos of the house interior, as this wasn’t allowed, but it was a fine mixed collection of 17th/18th/20th century furniture in a stunning timber-framed early 16th century hall.
I was rather saddened to find that the old central heating radiators had mostly been disguised by covering them with a butchered antique chest, must have been when they were out of fashion, the alterations responsible were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, OM, KCIE, PRA, FRIBA and Nathaniel Lloyd in 1910. Some of them had rather fine carving in the 17th century style. Here’s a picture of one from Country Life 1995.
It was a fascinating place to visit with the hop drying oasts open to view and bodging in the great barn where ladders and hurdles are made.
But I digress.
The Bodgers’ Ball was held at Herstmonseux in a strong gale. In a field provided by Richard Bingham.
Mainly in a massive marquee which billowed and creaked over the whole weekend, occasionally bursting the odd wall pole.
These gatherings are a great way of meeting up with people … you met at earlier Balls and also new people you’ve not met before, but all of whom have a common interest and to some degree a common attitude to parts of life.
What I got from The Ball this year
How to wind a length of string in a figure of 8 on two digits so it doesn’t tangle. Learnt that from this fellow, you may have seen before. B Carder esq. (middle)
Learnt how to make a frame saw while your tent is blowing down around you, including making a fix-it saw blade from a piece of wire. Well done Sean (and stop taking self-portraits with my camera – right? (Otherwise I’ll have no option than but to publish the evidence)).
Whoops wrong photo …
In the auction I successfully bid for a French side axe, more of this in a later post.
I discovered that the bodgering world is not yet ready to propel itself back into 17th century green joinery.
But I’m working on it. Watch out Worshipful Company of Turners, my cricket stool is coming!
A massive G cramp for £10 – it must open about 14″, haven’t measured it yet.
And that the Sussex coast is about 7 hours away from Strid Wood, where herb paris is blooming (again)
A few random ingredients from my last few day’s work.
Seen one of these? Know what it’s called?
Well apart from a pair of chainsaw trousers, it is a nail acting as a button, fastens your braces (suspenders) to your trousers. We call ’em a joiner’s button. Make sure you take them out before they go in the wash – could cause unpleasant disharmony at home. Mind you if Stihl made their buttons as well as they do their saws it would be very helpful – I’ve used all the spares that came with the trousers (about 2 I think).
I’ve been preparing to make a picnic table with two benches. It has to be like some the estate have put on the banks of the Wharfe in their car park. Firmly attached to the earth – the table sits on two 6 inch fence posts and likewise the benches. However, I’m not doing the tops in treated softwood, oh no my readers, oak for that.
I sometimes miss young Theo, he was a great boon on two handed jobs like hauling a butt onto the trailer.
At four foot long and about 20″ diameter this butt weighs quite a lot. No the Lugall winch is not fastened to the trailer with that orange bailer band. There’s a strap going down to the tow bar through the grill. Lot of fussing back and forth, work the winch, move the rollers, move the winch, kick the tailgate, work the winch, and so on.
Getting it onto the milling dog is no joke either, especially rolling it round to get the right attitude on top for the first cut.
I use an Alaskan mill and a frame to get the first cut.
And I must say the big old Stihl 66, though a little scary, doesn’t complain about this heavy labour I bought it for.
The milling spread over two days, I can only stand so much at once as the dust is filthy stuff, very fine and mixed with the vegetable oil (sunflower currently) I use for the chain lube. Everything you touch turns light brown.
Anyway, watch this space for more adventurers in picnicing.
More gentle work is stripping bast from elm saplings. A couple of felled stems were lying around and I noticed epicormic buds appearing, so I tested for bark stripping. Yes! Quite a few rolls for a future seat.
The timber will make good mallet heads.
I finished the new sales display stand, or whatever it might be called. At least it looks different, and a change is as good as … well.
On the rapidly developing flower offensive Heb Paris looks about ready to bloom from its four leaves. This just looks like an invitation to copy into a gouge-work motif. Reader, that’s why I took the photograph.
They are yellow star of bethlehem, apparently Strid Wood is known for them.
I like the contrast of new plants growing from the flood banks of the Wharfe.
Inspired by Peter Folansbee’s accomplished oak work, I’ve been working on a joined oak stool, for quite some time now. In fact so long I doubt whether it would even qualify as green woodworking any longer. I don’t seem to have photographed the riving of the parts and planing the components, but it feels like ages ago. I got busy with other paid work and the oak sat there getting drier and drier.
The picture above isn’t oak at all, its sweet chestnut. Much softer than English oak. I used it to practise some gouge work, which is all new to me. I’m following Mr F’s great book Make a joint stool from a tree. I’ve also drawn some inspiration from photographs of beautiful work in Oak Furniture, the British tradition by Victor Chinnery. The flower design is taken from a stunning little hung cupboard.
