A four-legged workshop

Today I ran a workshop for five people making deer.  I was ably assisted by my wife (chief photographer, waitress, tool mistress and adviser for the day).  Two of the chaps on the course shared today as their birthday and the course was a present from their wives.  Although we were surrounded by (melting) snow I managed to keep everyone busy and all went home with a deer (except for me, I’m more of a venison man):

Here are the youngest and oldest 15 to 62 (fortunately my insurance cover goes as low as 9 years old).

These gels had fun:

I should point out that the rips in the jeans were pre-existing and that no humans were harmed in the making of these deer.  The red stains liberally sprinkled around the middle work bench are just Flying Goose hot sauce stains caused during an eating incident at lunchtime.

There were actually six members of the course but the robin just didn’t seem to get the hang of things at all.  He seemed to enjoy the biscuits and home-baked bread nonetheless.

It has been very scenic in the wood this past week, if a bit chilly.  I’m surprised at the very low numbers of visitors considering the sights to be seen:

I think sometimes I like the shape of trees without their leaves better than with.  The shape is so much more clear and stark and beautiful.

Even the messy old bodgery looked not bad:

The sun did his bit too to make things look good:

These pictures take a bit of getting as the sun only shines on my side of the River Wharfe briefly in these short Winter days.

I feel so sorry for the wildlife living outdoors all the time, I know vaguely how they must feel, and they don’t have four pairs of trousers and five tops like me.  Earlier this week at home the temperature dropped to minus 13 centigrade – just how do you sleep out through that?  Maybe the cold is just another state to wildlife, but I guess they must enjoy warmer weather.

And another thing, why do snow pictures usually look as though they were taken on (almost) black and white film?

Advertisements

Wild about Wood

Just returned from a good weekend at Kew at Castle Howard’s Wild about Wood.  Pretty busy with a joint display of turning on the pole lathe, making a stool, have a goes and three charcoal burns:

But Jane was there helping out, and so was Richard D (many thanks for sterling efforts both!)

The Friday burn turned out the usual amount of brown ends, but far too many on Saturday’s burn, emptied Sunday.  I’d closed it down too early, but the brown ends went back in and the outturn of Sunday’s burn, opened today was just two bags of charcoal and NO brown ends at all.  It was a little tricky watching the burn smoke colour and chatting to people and doing demos, sometimes all at the same time.  However, the emphasis of the weekend was education and several groups of people went away knowing much more about charcoal than they did when they came in.  A couple of people also learnt the difference between sawdust and shavings (and they were not children!)  Bit showery on Saturday, but a lovely sunny day Sunday with lots of visitors.

We camped in our classic 2nd hand de Waard dutch tent and cooked all-in-one-pot meals each night in the dutch oven.

The arboretum is really well laid out in what used to be parkland with mature oaks and chestnuts, and much more recent plantings of trees from around the world.  Lots of different oaks etc.  Here’s a sample of the trees and vistas:

The lathe was set up in a little hornbeam copse.

We also had a surprise visit from two German journeymen carpenters who were looking for work at The Arboretum.

They were wearing the traditional carpenter’s dress and were fully trained craftsmen looking for further experience by travelling. You can read more about the German journeyman system here on Robin Wood’s blog.

Spring in the air

The crows have been paired up for a couple of weeks now, the pairs above were taken on 6th March. Now I’ve finished felling, phew! I’ve a bit of time to look around and get sorted ready for Spring.

But first a brief return to wintery weather for a hedge-laying competition. I won in the speed stakes (no prizes there then!) mainly because it was raining the whole time and as I am normally hiding under the tarp in Strid Wood, my outdoor wet weather gear just wasn’t up to it. I decided to dash home and return in time for the judging, hypothermia could have set in if I’d hung around a couple of hours wet through (well, not really; my feet were still dry). Here’s my length:

I won second prize – a bill hook, lost to the winner because I’d left a couple of gaps at the bottom. It was rather wet:

This guy’s wringing out his gloves.

Earlier in the week I had a chance to tidy up the workshop in Strid, moved the sales booth to the side and raked out some of the two foot of shavings. I think it looks a lot more open:

There are a couple of bowls I’m working on, the far one is a bird bath in chestnut.

I’ve felled an alder tree, that should make some good bowls too – watch this space!

Sometimes …

Sometimes you just get going and the whole thing stops, suddenly.  Never mind.  On Sunday I was just getting into a groove with bowl turning, having substituted a hi-tech strap for the cord I broke Thursday, when the strap snapped!  Boff!  Today I rigged up a leather strap, which probably won’t stand the pace for long, but may get me to the next recycled conveyor belt strap, which is supposed to be the business for bowl lathes.  Turning a bowl on a pole lathe is quite a high energy affair.  It certainly works up a sweat, even in the frost. The bowl has to turn quickly to get a decent finish and control of the cutting tool is vital, and like anything new takes a little getting used to and mastering comes later.

