Mills this week

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Blanks cut to size
Turned to round and parted

This has been a week for salt and pepper mills.  My first fair is only a couple of months away, so getting a few of these made and ‘under my belt’ is long overdue.  The first picture is simply the blanks cut to length and the centres marked on each end. You may also note that they are no longer square (although that’s how they started). The first thing I would normally do is to mount them on a lathe and turn them to round.  However, when I do a large batch, I set up the bandsaw and take a few of the corners off before I start.  Not only does it save time, but it also saves a few bags of wood shavings and makes a bag of kindling in the process!

The second picture shows the same blanks turned to round and parted into two.  All the dark mills are Black Walnut, the lighter mills are a mixture of Ask and Sycamore.  I will be making others in different timbers, but this was the end of stock of kiln-dried timber (more about in my next post).

Holy Mills!
Our fierce dogs in my workshop

The third photo (of mills!) may look much the same as the second, but this is after a couple of days of drilling on the lathe.  This is the time-consuming part, with 5 different sized holes to be drilled in each mill.  But they now have holes in for the full length of the body and part length of the cap to receive the mechanisms.  Many thanks to the APC driver who braved our ‘fierce’ dogs (well, their barks are) when delivering them this week.

Making progress

The last picture shows progress at the end of the week – not as far as I would have liked, but I did have to take a couple of days out. Main turning is now finished – just have to finish the caps. The caps of the small mills (foreground) have yet to be turned to shape as with this particular style (my snowmen) the cap is turned separately from the body. The larger mills in the background will be swept top mills. I have finished turning these, but the caps need shaping on the bandsaw and on the belt sander.  Should complete these early next week.

Bowls, bowls and more bowls

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I spent a good chunk of January wielding my chainsaws (we all need more than one, don’t we?), and have now cleared the carport.  Some timber has gone back down to the bottom of the garden, where it will sit for a few months or years, and other smaller pieces are drying on the shelves in my workshop.  However, much has been rough-turned into these bowls.  By rough-turned, I mean they have only been part-turned, as the timber was still not sufficiently seasoned.  They have been left relatively thick I’ve not bothered to get a smooth finish on them.  They will sit in the spare bedroom for a few months (don’t think we have any visitors coming to stay) to finish drying – much quicker than if they had been left as a solid piece of timber.  They’ll warp slightly as they dry but then I’ll turn them again down to the finished thickness and profile.  If they warp too much, then I won’t be able to and they’ll just be more firewood.

Many will hopefully be ready for this year’s fairs – a good selection of Elm, Cherry and Hornbeam (much of which is spalted).


Chainsaw Day

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chainsaw day1chainsaw day2Well, days really – I’ve spent the last couple of weeks processing some of the timber that I had stockpiled under the car port for the last year or so, plus more that has been down the bottom of the garden for probably 5 – 10 years.  Sadly, much of the older timber that I stored down the garden had been attacked by insects and a large proportion ended up as firewood.  If only we had a wood-burner – never mind, it’s good to bless one’s friends!

Much of what I’ve processed will be laid up to dry for a bit longer, but some is ready now – especially the smaller pieces.  It’s always good to find some “gold” in what looked fairly plain.  The Hornbeam in the picture on the right has spalted very nicely and will make some lovely natural edged bowls.  They might even be ready for my first fair, which will be at RHS Wisley for 5 days over the first May Bank Holiday.

There is, of course, always a down-side.  By the time I had finished I had acquired 12 large bags of wood shavings.  Unfortunately, they’re no good for animal bedding as they contain a lot of dust.  They also contain Walnut (toxic to horses) and Yew (toxic to just about everything, including you and me).  The other down-side is my back – time for a hot bath!

chainsaw day3

It’s Christmas!

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its-christmas-1its-christmas-2Well, it is at St. Albans.  Today was the first day of their Chritsmas Market, located in the ancient walled Vintry Garden, next to the Cathedral.  I was almost ready for opening time!  I was open and the stock was out, but I was still sorting my shelves at the workshop end of my chalet so didn’t actually start turning until lunchtime.  It’s amazing how much time it can take to set up a temporary workshop.  For a day or two (as for most fairs this year) I don’t mind working in a bit of chaos, but this is the big one – a continuous stint of 25 days – so it was good to get everything in some sort of order before I started.

The chalet still looks a little bare, but I’m still working on additional decorations and additions – I’ll try and add these over the next few days.

Time anybody?

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time-anybody.jpgThis are the latest goodies to emerge from the shavings – all I have to do now is find some batteries!  They are mostly Yew, but there are also some Catalpa, Robinia, and Spalted Hornbeam.  Most of the Yew is from a tree that was taken down in the garden of Knebworth House last year.  It’s been a long time drying but worth the wait.  I also have some bowls from the same tree.

I’m pleased to have finished these today, as I’m setting up tomorrow for the Knebworth House Christmas Fair – very timely (if you’ll forgive the pun).  The extra provenance should help them sell.  It’s open 10.00-4.00, Friday, Saturday and Sunday if you want to come and see me.

Oh, and the one that looks as though it’s fainted has not – it’s a wall clock!

Something from Nothing

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The “free gift” from the old log.

There is a saying that you can’t get something for nothing, or that there is no such thing as a “free gift”.  Well, a month ago, I posted about an old log that looked nothing on the outside but was full of possibilities when I cut into it.  Well, that was a month ago – just look what a differecne a month can make!!  It never ceases to amaze me how something as beautiful as this can be hidden inside something as dull and uninteresting as that old log.

Bowls Galore!

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bowls-galoreI hate to send you into panic mode, but there are now only 51 shopping days until Christmas (if you count Sundays). For you, that is – for me, 28 of them are selling days.  I have 3 days coming up next weekend at Knebworth House, plus 25 consecutive (I hope I have the stamina!) days at St. Albans.  I’ll also be demonstrating all day at both events.  Exact dates are on my fairs page.  So if you’re in panic mode, spare a thought for me!

So, needless to say I’m up to my knees in shavings (very uncomfortable when they rise above the top of your shoes), trying to make sure I have adequate stock levels.  Trouble is, I don’t really know what that is!  Anyway, this is the latest to come out of the workshop – although, strictly speaking, they have just come from the spare bedroom where I’ve spent the last week or so oiling them. Box them up tomorrow ready for Knebworth.  The spare bedroom is now filled with salt and pepper mills, which all need to be oiled before we need the bed for visitors!

Nothing much, really?

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Well, it really didn’t look like much.  This was the top of an old Hornbeam log that had sat under my carport all summer – along with a good selection of other timber that I had collected over recent months.  Anyway, I thought it was about time I did something with the ever-increasing pile of timber so picked up this rather uninteresting looking log.  I thought if I pick the ‘least likely to be useful’ log, then I could cut it up for firewood and quickly generate some space.  But part of the joy of this work, is that you never know what you might find inside an old log!  The log as seen in this first picture certainly would fill anyone with enthusiasm for making anything from it, but once cut…

The second picture shows what I found after the first cut.  Beautifully spalted, and the figuring goes the full length of the log – about 1.5 metres.  Fortunately, the crack doesnt!  And having been under the carport all summer, it’s well on the way to being dry.  Should have some bowls ready for Christmas…

Music While You Work

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Well, it was hot and sticky in the marquee – very!!  But it was made enjoyable by the delightful live harpist playing in the same section of the marquee as me.  Not sure that the heat and humidity could have been good for the instrument but the resulting music brought a smile to everyone.  I’m back there again today (through till Monday), though I’m not sure the harpist will be – I think it might be different music each day.  If you want to see me, or hear the music, then come ot RHS Hyde Hall.  As well as the large craft fair (about 200 stalls) there are some amazing gardens.  A great day out.

Ready to Roll

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Tready-to-roll.jpghursday afternoon and all set up (with more than a little help from a friend – thank you, John) and ready for the Craft Fair at RHS Hyde Hall – 10.00 till 5.00, Friday through till Monday.  Just hope it’s not quite as hot and humid over the next few days as the marquee was a bit like a sauna this afternoon.

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