Saturday 2 December 2023

First one to one course

First one-to-one student today. Julian came on a long way, learning to carve a flower and much else. The sun rises late here, in the valley, and it was a chilly night, but I soon had the workshop toasty with the woodburner.

Mr. Crow sits waiting for the first rays to come over the hill.

Burner on. Focusing on carving today, so we'll need it.

Julian's pleased with his work.

And so am I.

Happy carving Julian!

Saturday 14 October 2023

Bread and Butter

It's been a year of heavy oak work, some lighter oak work and some oak carving. Now is time for some bread and butter work; a run of sash window repair. Shhhh, don't tell anyone I can fix sash windows!

This poor old thing has seen some action; opening out from above a butterwalk, looking down Totnes Fore St. past the market square.

It's the top sash, with the bottom/meeting rail to the right. The meeting rail, unsurprisingly being only 1" thick, is rotten. It's been repaired before and definitely needs replacing. The pegs that held it to the stiles, however, are as good as they were 150+ years ago, as are the stiles.

You can see, top left (or rather you can't), the moulding obscured by fifteen layers of paint. Before I took it out of the frame, I thought it was an ovolo moulding. Several of the glazing bars were beyond saving, but that fortunately means that I can cut through one to see the original profile. Cavetto and bead!

A handsome moulding. A few rebates cut and then a hollow and round moulding plane. Fun, fun, fun. I could only save two glazing bars. It's testament to the original joiners, but even without glazing bars and bottom rail, this frame was solid.

In with the new parts, pegged, glued and tenons wedged. Re-glazed with putty.

It's not all meat and two veg. Plenty of bread and butter between times. And there's certainly many sliding sash windows round these parts, to be restored.....

Saturday 23 September 2023

Out came the sunshine.....

 ....and dried up all the rain. So Jon, the riven oak joiner, got out his froe again....

I've mainly been hunkering inside while the storms raged, so hats off to all the brave souls who came to my Open Workshop. The gazebo survived; even though it's screwed down to the concrete; it still nearly went into kite mode in the gales the other day.

So, good to get out in the sunshine and do some actual riving.

Some rail and stile stock for the next cupboard, and some small panel stuff for beginner's carving courses running soon. 

Cleaving off the sap.

Still, that hunkering down inside has been productive also.

If you're interested in doing a course get in touch.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Visitors from Estonia

It's been an eventful week. Lots of visitors and some special ones from Estonia. Meelis Kihulane is a heritage woodworker from Estonia specialising in bentwood items. He has been in England this week, seeking out other woodfolk who are trying to keep traditional handcrafts alive. He and his friends did me the honour of visiting on Tuesday, which was a pleasure. We discussed many things, and he invited me to come to Estonia.

I believe he played a part in the re-publishing of:

Of course, I asked him to sign my copy.


Ever since reading the book, I have been intrigued with all the traditional items that were, and still are (thanks to Meelis) made in Estonia, so it will be fascinating to go and see. Hopefully we will collaborate in the future!

It was a stormy day, very much brightened by their visit.

Thursday 14 September 2023

V&A panel

The great thing about having an open workshop for two weeks, is that I actually have time to carve. With the sun streaming in it's ideal conditions, so let's crack on.


I've been meaning to attempt carving this panel for some time.


It's a panel which is held in the V&A, although I've only got an old photo in a book to work from. The original forms part of some wall panelling from a 1600 Exeter house. I think the house might have been demolished a long time ago, so we can be grateful that someone saved this part of it.



It's interesting to carve because the main part of the strapwork is lower than the border, to allow for the satyrs, monkeys, fruit and what-have-you, tangled up in it.



Monday 4 September 2023

Hanging around.

 There's a lot of hanging going on today.

Carvings and paintings.

Early morning sun shining on my painting 'One Morning'. Bowls out next.

Then furniture.....

.....and spoons.


There will be demos of riving oak, carving, spooncarving, bowlmaking etc. Although not all at the same time!


Starts Saturday morning. Come and say hello.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Second log better

Sometimes you just have to work with what you have got. On this occasion I decided that the billets I got from the first log involved too much work. Luckily, I have a second log to work with.

It's got much straighter grain......always a bonus when you're looking for straight framing members!

It couldn't have split much better.

There's a small amount of transit damage, but if I get straight boards from the rest of the cake, I'm happy.

Split off the sapwood and a little side axe work, then it's off to the bench for planing.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Wedges in.

Two new logs arrived yesterday. 19" of heartwood, so not so wide, but should get the rails and stiles for the next cupboard, all being well.

Then it started to rain. Take shelter.

Watch the garden get wet and the log get used to the idea that it's going to split.

 Not a bad first split. Just need to chop through the few fibres that are still holding on.

It's worth pointing out, if you are going to try this for the first time; never put your fingers into the split until the two halves are completely severed. Wedges can pop out, and the two halves can snap shut.

Then into quarters.

Oh dear, what's this hiding inside.

No problem, 6 long billets and 2 short.


Here we go again.

Saturday 5 August 2023

Devon Open Studios

Opening my home workshop for Devon Open Studios 9-24th September. Come and say hello.


Thursday 20 July 2023

Recording pattern

It's all too easy to take photographs these days. However, it's not long ago that it wasn't so easy. In the not so distant, if I saw a carving pattern that I liked, I would sketch it out, and later maybe sit down with pencil, compass and paper. 


A lot of the patterns on seventeenth century furniture were laid out in a similar way, but directly on the oak, scratching with compasses instead of pencil. Centrelines, maybe crosslines, pacing out using compasses and then arcs from all those points. 

The sweep of curved gouges would then dictate a further part of the design. Then v-gouge or 'veiner', used freehand, might fill out the spaces betwixt and between.

Then 'grounding' the background, and stamps of various cunning pattern to highlight.

It is surmised by some, that apprentices, would, over the course of time, learn the patterns and become so used to their execution, that less laying out was necessary; they would produce the patterns by rote.

From my own experience, I think there must be some truth in this. Familiarity with a v-gouge certainly helps when knocking out s-scrolls and the like.

However, I must confess a weakness for measured drawing; fond memories of classes at school. It was probably the most useful thing I was taught there. I don't think technical drawing is even taught in school anymore.

Of course a rough sketch can also be useful when working out 'new' designs.


Tuesday 18 July 2023

A day in Exeter

This blog started with a trip to Exeter, and yesterday was another. The ladies were shopping, but I had other plans. I was hoping to visit St. Nicholas Priory again, but it was closed. You can see photos of it on my very first blog post.

I had to settle for another look at the guild hall.

The door was made by an Exeter joiner named Nicholas Baggett; he was paid £4 10s for his work in 1594.

I'm going to focus here on the door. It is one of several similar doors in the Exeter area.

Walking up the hill from St. Nicholas to the guild hall, there is St. Olaves church.

An angel therein.

A tudor rose on the font.

Also on the font.