Workshop Category

Old moulding plane

A few weeks ago we were in  Bude doing a spot of shopping and decided to pop into a small shop called ‘Shabby ‘n’ Chic’ on the Parade. It sells all sorts of vintage household items as well as things like home made cushions and bunting. On the floor there was an old wooden box, containing the mixed remnants of a tool kit. I rummaged through and found a few old wooden moulding planes.

 These traditional tools were used for creating decorative mouldings and have now been largely replaced by the router and spindle moulder. They still have their uses in cleaning up shaped work but are no longer part of the standard tool box for many woodworkers. This means you can often find them second hand at reasonable prices. After inspecting the ones in the box I found one in really decent condition. £5.

I really like old tools for their detailing and general appearance. They often have the name of the original owner stamped into them and have a sense of history. A lot of old tools are bought for the decorative value and end up sitting on shelves in themed pubs or interiors so buying one to actually use in a workshop as a tool felt a bit like rescuing it.

 It set me thinking on how I might I might use it in my practice and I have started to design and make a piece where  I am using it to create a textured surface.

Neils Workshop

I went over to see Neil Kitteridge this morning.  Neil is an exceptional upholsterer, a master craftsman. When I design a new upholstered piece, I always talk through the project with Neil. That way I make sure the final piece turns out exactly as planned.

Neil works in an old barn just outside Wolfardisworthy (Wollsery) and the only problem is booking the job into his schedule. He is always busy.

Image of neils workshop

Alice chairs in progress

I fitted all the leg joints for the two Alice chairs today. One is been made in olive ash and the other in oak.  Now to dismantle them again and finish the shaping of the back hoop before fitting it to the legs.

Alice chairs in progres

Tidy workshop

I have spent the last few days sorting out the workshop. With the help of some new shelving and storage I have finally found homes for the numerous little odds and sods which ‘may come in useful’ some day. Many of the sods were deemed to be of absolutely no use what-so-ever and have been filed in the bin. Here are a couple of pics of the workshop. They are in black and white as the shelving is alarmingly orange and I haven’t quite come to terms with it.

Image of Bench area

Image from bench space

English brown oak

English brown oak is a result of a Beefsteak fungus (fistulina hepatica) growing on an oak tree. The fungus reacts with the tannin in the tree changing the colour a rich brown. Needless to say this makes it rarer than standard oak and therefore a bit more pricey. I have used a few times before and it is good to be able to offer clients a rich dark timber without having to resort to importing an exotic species or using a stain.

Today I visited Jack Clark in Leigh Sinton. I had stayed overnight with family in Worcester and woke up to freezing fog and a hard frost. I set of with a bit of trepidation, not looking forward to having to trying to select boards in the freezing cold. However as I drove out of the city the sun broke through and revealed a beautiful clear morning. Jack has been in the timber industry one way or another since he was a young man and is one of the few suppliers who has really good quality brown oak. His small timber yard is full with planked trees and is a world away from the bigger yards I sometimes use. He is always happy to help me go through and select out what I want. After an hour and a half in the fresh morning air he made a proper cup of tea (tea leaves in pot) to warm us both up whilst we did the paper work. 

New trunk design

This is design for a blanket chest for a client. I decided to render up the image in CAD to see if it helped in comunicating the design. I’m still not sure, it is very useful but somehow it lacks some of the emotion you get from a drawing.

Wood delivery

Two beautiful boards of European oak arrived in the workshop yesterday both about 6m long and 50cm wide. I have started using this more and more. It is whats known as ‘Swiss grade’ timber FSC certified clean boards. Although more expensive, I find that not only is there is a lot less waste but as there are so few defects ( splits , knots etc..) I am able to select and cut out components much more quickly, saving costs and reducing environmental impact. Most importantly the clean grain suits my designs.

There was an article in the paper about the deforestation in Borneo this weekend.  The WWF website has a campaign which outlines why using FSC certified timber is so important.