June 2009 Meet up of APT Northern England

We have an active group of the Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers here in the North East of England and meet on the first Sunday of every month. This month we were at the Flint Mill, a building on the estate of the Beamish Museum that is leased by Maurice Pyle and from where I run spoon carving courses. Maurice came for a couple of hours at the beginning of the day and regulars Peter Wood, Bill Oakes and Peter Simpson where also there.

Bill and Peter had brought their forges along and today we were closer to being the Association of Green Woodworking Toolsmiths! Here’s a couple of images of Peter’s forge at the top and Bill’s at the bottom. Peter Wood is on the left, Peter Simpson plus spoon is on the right. Click on the thumbnails for bigger pictures.

Peter’s is a  DIY forge made from a car wheel sitting in a bucket and connected to a old vehicle heater fan powered by a car battery. Note the liberal use of gaffer tape! The charcoal came from a previous APT Northern England session a couple of months back. Peter was using the forge to straighten sections of car springs as possible raw material for bowl hooks.

Bill’s set up was similar except he was using a chunky lorry brake drum as his forge with a silica plate on the base with a T bar with holes to supply the air. Distaining modern technology, Bill used good old fashioned footbellows to get his charcoal glowing. His project was to turn a cheap mason’s hammer into an adze, requiring a lot of shaping of of the head. Much swearing came from this direction!

One advantage of having these forges going was the opportunity to speed up the boil time for our kettle!

Peter S was carving a spoon from alder using his new Svante Djarv knife with a beautiful oak, leather and horn custom handle which is now featured on my website here.

Dodging the charcoal embers I was testing my my new bowl horse with the spalted birch blank in the images in the previous blog entry. Still some design features to iron out and I need to adapt my bowl carving style to fit the horse, but overall I was pleased with the ability to quickly release the bowl from the horse to switch positions. At least nothing broke! Maurice and Peter W kindly donated some ash to shape some better legs for the horse.

As usual a really good day, with lots of useful discussion, including a potential project to work with the National Trust at Gibside for a green woodworking demonstration event and thoughts about planning our meetings for the coming year.

Next month I hope we can visit Tessa’s leaky mushroom shed wokshops. I can’t wait!


A New Bowl Horse


So I took advantage of the half-term holiday to finish a bowl horse that my pal Peter Wood had chainsawed a couple of months before. The design has been inspired by the bowl horse of Pennsylvanian bowl carver David Fisher, featured in this thread from the Bodgers Ask and Answer forum.

Bowlhorse mark one

The body is made from sycamore with a 10 cm slot carved into it and then holes drilled along the side at about 7 cm intervals. The rest has been made from whatever old lumber was lying around the garden, so that the dumb head arm is from a old piece of farmer’s fence, the dumb head itself is oak from the firewood pile, the footplate recycled from the sycamore slot, the backrest an old piece of cherry and the legs include some really old elm that has been kicking around the back garden for at least five years without rotting- amazing wood!


A real mongrel of a bowl horse then, but I’m really keen to start to use it. As you can see from the blogs below my old Black and Decker workbench tends to get used to help me out with carving bowls, so I’m keen to use something that has a more traditional feel to it and as David describes, allows for the bowl blank to be moved about much more easily in the horse to move from side to side. It is heavy but I’m hoping to take it out on demonstrations.


Lauren on the bowlhorse
Lauren on the bowlhorse

Here’s Lauren demonstrating the bowl horse in use. She’s using a Karl Hanson gouge with a polyproylene end to rough shape a spalted bowl blank. I wish the sun shone like that every day in Northumberland!