Stools, hazel and a building site

My wimping on about not getting a prize for my 3 legger caused a couple of comments about voting (notably from  Eric Bloodax Rick McKee, master hewer).  I’ve never tried this before so I thought I’d set up a poll, just for fun, and you should be able to see this in the right sidebar (may need to scroll down a bit or go to the “Home” page until I find out why if you go to an individual post no right sidebar info shows grrr!)).

Just to remind you, here are the stools in question:


The three legger (Must get that focus sorted man! -Ed).


The 4 legger with pretty flowers (Are these shots taken in a stone quarry? -Ed).


Also ran.

Enjoy your voting – you can see the results with a simple click, unlike the retro polling of the political variety.

At the moment I feel a bit like a square peg in a round hole, bursting to fit in, where is that fitting hole?  Where is the support for 17th century joinery?  Should I try the Worshipful Company of Joiners? Am I just too square?

SAMSUNG CSCThe rubbly background to the photos is the rebuild of my workshop, don’t worry, once the masons have finished there will be some timber included, watch this space.

SAMSUNG CSCThe season of woodland deer is ‘pon us once again and my stocks of animal limbs, and antlers was woefully low, so I had a half day cutting the hazel coppice at Wood Nook.  At lunchtime I had a walk round previous years’ cut stools and some regrowth is pretty good


Some is rather poor, but still has a chance – if the deer will only leave it alone:

SAMSUNG CSCBut around 25% have died 😦


Been to London


Show bench at The Apothecaries Hall, Blackfriars Lane, the oldest Livery Hall in the city of London.

The stools at left were 1st 2nd and 3rd.  Personally, I thought my stool would stand being thrown across a bar room in a drunken fight better than any of the others and therefore should have won.

SAMSUNG CSCBut then the judge wasn’t taken by the hewn finish and peg ends when he turned it upside down (presumably in readiness to throw at someone).  Really – it was a “turning” competition, I thought the best thrown stool would be the winner. Doh!

Here’s a photo immediately after that nerve-racking pegging of the seat onto the legs.

SAMSUNG CSC(Hand done that moulding tha knaws.)

But then it’s a funny place is London (not much like Manchester):

SAMSUNG CSCMore like a streetful of books one might be forgiven for thinking:

SAMSUNG CSCVisited the Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincolns Inn Fields and saw again Hogarth‘s paintings for A Rake’s Progress.  I’m reading an excellent biography of Wm. Hogarth by Jenny Uglow.  I seem to be getting deeper and deeper into history.  In many ways there was a lot wrong with the olden days, and the behaviour of some members of the ‘upper’ classes was a case in point.  Mr William found it so and did not hesitate to pillory them, as did Balzac a little later and in a different country – I’m listening to Le Père Goriot (in English) downloaded from Librivox, which seems to be on the same problem, but if anything more bitter about it.  Never mind, next up should be some Henry Fielding – more fun.

We also visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery, some fabulous paintings in there, and some extraordinary furniture too.  The curtilage has some great trees, here’s a mulberry pollard.

SAMSUNG CSCOn the way back home we called in at Canons Ashby and saw this magnificent cedar of Lebanon, planted 1780:

SAMSUNG CSCIt is a fine garden and the Elizabethan manor house is pretty respectable too.  We came across a sad memorial to a shepherd lad.  The story goes a group of Roundheads were sheltering in the house when Cavaliers approached, the shepherd blew his flute in warning and was killed during the resulting skirmish.

SAMSUNG CSCIn the driveway we met these two box green men chatting to each other.

SAMSUNG CSCMeanwhile … back at the bodgery … I’ve been making a ladder, amongst other things, here’s the first split of the stiles.


Smoke, mud, rain and joint stools.

Hi Folks!

This is your correspondent relaxing at The Commercial in London, an interesting pub:

Not at all like the old pubs of Keighley where I started drinking beer. The Boltmakers Arms, The Friendly, The Volunteers, The Gardeners, The Lord Rodney.  Ah, those past teenage days of Timothy Taylor’s ale and headaches.

