Westonbirt Woodworks Open Days

Classic Hand Tools stand at Westonbirt Woodworks

A few shots of the Westonbirt Woodworks venue……


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Bill Carter Was Struck by Cupid’s Arrow, But it Was the Bow that Got Him

Grab yourself a cuppa and have a read of Linda’s (of Hock Tools) interview with Bill Carter. Linda was inspired to write this piece after chatting with Bill & Sarah about the planes at last years European Woodworking Show.




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Inspirational Visit to Start the Year

Super lucky 14-19 year olds in the East of London.

Mike Hancock and Alex Primmer from Classic Hand Tools were privileged and excited to visit the set up for hand tool woodworking training at the London Design and Engineering University Technical College (LDE UTC) on the edge of the Royal Docks.

Despite this being temporary building with smart portacabins bolted together this place was amazing. Principal Designate Geoffrey Fowler gave us the whirlwind tour including the robotics workshops, the Lego Room and so much more.

Students can really progress here and the woodworking hand skills area as important for students to be able to relate to how things are made, rather than it being just a programmed thing for a machine to do. It widens their knowledge.

More to come as in 2019 the college moves a few metres into a state of the art super building overlooking the dock and London’s City Airport.

Our short visit was inspirational.  Well done Geoffrey Fowler and your team for getting it off the ground. Hundreds of lucky students are going to have a magnificent facility to learn and thrive in.

Thank you to Derek Jones for our invite and well done on helping create an impressive woodworking setup here.

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Staked Sawbenches

Staked Bench

With a pair of saw benches à la Chris Schwarz (from The Anarchists Design Book  – published by Lost Art Press) on the horizon for my next build, my eyes have been peeled looking for staked furniture or anything that provides inspiration for such a project. I always like seeing a range of pieces in the style of the project I’m about to work on as it opens my eyes to more than just the initial inspiration I had to build it in the first place.

And what better place to find said inspiration than at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum.

With little opportunity over the weekend to take a look around, fortunately the one building I did venture into, housed this…

I particularly like the way the legs are square in section at the bottom and the corner chamfers taper to where it is equally faceted at the top creating an octagon where it then transitions into the round tenon. I also love the awesome furrows left on the top left by the fore/scrub plane.

I expect this will play a part in the design of the saw benches… When I get around to them.

Ryan Saunders

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Geo. R Walker Demonstration

Geo. R Walker, Co author of ‘By Hand & Eye’ and ‘By Hound & Eye’  demonstrates at Handworks 2017 how simple geometry was used by artisans of the pre industrial world to make, well… everything!

Ryan Saunders

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Handworks 2017 – Part 1

With so much happening at Handworks last weekend, and it being my first time experiencing the phenomenal American show, I kicked myself on a several occasions for not capturing certain moments on camera. In truth, it doesn’t bother me too much; I was in fact there to experience it myself. But it should bother you, as I’d imagine the majority of those reading this most likely weren’t able to make it to the show.

But you’re going to wish you had.

In an attempt to give you some idea of what it was like (totally awesome!) here are a few pictures from what I was able to capture.  As is often the case, pictures or even videos of an event like this don’t do the justice it deserves in portraying the incredible atmosphere. Nevertheless, this is the first of a few posts to give you a taste of what went on.

Handworks 2017 Eve

Handworks 2017 Eve

Thursday Evening – The amazing people at BenchCrafted who are the organisers of Handworks arranged a great Amana style meal for everyone involved in the show. The perfect time for friends new and old to catch up before the days ahead.

As per usual, I found myself helping whoever needed an extra pair of hands for the heavy lifting and other odd jobs in preparation for the show.  It was great to see so many woodworkers, tool makers and enthusiasts coming together to be part of the event.

I spent most of the first day (Friday) just taking it in, talking to other woodworkers from the Instagram and Blogging communities, and enjoying the atmosphere.  It was great to hear from so many people that they were interested in, or better yet, already preparing to head over to England for The European Woodworking Show on 16th & 17th September.  I’m also pleased to say from many of the conversations I had with so many people, there may be a few more now too!

With Friday over, it was another chance for those involved to meet up for the evening. A big group of Instagram woodworkers had organised an evening at the local pizza place to talk more woodworking (it really never ends!)

Kieran – Over the Wireless

With Matt Eich from Mule Resonator Guitars present too, we were fortunate enough to have this passed around to marvel at.  I managed to snap this picture of Kieran Binnie (Over the Wireless ) If you haven’t read Kieran’s blog before, stop what you are doing and head over there right now!

