Friday 31 January 2014

Many rivers to cross

Just to prove that I make 'ordinary' joinery; here's a window I made today for the Moguls' Palace.

It was reasonably dry inside the workshop, but when I came out to deliver the window, the already swollen fields can take no more rain.

My car parking space would be better suited to a boat!

This is one of the reasons for the name Rivers Joinery; because when it rains, rivers flow everywhere.

Many rivers to cross, in their channels, out of their channels and even roads that have become rivers. That's South Devon, very wet. But consequently, when the time comes, very green!

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Too big for the block

I started converting the nine foot oak trunk destined for settle rails today. After splitting a quarter from the log, a few more wedges and I had this 'cake slice'.

Normally, a smaller rail would go inside to the chopping block for some side axe treatment,thence to the bench to encounter the scrub plane. But this is way too large; its going to have to have its waste removed in the horizontal position in more of a house frame hand-hewing style. I couldn't find my snap-line so a board and a piece of charcoal from the woodburner will suffice to mark a straight edge.

Although I never liked it at first, I have become very used to using my Stubai side axe for the smaller stuff. But for this I think we need something a little larger.

This is my broadaxe made by Windy Smithy, Jon Snow. Its quite simply the best blade on any tool I have ever owned.

Its not strictly a side axe. I bought it with a straight ash handle to work on the riven oak cladding of the Saxon hall I worked on a few years ago. The ten foot long boards were twisted of course and needed bringing round. This axe was ideal, with its almost flat face for side axe characteristics, but double bevelled  for dishing out the back of the boards before fitting. I managed to break the handle at the Woodland Olympics at Hillyfield last summer, so took the opportunity to fit an offset handle of oak. I hadn't really had cause to use it much since then, and was considering grinding a single bevel onto it, but after today I don't think I will. I am happy with its degree of hybridity.

And its made short work of the edge of this future rail.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Winter storms bring new timber

So a few days after clearing my outside space of oak not suitable for riving, storms arrived, blowing away the old year and bringing in the new. Heavy winds means falling oak giants means wide panels to me. Up to the woods then above the River Dart.

There is thinning work going on up here, but this tree came down in last night's wind.

The hiab on the foresters' tractor couldn't quite manage to lift it in one piece, so I had to get the wedges out and split it in situ.

The hiab was great after that, thanks Dan. Onto the trailer, then a slow drive back to the workshop.

Hoping to get some eight foot rails out of this log for the giant settle I am going to make soon.

A few days later and James the tree surgeon told me of this tree that had come down only 3 feet from his caravan, now that's lucky.

Family days out over the festive period took us to Bicton Park Museum of Rural Life. A fine collection of tools, wagons and other stuff, including this wheelright's treadle lathe for turning elm hubs. 

And this immense apple press.

And several trips to the beach.

Meanwhile, back at the workshop. I had to dismantle the 'pole' lathe to get in some huge pieces of oak, but now I have enough raw materials for riven work for a while, I can continue with it.  I have made or had made some new centres for the lathe.

I have decided to go for an overhead bungee instead of a swing arm as I only have a short bungee.

Success! It works!


Not perfect, but not bad for my first ever attempt at turning. I had never really seen the appeal of working 'in the round' before, but one spindle later and I'm hooked! These two Ashley Iles chisels, a gouge and a skew are fantastic tools and with the help of the lathe and the ash tree it came from, made this.

Meanwhile, in the real world. Its been quiet over Christmas, but in the past week or so I've had lots of prospective customers asking for quotes on heritage, and more standard joinery. Oak timber frames, another settle and a dresser among them. I like a variety of work, so this is great.

Someone said to me the other day, "Its a lovely piece of furniture, but can you justify the time you spent on it?" In financial terms probably not, but I strive to make something of beauty every day. To me that is justification enough.