The woody highlight of our trip to The Smoke (AKA London) was another visit to the Geffrye Museum.  In one of the period room settings was a stunning oak table with a set of 6 joint stools.

Sorry about the lousy picture, it’s not a brightly lit place The Geffrye, but well worth a visit, with a beautifully calm herb garden (well more like the size of about 4 allotments) at the back.  I liked this green window:

Nim & Jane

But, back to the joint stools.  We met up with my son Will in London, over from Brooklyn, and he brought with him Peter Folansbee’s new book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree.  An excellent book.  I will be making a joint stool using the guidance in said book and I already have the green oak lined up.  Unfortunately, I have now got a bit of a thing going about these stools and I’ve gone and ordered another book:

This has a whole section on period joint stools, and further along some chair leg turnings which are uniquely Yorkshire, so I may be using them as a base for the stool legs.  One of these stools would look well in Skipton Castle or indeed in any other castle which is short of furnishings.

We did quite a lot of culture in London (That’s what London is for innit? -Ed) including a visit to 18 Folgate Street, Dennis Severs’ House.  If you visit London, and don’t visit anywhere else, visit this house – cost £10, you can’t take photos or speak.  It is an experience in warping of reality, history and your senses that you will not forget.  And, a great bonus, you can have a pint of Meantime beer in The Commercial afterwards.

We also did some mudlarking too.  My brother-in-law lives in Deptford in what was once the naval victualling yards, quite near to Drake’s Steps

Hardly now in fit condition for a queen to ascent prior to knighting her circumnavigator. When I went out for a walk on the Saturday the prospects for mudlarking were rather off-putting:

A fine coat of silt over everything.  But by Sunday morning propspects were much better:

London is so old the flotsam and jetsam are very diverse. anything from printed circuit boards to flint arrow heads (I searched for the latter but didn’t find any).  The oldest natural thing I found was a fossilised sea urchin, the oldest man made thing also flint, with a hole in it, but unrecognisable (by me at least), I think I’ll have it as a charm.  It was a good Sunday morning out for all the family:

From here you can see the three-masted Cutty Sark tea clipper which was due to open a couple of days later

On the Monday we saw the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery practicing for a royal salute as the queen shall have been re-opening the Cutty Sark after long and extensive refurbishment.

Typically, as it started raining in Greenwich we headed indoors, and both father and son’s beer noses detected a mash in progress – hah, it was the aforementioned Old Brewery who produce Meantime bitter beer (Geddit Greenwich meantime?)

Well it was back to work on Tuesday and it’s been a rather wet week, to say the least.  Tuesday wasn’t bad, in fact Theo and I dined in the luxurious outdoor canteen in Strid Wood, with view of nesting Mergansers.  Theo finished off his coat rack with double wellington rack – rather impressive I’m sure you’ll agree.

It is surrounded by this week’s paying project – 4 off 8 foot bike racks for The Cavendish Pavilion.  I was working outside The Bodgery, and it was a very pleasant change, the sun even shone a bit.

By Wednesday the weather had turned nasty and I had a course running with a NE wind gusting rain into the bodgery.  I’d advised Bob to wear layers and he had taken my advice – I wish I had taken it in spades.  Anyway, despite my almost catching hypothermia, Bob had a good day and we had some very interesting chat to boot.

This is one of the unfinished bike racks, I was in no mood for taking photos by the end of Thursday’s installation, but ~ I’ll get one on Sunday, hopefully with a few bikes as serving suggestion.

The logs for the base were rather heavy, and I bust the guide bar on my milling saw last week so I had to split the first one:

They were still heavy after splitting as I found to my discomfort when I managed to trap my finger between one and the trailer, doh!

Ah well, after a heavy week I’ve been relaxing today, making beer, granola, shopping for brill and jacket lining repair material, planting beetroot and lettuce seeds, launching a new Twitter account (@FlyingShavings funnily enough) and dreaming of joint stools …


Only a bit of wood

It’s a funny old crowded place is London.  In this picture there only seems to be one person using a small digital device, and another taking a photograph.  This seems wholly unrepresentative of the general impression I get of how most people seem to walk about in The Big Smoke (as we used to call it) with their eyes fixed on a small screen.

The picture is at the Victoria and Albert Museum where Jane and I attended the Heritage Craft Association meeting last Saturday.  A very worthwhile use of time with some excellent sessions from a range of crafts people.  My personal favourite was a presentation of the craft of the letter cutter and how the skill is learnt, given by Lida Kindersley of Cardozo Kindersley Workshop in  Cambridge.  Three assistants and three apprentices, when a new apprentice is taken on someone must leave, and thus the skill is passed on as it was to Lida by David Kindersley and to him by Eric Gill.  Those little screens just can’t do what a hammer and chisel does in stone, make something with life – a bit like this:

Somewhat chaotic, but easy on the eye, and look!  There are a few guys having their Sunday breakfast and a chat.  Now even if your little screen is made of gold, does it look like this?

Actually, the little screen on my camera seems to have picked up one of those flying shavings, and there is a grey shadow on all these photos.  If a small screwdriver doesn’t get me into the lens to remove it, I think I may be looking for a new camera.

Here’s another rather chaotic assembly, the vile brutalist architecture of the Queen Elizabeth Hall with its wacky yeller staircase.  The River Taxi pier, and no, just a minute, not a boat on the Hall’s roof but a little temporary dwelling from Living Architecture. Another new tower looms in the background – The Shard.

It was a good weekend with lots of sunshine, but our trip up the Thames by river taxi didn’t come of because of this:

Thick fog – even thicker downriver, so the early boats didn’t run.

And here’s the bit of wood.  Could be a wooden boat (well it’s brown), and that grove of trees could have formed woodland elsewhere.

OK, off to check the overnight charcoal burn.

A weekend in London

London is a very complicated place.  It has very large things, like the new Shard skyscraper going up near London Bridge 71 stories finally, plus another seven of roof:

But in between these large modern buildings are some little gems:

And then there are grand old buildings like the Hop Exchange:

With a beautiful tympanum above the entrance showing the process of growing and harvesting hops:

There’s a bigger version where you can see the detail more clearly, here:

However, despite man’s best endeavours, nature always stands waiting to take back everything for its own:


Buddleia roots anywhere, and we were followed at close quarters by a thin-looking fox later that night near Deptford.

We also had a look round the newly opened medieval galleries in the Victoria & Albert Museum, it was stunning.  Especially this breton staircase:

It has some fine detail, besides an interesting structure and function:

And even it’s own Green Man

And a jolly little griffin, from what I can make out on the top gallery:

There is also a host of amazing medieval ironwork, these particularly took my fancy:

Here’s the one in the middle in close-up:

The weather was kind to us too, and we enjoyed some decent ale outside in The Albion in Hackney with our son Will on a surprise visit from New York:

The Smoke

Down (well I live UP North, yes?) to London last weekend to visit my daughter whose birthday it was.

Lots of trees, but not much variety, I had always noticed there were lots of plane trees, but not how many.  They are everywhere, and not much else in the streets.  They looked pretty good in their autumn colours, and loads of leaves to kick about on the pavements.

OK these are mainly limes, but there were some pretty big plane leaves:

See the size of the sycamore next to it!

We went on the top of this building; The Blue Fin:

There were trees on the top!

It’s an extension of the canteen, rather more formal than the bodgery canteen, but it has some fruits, which turned out to be edible, but rather seedy:

The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), it’s a broadleaved evergreen, and the seeds are on the outside of the skin a la strawberry.  Doesn’t taste anything like strawberry though!  Native to the Mediterranean and Ireland and a member of the heather family.

In the middle of the Barbican (or Barbican’t, as we rechristened it, not being able to find anything doing on a Saturday morning) we saw a heron sleeping on St Giles’ church

It is a seriously strange ghostly place, will not be revisiting there in a hurry:

All those dwellings and hardly a soul about (it was All Hallows Eve) at 11am.

Maybe London looks prettier when it’s all put away for the night: