Woodturning magazine
Woodturning magazine Issue 287 - Winter 2015.

Winter 2015 article

December 2015

An article about me and my work appeared in Woodturning magazine this month - that is, the Winter 2015 edition, Issue number 287 (not the December edition). There is a regular feature in this magazine called In the Workshop with ... and this month they look at my workshop, and feature some of the items I produce, through a series of interview questions and answers. Read the article ... Read more about Woodturning magazine ...

Holly box
Box turned from a piece of holly

Lidded box

Ash box
Ash box with walnut lid

Lidded box

8 December 2015

Two boxes, one ash with a walnut lid, the other turned from a piece of holly. More

Pot pourri holders
Two pot pourri holders turned from elm and sycamore.

Two pot pourri holders

8 December 2015

Two pot pourri holders in different woods. The one on the left is elm, has a rich tone with some marked grain patterns. The one on the right is made from sycamore, with a creamy even grain, though it does have a burr oak lid with some interesting figuring in it. More ...

Yew candle holders
Two slices of yew log turned into candle holders, with pure beeswax candles

A pair of yew candle holders

8 December 2015

Two candle holders turned from slices of a yew log, with moulded beeswax candles. I have done so many of this type of thing now, either for candles or tea lights, that I thought it would be worth setting up a page with some examples on. There is also a new trio of acacia tea lights on the page. More ...

Burr oak bowl
Large burr oak bowl with cracks

Large chunky burr oak bowl

4 December 2015

A large bowl turned from an even larger oak burr. The burr was cracked and pitted, but the cracks have been left unfilled to retain the character of the original tree. This is a sister bowl to the one made last year - from another burr on the same tree. More ...

Wall clock
The ravages of time. Wall clock in an unusual piece of burr acacia, quite heavily pitted and cracked.

Acacia wall clock

28 November 2015

A wall clock made from an unusual piece of burr acacia. Heavily patterned and pitted with cracks and inclusions, the clock perhaps has something of a symbolic representation of the ravages of time?

That said, the wood and the burrs have been stabilised using cyanoacrylate and cellulose sealer, and the whole was then finished with Tripoli wax and carnauba wax. More ...

War memorial
War memorial turned, carved and pyrographed in sycamore wood. Installed on the old Malton Grammar School entrance wall in 2015

War memorial

11 November 2015

A war memorial designed to commemorate students and staff of Malton Grammar School who died in service in the two world wars. Designed as a large walll plaque (24" diameter), with a carved poppy at its centre and the old Grammar School badge at its base, it lists all those who gave their lives in the wars. It was unveiled on 6 November, and is now fixed to the old grammar school wall. More ...

Coin box
A small coin box (that is, a box with a coin inset in its lid). Goncalo alves wood.

Coin box

31 October 2015

A small coinbox made for my nephew's youngest child, Luca. It was made to go with three others that I made a couple of years ago, for his mum, his brother, and his daughter. The wood is goncalo alves (South American) , and there is a 2015 penny attached to the lid to mark Luca's birthday. It is smaller than the moneyboxes that I often make - the 50p in the picture gives an idea of its scale.

Cricket trophy
Another cricket trophy made to what appears to be a popular design

Cricket trophy

29 October 2015

Another cricket trophy made to the emerging classic design for this trophy. This one has a burr oak base, with ash wickets and bails, and a padauk ball. Made for Elsted Cricket Club in Surrey. It is interesting making the same trophy a number of times - they are never the same, and each creates its own style based on the nature and dimensions of the base and the wickets.


Solitaire set in oak, with black glass marbles

Solitaire set

29 October 2015

A classic solitaire puzzle made from oak, with glass marbles. This one, along with two others, was made as a prize for the winners of the 2015 Maths Challenge at Malton School, but obviously a version can be made with or without a dedication around its rim. More...

Geography trophy
George Hanson gepgraphy trophy, individual version for the winner to keep. Spalted wood intended to reflect the map patterns on a globe.


Geography and history trophies
David Lloyd history trophy with sword, book and crown reflecting some elements of history.


October 2015

Much of this month has been taken up with making 45 trophies for Malton School's annual Celebration Evening in November. These two are the George Hanson Geography Award, and the David Lloyd history award. More...

Altar cross
Altar cross in elm, 18 inches high, 9 inch base

Altar cross

1 September 2015

An altar cross commissioned by Caton Baptist Church in Lancashire, to give to a local school. This is a large piece, with the cross 18 inches high, standing on a base 9 inches in diameter. The piece is made from English elm, with some ash inserts to hold the three tea-lights, and ebony studs in the centre and ends of the cross. The pyrographed inscription on the base reads "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalms 27 v.1) More...

Flame trophy
Flame trophies in spalted beech

Flame trophies

1 September 2015

More flame trophies for LogsDirect in Lancashire. who give them out to wood-fired restaurants that they supply. Made from spalted beech to enhance the flame effect. See the LogsDirect "Wood fired restaurant of the month" competition page.


Toy dog kennel
Turned dog kennel with resident pug

George's kennel

24 August 2015

A small kennel turned to house a pug dog. Made for my great niece, who very much loves her pug George. The kennel is turned from acacia. The pug is from the toymaker Shleich's range.

Turned wooden cricket trophy
Cricket trophy for Spalding Town CC, with the town's coat of arms.

Cricket trophy

23 July 2015

Another cricket trophy, this time for Spalding Town Cricket Club. The base, wickets and bails are all in ash, the ball is padauk, used for its reddish colouring. The club's badge is a very detailed heraldic affair, too small for me to pyrograph or paint. For this one I used a decal transfer method which seems to have worked quite well.


Computing Trophy
Pentagonal shield for a perpetual Computing Award trophy

Computing Award

8 July 2015

The headteacher at Temple Grafton Church of England Primary School saw the Maths Trophy and requested something simiilar to be presented as an annual Computing Award. The result was this rippled sycamore pentagonal shield on a plinth, with small pentagons to be added each year to record the winners. Unlike the maths trophy, this one has a flat front, to make it easy for the school to add the annual winners. More...

Turned wooden paperweights
Eight ideas for wooden paperweights.

Wooden paperweights

June 2015

Possible shapes for wooden paperweights in different timbers. Some have the inscription "A Round Tuit". More...

Turned wooden spinning tops
Spinning tops in spalted beech

Spinning tops

3 May 2015

Spinning tops in spalted beech. These were made as small gifts for a birthday party - one for each guest. The spalted beech just happened to be available, but was a little light and soft for the purpose. Spinning tops work better with a bit more weight and more ability to hold a sharp point on their base. BUt these all spun well despite this. More...

Money box
Money box in acacia wood
Money box
Money box in spalted beech

Money box

April, May 2015

Two money boxes made for my nieces' sons, Frankie and Jacob. Frankie's is made from acacia, Jacob's from spalted beech. Both are a simple barrel design, with a push-fit join in the middle and a slot in the top.


Flame trophy
Six flame trophies in spalted beech

Flame trophies

8 April 2015

Six flame trophies, commissioned by LogsDirect, a solid fuel company, who wanted something to reflect their business. The trophies are made in spalted beech, which I think adds the right kind of patterning to the flames. Making six shows how varied spalted wood can be - even from the same blank, as only four pieces were used for these. More...

Wooden toy cooking set
A toy cooking set with pans and cooking rings

Toy cooking set

28 February 2015

More exploration into making toys for my 3-year old granddaughter. A couple of pans, and a little cooker with two rings to go on our camping holidays (in the living room!)

The pieces were made up as I went along, without plans, so took some time and a few false starts. More...

Cup tree
An oak bowl with prominent medullary rays

Oak bowl

28 February 2015

The bowl is amongst the simplest and most functional of objects, yet it also offers endless possibilities of subtle variation in style and design. All this is added to by the unique nature of the wood used.

This one is oak, with a bead around the outside. More...

Cup tree
A cupstand for 6 cups, made from laburnum.

Cup tree

28 February 2015

A cup tree made from laburnum, to hold six cups. The wood is at present quite light, full of swirling grain and a little of the creamy white sapwood. A similar stand in the same wood was made around 5 years previously, and this is a very dark brown - not sure if it was always this way, or whether it has gradually turned darker over the years.

The stand is about 14 inches high. The cups are from Robert Fuller's gallery, with some fine wildlife artwork on them. More...

Burr elm clock
elm burr with bark, 5 inch dial skeleton clock.
Oak burr clock
Oak burr with bark, 5 inch dial skeleton clock. (Sold, £50)

Elm and oak skeleton clocks

19 February 2015

Scott in Fife requested a burr oak skeleton clock. I didn't have the size he wanted in oak, so made a smaller one in oak (right), and a larger one in elm (left). Both have 5" dials. He opted for the oak, so the elm is for sale. More ...

Tea light trio - yew
A trio of tea-light holders from a branch of yew.

Tea light trio in yew

19 February 2015

Scott in Fife requested a trio of tea lights in yew, having spotted a set on the site. A new set was duly made - this trio is turned from a single yew branch in a design which leaves some of the natural bark on, with a cup shape running through the bark rim. The base is also yew, and the three cups fit on the base snugly. More...

Acorn Award
An acorn in spalted beech, given as an Acorn Award. 5" diameter, 9" high.

Acorn Award

15 February 2015

Josh in London spotted the ten acorn trophies I did last year for UPM Tilhill, and requested one to be given as an Acorn Award. (Not sure what this is for.) I adapted the design slightly, making the base wider, not as tall, and in spalted beech to match the acorn. The wood being lighter than the walnut used on the UPM versions, this allowed for the winner's name to be pyrographed on to the base.

Commemorative platter
A platter commemorating the centenary of Malton School. Ash, 12" diameter

Malton School centenary

15 January 2015

I recently borrowed back a pyrographed commemorative plate from Malton School, created in my earlier days of pyrographing to commemorate the centenary of Malton School in its current buildings on Middlecave Road. The plate is ash, which has mellowed nicely. The pyrography is a little less smooth in application than more recent attempts, but serves its purpose. More

Cheesecake with mice
A wedding cake made from cheese, with turned wooden mice

Wedding cake in cheese

15 January 2015

I had a request for 3 turned mice (see 30 September below), to be used as ornaments on a wedding cake with a difference. This cake was to be made out of rounds of cheese! The wedding has now happened, and Lisa, the bride, sent me a photo of the very unusual cheesecake, with mice in situ. The bride's little 2-year old niece was so taken with the mice that I had to provide 3 more for her to keep!

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A neighbour's cat soaks up the warmth from the compost heap

Maintaining the garden

18 November 2015

I have now completed a new illustrated garden talk about maintaining the garden throughout the year. The first presentation of this talk was today, to Nafferton Gardening Club. There are 143 slides illustrating aspects of gardening, which are available on this site.

Indian Bean Tree
Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa bignonioides, at Levens Hall in September.

Indian Bean Tree, Levens Hall

25 October 2015

A fine specimen tree standing in the front garden of Levens Hall in Cumbria, more famous for its topiary specimens. This tree was flowering in September when we visited, and this is then followed by a show of foot long pencil thick pods, giving it the name Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides). More ...

Speckled Wood
Speckled wood butterfly visitng the autumn flowering sedum.

Speckled Wood butterfly

1 October 2015

The late flowering sedum spectabile attracted a slightly more unusual visitor this week, although I don't know how common Speckled Wood butterflies are in the north. It was nice to see something a little different in the early autumn sunshine.

Tree root clearance
Neighbour's concrete fence footings removed, and a deep hole to clear the roots of a felled leylandi

Tree stump operations

August - September 2015

Another leylandi felled and tree stump removed. This has allowed more light to the top of the garden, and taken away the competition with the spiral beech topiary. The bed will be dug over, compost added, and planted with herbaceous perrenials next spring. More ...

Painted Lady
Speckled wood butterfly visitng the autumn flowering sedum.

Painted Lady butterfly

August 2015

Hemp agrimony is not the most colourful or impressive plant in the border, but it is very attractive to bees and butterflies so it is forgiven its place in our garden. It does like to seed around everywhere, however, so the heads are cut off just before they go all fluffy and seed bearing.

1 September 2015

Hemp agrimony is not the most attractive of plants, and is a bit of a thug if seed heads are left to blow around the garden and colonise. However, they are as attractive to butterflies and bees as buddleia, so the colour comes from their visitors more than from their flowers. The one shown here has a Painted Lady visiting.

A fine display of montbretia in the garden this year


1 September 2015

Montbretia (crocosmia) is a common plant, considered a non-native weed when it escapes and colonises hedgerows and other wild areas. I cannot remember such a good year for them in our garden as this one. We also have the bright red, increasingly common, lucifer, which has also done well.

Healthy flowers emerge after the day lily midge attack in July


5 August 2015

Well, the RHS advice appears to be correct. The gall midges have limited their infestation of the day lily buds to July, and into August we are finally getting flowers opening. There are lots of long, pointed buds following, so hopefully there will be a reasonable show during the rest of the month.

Gunby Hall Lincolnshire
One of a number of colourful avenues with bright planting on both sides of the path.

Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire

29 July 2015

A magical garden with paths leading in all directions through drifts of colour. Some of the avenues of plants remind me of Monet's Giverny garden. Beautiful combinations of plants, set amongst walls and hedges, and a stream. A garden where you just want to walk around again, perhaps taking another path.

Brodsworth Hall, Doncaster
The formal planting in front of the house, behind the croquet lawn. Just one of a range of different areas of planting style at the Hall.

Brodsworth Hall, Doncaster

28 July 2015

A visit to Brodsworth Hall on a sunshine and showers day. A few years since our last visit, and the regeneration of the garden is progressing well. A lot of clipped yew, holly, laurel, ivy and box across all areas, the quarry fernery has matured, as has the rose garden and herbacious beds. Very nice.

Day Lily gall midge
Infested buds attacked by the tiny hemerocallis gall midge. Swollen, rotting and not opening. Pick off and destroy.

Day Lily Gall Midge Attack

24 July 2015

Our day lilies have not been opening, and some research reveals that they have been attacked by the Day Lily Gall Midge. The fattened buds are stunted and rotting before opening. The RHS site says look for tell-tale minute white maggots inside, and sure enough they were there. Good news is their breeding cycle finishes about now so we may still get some flowers.

Box topiary
25 years old box infilled with new box planting in 2014

Box - summerhouse

Box topiary
Ready for clipping. Box balls planted 2013, spirals 10 years old, privet 30 years

Box topiary - front

7 July 2015

Topiary clipping season. The front garden box was planted two years ago and is beginning to shape up. The box in front of the summerhouse is a mix of 25 years old and 1 year old. All shaping up. More

Eggleston Hall
The entrance to the garden trail and the nursery at Eggleston Hall in Teesdale.

Eggleston Hall

18 June 2015

On the road to High Force and Low Force in the Tees valley, an exceptionally large nursery inside an old walled garden offers a surfeit of unusual varieties of plants. For a £2.50 donation in the honesty box, you can walk around a trail and see many of these planted in the surrounding grounds.

Two hundred year old yews clipped to abstract shapes at Raby Castle Gardens, County Durham.

Raby Castle

17 June 2015

Just across the Tees near the village of Staindrop is the home of Lord Barnard (of Barnard Castle). The gardens were a real delight, with all kinds of planting in good order, maintained by just two full time gardeners. The abstract clipped yew hedges which split up the gardens are over 200 years old.

Constable Burton
Clipped box in the more formal part of the garden at Constable Burton, North Yorkshire.

Constable Burton

16 June 2015

The fine tulip displays at Constable Burton, near Leyburn, were virtually all gone, but there is still lots to see for the £4 honesty box admission. A tranquil garden of woodland and streams planted along their banks. Some specimen trees, and most of the plants labelled for visitor's reference.

Sylvia's GArden, Newby Hall
Pastel shades in Sylvia's garden, Newby Hall, North Yorkshire

Sylvia's garden, Newby Hall

7 June 2015

We couldn't believe the car parking when we arrived on spec at Newby Hall. Fields and fields of cars - it was Tractor Fest, with hundreds of tractors on view. Thankfully the garden was more peaceful. We were a little early for the herbaceous border display, but there was still lots to take the fancy.

Rambling front garden in Bolton by Bowland

Bolton by Bowland

7 June 2015

The season for visiting other gardens - easier than tending your own, but often leading to envy and the purchase of a plant that catches the eye. This lovely rambling front garden is in the quiet village of Bolton by Bowland, which used to be in Yorkshire until Lancashire stole it in the 1974 boundary changes.

Miniature daffodils with trumpets pushed forward, and petals back, appear to be thrusting their way through the cold mornings into the sun

Miniature daffodils

Prunus cerasifera cnigra
The blossom on the black cherry plum appears on bare branches.

Prunus nigra

9 April 2015

Early flowers and blossom brought out by the higher than seasonal temperatures this week. Miniature daffodils, and the first flowers on an ornamental black cherry plum (prunus cerasifera nigra), which appear before the leaves.

Young frogs gather around the newly laid spawn

Frogs and spawn

A single frog amidst the spawn

Frog in spring

6 April 2015

The frogs have been gathering in the pond over the last week. Spawn appeared at the weekend, and there have been a number of frogs gathered around jostling for position in the recent warmer weather.

Skimmia japonica rubella
Clusters of pink buds on skimmia japonica rubella

Skimmia Japonica Rubella

Hamamellis intermedia aurora
Hamamellis intermedia aurora - spidery flowers in abundance on the witch hazel in February

Hamamellis intermedia aurora

Christmas box
Abundant small white flowers with strong scent - sarcococca confusa - Christmas box


26th February 2015

Three pictures of winter flowers in the garden. If only the scents could be transmitted on the web! The witch hazel - hamamellis - has a gentle sweet fragrance. The sarcococca confusa (Christmas box) has a much more pungent forceful scent, not as pleasant on the nose but very distinctive. The skimmia is here more for colour than scent - often sold as small plants in winter mixed planters, but if you pot them on they will keep for future seasons.

A garden in Thornton le Dale
A garden in Thornton le Dale - looking up the garden

A garden in Thornton le Dale

18 January 2015

I have added 130 slides from my talk on the development of my garden in Thornton le Dale. These are the slides used in the talk, usually shown using a data projector.

The slides cover various projects from 1986 to the present day.

More ...

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