I’m posting these pictures of our chairmaking competition earlier this year partly as I’ve spent the week almost entirely working with chainsaws and partly so I can link them to a greenwood photo thread on the bodgers ask’n'answer forum which you can find here – bodgers ask’n'anwser greenwood photos.
In May pole lathe turners and greenwood workers get together for the annual Bodgers Ball. This year well over 200 of us descended upon a field just outside Horton-cum-Studley in Oxfordshire. It’s hard to believe it now but the weather was sweltering which helped a magic weekend full of demonstrations, workshops and competitions. From axe-throwing to chair seating and fire-lighting there was plenty for all,interests and having been attending for only 3 years I can say it is a very, very welcoming crowd. New this year was a chair making competition and the Sussex group entered a team almost entirely devoid of chair making experience. Just as well really, because if we’d known more about it we probably would have chosen discretion.
I missed the beginning of the competition because I was busy visiting the second hand tools store run by a charity, tools for self reliance , who ship useful tools to Africa and sell many in the UK that are not appropriate, thereby raising money to support the charity and also supporting greenwood workers in the UK by keeping these tools in use.
Once I extracted myself from the tool stall we fought with an odd assortment of twisted Yew, Sycamore, Hazel and some ash – of which a well reknowned chair maker was heard to say ‘ I wouldn’t even call it firewood’.
There was plenty of expert advice. The back of the chair came together really well and lulled us into a false sense of security as all of the joints fitted tightly.
Our team comprised Dave, John (the brummy bodger), Barry, Frank, myself and Mike. As Mike was also on the PA and another member of the team wisely decided to become a spectator we substituted Rich and Christopher (who came over from Germany for the Ball).
I certainly learnt a lot from the experience, trial fitting joints and not borrowing drill and tenon cutter from different people being good examples. For those who might be wondering how chair legs fit into chairs so well, John is holding one of the legs onto the shave horse whilst Frank uses the tenon cutter in a brace to size the end of the leg.
After 5 hours, or was it 6? Memory fails me, we almost had a chair, nay twas a throne…fit for….. falling apart again, in our case.
As we put the finishing touches to it, time ran out and despite pushing our luck as far as we could we had to leave it unfinished.
When last heard of the self flat packing throne was with Barry who was still trying to find the allen key and somebody to translate the Swedish instructions.
I am off to the Weald and Downland Museums Autumn Show this weekend so 2 days of pole lathe turning are in order to recover from a week of chainsawing.