Thursday 17 December 2015

Meet April Wilkerson, from woodworking novice to YouTube sensation.

In the ten years since the launch of YouTube, the video-sharing website has become the go-to destination for guides on how to do just about anything. Woodworkers are generous folk and many are taking to YouTube to share their skills and help us all improve our craft. Tool reviews, shop tours, project ideas and tips of the trade are all available online for anyone looking for woodworking news and information.

There is a growing community of woodworkers with their own specialist YouTube channels, some of whom make their living from doing what they love, sharing projects and ideas with viewers. One of the woodworking YouTubers is April Wilkerson  Triton Brand Champion for the USA who also provides valuable feedback on product development. April is the first to admit that she is relatively new to woodworking but with a passion for making and a determination to learn and share her knowledge she has gained a committed following for her YouTube channel. 
Triton Tools caught up with April at her workshop in Texas, USA, to find out more about how she has turned her woodworking hobby into a successful YouTube channel that is now her full-time job.
We also filmed an exclusive project build with April which will be posted here on the Triton blog early in the New Year so don’t forget to come back and see how it went.
To see more of April’s work, read up on her project or download some plans, check out her website  and her YouTube Channel   

Thursday 10 December 2015

Making Lewes Festival – Kinship 2 - Creative Design-and-Make Challenge

Lewes is a small but ancient town in Sussex, England that has a rich tradition of craft, design and local manufacture that is still very much alive today. In September 2015 Triton sponsored a unique event hosted by Studio Hardie in their workshops as part of the Making Lewes Festival. 

Making Lewes is a community organisation that promotes the exchange of knowledge in the fields of Making, Architecture and Design & Sustainability. The Festival is now an annual event that hosts exhibitions, symposia, workshops and more.
Kinship is a design-and-make challenge within the festival that pulls together people from a range of different backgrounds and sets them a three-day challenge. Some are involved in craft, whilst others are designers, architects, sculptors and students. They are ably assisted by the skilled team at Studio Hardie, who help them to realise their concepts.  The process is very much a learning experience for those who attend, and explores concepts of design as well as the properties of a diverse range of materials on hand.

The Kinship project has a lot to do with the journey of discovery and collaborative thinking, as well as working together as a team. What is produced is more than a simple build project, it’s the collective output of many minds and hands working together. This short film illustrates some of the highlights of the project. If you are interested to find out more, check out the Making Lewes website:

Tuesday 1 December 2015

How to build a wooden custom bike frame with bamboo

Back in August we visited the guys at In’Bô in France, a great young team making some really exciting products using innovative techniques fused with traditional materials.  

In this film, Pierre Thomas LeClaire talks us through the process of building a high-performance custom geometry bike. Using bamboo as the main frame component together with flax fibres bound by an organic resin, the end result is a truly unique sculpted-looking frame that is lightweight while at the same time shows amazing resilience in high-performance environments.  The process pulls together advanced design and construction processes with an intimate knowledge of the properties of their organic raw materials.

See this earlier post for an introduction to the team In Bo Introduction

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Woodworking Book Review: Beautiful Boxes, Design and Technique by Doug Stowe

Making small decorative boxes is a staple of the woodworker’s art.  Wherever you are in your journey with the craft, sooner or later you will want to make a box as a showpiece or a gift that will test your skills, both as a user of tools and as an innovator with design. And that’s where this book is a great support.

A short introduction, followed by a series of illustrated projects, takes you through the basics of construction - each stretching you a little further with techniques and design features. If you are new to this there are some great sidebar articles that explain how to make some really useful aids such as a simple shooting board and a router table for making finger joints. The design concepts are explained clearly as you progress from principles of proportion and the effect of colour, to adding surprises like unusual hinges and tops. There are very clear step by step instructions and the photography is excellent, making this both a workshop manual to have to hand  and an interesting browse when you not able to get out to the shop.

Beautiful Boxes, Design and Technique by Doug Stowe published by Taunton Press

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Studio Hardie Diaries - Creating a Plain Space for John Pawson

The team at Studio Hardie, based in Lewes, East Sussex, has a wide range of specialist expertise from cutting-edge design to age-old craft skills. In this post, Hamish Boden describes the challenges they faced when creating the ultimate modern exhibition space using traditional skills.
This project was a 1:1 scale architectural installation to host the Plain Space exhibition for British architect John Pawson , described by the New York Times as “the father of modern architectural minimalism”.  The installation space was both a location for the exhibition and part of the event and was based at the Design Museum, London, in September 2010. 

