A noisy start to the day

There a few visitors to Strid Woods early morning, especially if the weather is dull like today, so I spent half an hour making big noise.

I was using the newly hardened and tempered cold chisel to change a disused oil drum into a mini charcoal kiln. First job is to remove one end which will become the top of the kiln, and the removed end will be the lid. I cut three nicks in to stop it falling back inside. Then three holes in addition to the existing one in the other end for air intake.

I should be using this kiln at a couple of shows this Summer, but I’ll need to trial it first.

I then turned my attention to the drain pipe bird table project. A customer asked if I could mount one of my bird tables on a pipe that grey squirrels can’t climb. This is my solution to boring a 2 and 1/8th hole with a 1 and 1/2 inch auger so the pipe will fit in a heavy log enabling it to stand on a patio without permanent fixing.

Rather tricky drilling overlapping holes, but the little inch and a half oak insert was a great help. I then just enlarged the center hole with a chisel leaving three places around it where wedges can be hammered in to stabilise the job. This is what it looks like finished:

It is far too tall, but I’ll let the client decide what height they are happy with.

I also finished off the bench a couple of days ago and delivered it today:

Another long horn beetle got in on the act. I like this finish and I’m doing a repair to two benches for another customer and they also liked this finish, so it will be much knifing in the woods for a couple of days. I now have both handed crooked knives too, so I’ll be able to switch from left to right a bit and rest muscles alternately.

A few shavings more

These are beech shavings from my Veritas one inch tenoner. I’m making a custom bird table using the pole supplied by the customer. It’s a plastic waste pipe filled with a hardwood post. The big advantage is that grey squirrels can’t climb the plastic to get at the bird food. I usually supply bird tables fastened to a wooden post, for which I’ve developed a fixing method. This current one needs brackets that will support the table on 2 inch pipe, that’s rather thinner than the wooden posts. I’ve got a pattern and will post a photo when it’s done. I also have to make it stand on a patio without being bolted down… mmm those beech stems are pretty dense, maybe a large log with a two inch hole for the pipe? Or maybe three holes making a big enough hole where they meet and leaving room for wedges … mmmm …

Coppice work

I took my wife and daughter out for a couple of hours coppicing work at Lord’s Wood, Giggleswick, N Yorkshire:

This is a wood attached to a recently closed limestone quarry. It is a nature reserve managed on a voluntary basis by Craven Conservation  Group and Natural England’s Ingelborough staff .  Interesting mixture of sycamore, lots of ash, small elms, individual larches, hazel and a small amount of beech and cherry (and probably others that I didn’t see).

The wood is all about the same age and must have been clear felled a few decades ago.  It is based on a limestone pavement complete with clints and grykes, but which, unlike many in The Dales, are unexposed and covered over with a thick layer of vegetation, mainly moss at this time of year.  I’m told by those who know that there is interesting flora and I’ll be returning to check it out in Spring.

The work was to reduce the amount of sycamore and create some clearings.

There was an opportunity to obtain some sycamore timber, which is good for kitchen tools being close grained, but the stacks of wood made me think a charcoal burn might be fun later in the year, which seemed to meet with approval. There’s plenty of wood as the clearing has been going on for a couple of Winters or three:

Back at the bodgery work has been moved home temporarily due to transport problems (enough said).  I’m working on small tables and bird tables and stools.  Pictures later.

And after the excellent Mastercrafts programme on BBC2 last Friday there was a lot of interest in the bodgery on Sunday, even a few courses to set up.

Lead shot and brackets

Working on a log yesterday on the shave horse, I found a series of lead shot balls, very small, about 2 mm. They were pretty deeply embedded so must have been there for some years, the wood around each ball was discoloured but not for so far as I might have expected; about 4 mm each way.  The draw knife sliced through them without any damage.  First time I’ve found this but I have heard about musket shot being found in old oaks.

Trying to find a good solution to supporting bird tables on top of a fencing post.  For the first one I used split logs:


They are screwed into a notch in the post and seem pretty secure.

The next two had more slender posts, so the notches were more intrusive into the post’s strength:

For the current one, which I’m making for stock, I’m using four roughly turned supports. I’m fitting them into the underside of the holes in the table where the upright columns fit into the base and fastening them into the post in an angled hole. Getting the angle right is rather a challenge, so with the next one I’m going to revert to the original design using split logs into a notch. Now the posts I’m using are stronger a small notch should be fine.

I bought the posts from Hartlington Fencing Supplies
. The proprietor is very oblidging and we discussed Land Rovers and how the 110’s additional length is very useful for … fencing posts; my 90 is rather short, but got 7 foot posts in anyway over the passenger seat though. He also has a good welding set up so I may have some work for him in due course.

Business is rather slow post Christmas, even though many families are visiting Strid Wood. Enough spending for one month I guess. I think I’ll concentrate on some felling. There is a lot of Ash to thin out, and though the weather is rather cold, it is also dry.

Another day in the woods

Fine and mild day today so no need to put up the tarpaulin.  First job was setting up before Andy arrived for his bird table.  Gave him a demo of treen making and then ferried him and his purchases back to the car park.  Rather missed the bird table, so decided to start another, at the end of the day had the applewood base with four beech branch roof supports on the bench (or under it for over-night). Reused a failed stool seat for the base. Running low on presents for the bran tub  and Christmas decorations so finished off a handful.  Made a dibber and a spurtle.  One teenage bran tub and lathe initiation customer, the tricky part is controlling the chisel so it only takes thin shavings.  Customer bought a deer (the best one) and I offered free delivery and threw in a dibber.  When I delivered it on the way home, his wife and daughter were delighted, sounds like it will have birdfeeders on the antlers and be christened. My boat-building friend called by and informed me he also repairs accordions (mental note made).  Developing a candle stick idea, but need to decide how to make a fireproof candle holder for the top.  Also wondering about the next animal to make – wild boar sound appropriate …

Bird tables

Bird table III now in field test in Strid Woods before being collected by my client tomorrow.  Yesterday I put some wild bird seed on the table to see if there would be any takers.  Bird table II had no customers at all and I ended up after four days, dumping the uneaten seed  on the ground before delivery, and one of the many pheasants probably ate that. Field testHowever, with #III about 10 minutes after feeding the table was alive with birds: Great and Blue Tits and a pair of Nuthatches.  I guess the birds in a wood are pretty unaccustomed to artificial feeders, although I did put a red Holly berry among the seed in hopes of attracting their attention – do birds see in colour, I wonder?