Thursday, 31 May 2012

Open Studios Cornwall

Wow, I can't quite believe it's June tomorrow! ... but that does mean it's that time of year when artists around Cornwall open their doors for the public to delve into their worlds and see where the magic happens.

The space we have just moved into is at Krowji - a collective of creatives - at the Old Grammar School in Redruth, and there are about 35 artists here who will be flinging their doors open ... us included!

So come in and see us making some wooden boards, check out a few of our demo boards that'll be on display and sift through some of our new handplanes and clothes ...including some Finisterre - Otter hoodies!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Little Canoe Trip ... for 'Against Malaria'

Just about finished a whole day of preparation for a 80 mile canoe trip along the south coast of Cornwall in aid of 'AgainstMalaria' - a great charity that "puts nets over heads and beds". Our page for donations to help us is here -

We did a little test with the old scout canoe that Dan bought a few weeks back and then spent the rest of the day repairing and making some modifications to it for our journey - back rests for the seats being my favourite! So we are just about ready to set off from somewhere near Fowey in the river tomorrow morning, with our intended target of Malpas, just outside Truro set for Monday night. Fingers crossed for some nice days on the water - it looks like it'll be a little windy tomorrow, but then it settles down so we can get our heads down and achieve 30 miles/day.

Here's a little pic of the canoe before its test run this morning...and fittinlgy it has a picture of an Otter on the front!

We'll keep you updated with progress through twitter on the mobile - technology these days!

Thanks for all the support!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day of shaping - Day 4

Day four of our one week workshop was aimed at shaping the board. We unveiled the board from its overnight clamping of the deck and got to work removing all the excess material on the deck, bottom and rails. While it's important to take off a large amount of material, it's even more important to always hold in your mind how you want the board to end up. As with making anything, its tricky to put material back on!

So we did all of the work with hand tools so that you stay connected to what your hands are doing and don't have the chance of making costly mistakes that can occur if you use power tools. The most of the work is done using the surform and hand plane and then it is important to tie all the curves together smoothly, for which we use some nice big sanding boards.

Darren got on pretty well today and has an almost complete board, so we know tomorrow will be all about the finishing touches and putting right anything we see when we look at it fresh in the morning.

Darren begins the day by removing all the clamps that have held the deck down over night - a really exciting phase...suddenly you have a surfboard!

Using the templates to get the outline at the nose and the tail correct, making sure we are following the right curves when shaping.

Getting to work with the surform...there was plenty of material to come off the nose.

Always important to keep touching the board to make sure you're achieving the desired shape and hopefully the same on both rails!

Standing back from the board as we're almost complete allows you to see how the two rails tie togehter and how they look down the length of the board.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Midweek in the Workshop

Day three of the workshop with Darren... The aim was to prep the inside of the board and put an edge on the rails to make sure we could get the deck glued down by the end of the day. This would give the glue time to cure properly overnight and give us two days to shape the board. You can just about shape a board in a day, but it's a bit of a push and I always find that having a break and looking on it with fresh eyes on the second day you can spot things that you didnt notice the day before.

So we were pretty hectic today, with putting nose and tail blocks in place, making sure the vent block was in place and the foam blocks ready to accept the fin box too! Then Darren had to learn what is was like to use the surform to create a smooth edge on the top of the rails to give us a good glue join. We managed to get it all done in the day though....and to my surprise, we were finished by half 5, perfect, time for a surf?

Darren cutting the rail strips in preparation for the nose blocks.

Getting to grips with using the surform on the cedar...a good amount of concentration on his face.

With the nose and tail blocks in you really start to get a sense of the boards outline.

It's always nice to watch people using their hands to 'see' what is happening with the timber, it still surprises me, how much more you can find out with your hands. The rail edge taking shape!

Darren popping the last couple of clamps on after the frantic glue and deck layup frenzy, again utilising all the clamps available in the workshop!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Back to Source

Yesterday we had such a beautiful morning down here in Cornwall, it would have been a shame not to have made the most of it. With no surf about, Romain Juchereau and I headed over to the woods where the National Trust's board began its life to get some background shots for a little short that we are about to soon as there are some waves!

About 18 months ago, the head gardener of this Trust property got in touch saying that they had just had to fell one of their biggest Macracarpa trees (can anyone tell which garden it is?) and wondered if I could make use of any of the timber they managed to mill from it. With all the fissures and inclusions in the trunk, there wasn't actually much usable timber that they could salvage from the tree, but enough for a surfboard!

So over the past couple of of months we have been building a board using only the macraparpa for its skin. It has turned out to be such a beautiful board and all of the Trust staff that we met yesterday were blown away to think that it used to be one of their trees. It was great to see their reactions and also to take the board back to where it grew...I can't explain how excited it made me feel having the board back int he garden with the warm sun out and not a breath of wind, just such a great way to close a project.

So the next and last thing for us to shoot is some surfing on the board and we'll get the video wrapped up and posted online.

Here are just a few shots I snapped on my phone while we were at the base of another huge macracarpa within the grounds.

Check out that tree! The board is one of our mini magic shapes and stands at 6'10 and is completely dwarfed by this macracarpa, which was planted at the same time as the tree from which the board came.

You can just about make out some of the beautiful detailing in the timber...more shots will be on their way!

Romain behind the camera gettign a few more shots...we both agreed that we would have happily stayed for there for hours in the morning sun enjoying the woods.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Day Two of our one week workshop

Here are a few snaps from our second day in the worshop with Darren. Today the emphasis was on the rails...we needed to get as many strips as possible in place today to make sure we could hit our target tomorrow. Things managed to run so smoothly that we even started thinking about the nose and tail blocks too!

The rail strips are a tricky thing to get set right without breakages, but once the first few are on, the rest follow on pretty easily. Although it's important to keep your concentration to achieve consistant glue joins, which i think Darren found out as i was following him around for most of the day making tiny adjustments to his clamps.

Those first couple of strips going on give us the outline of the board - so critical.

Darren made the most of all the clamps at hand...lucky he was the only one building rails on Tuesday!

Darren making some micro adjustments before applying the clamping pressure.

The board starting to take shape now, you really begin to get a sense of its template.

Towards the end of the day we even had enough rail strips on to start fitting the nose and tail blocks.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Day One of our one week workshop with Darren

Here are a few images of what we got up to last monday with Darren from Jersey. It was the first day of our first one week build-a-board workshop and the day passed with a few cups of tea, plenty of conversation and surprisingly few hiccups....

By the end of the day we needed the framework to be cut out and glued together, then marked out onto the bottom skin and glued down for some overnight curing. The board was a custom 7'4 that Darren had the pleasure of naming....he had a week to think about it though, so didnt decide the first day.

Fitting the framework together to make sure it all fits.

The laying out of the frame is key to the whole build going smoothly so we took our time and glued it down at the end of the day.

The overview of our first day of the new workshop too!