Sunday, 27 May 2012

Dressing a grindstone

To follow on from my last post about my auction win at the Bodgers Ball, I have made a short video on how I trued up and dressed the stone.

For water stones of this type I now prefer to do the heavy rounding work with a dry stone. I do not have much experience with large stones so if you know different please drop me a line or leave a comment. There are obviously many ways of dressing a stone and one thing I have not covered in the video is using electrical tools. I did use an angle grinder with a diamond disc and this worked very well. If is best to do all this outside as the dust can be prolific or water splashing everywhere. My advice is to use anything that works and you have to hand.

This grindstone has a trough that can be raised and lowered, always the best option, never leave a stationary stone in water. This can soften the water dipped part of the stone and when used to grind the next tool this part of the stone will wear faster. An oval stone can be a pain to use.

As with all stones, try and use the full area of the grinding surface, resulting in more even wear and less time spent dressing the stone, the stone will also last longer.
Do not let the stone freeze, that is when it is wet and especially if it has a crack in. I am sure, and please correct me if I am wrong, but sandstones can be frozen and will be fine afterwards. I am not going to take a chance on an expensive wheel.

After using this stone for a bit I will have to do a lot of rough sharpening on big tools or bite the bullet and take off another 1/2 inch plus of the radius. These narrow bits do interfere with the grinding of tools. It really is a lovely bit of kit and I will be experimenting with an adjustable tool holder.

Monday, 21 May 2012


Love it, it is not about planes, it is about an attitude that unfortunately far too many people have.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Bodgers Ball 2012

On Thursday, the day before the 2012 Bodgers' Ball it was pissing down with rain, and a rather disheartening email had been sent out about the muddy state of the field in Dorset. Spirits were low as Dan and I loaded the van. Everything got better the next day when I drove straight onto the site and the sun was bright and hot.
It was a busy weekend  and I gave 2 demonstrations: fan birds; and a long talk on sharpening stones, especially the naturals, how to identify, clean and use.
I entered the non-turned Treen competition with my fan birds and won first prize. I did not enter the half hour challenge and apparently could not enter with a fan bird this year as I won it last year with a bird. All the prizes were presented by Dick Apps.

Above is the competition tent with lots of entries in almost just as many categories. The vote is by public ballot and anyone can win, professional or beginner. This is what I like about the BB, it is open and democratic, everyone is welcome and we all share ideas and knowledge. Age is no barrier, there is a junior category, with some amazing entries.

I missed the actual prize giving, being too eager to look at the auction entries, but Dan won the Best Newcomer prize. Apparently, the look of surprise and glee on his face, was priceless!  I am so proud to be part of an organisation that celebrates and honours our youngsters as well as beginners and professionals.
This is Peter who won a prize in the best stool competition. Peter lives in Devon and I fist met him on the Bodgers' Forum, and then in person when he came on my forging course last year. I really like some of the furniture he makes.

Each year there is a themed competition and this one was "something for the beech" Nick and Katie Abbot won with their badminton set, and the beech trunks got a prize, and also, one of best in show prizes.

I bought lots of tools from Tools for Self Reliance and at the auction. I got a lovely Yellow Lake oilstone in a box, impossible to identify without a box as it looks like just another slate hone.

A great side axe from Tony, who says it is a French coopers axe.

The best item I won in the auction is a great water grindstone put in by Tony.

I got it for a very good price and expected to pay a great deal more for it. I have now trued up the wheel and it works a treat, a fantastic bit of kit. I will be posting a video on how I trued the wheel up.
This a picture of part of the site.The man with the wheel chair is Dick Apps, a pole lathe turner. I love this photo as I saw Dick pushing his wheel chair onto site, it just sums up the spirit  and determination of Bodgers, old and young.

My friend Paul and his wife and small children were at the show. He showed me a couple of things "I inspired him to make" an amazing fan bird and heart arrow puzzle. I must say he got that arrow just right and could not have made it any bigger if he tried.

James finally won the half hour challenge this year. Not entering gave me an opportunity to watch him turn a bowl from the log in under half an hour. One thing I have noticed about the people who win is that there is no panic or even much of a sense that they are racing. I love this grace that comes from being good at  what you do.
James is on the far right, I must also say it was a well shaped and finished bowl and I would be proud of if I turned it myself, I could not turn a bowl this well this fast.
The half hour challenge is my favourite competition because you are there doing it live and in front of people, one chance, and under pressure.
The master pattern for the log to leg race. I had the honour again to judge both the team and individual log to leg races with Stuart King. The wood was a bit challenging this year, the beech was a bit crooked.
The finished legs below, click on any image to enlarge

Frank showed me his amazing lathe, see the video, he also made these travishers from an old saw blade and recycled wood. Frank uses these on the push stroke and they worked remarkably well. 

This is David Mann, who has developed a mandrill for the pole lathe which means that the billet of wood being turned always revolves into the cutting edge of the tool. None of this reciprocating business. Have a look at his website

So to end - do have a look at this video of The Bodgers' Ball.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

circular bench for Merton College, Oxford

I have not posted much recently because I have been rather busy with one thing and another. One of these things is making a largish bench for Merton College in Oxford. The person I have in contact with for  this commission is Lucille Savin, the head gardener. I supplied various designs and the College choose what turned out the be the best one for the space.

As you can see from the photos this is not green woodwork, but incorporates skills from the other side of my business, which is making seating. In the past, clients have included museums, country parks, private companies including Forgemasters in Sheffield, owners of public spaces or private gardens; and are most often commissioned  as memorial seating, either in grave yards or places personal to the family or deceased. All this work is made to order and the process from design to delivery usually takes months.
 This bench seats about 10 people, in the newly designed Warden's Quarters garden.
Lucille kindly gave me a quick tours of the college, an amazing place with centuries of history. I particularly liked the hinges on this door.
Which led into the dining room, which has a very finely finished roof.
Never have I seen such detailed braces, personally I prefer something a little less worked.
Below is some of the other benches I make
These below were made for Ulster Folk Museum in Northern Ireland

Some of my curvy benches which I want to do more design work on, especially the legs

Above was a bench made for Paignton Zoo out of a fallen oak tree in their nature reserve.