Oak carved tray with glass insert

Over the last few months I have been making an oak carved tray with glass insert. It was made from a solid piece of oak, carved with rope edging and straps. To say I am now ‘roped out’ is an understatement. The textures elements to the twisted strands took a long time but they do add a lot of movement to the piece and help make it look more realistic.

You can see my template piece of rope in the earlier pictures below, which helped me work out how the twists moved as they went around the corners. They don’t move how you might think, as the twists tighten on the inside and open up on the outside, so you just need to go with the measurements, and know that it will look right. This is how it finished up:










I have written about the tray in the past, but here is a series of pictures showing how it developed from a plank, through a simple solid cylinder around the tray, on to the carving of the rope shape. I had 3 attempts at getting the curve right around the corners, using my piece of rope and a plastic template with the curls marked out on it. Remembering to leave enough wood to make the straps:



















The glass insert was made a few months ago. I used real ferns, with glass powder, to produce the fern design on white background. It takes 3 firings to make the glass insert. I wrote about it at the time.







Mildred has been a little ill

Unfortunately Mildred has been a little off colour. She ventured out on New Year’s Day with her friends for our traditional New Year opener.

All began well.

We arrived at the local Church to join the queue of 30 Austin Sevens, and a few assorted others, to enjoy mince pies and (non-alcoholic) mulled wine.

We then happily set off on our 25 mile run.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to the end. About half way through we spluttered to a halt. It looked as if the head gasket had failed, nothing that could be solved at the roadside.

With thanks to our insurers and SOS road rescue, we had a truck with us within the hour and were on our way home.



For anyone technically minded, this is what I found when I removed the head, a missing piece of gasket, which appears to have broken away.

The result is loss of compression in cylinders 2 and 3.

Mildred is now well on the way to recovery. The new gasket is bedding in and she should be back on the road in a day or 2.

Blacksmith experience days’ pictures

After my earlier post about blacksmith experience days as gifts for Christmas, A couple of people have asked me about the pieces people have made.

First is the hanging basket bracket.

These two were made by Patrick and his daughter Charlotte.

I use this design to help people who want to learn a number of techniques, but don’t have a specific item they want to make.

The important thing to remember is that the day is yours. If you have something specific you would like to make then, before the day, I will help to develop your idea into something you can make in a day on the forge.

Some of the other things made include:



















Christmas present, blacksmithing or beekeeping experience days








If you are looking for the ideal Christmas present, blacksmithing or beekeeping experience days might be just what you are looking for. I can supply you with a pdf gift card to print and give to the lucky person, with the date for the ‘day’ to be set later.

I have held a few experience days over the year and wanted to share a few pictures.

Whether you are interested in finding out more about beekeeping or blacksmithing, I can tailor make a day for you.

In a day designed around what you want to achieve and learn, a beekeeping experience day will involve opening up hives and gaining an understanding of how the hive lives and thrives.

Meanwhile, on a blacksmithing experience day, I first work with you before the day to understand what you would like to make on my outdoor forge.

I then work on your idea to make it something you can make, with a little help from me when needed. Alternatively, you can make a hanging basket bracket incorporating a number of blacksmithing techniques, to learn more about the art.

On the day itself you will learn key forge techniques and make something to take away and treasure.

“Thank you for such an amazing day!”

“We both had a great day and my wife is very impressed that we managed to produce such beautiful work – all of which was thanks to your excellent coaching.  You made great use of our time and I’m still amazed that we managed to do quite so much in a few short hours.” – Patrick

“Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and patience with us.” – Karen and Graham

“Wow what an amazing candle holder Dan made..I was gobsmacked….I absolutely loved it…thank you, Dan had an amazing time and hasn’t stopped talking about it….” – Leonie

“Thanks so much for making Henry’s day so enjoyable yesterday. He had a truly fabulous time and loved every minute of it. I am amazed and delighted at the sculpture he made in the time he had – his DT teacher was equally impressed. I think we have started something here! If you ever hear of any trainee opportunities, please let us know. He was still smiling at 3.30am when I woke him to go on his school trip to France.” – Rachel









Please contact me if you have any questions about my experience days, or if I can help create the perfect christmas or birthday present.