Friday, 26 July 2013

Cherry Wood Project newsflash

The 18th of July will go down in Planning, Cherry Wood, British Woodland and Green Woodwork history as to day we gained Planning Permission for mixed use Forestry and Education.

With much warmth and generosity of spirit the planning committee if 12 councillors voted unanimously in favour of granting permission for the Cherry Wood Project to continue.

The councillors had visited site on July the 3rd for a site inspection at which several of us were able to make representation and then to show them the structures. At the same time we had green woodwork demonstrations going on and a Steiner School group who were in  the woods for some classes. 

This all must have had the desired effect as several councillors spoke passionately in support of the project, its good works and educational benefits. It was all quit emotional to listen to.

Tim, Debs, Tay, Willow, past and current apprentices, cooks and all other members of the extended Cherry Wood Crew wholeheartedly thank each and every one of you who have supported this process. 

Thank you for the 500+ letters of support which meant so much to the team and greatly influenced the committee and thank you for the personal messages of love and support we have received.

We look forward to seeing you all in the woods soon so that we can all celebrate this great victory for common sense.

Tim Gatfield

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Saturday / Sunday 20/21st July Richard Bingham’s farm Herstmoncaux

Summertime I spend some time with the Sussex group, well it’s the most forested county in the UK and probably has the most active group.

Fionn had another good idea with this wooden gouge, he uses it to train budding pole lathers to acquire some basic tool control without cutting through the drive cord along the way.

James was playing with his home made forge made from a lorry wheel and driven by an old stair hoover, it was very quiet. He was using gleaned small charcoal. Everybody appears to be catching the smithing bug. 

Will we be expanding our membership to encompass another traditional craft at some time in the future?

Richard Bingham our host, well known trug maker (amongst other things) showed me a range of small ones. Years ago his son used to make a few and earn himself some respectable pocket money.
Richard is due to be demonstrating August 2014 at Singleton (Wield and Downland Museum). He also runs trug making courses so, go on one.

Fionn now has a modern samovar in stainless steel.

Larger fuel area, easier to maintain, without constant feeding of very small material – does however mean you would have get a little more organised and take fuel, not just relying on forest litter.

However this picture is of a home-made stove. James bought the stainless water jacket kettle and made the rest from a gas bottle. If definitely works I cooked some lunch on it. The legs slot into sockets to make it more transportable. I do notice that James now has to pull a trailer to carry his stove, forge, anvil…

Mrs Julia Pumfrey was knitting some socks for her father, havn’t seen anyone knitting for ages. Now she had some multicolour wool and I just could not work out how the pattern worked out so well (perhaps the pattern and the wool was a kit.

Amy Leake was camping with her children and her young daughter Josie was out in the fields getting a lesson in hay making from Richard, as were the rest of the bodgers. The light weight rakes were made locally from willow with square tines.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Sunday 14th July Wimpole Hall blacksmith’s shop.

I bumped into Magnus (picture below) at the Scything competition a few weeks ago and arranged to meet up for a lesson in the use of charcoal and axe forging. Magnus is a weapons historian and makes blades using very old tried and tested technology.

This old forge at Wimpole Hall is a masterpiece of design. Stable area for horses on the right. Forge area with small window in the middle.Bellow at the back.  Fuel access hatch on left - charcoal is only kept in small quantities in the forge are as it is highly combustible.

 I have been attending an adult blacksmiths run by the London Borough of Newham for some time (three years +). I have been brought up on coke, which in historical terms is a very new fuel source. I believe the first steel officially recorded was made by Bessemer in 1850. So I think we can all grasp the fact that blacksmiths controlled the migration of carbon (from charcoal) into their iron and have been making some very nice weapons for at least 2,500 years.

So here is my axe halfway through forging, the top end is the poll (back of the axe) the metal has been compressed to make it thicker than the rest. The left hand has been forged to an angle. The next step is to rearrange the fire (make it very much bigger) to obtain welding temperature. The inside was ground to clean the soon to be fire welded surfaces.  

