Over recent years we’ve become accustomed to blistering heat and endless sunshine at the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group open weekend, our annual get together where members and guests have a chance to try different skills and swap ideas for new products and generally chat, not to mention buy something you really didn’t know you needed at the Tool Auction.
As for the last 3 years the event was held in Fernhurst at the site of the old Fernhurst Iron Furnace and hosted by Robin Barnes. The weather forecast for this year predicted it would be different this time so we turned up prepared for bad weather – and we weren’t disappointed! I was reminded of Dwayne, one of the cutters on the TV show Ax-men, who in an Oregon downpour in which he just about disappeared he pronounced it ‘A DandyDay!’ and got on with felling the trees. I tend to use the phrase to describe drenched days working in the woods.
To start off the going on the field was fairly firm, but as the downpours continued eventually there was as much water on the surface as grass, walking on water definitely an advantage and we did give up on the open campfire – but did that put us off?
Not much, though it was a more select gathering than usually attends and thats not a huge surprise under the circumstances. The rubbish in the foreground is not flood debris it’s the annual attempt to pass off unwanted items to other members loosely known as an auction.
The point of the day is not just for members to demonstrate their skills – we do that at shows throughout the season – but for members to join in and try out some new crafts. Ian Swain was putting new handles on old tools – something that lots of us do on occasion but it’s good to watch a master at work and there is always more to learn and I was keen to have a go but unfortunately too busy setting up for the auction. Next time Ian!
Tony Lucas was a welcome new face at the gathering this year coming over from near Lewes with his fine Landrover 110 – oh and some fine chairs as well. The steam chamber on the table was powered by a small boiler over an open fire, a neat little setup for demonstrating steam bending in the middle of a wet field.
As you’d expect with the Coppice Group there were a fair few old landrovers around and John Sinclair demonstrates a surprisingly deft touch with his Series III. Will he convert Stuart’s Golf to a rear engine model, or gently assist him to leave the field?
Piping hot food (and more than a little local beer and cider) always helps to keep out the rain and The Men in Hats aka Dave and Ritchie did a great job in cooking up the venison – I’ve left out the photos of the butchery you’ll be pleased to hear – and the rest of the local meat feast.
Fresh from his success with his magic goblet machine Roger’s been working on a setup for shaping spoons and utensils on a repeatable basis. It’s based upon a small stock knife (similar to a drawknife in size) which is anchored at one end on a modified bench with a series of steps in it to assist the cuts with the knife on the blank.
Unlike a normal spoon making process the bowl is carved first using a large gouge and then the form is cut swiftly and accurately around it with the stocknife.
Very interesting approach to making utensils. As you can see it knocks out butter knives/letter openers very easily just using the stocknife. Roger’s aim was to investigate a simple and consistent approach to making utensils which increases speed whilst retaining acceptable quality, allowing a lower cost item made from sustainable products. I think he’s got something here and I’m tempted to try something similar for making spatulas.
Though I was busy around the site the polelathe proved popular with people trying it out through the day. Here Rick gives it a go for the first time and as he’s soon to be on his way back to New Zealand – perhaps there’ll be an NZ branch of the APT before too long.
The auction was big hit and with a massive 70 lots to get through Peter Jameson excelled himself and just about managed to keep his voice. The porters were the stars of the show and Roger prooved to be quite a performer as he gave us the background to each of the chainsaw sculptures he’d entered into the auction. I think both buyers and sellers seemed happy with the event and by something approaching a miracle the rain just about held off for the time it took to flog the lot.
I fully intended to buy nothing and one again I failed miserably and returned home with the usual assortment of odds and sods, but more sods than odds I suspect. I was tempted by this intriguing tool, but as Dave seemed keen on it I thought it would have a fine home and resisted the temptation to bid it up. Can you see what it is yet? And why does it have two hooks on it?
Ritchie’s roundhouse become the centre of activities and allowed us to keep the fire on once we’d abandoned the campfire outside. But even inside it turned in a sea of mud but at least we stayed afloat in the roundhouse just.
As I’ve had a few complaints about the lack of Landrover content recently, here is a gratuitous photo from the weekend where Landrovers outnumbered other vehicles to the extent that you could be forgiven for thinking it was actually a Landrover rally!
The water pouring through the grate and into the spillway of the old furnace in the woods below the fields gives you some idea of the amount of water trying to leave the site. Never mind – I think a good time was had by all. Back to the usual heatwave for next year?