Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wimpole lathers Christmas BBQ at Wimpole Hall Herts. 14th December

New shoes? Well new boots really, The National trust supply these to their forester employees FOC – good job they are £200+ a pair.

They did however on close inspection looked like a quality piece of engineering,  yet very light, Gore Tex and memory foam.


Simon has been experimenting with some scrap copper to make this very nice flower. 

I have seen this forged from steel before and sprayed but this was so much life like with the natural discolouration caused by heat.


This bodger was axing out a cuttlefish shape from a piece of burr horse chestnut, the wood was an unusually light blue colour.

Later on I loaned him a rather nice adze.


Simon returned from one of his quick exits with a fresh rabbit from the ferreters working not too far away. So this was instantly butchered into stir fry and dog food.

Fortunately we were having the stir fry. I joked about spring onions so leeks were added along with hot spiced apple juice (all produced by members).

At every meeting the lathers have a themed competition – this month was shrink pots, mostly from Birch. Simon was judging (well he had nothing better to do).

 Joking aside, if you want to accelerate skill acquisition in your group, get them all at it. Do a competition.

Well after all the BBQ stuff, the sweet course, carrot cake with a carrot knife and carrot decorations.

This did remind me of Wade Batchelor at Spoonfest 2013 and his spoon carving sessions from carrot.  Now, I was really taken with this idea of finding a very easy material to work on shapes – a very less resistant material than wood.

Great for kids, even greater for adults - make life easy. Watch the Jogge Sundqvist DVD - he bandsaws spoon blanks!

At some time during the morning we were talking of ferrets, probably whilst Simon was Woking. 

This was their chief PR guy, very friendly,  (not to rabbits however).


Well, no Wimpole blog on would be complete without a picture of Simon Damant.
The star of the show.

He was demonstrating his new- ish Nick Westerman crook knife, seen here working on that cuttlefish again.

Kent group Blacksmithing day at Benenden Sussex 13th December

On the way out of Gouldhurst Sussex I passed this weather boarded pub on the way to Benenden.

Will put a note in my diary for a future visit. I hope the beer can live up to my expectations and match or surpass this interesting  façade.

Nick Bertenshaw awarding Jill Swan her rosette for her chair that won second prize (in absentia) in the item of woodwork from this year’s Weald & Downland Horticultural Show.

Phil Piddell (front left) – the organiser of this event ( Sussex alpaca herder and hedge layer) with some of the Kent Bodgers group.

Harry Rogers on the anvil helping with knife making.

He brought his home made forge from a Volvo (excellent choice) car fan, 12volt mains converter and a modified car wheel. He was using coke –this made for a very hot, quiet fire that required no pumping.


This was Phil’s setup; I think this was a pressure vessel from his old central heating with some recycled colonic irrigation tubing.
The base was made welded from two old axle stands

Bardster AKA Paul had some fabulous leather plaits + he was demonstrating some fancy thong trimming tools.

As usual, many, many thanks to John Burbage for his generous hospitality.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Abney Park Cemetery Saturday 6th December

Julian was giving a demonstration to a young lady who had been on a beginner’s day with Jo Clarke earlier in the year.

Julian had been previously been discussing knife options as she was putting together her Christmas list. He was making an excellent job of it to. I wish I had his knowledge.

Julian had just bought himself a Twca cam from Nick Westerman. What a great tool, very very sharp (as is the Westerman trade mark).

It was a very cold day out of the sunshine. But I managed to cycle to the farmers market to buy some Bath Brie.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Forty Hall Christmas craft market Saturday 29th  November EN2 9HA


This was our first demonstration and visit to this venue.

We were in the beautiful Pillar room at the rear of the main house.

James Pumphrey was demonstrating on his bowl lathe and Joseph Bloor was spoon making.


There were a few potential bodgers amongst the other stallholders..


I have been experimenting again with displays. I have not got there yet and it is difficult to work out if the goods do not match the buyer’s expectations or the displays are not inviting enough to promote a sale.

I suppose every event is different and it is difficult to come to any hard and fast judgements.

Certainly engaging with the public and demonstrating attracts interest


This venue was a bit posh for bodgers but we had a good sweep up as there was a wedding letting in the room two hours later.

The organisation on the day was really good; they had a great team on the ground. We are hoping to hold a bodgers ball at this venue and it is the reserve for 2016.

We all enjoyed the day and made some good contacts for future sales and spread the word. These sort of  events are always good for promoting interest and new members for the local groups.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Wimpole Hall Craft Fair and APTGW group meeting 15/16th November

Saturday morning as we were all setting up there was a local Park-run,  a really good scheme to get local runners together over relatively short distances but they really looked like they enjoyed it.

Well let’s face it, what a great setting.

Mr & Mrs Magnus doing the blacksmithing demo. It was really good to see Magnus again and this was the first time I have ever seen him with a hammer in his hand.

Whenever I have had a lesson he never does it for you – that’s the way to improve your skills, a little unsettling perhaps at first!

Wood gas stove ignition sequence – chicken feed + accelerant + a flue to get it going.


Whilst that was warming up Simon was finishing a wooden rocket stove flue. 

Never seen one before, same principle of a rocket stove except when its lit it  need no fuel! The stove (log) burns.

The crowd were queuing to get in and they had to pay for the privilege.

The marquees that housed the fair had been skilfully sighted around the existing trees – a very nice effect.

I was glad that we were paying their fees.  Having said that they have no shortage of sellers.

