John Venn

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since Apr 10, 2021
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West-Flanders, Belgium
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Recent posts by John Venn

Hello everyone

Please find attached the pictures for my submission.
If I missed something please let me know.
Some explanation: wanted to reschape the blade as to have more of a smoother plane.

Kind regards!
1 month ago
Oh no...had a flat tire
oh yes... a chance at another badge!

pleasefind attached pictures of the flat tire, the hole, contact cement and fix and reinflating.
1 month ago
Hey, replying to the post above:

I am not from your area but it sounds like you are trying to keep deer out of your orchard.

You might want to look into 'hedge laying', this is a technique where you partly cut the base of a hawthorn (in Europe) and bend it to 'lay' it.
e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoprVhpOKIk
This is also the movie that was shown in the workshop I followed. As you can see, the guy is also a bit more experienced in life, so I am sure this is something you would be able to do.
There are many more ways to do it and it seems every place had its own style. It is a lot of fun and is a bit like coppicing but you do not cut the branches completely so the brances continue to live and make new vertical shoots that fill in the hedge. We used hatchets and pruning shears to cut away the dead branches and brambles etc so no need for the fancy billhook and stuff.
If done right and with the right plant (you might find a local variety that stands this sort of abuse and has thorns? Edit:  just looked up osage orange, seems like a really interesting plant and a good candidate for the above technique, anybody has some experience 'laying' osage orange? ), this gives a very sturdy hedge that will stop cows and even cars after a few years.
This was the preferred method in the UK before the invention of barbed wire. It seems from paintings and old pictures that in Belgium and the Netherlands the preferred way of making a fence was using willow brances, which is another use I forgot to mention in my previous post.
Hope this gives you some inspiration!



1 month ago
Hello everyone

Just wanted to share with you some experiences from Belgium, and especially from Flanders.
Here we call pollarding 'knotten' and a pollarded willow a 'knotwilg'.

It's a very old tradition only known in the north of Belgium, the Netherlands and the south of Germany which leads to a very distinct culture landscape.
The willows are excellent for drying and holding ground in wetlands and are very drought and wet resistant.

The branches were used to strenghten dams, indicate channels in marches, heating, making clogs, making baskets (for which specific breeds of willows were selected) and the smaller sticks are excellent for heating a traditional wood fired bread oven.

Nowadays, there is less use for them but farmers get a reward for each tree they 'knot'. Volunteers ( which I am) can do it for them and keep the wood which is excellent fuel for rocket stoves.

Pollarding was something we did as a teenager during winter camps and with the proper technique to prevent splitting while sawing and hand tools this is a relatively save job, and loads of fun. Especially as a kid, if you can make a fire with the smaller sticks.

In regards of leaving a few branches instead of cutting the whole tree at once, some people swear that especially with trees that have grown too big because of neglect this is neccesary to keep the tree healthy.
The rule here is also to saw off the branches about one and a half times the diameter of the branch itself above the trunk so as to make the crown bigger and have a bigger harvest of wood in the coming years.
Another tip, desinfect your saw and tools before starting on a new tree, you might carry diseases from one tree to another and kill a whole row.
As to when is the best time to do this, the Dutchies used to do it when their streams were frozen over so they only had to pick up the branches from the ice. They would then transport them over the ice on sleighs. We normally to it during winter and stop once the bird nesting period begins.
If I find some pictures, I will try to post them.


2 months ago
Hello all

Thank you very much for all the apples!

I am working, when time allows, on collecting some badge bits. If I find something else interesting to post, I will do so!

The problem with the pictures was that they were too big. I think I have a solution for next time.
3 months ago
Yes, I am having some problems uploading! Stand by! Sorry, I am new to this!
3 months ago
Hello all

Wanted to submit this for a badge, but discovered that you need to make a wedge style handle. I am posting it here because it might be interesting to some people here. If anybody knows a better place for this, please let me know, if I can score some point for badge, please let me know also.

Went tool hunting in my favourite thrift store and found a very big 'pig sticker' (love the name) mortising chisel for €1,5 euro with a broken handle.

These chisel come with a very simple handle design which you can see in the pictures but I wanted to show you how to fit the chisel to handle!
Normally, they tell you to drill a pilot hole in the handle (store bought ones will already have this), heat the tang and burn in into the handle.
However, in my attempts at collecting a set of chisels in thrift shops (and removing handles to replace with a new one) I have only once found one where the chisel seems to have been 'burned' into the wood. All the other ones seem to have a nice tapered hole for the tang.
I discovered how the old timers did this through a comment on a tutorial on how to fit a handle to a chisel as described above.
What you do is use the tang itself as a 'reamer' (had to look up what they meant by this, if you do not know either it will all become clear in the pictures).
First, I start with a big drill bit, then a smaller one, and so one until I have a pilot hole in 'steps'. I then take a file and straighten all side of the tang slightly to make it fit easily and this creates a bur which will help in the next step.
I then put the handle on top of the chisel and start turning the wood around. This will create a tapered hole and you will see wood dust falling out. When the handle sticks about 3mm or 1/8th of an inch above the chisel, hammer it home all the way so you have a pressure fit.

You might notice there is no ring on these handles preventing them from splitting but with normal and correct use, these chisels do not need them (just like carving gouges). And anyway, a new handle can be quickly made from a scrap piece of wood. If you make a handle with a ring, you can still use the above technique to fit the handle.
3 months ago
Hello all

Please find attached my pictures of me sharpening two small diameter auger bits with a safe auger bit file.

Kind regards
3 months ago
Hello all,

If people have the same problem, give your local shoemaker some business. Mine stretches shoes, he has a machine for it, he does not have to reach all the way down, the machine does it from the top. He also has the experience to see when the leather or seams might split.
Enjoy the iceskating, occasionally we have some 'wild ice' and we skate on a flooded field that is only a foot deep because the ponds do not freeze enough. Unfortunatly, this happens less and less every winter.
3 months ago