Pastimes and Miscellaneous
This page shows just a few little things I've made from scraps of oak and other wood,
Bat and Trap
An old game popular in Kent, is Bat and Trap, still played in some pubs and recently featured on BBC's "Antiques Road Trip".The game is undoubtedly ancient, and the earliest evidence of some such game is said to be contained in a drawing in a monastic manuscript of the 13th century, showing a monk playing a similar game.
There was a monastery on the site where Ye Old Beverlie Inn, Canterbury now stands, and it is believed that the ancestor of Bat & Trap, which is possibly related to Cricket, was first played in the 14th century. The Beverlie opened for business in the 1740's, and it has records of the game being played there since it opened. The game had dwindled almost to non-existence at the beginning of the twentieth century, being played by just a handful of pubs though in 1922, it was rekindled when a group of pubs, Ye Old Beverlie amongst them renewed interest in the game.
You can look up the full rules in several places on the internet, but in simple terms, there were two teams, batting and bowling.
1) Batsman taps end of trap to launch ball into the air,
2) Batsman hits ball towards the other end of the pitch, between two posts, where the bowling side is standing.
3) Bowler returns ball underarm, trying to hit the trap target which hinges back when hit
4) If bowler hits the target, the batsman is out. If not he scores a run and has another hit (and again until he is out)
5) When all batsmen are out, the sides change ends and the other side tries to get runs.
6) Winner is the side with the most runs.
There is more to it than that, but that is the gist of it. Here is a trap I made
Here is a second Bat and Trap set, this time made with a reclaimed beech base and target, and the rest in nice oak.
Nine Mens Morris
This game is much older than Bat and Trap, dating back to at least the Roman Empire, and game boards have been found scratched onto much more ancient monuments, though it cannot be proven when those scratches were made. It does seem that the game peaked in popularity in Medieval times.
The game is played on a playing board of three concentric squares, with intersecting lines. Each player has nine pieces - again, the rules are widely published on many websites.
This is a small board made from solid oak, a little over six inches square.
This is a larger game board in hardwood, twelve inches square.
I think it might be rather nice to have a key fob to hold your car keys made from your Grandad's old hall table. Maybe Grandad's spirit would look down on you and keep you safe when you are driving? Do get in touch if you'd like something special made from a significant but now unwanted piece of wood furniture - ideally a nice wood with an interesting grain, but the feeling would be there whatever the wood.
To make these keyrings I need thin slices of oak. I can saw a thin slice from a solid piece of oak, and with careful attention to the best angle of cut, I can uncover some lovely grain and figuring marks. I then look at the pattern and decide what shape to cut - see the fishes, and how the figuring gives the impression of stripes on the fish.
This takes longer than you think :)
Here are some things I've made using the old traditional pole lathe.
This is a turned applewood ring stand, about 3 inches across.
A friend gave me a knotty Yew log, to see if I wanted to make something from it. I decided to try making a little dish on the lathe. Yew is toxic, so it had to be a trinket dish e.g. for coins, not for food. Here it is in the making, and the finished article. Yew is very hard to cut, but it has a lovely grain pattern.
And a few more - another 4-inch yew bowl, and a smaller applewood pin tray; then a 7-inch figured oak platter, and a 5-inch bowl made from a 200-year-old barn door.
My daughter asked me to make a special drop spindle for a friend, and I thought it would look nice made from a piece of English Cherry. Here is it being turned on the pole lathe; note the special crooked bowl-turning hook, made by Ben Orford.
Below that, the whorl being polished and finished, and finally the crucial test run. Yep, it works just fine. The grain pattern looks very pretty with the colour enriched by the beeswax polish.
A Knitting Nancy is one of the oldest forms of loom knitting, with records showing that these hand-help simple dolls often called "knitting Nancy" were used for a form of French knitting as long as 400 years ago. I made a couple on the lathe, out of a piece of fallen applewood branch. Don't you love that rich grain pattern?