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Course: Make a Canoe Paddle April 2019

posted on October 31, 2018

Make a canoe paddle

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April 2019

9.00am to 5.00pm

During this two-day course with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood, you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from Ash using hand tools.

“I can’t think of anything that could have improved a perfect couple of days – I will signing up for another one soon.”
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Colin was fantastic; his attention to detail and support ensured we all left with a paddle I think even he was happy with!
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

  • Working with ash – our superior native hardwood.
  • Using traditional skills and tools you will produce a complex shape with hand and eye.
  • Learn how to finish your smooth and elegant design.
  • Take home a unique and usable canoe paddle ready for a varnish or an oil finish.
  • Tools and materials included (if you wish to bring your own tools please discuss this with the tutor).

Cost: £225 per person (materials included)

Venue: Our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Colin Henwood

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Colin Henwood founded his boatyard, Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders, in 1982 specialising in restoring and building wooden Thames launches. The boatyard received many awards in the UK and abroad, and in 2014 Colin was awarded Maker of the Year by the Heritage Crafts Association. In October 2016 Colin handed the boatyard over to two of his team who are successfully continuing the tradition he began 35 years ago. Not one to retire, Colin has established a workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre where he is currently re-building a 1920 Thames motor canoe.

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Paddle course_Jun2018

Paddle course at the Sylva Wood Centre, Jun2018


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Course: Make a Canoe Paddle February 2019

posted on

Make a canoe paddle

Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd February 2019

9.00am to 5.00pm

During this two-day course with award-winning boat builder Colin Henwood, you will learn how to shape a single canoe paddle from Ash using hand tools.

“I can’t think of anything that could have improved a perfect couple of days – I will signing up for another one soon.”
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Colin was fantastic; his attention to detail and support ensured we all left with a paddle I think even he was happy with!
Student on Paddle making course, January 2018.

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

Make your own canoe paddle at the Wood Centre

  • Working with ash – our superior native hardwood.
  • Using traditional skills and tools you will produce a complex shape with hand and eye.
  • Learn how to finish your smooth and elegant design.
  • Take home a unique and usable canoe paddle ready for a varnish or an oil finish.
  • Tools and materials included (if you wish to bring your own tools please discuss this with the tutor).

Cost: £225 per person (materials included)

Venue: Our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Colin Henwood

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Colin Henwood founded his boatyard, Henwood and Dean Boatbuilders, in 1982 specialising in restoring and building wooden Thames launches. The boatyard received many awards in the UK and abroad, and in 2014 Colin was awarded Maker of the Year by the Heritage Crafts Association. In October 2016 Colin handed the boatyard over to two of his team who are successfully continuing the tradition he began 35 years ago. Not one to retire, Colin has established a workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre where he is currently re-building a 1920 Thames motor canoe.

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Colin Henwood with students making a canoe paddle at the Sylva Wood Centre

Paddle course_Jun2018

Paddle course at the Sylva Wood Centre, Jun2018


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Head of Wood School appointed

posted on September 12, 2018

Our recently-appointed Head of Wood School, Joseph Bray, introduces himself and his new role with Sylva Foundation.

Joe Bray 2018

Joe Bray, Head of Wood School

I began my career in the furniture industry in 2000, as a designer and craftsman with Richard Williams.  My role progressed from junior craftsman to production coordinator giving me an introduction to the diversity of the industry whilst working on bespoke projects for private clients. Prior to this I studied furniture design and craftsmanship at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University and I went back to complete a masters in furniture design, graduating with distinction in 2010.  

At an early stage I knew I wanted to teach and, benefiting from a very supportive employer, I undertook some teacher training and worked at Rycotewood providing one-to-one woodwork for autistic young adults.  This valuable experience ultimately led me to make the transition between industry and education, taking up a full-time role as a teacher across the full range of programmes at Rycotewood.

Joseph Bray teaching a student

Joseph Bray teaching a student

In 2010, I took responsibility for course leadership of the Foundation degree and BA Hons programmes. I successfully led the validation of the degrees with two university partners; Bucks New University in 2010 and Oxford Brookes University in 2015.  Students and graduates have been incredibly successful, winning national awards, bursaries, and residencies.

My particular interest is in developing industrial partnerships leading to live projects, study trips, work experience, internships, and sponsorship for students.  Recent collaborations include live projects with AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) exploring the characteristics of red oak, designing public seating for the RAF museum – London, as part of the 100-year anniversary, and live briefs with furniture manufacturers Ercol and William Hands.

My current research interest is to understand better how to upskill furniture graduates making them more employable – considering how to bridge the gap between education and professional life.  I have been successful in an application for funding and was announced as a Churchill Fellow in 2018. I will travel initially to USA in autumn visiting the Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship, North Bennett Street School, Rhode Island School of Design and Rochester Institute of Technology.  Further travel to prestigious European institutions will follow in spring 2019. A report will be published in 2019 sharing the knowledge gained and recommendations for improving the education system here in the UK.   

I am a member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and have served on the council since 2008 – I am currently responsible for the production of their quarterly newsletter.  I am a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

I am passionate about making, and very excited to get stuck into my new role, with Sylva Foundation, which for the first year I will be taking up while also continuing part-time with Rycotewood. My main responsibility is the development of the new Sylva Wood School, and in time I will play a lead role in supporting the delivery of training and courses. I’ll also play a key part ensuring the development of the Sylva Wood Centre as a beacon for best practice.

www.sylva.org.uk/wood


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Crafting a future in wood

posted on May 4, 2018

Sylva Wood Centre craftsman, Alistair Buchan, talks about his journey becoming a furniture designer maker.

Guest blog by Alistair Buchan

Alistair Buchan

Alistair Buchan at his workshop in the Sylva Wood Centre

In 2015, I was working in a standard office job in London, but despite decent prospects and pay, it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I decided that I needed a hobby which would allow me to express my creative side — woodworking and furniture design seemed to fit well.

I enrolled in a five-week night course near my hometown of Oxford, and soon after finishing the course I began researching careers and more formal training. I wanted to be able to make anything, and everything, that my imagination could throw at me. My research led me to the Furniture School run by Williams & Cleal, and after sitting down with Jane Cleal for an informal chat over a cup of tea, I enrolled on an intensive 40-week furniture course

My course started with work on a small puzzle requiring only hand tools, followed by a small dovetailed box which introduced me working with veneers, complex joinery, and design elements. Soon afterwards, I was introduced to heavy machinery, selection of timbers, and more design techniques and software, all of which came together in making a small side table.

Two of my projects won Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Awards, which I am very proud of, but I know these were also a testament to the guidance and nurturing from the team at Williams & Cleal. About halfway through the 40-week course, I started receiving lessons in the business elements of furniture making. My first draft cash flow soon revealed that starting a furniture making business can be quite a significant financial risk.

After leaving Williams & Cleal, I moved back to Oxford. I started meeting with local craftsmen to pick their brains about local suppliers and potential places to start up a business. Someone soon pointed me in the direction of Sylva Foundation and the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire. I couldn’t believe my luck.

The Sylva Wood Centre is a perfect place to start a furniture making business. The charity offers workshop space, with access to a shared machinery workshop. I was able to start my fledgling business without investing in my own heavy machines, while paying reasonable workshop rates. The financial burden of starting a furniture making business could be really cut down by starting off my new career at the Wood Centre.

Cherry Blossom Chair

Cherry Blossom Chair by Alistair Buchan

In November 2016, I started ‘hot benching’ — where woodworkers can hire a bench for just a week at a time, in a shared large workspace alongside fellow makers. I started first with a few small commissions for various family and friends, which helped while I found my feet. This continued for the next year, and all the while I kept developing the business and my own personal design and making skills. There are a 13 other wood businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre so there is always someone to bounce ideas off, to ask for a hand with a glue up, or lift a heavy item.

Cherry Blossom Chair close-up

Cherry Blossom Chair close-up, by Alistair Buchan

In the summer of 2017, I decided to take the next step and graduate into my own proper workshop within the Sylva Wood Centre. Because of the popularity of the units, there weren’t any available units at the time, so I put my name to a waiting list. Meanwhile, I kept chugging away and used the time to develop a proper business plan and direction for Ali Buchan Furniture.

In March 2018, a unit became available, so I moved in. I hung my clamps on the walls, set up a few benches for laying out and gluing up, as well as my main bench for doing the dirty work. Three years after I decided to change my career, I’m now where I want to be: a small furniture design and making business, specialising in fine bespoke desks. Who knows what the future holds, but I am excited to see where Ali Buchan Furniture can go. It’s been a whirlwind three years but some of the best years of my life. Williams & Cleal and Sylva Foundation have been right at the heart of it all.

www.alibuchan.com  and  instagram.com/alibuchanfurniture


Meet more craftspeople at the Sylva Wood Centre


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Farewell to Paul Sellers

posted on February 19, 2018

Last week we said farewell to Paul Sellers and the team at Rokesmith, who have built up an incredibly successful business over the last two years.

Paul Sellers and his son Joseph moved into a small unit at the Sylva Wood Centre two years ago. During their time with us they took on several new staff members, and the company expanded their online tutorials, published a book, and offered several woodworking classes at the centre. We were delighted to include a talk from Paul in our inaugural WoodWords event in 2016, while the company sponsored a number of plots in the Future Forest.

In a generous gesture, the team have made a short film to reflect upon their time with us at the Sylva Wood Centre, featuring interviews with a number of the craftspeople. We wish Paul and his team every success in their new larger unit, just a few miles away, and look forward to future collaborations.

 


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Forestry Yard opens at Sylva Wood Centre

posted on January 29, 2018

Sylva Foundation is delighted to announce the opening of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre. The Forestry Yard will be occupied and run by Face North Forestry, a local and expanding forestry contracting company.

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre, with Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry

The Sylva Wood Centre is a growing hub of wood-using businesses: currently 13 wood-based businesses operate from the site; from boat builders, to woodcarvers and fine furniture makers. The focus of the Sylva Wood Centre is to support the growth of wood-based businesses and in particular the use of home-grown timber. The addition of the Forestry Yard will help the Sylva Wood Centre to achieve this last goal, shortening the supply chain between woodland and end use.

Nick Keighley - Face North Forestry

Nick Keighley – Face North Forestry

Thanks to a Countryside Productivity Grant, Face North Forestry purchased a new mobile sawmill. This will allow the business to select timber to be milled, which may have previously been used for firewood, adding value and locking up carbon for the long term. This timber will be available for use by the businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre; in fact Face North Forestry are already collaborating with two of the businesses.

Meanwhile, the new forestry building was part-supported by a capital grant to Sylva Foundation from LEADER, whose funds are distributed by the Oxfordshire Leader Action Group (LAG) made up of representatives from local trusts, organisations and district councils. The LAG is chaired by South Oxfordshire district councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, who said:

“Our group visited the forestry yard and we were all impressed to see how the funds are supporting the local environment and small wood businesses based at the Sylva Wood Centre.”

Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry said:

“Moving into the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre will allow me to grow my business. I have always been frustrated by good quality timber not being used to its full potential, but local supply chains have been decimated over the last few decades with the closure of many small sawmills. The yard will allow me to add value to the timber I fell, while being based at the Sylva Wood Centre means there is a readymade customer base for my products”

Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation said:

“The addition of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre is crucial to seeing more local timber being used by the businesses we support. The development of the Forestry Yard was supported by a LEADER grant which was vital to allow us to take this project forward”

More information: www.sylva.org.uk/wood


£1.55 million available to boost rural areas in the county

Grants of up to £100,000 are available to community groups, small businesses farmers and foresters for projects that support the rural economy.

The Oxfordshire LEADER fund aims to support a wide range of activities in the countryside such as assisting local small businesses, supporting local heritage and cultural events, attracting tourism and visitors increasing foresters and farmer’s productivity and helping to diversify services.

Contributions are available for capital costs such as building work, equipment and for projects located in the Oxfordshire LEADER area until September this year.

Oxfordshire LEADER is welcoming expressions of interest for support until September this year and all funds will be allocated by March 2019.  For further information on the programme and criteria for funding, visit the website http://www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk

If your project is eligible, you can contact Sophie, programme manager, on 01235 422245 or email Oxfordshire.leader@southandvale.gov.uk for further guidance.


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Guitar Maintenance and Repair Course

posted on November 15, 2017

Guitar Maintenance and Repair Course

Saturday 3rd March 2018  9:30am – 4:00pm

 In this new one-day course learn how to perform guitar ‘set-ups’ so that your guitar sounds and plays at its best.

The course is run with expert tuition by local luthier Steve Kendall.

All types of guitar catered for: acoustic, electric, and bass.

 

  • Learn how to measure and assess the ‘before’ and ‘after’ conditions of an instrument
  • Learn the theory behind intonation adjustment
  • Learn how the truss rod works and how (and why) to adjust it
  • Understand guitar electrics and how to repair or upgrade them
  • Learn how to repair worn frets and perform fret dressing
  • Learn how to adjust the guitar bridge, neck and nut for optimum payability

 

Cost: £100 per person

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

book-now

Tutor: Steve Kendall, Luthier

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Steve Kendall luthier

Steve Kendall luthier

Steve Kendall has been fascinated by guitars since early childhood and he made his first electric bass guitar at the age of 14. He began learning how to make instruments properly with a lute maker in the ‘80’s. Since 1993 he has repaired, improved, or made guitars and basses for musicians from ‘bedroom-only standard’ to famous professionals. For the last 15 years, he has worked from his stone-built workshop in the Oxfordshire village of East Hanney.

www.stevekendallguitars.co.uk


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Charter poles emerge from the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on October 30, 2017

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will launch on 6th November — the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. Sylva Foundation has been a keen supporter of this Woodland Trust-led initiative. Last year we collected stories from hundreds of woodland owners (read more), and behind the scenes we’ve been lending our weight to help make this national celebration of trees a success. We’ve also been quietly busy at the Sylva Wood Centre, helping one of the main celebratory moments come to life in the form of 11 dramatic sculptures.

The Tree Charter Poles are being carved from 15′ oak logs by Sylva Wood Centre-based sculptor Simon Clements. Each of the sculptures represents one of the ten principles from the new Charter, while the eleventh, known as the ‘Champion Pole’, represents the Charter as a whole. The logs were donated by Crown Estates and procured by Grown in Britain.

Simon takes over the story . . .

A 15 foot oak log is quite a thing to have delivered to your door; there is no chance of missing it.  So 11 of them represent a serious log pile and that makes starting a project quite daunting especially for Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry who runs the Woodmizer mobile sawmill from his base at the Sylva Wood Centre, and had only just taken delivery of it when the logs arrived.

The original plan was to have the logs de-barked before we received them, but since the process chews up the timber so badly that we would have needed to recut them before carving, we thought it was easier to run them through the sawmill straight away. It was not an easy task as we weren’t looking for planks but a cylinder of solid oak with no sapwood or bark. This meant that Nick needed to roll the logs onto the sawmill make a pass with the saw, roll the log a few degrees make another pass then continue around the log. We provided him with a plywood disk with the correct Diameter (400mm) to act as a template, but it was very much a case of learning on the job which Nick did brilliantly.

We estimated that the 15 foot logs were about a tonne in weight after sawing so they needed very substantial trestles to support them and these needed to be adjustable to save back strain. A trip to Dave at Cobalt Blacksmith in Nuffield and some chalk drawings on the forge floor resulted in a pair of scissor-type trestles with a chain locking system. We ended up with two pairs so we could work on two poles together.

Brian is an student of mine who bravely agreed to have a go at some of the lettering and has proved to be a natural letter carver, there are around 300+ letters on each pole It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to carve each one so he is an extremely useful member of the team. Steve my other helper has left us to learn cabinet making in Lyme Regis but will be back in time to help with the last few poles in the New Year (he doesn’t know this yet!).

Once the poles were on the trestles they needed to be rounded out to remove the slabs left by the saw. The first two poles, which had gnarly grain, were planed with a 4” power planer; boring, messy and noisy. Once we had a good smooth surface to work on the poem stencils were wrapped around the pole so we could write out the poem reading from the bottom up. The poem words wrap around the pole and are carved into a ribbon with the other carvings placed between the twists of the ribbon.

Once we started work on the later poles we found that the timber was so good that it could be rounded out with a drawknife. The second and third poles were lovely to work; with long straight grain that showed pink as the drawknife sliced through the surface, and because they were denser than the previous two poles it took them longer to open up

Then it was a matter of drawing the designs directly onto the timber and starting to carve. Roughing out the designs was done with a variety of power rasps and cutters, (Rotarex and Arbourtech) on 4” angle grinders, and then followed up with carver’s gouges and mallets.

Because of the nature of green oak all the designs needed to be bold simple shapes, rather than delicate or highly undercut, as the Oak began to open up as soon as it was placed on the trestles. Each pole required about 30 hours of drawn design work which was sent to the Woodland Trust to be signed off before work could begin.

It has been a personal highlight seeing these huge slightly pink oak poles rounded out and made ready for the carver’s chisels. Of course so far the poles are all sitting horizontally in storage after our work is complete, and though they look good and very intriguing, I’m really looking forward to seeing the champion pole go up, which will be the first pole to be lifted into place on its custom made stone plinth in the grounds of Lincoln castle.

Simon Clements
www.simonclements.info

Find out more and sign the new Charter at: treecharter.uk/sign


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Work gets underway on new Forestry Yard

posted on August 23, 2017

Work has started constructing our new FORESTRY YARD at the Sylva Wood Centre – thanks to support from Oxfordshire Leader funding.

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

We’ll soon be welcoming a forestry business to the yard, complete with a mobile sawmill and firewood processor (also supported by Leader funding). Meanwhile a joinery business, recently moved down south from Scotland, is refurbishing the old pigsties nearby as it future home.

The site which was derelict just three years ago already supports more than 30 local people. We can’t wait to see the yard stacked with locally-sourced timber from well-managed woodlands.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader


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BBC investigates future forests

posted on May 26, 2017

The Future of Forestry was this week’s theme on the BBC Radio 4 flagship environmental programme Costing the Earth.

BBC Costing The Earth

BBC Costing The Earth

The main question posed was whether Britain could revive its forestry and provide for more of its own needs.

BBC reporter Tom Heap came to interview Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery at the Sylva Wood Centre. He also spoke with one of our resident furniture makers Jan Waterston, our current craftsperson-in-residence in partnership with Rycotewood Furniture Centre. The programme also featured Stuart Goodall from Confor, and Matt Larsen-Daw from the Woodland Trust.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer.


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