For my first time at the APF show I drove up to the Cannock Chase show site overnight and arrived at around 7:30 am, if not bright then at least early. The show site is massive, being miles from one end to the other. I joined the queue of bright shiny 4WD’s and immense forestry equipment entering the site. There were plenty of marshals available and for some reason they all seemed to know where I needed to go before I even asked. Was it the 50year old Landrover or the little spray of leaves still on the tip of the fresh birch poles I took up for spares that said ‘Woodland Crafts area’ ?
The cold, tiredness and a hectic schedule of demonstrating and racing meant that I didn’t have a lot of time for taking photos – but I’ll do the best I can with those I did manage to take.
Arriving on the woodland crafts patch I found it still deserted except for a ton or two of ash ready for the turning races – freshly felled for us by Larry and Granville who were also demonstrating in the crafts area.
It didn’t stay deserted and before long I was joined by a dozen turning and greenwood companions on the APT&GW stand.
To one side of my pitch was Dave Jackson, a coppice worker and polelathe turner from Malvern and one of the fastest turners in the West! Here Dave is replenishing his stock of Gypsy flowers.
On my other side was Barn (Barnaby Carder) who had hitched to Leamington before getting a lift to the site as he is still pedling (as a pedlar not a cyclist) his way around the country making and selling his spoons. He thinks he’s made over 600 on his journey so far and I can believe it.
Barn is not only a talented greenwood worker but he’s also good at working the crowds and he was able to hold an audience – not a bad skill to have when selling a spoon makes a difference between eating or going without.
I finally got to meet fellow blogger Richard Law of Flying Shavings in the flesh and it was well worth the wait. Richard is immensely capable, has a number of strings to his bow and is quite possibly the nicest Yorkshire man I know (and yes Richard I do know some others!). At the show he was demonstrating carving greenwood bowls. Quick off the mark Richard has already written on the show on his blog and its well worth a read.
Throughout the 3 days of the show the APT&GW puts on log-to-leg races. In the morning a team race and in the afternoon the individual races. For team event a team of 3 race to make 2 chair legs from an ash log by cleaving, shaving and then turning the billets and 2 of the turners must do some of the turning on the legs. We picked the team members from a hat which was a great way of running the event – I ended up with both Barn and Richard for the second team race and here Barn is holding the first leg for Richard to copy rhe beads onto the second leg. The races are quite frantic and there is plenty of scope for working up a sweat as the teams were turning in times of 12 minutes and under to make 2 legs.
Having finished the race and had the legs judged for quality (which attracts time penalties) we had the traditional ‘peg leg’ photo taken.
The individual races are quite a commitment and despite telling myself it’s just a race I found myself becoming seriously nervous in advance. It didn’t go according to plan and on the first race I managed to get the froe stuck as the billet failed to cleave neatly in half. Then once on the lathe the cord snapped – I think I managed to cut it with the chisel. Because disasters always strike in threes the disaster was compounded by the support for my pole collapsing. Somehow I still managed to complete 2 legs and hand them in before the 20 minute deadline.
The afternoon race on the third day of the show is billed as the ‘World Championship’ all of which further helps to build the tension. Despite the nerves I managed to produce 2 legs quite fast, I think it was just under 12 minutes before penalty points – which considering my lack of experience at racing seems a creditable effort. And did I mention I am now ranked a mere 8th in the World? Thanks to my crowd for all of the support, and to Colin Hampton and the Chestnut coppice crew who turned out to shout plenty of abuse and keep me going,
Sadly the weather was less than glorious and downright bitter on occasion. Dave Jackson shared my little fire bucket and kelly kettle and even sacrificed some old gypsy flowers as kindling when the storm made lighting the fire more of a challenge.
I was delighted to have quite a few friends as visitors on my pitch over the three days. Here Andy Coleman from Somerset and a fellow Scyther as well as a greenwoodworker has a go on my recently built pole-bole-lathe.
As well as racing during the day each of the demonstrators on APT&GW stand put on a demonstration of a green woodworking skill or helped to run a ‘have-a-go’ lathe. I demonstrated making hay-rakes and here Jim Steele puts on an excellent demonstration on assembling a Windsor Chair.
Sean Hellman and I managed to get in a short impromptu cross-cut saw demonstration with the help of Barn to stabilise the log whilst we ran through it. It was well worthwhile and a good experience for me to try the 2 man saw with someone who can actually use it well. We’re hoping to do a proper demo at the next ball, and who knows perhaps a race?
What with the demonstrations, races, visitors and so many excellent fellow demonstrators the time flashed by and I really don’t know quite where it went. I didn’t get to see much of the show or spend as long as I would have liked with others on the stand but we certainly made a few chair legs though. There is a gallery with more photos from the show here.
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