Back from another visit to the UK

I arrived back yesterday from another visit to the UK.  Unfortunately I am still not feeling so well and so did not do all the things I had planned, but I did manage to meet up with all my green woodworking friends at Bradfield Woods.

It very quickly felt like I had not been away for one year.

Some of them were busy installing a second stove for cooking and heating,

everyone spent much time eating and talking, and some were even doing some green woodworking!!

I arrived back hereto find that spring has suddenly arrived.  When I left on 28th February the temperature was just above freezing, and it has been the same every day during my absence, with much sunshine also.  The trees have lost their thick white coating of snow and ice and are green again, the surface snow on the ground has melted and that makes it much easier to get around now.

Last night when I was out just after dark, I was treated to the most spectacular display of Northern Lights I have ever seen.  The whole sky from west to north to east was full of colour as the green, blue, yellow and red light danced across the sky.  Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me but you can see for yourself what it was like via Arctic Color.  Here are the images taken from webcam number 3 three yesterday and these images show particularly well what I was seeing!!

Fiskars hatchet

Another item I recently purchased was a small hatchet to use for carving as I left my Elwell axe at my cabin

Kevin Warrington - new equipment (Small)

Ignore the Wilkinson Sword stamp on the handle because the hatchet is actually made by a Finnish company called Fiskars.  Other companies such as Gerber and Stihl have also put their stamp on Fiskars axes.

Its a very will balanced tool and good for splitting logs (the way the axe head is fitted into the carbon fibre handle means you can use a baton on the back of the head), carving such things as cups and spoons (with a little re-profiling of the cutting edge) and chopping

kevin warrington using fiskars hatchet (Small)

The axe head produces a really nice shower of sparks when used with a firesteel.

The sheath is rather disappointing and so I set about designing and making a leather belt sheath

kevin warrington leather belt sheath (Small)

Unfortunately I didn’t take a series of pictures during its construction to enable me to produce a tutorial.

The handle of the hatchet is hollow and while initially I considered fitting a survival kit inside, I decided to put a chainsaw file inside instead to remove burs or nicks when sharpening the blade.

I split down a piece of Ash and carved it to the shape of the handle and so that it would fit inside the handle.

I then carved out a groove into which I glued a cut down file.

hatchet handle file (Medium)

When I used the hatchet, the file hit against the inside of the handle so I had to carve this piece of Ash to glue halfway up inside the handle to prevent the file moving around.

I paid £17 for this hatchet and think it is worth every penny!!

England’s Traditional Country Crafts – Bowls and Spoons

Recently I was involved (behind the scenes) in the filming of the first of a new DVD series about some of “England’s Traditional Country Crafts”.  The first of the series is about green woodworking and making bowls and spoons.

DVD-sleevetif (Medium)

The series is being produced by School House Studios and the presenter is Dick Strawbridge from such TV series as “It’s Not Easy Being Green”.

Filming took place over a weekend and began early on Saturday morning with making the finish touches to our camp

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Filming included the history and use of  a pole lathe to turn wood for furniture making,

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here Dick learns how to turn a wine goblet,

Having-a-go (425 x 283)

and make bowls as demonstrated by Will Wall

Will (319 x 212)

Eric Rogers and Sue Holden talked about the history and styles of spoons and demonstrated how to make spoons.

ESD (425 x 283)

There was lots of preparation for each scene; deciding on location and back-drop, camera angles, and who should say and do what

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The DVD culminates with a meal we had cooked using goblets, plates, knives, spoons, candle stick holders and serving bowls all made from green wood.

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Meal(2) (591 x 443)

The DVD is still in the editing stage but will be completed soon and will be available to buy via School House Studios.


Making a kuksa

I have just finished making a couple more kuksa’s and thought I would show how I made them.

Firstly I split a log in half and check that there are no knots or faults in the wood. Then I mark out the shape and use may axe and folding saw to remove excess wood.

Now I use my knife and a gouge chisel to do a rough shape and hollow out the cup.

Once I have a shape that I am happy with, I shape the handle and either use my knife or a drill (if available) to make the two finger holes.

When I am happy with the shape and thickness of the cup, I then start to sand it, starting with a very course paper and progressing to a very fine wet and dry paper.

I then apply several coats of oil until the oil stops soaking into the wood.

A couple more pictures from the Bodgers Ball

Here is one of the most beautiful Birch bark containers that I have ever seen. Birch bark has even been used to stitch it together.

Unfortunately I never did find out who had made it or where the Birch bark had been sourced from.

Here Dave Watson from Woodland Survival Crafts is demonstrating making fire using a pole-lathe as an adaptation of the friction firelighting method.

The Bodgers Ball

Last weekend I was at “The Bodgers’ Ball” at Horton-cum-Studley. This is an annual gathering of The Association of Pole-lathe Turners and Green Wood Workers, and there were about 250 people at the event.

It was a great opportunity to put some faces to names (Robin Wood and Ben Orford to name but two) and to catch up with old friends. As well as being a social event there were also many competitions to watch and take part in. I entered a piece in the craft competition in “non turned treen” section and there were many other categories from spoons to chairs.

These were the entries for the “six hour chair making challenge”

and here is Ben Orford taking part and winning in the “Individual Log to Leg” competition, where from two sections of an Ash log, the competitors had to turn two matching chair legs as fast as possible.

Ben completed this in well under ten minutes.

There were also workshops taking place over the course of the two days.

including spoon carving and patterning, basic knife skills and safety, axe work and chair seating.

Amongst all the tents and tipi’s it was also a good opportunity to test out my sleep system.

A nice find in the main arena was this Green-winged Orchid (protected of course by a wooden enclosure).

This was my first Bodgers Ball and I had a fantastic time and look forward to next years (wherever it may be).

You can read more about this event from Robin’s perspective here

Weekend gathering

I hosted a gathering this weekend at my woods for a friends 50th birthday party.

The plan was to practise skills and to do some green woodworking, but we seemed to spend most of the weekend eating and drinking!

I made a chocolate bannock by using a cooking pot as an oven.

Here’s the end result.

Although I had a sleeping bag, Saturday night was by far the coldest night I have ever had while sleeping outside! I did not sleep much and was up at first light making coffee and preparing for breakfast.

On Sunday I made a parachute tepee to enable people to shelter from the wind.


As my friend Robin at Treewright has just posted in a previous thread I thought I would promote him EVEN MORE!!! by showing you something he demonstrated to me when we were working together at the Scout Jamboree last summer.

Not everyone has the materials, time or space for their own pole-lathe, but a bow-lathe is a small and simple alternative. Below is a picture of Robin in action using his bow-lathe.

I guess you could say that it is based on the principle of the bow-drill, because you use a bow to rotate your work instead of foot power as used with a pole-lathe.

All you need is a stable base (I used a piece of scaffold board for mine) and two uprights fixed securely to the base. Drill a hole towards the top of each upright and insert a coach screw (or similar) through each, having ground a point onto each bolt to hold your piece of work securely. Use two nuts to secure the bolts in position.

At one end you can incorporate a simple wooden handle to tighten one bolt to hold you work.

and finally fix a piece of wood between the two uprights as a tool rest

Now axe a length of wood into a rough “round”, place the bow string around using the same method as with the bow-drill and secure your work between the two bolts.

Now using a couple of bodgers chizels, move the bow backwards and forwards to rotate your work and turn the wood into whatever you require!

Green woodworking group gathering

It was the monthly gathering of our green woodworking group again today. The day started very well with me being given an old picture of a Finnish Skolt Lapp woman making cordage out of Reindeer sinew, by rolling it on her cheek. This is a method I have never encountered before.

If you look closely at the picture you can actually see the cordage the cordage vibrating as she rolls it.

Then I was asked to make a fire in a creative way, so decided to see whether the winter sun was strong enough to make fire using a condom and crampball fungus (as mentioned here). My friend filmed this piece of film for me and if you look carefully you can see the smoke starting to appear as the fungus is ignited.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is my friend Will, turning out a Alder bowl on his pole lathe.

and here the children are also learning to use a pole lathe.

Everyone enjoyed the day, especially with the beautiful spring-like weather.