Callum our apprentice making the drawer handles

Hello folks,

Once again I present to you another blog post.

This time it is as the title suggests, Callum our wonderful apprentice has excelled himself and produced two excellent replacement handles/knobs for the damaged drawer fronts you read about in the previous blog.

The story this time has an interesting background to it as the timber used was beech, but its source is quite unique.

The original handles after we removed the paint told us that they were made from beech.

This is not at all unusual as handles of that era were often made from beech as its tight grain makes it a dream to use on a lathe.

The beech we used for the handles came from a source of beech which I had. The story behind this particular piece of timber involves a bit of history involving my family.

My father now retired was also a joiner, who worked around the linen houses in Banbridge, my home town, as you can sense I’m proud of it too!

Banbridge as many know had in the past and was famous for it a series of linen factories producing linen.

One particular linen mill was called the Fergusson Factory simply named after its founding family. To the best of my knowledge the firm still operates but from a different location, moving from its magnificent but now demolished Lurgan Road complex to the Scarva Road as part of an industrial estate.

Now the interesting bit.

My father for many years provided his services for a local man who owned various properties in the town. This man who is now sadly deceased, I remember him with fondness due to his generosity to my father, brother and myself before and after his death.

I am very proud to say that due to his generosity in leaving me the entire contents of his workshop, many of the tools he left me are being used in the project here at Mount Stewart.

The next time you are here, look into the workshop. You will see one of his machines alongside many of his hand tools which are crucial to the operations here.

He not only gave me tools but also a varied selection of now rare species of timber. The section of beech we are using being just one piece of the collection, I know he would have been very happy and proud to have known his tools and timber are still being put to good use and are vital to the success of this project.

Now as you would all know well before the introduction of mechanical looms all the linen was produced on wooden looms.

I’m sure we can all picture the shuttle passing back and forth at a tremendous rate, bringing with it the linen thread which weaved with extreme fineness some wonderfully amazing patterns.

Traditionally the looms where made from beech, as beech has very tight grain and brilliant shock value, it was the timber of choice.

The picture below shows the section of the loom which we used to turn the handles. This can be clearly seen from its shape and the V groove was something to do with the part the shuttle moved on.

The end showing the profile of the beech section we used


The end showing the profile of the beech section we used

Cross section of the piece of beech


Cross section of the piece of beech

The section of beech has been squared up and Callum is now taking the edges off using a smoothing plane. This means that when it’s placed in the lathe it is easier to introduce the tool to commence shaping.

Callum rounding  the edges of the beech section  which makes it easier to start turning in the lathe


Callum rounding the edges of the beech section which makes it easier to start turning in the lathe

This picture shows the damaged handle’s which need to be copied.

The damaged handles


The damaged handles

Callum’s test run! The timber used here is southern yellow pine. As you can see it has a crack in it unfortunately rendering it useless.

The first attempt


The first attempt

Hard at it! Just look at the concentration and the sheer determination!

The concentration!


The concentration!

The first one done! And it’s as usual spot on!

Top class work!

Success!


Success!

Briliant!


Brilliant!

What can I say! Good work Callum


What can I say! Good work Callum

The two knobs with the section of beech which they came from


The two knobs with the section of beech which they came from

Lathe work is a very satisfying and too many a relaxing hobby. In this case the lathe makes our workshop ever more versatile, with Callum ready and willing to turn anything that we need.

Well, just to keep you reading a wee bird has told me that we have to turn a test spindle for the new look Gallery.

So don’t worry folks I will keep you posted!

Bye for now!

David

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