Hamish writes “This was one of Studio Hardie’s first full-scale architectural installations, essentially a building inside a building. The difficulty with achieving a crisp minimal look is that exposed fixings are not allowed so all the mechanics go on behind the scenes.

Another major hurdle of the project was the timescale, achieving the level of tolerance and perfection on a really tight installation turnaround. The beauty of having such a big workshop is that you can create entire structures, test them check everything fits and make fine adjustments before leaving the workshop, this can save days of site work.

Spending time meticulously planning the install is critical; the choreography of how everything comes together quickly, accurately and beautifully. We couldn’t rely on ‘off the shelf’ being totally straight so we designed a new system for making dead flat-straight walls out of MDF torsion boxes. You often hear carpenters complaining about using MDF but for us it was a rare treat.  We are used to using solid timber that shrinks cracks and moves.  MDF in contrast is a very predictable and versatile material.

It was a real challenge to create the curved ceiling.  We knew that constructing the sections on the floor would mean we could make a much better quality finish than working over-head. 
This is where modern technology meets classic old-fashioned carpentry knowledge. To get the perfect curve we had some roof fins cut with CNC and covered them with a thin sheet of MDF. 

Next we had the challenge of hoisting the entire roof up in to the air.  For this we simply made some large roof trusses that we knew would take the weight and bolted them to our structure.  We used a genie lift to hoist them in to the air and lowered it back down on to the walls.  Job done!”

Photos: Gilbert McCarragher

To find out more about the team at  Studio Hardie and their work, see our earlier blog post

Studio Hardie is based in Lewes, East Sussex. Website

Friday 30 October 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - Ingrained

It's been a while since we posted in our 'Best of the Woodworking Web' series, but we're back with a pretty good video (even if we do say so ourselves). This week's is from CoLab Creative and features woodworking artist, Steven Lane.

"Steven Lane is a woodworking artist, from the south island of New Zealand, with a unique approach to gathering the materials needed for his work. From eyewear to headphones,

Steven creates one of a kind pieces that are truly beautiful. He prefers salvaged materials, often traveling to the coast to find wood that has washed up on the beach and has the 'character and qualities' he can exploit."

Ingrained from CoLab Creative on Vimeo.

Friday 23 October 2015

Woodworking Book review: Using Woodworking Tools by Lonnie Bird

First published in 2004, this is not a newly released book, so why are we reviewing it? Well, basically, because the contents are related to working with wood. Plus its combination of hand and power tools is still as relevant today as when it was originally penned.
Whilst this is a book primarily about tools and their use, the first section has some of the clearest instruction on the nature of wood — that ever-moving, shrinking, expanding, twisting, unstable but beautiful material we choose to work with. The skills of buying the right wood for your project, storing it correctly and choosing the right grain orientation for the task are often overlooked by the eager novice keen to create their first masterpiece. 

What I really enjoyed with this book is thinking about starting over in a new workshop. Taking the book in order, you start by thinking about your workbench and the key considerations when buying or making your own home base in the workshop. The plan continues with thoughts on clamps, vices and bench dogs, as well as some tips on making your own work supports such as bench hooks and shooting boards. Basic rule of this section, you can never have too many clamps.

When talking about tools, it’s easy to forget one of the critical components of many projects and that’s the glue that holds much of your project together. There is a huge array of modern adhesives available, many of which are described here together with some of the basic joints and the best way to clamp them up to achieve a great first-time fix. Though, as the development of high-quality adhesives seems to move forward very rapidly, this is an area of the book that could probably benefit from an update.

Then we get into the meat of this book — hand and power tools. As is traditional with these types of book, hand tools come first, which makes perfect sense. As most power tools are mechanised versions of a hand tool, you should really to get to grips (literally) with what you are trying to do by hand before reaching for something with an on button. There are sections on measuring and marking, saws and chisels, planes, files and rasps together with clear descriptions and excellent photography of key joints and techniques for use with each tool. There is also a really easy-to-understand explanation of sharpening, one of the best I have seen as a short section.

