Monday, 19 September 2016

My old blacksmithing group at Forest Gate Learning Zone Monday 19th September

This activity used to be run as part of the Adult Education setup by the London Borough of Newham.

It is now run as a club £180 per term for 10 weeks for three hours. Materials and consumables included (within reason).

The enrolment is still factored by the Adult Learning Zone. It is run by the same very successful team Sean Marshall and Alan Chadborn. I had a very interesting conversation with Sean about running a tool making workshop in parallel or at another time during the week. The costings would be the same but compared with other tool-making black smithing courses this would be much better value.

I am of the opinion that the shorter one or two day courses do not give you any real skill, this takes time which is why I would favour a longer 10 week course. Not so good if your not local - but one of the gentleman on my course for a couple of terms lived in Oxford. You can always visit them before you commit - Monday Afternoons and evenings.
White Chimney Wood Benenden Kent 17/18th September


Present from Amy Leake – one of her bowls.


We found this unusual nest inside John’s steam box as we had planned to get the steamer going. I had a plan to bend bangles with bark on.


I had made the mandrel before I arrived. The plan was to push the end into the slot, wind the Sweet Chestnut around the former and then clamp until it cooled.

I had spoken to Richard Bingham about this a couple of weeks ago and he suggested using Ash instead as he does for miniature trugs.

I tried both and the ash was more successful however they all sprung back afterwards. Tying or using thicker material may be the answer.

Roger Finniss – a new member from Tenterten.


The Wealdon Iron Group were making iron in the forest. This is the moment to put the protection on prior to taking the furnace apart.


The bloom is inside the bottom of the chimney – so it is broken out.

Once removed it is then bashed on a wooden block to remove impurities.


The membership secretariat (Dave and Sue Reeve) taking a break from their admin duties. They are in the process of making ladder-back chairs.

John’s donkey is 33 years old, apparently the donkey protection society carry out regular check-ups on him as he is second oldest donkey they have records for (oldest 38). He does not go short of TLC.

Phil Piddell was developing a round wood chair pattern (with some assistance from Graham Aslett) for future use – note the brace and bit.

and the bucket of cordless drills and rounders!

Damien Goodburn was using an HK adze to make a large spoon I think. He has been working on balers recently so it may have been another one of them.

A great week-end – We ended up with wide range of activities.  Big, big thank you to our host John Burbage for his hospitality.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Turning finials in Chingford 13-09-16


Unlike the spindles I had no pattern to work from, I did have pictures that I took recently up a painter’s scaffold as well as the house next door.

Rule number one if you have a very long bed lathe or something very special, then sell it to someone you know and keep track of it (then you can borrow it).

One very long bed Union Jubilee Lathe. Only 5inches over bed but fine for finials up to 56 inches. This was my first lathe.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Belmont Woodfest and Country  Show Faversham 10/11th September 2016

Friday night is Chinese Night – home cooked in wok in washing machine brazier.

Thanks to Jill Swan who provided the ingredients.

I don’t buy take away anymore – too much fat and salt + how do you know what’s in it?

Never seen this method for fixing a mandrel onto a bowl with screws before – no names.

Have not seen fan birds for ages and I thought it was just Sean Hellman.

These were by John Sinclair and very good, but I have forgotten what they were made from - maybe chestnut (he is a Sussex coppice worker)


Some very interesting ideas I have not seen before.


Mike church making trugs, however his split chestnut baskets were selling.


Alan Walters making Pimps, Fagotts and benders. With some high tech equipment.

If you ever wondered what a £1000 pair of secateurs looked like…

Bumped into a couple of local lads on a pole
lathe that I had not met and as yet not members. Predominately driftwood furniture makers.

Jill Swan entertaining as ever, this time hiding out in the trees with the Sussex & Surrey Coppice Group.


Damien Goodburn hewing I believe Saxon style.


Paul Bradley AKA the ‘Bardster’ in his new ‘Designer tent’ making leather cases.

John Burbage with time off from shingles, back on his pole lathe.

Open workshop next weekend in Benenden.

Carole Leonard had just spun this ball of wool using one of Keith’s drop spindles.

The spindle pulls out and then both the cross pieces – leaving a ball of wool. A clever way not using a spinning wheel, however it is slower.

Sunday lunch (also provided by Swan Supermarkets). Pre soaked in water with outer leaves on first and then BBQ. Was cooked, very sweet and very moist.

This was our second year and we were very well represented, thanks to all our members who supported the event. Hopefully we acquired some more members as well. The weather was better than forecast – I suspect that the miss – forecast on Saturday kept people away unnecessarily. It was a pity that the shutting of the M25 gave me a four hour drive home!

