Taking the shed for a walk!!

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Another lovely day and time for another project, this time a sheltered Garden Seat.

Without any thought to our own personal safety, risking being infected by the pernicious “Gardening Bug” my dearly beloved and I have for several months been visiting Garden centres across the South East of England, ostensibly to look at plants but really to undertake secret and extensive research on Garden Benches.

Finally after many hours of painstaking, and in some cases painful study, we have arrived at the dimensions and design for the perfect Garden Bench. Not only the seat height and depth, but also the shape, the springiness, the height of the back, and most importantly the height of the arm to support in order to rest an elbow with a cup of tea. But finally and much amusement from passers watching our deliberations we have arrived at a finished design. and so the Garden Shelter was born.

I took the opportunity to use up some surplus left over wood , and so the whole project comes in under £40, and that was just for the paint.

Our picture at the top shows the shelter carcass being transported from the workshop to the garden, before the roof shingles were fitted, and paint applied. When you look at the picture you could quite see it appearing on some comedy quiz programme with contestants being asked to come up with a witty title.

So why don’t we get in first. I have had my go see if you can come up with something better. Any suggestions ?

The final picture shows the painted shelter and Cedar wood roof shingles but without the perfect bench installed, for that you will need to wait for the video. Remember to subscribe and you will be one of the first to find out, alternatively you can go to You tube and look for Heritagecraft.

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Posted in art, craft, design, Diy, family, furniture, Garden, heritage craft, heritagecraft, home, horse, leisure, recycling, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, wood, work, youtube | Leave a comment

What makes the Perfect Handbag?

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As someone who stitches leather I have made more than my fair share of handbags, and the picture shows my latest, Not my usual style but I fancied trying something new, which my daughter assures me would be described as Prairie Chic by Harpers Bazar. I take her word for it, what do I know.

What I do know is whenever I am making handbags they always cause arguments. No matter what I create, it will be wrong. Now I don’t have a parade of visitors to my workshop, just a few women have access, but if they cant agree on whatever makes the perfect handbag, how can I be expected to make it.

Apparently whatever size I create is wrong, some women want a bag so captious only Mary Poppins carpet bag would suffice, others want just enough room to carry a credit card.

Handle length causes real arguments, and don’t start on shoulder straps. If your holding a bag how low should it hang? Knee height – up or down? Then we have strap width. I am told narrow straps are elegant but cut into your hands ( how much weight is in this bag?) Wide straps spread the weight but are ugly.

Then we come to add on extras. I have been told every bag needs space for an easy accessible water bottle, a phone pocket, a secure card pocket, a pen holder, whilst retaining the bags inherent elegance, with severe restrictions on weight. Apparently the contents weigh more than enough so the bag has to be Gossamer light.

So help a poor man out. I don’t use handbags, I just make them, and for once it would be nice to make one that more than 2 women agree is OK, I will settle for OK, we can aim for good. If you were writing the specifications what would be the perfect Handbag?

 

Posted in accesories, advice, beauty, craft, design, fashion, handbag, heritagecraft, hobby, home, Leather work, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Repairing Wooden Wheels

I frequently get asked to repair wooden carriage wheels, and they are always a voyage of adventure as you never know what your going to find, which also makes it the hardest to price, which is another problem as everyone wants to know before you start what its going to cost.

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A typical example would be the wheel in the picture which came in to have a broken spoke replaced. In order to replace the spoke you have to first remove the rubber tyre, steel rim, and a section of felloe to get to it. Usually at this point I discover all manner of issues, and that the old time craftsmen where just as capable of a “bodge Job” as modern ones.

So the blue wheel pictured illustrates this perfectly. It came in with a broken spoke which turned out to be rotten and riddled with wood worm to a point where the wood crumbled away when touched. The Carriage had obviously not moved for a while and water had got into the joint between felloes and spokes, causing the felloes to swell and also rot along with the end of several spokes. Our tale of woe continues as the wheel I suspect originally from America  with steam bent felloes covering 7 spokes each, rather than the European Sawn felloes which conventionally bridge 2 spokes, had previously been worked on, and one half of the wheel steamed felloes had been replaced with sawn, some of which were solid and some rotten, all of which had been hidden under many layers of paint.

