Sunday, 8 May 2016


I started this blog as a way of showing people what I do and explaining what I'm doing and more importantly why. For me it works, but I've been so busy and after some jobs, so keen to get on with the next job that I've overlooked the blog and just thought.. I'm really busy, I just haven't the time. As with a lot of my posts you'll see I got into some detail, this all takes time, and its usually late in the evenings and with the girls around all it can be hard work.

This self employed life isn't easy, some of the work I get asked to to is really wonderful, and I'm grateful for being given the chance and opportunity. Some of the work over the last year or two has been brilliant, challenging and extremely well received.

As some of you will know I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and this has sometimes been a real struggle, both physically and mentally to the point where you can't help thinking when will this end.
No one sees this, and it is daily, every single day.. there is no let up. I take serious medication to keep it in check, this is monitored monthly to ensure that my body is still okay with it.

So going self employed was supposed to make my life a little easier by having no real repetition, allowing me to work unusual hours (usually just offset from the normal 9 - 5)

But over the last few months I've been putting more hours in and feel like less work is coming out the other end. One thing that has really become an issue is my mathematics and reading. I've been to the Doctors and they are going to do some tests. This could answer a few questions for me as sometimes it can feel like i'm going over the same piece over and over. It could be a confidence issue.. fine. It could also be something more serious.. and that's what worries me. This blog isn't just about my work, it's about me and my work. And if i'm changing then i'm sure my work will be changing too. Or am I sure my work will change ? I could carry on with the same old same old without anyone really noticing anything any different. But being forewarned is to be forearmed.. or something like that.. this is also here for my family to see what I worked on, what I made or repaired. Just a little something that they and I can look back on. The blog could also have been a type of therapy for me ? who knows and maybe in years to come someone looking through this could see a turning point.

The turning point of what..? who knows, but i'm getting to the situation where I really could do with taking someone on, some help. Its not easy. A friend of mine who has about 10 employees says your probably at the point where you need the help and to let go of some of the work, let go of some of the jobs you do and start trusting someone else to do part of it. We'll see..

I'm sorry I've not kept up with the blog (and thats to me, not you really) and this really should be the first one of getting back into it.. it's marketing, it's images, it's whats going on right now.

it's me.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Half Plate, Brass and Mahogany Field Camera c.1860

This lovely camera came into my workshop on the last day of my exhibition..

Jo had been taking photographs with it in the courtyard in the centre of our site. When there was a gust of wind, and it toppled over on its tripod and went down to the ground. One of the tech guys had been to see my exhibition a few minutes before and handed my business card to her and said this guy could probably fix it. When Jo brought it in to me she put it on one of the benches with just a few screws.. we discussed for a minute. I then asked my Chloe to go with Jo and see if she could find any more screws, as there were loads missing from the bent up brass-ware. Chloe came back with even more, which was great as they were really tiny.

Well, I'd not done one before, but it was brilliant to get my hands on it and take it from a pile of bits back to better than it was before..

Here are some pictures and details

click on pictures to enlarge

This is how I first saw this wonderful old camera.
Just look at it closely, hinges ripped out, brass metal runners bent up, ripped out screw holes everywhere.. Mahogany just badly damaged. Tiny dovetails split out and ruined.
The only really good thing was the lens was not damaged at all.. and luckily the rear glass plate had not got damaged or the lens suffered too.. I know, after falling from over a metre off the floor (Tarmac) !! amazing really.

As I mentioned earlier, I have never really had my hands on one of these in good condition, so to have one broken and not really sure how it all works, was a little scary.

But all I had to do was only problem at a time, and the woodwork was without doubt the only place to start.

The photo to the left shows the hinges on this side piece were very slightly bent, it didn't close at all, and I could'nt just force it. It was about taking steps backwards to move forwards. These hinges had to be straightened up by 1mm. Then it worked.

Notice too. The bent piece of 'guide' brass in the background these were bent and screws ripped out of holes. Each piece of brass removed, straightened. The holes filled and re-drilled, then all screwed back together.

This part I was lucky with. Notice the first gear on the end of the rack right next to the hinge. See how it was bent over. Well the pinion would not go over this part, so I took it off, turned it around and..
hey-presto it worked, even the screw holes were in exactly the right place.

The hinge here had to be removed later on as it was slightly bent too.

The guide piece is to the left, this was before polishing up. Polished up not just to clean and look shiny, but to get years of grease and muck off it.

Notice to the left and right of the hinge, that the Mahogany is beveled at 45 degrees to allow the hinge to work correctly. Dont forget the rack and pinion has to still work running over that joint. A great piece of engineering.

This is the before photo of the gearing for the rear part of the camera to mechanically move to and from the lens.

Notice all of the dust and oil in between the gears.

Also the brass strip to the right, this allows the carriage to move without too much play, without this the carriage would just fall off.

Here's the opposite side after I have cleaned the gearing out, straightened the brass strip, filled any of the screw holes that were ripped out, and re-fitted the screws. And there were 27 screws 'ripped out'.

Each had to have the hole filled with a small slither of wood, glued into place, trimmed flush and then the brass pieces screwed back on. A time consuming job, but one that needed to be done properly.

This image shows the side piece removed to get at some of the other damage. The piece removed is in the background.

The brass plate in the bottom of the shot holds the moving carriage, this was bent all over the place. I clamped it up between two pieces of wood with leather to stop any damage to the brass patina.

You can clearly see now how the brass end plate tucks under the brass runner plate. The knob on the other side (out of shot) turns the pinion, this engages with the rack and slides fore and aft.

This was after I had removed the bellows. They were

I couldn't understand why the carriage part was not working its way to the front of the camera.

Then I noticed that 'T-nut' in the base was catching the bottom of the carriage. It was about 2mm proud of the surface. It had been added so that the camera could be used on a tripod.

This is what a T-nut looks like, very useful.

I removed it carefully.. wasn't easy as it was clamped in and some glue was around it.. and those barbs really do grip well.

Anyhow I recessed it in another couple of millimeters then clamped it back in the same barbed holes. Careful that it couldn't come through the base.

Here it is with a hardwood block on the inside...

 ..and a softer ply pad on the outside to protect the Mahogany

The hole was already a bit chewed up. So I was doing my best to keep it as tidy as possible.

I put some epoxy mixed with some Brown pigments to fill the hole and to provide a little more support.

This is after I had refitted the bellows, the red tape is just temporary.

This was to hold the two parts together while the bellows dried overnight.

After I had repaired the remaining woodwork problems, I gave it all a clean down with my reviver. After that each piece of the woodwork was given at least two coats of French Polish

Here is the completed camera.. 
the remaining hole you can see on the side could be repaired at a later date.

The list of repaired parts is a long one,, but it works a treat
Wind that knob clockwise it turns the pinion and travels towards the lens,,

Like so..  Now just lift the far left part up towards the top of the carriage part,
then close the curved part.

Ends up like this. There are some well made, and well thought out catches too.
The catch that holds it all open, also works to hold it all closed. Very well engineered

Here's the back corner,
I didn't fill the damaged wood, just glued the splits and realigned them as best as possible, with the clean and polish it looks as naturally looked after as it should after 155 years.

The finished camera looked great. And Jo was really pleased, because it got a lot more than just repaired, it got a full service too..

I really enjoyed it, and would love to do another.

All the best


Monday, 20 July 2015

Surfboard Meeting Table

This job took me back a little.

This is the second time I've made a Surfboard table; the last one was the Surfboard Coffee Table
back in June 2013 which I designed and created to expand my work.

This one is a world away from that one; at 3 metres long (10ft) and a very high 110cm tall (431/2").. it's much bigger, which was the initial brief from Sketch Studios.

The only way that I felt the Surfboard would look right, was if it was a 1950's style longboard, with quite a traditional look, sitting on the trestles or bench that it was made and finished on.

The juxtaposition of the stripey high gloss board with an old, well used and distressed frame meant the board could be complimented well. Made from Grey 'Sun bleached' timber that would work, and look great on the South coast of the UK.

Normally here, I would go through how I built this seriously cool table...

This time, a lot of the build was on Twitter with finer details and explanations for my followers to view.

We have taken so many photos, that when I came to edit them down, I had about thirty left and just thought I'd put loads on here for you (and me).

So here you go, enjoy (by the way, new photos added at the end of the table in situ )

Please click on photos to enlarge

In the display area of my workshop

The framework beneath

This timber was new, but Sun bleached.
All new cuts i.e. joints exposed 'new' wood, so it all had to be coloured to get back to the Grey finish.

We carried the table outside to get some natural light onto it.

Love the reflections of light through the trees.

The Ash & Sapele was a good choice as the woods 
compliment each other highly.

It was difficult to choose the images to not include,
 its just so cool.

Well, every now and then you have to be in the frame...

Probably my favourite (above) 

And you can't help but run your hands over it. Silky smooth, Cheers Matt

I'm 5'9" so this shows the scale

The underside in the daylight is just so great.. I love it

Hopefully you'll agree, it just doesn't look new, at all.

The paint splats and drips.
With my stamp just on the end grain of the through tenon.

Carpet over the top timbers to keep from scratching the board when you are polishing them up.

Love the Grey and the honesty of the jointing.. I've even used nails to show the simplicity of the framework that would be made for this 'workhorse'.

Another few in a different location..

Then back into the workshop to finish off 

More wax on the fin.

Satin finished on the underside, all sealed and waxed on here.

Under the bottom rail.

Had to be dated.

Back on the floor where it was distressed.. 

Just fits in perfectly as 'the bench they were made on'.

Rings and drips.. love it.

Remember all of this frame was only made last week. 

I hope you enjoyed that. I loved making it and especially the finishing on the base.

Thank you list.

Beth, for finding me.
Ruth, great communication during build.
Tom, intern with me. "Only a few weeks left now Tom"
Matt, for the high gloss.
Ellie, photos and delivery.

You can follow me on here and on Twitter, where you would see more work in progress shots and during build photos.

Thanks for looking 

All the best


Here are the photos of the table in the office, a great setting for this unusual table.

So much daylight.. 

Love the lighting above.. great colour scheme 

the contrast of the top and the base makes me smile...

The view as you walk in from the decking

The view as you walk in towards the meeting room.
The gloss is great, and you can now see the decking, with it's great weathered look

Do you want something different ? or need something different ?

Thanks for looking