Most of the flowers have seven petals, except the one centre left through which the key is inserted, and its opposite number on the right, oh yes and the centre bottom one … but not the centre top. These unexplained details fascinate me and give the work such a life of its own. As I look at this photograph now, I’m beginning to think there’s some punch work on the petals I hadn’t previously noticed. I’ve filed a cross-shaped punch to decorate the ground on my stool aprons.
So I began by shooting off the rather stained surface and checking everything was still square. Marked off the tenons and then laid out the pattern. I don’t have Peter’s confidence yet so I’m afraid the two foot was rather in evidence to get things in the right place.
I used an old moulding plane for the edge and then attacked with a suitable gouge.
Argh! Why do these photos always make the gouge cuts look inside out? Makes me feel a little sea sick. I was careful to follow the advice to make the gouge cuts into the solid, not into the last cut (got that one from The Woodwright’s Shop I can’t quite remember which of PF’s appearances that was). It’s a bit nerve-racking by this stage as there is quite a bit of time invested in each piece. Wow, turning the legs was scary after an epic mortising session spread over a couple of weeks.
Setting out the petals was an interesting exercise. I found a geometrical method set out in By Hand & Eye accompanying animations, but that just seemed far too over the top for my project. I ended up using the guessing method. Set the dividers to what you estimate will make sevenths of the scribed circle. Then divide up the remainder into sevenths by eye and increase/decrease the divider setting accordingly. This seemed to work out OK. Then I found a gouge that just about did the job with a little rotation at either end to fill out the space See how I cunningly made the space between two petals fall at the bottom where that little margin is rather vulnerable. Looks to me like the craftsman who made the cupberd above just went for it as the attitudes are quite varied, a bit like real flowers are!
Anyway this is what it looks like at the moment.
Like the coppicing. I’ve been working there three Winters now and the amount still to be cut is pretty intimidating.
Today I cut another five stools and an extraction way out.
Although from this shot I’m still deep in the woods – can you spot my red gloves in there?
There’s an old dry stone wall as derelict as the coppice running through the wood, and it’s a mixture of limestone and millstone grit, one of the Craven geological faults being nearby. Here is a nice bit of limestone that people used to like to take home and plonk on their wall tops (no longer allowed!).
Took me a while to find some hazel catkins that were not yet overblown.
I’ve been struggling along with a sash cramp made up of Marples loose heads and a 3 foot odd piece of milled ash. The ash was thicker than it needed to be, so I’d attacked it with the axe to thin it down and seem to have drilled random holes that were:
a) not far enough away from the edge of the ash to make the heads seat properly, and
b) the randomness meant that it was almost always the wrong length and much packing was needed to make them kind of work.
I occasionally get fed up with my sloppy ways as I did when I was using this sash cramp on the memory box which has now gone to a satisfied customer:
When I set initially set up in Strid Wood I had a pole lathe and a shave horse and a stock – simple old days. Then I added a bench. No vice mind, just some dogs and a weird cam device, which kind of worked.
Now I have a proper(-ish) bench with a vice I made a couple of winters ago, with dogs, yes, and some Gramercy hold fasts from Brooklyn. But why do I put up with inconvenience for so long before I sort it out? The inconvenience is often more time-consuming in the long run than doing the fix. Well all I can say with Puck is ‘Lord, what fools these mortals be!’ (Midsummer Night’s Dream).
Anyway, I sorted out the ash plank yesterday:
All I needed to do was some (rather warming) planing the thickness, measuring and boring. So now the heads sit properly, are set at the right width so I can cramp any length up to about 3’3″ on a continuous scale, and I can pat myself on the head (but not necessarily rub my tummy at the same time (C’mon it’s not that hard – Ed)).
Look how crazy the old holes were on the back of that plank, doh!
It has been too cold for anything much to grow for the last month when Spring should have been springing, but I’m delighted to say that Spring has now indeed sprung and the wood has suddenly come very much alive, even the bluebells look to be about to give us their misty display at any moment:
Any day now the wood will be carpeted with these little beauties – wood anemones:
Although the snow drifts from over a week ago are still melting, and night temperatures are near freezing and the dread NE wind doth both still (but a little less strongly), there are signs that Spring will burst forth with great force – given a chance.
Here is the first pair of wood anemones I’ve seen this year:
Although March is now with us and it also stopped raining about two weeks ago, the temperature is still dropping to below freezing most nights. However, it’s sunny, and last week I enjoyed a couple of luncheons at my Riverside Canteen:
Coppicing continues at Wood Nook as there are only flower buds, but no leaf-burst as yet. David did some good dead hedging to keep the deer from getting at the new growth and nibbling off the ends. It looked rather good.