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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Posted in carriage, craft, design, Diy, heritage craft, heritagecraft, lighting, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, wheelright, wheelwright, wood, work, youtube | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Scared of a Spelling Mistake!

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For my latest project I have been building a temporary Signpost with attached signs for a Urban Food Festival Opening tomorrow at Canary Wharf for a few days.

The customer wanted a modern urban style sign based upon those tourist signs you see at destinations pointing out how far it is to New York and Tokyo. It needed to be modern, free standing on a solid floor, installed in a couple of hours without mechanical handling, and removed several days later without trace.

As you can see at the bottom we ended up manufacturing a lattice steel work post with brightly coloured signs at the top in bright modern colours.

The hardest part was specifying the wording for the signs. The customer wanted the option to reuse the structure at some point in the future, so the lettering is vinyl letters which can be peeled off at the end of this week, and replaced with something new next time. Ordering the  vinyl lettering is the bit that took the time if you make a spelling mistake no matter how good the structure, how bright the paint, the spelling mistake is the only bit people will remember.

I was reminded of a friend of mine whose job it is to arrange balloons, confetti, glitter etc to blow up or  fall down at the end of concerts. Who would have thought you could make a living doing that. Many years ago he was contracted at a very well known London Concert Venue to do a balloon drop at the end of a concert by the 1980s band Soul to Soul. The balloons with the bands name printed on had been supplied by the promoter, inflated by a balloon decorating company, my friends job was just to rig the mechanism to drop them down onto 5000 people. He was just about to press the button at the end of the concert when he noticed the balloons had “Sole 2 Sole” printed on – What do you do…….?

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A Sophisticated Bag for a Simple Man

I had a couple of days break between real work whilst I waited for an important customer to make a decision, so I took an opportunity to make a project just for me making use  of a leftover piece of leather.

A couple of times a month I forsake the comfort of my overalls, don a suit and commute into London, and whilst I have stripped back what I take with me I always have an iPad and my new Phone. When I replaced my phone as I can be quite hard on phones I chose one designed for builders, its supposedly drop proof, waterproof, dustproof, and designed for big fingers. Perfect I hear you cry, but as its for builders its also the size of a small brick and weighs just like one, so a bit big for a streamlined jacket pocket.

Therefore  I need a bag that can cope with my phone, my iPad  and hopefully a bottle of water, and more importantly looks right for me. I am man who is gently waving middle aged goodbye, my days of being able to carry off a stylish Italian leather man bag have gone, although if I an honest they never really arrived in the first place.

See how I get on and watch the video. According to my Fashion consultant, otherwise known as a daughter, Harpers Bazaar this month are hailing Prairie Chic – tooled leather as the new trend, so at last I am at the cutting edge of fashion. I maintain that fashion goes in a circle, and providing I keep wearing my dungarees I am ahead of the curve as I wait for the rest of the fashion world to remember again.

Enjoy the video

 

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The Old Blokes Kitchen Rides again

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Last year I was invited to appear at the Enfield Food festival,  I cant have been too bad because they have invited me back. I am on Monday but frankly having seen the line up its worth going for both days, and don’t bother taking a picnic, everything you need is there.

Last year was the first outing for my then new Smoker / Dehydrator, which lead to Smoked Tomato Powder, at the time revolutionary but now we have moved on experimenting and fine tuning the process, and now have a selection of “very interesting flavours”. We have had our successes and although I don’t like too admit it failures – Smoked Salmon powder tasted great but took weeks to get rid of the smell so don’t try that one. None of the flavour’s are available to buy so this is the only way you get to try them, and then you’ll want to make your own.

For this year demonstration I set out to make Smokey Bacon Crisps, therefore you obviously need Smokey Bacon Powder, which I have achieved although sadly  it doesn’t work very well on crisps – however it is magnificent sprinkled on hot chips. I am keen to let folk try it and get some feedback, but don’t have the capacity to cook chips for a large crowd, so we looked for alternatives and came up with pop corn.

So if you want to try Smokey Bacon Pop Corn which will be the climax of the demonstration  along with several other interesting flavours we have been playing with over the last couple of days – dehydrated watermelon is a revelation but does divide opinion. Then make your way to Forty Hall Farm in Enfield on Monday

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