I was also able to get a quick video of Anne Briggs Bohnett (Anne of all Trades.  Another Blog/Instagram account you should definitely be following) Head over to my Instagram, @RJSWW , to see that and more from the entire show weekend.

Saturday morning, the 2nd and last day of the show, everyone was getting prepared for the main event of the weekend, Roy Underhill and his presentation “Saw like a Butterfly – Plane like a Bee!” (Video coming soon) and what a presentation it was!  Typically American and typically Roy!

Roy Underhill – “Saw like a Butterfly – Plane like a Bee!”

One of the main highlights from being at the show for me, was seeing so much of the incredible work I have seen so often in magazines, on Instagram, and on other woodworking and related websites, but this time, in person.  Below is just a small selection of what was on show.

Christopher Schwarz and Jameel Abraham’s Traveling Tool Chest.  The marquetry panel lid is nothing short of incredible. You can read more about the chest and marquetry by Chris and Jameel respectively in the August and October 2015 issues of Popular Woodworking

Christopher Schwarz & Jameel Abraham’s Travelling Tool Chest

Seth Gould’s mind boggling chest lock. No words necessary.

Seth Gould’s Mind Boggling Chest Lock

For those that don’t know about the Studley Tool Chest, go check out Virtuoso: The Tool Chest and Workbench of Henry O. Studley published by Lost Art Press.  Those that do will appreciate how incredible this reproduction by Jim Moone is. You can read more about it on Don Williams (Author of Virtuoso…) Blog here.


Studley Tool Chest

Roorkee Chair built by Anne Briggs Bohnett and modelled by Chris Schwarz

And finally, for those of you that follow me on Instagram,  you’ll have seen this in a recent post.  For those of you that don’t, head over there now and check it out! This is a Roorkee chair built by the incredibly talented Anne Briggs Bohnett and beautifully modelled by Chris Schwarz.  As if these chairs aren’t comfortable enough, Anne made this chair specifically to suit someone that is somewhat less vertically challenged, making it much more suitable for myself, Chris, or anyone in the 6’+ range.  Around 3” taller and a few inches deeper too.  You can read more about Roorkee chairs in Chris’s book Campaign Furniture Published by Lost Art Press.

This barely even covers what would take as little as half a day at the show, but I hope it gives you some idea of what it was like. Watch this space for future posts from the amazing event too, there’s a few more things I’d like to share with you yet!

Ryan Saunders

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Handworks 2017

Handworks 2017 Eve

Handworks 2017 Eve

Last night we drank, we ate, we laughed and we prepared ourselves for what is going to be an incredibly busy but awesome day.  The doors to Handworks 2017 open at 10am here with many vendors offering either limited supplies of their tools or something people just can’t wait to get the hands on.


Most of the folks I have spoken to have already submitted themselves to the fact that they probably won’t be leaving their stand all day and lunch will have to wait until Sunday.  But the one thing they all have in common, that doesn’t bother them one bit!


If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from being involved in shows like this it’s that, through all the pain and stress, the tool makers, authors, furniture builders and magazine editors wouldn’t change a thing (for the most part!).  They love to be here just as much as the crowds of visitors that are queuing out the doors. 


Ryan Saunders

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Less Than 2 Weeks and Counting

CHT Blog Ryan attending Handworks 2017


With only two weeks to go until Handworks and one week until I travel out to the states, I’ve been trying to get a few things sorted and projects to a certain point, so they are ready for when I get back to the workshop.  With all the usual stresses of preparing for a trip overseas, I’ve only been there just enough time necessary to get what I’ve needed to done, and not a lot more, and it’s got me thinking.

As excited as I am for the trip, and even more so for Handworks, I’m going to miss being in the shop for the couple of weeks that I’ll be away.

This seems particularly odd as I’m going on a trip to do more woodworking than I usually do when I can be in the workshop.  I’ll be spending some time with a friend of mine who has a fully fitted cabinet shop and stacks and stacks of some of the most beautiful flame maple!  Not to mention all the fun I’m sure everyone will have at the show.

But this isn’t as strange or new of an idea at all.  In fact, Chris Schwarz explains it perfectly in the opening paragraphs of his 2010 book “The Anarchists Tool Chest” published by Lost Art Press.

“When I am too exhausted, ill, or busy to work in my shop, I will shuffle down the stairs to my 15′ x 25′ workshop and simply stand there for a few minutes with my hands on my tools.

To be sure’ I thought I was a touch nuts because of this personality quirk.  But after reading oral histories and diaries of craftsmen from the last 300 years, I found it’s actually a common trait among artisans.  I am drawn, married or perhaps addicted to the things that allow me to coax wood into new shapes.”

And that is exactly how I feel about my own workshop and tools.  I too find myself worn out after a long day, be it in the shop or elsewhere, just looking at my tools and taking in the beauty in their war wounds and wear spots.  We are joined to our tools in so many ways; we regularly say how a tool should feel like an extension of your own arm, and it should, and so much more.

You should know your tools every subtle feature, and you probably do, even if you don’t realise it.


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Classic Hand Tools at Handworks

If you weren’t able to attend the Midlands Woodworking Show  or Yandles Spring Show  over the past few weeks, then I’m sorry to tell you, you really missed out! I had a blast chatting with everyone and seeing lots of new and familiar faces and they were both great shows to attend, as always.

If you were there and not sure if you did see us, I seemed to attract a fair bit of attention to my hand cranked (meat powered) grinder. But it’s not something I have just for show.

To most people’s surprise, it really is the tool I use to do all my grinding chores, on a regular basis. And before you say it: yes, it can just as quickly overheat the steel (as fast as an electric grinder); no, it doesn’t take me any longer than using an electric grinder; and finally, no, it’s not very difficult to use (once you’ve got the rhythm, it’s like riding a bike, you won’t forget how).

If you didn’t get a chance to take a look, then fear not! I’ll have it with me for you to have a go yourselves at various other shows throughout the rest of the year (see below) and there are a few bits over on my Instagram  that should satisfy those of you that just can’t wait.

Talking of other shows, if you didn’t already know, Classic Hand Tools (CHT) will be at all the shows listed below, as will I, trying not to mess up in front of any of you.

Weald Wood Show – 17th-18th June

IBTC Open Day – 24th June

Yandles Woodworking Show – 8th-9th September

European Woodworking Show – 16th-17th September

North of England Woodworking Show – 17th-19th November

So pop by if you can, say Hi, and get your hands on some tools.  Shows like these really are the best way to ‘Try before you buy.’

This year, I’m pleased to announce, I will also be attending Handworks in Amana, Iowa, USA and I’ll be there to meet as many of you as I can as well as representing CHT. So if you happen to be stateside and have any questions, you’ll find me wearing a European Woodworking Show top and, more than likely, ogling over the likes of BenchCrafted, Lake Erie Toolworks, Bad Axe, Sterling Toolworks, and all the other stands and exhibitors.

If you can’t make it, I’ll also be posting updates on the show here, as well as some other woodworking related fun that I’ll be up to whilst I’m there. But, if you want to be the first to know, head over to my Instagram and give me a follow there as well as CHT’s and EWS 2017 Instagram accounts.

So watch this space over the coming months to keep up to date on what we (CHT and myself) are up to.

Ryan Saunders

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Ryan Saunders – Blogging for Classic Hand Tools


A Bit of Background

I don’t remember exactly when I realised I had a passion for woodworking, but I do remember the phases I went through at the time.

I started out, like so many others, having been bitten by the power tool bug. I remember constantly scouring the internet for more videos, more woodworking websites, and more free plans to feed my rapidly growing interest.

At one point, in particular, it was wooden gears and wooden machinery that fascinated me.

I remember thinking how much skill and invested time it must take to produce such incredible work. I eventually felt confident enough to give something a go but was quick to put myself down when I realised I didn’t have any power tools or even a half-decent hand tool to make the most basic of projects.

I began asking for whatever tools I was most interested in for Christmas or birthday presents, as well as pinching bits and pieces from my Dad’s tools. I had some decent files, screwdrivers, a hammer, various measuring devices, and a couple of hard point saws, but nothing I could do much woodworking with.

Finally, my parents got the hint, and for my birthday I received a 2100w plunge router! I’d wanted one from the moment I found an interest in woodworking, and I knew it could do anything and allow me to make anything I wanted or at least that is what I thought at the time!

So that was the start. Despite my many mistakes I haven’t lost my passion for woodworking, indeed I am as hooked on this thing more than ever! I am more of a hand tool guy now and I will be blogging for Classic Hand Tools over the next few months and years (I hope!) on all sorts of woodworking stuff – I hope you stay tuned!


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