This is where I run my group courses. The workshop is divded into two areas: one is covered and is where the Iron Age and Roman/Saxon forges are located; the other is open and is where much of the greenwood work and non-firey activities are carried out when it's not raining. As time goes by and the range of courses that I offer grows, so does the selection of equipment found in this area. I am building up a stock of shave horses and chopping blocks for use when carving such things as bows and axe handles, but there will in time be a cleaving brake, pole lathe and a number of other clever work-holding devices.
This area is totally devoid of any power tools so all work on my courses is done using traditional handtools and techniques. Infact where possible I try to encourage people to use archaeoloigaclly accurate equipment if they are working on something of a particular time period, no more so than the forging of a knife using the Iron Age forges. In some cases it is just more practical to use modern tools that have the benefit of mechanical advantage (such as my pedal powered grinder and modern vices), so there is that opertunity too.
New for 2009 is my outdoor workshop. This is a simple structure that provides some shelter from the elements far better than the enormous tarpauline that it replaces! Under the reclaimed tin roof are my Iron Age and Roman/Saxon forges and a selection of vices to hold our work securely.
These are the two teaching forges. They are based on the excavated remains of forge hearths dating to the Iron Age and Roman period in Britain. The backs are made from clay around a wattle frame and the tuyeres (tube for the air to enter the forge) are of fired clay. The kite shaped bellows (right) are seen in this country from about the 2nd Century AD and while the pot bellows (below) have not yet been found in the UK, are seen in other parts of the world as early as the 4th Millenium BC and I believe them to have been used here by the Iron Age. Both will raise a 2lb lump of steel to well in excess of 1300C with no trouble at all!
Most of the hammers, the tongs, and the anvils are based on those seen in the UK and other parts of Europe between the 4th Century BC and the 4th Century AD. Tools are normally quenched in tallow, which is a likely medium for archaeological use, being slower than water it will harden but not crack the modern tool steels we use on the courses.
Some tools such as the post vices and swage block (above) are not seen in this form until the post medieval period, but they do make life a great deal easier! Glues are another bone of contention. When the weather is not too cold and damp, I offer people the chance to use hide glue (below) and other natural products, but it is often simpler to use modern epoxy instead.
How far into the archaeological correctness you go depends on what you are trying to create. If you want an accurate knife for living history, then you may well want a local hardwood handle fitted using hide glue to your Roman shaped blade. Alternatively, you may just be on the course to learn how to make a knife, in which case you are free to make any shape blade and fit any type of handle with modern epoxy.
Where possible I will be gradually changing them over to suit the period.
Here you can see some of the devices I have set up for courses that involve an elemnet of woodwork. There are chopping blocks to allow the user to rest their work at any height from waist level to the floor, very useful when making objects such as bows!
I have a growing number of shave horses (4 so far) and several shaving brakes (below left and right respectively). There is also a cleaving brake, which has posts setup to the rear to allow it to be used as a tension-grip shaving brake.
I have a number of clamps set up to hold waterstones at a comfortable height when teaching the sharpening courses. I've built a variety of designs for stone holders, to give people some ideas that they could replicate at home.
When we need to work on a flat surface, such as for weaving mats or laying out leatherwork, I have several large tables. For those times when the task can be carried out with little equipment, we can relocate to the campfire.