Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Livery Dinner for the Worshipful Company of Turners at Skinner’s Hall
Monday 19th December.

I was the guest of David Batchelor the Renter Warden of the company; he was the main organiser for the Wizardry in Wood Exhibition in October and the chair (until very recently) of the Howe committee on which I sit.

David is holding the Renter Warden’s ceremonial drinking cup.

Before the dinner we had a carpet Guard of Honour swords and all and a trumpeter!


The Skinners Hall is an impressive place and was rebuilt after the great fire around 1670 although it has been remodelled since.

Parts of the cellar pre-date the fire.

A very good evening, living in London made it very easy journey for me. As is always the case on these occasions it was a time to discuss various woody issues and forthcoming events.

Thank you Renter Warden!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Sunday 18th December at Wimpole Hall Cambs.


Simon had been busy converting some Black Walnut into beautiful things. Apparently this is a West African game (looks a bit like backgammon), it is called Mancala and there are many variants such as Oware


The latest piece of kit for Simon's workshop – a wood fuelled space heater. Electric fan on the end blasts the heat out of the end. We were not cold! It worked out quite well as a BBQ as well.


 Alistair had been baking again – homemade chocolates with ginger and brandy.

I was most disappointed that he had not brought the latest design of fire with him.

Once again the Wimpole group has managed to spawn another creative mind!

This fold up shave-horse was inspired by Gavin Phillip’s wall mounted version seen last year. This folds into a very small box. Mike Vilhauer is working on a pole lathe as we speak and we may be lucky to see it at the Ball!

Some of the group were just happy to drink and be merry (and warm).

Thanks for the hospitality Simon (and the chunk of Black Walnut).

Monday, 5 December 2016

Fairlop Woodturners November Challenge – anything decorated Monday 28th


As usual we had three classes of entry – the winner of the beginners class was Graham Pook – his Mahogany (I think) dish was inlaid with epoxy putty



This was an interesting entry – a child’s toy, the head and arms were held on with magnets.


The Intermeadiate class was won by John Houghton – this was his first attempt at colouring using Jesso first and them wood stain.



This Ash dish was pyrographed and treated with liming wax.


Not sure what the wood was but this bowl was burnt and stained 



The top class was won by John Brotherton with this amazing piece of carved, painted, routed and air brushed vase.


This Tulip wood plate was pyrographed.


This wet turned end grain Ash chalice was carved with a small micro-plane. The stem was bored out and the pith superglued to prevent splitting.

Not a huge turnout but a successful evening and once again a good range of entries and techniques. The weekly meeting are to continue through December.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Thursday 24th November 2016 A Celebration for the life of Nicholas John Milford Abbott (Nick) at the Barn Theatre Little Easton Essex.

What a fitting environment for this occasion, a timber framed building well used by the local community and in fact Nick has been a member of the cast in days gone by. It was mobbed!

I did not feel it appropriate to take pictures inside but this was the mob waiting to go back in.

A cool but bright day. It was good to see so many of his friends from the woods and meet his family.

Is was great to catch up with Mike and Tamsin Abbott (and their interesting bags).

The food was very well presented with some interesting containers - baskets, slate and many different wooden forms. Fitting.

One of Nick spectacular chairs.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Coppice day Sissinghurst Kent 30-10-16

This was my first visit to this National Trust property. David Dunk is a coppice worker at this estate. We were given a bit of a guided tour and we started at last year’s coppice.

So we are looking at one year’s growth. There are very few deer in this part of Kent so even without dead hedges or fencing the predation is only by rabbits and squirrels. In a really good year he has had 8 feet of growth.

David gave us the rationale to everything he did and why. For a start- the importance of stacking cut material in purposeful piles in good places not to interfere with regrowth or later extraction – akin to a sort of permaculture approach.

Now you can cut coppice all year round and some do that due to financial necessity (cutting then making...) but if its growing it has sugar in the sap and that makes it rot faster as sugar attracts!

Note the large amounts of dead wood on the standard (Oak) this under a better management regime should have been manicured producing some great fuel.


David’s plastic measuring stick for sorting long lengths to maximise profitability from each piece.

Just a simple piece of equipment all adds to making the whole process faster and more profitable.

An elevated stool to mark a cant boundary.

A log mover – worth its weight in gold (that’s why they are £600) – saves manpower and time. 

There are many variant on this log mover - this one allows the operate to stay on the right end without fiddling with the lifter!


Harry of course was filming all this for another you tube listing. Note his Steadicam. I assumed (incorrectly as usual) that he used a camera – no just his phone.


In this next sequence Dave is splitting rails for fencing  - the initial split after scoring across (vertically) with a wedge first.


Using a second wedge to extend the cleave.

A successful long cleave.

David has developed his craft to maximise the use of a relatively small tool set.

Highly skilled chainsaw work makes short work of every process – he knows just how long it takes him to do every process.

The mortises are marked out and then cut freehand with the chainsaw (with a modification to the grind to 10 degrees).

His work area is very well organised and has many jigs to make the process very efficient. 

This keeps the tenons in line along the rail

This jig bundles the hedging stakes – simple but very effective.


Jig for sharpening chain – John needs not to carry too much kit so everything must be kept in the wood or in the back of his truck.

This was a jig to hold to hold the hedging spars for bark stripping – we all had a go at this later – and it worked very well.

This set up was for holding hurdles for drilling.


This small break – like so many of the other jigs, had been well designed to make things fast – note maul holding.


This was a rare treat for me and all of us! David made it all look so easy, many thanks to him for being so generous with his time, information and even home-made cakes. Thanks also to the organisers – John Burbage / Phill Piddell.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Flying visit to Durham Cathedral Tuesday 18th November

I went to Newcastle to look at a van for a camper conversion. I had a good look at other options but all the commercially produced vans are crammed with far too much stuff. They are all a mishmash of what you have at home, bit of a bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. But more importantly they have no storage space.

On the way back I called in at Durham and the cathedral. My camera is no good at big pictures but go on line to see the majesty of this amazing construction.

The Last supper table was made by  Colin Wilbourn the artist in residence seventeen years ago. It was made from some 500 year old Oak from the bell tower.


Just one of the many stunning architectural features.

Statue of the Annunciation by Joseph Pyrz

The Pieta – a sculpture of the dead Christ alongside his grieving mother carved from Beech by Fenwick Lawson.

The town is surrounded by the river Weir and there are many local events based on the water.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Wizardry in Wood Carpenters Hall 12/15th October London EC2N 2JJ

The Craft competitions are held every two years and this event every four years – so this year is really two in one.

Amy Leake was one of three judges for the goblet competition for APTGW members only.

In the background is Nic Somers Master of the Company with Stuart Mortimer Master of Turning.


The entries from our members during the judging process.

The three judges were Amy Leake, Mark Baker and Jon Warwicker.


The APTGW stand – we tried to show a range of object, old new, turned, carved and two items from themed competitions made by Tim Stevenson – the Beech shorts and the Gothic revival automata.

The really great thing about being at these events is the chance to meet so many new people that have connections with the APTGW.

Richard Chapman makes the trophies for Woodland Heritage and he made our best in show award.

Carpenters Hall has some amazing items of work – this Lime carving was no exception.


This Holtzapffel lathe was working on the SOT stand.


I have seen this before on a Stuart King film.


Joseph Bloor from Abney Park won 3rd prize in Open themed competition - The Fire of London.


Terrance McSweeney won our first prize with his goblet.


He collected his prize from Alderman Alison Gowan

Mike Ashton (Lincoln) won 2nd prize.

Olvin Smith 3rd prize


hris Morgan from Foxglove Bodgers (North Yorkshire) was collecting money for Help for Heroes. I believe they collected £5000



Stuart King was a busy man – official photographer for the WCT. 

He is a tireless supporter and historian for green woodworking crafts.

He also supplied half of our stand with some of his collection.

This was my first Wizardry in Wood, amazing! What a great venue and a very well organised event, my hat goes off to all those in the WCT and especially their clerk Alex Robertson.