The power tool section is a good guide for terminology, basic technique and safety guidance with sections on table saws, jointing and planing, band saws, shapers and routers, and drilling and morticing machines. As a first look at powering up your workshop, it’s not a bad start. Of note in particular, there are some really good guides and infographics to help you understand the various blade types for the table saw and tooth forms for band saws. To be clear, it’s not an in-depth report detailing all the options and, as with the adhesive section, it is worth remembering that this book is nearly 12 years old and things have moved on significantly in terms of what’s available out there in the market. This is a good book to look over if you are thinking of getting into woodworking and as a guide to the essential elements of your tool armoury. However, it is not a long-term reference as there are many more specialist volumes on the individual elements which would offer greater support if you really get serious about woodworking.

Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide to Using Woodworking Tools by Lonnie Bird is available from and other retailers online. ISBN 978-1-63186-085-0

Thursday 1 October 2015

Behind the scenes of the new Triton catalogue

The Triton catalogue is the definitive reference document for our Precision Power Tools. But there is a difference from other competitive brands; we don’t use models or staged events to show the potential of our products. Our images feature people who look like real woodworkers. Because they are.

In the same way, in our blog posts we feature genuine craftsmen and women who are using our products as part of their daily life, either professionally or for pleasure. One of these people is a young man called Jamie Smith from Dorset, England. After an apprenticeship, Jamie set out on his own to create bespoke furniture for customers.

This short film gives you an insight into one of the many faces behind the scenes of the Triton Catalogue, and what motivates a young person to get into woodwork and carpentry as a career.

To see more of Jamie’s work check out his website If you would like to get hold of a copy of our latest catalogue you can visit your local stockist or view and download a copy from our home page

Friday 28 August 2015

Craft Life with Altitude; Meeting the Man Who Makes Wooden Skis in Chamonix

For many of our Masters of Wood, making a living from working with timber means a lot more than simply turning out one-off products for a commission. As Peter Steltzner from Rabbit on the Roof in Chamonix France puts it: “When you put your heart and soul into a product made with your hands, people can feel it.”

Peter’s workshop lies in the shadow of Mont Blanc in the French Alps, a dream setting for making uniquely designed skis from hand-selected timbers. In this film Peter explains his journey from California to the Alps to create a performance product that is as highly desirable for its ride as its unique look. If you are a skier, this is the one of a kind style you want to be holding in the lift queue, enjoying the admiring glances of your fellow skiers. If you are a woodworker, this is the story of searching for the deep understanding of your craft many of us strive for. “Like surfing, looking for the perfect wave, the next one is always going to be the best, enhancing the pleasure by making by hand, its where the real profit comes from,” says Peter.

In a few weeks we will be posting an additional film from this visit: a master-class, step-by-step guide to building the wooden free-ride ski with Peter in his workshop.

If you would like to see more of Peter’s work, check out his website at

Friday 14 August 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - 'Manny'

Our video editor, Craig, came across this video from Upland Film Co. when looking for inspiration for his next video, and we felt it was perfect for the next installment in our 'Best of the Woodworking Web' series.

Manny got into woodworking after repairing a friend's broken guitar and becoming fascinated with the craftsmanship that went into making a guitar. Now 89, he still works out in his shed every day and is constantly learning new techniques along the way.

Manny from Upland Film Co. on Vimeo.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

A New Age for Wood, meet In'Bô, the cool French design and make team for unique wooden sunglasses, wood bikes and awesome skateboards

This week’s post is from our #MastersofWood series and is the first from our recent visit to France.  To the east of the country, in a beautiful rural area called Les Vosges, we visited a relatively new start up business called In'Bô. This innovative group of guys met at the famous Enstib, an engineering school in Epinal specialising in the use of wood and natural fibres. Having graduated as engineers they wanted to make more practical use of their skills by starting a business. Thanks to some financial support from their local department they were able to get some premises and get up and running, designing and creating wooden eyewear, skateboards and bamboo bicycles.  This short film gives you an introduction to the team and the philosophy behind their business and their brand which is already growing a distinctive following (there’s some pretty great skateboard action too!).

If you want to see the full creative process and how to make wooden sunglasses, skateboards or bamboo bikes keep checking back as we'll be posting more videos from our trip to France over the next few weeks!

To find out more about the team at In'Bô ,visit

Thursday 16 July 2015

Woodworking Book Review: Woodworker's Pocket Reference by Charlie Self

If you are ever looking for a crash course in woodworking terminology, and a quick reference for sizing, angles and tools then this little gem does exactly what its name suggests.

The Woodworker's Pocket Reference is ideal as a ‘swat up’ before you chat with your woodworking mates - especially if you’re a relative novice trying not to draw attention to yourself! It’s also the ideal companion for those moments in the workshop when all logic seems to desert you and you really need to get your head round an essential fact fast.  Best of all, if you know what you want from the store but can’t remember the terminology, this is your reference so you can talk to the guy at the counter with some authority.

That’s not to say this small book - now in its second edition - is just a way to cheat the system. Far from it. There are some really useful reference tables - from screw sizes to which adhesive to use - as well as more in-depth explanations of native and exotic woods, including which have potential allergy issues, and a useful reference of joint types.
So who would use this book? For the experienced woodworker it’s a timely reminder that we don’t know everything and a flick through will turn up the occasional “I didn’t know that!” moment. For the novice it’s a great place to start exploring terminology and techniques, and to kick off the never-ending shopping list your new obsession will inevitably generate.  There are more extensive books on timber, finishing, joints and tools, but that isn’t what this book is aimed at. It’s a workshop book for use in the workshop when you need answers in a hurry, and with that in mind it does very well indeed.

A word of caution to our European readers; lots of the information here is for a North American audience, so some terminology and sizing is different. That said, I still found it a useful source of information - especially if you are a fan of the various online international woodworking forums where an understanding of fractions of an inch and weight in pounds are often key factors in the debate.

Woodworker's Pocket Reference by Charlie Self is published by Fox Chapel Publishing

Friday 3 July 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - The Wave Cabinet by Sebastian Errazuriz

We stumbled across this video from artist & designer Sebastian ErraZuriz this week and thought it would be the perfect addition to our Best of the Woodworking Web collection.

The Wave Cabinet is a truly mesmerising piece of craftsmanship; each slat of wood pulls the next slot mimicking the motion of a fan. The amount of shapes you can make with the table seems endless.

Wave from Sebastian Errazuriz Studio on Vimeo.

You can find out more about ErraZuriz's work on his website

If you have something you think we should share in our Best of the Woodworking Web series, post the link to us in the comments below.

Friday 5 June 2015

Woodworking Book Review: Jigs and Fixtures A Taunton’s complete illustrated Guide by Sandor Nagyszalanczy

When you visit a woodworking show or a craft fair, the selection of handmade and ‘one-off’ original products can be really impressive. Regular woodworkers, however, will know that the next best thing to a ‘one-off’ is being able to repeat that extraordinary shape, curve or precision fit. This is where we enter the world of Jigs and Fixtures – to guide tools precisely, predictably and safely, time and again.

This book - from the extensive stable of Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guides - is an indispensable reference to creating some of the most common and basic jigs, as well as more complicated set-ups that will extend your woodworking repertoire considerably. From basic function and design to selecting materials and hardware, the book provides a series of well-illustrated and clearly-written projects that will help you create an extensive collection of useful jigs.

You could start with a simple fence to use with your table saw for cutting a cove, or perhaps a zero tolerance fence for your router table for use on short stock or problematic grain, eliminating chatter or splintering while keeping the entire operation safe and accurate. If you have a router table, why not make a biscuit jointing table, which will enable you use this quick and secure joint form without investing in a separate machine. For the router enthusiast, there are plenty of model templates that can be created to speed up regular tasks such as mortising, as well as opening up new opportunities such as creating simple box joints.

One of my favourite sections offers a range of solutions for dust collection.  This includes planning dust extraction points into the design of your jigs as well as making specific dust management hoods and tables for a range of portable and static machinery.

In conclusion, this book is an excellent addition to the library, and though the purpose of making the jigs is to improve your projects, the process of designing and building intriguing solutions is in itself a fascinating pastime.

Jigs and Fixtures A Taunton’s complete illustrated Guide by Sandor Nagyszalanczy
 ISBN 978-1-63186-084-3

Tuesday 26 May 2015

What happens in Vegas, can be shared worldwide!

