Friday, 18 July 2014

Craft imitates nature; Japanese wood carving at its most amazing

Today's post is another best of the web nugget that we found. Ok, so there are no power tools involved but the craftsmanship is truly astonishing and we thought you would enjoy it!

Within the vast arena of Japanese sculpture there’s a small niche category known as jizai okimono. The craft involves carving realistic animals whose bodies and limbs are all animated through joints just like the real living thing. Some common subjects are birds, fishes, snakes and insects. It’s a craft that originated in the late-Edo period (late 1700s) when metalsmiths and armor makers, faced with a decline in demand for armor, found themselves with plenty of time on their hands. But ever since it’s modest beginnings, the lobster, with its numerous joints and undulating back, has been considered to be the most difficult and challenging subject.
Ryosuke Ohtake, a young 25-year old sculptor, caused quite a stir recently when he boldly took on the challenge and created an immaculate and animated lobster from wood. What stunned many was that not only was the piece carved from wood (which is considered far more difficult than using copper) but the fact that this was Ohtake’s first official jizai okimono. The lobster was part of a wooden sculpture exhibition at Tokyu Department Store in Tokyo this April. Watch the video to see exactly how realistic this lobster moves.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Men's Sheds are changing lives in London

Continuing our tour of Men’s Sheds, the Triton team visited the Camden Town Shed, which occupies two rooms at the Maiden Lane Community Centre in central London.

Men’s Sheds originated as a response to rural isolation; however that problem is not confined to remote areas. Even in the heart of a major city, loss of social contact and isolation - for retired people in particular - can lead to emotional stress and debilitating physical conditions.  Happily, the Men’s Sheds offer a great opportunity for social contact and a sense of purpose - not to mention tea-drinking and some serious woodwork thrown in!

A Men’s shed does however offer more than a refuge for those in need of companionship. Most have a good range of tools and facilities as well as space to work in and access to materials that would be the envy of many a home workshop. For many members the banter and just working alongside others provides a high spot in the week.   In our short visit we met men and women supporting each other, sharing skills, laughs, and an enthusiasm for life, living and woodworking.  There can be no doubt that the Men’s Sheds Movement enhances  the lives of many of the members who attend - and long may that continue!

The Camden Town Shed encourages its members to work at their own pace and on their own projects, producing goods that can be sold at local fairs to raise funds to support the shed. The shed operates on the principle that men don’t talk about their worries face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder, whilst working on a practical project. Some of the members arrive with skills to share, and others want to learn new skills from those they meet.
These are the stories of some of the Camden Town members:

Terry was a cabinet maker by trade. Having served an apprenticeship in London, he left the UK in 1968 as one of the ‘Ten Pound Poms’, to start a new life in Australia. He continued his trade successfully and as time went by, was promoted within the firm he worked for, eventually leaving the workshop floor to work in the purchasing department for a furniture and cabinetmaking company.

In 2010 Terry returned to London to care for his elderly mother. With grown up family still in Australia, Terry was keen to make new friends and occupy his spare time productively. Having visited a couple of Men’s Sheds in Australia, the Camden Town Shed was the perfect opportunity to rekindle his enthusiasm for practical projects.  Due to his skill set, Terry was quickly adopted as the Session Supervisor for the shed, where he now helps members get to grips with the various tools and machinery. Mike Jenn, Chairman of the UK Men’s sheds association, acknowledged his skills, saying: “Terry can often tell what’s happening just by listening to the machines. He steps in to help just when needed.”

Terry has a real talent for design and plans projects for the group. The Camden Town Shed has received commissions from local charities and other community organisations, such as a request for a model kitchen for the local children’s play scheme. Previous projects have included a set of specially-designed wooden toys to help educate children with autism; a wooden castle with knock-down targets for a local archery group; and lightweight folding chairs which were sold to raise money to support the shed. 
We hope to publish some of these projects on the Triton Blog very soon. All the projects have to be adaptable, depending on the materials available. With limited funds the Camden Town Shed makes use of mostly reclaimed and recycled timber from donations and building site waste recovered from skips - not that it limits their ingenuity or the finished quality of the projects, judging by the results!

Ray has been coming to the shed for around three months as part of a long-term recovery plan. He had a successful career as a dentist until one day five years ago. Whilst out playing golf, Ray was struck by lightning, leaving him in a coma, after which followed a long-term recovery in hospital. Now physically well, Ray has issues with short-term memory and remaining focused. He initially joined the Camden Town Men’s Shed at the suggestion of a social worker who thought it a positive way for him to get out of the house and meet new people. The engagement with physical tasks, and having projects to complete with the support of other members, has enabled him to manage these sessions without his support worker and regain some independence. When we met Ray he was on the home stretch of a stool project that was looking really great!

Mick joined the shed a year ago. He was spending a lot of time alone at home recovering from cancer, and his social worker recommended he try the shed. Mick spent his working life as a site carpenter, installing roof frames and general large-scale timber construction. With more time on his hands, he was determined to take the opportunity to produce the finer pieces of work he had never tried before. The Camden shed is pretty well-equipped, and this gave Mick the chance to try his hand at wood turning - a skill which he has developed amazingly well.  Much of the work he produces is developed from ideas on his favourite blogs and websites.  Mick recommended  - a great site with lots of videos and plans of simple, practical projects.

