6 feet in 1/16ths of an inch

I’ve been making informal seating from ash cheeses for a client.  I started with a sample one in the bodgery.


Bodgery cheese

I’m using a 1 1/2 inch auger to get some beef into the joints.  I don’t usually work with cheeses as they have a good chance of splitting and ash splits in spades (they don’t call it most excellent splitter for nothing).  However, the client wants it this way, the cheeses were there and I’ve explained about the splitting, and they are partly dry.

I’ve been having to use heavy smoke methods to deter midges, which have been a real nuisance recently.  It does give a moody tone to photos though.


Veritas, Veritas semper Veritas.

I use a tenon cutter for the tenons from those excellent folk in Canada, you know the one I mean.

Well the sample went down well, so yesterday and today I’ve been making the other 5 seats and a table.  Made the legs in Strid Wood, then moved to the client’s house today for mortising.


Hobbit stools

I had to rig up a temporary vice as there is a lot of torque involved in turning that auger 3″ deep.


Ratchet vice

I strapped each seat in turn to the underside of what would become the table top which is the biggest heaviest cheese.  Worked pretty well.



Notice the tiny one sitting atop a full-sized stool?  It for the toddler in the family.

I managed to avoid a few potential problems – nails


Hidden steel.

The tree was a couple of years older than I am.


67, born from an ash key in 1948.

So … today 5 seats and a table, four 3 inch holes each, 5 foot of hole, each shaving from the auger is 1/16th of an inch, guess what’s coming … 60 times 16 is 960 turns – very good for the pecs, but also rather tiring, especially as the seats and table had to be leveled and the edges chamfered.


Freehand draw-knife work.

No wonder then that I managed to cut a hole in my new work trousers (and my knee) with the drawknife. Well I was about finished and found a handy bandage in the ambulance  Land Rover, could have used a couple of Steristrips though.

Meanwhile, back in the woods.


That’s no dog’s bark

Someone had been eating the beech bark, well stripping it actually and not eating any at all.


Send them back home

Grey squirrels, they are no match for a 410 shotgun.



The Veritas Christmas tree

This one’s for you Sean Hellman 🙂

Well how does one mount one’s free Christmas tree? I was considering some chainsaw plunge cuts in a log, bucket of bricks, lean it up in the corner, when as if in a dream I remembered my one and a half-inch Veritas tenon cutter. Yes, the base of the tree (a cut-off) looked just a bit more than the appropriate diameter (I was careful not to have to repeat that measurement to myself). A silver birch log of sturdy dimensions had been lying near the front door for longer than it should have been – kill two birds with one stone eh? So into the fridge garage to retrieve that excellent Canadian device for making tenons of a certain size. I also handily have a Scotch eye auger of a similar diameter. So I ho. I ho. it’s off to work I went.

Here comes the tenon:

And hey presto! One tree sitting firmly in its log:

New pencil sharpener

I thought one of these would come in handy for sessions with children or when time is too limited for learning how to make an accurate tenon the pole lathe e.g when someone wants to make a stool in a day. I bought mine here.

Veritas are renowned for decent kit. I already have a 1 inch and a 1 1/2 inch tenoner and they both perform really well. This little number does really work like a pencil sharpener, but on a larger scale and, of course, produces a tenon or a dowel. There are good instructions in the box, showing how to hold it without wearing out your skin on the sharp bits that hold the blade in place. It also shows how to use a drill to produce dowel. Nah! Blummin’ instructions, what is life if you can’t sort things out yourself. I sawed up some very dry straight-grained oak first to produce the blanks:

These are about 1/2 inches square and about 4 inches long, I sawed them with my trusty old band saw (powered by a 1960s washing machine motor). The cutter makes 7/16ths dowel so 1/2 inch is just oversize. At first it’s possible to turn the blank in the cutter by hand, but once the outfeed starts coming out the friction gets a bit of a pain, so I squirted some lube on and it turned OK. Helped my hands by using a spanner to turn the blank. Trouble then is the blank square end eventually disappears into the infeed of the cutter and there’s not enough on the outfeed to get hold of and turn the blank to finish the job. Here comes the solution:

Drilled an interference fit hole in a one inch thick beech block, the friction was not enough to hold the dowel while turning the cutter, so I drilled for a screw that can be tightened into the dowel to hold it from rotating. Now really easy to finish off, just turn the cutter and pull a bit until all the blank is done and the cutter slips off the end. Loosen the screw and knock the dowel out, quick rub on some sandpaper (recycled palm sander stuff) to put a bevel on the end and ready for whacking into the hole:

Mrs Law was not very impressed with the greenwood chestnut gate I’ve been making for the way into the field, too many bolts:

Well a mixture of coach bolts and coach screws actually, but I was inclined to agree, they did take something away from the handmade look. Much better now:

Just three bolts holding the brace in place that spreads the weight back to the left hand side where the hinges will be. I’ve sawn a disused electricity pole to length and split it in two to make the hinge post and sneck post. Digging them in and hanging the gate are tomorrow’s jobs.