Half a pound of tuppenny rice

A few random ingredients from my last few day’s work.

Seen one of these?  Know what it’s called?

SAMSUNG CSC

Well apart from a pair of chainsaw trousers, it is a nail acting as a button, fastens your braces (suspenders) to your trousers.  We call ‘em a joiner’s button.  Make sure you take them out before they go in the wash – could cause unpleasant disharmony at home.  Mind you if Stihl made their buttons as well as they do their saws it would be very helpful – I’ve used all the spares that came with the trousers (about 2 I think).

I’ve been preparing to make a picnic table with two benches.  It has to be like some the estate have put on the banks of the Wharfe in their car park.  Firmly attached to the earth – the table sits on two 6 inch fence posts and likewise the benches.  However, I’m not doing the tops in treated softwood, oh no my readers, oak for that.

I sometimes miss young Theo, he was a great boon on two handed jobs like hauling a butt onto the trailer.

Lugall

Heave ho!

At four foot long and about 20″ diameter this butt weighs quite a lot. No the Lugall winch is not fastened to the trailer with that orange bailer band. There’s a strap going down to the tow bar through the grill. Lot of fussing back and forth, work the winch, move the rollers, move the winch, kick the tailgate, work the winch, and so on.

Getting it onto the milling dog is no joke either, especially rolling it round to get the right attitude on top for the first cut.

SAMSUNG CSC

I use an Alaskan mill and a frame to get the first cut.

SAMSUNG CSC

The first cut is the fussiest, except for the second one at right angles to it.

And I must say the big old Stihl 66, though a little scary, doesn’t complain about this heavy labour I bought it for.

SAMSUNG CSC

The milling spread over two days, I can only stand so much at once as the dust is filthy stuff, very fine and mixed with the vegetable oil (sunflower currently) I use for the chain lube. Everything you touch turns light brown.

Anyway, watch this space for more adventurers in picnicing.

More gentle work is stripping bast from elm saplings. A couple of felled stems were lying around and I noticed epicormic buds appearing, so I tested for bark stripping. Yes! Quite a few rolls for a future seat.

The timber will make good mallet heads.

SAMSUNG CSC

The stripper

I finished the new sales display stand, or whatever it might be called.  At least it looks different, and a change is as good as … well.

SAMSUNG CSC

On the rapidly developing flower offensive Heb Paris looks about ready to bloom from its four leaves.  This just looks like an invitation to copy into a gouge-work motif.  Reader, that’s why I took the photograph.

SAMSUNG CSCI found these lil yellow and green flowers on a lunchtime stroll.

SAMSUNG CSC

They are yellow star of bethlehem, apparently Strid Wood is known for them.

I like the contrast of new plants growing from the flood banks of the Wharfe.

SAMSUNG CSC

Dock

And the sun shining on the glossy ramsons.
SAMSUNG CSCBut probably this week’s Number One is this little bunch of violets growing in the river bank below my woodland staff restaurant.
SAMSUNG CSC

Oak, hazel and blue blue skies.

SAMSUNG CSCInspired by Peter Folansbee’s accomplished oak work, I’ve been working on a joined oak stool, for quite some time now.  In fact so long I doubt whether it would even qualify as green woodworking any longer.  I don’t seem to have photographed the riving of the parts and planing the components, but it feels like ages ago.  I got busy with other paid work and the oak sat there getting drier and drier.

The picture above isn’t oak at all, its sweet chestnut.  Much softer than English oak.  I used it to practise some gouge work, which is all new to me.  I’m following  Mr F’s great book Make a joint stool from a tree. I’ve also drawn some inspiration from photographs of beautiful work in Oak Furniture, the British tradition by Victor Chinnery.  The flower design is taken from a stunning little hung cupboard.

SAMSUNG CSCMost of the flowers have seven petals, except the one centre left through which the key is inserted, and its opposite number on the right, oh yes and the centre bottom one … but not the centre top.  These unexplained details fascinate me and give the work such a life of its own.  As I look at this photograph now, I’m beginning to think there’s some punch work on the petals I hadn’t previously noticed.  I’ve filed a cross-shaped punch to decorate the ground on my stool aprons.

So I began by shooting off the rather stained surface and checking everything was still square.  Marked off the tenons and then laid out the pattern.  I don’t have Peter’s confidence yet so I’m afraid the two foot was rather in evidence to get things in the right place.

SAMSUNG CSCNot easy to see, but basically the width of the moulding, a couple of margins and the three circles for the flowers.

I used an old moulding plane for the edge and then attacked with a suitable gouge.

SAMSUNG CSCArgh!  Why do these photos always make the gouge cuts look inside out?  Makes me feel a little sea sick.  I was careful to follow the advice to make the gouge cuts into the solid, not into the last cut (got that one from The Woodwright’s Shop I can’t quite remember which of PF’s appearances that was).  It’s a bit nerve-racking by this stage as there is quite a bit of time invested in each piece.  Wow, turning the legs was scary after an epic mortising session spread over a couple of weeks.

Setting out the petals was an interesting exercise.  I found a geometrical method set out in By Hand & Eye accompanying animations, but that just seemed far too over the top for my project.  I ended up using the guessing method.  Set the dividers to what you estimate will make sevenths of the scribed circle.  Then divide up the remainder into sevenths by eye and increase/decrease the divider setting accordingly.  This seemed to work out OK.  Then I found a gouge that just about did the job with a little rotation at either end to fill out the space  See how I cunningly made the space between two petals fall at the bottom where that little margin is rather vulnerable.  Looks to me like the craftsman who made the cupberd above just went for it as the attitudes are quite varied, a bit like real flowers are!

Anyway this is what it looks like at the moment.

SAMSUNG CSCNot a patch on the old one, but I have to start somewhere.

Like the coppicing.  I’ve been working there three Winters now and the amount still to be cut is pretty intimidating.

SAMSUNG CSC

Today I cut another five stools and an extraction way out.

SAMSUNG CSC

Although from this shot I’m still deep in the woods – can you spot my red gloves in there?

SAMSUNG CSC

There’s an old dry stone wall as derelict as the coppice running through the wood, and it’s a mixture of limestone and millstone grit, one of the Craven geological faults being nearby.  Here is a nice bit of limestone that people used to like to take home and plonk on their wall tops (no longer allowed!).

SAMSUNG CSC

The weather is quite mad here.  We’ve had blue skies now for days. SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

Took me a while to find some hazel catkins that were not yet overblown.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd any minute now the blackthorn will be in bloom (flowers before leaves, if you please).

SAMSUNG CSC