Return of the pint pot!

Yes, today I located a brand new pint pot for £2.75 on Skipton market.

Every working chap used to have one of these and they were very easy to obtain.  Sadly no longer (‘cept in Skipton market).  All those working chaps seem to drink pop, what is the world coming to?  But perhaps we have met the turning point at last.

Long live the pint pot!

My wife is taking bets on how long it will last – I have a bad habit of breaking them, usually by dropping them out of the jock bag as I take it out of the Land Rover.  I’m taking care of this baby, it is china apparently – rather posh for a man o’ the woods (even if it is a second), but what the heck, you have to take those opportunities when they arise – I can’t be doing with a tin mug with a picture of flocks on the outside for aye.

Woody stuff

Return of the killer oak shrink pots.  Three more, all from the same branch, they are now awaiting blackening with vinegar and iron.

Like the back drop?  It’s from m’new pattern book bindings.

Shows at the National Forest and Kilnsey coming up over the Bank Holiday, busy, busy. Elm to dig out from store for a stool, gates to hang, bench to fit with new boards, phew, makes me feel tired even on my day off.

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Shrinkburkar super cutter

If you are not of a technical woody bent click here now, but if you would like to find out about the industrial making of shrink pots, read on …

Once we’ve got over the tedious parts of making a green wood tube

And smoothed down the rough edges left by the gouge …

(Here I’m using the knife in the vice technique), OK all done, ready for the groove for the base:

And now … the Sean Hellman shrink pot base groove cutter kit (I’m sure he’ll have a snappier name for it!)  Sean will be supplying a knife blade, handle and nut (or the complete croze, I read), check this out here: Sean Hellman: Shrink pot, and a shrink pot croze.  All you need to do is to mount the knife on a baton and the handle in a base board, thusly:

The idea is that the cutter can be moved up and down by loosening the handle and then tightening it in place so that the top of the base groove can be cut accurately.  Traditionally this is done with a knife, which works, but is slightly hit and miss and a little slow.  If you offer up your shrink pot tube and rapidly whizz it round against the knife, so …

an accurate 90 degree cut in the inside of the pot results.  You can see from this photo that I used a conventional screw to fix the knife blade and two of the Manchester variety.

I then used a converted marking gauge to enlarge the cut into a groove

The end is a cross-section of a cuboid and more like a turning chisel than anything:

And the result is a square ended slot with a sloped profile to help with inserting the base:

And here’s the base with is a loose fit here, but this morning is tightening up nicely.

The base is ash and the main tube is sycamore, I’m not sure sycamore is my preferred option – I bust one while doing the final inside smoothing.  I think the radial strength is a bit lacking as there are many small medullary rays.  On the other hand silver birch can be carved much thinner and is really strong.

And now as a counter stroke to the horrible green shades of the workshop – thanks to the green tarp I was obliged to swap for the white one – a gratuitous frothy picture of the Wharfe

Tail-piece

Whilst I was dinner monitor last evening, making pizza, I noticed on the olives packet a note that a cocktail stick is included.  Funny, you’d think more than one person would be eating them – surely not meant to share the cocktail stick?  Anyways, it was a nice turned stick, I wonder if it’s bulk production from Mark Allery’s contact in Vancouver?

Another pot, baluster style and Alan

I’m getting a bit obsessed by shrink pots, especially now I’ve discovered turning them.  It’s possible to make vessels that would not be possible using a foot-powered bowl lathe as there is no requirement to leave a core in the work so the mandrel can drive the work round.  So this is the almost latest (made another couple since this one!)

(Sorry slightly out of focus – but he back board isn’t – doh!)

It looked a bit like this when turned except there’s a rebate at the bottom of the lid which is now inside the pot to retain the lid.  Lid and pot were turned in one, which helped retain the figure of the wood which is 2 year old beech , mellowed in the log, hence the brown colouring.  It also has a little linseed oil on in the picture to retard drying which has suddenly become quite a problem during this Spring drought (rain forecast for Wednesday though).

After turning, I sawed off the lid below its rebate and hollowed out the pot.  First with an inch and a half auger:

The new bench vice is really helpful here, it grips so hard I soften the jaws:

After drilling right through – a pleasant task where I either count the turns (about 10 per inch), day-dream, or drink in the view – I chisel out the remainder of the inside using a gouge with an inside bevel.  This is a bit nerve racking, if I get too greedy with the amount of wood I incorporate into a cut I split the whole thing.  Getting better at this now though, and no probs with this one.

The remainder is smoothed of with a long-handled crooked knife and then a rebate is set in to take the bottom:

I’m hoping to improve and speed up the rebate process, watch this space.

The bottom is made to be a loose fit as the pot, being quite green (unseasoned) will shrink onto it and make a tight, but not water-tight, fit.

Yesterday Alan called around for a little therapeutic woodwork:

he went home with a couple of items he made, as well as the spatula he was working in the picture above.

Well done Alan, good work!

Pots, sweet and savoury

I’ve been working on shrink pots. These are pots which are made as hollow cylinders and then a dry base is inserted in a rebate.  As the pots dries and shrinks it tightens onto the base.  Unless some kind of caulking is applied a waterproof fit is unlikely, but they are fine for dry goods etc.

Here is some work in progress.

The sycamore one on the far left is carved from a whole log, as is the brown birch one.  All the others are turned, some from a branch or whole stem like the barrel-shaped ash one and the two small birch ones.  The two tall ash ones at right are turned from quartered logs and I think that makes for a good pattern in the grain.  While the pot itself can be a fairly simple shape the tops can be more imaginative.  I’m working on some lumps of burr birch to make tops for the small birch ones, and I turned another quartered ash one yesterday with a top that looks a bit anthropomorphic.  I think these should be quite saleable as they are easily portable and shouldn’t be too expensive.  They will make good presents, which a lot of my sales become, seeing as many people who buy are on holiday.

I made stir-fry for tea last night and topped it with freshly home-roasted buckwheat.  I had the leftovers on my cereal.  I must get a wooden spoon and bowl made for eating breakfast!

And today another load of logs to the yard for maturing into firewood and charcoal.  First burn coming up next week.

More stools

Development of a stool.

Three legged stools are quite popular. They were often used in places where the floor was uneven as they are self levelling – stools with three legs do not rock. So they were used e.g to sit on when milking, they are good for this as the front two legs allow the tilting forwards that’s required when getting to the teats at the far side of the beast. This was taken to an extreme in some areas with a belt on one legged milking stool:

I’m making two three leggers at the moment for a client as previously mentioned. I already had a five minute one made from scraps so I could sit and carve bowls in the so passé vertical bowl clamp. It was rather an oddity with a longer leg to accommodate the slope on the workshop floor. That’s the really rough-looking one at the right of the picture above. Then I made a prototype, but based on a round-topped one so I laid out the legs on the same basis – dividing a circle into sixths (then thirds) with a pair of compasses. This didn’t work well – see the one at the back with the wedges sticking out. I’m going to remodel the top into a shape that reflects the leg layout.

However, I’m rather pleased with the way this one is going:

I’ll get it glued and wedged today.

I’m also working on making more space in the workshop by rationalising the lathes. I’m combining the bowl and spindle lathes into one, making new poppets for the single bed original lathe and reorganising the stiffer pole than drives the bowl version. It’s also time to sort out the horse, I’ll be sawing a log to provide a new bed for it, of the conventional style with a flat bed. Watch this space…

And for a little relaxation a shrink pot in alder:

Back from Derbyshire

Hello!

I’ve just returned from an excellent bowl-carving course run by Robin Wood in Edale, Derbyshire.

I went via Halifax which I must say, I’d forgotten contains some fine stone buildings:

The course was held in the tidy little village hall and I stayed in the YHA with a couple of other course members.

Mind you it didn’t stay tidy for long – seven people hacking away at logs carving swedish bowls for two and a half days produced quite a good number of sacks of shavings.

Robin is an inspired and inspirational teacher and I’m sure everyone had a great time, if they got as much out of it as did I. We all produced decent bowls and learnt important techniques.

I made a couple of curvy bowls, I am very pleased with the second, boat-shaped one. A little more work needed but the form is there.

An important part of the course was learning how the look at what you’re working on and what are the essential parts to concentrate on, like the main lines of the form, if you want to find out more book onto one of Robin’s courses, he also runs spoon making courses which are a little less physically demanding and a good introduction to the joys of making useful things with your hands from green wood. You can buy tools from him too,

read books and chat over tea, coffee biscuits and excellent home-made lunches served on wooden ware and eaten with wooden spoons, even the tea and coffee containers deserve close study:

I also met a bunch of very interesting people with common interests

All in all an excellent outing. Expect extravagant hand carved bowls coming to this blog soon!