New for old

Tool work

Last Sunday I went to see my mate Rod at the top of Bingley Five Rise, a staircase of locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal which is celebrating its 200th anniversary of fully opening.  Rod’s been blacksmithing for quite a while and has some great stories.  He was there with his bucket forge and a great improvement over his usual foot pump blower, a customised VW heater fan and a car battery.  Orders to Mr David Wadsworth. 

No working pictures, sorry, I was in old fashioned mode with a swill basket of iron, so a camera was a bit if a no no.

As a change from the hooks and candle holders he’d been knocking out all morning, I’d taken him some real work, a stock knife to hook and a pair of tongs to adjust. I’ve had this clog maker’s knife for some years, puzzled by how it was supposed to be mounted with the 3/4 inch thread on the end in place of a hook. With several heats in the tiny forge Rod transformed the thread into a regular hook. I sharpened the hollower, as it is called, and gave it a test run on some ash.  Some adjustments needed, bit of slimming on the neck of the hook, and investigating why the edge leaves one if the raggedest finishes I’ve made for a long time.

I’ve turned a new carving mallet, my old one was starting to delaminate. I’m not used to exotic timber so I’ve no idea what this is, but it’s got a good weight to it.  I’m using the mallet rather a lot, making the decorations on my new carved oak grain ark.

The tongs are now adjusted to close on finer diameters like nails.

More coppicing tomorrow.

Coincidence across th’Atlantic

When I was in Pennsylvania earlier this Summer we met our son Will and his wife Eva at Baldwin’s Bookbarn

Unbeknownst to me Will bought “Akenfield, a Portrait of an English Village” written by Ronald Blythe. It’s an interesting book about the changes taking place in life in a rural village in the 1960s. Will came over to the UK and stayed with us in July and we had a happy time visiting gardens, drinking beer and chatting.

I read the book after Will and enjoyed it, well worth a read.

Pass on a couple of months.

I’m sitting at my shave horse making pegs for the oak chest I’m making.  Along comes a chap, interested in what I’m doing, we have a chat about an oak bench he’s made with an chain saw, a heavy outdoor bench. We get chatting about how he converted the log, the woodland where he sourced his oak, and it turns out he comes from Suffolk near Ipswich. Not just there but almost exactly where the book and film Akenfield were set. What’s coincidence.

So what else have I been up to this Summer?image

Making the mural cupboard door, it’s just about ready to hang now, I’ve turned a little knob, thanks Peter F for the photos, and polished it with a medium oak wax to bring out the relief of the carving a bit. Got a second prize (out of four entries!) for it at the local agricultural show.

My brewing sacks of malt and bread making rye four need a home, so I’m making them an oaken one.  I’m calling it a chest, but I guess it show really be an ark. I’ve scraped together left over riven stuff from previous jobs, but still have had to use some sawn through and through oak that’s been on hand for about 30 years, time it earned it’s keep. The stiles are sawn stuff, they are good 4 x 2s and very stable by now. I’ve spent some time working out what carving to do and I’m leaning towards just decorating the front panels, stile and top rail with carving. S-scrolls for the rail and stiles and a big floral piece for each of the panels, maybe two or three different ones, there are three front panels.

I’m just about decided on this version of the S-scroll:


This is a prototype, based on a chest which is at East Riddlesden Hall.  It needs a little refinement but I particularly like the extra V-tool vein in the middle of the main S (which I’ll be joining up with the leaf veins) and the little ‘peas’ in the V of the leaves. I need to do some work on how the middle raised vein at the centre of the leaves will work too.  The half-moon cutouts need to move away from the centre a little.

Here’s the original:

Copyright National Trust

Copyright National Trust

The chest’s  provenance is not from East Riddlesden as the hall was empty when taken on by the National Trust except for some amazing grain arks which you may have seen before:


Copyright National Trust


I need to check with the staff if they know whence the chest was sourced.

I’ve made a scratch stock for the lesser members based on the one Peter Folansbee uses in his Carved Chest DVD, a very useful resource.  The scratch is a repurposed Silky saw blade, ground and filed to shape.  There are a couple more details to the profile I’d not filed in at this point.


I’ve assembled together all the parts for the chest and started joining the rear frame first from a setting out of the front one.  I’m waiting for a couple of the front boards to dry a little before I carve those prior to joining.