Why Bother Making it?

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Now  I don’t claim to be a blacksmith, my primary skill is as a wheelwright, so I have a Blacksmith’s forge to support that, enabling me to make all manner of little parts and pieces. For example today I needed to make some handmade nails used to hold a steel tyre in place on a carriage wheel. Usually I can get away with modern ones but in this instance I needed to match some existing nails, so out came the forge. It took over an hour to make 8 nails so not something I could make a living at. but then there is a vital blacksmith tool I don’t have which would have cut the time substantially.

I recently visited a Christmas market and came across a stall selling coat hooks, in the form of , four coat hooks screwed to a piece of recycled wood, which rather caught my eye. As the forge was lit I thought I would have a go and make some.

The first one, on the left made from a piece of 16mm solid steel, it took over an hour of solid hammering, at the end of which I was left exhausted. For the one on the right I saw the error of my ways and went for 12mm solid steel, easier to hammer.

I know which one I prefer. Which do you prefer, the left or the right?

The real question you have to ask is why bother trying to make one when you can buy cheap ones for £3 ea and good ones for £10?  Do I really need to answer….

best wishes

Tom

 

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What would you tell a 15 Year old?

I have been asked to talk to a group of 15 year old students as part of a series of talks on the subject of careers. They are looking for someone to give an alternative view to the “You must go to university and get a degree” message.

My point of view will be that the Job for life has now gone, and I suspect the full time job with workers rights is under threat certainly for those with less qualifications. However a degree whilst desirable is not necessary, but you will need some other form of qualification. Further gaining those qualifications is only a stepping stone now more than ever before there is a need for life long learning, as technologies change, and new industries emerge to replace those that decline.

For example the motor trade which in the past has consumed so many school leavers, with driverless cars on the  horizon is due to collapse. Cleverer people than me have set out the future, no longer will we own cars, but instead will just hail one when we need them, therefore car show rooms wont exist getting rid of salesmen at a stroke, Mechanics will still exist but they are more likely to be electricians. Body shops will decline as there will be less accidents, as will paint sprayers and so the list goes on. We wont need car parks, as they will be fewer cars and those that there are wont be parked up for long hours whilst we go about our daily business.

The same can be said for so many other traditional industries. I spoke to someone the other day who was the first person to have their hip replaced by robot. If they can replace a hip then a robot to cut your hair is easy.

Its not all doom there will always be a motor trade, there will always be people who hold out, and as some one who as a wheelwright earns his crust from those seeking to preserve a long gone form of transport I will encourage them. However there are approx. 30 wheelwrights in the country, I suspect about 1000 worldwide that’s not great prospects when it comes to paying a mortgage, which is why most wheelwrights don’t work at it full time.

My premise will therefore be – take the long view, and keep looking ahead. Whichever job you start with is not the one you will finish with, its a series of stepping stones.

I heard on the Radio the other day there are three vital key skills for getting a job and progressing in employment.

  1. Get there early
  2. Work Hard
  3. Make tea

As an ex employer I would consider that to be excellent advice.

So what advice would you give a 15 year old now?

Tom

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Accident or Design?

Option A

Option A with a Vintage Lamp

As a Craftsmen I love my job, it offers variety and every day is different, that’s  until I get take on a big project with a timescale, when it suddenly becomes a production line.

I have spent the last couple of weeks repairing several sets of Carriage Wheels, which means making lots of the same part, especially when it involves new spokes – 52 in a set of wheels, and I have two more sets of wheels to go before I can detour onto something else.

Therefore on Sunday I was home alone and by way of a break decided to use up some of my offcuts, left over from my wheel work, and make myself a new bedside lamp. One set of wheels had a particularly thick set of felloes ( the wooden rim of a wheel), which meant I had a lovely piece of 70mm thick ash looking for a home, so onto the lathe it went. The scalloped design was a practical decision as a way of turning my way round a fault in the wood that was on one edge, but I have to say I rather liked it.

The steel arm is an off cut of steel used to make steel tyres, which has been run through my tyre roller. To finish it I wanted to try a new polishing device I have just brought, so its polished, heated and then waxed.

A practical issue was getting the cable up to the light fitting in a tidy fashion. I did consider gluing it up the back, or cable clips, but neither solution struck me as neat, and then I had the idea to thread it through, using red cloth covered cable. I cant help thinking this is a solution I shall use again.

All of these accidents or experiments come together to create what I will claim is good design.

Unfortunately I still don’t have a bedside light as this one has now been appropriated for elsewhere. However there is now a debate within the family as to how to finish the lamp.

The trendy side of the family, occasionally found in hipster cafes on Sundays having brunch prefer the picture above – option A with a vintage style light bulb.