To cut a long story short I ended up replacing several spokes, most of the felloes, but retained the hub, rubber tyre and steel rim which were refitted. Once its had  a new coat of paint its good to go, back on the carriage.

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Posted in bake, blacksmith, craft, Diy, heritage craft, heritagecraft, history, horse, Uncategorized, wheelright, wheelwright, wood, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you don’t get the right result, is it still a success?

image I am currently working on my latest book which is going to be on the subject of food smokers, how to build them, closely followed by what you can make in one.

Now over the years I have built several different types of smoker, but like everyone else I have a few firm favourite recipes which I keep coming back too. The obvious smoked salmon, smoked cheese, smoked butter for when your being adventurous, and the family favourite Hot Smoked Turkey for Christmas. I did suggest one year cooking the turkey another way, which was met with a stunned silence followed by an explosion. Apparently this is a Family  Christmas Tradition that cannot be broken

I digress. Last summer I made a combined Smoker / Dehydrator, which as the name suggests dehydrates something whilst at the same time imparting a Smokey flavour. The first thing I tried was smoking tomatoes, and that was a revelation as we ended up with smoked tomato powder. You wouldn’t want to eat a spoonful but sprinkle over pasta and its a delight. Most recently I tried a combination of tomato, onion, and mushroom, all smoked and dehydrated, then powdered, and the result was vegan Gravy Powder, someone suggested add beetroot to extend the depth of flavour – now there’s an idea.

All of which bring me to today. Now it so happens I have been booked to appear at the Forty Hall Food festival in August, and I have been thinking about what to demonstrate. Hopefully the new book will be ready, so its an ideal opportunity to feature something about smoking, but you only get a maximum of an hour, and ideally at the end you have something people can try. After several sleepless nights I ended up with the idea to make Smokey Bacon Crisps. They have potatoes and a fryer, I just need to provide the Smokey Bacon Flavour.

So several days ago I started out by curing a piece of pork to make bacon, which was then smoked overnight. Several slices then had to undergo a rigorous quality control procedure at lunch time, and a few more were sacrificed in order to get a second opinion, but as both opinions came from the same person I am not sure that counts. Having been deemed suitable I then trimmed the fat off a few slices and into the dehydrator they went along with tomatoes, which didn’t have anything to do with the experiment, just using the space and brie cheese although that only stayed for the smoking portion of the procedure, and very nice it was too.

Eighteen hours later, we ended up with smoked dehydrated bacon which was then transformed into powder and the result is shown below. Its too fibrous to be used as a powder for sprinkling over potato crisps, so from that point of view as an experiment its a failure. However it does taste very good, with a strong bacon flavour, sprinkled over anything it would be good, and I reckon over hot chips would be magnificent. One way to find out. Its a tough job but I am prepared to sacrifice my waist line so others don’t have too .

This still leaves me with a problem what do I do as an demo at the food fair? Are the good folk of North London ready for hot Smokey Bacon Chips?

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Posted in bake, baking, barbecue, bbq, books, Cheese, Cooking, craft, Diy, festival,, food, heritage craft, heritagecraft, kitchen, London, old bloke, old blokes kitchen, smoker, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I need a Sombrero!

 

imageEvery now and again I give up knocking seven bells out of bits of wood and return to my roots, back to the world of theatrical lighting, a world that paid my bills for over 3 decades, and so today I have been working on a proposal for an Art Installation on the theme of light.

As with all of my projects I have had something in the back of my mind churning over for years. Most of these ideas will never make it beyond middle of the night musings, but occasionally they make it too fruition and when they do, even better when they works, you get that frisson of excitement, as suddenly a whole new world of possibilities opens up, further things to try. What I now need to do is talk it through, have a period of experimentation, and refine this to become the finished project, when hopefully you can all come and have a go.

For this years proposal I have been working on the theme of silhouettes and shadows. I wanted to create for the want of a better term a Silhouette Booth, a set up where friends and families could come and create their own instant interactive art, have fun, create memories and take photos. I just needed to prove the system. So this morning I made a frame with a screen, and sat in front of a domestic light. So simple and so much fun. It worked and think how much better it will be with a proper light source.

