Sometimes

I think I make life hard for myself sometimes.

I make garden benches in a particular style.  The style avoids many square angles, straight edges and all those luxuries that make joinery easy to fit together.

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Starting assembly

Who else would use round peeled oakwood for a crest rail, combined with slabbed waney-edged chestnutwood for a saltire back, and riven hedgerow oak for end frames?

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Embryonic end frames

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Saltire components

Making mortise & tenon joints can be demanding; just how does one lay out the two joints to fit the armrests – where does the front through tenon fall, much deliberation, center finding, and, well, some guess-work, I guess.

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Chase the mortise

I’ve found that a full-sized drawing can help with some dimensions.

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How long’s that arm rest to be?

Starts to come together gradually.

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Getting there

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Later

I should stick to helping people make bears.

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Bear & fox.

But then, there is some reward in going out on a limb.

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Clothes rack detail.

Reusing 17th century carving motifs.

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Sycamore chopping board

Redesigning the iPad from the outside:

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Thicker, heavier.

Ah, perhaps life’s not so bad, after all, I do have the privilege of living in God’s Own County (Yorkshire, where it’s always sunny).

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Culloden Tower, Richmond, North Yorkshire

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Richmond, Yorkshire

IMG_0288Cockpit Millennium Garden, Richmond Castle

Fixing things up

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Assorted fire and weather damaged ridge components.

Today I have been mainly fixing the ridge poles on The Bodgery.  The flue pipe from the lil wood burner stove (Do you mean that stack of fire bricks on two lorry wheels? -Ed) was fixed to the side A frame at the ridge.  Some days the tar gets a bit thick inside and we have a roaring chimney fire – cleans it out well, but the pipe gets a little hot and so do things around it. The ridge juts out into the open and gets plenty of rain and sun, beech and sycamore can only stand so much of that treatment and after 8 years have given up the ghost.

Rolled back the tarps after unfastening a couple of dozen or so ropes and misc. wire and bungee fastenings. Shored up the rafters for the back elevation of the roof, well they’ve been shored up for about a month waiting for me to get round to this.

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New load-bearing ridge half way up with shoring holding the back poles up.

Made me blink a bit with all that light.  The benches, chopping block and lathe make good foot stools, but there are no steps up to them, so rather an energetic, stretchy day.  I put in two poles at the ridge.  One to carry the back poles and one to take the tarp above the level of the rafter ends.

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One ridge good, two ridges better for the tarp.

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Pull over that sheet there boy.

Then on with the tarp.  I have two – a white under sheet for light reflection and a green very heavy duty one on top.

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Good to have the sign boards back up off the floor.

OK there are another half dozen kicking about around the sides over the shop, making a porch, stopping the rain at the lathe tool end and one in reserve to unroll when the vile East wind blows.

Got that stove pipe away from the inflammables a bit:

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Oversized ash ridge with heat protection, need to think about weather protection now. In the meantime it’s the luxury of carefree chimney fires.

Thank goodness for forked branches. what useful shoring up tools

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Never cut a forked branch end off.

Fixed the pole lathe treadle again too, the last fix has only lasted a few months, the bike tyre I have used as a hinge for quite a while just broke in two.  Decided to use a redundant safety belt from the Land Rover.  First job was to make a tool to burn self-sealing holes:

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Yeah! Another used chainsaw file re-purposed.

I used a new lacing technique instead of the lashing method I’ve used previously.

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We’ll see how it lasts.

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Double treadle.  Note the hob nails for icy weather.

Had a weekend away in East Yorkshire and found a nice minimalist chisel&punch pattern in the choir stalls

English: Beverley Minster, Beverley, East Ridi...

English: Beverley Minster, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

at Beverley Minster …

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Had to copy it – it’s now a frieze on a chopping board.

Looks like they used a chisel that didn’t reach long enough to do the lines in one go.  That screw has got to be a much later repair.  There were some great misericords, of course I had to be sitting on top of five fools.

Also found some neat flowers growing on the porch of St Mary’s – the other church in Beverley.