The traditionalist prefer a lampshade albeit a glass one shown as option B below.

Which do you prefer?

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Option B with a glass lampshade

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Can you repair Carriage Wheels?

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When I am not making videos or writing books most  of my time  is spent being a Wheelwright. Historically this would be defined as someone who made carriage wheels, however these days it is also the repair of carriage wheels, as there are very few new carriages being built and those that are rarely have wooden wheels, which I suppose is why its a rare trade.

I was going to say its a declining trade, but I don’t think it necessarily so.  At last count there are about 30 wheelwrights in England, and there is probably enough work for 31. Last week at the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights dinner I had the pleasure in meeting a new entry to the profession and heard about a new apprentice.  I also heard of some retirements, which is just about right, enough to keep the trade turning over and the skills alive. If 20 workshops suddenly started up it would destroy a trade.

This week I have had a customer bring me 10 wheels for repair of which the picture shows two, from set of four off a Bow Top Gypsy wagon which he is restoring, and that’s this weeks work. I thought I would post the before picture, and if you want to see how I get on press subscribe to get the next update.

As you can see the wheels are in a sorry state, but its not as bad as it looks at first glance. The Hub and most of the spokes are solid, its just the Felloes ( the wooden rims) which are riddled with wood worm and need to be replaced.

When I learnt the trade I was shown a method of making charcoal making use of the offcuts created in making a wheel, baked over a fire, which is also a perfect way of disposing of wood wormed wood, so guess what we are doing at the weekend. If you want to know more have a look at the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH6RrY8oWd4

 

 

 

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Going Up in Smoke!

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The latest Heritage Craft Project Book is published today – How  to Make Food Smokers and Dehydrators.

This one came about by popular demand from customers asking for the plans of my designs.  Over the years I have made a number of Food Smokers, both hot and cold, and last year I made the combined Food Smoker and Dehydrator. Its fair to say the products from which have transformed our cooking.

I Don’t think we could no manage without Smoked Tomato Powder, which has been augmented with a whole range of smoked and dehydrated powders replacing a conventional herb& spice rack. St Clements powder has now transformed our breakfasts, Strawberry powder our deserts, and we are in discussions with a chain of trendy cocktail bars to add them to their cocktails. However in order to make these you need our smoker/ dehydrator.

So buy the book, http://www.fitzrobbie.co.uk/ . You get the designs for both hot and cold smokers. Cold smoking will allow you to make for example Smoked Salmon, Cheese, and Smoked Butter. Hot smoking gets you Brisket and Pulled Pork and recipes are included. Add in the design for the dehydrator, and you have everything you need:

To transform your life and Diet

Amaze your friends,

Make some if you don’t have any,

Become attractive to the opposite sex, or the same sex if you prefer.

Achieve World Peace

Get a better Job

To solve your Christmas present dilemma

for that hard to buy for relative

and many other improbable claims and all for just £5.95.

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Black or Brown?

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Fed up with a shock to the system every time I sit down with my secateurs in my pocket I decided it was time to make a holster for them, and working on the theory that if I want one, other folk might want one as well I made a batch.

Cut by hand from vegetable tanned Italian Leather, these are then hand sewn  with rivets for extra reinforcement. Once sewn the next part is to submerge them in water for a short while, until soaked through and slide them onto a wooden mould and then leave them to dry out. The moulding gives them shape which stays, making it much easier to slide the tools in.

If you want one they are now on my web shop http://www.fitzrobbie.co.uk/acatalog/For-the-Gardener.html .

Everyone who has seen them has most definite opinions as to which colour.

Black or Brown? which do you prefer?

Posted in craft, design, Diy, Garden, gardening, gift, gift idea, heritage craft, heritagecraft, hobby, home, Leather work, retail, saddlery, shopping, style, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Goose Getting Fat?

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Christmas is coming and if the Nursery Rhyme is to be believed Geese around the country should be putting on weight, so its time to start thinking about presents for your nearest and dearest as a festive gift, or for that matter any other time you need a gift, and who doesn’t like a candle?

This year for the first time I shall be offering a small select range of Tom Green Products which are made in very small batches, to very unique designs. The idea being once they are sold that’s it, there wont be any more its time to move on to the next product.

The first product out of the workshop are these hand tooled Black Leather Candle Holders designed to suit Pillar Candles. available from http://www.fitzrobbie.co.uk/acatalog/candleholders.html

I wonder if I could give some to Mrs Green for Christmas?

Posted in accesories, art, candle, craft, design, family, fashion, furniture, gift, gift idea, heritage craft, heritagecraft, humour, Leather work, lighting, retail, romance, saddlery, Uncategorized, wheelright | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment