Friday, 29 July 2016

Treewright Green Woodworking 1-2-1

I don't have much green wood working experience so I sorted myself out a day with Robin "Treewright" Fawcett in Essex who I first saw at the Leyton Country Fair to which the fab Wild Man of the Woods used to go too.

 I mainly wanted to fashion an Egyptian bowdrill rig and hopefully make a superior MK II folding bucksaw to supersede the one I made some time back. I also had my eye on completing a Sami pot, and turning a length of hazel to make a pump drill if time, space and my skill set allowed, a skill set that saw me achieve my only ever senior school report D grade in woodwork! 

Black Wolf survival and bushcraft instructor Craig Fordham kindly brought his much used drill set along to their Bushcraft Show stand and I set about using my Christmas cracker present to measure it.

Once I'd got the necessary figures I set about making up a scale plan to take with me. The above sketch shows the drill with the integrated bearing block shown too. So I was armed with four projects in mind with the hope that I'd get three done or pretty much there.


Anyway, it was nice to have a short commute to do something with the clear supplied directions and an accurate postcode for the Sat Nav I was there in no time. Before I could say 'Ah, this is the first turning on the right' I saw a a small blackboard with 'Austin' and an arrow chalked on it-Nice touch!

I parked up and was immediately met by Robin's biddable dog Jed, followed by Robin himself and then his wife Vanessa too. The off-grid working area is roomy and well covered by a large canvas and wood shelter, and it had a shavings powered fire that always had a kettle perched on it.

We all had a quick brew and a chat before I started talking through the things I'd brought along (like my bucksaw), and ideas I had (like a copy of Bushcraft magazine to show Robin a Sami container) and then we got on.


He had a couple of large pre-turned pieces of Ash and we selected one to initially start re-sizing to make the Egyptian bowdrill. as it had a fair amount of spare at one end I suggested that the Sami container could come from it. I had thought about making one large enough to take a flint and steel but as it was an eleventh hour project idea I hadn't mentioned it to Robin and therefore he hadn't brought along a drill bit to do the job. No problem, we pressed on and I decided that I would attempt to drill it out at home.


So the combined drill/ container started to take shape. Robin is more than happy to take the lead and for a lot of the time I was happy to go along with this because a) I felt that not only would we get more made b) I wasn't confident when we got down to the precision stuff/ finishing off (remember that school grade) c) It was good to watch (and inwardly digest) a  seasoned wood turner work. That said when I wanted to step in I just asked and indeed Robin would hand over too at certain stages. The picture above shows, from left to right, the drill bearing block and part of the body to the left of the chord, and on the right side the other half of the body plus the 'male' section on which the bearing block would sit. The longer tube is the Sami pot with the two smaller sections being the 'sherry cork' like lid.

We sawed the turned Ash into it's marked sections, did all the necessary drilling, shaped the Hazel for the Egyptian drill and finished exactly at lunch time. The bearing block is a smidgen of a micrometre out but hey it will still work just fine and I could say that I'll sand it but I'll decline to do so because in all probably I won't.

Dinner done, more tea consumed and it was on with bucksaw mark II. Whilst the joints on the mark I model don't hold up to close scrutiny it works but isn't comfortable to hold, coupled with the fact that it is shop brought soft wood I felt the need for another. This was to be a more rustic model made of Hazel rather than the factory smooth look that I originally went for. 

So with my introduction to wood turning over it was onto a different set of skills, which started off with a bit of sizing up, considered head scratching, placing and marking. I have the 'Think twice, cut once' mantra in my head at all times with sharps but also Robin uses the 'Measure twice, cut once' mantra so the prep work was worth it.

So it was a little bit of Gransfors Bruks axe work on the middle spar to take a little meat off it, an axe discipline that actually wasn't too dissimilar to that required to rough out a bowdrill hearth board which I'm used to doing.

And after the axe work came a go on a shave horse with a draw knife, another new experience for me. The pole lathe and horse sort of reminded me of playing the drums in that you need to have co-ordination twixt hands and feet which I wasn't used to. This was mainly smoothing and de-barking with a little remedial wood removal. I left Robin to finish it off as I wasn't confident that I could get it to where it needed to be in the time available.


Just in case anyone out there likes a bit of sharps porn, I've included a shot of the carving axe, and a Japanese saw which cuts on the return stroke as opposed the more usual forward stroke.

The day had just flown by and I elected to finish off the busksaw at home because we would have been there for ages getting it to completion. The basic H shaped frame is done and drilled ready to accept a blade (a rather decent Bahco one similar to this), all I need to do is fashion a windlass which I have the wood for and sand the joints a little. The target of three projects done or pretty much there was achieved and yep, another sabbatical to do ticked off the bucket list.

Some more pictures here.

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