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Going to master this style of carving one day.  But I’ll never be as good as this guy:

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Surprising oak grave ‘stone’ by Mr ‘Mousey’ Thompson late of Kilburn.

Also found a series of informal porch decorations – done by foresters, I’ll be bound.

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Halved pine dressings.

Snow and finish

Spot the bodgery.

snowy bodgeryWe’ve had about four inches of snow, which seems to be hanging around a bit.  It is not terribly cold, but this brings its own problems.  The snow was a bit soft yesterday and it started sticking to my clog soles.  The wooden, unsoled part in the middle welds to slightly damp snow, and then builds up, in the same way as how children roll large snow balls for snowmen.  Add a few shavings and pretty soon you’re a couple of inches taller, until one falls off and then your limping!

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I believe there is a dialect word for these clods of snow, but I’m blowed if I can find it.  Any ideas anyone?

We had the return of a little sun in the afternoon which was very welcome, it having been rather cloudy for many days.

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The last slab of the oak butt I milled attracted the attention of a cafe proprietor, so I’ve been working that up for a couple of food presentation boards with my usual knife-tooled finish.
SAMSUNG CSCIn the background you can see some progress on the green oak bench I’m working on.  It has a lower back than the last two.  I need to get the trailer down into the woods when the snow melts so I can level the legs in, the front two need taming a bit from their current wild splay.

Felling again today.  I have a new camera that takes pretty decent video – it looks really good on a big TV screen, but this extract is compressed for ease of downloading so quality is just ordinary.  Spot the inattention just before it finally goes down.  Tut, tut!  On this day that was the only tree to fall in one, all other three had to be hand winched down – I’m sparing you the endless video with a click, click, click sound track.

Not wildly exciting.  Today (it took a little while to load up the video) I’ve been felling on the slopes above where the video was taken, rather more snow now, melting stuff.  Keeping a footing is rather important, and the escape route is vital.  I did a lot of dragging timber to the ride, and left some pieces long to fit on the Landy roof rack, I’m not taking the trailer in until the weather improves.  I got the Land Rover a little stuck last week and ended up winching a rock out of the way so I could get home.

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I leave the brash piles as shelter for wildlife.  Not that all wildlife is the forester’s friend:

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The top of this sycamore had been de-barked by squirrels, the upper one in a full ring and killed the lead growth.

 

 

Here we go! Bring on the future oak forest …

We always try to go for a walk on New Year’s Day.  It is usually quite brisk. This year we stayed local and walked from home, just a short way onto the moor above our village.  This moorland has an interesting history, much of it hidden.  There are a couple of despoiled long barrows from the bronze age.  A monument to Queen Victoria’s jubilee year.  Two millstone grit quarries, where building stone was extracted for local buildings, including, presumably, the one in which we live.

“When I was a lad”, as we like to say around here, the moor had been recently grazed by sheep and was mostly heather, or ling (useful for thatching and for raising grouse for sport), with some bracken and small areas of trees, not big enough to call woodland.

During the last 50 years the wood has been steadily marching over the moor, unbrowsed by sheep.  It is a mini study in colonisation by those cunning ancient earth dwellers – trees.

This post is a pictorial (Eh, that’s not really anything different then – Ed) check on how that progress is going.

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English: Birches in Sherwood Pines Forest Park...

English: Birches in Sherwood Pines Forest Park. Sherwood Pines is mainly pine woodland with birch, oak, sweet chestnut and beech. The silver birch, one of our most common native trees, is becoming a feature of woodland glades on this former heathland site as natural habitats are restored. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These guys start the assault – silver birches (OK there’s a sycamore or three in there too).  They must have started their invasion about 50-70 years ago, my Mum and Dad used to pick their favourites when they were out walking in courtship before the Second World War.  This picture shows a dell we really like, a stream runs through the middle and it is mostly silver birches.  You could sleep out here, or have a picnic.  The trees have shaded the ground for so long that the heather and bracken have given up and grass is prevailing.

