Friday 30 December 2022

Totnes strapwork. St Mary's cherub sketch carving

The time has come to pay the pew carvings at St. Mary's church Totnes, some long overdue attention. I often drop in there and gaze at them. In a way they are like old friends. I have a mind to make a piece of furniture using the 'corbel' figure carvings and strapwork panels as inspiration.

I am starting with sketch carving the figures, to get a feel for how they fit together. First up, the largest.

The original in the church has a much narrower face. In my mind, too narrow; maybe it was not even supposed to be a cherub. I may have gone too far with that; I might make the final piece a bit narrower.

 It could also do with cheering up! Are cherubs supposed to be happy?

Happy New Cherub!

Saturday 24 December 2022

Flowers blooming in the deep midwinter.

 Even in the depths of winter, flowers bloom in south Devon.

And some Devon strapwork too.

A solstice walk, for some winter sun,

up to ten commandments rock on Dartmoor. Few folk up there,how I like it. Just a few crows, a raven and some ponies.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

And so the cycle starts again....back to black..

As the joined furniture is made from green oak, the tannins, in the beginning, stain the steel. The making tends to take months for me, if not years, for two reasons; 1)english oak is difficult to rive/cleave/split 2)I am generally doing a myriad other things in between. Making windows/doors/stairs, timberframing, other restoration carpentry, whathaveyou; pulls me away from the furniture. This works out well; the green oak starts seasoning, so that by the time it gets carved and joined it is well on the way towards dry. So it doesn't stain my tools as much and cleaning after each session is not as necessary. But in the beginning there is black.....

The stiles for this next piece need stock of 70" or 1800mm long, so it's out with my Windy Smithy broad axe for the hewing. This oak was felled 12 months ago and is still sopping wet.

Pulled away to stop this door being "a bit gappy". Traditionally-made accoya schoolhouse door, made and fitted in July. Sealed with oakum today in November. It's too cold now for limepointing on top of the oakum, but this should keep the draughts out until spring (and the kiddywinks toes warm).


And back to the bench for scrub planing the stile. Tis enough for one day.

While taking shots of the livery chest the other day, I got a shot of my armchair (in reality my settle). Made by giants.


Logs of Devon/English oak that will produce 8ft long riven boards don't come along everyday. I've yet to find another.

Thursday 24 November 2022

Exeter merchant's livery cupboard complete

 So, almost a year to the day since it was started, the livery cupboard is complete. 

Some beeswax polish and all good.


Monday 21 November 2022

The cup board cup-board

The evolution of the cupboard started from a cup board, literally a plank on trestles at the side of the hall or living room, on which you placed your cup. This then developed into several tiers of planks seperated by stiles and rails, often carved/turned, to make a court cup-board. From this came the livery cupboard; a court cup-board with an enclosed, canted storage with door, on the upper tier. And further to a press cupboard, with storage on all tiers, finally growing in height, with taller doors; a modern cupboard we would recognise today.

So, the livery cupboard cupboard. The framing for the canted cupboard needs mouldings. For this I am using a scratch stock; a metal plate with the cross-section of the moulding cut into it, held in a timber stock. No moulding plane on this one.

This is then pulled/pushed along the edge of the timber to form the moulding. The moulding can be run out to nothing, which you can't do with a moulding plane, but not on this piece.

The front canted stiles...

are carved.

And the cup board cup-board, or is it cup-board cupboard, is joined and assembled.

I have some keys for the door. I just need to make a lock, but that's another story.


Saturday 29 October 2022

Timber frame porch part 2

Installation day for Michelle and Nick's porch/woodstore. Somewhere to hang coats and boots and keep dry while fetching firewood.


The genie works it's magic, with a little help from the firstborn, Arthur.

On with the battens.

Some cedar shingles and lead soakers.

Some cladding on the prevailing end. Some boarding next to the door to put some coat hooks. Rainwater goods re-installed.

Simple, but well made, and happy customers.

Saturday 22 October 2022

Timber frame porch

A slight change of scale this week. Timber framing. Giant joined furniture. Less carving.

Bigger timber, bigger tools, bigger workshop and not wooden pegs, but treenails!


Sunday 9 October 2022

Cockatrice drawer

It is necessary to groove the sides of the drawer before assembly. These grooves hang on the runners which have already been nailed in.

Some more grooves to fit the sides and bottom boards into the front and nailed straight through the front.

Bottom boards grooved and chamfered to fit into each other and the drawer front.

Pushed into the front and nailed up into the back and sides.

Trim off the ends. Look at that vertical grain. Beautiful boards; far too good for the bottom of a drawer, but that's what's to hand, and hey the cockatrices deserve it.

Lo, the cockatrices have their drawer.

Engaged on the runner.

Tiger stripe drawer boards.

Not really sure why he is being held by a lion on a shield, but hey ho, such is the life of a Green Man/Horned Pan-type gentleman some days.