Upgrades and mishtakes


Sunrise reddens a frosty Yorkshire morning

Phew! I can certainly agree with the sentiments expressed by Peter Galbert in a recent post about learning from your mistakes.  I’ve just spent about 4 hours or more upgrading my WordPress blogging software and making a complete hash of it.  (Well some of the earlier attempts are timed at 14:30 yesterday and I finished off at about 7:15am this morning, did get a couple of hours sleep, mind.)

I suppose I knew already that people write instructions to make life easier for me, not just for fun.  I do read instructions, it’s sometimes surprising what you learn.  The instructions I read for this upgrade to a beta version of the software (well a bit more dangerous than that really it is described as “bleeding edge nightlies”.  I mean these guys were not hiding anything.  They also advised doing a backup first (done), and “do not install this on a live site unless you are adventurous”.  Well, sounded like a bit of a challenge really.  I was tempted by the improvements they were crowing about to the media handling, and I post quite a few pictures – have you noticed?


Ah well to cut a long story short I didn’t turn off the plugins, contrary to instructions. I think it may have been caused by making guacamole in mid upload, well it’s slow is FTP but still works, the old-timer, as old, if not older than The Internet itself! This failure to click about three buttons caused chaos and much FTP work uploading files, watching slow progress, deleting files, checking forum posts on the issues.  But finally this morning it was working again, even the plugins, the most important of which dams up the stream of rubbish comments from spammers.

Anyway, just to counter my computerish story, here are some seasonal woody photos:


Stock for customers.


This is an interesting home-made vice or clamp, I can’t decide which.  There are a couple of countersunk screw holes in the back jaw suggesting it has been mounted somewhere.  On the other hand there is no garter to pull the front jaw out when the screws are loosened.  I can’t find it in the excellent Salaman Dictionary of Tools, but I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere – any suggestions?  My brother bought it for me in exchange for a promise to make him a mandrel for remoulding a couple of brace of 18th century pewter tankards he picked up for a song.

The tankards just fit in nicely with my current Land Rover entertainment from Librivox: Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens. The story features The Maypole Inn (based on a real coaching inn in Epping Forest) where I’m sure pots like these must have been drunk from.  Curiously they are assayed as pints but are not modern English pint-sized.  This harks back to before the 1824 Weights and Measures Act which standardised the Imperial Pint across the British Empire at 568 ml whereas formerly the English pint varied and I guess these tankard measures are equivalent to the United States liquid pint (473 ml), I’ll check once the squareness has been taken out of them and some of the bumps.

For info, the rounder plane is still in refinement, getting the blade tuned in is proving not easy!

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.

Bowls on parade

Tomorrow I’m at Victoria Hall in Saltaire (World Heritage Site!)

This will be my Big Christmas Show. I have sixteen carved bowls to sell, and they are all different – funny that eh?

Here’s a sneak preview:

This is a big sycamore dough trough I made.  The inside is finished on the adze.  It was partly inspired by this video (at 3m 35s).  I made this mostly with axe, adze, stock knife and just a bit of crooked knife in the bottom as it’s tricky getting adzing to run through from one side to the other, but maybe I’ll master that in due course.

Just in case you don’t remember what a stock knife is, here it is with a bowl in spalted beech that will not be there tomorrow as it’s not dry yet.

So, just tomorrow, then Strid on Sunday, logs and making a log store next week, then, thank Goodness, a rest for a couple o’weeks.

No more deer, elves, logs, trailers for a while, mmmm.

Busy, busy, busy

OK, opened the charcoal kiln:

Not a bad burn. Made 29 5 kilo sacks of top class barbecue charcoal. Quite a few ‘brown ends’ where the wood has not quite converted, but these help start the next burn. Looks like I stopped it just at the right time as there is evidence of the charcoal starting to burn at two of the inlet ports. It was quite windy during the burn so some care was required with controlling the air inlets. Very technical involving slabs of wood and socks filled with sand.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve been making a display ladder for the bowls

I borrowed the idea from Saul at Wild About Wood. His is a hurdle construction, while mine is more of a turned affair. I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep this way from visitors’ hands as they will never be able to manage handling them without dropping the bowls (from past experience!)

Just about completed the round three-legged stool

I’ll take another when it’s complete as it looks a little crooked in this one. It is true really, honest!

The ramsons are really thick now that Spring is well under way:

But still awaiting leave flush, although there are signs on the sycamores and hazels. The bluebells are just starting to flower

At least three are round my workshop.

Back from Derbyshire


I’ve just returned from an excellent bowl-carving course run by Robin Wood in Edale, Derbyshire.

I went via Halifax which I must say, I’d forgotten contains some fine stone buildings:

The course was held in the tidy little village hall and I stayed in the YHA with a couple of other course members.

Mind you it didn’t stay tidy for long – seven people hacking away at logs carving swedish bowls for two and a half days produced quite a good number of sacks of shavings.

Robin is an inspired and inspirational teacher and I’m sure everyone had a great time, if they got as much out of it as did I. We all produced decent bowls and learnt important techniques.

I made a couple of curvy bowls, I am very pleased with the second, boat-shaped one. A little more work needed but the form is there.

An important part of the course was learning how the look at what you’re working on and what are the essential parts to concentrate on, like the main lines of the form, if you want to find out more book onto one of Robin’s courses, he also runs spoon making courses which are a little less physically demanding and a good introduction to the joys of making useful things with your hands from green wood. You can buy tools from him too,

read books and chat over tea, coffee biscuits and excellent home-made lunches served on wooden ware and eaten with wooden spoons, even the tea and coffee containers deserve close study:

I also met a bunch of very interesting people with common interests

All in all an excellent outing. Expect extravagant hand carved bowls coming to this blog soon!