Brian Keatings miniature furniture

This picture is of a dining table with a 50p coin on the left to give an impression of the scale.

Brian brought along a mind boggling array of miniature rooms, furniture, and crockery.

This represents a room from Brian’s childhood  on a 1 to 24 scale.      You really cannot appreciate how small it is until you see it in Brian’s hands

Some more furniture.   The drawers and doors actually open and close – Amazing


This shows a draw and the joints used to make it with a 50p coin to give an idea of the size

We asked what special equipment he used.    He has no need for glasses for the work and uses a standard size lathe for the turned objects.   He has found that he can only turn about 0.25 of an inch at time, any more and the work wobbles.  So he turns a bit completely, before bringing out the next bit of the job to be worked on.     He uses some small turning tools, and has had to make some.















John Adamson, a club member,  has been working on a commissioned plaque in Oak with the words “A ROLL OF HEADMISTRESSES” on it. We were grateful to him for giving us a a demonstration while he worked. John thinks letter carving is the hardest because if it is wrong everyone will know.

He prints his words out on a computer, checking that it looks right – such as, do some of the letters look too far apart. If the pages are joined together, is the bottom line absolutely straight.  (John paid for his to be printed on an A3 sheet). He talked us through the process of glueing the paper to the wood, He says Spray Mount is best, but expensive.

It is good to have the right size chisel – sharp, flat for straight lines and a slightly curved gouge with rounded corners for curves.

The first cut he showed was a stop cut down the centre of a straight letter – it does not have to be deep. He likes Roman Times Font because of the serifs at the end of each line.

He uses a sharp knife similar to chip carving to do the serifs. If 2 serifs were touching, he shortened them to leave a slight gap. With the stop cut down the centre he made a 45 degree cut from both sides of the letter to complete the V cut shape.

He then demonstrated the same principle on a curved letter using the shallow gouge. Curved letters were more difficult – the word ‘mistresses’ with 4 S would be a challenge!

Club members appreciated that John shared his work and answered so many questions.

John has a website with many of his carvings to view. Here are two links to his letter carvings:


Bob Burton, a club member works with wood for a living.  Bob is experienced in many areas: restoration, cabinet making, carving and sculpture.

He shared with us how he was working on his latest commission ‘The Carving of a Lady’s Head’.

He brought with him a life size model in plasticine and the various moulds he had made of it in preparation for the final carving in wood.

To start with he had taken photographs of the lady, especially full face and side profiles.0 He cut out a negative profile in cardboard to aid his carving.

Bob used  plasticine similar to the one found on this website He paid about £1.75 for 500g for white but shop around because it can be 3 times as much as that. Bob prefers to use white because it is best for showing the shadows. He used other materials like crushed paper to provide inner packing to help him use less plasticine. (the plasticine can be re-used at a later date for another project.) This plasticine model could be used to help him with his carving but he wanted a more permanent model.

So, once he and the sitter were happy with the model he prepared a mask using a basic silicone tube from Wilko costing £1. He covered the face with it and when it was dry he peeled it off the model.

This mask would be too floppy for the next stage so he made another mould using builders’ foam filler. This one holds its shape better.

Then, using the foam mask as a support, he placed the silicone mask inside it and then filled it with cement or plaster. When set he removed both of the masks to reveal a permanent exact copy of the lady’s face. Bob would use this to aid his final carving in stone or oak or lime.

He then discussed the problem of where to source a large enough piece of wood and the problems of glueing 3 or 4 pieces together. Also what would be the size of the finished carving? It seems that one shouldn’t make a bust carving the exact size of the sitter but make it larger or smaller.

We look forward to seeing the finished work.

Finally, Bob showed us various other models and moulds that he had made.


Bob shares a website showing his work.

Report by Gillian Smith

Members talk by Brian Keating on April 21st

Brian is a local boy who came to carving through wood turning

He adds carving to turned pieces and makes some exquisite miniature furniture and room scapes.











AGM 17th March

This years AGM was rather different to our usual.    It was held on a Thursday and not a Saturday, and we had no problem with getting a quorum.     The main point of interest is that the Saturday meetings we have had since 1992 are being suspended due to financial difficulties.    Membership has crept up since a drastic drop during the Covid restrictions but the cost of the hall has also increased.   The new format is Carve and Chat on Thursdays with a speaker on the 3rd Thursday of the month.

Spotland Library Exhibition

In an attempt to popularise woodcarving and attract new members the club exhibited some work in Spotland Library


















































Norman McLaren and Keith Salad – Speak on Wood

Thanks to Gill Smith for this report

Keith spoke of many aspects of his life including his time with the General Post Office and Telecom when he was responsible for the buying of large pine trunks which would be used for telegraph posts. At first they came from Russia and quality control was done in this country. Many were rejected so a decision was made to send him to the source to avoid the cost of transporting spoilt trunks. This meant many trips to Finland. Even after that there was a long process of drying out and preserving the poles before they were fit for purpose.

In his spare time Keith likes to write poetry and he closed his talk by reciting the poem Three Ha’pence a Foot. The poem tells of an argument between Noah wanting to buy wood for his Ark from Sam Oswaldthwaite a timber merchant from Bury.  Click to see The lyrics and Stanley Holloway’s recitation

Norman and Keith (in a hat)














Norman has always been creative and has a great deal of experience working with wood doing woodturning and woodcraft. He showed us many of his small projects, most of which he uses for fundraising,  One larger project was producing a train out of Whisky barrels. The train is now being used as a flower display on the very large roundabout in Rawtenstall opposite the library.

Rawtenstall Train






Show of members work during Covid restrictions

Some 18 members shared a Jacobs Join meal and viewed some of the work carved during lockdown.   There were poems, jokes, conjuring tricks and music after the meal so that it felt like an old time family Christmas ( before TV)  Below are some of the work on display.

