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.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Wanstead making a leather case for a hand splitting axe 6th October

I bought this Japanese axe from Axminster ten years ago for kindling production.


Big angle on the cutting edge – maybe too big on very dry thin woods it makes it travel.


Made a template / stuck in welt / stitched and then wet moulded on axe.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Wanstead -Making a case for a very unusual pair of secateurs 6th October

Alan Walters showed me these at Belmont Wood Fair recently; he didn’t want to be parted from them so I drew round them and set to work making a mould.


Which turned out to be three moulds as I needed two external elements as well.

I cautiously used superglue on the edge of the blade to stop it falling apart when wet.


This was mark ll It was wet moulded twice, it will be interesting to see if it works; maybe a mark lll in the offing. 
Tuesday 4th October – visit to Stuart King in High Wycombe Buckinghamshire.


This was my first visit to Stuart and his lovely workshop. I was collecting examples of pole lathed and green wood work for our display at the forthcoming Wizardry in Wood exhibition at Carpenters Hall 12-15th October.

I was not expecting any traffic but the company working on the road had failed to inform the bus company.

Much to the amusement of the locals - this turned into a proficiency test for reversing a bus half a mile round all the parked cars. 

Stuart has access to some great local woods which are full of history early English, Roman and medieval.

This is a dell – the dip left after clay removal one of three in the wood.

Stuart and friends have been digging to find the evidence of Roman roads and earlier ditches. I can’t wait to return next summer.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Project week at Cherry Wood Ashwick Nr. Bath 26th Sept – 1st October


Twig (Roy Henderson’s dog) was sitting in a bag of twigs largely to keep warm. On the basis that all the firewood is slightly damp, Twig was actually helping to dry it out.

Someone, who cannot be named for legal reasons set fire to the mobile sauna. My first job was to complete the replacement of the internal lining and then refit the stove and benches.

It does get warm working inside an insulated box!

Job done, now ready for testing. It took some time to dry the inside out before it got up to sweating temperature.


A pair of pretty bird themed dishes nesting in the kitchen.


Jane, who was just back from another Swedish trip being given the royal treatment in the power throne by Tom Hawken.

She is still experimenting with tanning and now using Oak bark..


The large roundhouse is all but finished so the veranda was the next logical step.

All that digging is young men’s and women’s work. It’s great to see local materials being used so close to where they were growing.

Great shot from further up the slope of the roundhouse a couple of days later with the deck largely in place and people working on the steps. They are a very talented bunch led by the apprentices Fionn and Harry.

Lloyd, another ex-apprentice also helping out on the deck.


High speed kellykettle on the forge.

This setup belongs to Kirby (ex-apprentice) who bought a brand new hand cranked blower ex Russian army for £30! – the postage was £40.

Whilst out on a beer run, I ran into a
charming man in what I thought was a modern Sinclair C5. It was really just an enclosed tricycle with a power assist for hills.


The volunteers are getting younger and are travelling further. Jasmin (on right) was from Holland and has been travelling for some time.

Ono was back again (no picture) also from Holland.

Jacob Lambert from Essex (one of the musicians) was burning the midnight oil learning how to sharpen.

His three mentors unfortunately gave him three different definitive methods of doing this.  He had the good sense however to politely ignore most of our advice and just get on with it.

Earlier in the day I mentioned Pin Mill at Aldeborough which is a tidal mill I had visited whilst attending Sutton Hoo Craftega event. I watched kingfishers working the shoreline. Which prompted some discussion and this quote from Phrase Finder.

The Halcyon is a bird of Greek legend and the name is now commonly given to the European Kingfisher. The ancients believed that the bird made a floating nest in the Aegean Sea and had the power to calm the waves while brooding her eggs. Fourteen days of calm weather were to be expected when the Halcyon was nesting - around the winter solstice, usually 21st or 22nd of December. The Halcyon days are generally regarded as beginning on the 14th or 15th of December.
The source of the belief in the bird's power to calm the sea originated in a myth recorded by Ovid. The story goes that Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, had a daughter named Alcyone, who was married to Ceyx, the king of Thessaly. Ceyx was drowned at sea and Alcyone threw herself into the waves in a fit of grief. Instead of drowning, she was transformed into a bird and carried to her husband by the wind.

Back to cherry Wood -

Tom and Roy were re-stringing the steel cables holding up the suspension walkway to the composting loo in the trees.


I had the good fortune to team up with another retired D&T teacher also called John. He was from Bradford but originally from the South. We were using that lovely forge, local charcoal to make some repairs to the treadle on the water grindstone.


We made a punch from an old chisel first and then punched the holes. Finished off with a twist as a footrest.

For once Alex was not making charcoal or cooking our dinner. Tine making or it may have been dowels for the team making and fitting out the new hand tool storage unit for the new workshop.



The stand in Chef Katie was also using the high speed Kelly kettle.

This Lady was making this cooking thing look far too easy – how do they do that?

I visited Ollie and Lillie Weight, both ex Cherry Wood apprentices. They had a recent addition to their family, a beautiful baby Poppy!

They live in Box in a really comfortable Yurt – all their own work. This door is typical of the attention to detail and the creative flair in everything they make.



Lillie made the basket for the crib.

Hugh Rose with his work partner. Amongst many other things he carves avocado pips into some sweet little pendants – can’t wait to have a go at that – do enjoy a new material.

 The round object with a metal drinking straw is a Bombilla gourd and he is drinking Yerber Mate tea, both  from Argentina.


They have both started a tree house project – their local timber merchant is Justin Haywood!

Another great project week! They are held twice a year. If you want to spend some quality time with some old and young minds then this is paradise. Check out the website. Thanks Tim!