I did manage to take home a box of goblets for the WCT competition in a months’ time. If you have made one or many you can give them to me a White Chimney Wood next weekend or at The Cherry Wood project or the Weald and Downland museum. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Mouse and spindle turning in Wanstead 6/7th September

Had run out of mice. I make they from pretty wood, normally spalted Beech (or should I say overly spalted Beech, that is good for nothing else). Best to do them 50 at a time. The problem is always holding it since the spalting reduces its mechanical strength. It does not work between centres.

I use a three jaw chuck that has a larger hole down the middle than my standard four jaw chucks. I carefully turn it between centres first to make a dowel that goes through the middle of the chuck. I can then do them, sometimes two at time by progressing the wood out of the jaws.

To copy the original spindle is much easier if it is directly behind your workpiece.

I made this simple softwood bracket (x2) that fits the lathe bed and holds the pattern in a perfect position.


This view really makes it easy to understand the importance of the pattern position.

Note the extractor hood, when sanding hardwoods I always wear a respirator.

I also have a large overhead extractor that can be programmed for speed and time. That way it can remove all dust in the atmosphere overnight. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Into the Trees Pippingford Park Nutley Sussex 3/4th September.


Good to see the Bertenshaw clan again - giving Mike a hand with the Sussex stand. Shortly after this one of their poles broke - so a quick bit of felling and drilling and they were back in action with a heavier piece of kit.


The latest Mike Church creation – cherry cake decorated with brandy soaked cherries.

He also brought along some rabbits for our Saturday curry.


Alan Course was up to usual floor level forging work – not too sure what the pink garland was all about.

John Waller – ‘Underwoodsman’ making baskets, he does lots of courses in all sorts of crafts.

Vanessa Sutcliffe our Gazette editor showing off one of her many skills.


Steve Wright with a couple of his forestry apprentices putting on a good show.

Note the self assembly boot and wellie racks.


A rather good shot of my personal safety equipment on my leg (femoral artery protector) and the guard rail in front of my toolbar. I have also made it difficult to remove the axes as they do not pull straight out. However at the Fenland country show one member of the public managed to get one out without even asking!


Graham with a gentleman who was at this show last year with his native wood collection and is coming back next year. 

If you have any samples of unusual English hardwoods you may be able to help him increase his collection. Contact me if you do

John Burbage now making shingles for his outdoor fire shelter. He was making the shingles for the workshop for years. The White chimney weekend is coming up in a couple of weeks – if you want to give him a hand then go along.

Frank Wright was doing the hedge laying demonstration. I think it’s great that they plant the hedge first – it looks very convincing even with the small stock to start with. I haven’t seen him for ages, perhaps I am not going to the right shows and need to join their coppice group.


Graham doing the devil’s work on his rake handles with abrasive paper. I suppose you could argue the case for shark’s skin?

This was an interesting object, a butter container? – Russian shrink pot perhaps. The base cap and its recess looked awfully well formed, probably done on a lathe. Some great carved decoration. I bet Stuart King has seen one of these.

It was a little damp in the evenings but all in all a good show for its second year. The setting amongst the trees on this beautiful estate made it a bit special. 

I failed to get a picture of 'Roundhouse Richard' and on this occasion he had a double roundhouse.

One can always wish for more visitors but I guess building up the numbers takes time. Thanks to organisers for the invitation. Any many thanks to all our members from Kent and Sussex who supported this event.

Belmont Wood Fair next week.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Fenland Country Show at Stow cum Quy 27/29th August

The White Swan is the local to this event.

I have never seen so many Gin varieties – about 25 amongst this lot. Not bad for a local.

The whole area was heavily used by the RAF during the war and this map details the names of all the volunteers. Great bit of local history on the wall of the pub, hopefully not largely unnoticed.


No, I have not gone mad – just using the gas stove as a heat shield so as not to burn the grass. I was surprised that many of the public commented on the Kelly kettle – they had not seen it before. Mind you many of the public had at least two dogs with them – country shows attract a different audience.


Having just retired I have decided to live on a more healthy diet so muesli for breakfast during the Summer at least.


If you ever thought that my shave horse was over engineered – this was Tillie’s


A pair of home-made planes from Harriet one in wood and one in metal.

Harriett and Tillie in action educating the public.

Over the weekend the White Swan held their beer festival. As usual the traction engine crews were thirsty and paid a visit. Unfortunately they could not get into the car park.


The chainsaw carver was David Bytheway.

This ex-taxidermist was a real artist, creating his work from memory.

He works mainly in Yew and uses his power tools via a solar panel and an inverter. His van was an ex BT truck with a tail lift. Now I am planning to make my own campervan so I am very interested in other peoples utilities.


This was the second year for me but this event has been run by the same people for 43 years. The organisers were very accommodating and welcoming. They would welcome a greater variety of green woodworkers at this event. If you’re interested let me know.