Speed drawknifing


August used to be the month we went on holiday.  Nowadays it seems to be my busiest month what with courses, shows, and caving …

SAMSUNG CSCWell, actually this is my garage/store-room and it leaks far too much, so much so that it will be destroyed and out of the ashes will be built a new glorious stone and green oak workshop with brewery area and a pitched roof. NOT a flat concrete slab that sweats and leaks, cold in Winter boiling hot in Summer.  But first I have to get this lot:

SAMSUNG CSC(You should have seen it before I started throwing things out.)

.. into this:

SAMSUNG CSCThis is a tin shed, 10 foot by 13 that my brother and I just spent 2 days putting up (including making a floating floor for it).  I think I must have screwed about 200 screws in and dropped probably 400 into the flowers.  Anyway it’s up now, and the poor flowers are down.

SAMSUNG CSCAmongst other things to go in The Shed like bee keeping equipment (photo op. for my first honey extraction:

SAMSUNG CSC) are a cast iron band saw, a second-hand multi-fuel boiler I bought in readiness for the new workshop (well for the brewery really), all my tools, two bikes, about half the last charcoal burn output (our warm Summer has suddenly stopped), various jerry cans of fuel etc, etc.  And then I need to find somewhere else secure to put the two chainsaws.  Man!

Anyways, I’ve started running spoon carving courses finally and made this totally silly spoon during the course of it.

SAMSUNG CSCYep, bark and moss on (C’mon – who’s going to buy that? – Ed):

SAMSUNG CSCThe interesting thing is the spoon is photographed casually relaxing on the roughed out top of the clover leaf top three-legged stool I’m about to make for a competition.  I’ve worked out that the legs will be truncated equilateral triangles where the draw-bored M&T joints will be in the apron and rung areas.  Then turned between on the pole lathe (important consideration for the comp).  Ah well, perhaps ye olde 17th century joinery will catch on over here one day (maybe after Peter Folansbee has taken his class here!)

I’ve been busy with oak again – another garden bench commission.  Here’s some speed drawknifing work (Not too long I hope – Ed)

So lots more shavings, and a growing pile of parts,


must make sure I don’t mix members for the stool with those for the bench.

New vice and hex legs

I’ve been having some time off making stock as people seem very unwilling to buy stock in January, and I’ve only just gotten started felling this year’s thinnings. I bought a vice screw some time ago, it’s this one.  I made a rather ineffectual tail vice with it and it was beginning to fall apart only months later (the vice that is, the screw was perfectly OK). But now after quite some gestation I have a new bench with a tail vice, that I’m rather pleased about: It really is green woodwork too, but looks rather too refined for the rough old workshop in t’woods.  I felled a decent-sized beech tree 2 years ago and it has been left in log since and is still rather green.  I’ve left all the bolts accessible so adjustments can be made as the drying progresses.  I expect there will be some planing to be done at least!  The bench top is 3 1/4 ” thick and mounted on tenoned quarter log legs with 1 1/2″ round tenons (thanks Veritas).  I put rungs across the short ends between the legs and then stacked a lot of wood on them to give some stability to the whole job.  It does seem pretty solid, and I was amazed when the vice actually worked second time (after I’d relieved the hole in the vice jaw that the screw goes through, and was binding/threading).  The finger joints are not particularly neat, but I think they are strong and glued and 3″ coach screwed as well: The vice runs in three (count ’em) runners, one running in a slot in the bench front. one in a slot in the bench end cap and a third one which is screwed to the bench underside runs in a saddle in the extension of the front jaw.  The bench end cap is bolted on as are all the vice screw parts and the bench front edge which I will be drilling dog holes in as required. I was reading Peter Folansbee’s post on his Welsh Stick chair project this morning and his previous post on this subject had inspired me to buy “Welsh Stick Chairs” by John Brown.  I’ve been putting off making a bow backed child’s chair for some time and I decided now was the time to make a Welsh stick chair version.  I like the style’s unfussy simplicity. Anyways, Peter is making his legs octagonal.  John Brown made his hexagonal (that’s 6-sided) – from square oak stock.  Well I started with ash log about 6″ diameter, cleaved it in 6, cleaned the sharpest edges off with the axe and got it on the horse (wayhey! the new dumbhead) I was going to use the draw knife to make it square, and then hesitated about what the next step would be … hum .. making it octagonal is easy – just take off all the corners of a square and you’ve got 8 sides.  6 is a different kettle of white-clawed cray fish.  So should I make two opposite sides into two sides each – yes that makes six, but then why would I make a two sides square and then knife them away – surely there’s a waste of time here, for four legs that means making eight sides square and then removing the work just done – doh!  OK I definitely need two opposite faces parallel, let’s take the inside and outside of the log: OK so now I need four more faces.  Hang on (thinks I), two of those existing faces look to have the correct angle already.  They are the faces from the original splits. Going back to grammar school geometry (loved it) the external angles of a regular figure (like a hexagon for instance) add up to 360 degrees and therefore the external angle to the bottom  (that is the now flatened centre) face is already 60 degrees,  Whoopee!  All I need do is put the two original split faces in turn down on the horse bed and cut the opposite surface parallel (well not really as the legs are tapered in their length as well). Turned out not too bad really: The light was going before I finished the last one of the larger rear pair.  Speaking of which there should be an improvement in the colour of these pictures when I install a white under tarp inside the green one which currently casts a horrible green tinge on everything.  Just need to source the said white tarp. The legs produced a host of business card material: Yesterday was a good day too, contractors turned up to take down the dead beech tree behind me that I’ve been having nightmares about, it made a hell of a crash when it came down: That’s only about half of it – it was around 3 foot at felling height.

It used to look like this (the tall one behind the workshop): Still plenty of water in the water meadows and a good sunset to boot.

More stools

Development of a stool.

Three legged stools are quite popular. They were often used in places where the floor was uneven as they are self levelling – stools with three legs do not rock. So they were used e.g to sit on when milking, they are good for this as the front two legs allow the tilting forwards that’s required when getting to the teats at the far side of the beast. This was taken to an extreme in some areas with a belt on one legged milking stool:

I’m making two three leggers at the moment for a client as previously mentioned. I already had a five minute one made from scraps so I could sit and carve bowls in the so passé vertical bowl clamp. It was rather an oddity with a longer leg to accommodate the slope on the workshop floor. That’s the really rough-looking one at the right of the picture above. Then I made a prototype, but based on a round-topped one so I laid out the legs on the same basis – dividing a circle into sixths (then thirds) with a pair of compasses. This didn’t work well – see the one at the back with the wedges sticking out. I’m going to remodel the top into a shape that reflects the leg layout.

However, I’m rather pleased with the way this one is going:

I’ll get it glued and wedged today.

I’m also working on making more space in the workshop by rationalising the lathes. I’m combining the bowl and spindle lathes into one, making new poppets for the single bed original lathe and reorganising the stiffer pole than drives the bowl version. It’s also time to sort out the horse, I’ll be sawing a log to provide a new bed for it, of the conventional style with a flat bed. Watch this space…

And for a little relaxation a shrink pot in alder: