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Ben Orford Returns to the USA

2005 has been another busy, but enjoyable year for me as a self employed Green Woodworker and Tool Maker. It was not possible to attend many shows this year and I have missed demonstrating pole lathe work, but it was rather nice not to have to all those motorway journeys. The few that I did attend still gave me much enjoyment and it’s rewarding to introduce people to the world of woodcraft and show them just what can be done. I also did well in the competitions at the South West Wood Fair, winning the Greenwood Challenge and the Log to Leg Race.


Last Autumn I returned to Hoopa, California to continue my work with the Greenwood Workshop. Once again, I had a great time with the Hupa and Yurok Indians teaching them the basics of green woodwork, making shave horses, pole lathes and stools.


I stayed with my friend, fellow craftsman and artist George Blake who is Hupa/Yurok Indian and it was good to meet up with all the friends that I have made there over the past three years. Sadly my time passed all too quickly, but I was lucky enough to see their traditional dance ceremonies this time.

I now have my tools displayed on the ‘Woodsmoke’ website and I am one of their Guest Instructors for the Axe Workshop Courses. These courses are about the use of axe and knife work from felling trees to carving spoons.

Over the past 12 months both my father and I have been fighting planners and after much “aggro” we finally received permission to build a new Craft Workshop. The foundations are now in and I hope to move in this January. The new Workshop will make such a difference enabling me to store the different materials that I use, separately and without cross contamination, as well as running woodwork, basic tool making and leatherwork courses.


I have been asked to go to Sweden in 2006 to assist on a Green Woodworking Course and help teach woodware, carving, spoon making, dough bowls, as well as some pole lathe work. It will be a great experience for me and I hope to visit the Axe Museum at the Gransfors Bruks Factory (maybe to pick up a few tips ?).

Later in the year I am hoping to run similar courses in the south of France in an area that has an abundant supply of managed Sweet Chestnut coppice. So 2006 looks as though it is going to be yet another busy and exciting year.

Your support has given me the opportunity to learn these skills, to travel and teach, share my knowledge with others and earn a living – enjoying my work is an added bonus!

Ben Orford

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