Now if my dearly beloved and I had fun trying on hats, turning sideways, swapping who sat behind the screen, taking pictures, and we have seen it all before, so think how much fun a family, who have never had a chance to play before could have. I think we might have something here. I’m just off to buy a sombrero

Follow the blog to find out how we get on.

best wishes

Tom

Posted in art, craft, design, Diy, family, festival,, hats, leisure, lighting, London, tom green, Uncategorized, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Craftsmen today are not what they were!

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One of my current projects started out as “just replace the spoke” on a wheel dating from about 1880. Now as a rule I don’t rush to attract repair work, there are always issues, but like everyone else I have bills to pay, so if I get offered a repair job I look carefully but this one is proving to be the daddy of them all.

By the looks of it no one has touched this wheel since the day it was built. By that point in history, carriages were made in factories, maybe not quite as we think of them today but products were made in batches, and the workers in the largest establishments would perform a single task such as cutting felloes all day. In the smaller factories they would have someone who just made wheels. A carriage builder would have a series of standard size wheels they would use for their carriages, and depending upon the size of the operation these would be either brought in from a wheelwright or produced in their own shop. Whilst each manufacturer would have a standard range of sizes there wasn’t any standardisation across the industry. Therefore every set of wheels I get to work on is different.

By this point in time there was a degree of mechanisation, The First Band saw recorded is 1808 so by the late 1800s it wouldn’t have been unusual in a wheelwrights shop particularly  for sawing the sections of the rim called the felloes. The conventional method for doing these is first make a pattern from a piece of thin scrap, scribing the inner and outer arc with a pair of compasses. This is then transferred onto your piece of wood, which is then cut out on the band saw. That way you get a uniformity to the felloes, the spokes are cut to the same size, and when assembled everything runs true. I like to work to an accuracy of about 1mm, but then I use some modern machinery. For old wheels a difference of 3-4mm isn’t unusual but this set take it to extremes.

In taking this wheel apart, I discover the wood is very brittle and two of the felloe sections broke. So being clever I then used one held against a piece of ply to create a pattern and two new sections  are cut on the band saw and shaped with a spoke shave. When I tried to reassemble it all and experienced some difficulties, I stopped and went back and checked my measurements with a micrometre.  What I discovered was that each of the seven felloes sections is a different size, in length by up to 50mm, and in width by a margin of 8mm, from one end of the section to the other, and no two sections match. Therefore each spoke and each felloe is completely different, which means the centre of the wheel is off by about 15mm. Undoubtedly a boisterous ride. To compound the issue most of the wood is now completely dried out and breaks as soon as you touch it.

There are two solutions, if this was a museum piece, a carriage that never goes anywhere, then I would have to refit each piece individually, slowly and painfully working my way round. Or in this case as its a working governess cart replace all the felloes and spokes in one go, retaining the hub now in the centre, which should greatly improve the ride quality.

What this goes to show is, we look back at the Old Time Craftsmen and think they were experts, masters of their craft, but when you look closely you discover they had as many bodgers then as we have now, and this set is one of those.

 

Posted in advice, carriage, craft, design, Diy, heritage craft, heritagecraft, horse, leisure, old bloke, saddlery, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, wheelright, wheelwright, wood, work | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Pin Bowling

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This weekend we installed a pair of outdoor 10 pin Bowling lanes at Canary Wharf in London. These form part of the estates free summer entertainment, an opportunity for office workers to come outside and have fun.

The specification from the client was for a fun activity for outdoor use that didn’t require electricity to operate. We gave them several options and the 10 pin Bowling lanes were the favoured option, complete with a gravity ball return on the side.

Today I went back to see them in action, and was delighted to see a queue of eager  participants.  There is already talk of inter office leagues.

This is a project we saw through from initial idea, created the design, manufactured, and now installed. We knew it was going to be popular, ask every delivery driver who dropped into the workshop when we test assembled them, it proved impossible to deliver a package without bowling a ball first. Now we are in discussion with a pub co for several sets for Pub Gardens, Beer and Skittles – A classic combination.

Posted in craft, design, Diy, furniture, games, Garden, heritage craft, heritagecraft, leisure, London, sport, street games, tom green, tradition, Uncategorized, wood, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment