I offer about 10 woodcraft courses each year at my workshop at the Flint Mill within the grounds of Beamish Museum, Co.Durham. These are mainly concentrated into the Spring/early Summer and Autumn months when the weather is neither too cold or too warm. Last weekend we completed the first course at Beamish with seven students producing 7 pole lathes and 3 shavehorses. Students came from all around the UK as far as Portsmouth and one student, returner Hans, traveled across on the ferry from Belgium.
It takes about two days to assemble the lathe itself from sized components and assembly involves basic but accurate carpentry skills, especially to mark and cut out the rebates on the hardwood (ash) heads. End of day two is quite exciting when most of the lathes are ready to accept their very first billets. For most people, poles attached to the sides and shock cord to provide the return power is the most practical arrangement.
I sometimes wonder if enthusiasm to work traditionally with greenwood and hand tools will ever wain but I suspect the creative process of making useful beautiful things with your hands from a sustainable material can only grow.
I've been teaching traditional woodcraft for more than 20 years and the pleasure I get from seeing beginners discover the joy of wood turning on pole lathe for the first time is still priceless.
It's still not too late to take part in our Bowls Workshop course in a few weeks time with a few places still remaining.
The next Build Your Own Pole Lathe and Learn to use it course will take place at the Flint Mill workshop 3 - 5 October 2014.