We visited the Camden shed on a Wednesday - the one official mixed day when ladies are invited to join. We met Olive, a retired English teacher, who has been interested in woodworking since taking part in an introductory course on woodturning. Since retiring, the woodwork has taken over and Olive is always busy working on projects or developing new ideas. Time at the men’s shed is helpful as she has access to tools and machinery she doesn’t have in her own small shed at home. Her current plan is to extend the size of her bed using recovered and reclaimed timber. We asked Olive what she enjoyed most about her days at the shed. “It’s the company,” she said, “and the lack of fussing from the men.”

Tell us about your Shed.

If you are involved with a community woodworking project, let us know with a comment below. We may even drop by for a visit! 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Iconic reproduction

Today's post will resonate with anyone who remembers there was a life before CD's. For those who are still confused, a CD came before downloads. Take an iconic shape from your youth and precisely reproduce it into a new form and use. Great design, brilliantly executed.
Thanks to Jeff Skierka Designs for sharing this .
Mixtape - from Jeff Skierka on Vimeo.

We would love to see other scale up reproductions, so if you have some to share get in touch

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Triton Book Recommendation

Routing for Beginners by Anthony Bailey.

This is the second revised and expanded edition of the book published in 2012. For anyone who is getting into woodworking, a router is one of those tools surrounded by an air of mystery and legend.  You know it will advance your craft but just understanding the terminology around the seemingly limitless cutter variations can be off putting.  Coupled with the wide variety of machines, the optional jigs and tables and the potential safety risks from such a high speed machine, it is easy to see why many people take a long time, if ever, to get round to owning their first router. The aptly titled Routing for Beginners would then seem a great place to start and in short, it is.  

There is a really gentle introduction that gives you some background to this most versatile of tool and a clear and concise description of the main features and functions covering a wide range of manufacturers. The book is much more than a glossary of terms in that it explores these features and explains which are actually going to be useful, based on the type of work you might want to be doing, with the router you will inevitably be going out to purchase by the time you get to the end of chapter 2.

The section on safety also looks at the ideal workshop requirements but recognises that most of us have to start with a corner of the garage before we are able to progress to the ideal shed.  Basic rule of thumb being that your workshop floor space should be N x 2 (where N is the size of your current workshop). 

The section on cutters gives clear descriptions of all the major types and some sage advice on which to buy into as a beginner, noting that creating your first raised panel door should probably take place after you have mastered simple straight cutters. That’s not to say this book leaves you in router kindergarten. By the close you are guided through several challenging projects for both the workshop and home, leaving you eager for more.

For many people woodworking is a solitary pastime where skills are learnt by trial and error. This book will enable the novice to make a sound start into the immensely rewarding world of routing feeling confident that they have an acknowledged expert on hand to guide them.

Routing for Beginners by Anthony Bailey is available from and other retailers online.


Friday, 13 June 2014

Poltava, the amazing historic ship project

Building a wooden boat using modern techniques and equipment takes a huge amount of skill and precision woodworking. When you scale that up to a ship with displacement of up to 1,200 tonnes, the technical complexities that have to be overcome are enormous. What if your ambitious project is to faithfully recreate an Oak built fighting ship of the Russian Navy from 1712? Now you are on a whole new level of woodworking challenge! Check out these images of a work in progress right now in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This is no backyard weekend hobby, this truly amazing project is testing men, materials and machines to the limits, in a purpose-built facility.
The team are using extensively researched construction plans, with very little surviving records to start with. They have the advantage of some modern tools to ensure they can faithfully reproduce the original lines, though huge technical challenges still lie ahead.

The following Russian language video gives you a good look round the yard and some of the work going on there right now. Check out the Triton Tools going through their paces on a really demanding hardwood project. You can find the video here: The Poltava build Video

The website for this project is in Russian but the miracle of Google translate does make it easy enough to understand what they are working on! Find out more about the project here: The Poltava Website

We will be coming back to the Poltava project to check on its progress in the months ahead. Let us know if you're planning a project of your own that you think the Tritonites would be keen to see.
Contact us at:

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Some of Our Favourite Woodworking Blogs

In the same way we hope you love reading the Triton Tools blog, we enjoy surfing the woodworking web for the latest blogs and we want to share what we’ve found with you! Below are a couple of our favourites…

An Australian woodworker, Stu’s blog provides honest tool reviews, woodworking plans (including some of our very own) and handy tips.

Primarily an online tool store, Highland Woodworking created their blog in order to bring together all their woodworking resources in to one place to share with fellow woodworkers.

Do you have a favourite woodworking blog, or a blog of your own? If so, leave a comment below telling us where to find it and it could appear in the next post!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Tri-Lox Woodworkers

Every week we're on a mission to bring you the best from the world of woodworking on the web. Our favourite post this week comes from the guys at Tri-Lox, who create custom furniture from reclaimed wood. We love the ethos behind the company, where they believe that designers need to be in tune with the materials they are working with to decipher what they should be crafted into.

You can see more of their work on their website

Tri-Lox Woodworkers from bigcitypix on Vimeo.