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Friday, 24 April 2015

Robinson House Studio Competition

 1st Prize

Take your making to the next level. Win a one week training course with
Marc Fish at Robinson House Studio.  

Situated in the beautiful seaside town of Newhaven in East Sussex, Robinson House Studio is one of the hottest creative talent 'shops in the world. Under the leadership of Marc Fish, the team push the limits of materials and explore new techniques at the absolute cutting edge of modern furniture design. Having won four guild marks and the Claxton Stevens award, Marc now sits on the Guild Mark Committee of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, who decide whether other designer-maker's pieces are up to the coveted guild mark standard.

This course is designed for the improver or beginner who wishes to improve their making skills. You could choose to make a simple piece that will teach you the fundamental skills of hand tool woodworking or perhaps focus on a specific subject like laminating, routing, understanding good design, surface finishing... 

To enter, all you need to do is send a photograph of 
something that you have made which you feel demonstrates 

"an innovative or unusual use of wood"


Please include your name, phone number, email address, and the town or county that you live in with your entry. If you wish to include a couple of lines of descriptive text to explain the entry that's fine too.

Runners Up Prizes

The two closest runners up will each receive  
to spend at:

Workshop Heaven Fine Tools

..what would you choose? 

Dates and Details:

*Entries must be in by noon on the 31st May 2015.
*Photos should be no larger than 1Mb.
*They will be judged by Marc and the winners announced on this blog on the 5th of June.
*Entry is free of charge, no purchase necessary.
*Entrants will be automatically added to Robinson House Studio and Workshop Heaven monthly newsletter lists - we don't bombard you with daily deals and won't share or sell your details to anyone else.
*Winners will be announced in the form 'John from Middlesborough' if you prefer to remain anonymous please include this information on your entry.
*We wish all entrants the very best of luck, and trust that the gentlemanly spirit of the competition be upheld by all participants.
*Accommodation not included.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Bespoke Hand Tools: The MiniMac Woodcarving Knife

This is the best woodcarving knife I have ever used - by a very long way.

It is the finished product of a long collaboration between two good friends of mine, both of them wonderfully skilled craftsmen. Creative artist and woodcarver Jon Mac from Dartmoor and custom knifemaker Chris Grant from Arbroath.

The knife began as a bespoke commission for Jon's work carving elegant spoons, bowls and kuksa. When you watch Jon carve you'll quickly grasp the care and consideration with which he approaches all creative tasks, the design of this tool is no exception. There isn't a straight line on it, and every curve has been considered, refined and perfected by hand and eye. 

Chris thrives on the creative process, he gets deeply involved in the design of each project, feeding in his rich experience of blade steels and heat treatment processes. Working to the highest standards in metal, wood and leather, he brings everything together to deliver an exquisitely handcrafted product. He only makes knives, but boy does he make knives! 

The development since the original commission has been entirely organic, other carvers have tried the knife and been sufficiently blown away by its performance and dexterity that, with Jon's blessing, they have commissioned their own. Jon is a big guy with large hands, so when the stream of people who wanted one showed no sign of abating, the two got together again to work on a smaller version of his original design that would be better suited to people with average sized hands.

The result is the MiniMac, same sweet balance in exactly the same spot as the MaChris, same extraordinary edge strength, but when you compare the two side by side you can see that the subtleties of both the blade and handle shape have all been completely reworked. The MiniMac is a stick tang, which makes it considerably lighter, although in use they both just blend into the hand.

I've had this MiniMac for a few months now, and apart from a couple of very light dressing strokes on 5 micron lapping film I am still using the original shaving sharp edge. 

The MiniMac has very quickly become an integral part of how I work; to the extent that trying to carve with anything else just feels wrong. I can work with it for hours with no fatigue and place cuts with a level of precision I had previously not understood. It is no understatement to say that I would now be at a loss without it.

Could you still carve with a lesser knife? Of course you can, absolutely, but at the end of the day I carve for pleasure. There is nothing quite so luxurious as leaning against a tree on a sunny afternoon with a really good knife and a nice piece of wood and relishing every single cut.