The Triton team recently exhibited at the annual National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, USA. We were presenting the full extended range of products now available to order across the United States from both online retailers and traditional stores

We had a great reception for the extended range, in particular the new cordless products in the T12 and T20 collections.  For the first time we were also able to show the retail execution of the new Triton TWX7 Workcentre with the Router Table Module and Contractor Saw Module in their final release format. We had a great reaction from retailers and end users alike, as well as lots of interest from the press and other exhibitors at the show.

If you would like to know more about the products on show or where to find a retailer, just drop us a line at

Friday 17 April 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - How to Choose Timber for Woodworking

The week's post is from our best of the woodworking web collection.  If you are relatively new to woodworking, visiting a timber yard to buy your wood directly can be an intimidating experience.  However this short film takes some of the mystery out of the process and offers some really useful tips both on terminology and choosing the right kind of wood for your project.

Thanks to Wood & Shop for an excellent film.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Chainsaw Carving, Woodworking with Teeth

Much of the woodwork we see involves delicate measurements, precision cuts, and stable, square-edged, well-seasoned timber, with a degree of predictability about how that will behave. This week’s Master of Wood is Dave Lucas, whose work is from the other end of the spectrum.

Dave (aka Chainsaw Dave) creates extraordinarily detailed carvings in timber with - as his pseudonym suggests - a range of chainsaws. The process is very creative; Dave works by adapting to the vagaries of the timber selected for each specially-commissioned piece of work.  On the day we filmed him, in a very wet corner of Sussex, England, we were surprised to see the speed at which a form can emerge from the timber. He created such delicate details with what is (for many), such an aggressive and intimidating tool.  In this short film Dave explains the process from commission to production, including some interesting techniques for colouring the finish with a blow torch. 

You can see more of Dave’s work, including some terrific time-lapse sequences, on his web pages and If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else as a Master of Wood, please leave a comment and we could be along to share your work with the world.

Friday 27 March 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - The Makers of Things

It's been a while since we served up a slice of woodworking goodness from the web, but today we stumbled across 'The Maker of Things', a short film collection by Anne Hollowday. This video features Norman, a scientist by trade, who feels most at home when surrounded by wood chippings and his extensive chisel collection.

You can see the other videos from the collection here:

Friday 20 March 2015

Behind the Scenes at Studio Hardie - Meet the Men that Make

As woodworkers we know that the very best complex projects involve bringing together many different skills, materials and processes to produce an elegant, surprising and original piece. If you are doing that on a large scale against tight deadlines and often for a TV audience of millions, you need to gather around you a team of exceptional individuals,  the sum of whose talents regularly surpass what any one individual could achieve.  

This film introduces the team members at Studio Hardie, Triton Brand Champions, and the collective skill base behind the exceptional project builds for the Channel  4 TV series
George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, as well as a host of other public art projects, bespoke commissions, exhibition builds, and custom furniture and design challenges. Their simple philosophy to do unique things, to the highest possible standards, with a passion for carpentry and design is something we share. We will be following the team this year and showing more of their work as well as setting some design-and-make challenges to share with you on the blog.

Check out the Studio Hardie website where you can see more of their bespoke architecture and custom-made design ideas.

Friday 13 March 2015

Meet the New Triton Brand Champions at Studio Hardie

William Hardie is best known for his technical and design skills in the UK Channel 4 series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and Shed of the Year competition, where small simple structures with ingenious designs solve often complex problems.

William is a champion of ground-breaking design and technology delivered using traditional skills and materials as well as the latest innovations available. Founder of Studio Hardie, William works with a specialist team of expert carpenters, cabinet makers, timber framers and shipwrights who use their craft-based skills to solve complex problems by creating inspiring project builds for individuals, organisations and TV audiences around the world. In a digital age their vernacular skills are in great demand - using old knowledge and pushing it into exciting new forms.  
Having used Triton products for some years, often in challenging environments to achieve spectacular results, William and his team have agreed to join us as brand champions. We will follow some of their fascinating projects with an inside view here on the Triton Blog and via our Facebook and Twitter posts. The team will also provide expert opinions and their unique take on form and function into the design and development of future tools. 

Commenting on this new collaboration, William said: “As designers and makers of unique objects, we have a strong reliance on quality hand and power tools. Nothing we do is everyday or standard. Redefining what’s possible - and often up against tight deadlines - innovation, precision and reliability are key elements in our success. Triton Precision Power Tools share these values of traditional quality and progressive thinking, and we are proud to endorse their products.”

