Working with wood lets you become creative with natural items you can find around the place. Even in Crawley I’ve been able to find some interesting examples and I got friendly with Horsham Tree Surgeons who let me have interesting branches. I suggest you do the same and find a local tree surgeon who will cut through a lovely piece of trunk with their chainsaw or keep an eye open for unusual shapes to give you something to work with. Scour the beach for driftwood that will insire you in all sorts of ways. Walk in the woods to pick up odd-shaped branches, but make sure that the wood is solid and not rotten, otherwise your work will be in vain.
Once you’ve collected your wood, you can engage your brain and imagination to turn it into all manner of items, depending on your artistic abilities.
If you’re really talented then the world is your oyster and you can carve some wonderful items that will sell for good money. If, like me, you don’t have that artistic gene, you can still do well and make craft pieces that will be attractive enough to sell at a craft fair.
Here is a lovely suggestion that I’ve used myself to great effect: make a stunning clock. Here’s how to go about it.
Choose a slice through a sizeable trunk or a burl on the side of the trunk that has a beautiful grain. (here’s where your friendly tree surgeon comes in handy). Now rout out the back and make a hole through to the front where your clock hands will fit. Of course you’re going to have to get the clock workings first to ensure everything fits. These can be bought very cheaply for just a few pounds online. If you don’t have a router, find a friendly carpenter who will help you out or Google it!
Once you have the back of your clock prepared, it’s time to start sanding the wood. It’s far easier to use an electric sander, of course, making sure you wear a mask to protect your lungs.
It’s a dirty job so do it outside, away from the house if possible, on a fine, dry day. This is going to take some work but if you persevere you can achieve a lovely silky finish that will show off the grain. If you’re doing it by hand, this is definitely going to take a while, but you can still get the same effect by starting with course sandpaper and a block, then working to a finer sandpaper to finish.
Once the sanding is finished, you can oil or varnish your wood. Tung oil is a good option, or you may already have something in your shed that would work. Don’t skimp on this because you want a beautiful finish. It may require some fine sanding between coats.
I would use Google again to read about the different types of finish so that you can find something that will enhance your wood and bring out the grain. You can go for something high gloss if that’s the look you want, or perhaps something with more of a silk finish would look better.
Once you’ve got the finish right, then the final step is to insert the clock and a battery. Voila – a simple and cheap clock that ought to sell at a craft fair for £50 – £100 – maybe more if you’re managed to find some wood with excellent grain.
There are many ways to sell your items and we’ll be covering that in future posts. I’ll also give you more ideas for working with wood.