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Workshop Tour

Main Workshop

I’m like a gas: the more space I have, the more I will fill. I also like my toys, so it’s probably just as well that I don’t have road access and a mains power supply! My workshop is set up for me to work efficiently, moving from one tool to the next without wasting time or energy changing tooling. This means that the position of tools such as anvil, power hammer and forge are only a step or two apart, particularly those tools that are used in combinations where speed is of the essence, such as firewelding. I’m clearly not big on tidying and dusting, but make sure to keep the floor clear of obstacles and key areas clear of fire hazards, benches are cleared before a class or when I start losing things! I have 5 rooms for various activities, trying to keep my engineering and woodworking tools away from the dust of the forge/grinders; I keep leatherwork (and my library) in a totally separate room with a woodburner. Water comes from the roof via a filter and into the water butt; fine to drink if boiled or if you have a healthy stomach. This workshop is set up for up to two students if you come on a course (please see the course information if interested).

Outdoor Workshop

This is where I host group courses and relax in the evening. It is well away from my main workshop, buried deep in the woods. No power tools are used here! Outside of the shelter I have a carving area and benches around the campfire. Rainwater is collected for use in the buckets and for boiling, but I tend to bring clean tap water in during the summer for students. I only use this set up for group courses, of between 3 and 8 people (please see the course information if interested). Due to the lack of artificial lighting and walls this is only used between March and September for most purposes.


I no longer offer group courses on set dates throughout the year, instead I prefer to focus on private classes by arrangement. Individuals and pairs are generally welcomed into the main workshop, while groups of between 3 and 8 are better suited to the outdoor workshop.
If you (or you and one other) would like to learn how to make a knife, forge an axe, sharpen your tools, make a leather sheath, or anything else that I may be able to teach you, then please get in touch and I’ll try to make it happen!
Private courses can be arranged at any time and are charged at £300 per day (or £500 for the pair of you) in the main workshop. If you come as a group and use the outdoor workshop, then the cost is less again, up to half the price per head! Remember though, that the outdoor workshop has no power tools to aid the work, so projects get scaled down accordingly. This is a great option for birthday gatherings, family treats or stag/hen dos.
As a guide, it takes a FULL day to forge and heat treat a knife blade or axe head, another FULL day to make a handle and a third FULL day to make a leather sheath. You can just do part of the project with me or stay for the full 2 or 3 days and make a finished tool.
I have a list of nearby accommodations that I can send you, or you are welcome to camp in the woods where my workshop is located. I’m about 10 miles west of Exeter, a mile from the nearest bus stop, village shop and pub!

The Woodland

Since I manage the woodland primarily to subsidise my toolmaking activities, I have a few set ups and specialised bits of kit that aren’t in a workshop. Hazel is coppiced for rustic tool handles, and I mill the felled trees into planks for the more refined handles. Excess wood is all converted into charcoal for use in the forge.

Power Supply

My workshops are 100% off grid. This offers both a lovely freedom and eco-friendly method of working, but also a massive restriction in the machines that I can use and the way that I work.
My main workshop has a small array of photovoltaic cells (solar panels) and a bank of batteries to provide my small power needs. For most of the year this is enough to run tools such as the wood lathe, angle grinders, forge fans, etc full time; but in the winter I get lights and only a small amount of time with those other tools. I do a lot of work by hand, using the same tools that I make to sell (axes and drawknives require less power than bandsaw). These days, more and more of my corded power tools are being replaced with cordless versions. The batteries can be charged from the solar and while the tools aren’t as powerful as corded versions, they mostly do the job and save me having to fire up the generator for short periods. Thankfully battery technology and cordless tools have come a long way in recent years, I just wish they were more environmentally friendly.
For larger power needs, such as grinders, saws and power hammer, I use a generator. Due to site access, I can’t get a very large generator in (unless I buy one that is already trailer mounted) and I don’t need to run it all day, every day. Instead, I have a PTO driven generator that I can run from my tractor. This means that I can run a larger generator without the need to have a physically (or financially) large engine unit. Of course, the power it can supply is limited by the size of my tractor, so many of the machines in my workshop are much less powerful than I would like, and the electricity isn’t as ‘clean’ as from the mains. This has led me to buying/building several tools with their own 4 stroke engines attached. For instance, I use an engine driven welder because it works much better than even the inverter welders that are meant to work off generators. Excess generator power is used to charge the battery bank, keeping it topped up and in better condition.
Any petrol engines that I use, such as chainsaws and those odd 4 stroke machines, all run on Aspen. Aspen is an alkylate fuel, which runs much more cleanly and is more environmentally friendly than petrol. Apart from being a nicer fuel for the planet (and my lungs), Aspen has the advantage that it doesn’t degrade in the tank. This means any tools that don’t get used very often can have fuel sitting in them for months (or even years) without any problems with varnished carburettors, split fuel lines, etc

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