A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Woodworking and Walking in the UK

Since retiring almost 16 months ago, I have been thinking of heading back to the UK for a visit. For the previous couple years I was in London at least once a month and sometimes more, so I had developed an affinity for all things British.

In March I took a couple weeks and planned a hectic itinerary to check off a few boxes for me in the UK. With a couple days at the front end to manage the jet lag and a couple at the end, both in London, I walked around the city, most days averaging almost 20 km per day. When I worked there, this was a regular routine, allowing me to experience most parts of the city close up.

Trafalgar Square on a typical Spring Day

To the Midlands...


This was mostly to be a woodworking focused trip, so I headed up to Birmingham to connect with friend and woodworker Kieran Binnie of Over the Wireless fame. I would stay with him and his wonderful family for the weekend and we would drive over to Newark to attend the Midlands Woodworking Show where he had a booth. This was a good show with Classic Hand Tools (CHT) from Ipswich hosting a number of Hand Tool folks during the show. This allowed me to reconnect with the likes of Ollie Sparks, Shane Skelton and Mike Hancock from CHT. Since the European Woodworking Show's hiatus, it has been tough to see these guys in person. I also wrote a piece for Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine on the show to be published in the next issue.
Ollie sparks new lugged plane in gorgeous Phosphor Bronze and ebony.

Shane and Jacqueline Skelton talking all things saws

There were some amazing turners there and Andrew Hall let me try on this Elm beauty

Very cool to see my hammer in the CMT booth.


Curtis Turner from LN and Kieran Binnie working out the nuance of the scraper plane.

Kieran Binnie showing off his 12-string to a show attendee
Plane making legend Bill Carter was there - great to catch up.


After the show it was back to Birmigham for the weekend to enjoy some down time in the Midlands; we spent Sunday in Kieran's shop talking shop organization and his Roubo bench project underway. Great to catch up with a good friend.

Time for some teaching...


Lots of prep work organized for the big day
Monday morning's train took me to Leamington Spa for a true highlight of the trip for me. I was to teach the Furniture Making students of Warwickshire College how to make Shaker boxes. I had been working with Jamie Ward, the Lead Instructor for the program for a few months preparing for this day. Jamie used the CNC to make the bending and drying forms we would use to make a #3 size box, as well as resawing enough material to make 40 boxes; this was many hours after class hours for Jamie - he is truly dedicated to his students. I spent Monday afternoon and evening preparing the strips for the students, and making a couple test boxes to ensure that everything worked.


Talk - he does.
Tuesday arrived and it was 9 hours of full on box making, dividing the class in two and working through the steps necessary to ensure every student had a box at the end of the day. We were successful, with only one real bending failure out of 25, I was very happy. Jamie said it has been a long time since he has seen this much engagement from the entire class, who were focused on getting their boxes done that day. It seemed with UK's Mother's Day the following Sunday, many were motivated to get their gift needs met. Indeed, after I left I had seen many student's continue to personalize their boxes with inlay and pyrography, The fact that they valued their accomplishment this much was very rewarding for me.
Cooking up some goodness
Very interested in the next step...




The happy group showing off their boxes


After an exhausting day and post-class beer(s) with Jamie I was back to London on Wednesday to connect with a good friend from my work days in London. This meant thinking about the flight home and managing the time change the other way.

All in all, a very rewarding and enjoyable trip, already thinking when I will head over again -maybe later this year, who knows?







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