Faffing about


Been a long time since I made a post.  January is a quiet month in Strid Wood, apart from the estate team carrying out annual track repairs – I’m glad I don’t have to work with a vibrating roller.  This January has been even quieter, El Niño has bent the Jet Stream and we have had quite a bit more than our usual share of rainfall, as usual the sun has kept to the far bank of the River Wharfe.  I’ve not had a big commission, nor a big tool project like making a bench.  However…

I have been learning power lathing – this is more unlike a pole lathe without a treadle, than a pushbike is unlike a sports car.  I’ve taken this up mostly to turn bowls.  I have tried making them on the pole lathe in the past, but I found the treadling rather hard work for an old boy like meself and quite a deal of input is required to get up to a decently salable standard.  Yes I know George Lailey carried on until he dropped

but I felt I would drop before his ripe old age, so bowls went on the back burner and I carved a few instead.


Double choc.

I also wanted to make honey drizzlers which I find are too small to take the strain of a full size pole lathe, as are lace bobbins.  You can’t make needle cases either on a pole lathe, easy on a machine.

So, I’ve been faffing about with the lathe I bought in Lancashire, and it’s just about set up now, complete with a new bench grinder, wooden jaws for the scroll chuck for bottoming, as I’m starting to call tidying away the spigot used for holding the work in the chuck.

It has been rather a steep learning curve, here are a few early days casualties:


Ready for the fire.


Good enough for a working man’s syrup tin lunch though.

A few tips: watch where your chisel end is, especially when you’re not cutting with it; if you turn a bowl in green wood it is silly to remount it when it’s dry (wobbly thin bowls at 400 odd rpm are terribly vulnerable, chisels are their predators); think about the presentation of the chisel to the work – you can’t just dig in like on a pole lathe;  always stop the lathe to check what it looks like motionless before parting it off – faults are hard to see in a fast turning bowl; use sharp chisels, I now realise I’ve been rather lazy in this respect and you can’t get away with blunt tools on a power machine, hence the new bench grinder.  The first morning with the latter I hollow ground a gouge and honed two tiny edges with about 6 strokes on the stone – I think this is the first time I’ve got that much read-about profile.  Anyway, sometime soon I’ll be making bowls fit for sale I hope (once I discover and sort out why the lathe motor has suddenly gone on strike (sorted, the wire fuse had burnt out, talk about retro, but I managed to get a card of fuse wire from Mortons of Ilkley)).  Here are some I’ve not completely wrecked in the chuck:


Hang on, there’s a ringer in there, left back is carved – Ed.

A drop of walnut oil does bring out the colour in the spalted beech I’m rather enjoying working with.  It is about 18 months down, but spalts very quickly in the wood.




After – baby you’re so square.

Of course the new luxury indoor workshop has had to be modified to take the lathe, special shelves for chisels, extra sweepings up and extra shavings boxes, more lighting.  And I must say, my Monday learning sessions in the workshop (AKA #2 Bodgery) beat puddling about in mud in the dark damp wood.

Also been faffing about coppicing and felling, breaking and repairing the chainsaw and Land Rover, trying to do steam-bending, which is a severe challenge if you only do it about once every two years, planting hops, processing bees wax, doing my  tax return.


Screw vice.

Ah yes, and making a bowl blank holder, whilst renewing the saw horse.  This rather unpretty device holds a blank while I saw the corners off …


Surely not a chainsaw carving bar on that lil Sthil saw? – Ed.  Oh no, just perspective distortion – FS.

Aha yes, this morning I collected new bandsaw blades.  Having watched an excellent video on The Physics of Bandsawyering I realised I needed a blade with less teeth for resawing (watch the video, it is very clear and informative).  Now my little old Halifax-made Whitehead Junior run by a washing machine motor nigh-on as old as meself has a new lease of life with  3TPI (that’s teeth per inch, no idea what the metric equivalent is), helped by the earlier addition of lignum vitae blade guides.

This isn’t mine:

bandsaweasy to tell from the guards (same model though).

Dark side of the faceplate

It was never like this with the pole lathe.


Bought it … how the heck do I get the faceplate off?

When the East wind blows, the lazy wind that can’t be bothered to go around you so it goes through you, it can get a bit chilly in the woods where the sun doesn’t shine.  We had the old garage taken down

SAMSUNG CSCand rebuilt

SAMSUNG CSCI’ve bought an old Sheffield-built power lathe so I can spend some time in the warm in Winter and turn some of the things I can’t turn on the pole lathe.  Bowls are for you men to make with younger legs than mine.  Tiny thin treen is impossible on a pole lathe – honey drippers, lace bobbins and such.

I took my newly recovered trailer to near Chorley, Lancashire and collected the lathe, a Myford ML8.  Also collected a new chunky hitch lock from a trailer dealer nearby so I wouldn’t be needing to recover stolen trailers anytime soon.

I sent off for a four jaw chuck for turning bowls.  It’s also made in Sheffield, we can still make good stuff in Yorkshire.  Trouble was I then found the faceplate where I needed to install the new jaws was firmly fast.  With the help of friends I tried a few different ways to get it off.  I needed to hold the spindle locked still and then turn the faceplate clockwise.  I de-threaded the aluminium outboard faceplate trying to use it as the lock.  Then, after reading up internet fora, I engaged a low gear and turning the belt in reverse I hammered a board locked onto the stuck faceplate against the wall.  Still stuck.  Heated it up lightly and gradually with a paint stripper gun … still stuck. Made lunch, had an idea.


This might work…

Two levers, one oak lath against the pulleys to lock them, and the ply board to turn the faceplate.  What a feeling when it just unscrewed!



The cause was mistreatment by person(s) unknown.



Can you see the damage to the last thread?  No wonder it was stuck.  I used some anti-seize grease with added flake copper during installation of the Sorby Patriot chuck, that should make life easier in future, and the added electricity will too …


Hello world, my first powered wooden treen – test piece only, or do I spy a mustard pot in there?

A Grand Skipton Evening Out

‘Twas the evening of Museums at Night in Skipton and the lathe was sleeping,



I wish I had one of these and a boy to turn the great wheel.

There was a people’s curated exhibition with many interesting artefacts.

SAMSUNG CSCI wonder if this could be turned on the great wheel lathe (I guess not looking at the two varieties of wood used for the captive rings.)


Echoes of Skipton’s busy industrial past and productive cotton mills.
SAMSUNG CSCAnd memories of an Indian childhood told in a cross-cultural American traditional red work quilt.

More treats in the streets outside.


The Penny Plain Theatre were out roaking in people (notice the boxing glove, it was used) to gamble away their hard-earned cash in a fruitless search for sudden wealth

I told them they’d be beamed around the world “… perhaps even into parts of Lancashire …”

Skipton Ukelele Band were out.


As well as some buskers, including this delightful quintet.

SAMSUNG CSCOne to one finger puppet show.

SAMSUNG CSCI spotted this S-scroll on a cast iron support column which I must have walked past hundreds of times and never before noticed.


I’ll bet it looks good under all those layers of paint.


Felt a very small amount like being in ole Manhattan.  Funny old world!





As the lunchtime rain drips from the lathe handle, I wonder.

Not much use for the hob nails in the treadle this mild Winter passed.



I wonder when the felled beech tree that forms one leg supporting the lathe bed will become so rotten  that it no longer will support the lathe.


The other end which lives indoors under the tarp still looks pretty solid.


The lathe looks and works pretty well.


Wonder when that lady is coming to collect two bunches of 8′ hazel rods.

Why the young lady on Sunday said,”I hate this place, it’s creepy, like something from The Blair Witch Project,”  I wonder what that film is like, scary I believe.

Something from the window box at home.


Something for the blackbirds.


Something naughty behind the trough.



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.