Tuesday, 28 September 2010

APF and the log to leg race

APF Cannock Chase 2010

One of the best of the year, that is enjoyment wise, was the Association of Professional Foresters show in Cannock Chase, near Birmingham. This was because a whole group of us from the APT were sponsored by the APF and Buxtons to demonstrate green wood crafts and to compete in the International log-to-leg race.
I went to demonstrate fan birds and Dan also came along. This is the first show that I sold every bird I made during a demonstration as well as most of my stock. The ash supplied for the log races was very good for making the birds.

Why is it that when being watched by other expert green woodworkers my fan birds fail? There was one log or tree in the pile that was very slow grown - if using hardwoods for fan birds avoid the slow grown, it does not work.  Gudrun Leitz was watching as I tried and failed to rive this bit of very slow grown ash.
Dan did compete in one of the log to leg races, which I think is amazing considering he had less than half an hour experience on a pole lathe in his life. He was made up when Jim Steele gave him his membership to the APT, which we all 16 of us chipped into. We made him keep the better of his 2 legs and everyone signed it. It was a hard job convincing him to keep it, but us older chaps have often regretted not keeping these milestones in our lives.

We had a great time especially around the fire at night, making new friendships and consolidating old ones. The woodland crafts field was a small oasis in a huge show of big machinery dedicated to cutting and processing of trees often in huge quantities. There were also plenty of other competitions and demonstrations to see. Dan and I did not get much time to have a proper look around.

It was good to meet up with Barn again, still peddling and making lots of spoons .

 Des had a unique pulley system, as his spring on his pole lathe. I had a go and it was very smooth and just the right tension.

 Mark Allery, who writes the Woodland antics blog
Richard Law who writes the Flying Shavings blog.

APF log to leg race from Sean Hellman on Vimeo.

This video is of the log-to-leg race, with Jim Steele entertaining the crowd on the microphone. I filmed Richard Ely, who I had hoped was going to win this year, especially as he came 10 seconds behind Ben Orford at the Bodgers' Ball race in May. We are looking at under 4 minutes per leg from the log, which is very fast. I have never entered a log-to-leg race, but will do next year, I do not do much spindle turning these days. With Dan's enthusiasm and his determination to win a race one day, and being only slightly competitive myself, I am sure my times will improve. I did time myself on one leg and came in at 7 minutes and 30 seconds, but how many penalty points?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A new apprentice


This has been a long time in the making, but finally all the papers are signed and I would like to welcome Dan as my new and first apprentice.

Dan and I met at a show one and a half years ago, he wanted to come on workshops or just have some work experience. I was happy to have Dan do simple work for me in the workshop in exchange for me teaching him some green wood skills. Some time later Dan talked about an apprenticeship, that is, an official one where he also went to collage, and we got the ball rolling. I did have doubts, not about Dan, but about money, Health and Safety, commitment of being a full time employer, etc.  This has been sorted out, and I have a tidy workshop, where most things have their place with materials and tools easily found.

As an apprentice, Dan will be with me for between 17months and 3 years, and has been reminded often that things are too soft these days with modern apprenticeships. Why indeed should I pay to train and teach a young man a trade?  Surely only 3 years is just scraping the surface? Indeed, the young man - nay  - child should have been indentured to me at the age of 11 or 12 ! The best one I heard was from Jonty Williams, a man taught and practiced in the husbandry of the land, who showed us a contract for an agricultural  labourer apprenticed at the age of 12, for 14 whole years.
The great thing is that Dan knows he has fallen on his feet finding me, and I know that Dan is the dream apprentice, because 16 years old teenagers with his attitude and awareness and a thirst for knowledge do not come my way that often.

So; welcome, Dan, and here is to a long and profitable relationship for us both.

Apart from getting the workshop sorted, we now have a dog. Milo was on  the waiting list to go into a rescue home, and is a Staffordshire bull terrier. So for the last couple of months we have had a big change of routine, walking the dog.  Milo loves my workshop, so many sticks, I am yet to convince him that I do not just make sticks for him. He could chew a couple of hundred pounds of stock very quickly. He likes Dan and does not mind loud machinery; I am not sure that Dan likes him as much since Milo barked right next to Dan's ear, deafening him.

Recently - shows have been attended and sold at, and much other work produced, so the reason for no posts has been I have been very busy with workshop tidying, work, shows and the dog.