Sunday, 13 December 2015

Wanstead - aftermath of Bradfield Woods  12-12-15


Will Wall was redistributing some rusty tools last weekend. I was very fortunate to acquire this smoothing plane. 

Eric Rogers was also in a philanthropic mood, which enabled me to acquire this Whitby - Solingen hunting knife.

So after stripping it all down, I cleaned all the bits and re-assembled.

Thought I would make the case something a little different. A couple of Sam Browns on the handle flap which was wet moulded.

The rarely seen back! I am on a Sami quest with the leatherwork – hence the rivets.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Bradfield Woods – Suffolk group 06-12-15

Simon Lamb was talking me through gypsy flower making.

If the Hazel is too wet it does not curl as these pictures hopefully demonstrate.

This was a drier piece so you get the curls. He reckons the normal flower has 500 cuts!

He has coloured the flower to order with food dyes.

It was Sue Holden’s birthday so most people brought food to share and birthday type snacks.

This was salted crispy kale

I'm not sure what Sue was showing the kitchen staff.

Eric was not sure either!

Well it all ended up in the two Dutch ovens.

On the way home I stopped off in Frating, Essex and called in on Malcolm Ruffell an ex chairmaker and now a basket maker that I met at the Fenland show at the end of August.

I could not fail to notice his dining room table – a massive piece of London Plane (aka Lacewood) 2” thick at least.  Surrounded by his own chairs.

Close up of the stunning ‘lace’ pattern. The sister piece resides with Nick and Katie Abbott – it’s a small world!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Meeting of Fairlop Woodturners at King Solomon High School 9th November

This was a competition evening, the theme was ‘Eastern promise’ We always have three levels of entry beginner, intermediate and professional. Everyone votes on every piece for design and quality of turning.

We are a small club, about 20 members – so although there does not appear to be too many entries, maybe half our members made something

This collection of lidded box was reflecting the Istanbul skyline (guess where he had been on holiday?).

This is a salt and pepper mill with ceramic adjustable grinders – only took him three weeks!


One of our new members made this (I think he has spent only three hours on a lathe). I have never seen origami and turning combined before

Walnut chopsticks and rest


A very plane rice bowl (London pattern)

A very wet Cherry bowl

Large Mahogany dish on a stand

Spalted tea cup and saucer


Cherry box with finial

The three winners were awarded a bottle of wine for their trouble. What a great selection of entries – having three classes certainly gets more people at it. The best part of the evening was the discussion about how people made their entries with suggestions for holding awkward shapes, ways of finishing and so much more.

Elitist competitions with expert judgements do not encourage beginners; in fact they put them off! It’s not winning, it is taking part and imparting the knowledge that helps turners develop.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Worshipful Company of Turners Howe committee meeting at Skinners Hall
Dowgate Hill London EC4R 2SP 22-10-2015

I do enjoy the energy in London and the fast construction! Last time I was here this building was just two floors of steelwork.

I was in good bodging company with Katie Abbott and Stuart King.

These three images from one the display cabinets in our meeting room.
They were of course models of chairs!

Although these were a mixture of power and pole lathed items, I am impressed by the display


All these items are part of a collection from the Upper Warden Nic Somers.

Just to remind you that the WCT promote and support all forms of turning. I of course represent the APTGW, Ray Key the AWGB and Guy Ravine the SOT.

We were invited to send news items or articles to Mark Baker who is an editor for GMC publications  (woodturning magazine and other publications).

We were also invited to contribute to the WCT website – they already have posts on the North London group at Abney park cemetery. Contact

Sunday, 18 October 2015

In the wake of Cherry Wood project week 18-10-15

I have sent this drawing to Tim, in the hope he will build it into the plans for the new kitchen.


We were using this system in our scout group when I was 11. I am sure it will still work!

In those days we used Alter fires – just a fire at waist height, built from logs, corrugated iron top with brick sides and metal bars over. All had water systems build at the end – I cannot remember running out of hot water.

We also had trench fires with roasting ovens built over them with chimneys. Not to mention dining shelters, hay boxes for cooking breakfast the night before. 

APTGW management meeting at Hugh Spencer’s new headquarters next to the Monument 17th October 2015

Amazing security, we needed a pass to virtually go anywhere, the lifts only gave you access to where you should be going. In the loading bay they had some pretty sophisticated bicycle storage area. I found out later why.


Some amazing views from the kitchen area. It’s not often you ever see Tower Bridge open, only a pity that it was a small Thames sailing barge going through. However the tourist would have loved it.

So, now looking down onto the new bicycle super highway. It’s nearly ready; it goes East to West across London.

I am a Londoner I am amazed that Boris managed to pull this off – They have reduced car space by 50% and given it to the cyclists! – soon to be bolstered by ex-car drivers I suspect. Good for reducing pollution and waists!