I think Simon had made the reindeer who were pretty well camouflaged amongst the leaves.


In the absence of Magnus on Sunday, Simon was making a rather good job of the blacksmithing demonstration.

Wimpole still has a  lovely  old forge building in regular use.

This was the Wimpole group’s monthly competition entries. 

Simon was holding the judging later on.


The proof of the pudding! – well this was my lunch. Really just a reheat of a take-away on Saturday night. The fierce heat was perfect for getting the tandoori up to temperature. 

Tandoori King Mike Kimpton would of have enjoyed this.

Before I forget – thanks for the invitation Jim, It’s amazing how much talent has manifest itself in such a new group in such a short time. Oh dear sounds like something WC once said!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Suffolk group meeting at Bradfield woods Sunday 02-11-14

Great to see Hugh Spencer out and about with his family, just like old times.

Will Wall was busy with some very spalted apple, I only realised today that he turns left handed.  He was very unlucky to suffer a little accident with it later on.

The Woodland Trust visitor centre building was looking spectacular.

Not many visitors on the day, the poor weather forecast managed to everyone off! - have they not heard of outdoor clothing? 

You would think that a nation of sailors would enjoy the wet.

Abney Park Cemetery Thursday 30th October

There are regular Thursday workshops every week and it was encouraging to bump into these two as I was in the area buying leather.

Saturday 1st November Abney Park Cemetery 

This was the usual monthly meeting at Abney Park which has been overwhelmed recently with too many members of the public turning up unannounced. 

They have a booking system and nine people signed up to that but only one turned up. They can’t win, perhaps a payment system in advance may give people more of an incentive to turn up.

 Mike Kimpton brought another fine example of Indian cuisine – a chilli and garlic sauce. 

Resourceful as ever with a shortage of plates he ate off a plastic bag.

Mike had brought along some very nice braces.
He also had a variety of auger bits. 

He was making the point during our shared lunch about buying up as much as you can of these old tools before they become collectors items.

Worshipful Company of Turners Competition 28th October at Apothecaries Hall.

This was my first trip to this competition held every two years; it alternates with Wizardry in wood.

The venue is impressive as were the entries. It was very nice to know so many of the exhibitors not only just in the APT category.

Note the stool entries – well done to John Burbage 1st and 3rd place and Katie Abbott in 2nd place.

I was struggling to get any good pictures of the awards ceremony and I thank Stuart King for this one of David Batchelor (chairman of the Howe committee) receiving his ward for the novice category from Fionna Woolf the Lord Mayor.

Stuart King always brings a table of very interesting turned item from around the globe – note the animal profile turned in a ring from traditional German toy makers.

It was great to see John Fells again since his move south east. He entered the goblet competition - his were too small to photograph! about 5mm tall from segmented wood. He also had a piece in the AWGB mobile exhibition.

My half term Luxemburg trip

Trier – the oldest city in Germany

This city gate was built by the Romans in AD200 and is the oldest of its type still standing. The city was an important trading centre.


A very large and interesting press – the screws were cantilevered and the gutter for juice ran along the length of this double ended, ornately carved piece.

A beautiful basket twist door handle in ¾” square bar from Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxemburg City.

One of the many things I love about so many of the old stone building are all the tool marks left by the makers.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Weald & Downland Autumn Show 11/12th October at Singleton West Sussex

Once again I found myself invited by Mark Allery to this the last big public event of the season. The reconstructed buildings that have been moved from all over Sussex, are a real treat if you have never been before. It was such a busy weekend I did not get the opportunity to look again. They are structurally complete along with furniture, some original and much was made on site by their carpenter.

The best treat there is to get a pasty and beans for lunch from the on-site café and then sit at one of the beautiful oak tables in a timber-framed building.  Americans would pay big money for that!

The museum is supported by an army of volunteers and I can understand why. It is a really special place and if lived locally I would feel that it was my public duty to help build and maintain this fabulous slice of English heritage.


OK, so back to bodging - this is Nancy on tea patrol in the drizzle. You can see it is the first day – the kitchen area is clean! 

And there are no big engine tracks in the grass.

Late on Saturday afternoon, the besom broom making competition was held. In past years Peter Jameson has been a commentator and a contestant at this event (not both). This year he was in charge of the hurdle making on Sunday.

Well I was adzing away thinking to myself – that bloke with the microphone sound  more and more like Mike Gordon – well of course it was, it was just then that I noticed young Harry shooting some footage for a YouTube video. 

I did not manage to get a picture of all the competitors but here are some.

When I tried to take these images I asked the young lady timekeeper to move of my shot – It was Sue Reeve, so bodgers rule OK?


Phil Piddell came a respectable third (well done him – he had never made one before) and won some cash (hope he gave his coach Graham half). I am happy to report that he did not keep it for long and wisely invested some of it with Warwicker’s Enterprises Inc.

The threshing machine driven by a traction engine never fails to impress, I think it was Richard Bingham who told me the quieter the engines are the better condition and the much more valuable they are.

We were well represented over the weekend with the following bodgers -

Angus on spoons as well as Clau, Sarah Ripley on baskets, Fionn, Nick, Harriott and Mike on pole lathes. Mike Church on trugs. 

We also acquired a new member Kev who was carving and turning - thanks.

The Sussex group really have increased their membership this season. I am not surprised however, since they give up plenty of their time for have a go requests.

As is usual, Mark organised everything, helped with competition judging, made a grand besan broom and entertained as well - I am sure that was just the tip of the iceberg!  

Thank you for all your hard work Mark.