So once it got to welding temperature it was given some borax, returned to the fire, reheated until the surfaces were fluid and then pushed together – hit it too hard and all the molten surfaces are pushed out of the weld. Then the rest is just forged using normal methods. It was hardened and tempered using 50/50 Neats-foot (cattle) oil and linseed.

So here is my first wrapped axe. It had just been heat treated, note the hot charcoal still in the handle space. The cutting edge is touching the anvil which is acting as a heat sink. 

What I failed to mention was that during this process we allowed the axe to rest in a carbon rich oxygen depleted environment a few times, which allowed the steel to acquire carbon on the cutting edge.

This is buy far the most important bit. Sitting on top of heat packed in charcoal with no air blast = carbon acquisition. Sitting in front of air blast = carbon depletion. The trick is to make sure the cutting edges do not receive hard air blast but do get an opportunity to soak in a carbon rich environment.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Music in the Park Wanstead Saturday 13th July 2013

This annual event is 100m from my house. It is organised by the local community for good causes, my contact Naj does good work for Chaos a local charity.

We decided to wave the APTGW banner on our Ball flagpole. Hopefully we may have gained a couple of new members for the London group.

Most visitors were of course here for the music, which included a junior jazz band from my old school - Wanstead High led by their very talented head of music Ian Sweet (he has played at Glastonbury).

Joseph Bloor from North London was making and selling his spoons. He carries his shop in his back (not the tables).

Keith Young was demonstrating on his pole lathe, I was playing with my adze and John fells was retailing his craft work - jewellery and various bits and turned ware.

John Fells demonstrating at Fairlop Woodturners Wednesday 11th July 2013

This small but very friendly club is part of the AWGB. It is based at my school in East London, Essex by postcode. Now I am very biased, but John is one of the very best wood turners I have ever met and believe you me I have met and watched the worlds best at our club over the last nine years.

John's toolwork as usual brilliant, we all just love his laid back but very considered approach to turning. He made a beautiful Ash bowl with a decorated base and top ring. He finished off with a box with a finial on the lid - the box was about 8mm high (or low really). His goblets are normally smaller!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Heritage Craft Association meeting Adams Row Mayfair London 4th July 2013

Launch of Heritage Craft Awards – endorsed by HRH The Prince of Wales their President

James Martin from the BBC Handmade revolution is very interested to find material for programs that were about passing on skills to apprentices, hopefully with some royal connection to gain access to a Royal venue.

This temporary venue arranged by the head of Gieves & Hawkes was a converted Mews garage. It is now used as a walk in shop selling high quality hand made goods from a range of crafts – chairs, crockery, treen from Robin Wood, candles, folding knives to name just a few.

Their website is worth a look,it is refreshing to find the massive range of skills and crafts still out there. As Robin Wood mentioned to me at the meeting, it’s everything that goes into the removal van! More importantly - look at the awards on offer. You may well qualify for one.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Once again my report starts from Wimpole on the weekend of the scything competition at the end of June. The local group were running the have a go lathes and Robert was doing a great job.

Harriott Sprig from Thetford was demonstrating her home made rounder and was making dowels for the plate racks she makes, along with a range of traditional kitchen furniture. She told me she has been on the tools since 1940.
What a very interesting lady to talk too, I am planning to visit their workshop in Harling, Norfolk. She lives without mains electricity.
Mark Allery has been trying to get her to come along for a Ball so maybe with our next venue Sherwood Forest we may be lucky.

Harriotts home made rounder – she uses a modified brace with a square drive similar to a socket (socket set) to rotate the square sawn section into the rounder. 

Marcus, a temporary resident blacksmith, who I missed at the Bygone Ball, was expounding the virtues of using charcoal for blade work. He makes lots of weapons for the film industry. He makes steel the old fashioned way – migrating carbon from the charcoal in a very controlled oxygen low atmosphere. He uses very small charcoal, the bits in fact the charcoal burners cannot normally sell.

Your chairman playing with one of Marcus’s original axes, too much axe I think. He had on display some very big swords, next time I will see what sort of damage one of those could do.