Sometimes the solution lies in wait and jumps out at you.  Again on Sunday (a good sunny day otherwise) all four wheels on the trailer (which is a mere six months old) were jammed as I towed it out of Strid.  The brakes were locked on, and as there are four of them, that’s quite some drag, even for a beefy Land Rover.  Three wheels were free by the time we got out of the wood, but the fourth just refused to budge.  After a lot of jerking, reversing, rocking, rolling, bouncing, decided to take the wheel off, go home on three and sort the prob out at home.  And then, sometimes this happened before, sleeping on it solved the problem.  Went out this morning, all ready to heat the blighter up, hammer it gently with a mallet etc, but it was free already.  Now I find this was another of those time machine problems.  Easy to solve if you go back and do something else in the first place.  What I should have done was time-travelled back and not applied the handbrake before laying the trailer up for a week.  So today I’ve fashioned a pair of wedges (well found them in the heap of logs I turned out on the splitter) drilled a hole in them and attached a rope loop  – stops them getting confused with the other logs if nothingelse.  Just like the chocks they used for aeroplanes, I can now leave the brakes off when the trailer’s parked up and use the chocks.  The problem apparently has become worse since asbestos is no longer used in brake linings  (of course it’s “a good thing” that we don’t use a deadly poison to stop wheels going round any more).  Modern brake linings bond to the brake drum and lock on.  Leaving them off avoids the problem.  So you see, not doing something is sometimes positive.

Sometimes if you leave something it works out while you’re not thinking about it.  This is a piece of tested wisdom, oh yes.  Doesn’t work for everything, of course, but sometimes …

Fire burns hotter in the cold

Especially if you use petrol as a fire starter.  Lovely smooth hands now, and no bobbly bits on my fleece.

I took a spare length of stainless flue liner in today to improve the draught on the new bodgery stove.

The difference it makes it very noticeable.  The stove now roars.  The firebricks are steaming out the summer rain, hot enough to dry more wood and gloves round the outside.  And the added luxury of a wooden door (soak before using!).

OK, so now it stacks up like this:

1. A large stone half buried in the ground.

2. Rusty old wagon wheel.

3. Centre hole covered with the flue blank from the new RC wood burning stove.

4. Firebricks, dry walled, air ingress where they do not sit tight to the wheel.

5. Wooden door.

6. Flue liner.

7.  At the base of the flue liner an old chain to weigh down the flue.

8. Drying fire wood.

It is a really good hand warmer.  Standing with your back to it it also warms the parts other stoves are too civilised to reach. Possibly the best stove in the word.  Definitely carbon neutral.

And when accompanied by fine food it completes an abode of bliss:

Also featuring in the picture is my lunchtime work.  A new small ladle from the silver birch we took down at home.  Safely stowed in a plastic bag so it does not dry between times working on it.  I know I should have taken a photo of the fantastic crook I’ve taken it from, but then …

Being snowy it was surprisingly quite in the woods, I guess people are busy getting festive.  They certainly don’t seem to want to buy Christmas tree decs anyway.  It was rather cold:

I had rather a lot of snow shovelling to do as the NE wind had brought a lot of snow inside under the short tarp.  I spent some time doing a Winter solstice clean up.  The off cuts and failures accumulated over a year had become an unmanageable pile leaning against the  back of the sycamore tree.  In fact I had to walk round it to get into the workshop.  OK so now it’s all reduced to logs and sitting in the trailer waiting to come home for the ever hungry  RC stoves.  It’s surprising just how much there was.

The new Landy is becoming a more familiar tool.  Needs WD40 in the locks to stop them freezing up.  Back window heater is bust, needs to be fixed under the guarantee, along with a couple of other niggles.

It takes me great places though.  Look at this.  The view’s been featured before, but it’s worth it:

What a commute!

Little shelters

Today I’ve been working at my wife’s school teaching knots and shelter building, miniature versions of mine, that I put up for the knotting sessions and in case one of the thunder storms knocking around paid us a visit.

It was fun, but pretty hard work getting all my stuff there, setting up, getting packs ready for the children:

Taking the morning session’s tents down and then clearing all away at the end of the very hot day.  Glad to have a shower when I arrrived home, earlier than usual, but started at 7:05am.  I’ll put a few more pictures up when I get them from the school’s camera. Here they are:

Here are a couple of pictures from May I found on my phone:

That is Herb Paris, one indication of ancient woodland (which Strid is).

And this is the edible Morell – unfortunately rather too fly-blown by the time I got to it.