Stewart Hoods work
















Nick Pantelides












Mick Illsley











Nick Pantelides suggested project




















Samples of first carvings by Nick Pantelides













Club Projects around Burnley – A talk by Richard Colbran

On the 2oth November, Richard took some of of us who have been in the club a long time down memory lane, and gave newer members an insight into what great work had been done.

The first few images were of the owl carved by Richard from and for positioning in a Cedar of Lebanon in Towneley Park, which after some 20 years in the open, is as. good as when it was installed, and a talking point for visitors.















We moved on to Padiham where John Adamson carved two dancers out of condemned willow trees.     They stood some 12 ft tall in the garden by the bridge.   Sadley they have disappeared.   Don’t know why but willow does not resist rot.

Padiham Dancers


















Then on to another of John’s projects – a group of children from a rather rotten beech tree stump in Thompson Park.   The centre of the tree had rotted away and despite Richard’s attempts to keep them together they too have disappeared,

Group of Children in Thompson Park

Children’s carving with Richard’s paint effects
















Club members have supplied carvings on marker posts for Brun Valley Trail, Small Holdings Trail, and decorated picnic tables at various locations.


Marker Post Carving

Marker post carving in position











Picnic table decoration












Paul Slater carved the lettering for the Offshoots garden in Towneley Park


Lettering for Offshoots carved by Paul Slater





18th Sept 2021 – Members Work during Covid

Only 7 members made it back to the first Saturday meeting for ages, but they brought an amazing variety of work.     If you did not manage to come on the day and would like to see the work and probably more, make a note in your diary to come to the Christmas party when all will be on show.

John Adamson’s Daily Journey’s – work in progress














John Adamson’s Star carving











Mick Illesley’s Escaping Sardines and Crazy Chess Board









Some rejects from a clients commission to carve 40 Tree Sculptures









Mick Illsley Tribute to Fred Astaire




















Glynnis Cruice’s giant Ivy Leaf















Martin Haigh Elephants and a Polar Bear












Stuart Hood and an Alpine climber













More of Stuart’s work
















Evolution and Extinction of Trees

Have you ever wondered about all the different types of trees, their heights, shapes, wood, and shape and colour of their leaves .   NO?   Neither had I.   My current breakfast time reading is  “In Our Time”: A companion to the Radio 4 series by Melvyn Bragg.    It is a transcript of the BBC Radio 4 program of the same name.  There were 4 programs, therefore chapters, on Darwin’s theory of evolution.   This started me thinking and Googling about the evolution of trees.

The very first plants on land were tiny. This was about 470 million years ago. Then around 350 million years ago, many different kinds of small plants started evolving into trees. The world’s first trees, cladoxylopsids, at up to 12 meters tall, these spindly species were topped by a clump of erect branches vaguely resembling modern palm trees and lived a whopping 393 million to 372 million years ago.














An artist’s impression of a stand of cladoxylopsida trees, which formed Earth’s first forests, from the Science Mag. 

The trees are particularly important, because they formed the first forests and as now played a key role in absorbing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen to the atmosphere, affecting the climate and influencing conditions that fostered the emergence of other life forms.   The cladoxylopsids reproduced by spores, which need moisture to enable sperms to move to the egg, so they could only survive in marsh like conditions.

About 360 million years ago seeds were developed.   This enabled plants to colonize non-wet land, and form soil that that slows down erosion. The first seed producing plants gradually evolved into trees with seeds vast forests. One of the first kinds of large trees was Archaeopteris    This was a fern but resembled modern conifers.   It had woody strength built in rings to support weight and height, protective bark, and extra wood at the base of the branch to prevent breakage.   They made up 90% of the forests during the late Devonian which accelerated the increase of oxygen They were also the first long lived perennial plants





















Archaeopteris from Wikopedia

Over time, measured in 100s of million years, other plants developed tree like forms.    Unlike the human evolution that is traced back to a single African ancestor, there is no one mother tree from which all trees developed.

Let’s look at the development of oaks.   The following has been taken from the Genetic Literacy Project

Over the course of some 56 million years, oaks evolved from a single undifferentiated population into the roughly 435 species found today on five continents, but not Africa Australia and Antartica.

For decades scientists could only speculate about much of the evolutionary history of oaks because of gaps in their fossil record and limitations of DNA. But recent advances in genome sequencing and analysis have allowed a detailed picture of the origin, diversification and dispersal of oaks. It is a remarkable evolutionary success story.

This diagram shows the evolution from the “Mother” Genus Quercus into 2 subgenera Cerris and Quercus, and then into 8  Sections.   The 435 Species are shared between the 8 Sections.














The distribution of oaks across the world is patchy, in part due to their need for certain soil and climatic conditions.   However, while the oaks were evolving, the original supercontinent split up and tectonic plates drifted apart isolating populations of plants and animals that developed differently.

Now we are faced with the possible extinction of 30% of the world’s trees.  The State of the World’s Trees report said that the clearance for farming – both crops and livestock – and logging, are by far the biggest threats to trees, but added that climate change was also “having a clearly measurable impact”.

The study looked at the risks to 58,497 tree species worldwide and found that 30% (17,500) are threatened with extinction, with a further 7% listed as “possibly threatened”.      Some of the threatened tree species have always been fairly limited in numbers and distribution.    The report identifies trees at particular risk of extinction:

  • Large tropical trees known as dipterocarps that are being lost due to the expansion of palm oil plantations
  • Oak trees lost to farming and development in parts of Mexico, Chile and Argentina
  • Ebony and rosewood trees being felled for timber in Madagascar
  • Magnolia trees at threat from unsustainable plant collecting
  • Trees such as ash that are dying from pests and diseases in the UK and North America