Look at the trunk (stem) on this one – you can easily tell we’ve had a really wet 2012 (Well it was a bit dry in March) – look at he green of the moss.

DSCF1193So, the silver birches started the colonization quickly followed by these fellows.

DSCF1197This is a mountain ash, as we call them (Rubbish picture – Ed. Well at least you can see all the rubbish bracken and that’s about all there is to see where there’re no trees – FS).  They have no close relationship to the real ashes, except that they have a similar leaf form, so they will not suffer the dread fate of chalara fraxinea or ash die back – more of this in 2013 and for a couple of decades to come.  My father hated this tree as it produces it’s bright red berries really early in autumn, presaging the cold Winter days to come (he worked out of doors).

OK, fast forward, and today the oak is establishing itself widely on our moor.  The pictures should tell the story, but they need a little help.  They start small.

DSCF1184Oaks don’t appear on their own, they are helped by squirrels (wash your mouth out) and jays burying acorns and forgetting where they are – apparently jays are the best at this.  In Winter, unlike their parents, they keep their dead leaves on which helps protect buds against frost (it says here).

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This makes them really easy to spot in Winter.  Below’s one open to the vicious blast of our prevailing West Wind, you can perhaps see how the leaves have been ripped off windward, but preserved leeward, and how the growth of the tree has been affected.

DSCF1195If the sapling grows in a sheltered position the formation of the tree is much more even.

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This one is atop one of the stone quarries and therefore a bit exposed, but it seems to be coping well. See those serried ranks of silver birch in the distance.

As I look forward to 2213 I am happy that there is a good chance of oak trees like these coming to adulthood and producing much of value to whoever walks the moor in those days to come.

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Working in public & baking at home

Two aspects of working in public:

and:

There are stories behind both these messages (cunningly in the same frame), but I’m not one to nag.  The latter one does seem to have worked the last couple of days of schools’ half-term break at least.  Don’t know why anyone would want to play with a nice ash log in a muddy puddle though.

I was away last week at Knights Wood near Sand Hutton, York, giving some advice to a family who recently acquired it.  Beautiful mature woodland, oak, sycamore and Scots Pine mainly.

English: The Scots Pine - cones (Pinus sylvest...

English: The Scots Pine – cones (Pinus sylvestris),  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the way there I stopped off for this:

Not just organic:

This stuff is great for making the sourdough starter I use for baking my Forester’s Bread.  In fact it tends to get over excited even when in the fridge between bakes and tried to escape from the container, with partial success. I bought it from Food for Thought in Saxby (No not that Food for Thought, good though it is.)

VERY busy in the workshop now.  Two sets of pegs made to go to a customer in Lancaster.

These are random ash turnings on a chestnut backing board.  I’m also making deer and animals fifty to the dozen, and now an order for salad servers, and I want to develop some hazel log hods, being less hassle than  bent wood ones.

Getting cooler now and the long johns, lined socks and long-sleeved vests have been pressed into service again.  Looks grand when the sun eventually rises though:

 

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.

Snow bowl

Rather snowy in Strid Wood today.  Despite that I managed to keep warm hewing an 18″ bowl for a client.  (A couple of syrup tin potatoes and hotted up soup helped too.)

I’m using sycamore that is from the current felling.  It is surprisingly hard and I broke the handle of the maul (again!) splitting it out of the log.  The bowl cutting came along pretty good.  The shape is based on a seed, possibly a grain.

The figure in the wood is pleasing as well, sycamore can be quite plain sometimes.

After getting the inside about right I had a massive amount of hewing on the outside to get it shaped up.  I was having to remove clothing, but nothing too racy – left me hat on.  I think the floor must have risen about another 1/2 inch again.  Just after I’ve had a good rake out as well.

I’m leaving the front and back ends thick for now as they are taking a lot of the force of the hewing as I rest the bowl on end on the chopping block.  Still some to go.

I think so far it’s going to work out well though.  Here it is outside to kill the green cast I get under my tarp.

I’m keeping it wet as possible, I don’t look forward to working this baby dry! May pause felling tomorrow to get it finished.