In this first short film, William gives us an insight into the background of Studio Hardie and his own personal take on the rise of the maker generation.

Next time we will be meeting the Studio Hardie team in more detail, so be sure to come back for part two of this introduction.
 Check out the Studio Hardie Website where you can see more of their bespoke architecture  and custom made design ideas or to see more of the teams work developing amazing spaces check out this link to the Chanel 4 series 

Friday 13 February 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - Meet the Wood Poets of Seattle

In this week's post we have a best of the web find where we meet the "Wood Poets" from Urban Hardwoods in Seattle, who are making furniture on a grand scale with some fabulous salvaged timber.

If you have come across a best of the web you think we should share then just leave us a comment below.

Urban Hardwoods from Hansen Belyea on Vimeo.

Friday 6 February 2015

Ultimate Workshop Upgrade

Blackdown Shepherds Huts Revisited

When you are battling away with a large project in your workshop getting the working height correct can be a real struggle. In early 2014 we visited the team at Blackdown Shepherds Huts in Somerset England to see how they put a modern twist on a century’s old craft. We caught up with William Vickery there recently to see their latest workshop innovation designed to tackle this problem and best described as the ultimate workshop upgrade.

Demand for handcrafted, highly individual holiday homes, spare rooms and offices that the Shepherd Huts provide, has been rapidly growing. Since we last visited, the business is employing two more carpenters and looking for more. They have a new operations manager leaving William and George more time to concentrate on business development. They have also employed a new sales manager, his first task was to really understand the build process by assisting in the making of an entire hut from start to finish.

Due to rapidly rising demand for their product there was a need to improve some of the repetitive processes such as cladding and roofing the huts, leaving more time to concentrate on the highest quality bespoke joinery and customisation elements of the interior that have become the hallmark of their work.  

The solution was to create a bespoke workshop lift bringing the work piece to the craftsman rather than the other way round. Built during the quieter winter period in a space next to the existing workshop (originally a silage store with a sloping floor), they started by excavating over 300 tonnes of soil. This took the team well below the local water table so the base of the pit was fitted with a sump and a submersible pump.  The sides of the pit were then reinforced with concrete panels 2.5m deep 2.6 wide 5.4 long each weighing in at around 3 tonnes held in place in the corners by steel piles. With the sides and floor level and set, it was time to install the lift.

The main hoist is converted from a standard garage four post car ramp with a steel base plate which is operated above ground via a remote control. The hoist can lift up to four tonnes, which is ample as their heaviest hut to date weighed in at three tonnes when fully completed.  The best way to understand how this hoist helps in the process is to see it in action. So we setup a camera to record the building of a hut.

You can find out more about Blackdown Shepherds Huts at their website
Or read our earlier post:
If you have an unusual workshop adaptation you would like to share leave a comment below or drop us a line at  

Wednesday 28 January 2015

South African Road Trip

In October 2014 the blog team took a trip to South Africa to join our local distributor Vermont Sales at some trade shows and spend some time with a few talented woodworkers in this amazing country.

This short film gives you a behind the scenes look at the trip and a reminder of some of the craftsmen we met on our travels. At the end of this film there are clickable links to revisit each of the locations on our trip. We hope you enjoyed watching the films as much as we did making them!

If you have a suggestion for a Master of Wood that we should visit or have any other comments about our blog, please do leave a comment below or drop us a line at

Thursday 22 January 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - Josh Vogel

Josh Vogel from The Scout on Vimeo.

Josh Vogel is a woodturner and founder of Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co., based in Kingston, New York. The story behind the wood that Josh works with is fascinating to him, and in this video he talks about how turning the wood is like going back in time in the tree's life; seeing it's story in reverse.

You can see more of Josh's work on his website.

Friday 16 January 2015

Reaching Nirvana Through Sharpening

Woodworking professionals come in as many forms as the work they produce, from robust timber buildings to the most delicate pierced bobbin or artwork. Our Masters of Wood series continues to seek out both excellence and enthusiasm from the world of woodworking to share.

This week we have an interview with Charles Beresford, a craftsman and cabinetmaker based in Germany, who describes his approach as “Krenovian”, in the style of James Krenov.  For Charles, like many of the finest craftspeople we have met, there is an essential truth within wood that their shaping and trimming can reveal. Key to his success are the tools, in particular the hand tools that he uses.  Charles explains how in his opinion an edge “can be only sharp, nothing else”.  

As our interview concluded Charles began to tell us about his “Porsche”, a hand built wooden plane with a foot made of English Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus). Almost too pretty to use, we are pleased to be able to share his enthusiasm for this most ancient of precision tools.

Both of these short films were shot at the Knysna Working with Wood Festival in October 2014. Be sure to check out our earlier post from the Working with Wood Festival. To find out more about Charles and his work, visit his website: 

Monday 12 January 2015

Woodworking Book Review : Oak Framed Buildings by Rupert Newman

Oak-Framed Buildings

(Revised Edition (The Guild of Master Craftsmen Publications Ltd))

By Rupert Newman

If you like your woodworking on an epic scale then building your own house with a full oak frame must be the ultimate challenge. Those of us with more modest ambitions but an equal passion for understanding wood and the craft and culture that surround its use, simply marvel at the scale of these projects and the people who take them on.

Oak-Framed Buildings by Rupert Newman is a fascinating introduction to the craft and culture of this traditional, yet thoroughly modern form of construction. Writing from the UK where there is a growing popularity of “Eco homes” and self-build projects, there has been a real resurgence of interest in the art of framing, in particular using timbers such as green oak. If you are looking for a book that will give you an insight into the principles of the craft (concentrating on the English style and techniques) or are contemplating a timber frame project of your own then this is a great place to start.
For the general woodworking enthusiast there are some fascinating insights into the history and development of timber frames from early Iron Age roundhouses to the extravagant use of timber in the late middle ages, where showing off vast amounts of expensive timber and complex joints on your new property was a sign of social status. 
There is a wonderful section on the structural qualities of oak with the help of some simple to understand illustrations. Getting to grips with the properties of the material from the inside as it grows really helps make sense of later sections related to shrinkage, one of the key factors in ensuring long term structural integrity of the building.

If you are interested in the anatomy of an Oak Frame Building this book will not disappoint; there are plenty of annotated illustrations and beautiful photographic images that will help you identify your upper crux from your sling brace, your crown post from your hammer beam. Though this is not a step by step guide to make all the joints you might find, there are illustrations of the key sectional elements.

When it comes to tools the author describes the basic requirements, most of which would be familiar to the woodworker though in many cases the scale maybe somewhat bigger than your average workshop favourites. Concerning the workshop that’s required to construct these projects the basic rule is big, really big. If you are going to get into this, you are talking about making large sectional elements of a house.

If you are thinking about building your own home out of oak this book will give you a good start. From choosing a site to planning the layout or estimating the cost there are some really helpful tips. Probably more so than other construction forms a timber frame has to take account of how it will interact in the environment. The prevailing wind direction and the size of window openings will determine which elements need to be braced and by what method. With advice on how to clad your building, roofing, glazing and environmental impact this book will either convince you to go for it, or that your ambition is probably outrunning your ability and pocket book and you should get some help.

To sum it up this is a beautifully put together book about Oak Frames, with some great images throughout, where they come from and why they are so loved by the people who make them or are lucky enough to live in them. It’s a primer for anyone interested in making their own modern building with traditional techniques. It’s also a jolly good read if you just want to dream, or are looking for inspiration for an amazing scale model project that would actually fit in your workshop. This is one I will keep close and mull over with a mug of tea on a regular basis.

Oak-Framed Buildings by Rupert Newman is available from  and other retailers online.  ISBN-978-1-86108-726-3

Friday 2 January 2015

Marc Maingard

Our encounters with Masters of Wood give us the opportunity to hear from some great craftsmen and fascinating characters. People who have developed their skills over many decades to the point where the work they produce is not only astonishing in its level of expertise but also unique in its style and individual design.  Marc has built custom wooden acoustic guitars for the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash and has a global reputation for being one of the best guitar makers in the world. Maingard, who’s workshop is based in South Africa’s beautiful Eastern Cape, has 40 years experience as a guitar player and maker.

Marc has honed his craft over many years; working with very precious, exotic timbers, he creates beautiful works of art that happen to be musically very fine acoustic guitars.  We caught up with Marc at the Working with Wood Festival in October 2014 in Knsyna  in South Africa.