Bit quiet


Well, it’s that time of year, back to coppice work, elf sales fallen away, time for some bodgery admin.  New racking to store all those useful bits that might come in useful one day.



I also repaired the woven hazel fence/shavings barrier at the front of the workshop and dragged back about six inches od shavings – I thought the chopping block seemed lower than it was.



Coppicing here in this weather means wet gloves, sometimes three pairs in a day.  They tend to be covered in green algae from the bark so I decided to make a glove drying rack to fit over the porch radiator.  It was pretty much industrial strength, over-engineered somewhat for holding gloves.  The brackets are quarter riven oak knees and the rails are ash.  I was persuaded to lighten it a little.



Prettied up the rails a little (“Now looks like they’re for table football.” – Ed)



Axed away about quarter of an inch thickness from the brackets.



I’ve also been doing some off-piste steam bending.


Just for that little handle end on the adze haft.  It buckled a little at the vice edge, but should be OK cleaned up.  The adze head (shipwright’s) was only £3!  And probably unused, it’s a while since they build ships in Whitby whence it came.  But they did build Captain Cook’s Endeavour there.


I’ve also been doing a little recreational spoon carving, and found that a massive stock knife is pretty useful for roughing out.




National Forest Wood Fair

Last weekend (well I suppose it’s the one before last now) I was in Leicestershire’s Beacon Hill Country Park for the NationalForest Wood Fair.  The National Forest has been a project for quite a number of years and for most of that was to me just a sign on the M1 motorway “National Forest”.  It now spans some 200 square  miles of established and recently planted woodland.

I was joined by a great bunch of the UK pole lathe fraternity for log to leg racing – twice daily.  Team event in the mornings and singles in the afternoon. Turning Windsor chair legs under pressure is not what I usually spend my working day doing, but it’s a bit of fun and entertains the crowd, helped along by the calm, informative commentary from Jim Steele

Here I am sweating away in my Winter vest:

The other chaps competing along were Dave Jackson (on his way to barrack me here, I think)

Peter Wood,

Mike Ashton at his bow lathe, calm, collected, precise.

and Matt Jarvis, a man very skilled in the art of cutting cords.

Peter  gave a great demonstration of steam bending, making four ash hoops in quick time.

Mind you he did have the massive advantage of the use of my steaming cabinet.  His steam generator, sitting atop my failed one, was very nifty; he draws the steam off from the top into a flexible pipe and introduces water via a pipe which reaches almost to the bottom of the converted gas cylinder he uses.  Thus he can get steam from about a pint of water and only tops it up when the inlet pipe emits steam, thus indicating that the boiler is running low on water.  Simple but very effective – just what I like.

It was a two-day affair this year so we camped (fun putting up a brand new tent with head torches!). It meant I had more time to look around.  The most exciting I saw was Phil Gregson wheelwright.  Phil put on a great display of shodding two cannon wheels with steel tyres.

Very fine joinery work on the wooden wheel parts:

He keeps very busy with wheels for hoop top caravans, private and museum commissions. I liked the way he gets the tyre out of the fire:

The hooping bench all ready for the tyre looks good too, especially through the heat of the fire:

Time devised methods like the inside dishing of the wheel which tightens the whole job if it drops into a pothole and the weight of the vehicle pushes against the nave (boss).

All in all a good weekend away, with pretty good weather, excellent indian food from Afia’s, local beer and good company.

A little steaming in the woods

I used to do my steam bending on top of my brewing kettle whilst making beer.  That was a little too stressful, doing two things at once with a high time investment,  and potential for things going wrong, and involving gallons of boiling wort.  So I decided to do it properly, in the woods.  I’ve been building and rebuilding a little informal stove from fire bricks and thick mess wire grid for a while.  It’s main purpose has been to drive away the pesky midges that hang around otherwise and bite me.  I’ve been running it with a short chimney which causes a good draught, but to steam I needed a ‘kettle’ on the fire.  I rebuilt it into an approximation of a rocket stove.  Basically this is a heavy firebox to retain heat with a hole where the sticks are fed in and air is taken in immediately below the grid that supports the sticks.  I used an old malt extract bucket a quarter full of water ans then set my steaming cabinet on top.  Not as precarious as it sounds.  Although it took a while to generate sufficient steam, once up to temperature there was no shortage.  The aim was to make a handle for a trugg repair a customer has asked for.  I’d split and shaved down a length of hazel previously and fixed up a temporary jig to hold the handle in shape once bent.  It seemed to go OK:

You can see the trugg with the old worm-eaten handle here:

Sorry, no after picture, but it looks OK.

Call off the search for stock knives, I’ve bought a set from France that are winging their way over the Channel as I write.  They look to be an English pattern set, so it will be interesting to see if there is a maker’s name on them – a lot were made in High Burton, near Huddersfield not far from here. This is the true stock knife as seen on

The bend on the handle looks pretty shallow, which is a plus for the bowl-carving I’ll be using it for.