Saturday, 4 October 2014

I have a problem with plastic tree guards

This happens
Lots of plastic guards either constricting trees or littering our woodlands. What a waste of oil and energy. They are not reused and so often left, even the biodegradable plastic ones get up my nose. I also have cut many civic trees out of their plastic band holding them onto the stake. So it was that at the APF I came upon a family owned business that has created a solution.

Tree guards made from recycled cardboard and bamboo. Apparently they work well, but I have not tried them myself.

 There are plenty of solutions to bad environmental practise, it is not always doom and gloom. Change starts with one idea or one person. I just wanted to share a good idea.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

APF Log to leg Championship

Last weekend was the APF, a large show for the forestry industry. Lots of massive and very expensive kit for sale, with part of the show ground dedicated to various greenwood crafts. I took part in the log to leg races on the pole lathe. A great show, with lots of debate on how to improve not only our times, but also the quality of the pair of legs we turn in the races. I am also off to the Bentley Woodfair near Lewis in a couple of days time, so only a short post


 Milo marooned on a small green island of grass in a sea of mud


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Holy wells, wood and a bowl

Being an humble craftsman, holidays are usually taken in a tent. This year we went up to North Devon.  We enjoyed a gift from our American friends, the tail end of hurricane Bertha, which added to scenic value. Larger waves and the challenge of standing on the cliffs for any length of time.
Anyway enough of the Englishmans favourite topic, and back to business. My wife and I enjoy walking and searching out beautiful, or historic spaces, so in North Devon we found ancient Holly wells that date back to the mists of time. I also like to find a bit of fallen or cut wood to make a spoon or two out of.

So the first are from St Nectan's well in Stoke very near to Hartland.
Made from very slow grown oak. I do not usually make eating spoons from oak, but they do have a lovely grain.




 This is the Holy well at Welcombe, again next to a St Nectan's church. A dead branch of willow was found and a small scoop made. Dead willow can have a beautiful golden glow to it with a graduation of other colours. This willow was well and truly seasoned and beginning to rot in places.

Stonemasons use to carve beautiful headstones, these had a grace of proportion and design to them. some of the inscriptions can sometimes be a bit toe curling. I took these photos as a possible starting point or chip carving designs
 




Contrast the old ones to the modern headstone.  There must be a niche for stonemasons to create something far better and individual.

I cannot go on holiday without looking in shops that sell old stuff. I found this little gem in one such place. Asking its province was told it was probably olive or something from the east. It is sycamore and the marks on it tell me that it was turn on a pole lathe from an axed out blank. It is not perfect in form, the bottom being too thick and the walls rather thick in places. Who knows how old it is.




Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Edale

A couple of weeks ago I got back from another wonderful Spoonfest. The problem with teaching is that there never is enough time to talk and carve. I taught a lot of sharpening workshops, gave a sharpening talk and sat in the spoon chair, and then drove home.
Among many people from all over the world was Phillipe Steele from the States who has set up the Spooncarving, Green woodworking and sloyd Facebook page. Years ago I sold him a spoon via the Bodgers forum, apparently this was one of his first bought or traded spoons.

On a quick break from teaching I found Phillipe by the fire with his axes. It was interesting to find out that his hands are not really much bigger than mine but his handles are massive. So massive in fact that it would be dangerous for me to use these axes. For Phillip these are fine and he has problems with smaller handles, which cause him a lot of pain.

Most of you know that I like smaller handles and I do bang on about it. Tool handles are personal and it is very important to have handles that suit your body. So experiment and find out what works best for you.

 Below is my hand holding the axe. Not much difference in hand size, but difficult for me to use.
 Martin was flashing his gold leaf about, and Keith happened to be sitting quietly when all at once he was gilded with a golden spoon on the forehead, talk about gilding the lilly.

I met a lot of wonderful people and wish I could have spent a lot more time chatting. I bought yet another axe, this time from Robin who has designed and is having made very nice axes. It is good to see a functional, affordable axe on the market.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Knives, sheaths or boxes?

I have come to the conclusion that boxes are better than sheaths for storing knives in, this includes hook knives. This is because most of my carving takes place in the workshop, at shows, or at home. These tools don't do bushcraft. Knives rarely go back into the sheath when carving, but they do go back into boxes. This way I am less likely to have accidental nicks in the blade.



Made entirely with hand tools, axe, plane, saw, chisel, knife and drill. The wood is ash, bits and bobs that have dried out in my workshop that was stuff not use on the pole lathe.


This box was made for my MaChris knife. The hinges and catch are dovetailed into the main box. 
These boxes are great for practising chip carving techniques. Using ash is  a challenge as it is very hard.