Thursday, 3 November 2016

Barnsley Workshop, Apprentice Pieces

Here are a couple of items I made many years ago at the Barnsley Workshops. They have resurfaced in our house move! These are some of their standard apprentice pieces. This oak chopping board had to be planed flat and to equal thickness, marked up with compasses and shaped to a perfect octagon, all by hand. There had to be absolutely no tear out on any surface, I remember using one of my early high angled smoothers which did a great job.

When that was done the bevels had to be hand planed and again the inside octagon this created had to be perfect, measured with dial callipers rather than a tape! Only then would they let you use the Barnsley stamp.

This deceptively simple looking stool started as a single board which again had to be hand planed flat and even.

I was given a nice piece of olive ash to work with.

The legs were tenoned through the top and wedged. This is where I learned the technique of flaring the mortise sides to create a dovetail effect in the finished joint which is amazingly strong. To work effectively the flare on the wedges must exactly match the flare of the mortises. Also the saw cuts for the wedges must be angled outwards so that they open up easily when the wedges are fitted. This technique is fully demonstrated in my YouTube video, Roubo Workbench Made Easy.

The supporting rail was also tenoned and wedged in the same manor.

This all seems fairly straight forward except that the legs are both angled outwards which means the shoulders of all the tenons, through the top and sides, must come together simultaneously. In addition the rail was mortised (bare faced) into the underside of the top. On dry fit, I had the tiniest of gaps on the rail which would have disappeared on glue up, but this was not good enough and I had to make the rail again. It was then, that the concept of working to perfection, finally sunk in and has stayed with me ever since.


  1. This is really cool David. I would love to spend some time in the Barnsley workshop. The lessons and small tricks learnt must have been a really valuable thing to have experienced.

    1. Hi Simon, I would highly recommend it if you get the chance. All the best, David.