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Archive for the ‘woodcraft’ Category

It’s not what I’d planned to do today, but I just needed to sit by the fire this afternoon.

The pine project is taking a little longer than I anticipated, having been rained off over the weekend and with progress a little slower than I had thought. But I am now back on it for the next 3 days. I need to plank up another 10 logs, burn up the old brash and then tidy the site, as I will be onto other jobs for a while.

Having a good fire going is an invitation to sit by it, so all I needed was a chair. No time for anything elaborate but luckily I have a pile of pine offcuts and they need to be used one way or another. A simple way to make a seat is to take two large offcuts and bore a hole through one (the seat back) allowing the other to placed through it as a rustic seat. Generally the larger the offcut the more throne-like and eye catching is the eventual seat. Surprisingly enough they are very comfortable – this may be because of the slope backwards on both the seat and backrest.
I first saw one of these chairs placed at a local viewpoint in a chestnut coppice looking out over the Weald towards the South Downs. That was made several years ago by Colin when he cut the coppice. I will leave a couple here and hope they get as well used.

 

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This weekend turned out to be an exercise in extreme turning due to the weather. Normally I relish the Autumn celebration at the Weald & Downland museum, one of my favourite shows in the calendar. Saturday started with a frost in the morning and got windier and wetter as the day went on.

I was joined by Wayne and his son Olly who had brought both their bowl turning lathe and also a small lathe worked with a hand held bow and both were dressed up for the event to the delight of the visitors who braved the weather.

But by the afternoon the wind was rising and the intermittant showers became continuous. In the face of driving rain and gale force gusts of wind Olly took to an anorak but Wayne is clearly made of sterner stuff or………

The photos don’t really capture the force of the wind and rain. My shelter is not upto a full gale and started to suffer from the wind so I was unhappy to leave it overnight. Sadly I took it down and packed up on Saturday evening in the face of even worse forecasts for the night and Sunday morning.

However the experience seems to have given us something of a taste for extreme turning, perhaps an olympic sport for 2012 and the next venue is still to be decided!

Because of the rain I could not leave my wares out for long and so failed to sell anything – for the first time that I can remember. But as so often happens, just as I was totally losing motivation something interesting turned up.

This time the question was ‘Can you make a me a handle for a bronze axe-head?’ I’ve learn’t its best to go with the flow, and this sounded like fun. Besides I was suffering from the cold and wet and I needed a challenge. Before long I was talking to a weekend class who were casting bronze axe-heads to a 3000 year old pattern.

I started to make an ash handle and partway through was joined by the course members who watched the process. I enjoyed turning a handle for the axe head. I learnt about bronze age tools and we also had interesting discussions on the turning or spinning of early metal and the evidence, or lack of it, for bronze age wood turning.

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Why is a lot of something referred to as a shedload? Perhaps because an empty shed is a rare thing? It certainly is in my case, but the reason that this is a shed load is because it will be my new shed….eventually. In fact its about a half a shed load at most, but then I am planning quite a large shed. The pile of timber is the result of the last few days work and is now air drying before use.

To move the logs onto the sawbench my capstan winch has been pressed into service. Once the logs are in front of the bench I can then roll them by hand.
This landrover is a 1960 Series II that should be taking it easy in its retirement but it still works for a living. It also has to carry my pole-lathe and shelter to all the shows.

For those who have been watching the recent TV documentary Axmen following Oregon lumberjacks, this is my version of the skyline, and it comes with all of the sound effects and bleeps.

The capstan winch made light work of moving the logs. Not everything went according to plan as this is the second rope this week, the first one broke under the strain.


There is something about a fire that makes a worksite, especially as the weather gets colder. Here the pine brash is burnt, to keep me warm. but only the wood that won’t be used as kindling or firewood so little is wasted.

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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.

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The wet summer weather has put me way behind on some jobs. One of these is to make pine planks from some timber logs we cut early in the year.Planks are always useful and I have a number of small projects for the winter that will use quite a lot of wood, so as the weather has been reasonable this week I’ve been spending a lot of time making them.

The woods are on Marley Common, an area which is now a mature pine plantation but which was open heathland for many centuries. It is slowly being returned to lowland heath and we felled about 20 trees to make a wildlife corridor at the start of the year. With the poor weather the pine logs are starting to go off so its the last chance to make decent timber from them

To make planks I use a chainsaw mill. This is a powerful chainsaw (for afficionados I am using a Shtil 660, thats a 92cc saw with a one piece milled 25inch 3/8 bar and a PMZ 1/4inch ripping chain)as cutting down the grain of the wood is much harder work than crosscutting. To make the work much more accurate the chainsaw fits into a cradle which runs up and down an 18ft long guide rail. The logs are rolled (easy to say but not so easy to do) up onto the log bench and the arms can then be raised and lowered on the ratchets to allow accurate cutting.

A chain saw mill is slow work in comparison to a mobile bandsaw (woodmizer) or even a lucas mill (mobile circular saw system). It also creates a lot more sawdust than other narrower blades. What to do with a tonne of pine sawdust? Sadly nothing as far as I am aware. But it is easy to carry to the site and to store when not in use. Although I was very tempted to upgrade to a bandsaw it doesn’t make sense for an occasional user like me and even the top of the range Logosol M7 system which I am using here costs a fraction of a mobile bandsaw which makes it affordable. For more on cutting timber with big chainsaws you can find the logosol UK website here – Logosol UK .

When I started planking a few years ago I just used a standard chainsaw, a simple home-made guide rail and chainsaw attachment. I was hooked instantly. It just feels good to be able to utilise logs that otherwise would go to waste and to make something using timber that you have milled yourself. As well as saving money and timber miles! You can start very simply and cheaply. Some people use simple attachments which hang off an aluminium ladder to get the straight cuts. It’s hard work doing the work manually but it really pays off when you have isolated hardwood logs in places that you can’t easily reach with anything but a chainsaw and lightweight mill. The planks can be carried out when the logs often can’t be extracted.

The finish on the planks is excellent and it always surprises people that its so clean. It can be used as it is for external work or put straight through a planar/thicknesser for planed planks. It doesn’t save a lot of time and money to make pine planks as they are so cheap at the building merchants but as I have both the mill and the timber it seemed to make sense at the time.

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