We have 4 meetings a year, I cannot reveal all our top secrets but we have a replacement Gazette editor Vanessa Sutcliffe.  We gave life memberships to three of our very well known and long standing members who have served our cause (you will have to wait until the Gazette falls on your mat to find out who they are). We gave a tool grant to the new North Essex bodgers in Dedham. We also discussed preparations for the Ball at Bristol next year (we hope).

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Belmont Wood Fair 10  &  11th October

I would under different circumstances have been with many friends at the Weald and Downland event at Singleton. However, I have already done one event there this season, so the chance of a new venue tipped the scales a bit, besides half the Kent group were going anyway!


Damien Goodburn was on good form on the adze.

John Burbage had some really stunning dibbers for sale amongst many other quality products. 

As I have mentioned before the Kent guys and girls have a collective shop and take it turns to collect!

During the Saturday night curry event I needed a timer to make sure the basmati rice was not overcooked (cover ordinary Basmati rice with boiling water by half an inch, salt and bring back to boil, turn heat down to minimum and steam for ten minutes, turn off heat).

Anyway I asked Bardster (who really has a solution to absolutely everything) for a timer. 

So Ipod + timer app!

Another Bardster design and build spoon holding shave horse variant.

Barster on the night shift. (would make a great CD cover) - not sure what for however - music to carve to? - we need a band!

One of the downsides to this event was the proximity of the chainsaw carvers to our setup, however this young lady was really rather good.


This small eared hare was £100 - I thought her prices were too cheap. Needs to get to a garden centre somewhere.

The girls now have some male competition on the baking stakes (The Bake off has a lot to answer for).

Mike Church has now come out as a baker! Brandy soaked cherries in this cake!

Mystery picture – so what is the spoon on the left doing? The Dutch oven contained Sunday lunch.

Answer at the end of this BLOG.

Damien is now stepping up production – boat balers two at a time.

He makes some really interesting replica tools and treen. The heart shaped baler from Willow was so light! – perfectly practical.


Graham Aslett is now sub-contracting to the Burbage industry!

What no rakes?


Lee Basset practising his axe technique for the Ball competitions next year – watch out James.

His support team was out on Sunday – getting her chainsaw certification.

Heidi makes the handmade cards for the Kent shop.

Carol Leonard with another piece of interesting weaving kit. This one was unusual as Keith (Mr Leonard did not make it).

There were many old engines at this event, this was a mini traction engine (bet I described it wrong) driving a circular saw for cross cutting firewood. I have seen some of the other engines at Townings Farm (an event that Sussex used to go to).

Another interesting and well executed product from the Bardster, a Cherry spoon.

Like all new events, they went for the big one, I guess you must make a statement of intent. We were very lucky with the weather. Not enough public really to financially support the traders or the demonstrators. But how do you start a new event? If you think small then perhaps no public. I guess you have to think big and suffer the consequences for the first couple of years until you break even! The woodland setup was really well setup. 

I think we would all do it again if asked! I would.

Mystery picture was another Barster spoon that was curry stained on on the bowl, Saturday night, so for the reheat on Sunday the handle was being stained to match.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Cherry Wood Project Week Thursday 1st September / Sunday 4th October

I was put to work with a group making windows for the new big roundhouse. Started off with cutting curves with a handsaw - it’s amazing how much you can distort cheap plywood!


Forget the chopping block, far too slow – they just spilt it where it is.

Earlier in the year they were working on the small cook’s roundhouse. This has now been completed, looked great ever so Hobbitty!

The light tubes in the walls and the white interior really made this space special.

The outside looked pretty good too.
Just to remind you of the 11tons of cob in the walls!

This new roundhouse is considerably bigger and has straw bale walls with cob rendering.

You can just see one of the Norman windows, on the right.

Still lots to do on the outside. They have volunteer days every Thursday - so if you want to get involved email Tim.

They are also rebuilding the main kitchen this winter.

Tim’s new dog.


Dirty Alex from Chew Valley Charcoal paid us a visit on Saturday. We were discussing size requirements for a good charcoal burn.

He mentioned James Hookway’s retort oven and how good it is with small wood – this pine cone being a good example.

Saturday was BBQ night and party time for the volunteers. They now have an updated version of an oven I have shown before.

The fire on the left and the food with drip tray underneath on the right.

Needless to say the home grown pork (literally - grown on site) was excellent. Steve (live in chef) will be missed.

As the gathering round the camp fire swelled we were entertained by a cellist, flautist / clarinet, guitarist, Bob on harmonicas and a French woman with an amazing voice!

So many interesting things going on round the kitchen table. Sock knitting two at a time, toes first – similar to that of Sussex Nessie.

Another totally enjoyable project week, so many very interesting young people to talk to, it was also the end of the season to their apprentices and cook.

Tim unfortunately was laid up with a broken ankle and Merlin with shoulder problems. Wish them both well and a speedy recovery.