quinta-feira, 1 de janeiro de 2009

Fresh Start

Best results certainly come from good equipment, clean environment and giving time to the work in progress. A strong and large work bench will help the sole workman, as will any machine that is of a reasonable weight and power, keeping all machines sharp and well maintained will save time and give more accurate results, all logical but not always followed by craftsmen, it is logical to make the area of work fit your methods and style, give ample room for fitting and building, areas for gluing and cramping up work, ample daylight and sufficient ventilation as well as filtering the air and sucking away any chippings/dust from machines as you work and not just after the cutting is finished. An organised workshop lets you concentrate on the work and not on finding things, it is always best to only work with what tools you need at the time and always return them to their normal station when you have completed the task at hand, this and keeping the floor clear of dust and shavings, will stop frustration and encourage a neater attitude in construction.
After my move to Northumberland I decided that I wanted to have far more control over the timber I was using and to have more contact with the wood, seeing a tree in its standing location, arranging for the cutting and drying of the wood, often with the job and its design, already in my mind. There where many advantages to living in an area that is largely farmed, for the land owners have trees and there can be an element of trade between the craftsman and the land owner, also many of the farmers liked to have hand crafted furniture in their house, being far more accustomed to dealing direct with the furniture maker and knowing the time that it takes to dry wood to produce good timber meant that I could be giving up to two years as a delivery date, one year for the drying and then a time scale that would depend on the the current work load.

A local craftsman had set up his own kiln, using an old refrigerated lorry trailer and putting strips of polythene as dividers(in order to keep the movement of air more even and guarantee even dehumidify), another person(who produced charcoal for bar-b-q, had set up a 36" circular saw with separate tungsten teeth, driven from a tractor engine and also with an automatic feed on tracks, thus allowing us to put a three metre length of tree trunk on a carriage and cut planks in what manner we wished, I had a long wheel based land-rover with a trailer and could manage the transport, this allowed for speedy cutting and subsequent drying, the tree not having to lie in a field for more than an hour or so.

I had intended to extend my own workshop(at the rear) to form a kiln, using the sun to power the fans,dehumidifier and heat water, I had a petrol driven 20" saw which sat out in the back garden, the whole of my plans came to a halt with the decision, for my ex wife and I, to divorce. I had up to this point aimed to construct everything in the house with local timber, including door handles, having got fairly close to this goal I sadly had to accept the inevitable and sell, starting again with a workshop in Edinburgh, which in actual fact proved difficult, my work virtually changed within six months for me to do more restoring of furniture and getting a lot of work from local Scottish architects, several who became friends and one, Campbel, l as become very much another brother to me.

This was an ideal situation that sadly was to disappear when I moved to Edinburgh, city life does not allow time for discussion let alone for the drying of timber, city life also gives rise to the shop bought item, generally cheaper but not always suitable for the needs of the client.

Here you can see the barn that I bought in 1984 and the work that I did over six years whilst still continuing my work as a furniture maker and restorer. I would have liked to have redone all the furniture and changed the windows for Oak, I had made them from pine as an economy and also to get the house finished for me to work indoors, however the lack of time was always a problem, the work was always heavy, stone never comes very light, also the quantity of timber for the floors and doors was a strong factor in my budget.

The workshop was almost my last effort and in reality never completed to form a good enviroment, I had to work with small machines and usually all second hand or created from other machines.
I am now, with Michael Bennett-Levy's help, able to think of getting a workshop that as the space, tranquility of location, with opportunity to get all my machines, along with replacements for the larger machines that I have lost(through moves) over the years, in particular I am keen to buy a large bandsawand large planner thicknesser, a large sander and spindle moulder and to create a single large bowl lathe. This is the now very much extended garage at St Puy!!!!!

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