Saturday, 22 August 2009

Ben Willis greenwoodworker

Last craftsperson from Lincre woodland festival this is Ben Willis. He was an apprentice with Mike Abbott 3 years ago and is a very competent pole lathe turner. He is also a freelance journalist and has written for I think he said the Telegraph and Guardian on environmental issues. At Linacre he was turning rounders bats out of the gorgeous straight ash grown on site.
First it is split with a froe.
From this position you push forward with the knee and back with the froe handle to lever the wood apart.

Then chop off the excess with an axe, however much I think I have learned about green woodworking I can still pick up tips from others. I love Ben's chopping block. I have seen folk use blocks like this before with three branches giving a very stable block and the twisted wood where the branches meet being very resistant to splitting but the third leg here is morticed in an removable for flat packing, very ingenious.

Then a few quick strokes on the shave horse has a roughly rounded billet.

Ready for turning on the lathe.

A finished bat and ball

And a couple of nice chairs.


  1. Hi Rob, thanks for the post - have to give Mike A credit for the chopping block, as it was something he gave me when I finished my apprenticeship with him. In fact, I think it features in one of Tamsin Abbott's lovely line drawings in Living Wood. There's one for the sharp-eyed to look out for...

  2. ben-have you ever carved a huge bowl-we have a large bowl-signed b. willis on the bottom-it has a few bowtie fasteners in it-it really is a work of art and we are trying to find out more about it. kathy