It was a very hot day for Mark Allery who won the English scything competition. Sporting his trophy and medal.

Local groups – our expansion continues and we have some possible new groups being born in South Wales, Staffordshire, Berkshire,  Bristol and Sheffield. You will be the first to know if you live in those areas.

I recently found  ‘LOCAL GROUP SWEDEN’ in Tranas

I thought it may be appropriate to print his hand written letter verbatim (when was the last time you had a hand written letter?). He also sent me an impressive DVD of his work.

                                                                                                TRANAS, 10 APL 2013


Worshipful Company of Turners 03-06-13
I recently attended a meeting of the Howe committee at the Guildhall in London. Their aims are very similar to ours in that, they wish to promote woodturning but for them, in all its forms. The committee is made up of the usual basic structure with representatives from  the APTGW - Katie Abbott and me. The AWGB -  Ray Key and Joey Richardson, and representatives from the SOT (Society of ornamental turners). It is hoped that there may be a pole-lathe turner on a float at the Lord Mayor’s show in November.

APTGW Committee
If I have learnt one thing in life, it’s that nothing ever remains the same. Our committee needs to evolve and change to make it able to respond to the wishes of our members. We know that John Burbage wishes to step down as treasurer so we need someone to take this on. We would also like to expand the committee and take on interested people without specific roles. Dare I mention we have only one female member? Please talk to me if you require some additional information before making a decision one way or another. Just consider, what you can do for the bodgers…
Hopefully I will see you soon in a forest.
P.S. Off to a meeting of the Heritage Crafts Association tomorrow.

Missed this bit from Coopers Wood -

This blacksmithing thing is really catching on with our members; I see this everywhere I go. Phil Piddell a complete novice on his own admission, not only made a ferret but heat- treated it, put a handle on and then made his first captive ring! Metal to ring competition?
Kent group meeting Coopers Wood 22/23rd June
This must be the best venue of any group meeting. Graham Aslett and Terry Jones are great hosts in a very pretty setting inside the M25.

Terry was using a Veritas rounder / dowler which was a snip at £20. They even tried it on a treadle lathe – it worked very well – easier than malleting through a sharpened tube to make tines.

John Burbage was busy making a cherry stool from his own wood.  He had it tied to the bench and covered up with a bag later on, perhaps he did not want it to be recognised – next Ball entry?

Graham and Terry never stop reinventing things, their latest project was a lever operated brake, tensioned with tractor weights.

Richard Binghams Farm  – Herstmonceux Sussex
This was a hybrid meeting – Kent and Sussex in a very pretty location. Richard was running a trug making workshop for some of the group – John Burbage, Ed Murphy, Phill Piddell and Harry Rogers.

Richard was using a home-made steamer, made from a kettle element and an insulated box, of course.
Richard is a mine of information and something I picked up on was a product called Wurth – it is a liquid the at you put on metal for rust protection – worth every penny– pardon the pun!

Angus Singleton and best newcomer (at the Ball) Mike Church were very busy on spoons with twca cams.

19th May Weird and Wonderful Wood Stowmarket Suffolk

This is normally a low-key, very friendly, gentle event that was absolutely mobbed, so much so I think the organisers are not planning to advertise next year that must be a first! Nick and Katie Abbott as well as Simon Lamb were on pole lathes. There was a lot of woody stuff on sale; most of it was in no way green, however, and some strange marriages of wood and glass. The entertainment was as usual something that makes this event very special. Checkout the 10ft singing waitress.

18th May Nunhead Cemetery
The annual event organised by Tim Stevenson was very well attended as usual.
Ben Willis who won the stool competition at the Ball was busy with an impressive display of wares.
Nic Gibb had some very nice spoons, but the pair on the rack was unusual.

9/10/11th May I went to an event called the Bygone Ball
Nic Westerman gave a few demonstrations during the weekend, this  one on axe forging. Believe you me he made this look easy. So if any of you budding blacksmiths want a share of a 4m bar 25 x 50mm black EN9 get in touch with me or by one yourself from Furnival steel £120.

5th May West Midlands
I thought I might visit Tony Newby with his group (he had already handed over Bob Thomas) in the last months before he stepped down. There are a few people in our organisation who have done so much to shape us and have skilfully avoided the many pitfalls that small organisations fall into. Thanks again Tony!

The set up at Coalbrookedale is worth a visit and such a pretty place at the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Had lunch with Richie McBride who had a very nice elm plank he was planing. He showed me a tree felling operation on his phone using a time lapse app called Lapse It. He said the full version is well worth paying for. That would be a great way to show punters at shows the whole thing - from tree to dibber? Maybe get some more youngsters interested if we use the technology they are familiar with.

27th April Kent Group Benenden
John Burbage is the consummate host – not only does he organise food and beverages, his woodpile is the very best; a very generous man! I always take full advantage (probably too much advantage) and my stool entry for the Ball was standing only a few days before I arrived (hence all the cracks). No excuse, however for the tail (from Peter Wood Cheshire). John had an interesting addition to his beautiful timber framed workshop – solar power. The unit (assembled by Phil Piddell) stores power in batteries and lights the workshop at night with very efficient LED (light emitting diodes) lights.

Mark Sidders had a neat top plug for a Kelly kettle
It snuffs the fire out and turns the fuel into charcoal or brown ends – using the fuel the next time his thirsty.
Richard  and Mark  on a double handed saw, seem to be a lot of these in use recently – must be the price of petrol!
20th April Esgair woods LLanidiloes Powys

I Popped into Nellis and his group, who were a little thin on the ground:  well it was a surprise visit! Great venue with a very understanding landowner who runs a WOOFING Farm. The landowner makes all sorts of cheese. I did have a picture of their smoked  Ricotta &spring onion but you will have to go and visit to actually see and taste it!

21st April Chiltern group Longdown Wood Casden Bucks Richard Charles the group organiser and Ted Tuddingham were very busy as usual. Ted had a beautiful double handed pit saw and the group were having a go, even the visitors! I was the underdog for a few minutes getting showered with sawdust. The cut rate is surprisingly good.

 There were a couple of very interesting pole lathes, one with a double bow - attributed to Hugh Spencer and another based on the plans in a recent gazette – with the pole mounted on the front.

19th April Cherry Wood nr Bath
It is always a pleasure to visit my favourite venue and enjoy the hospitality of Tim Gatfield and family. Since my last visit they had built a new shower cabin and extended their training opportunities to two very lucky young men. Tim has a habit of hanging on to his apprentices after their tenure. Tom is on site regularly making knives and Ollie lives just a few miles away in his yurt in Box.

I am going back in August to attend a leatherworking course with Rob Exton who has written many articles for Living Wood magazine on all sorts of crafts and courses.

Abney Park keeps itself busy all year with weekly openings for the public on Thursdays. I have visited a few times during March as I had yet another school holiday. In addition to their weekly meetings they run monthly London Group meetings as well as some paying spoon making courses. I recently bumped into a couple of old friends, Joseph Bloor,  and Gerry who with Jaxs,  were at Abney in the early days. Joseph was busy making outdoor furniture for various clients and is pictured here making a stool for Highgate Wood. Gerry and family were over visiting friends for a couple of weeks. 

My first trip this Quarter was to one of our newest groups – Wimpole Lathers, based at Wimpole Hall. They move around the estate every month; on this occasion they were very close to the Bygone Ball location. A glorious day made it all the more enjoyable. I had never cooked sausages on a charcoal bellows forge before, nor seen Hugh Spencer with attitude.

Simon Damant and Jim McVittie organise the group and certainly keep themselves busy, Simon cut up an elm trunk to make a bowl lathe bed during our visit – no shortage of XL chainsaws in this county. Jim was busy servicing the pole lathes in operation. I have never seen so many group pole lathes before.
It is great that every group situation I visit is so different, be it type of location, resources available, group dynamics, availability of materials…