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.


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.


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.


Hobbit stools

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


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.



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


Hidden steel.

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


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.


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.


That’s no dog’s bark

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


Send them back home

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



Making bird tables

SAMSUNG CSCAt this time of year I sell a few bird feeding tables, rather bizarrely called ‘bird houses’ by some. I thought I’d go through how I make them.

First I make the gables with the chain saw:

SAMSUNG CSCThese are from an outside slab of oak.  There is bark and sapwood on there, I reckon this will encourage insect life for the birds.  There’s plenty of heartwood to take the mortices.  Then the table itself, this one is beech, again from a slab, but there is no sappy wood on beech.  I make the 1 inch mortices with an auger.

SAMSUNG CSCThese augers are excellent, ex War Department with the distinguishing arrow marked on the shank.  They must have been stockpiled for tens of years as they come fully wrapped and protected with a waxy film that the instructions tell you to remove with a pointed stick.  Mine are 1953 vintage – the year of my birth.  I turn the handles myself in a variety of lengths, longer ones giving more leverage, and short ones for confined spaces.

Next the pillars to support the gables and roof are cut to length and tenoned.  I’ve used silver birch on this one.  I think they should last OK as they are kept dry under the roof.  I first get them down to near 1 inch with the draw knife, and then use the rounder plane.

SAMSUNG CSCI’d normally do this with the Veritas 1 inch tenon cutter, but I’d neglected to recharge the drill batteries so I just finished then off with the tenoner by hand – it leaves neater shoulders than the rounder.

SAMSUNG CSCI use a V-block in the horse to nip the columns which prevents damage to the bark (thanks David).  Do you like the multiple reducers to get the T-bar onto the hex drive?  Works though but.

Start assembly now, in with the columns.


SAMSUNG CSCThen the gables, this is a bit fiddly as the column positions need to be marked from where the column tops land – round wood can be a bit curvaceous (which adds to the charm, I think).

SAMSUNG CSCYesterday was a new style day.  The customer wanted to be able to hang feeders from a stick so I pierced the gable to take one.

SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCI wanted the stick to run through both gables so I needed to align through the first hole into the second gable, could have done with a slightly longer auger, but managed anyway.


On with riven oak roof shingles, pre-drilled and nailed with galvanised nails.

SAMSUNG CSCThen I split some round wood for edgings, having first nailed through into the tenons.   Drill through the table to fix onto the 6 foot pole with 4 inch coach screws (not forgetting to washer them). That’s about the bird table finished, do try this at home.  All you need is to make a couple of shepherd’s chairs to produce the waste for materials 😉

Sorry about the dull pictures, the weather was dull too!

New gimlet

The new one and a half inch auger arrived yesterday from Japan via a stockist in Germany, Schmid. It is a beauty and much better than the Footprint one that went missing.

The business end has a spur that cuts a circle in the wood fibres before the chisel side comes along and cuts out the bulk of the wood. This makes for a very neat entry and exit hole. The auger screw is great, loads of room for the shavings to clear and very deep milled edges to guide the direction well. And it cost less than my old one delivered! I’m using it in conjunction with my Veritas tenoner which makes neat tenons on the ends of rough work, e.g. legs for benches, lathes etc.

I set up my work bowl lathe with an elastic bungy using these tools yesterday for a demo in York to a wood turning group. The bungy replaces the pole where there are space constraints, like in a village hall. The turn out was very good, about 60 members. I had to judge the competition entries “Something for Easter”. Very fine work compared to my greenwood stuff. It was a good evening, even if rather hot demonstrating the bowl turning in a heated hall, phew!

Next week full on felling as the estate have finally marked up a lot of trees for thinning.