12 Jan

Most people look forward to retirement, as I did, but if you have been active all your working life and don’t have a plan for retirement it can be a blow to the system.

When I took early retirement from the Sussex Sign Company where I was a partner with my Son-in-Law Norman Mayhew I found myself in that exact situation not knowing how to fill the day.  I have played Golf for many years but that only filled one or two days, I also tried filling the time breeding and hand feeding birds but again this was a short seasonal venture. I finally decided to go back to my first love from the time I left school, I have always loved working with wood there is a satisfaction in producing something beautiful from a rough piece of wood that is hard to explain.

I converted my old aviary into a small workshop and filled it with all the gear I needed to start woodturning, I then spent many hours watching and learning how to carve on a Lathe, I had good days and bad days more bad than good but I still have all my fingers so not too bad.

Once I was confident enough I started making lots of wooden items but it was never my intention to start a business,only to find a hobby that I enjoyed and to fill my day,  it was only when my wife Pam asked what I intended to do with all the things I’d made which were now cluttering up her sitting room, that I decided with the encouragement of my daughter Louise to start going to Craft fairs all over the South.   Although we loved the shows – meeting people – making new friends and at some of them did really well it was starting to become hard work transporting everything back and forth, long drives to some, setting up, site fees, fuel costs and shear disappointment if the weather was bad.  It was at this point my son-in-law suggested we set-up a website and also advertise on a number of other sites such as Amazon – Google – Folksy – nuMONDAY & Facebook.

This has been a huge learning curve for me and many hours setting up Lakewood Workshop and the other five sites but now having embraced the internet I’m loving every minute of it.

I have set myself a routine for the day – the mornings are spent updating everything on the laptop and packing up any orders while the rest of the day is spent in my workshop doing what I love most.

One of the problems when starting woodturning is sourcing the wood, of course you can purchase wood from many different companies found on the web but this can be very expensive and combined with the time it takes to carve most things ends with very little profit.  I soon learnt that my local Tree surgeon was a great source and I soon became friends with Alex who owns Tree Wizard in Seaford and he has brought me a number of logs cut from Ash & Sycamore trees, which I cut down with my chain saw.  Both woods are good for carving but cannot be used until they are totally dried out which takes at least a Year this is obviously a major problem if like me you have just starting with no stock. There are many methods of drying which have been tried over the years (discussion for another day) but the only sure way is natural drying which can take up to eighteen months.

The tried and tested method of natural drying is to place the logs into a container such as a strong rubble sack filled with dry shavings having first sealed both ends of the wood with a sealant such as PVA glue which is my choice,  seal the sack and place in a dry place. Some woods dry out quicker than others so you can check the drying time by weighing the logs at the start and then every couple of months until you get the same weight twice. Thank goodness I now have a good stock of dried blanks.

Thanks for reading my Blog and i'm sure we'll chat again soon. 


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