A couple of nights ago I saw the first part of a new series on the BBC. Mastercrafts is Monty Don's new program about - well der - Masters of crafts. The first episode is about green wood working and features my old mate Guy Mallinson.
Guy is something of a master of understatement too, the program describes him as 'having been a successful cabinet maker in London' he probably told them 'oh I've made a couple of bits and pieces'. That's like Dave Petzal saying he fired a couple of rifles one afternoon. Twenty years ago Guy was already making incredible furniture, and as the years have gone by although I've not seen a lot of him, every so often I've seen him win an award for the fitting out of some new and ground breaking building.
He's managed to pull of that great city-dweller fantasy of moving his operation to the wilds of Dorset slashing his living costs and vastly improving his standard of living. He's developed a another career as a teacher of Green Wood Working, the main difference between green wood working and regular carpentry is the craftsman use green or unseasoned wood and all the joints are self affixing - no screws or nails, just the tension caused by the wood drying and contracting. Literally the pathway from a freshly sawn log to a piece of furniture - unplugged. All without the use of power tools.
Being a TV show certain annoying conventions 'must' be followed, despite the name of the show telling us its going to be about a master of his craft, the program makers felt the need to up the 'human interest' factor and take their cue from the big book of reality television. They found three volunteers and Guy took on the role of gently nudging them towards a finished chair by the end of the show.
Personally I'd rather have seen Guy work his magic from standing tree to siting at a table and chair, but the conventions of TV now mean we have to inject some 'human interest', with some participants first set up to fail so they can be swept along by the redemptive power of their new skill. Yawn.
"Who cares if she cant Whittle a Skittle, I wanna see your mate do his stuff"
Ex Mrs SBW [she's all heart, no?]
At one point we see Guy explaining how the tolerance required for two pieces of wood to fit and stay fitted as they dry is 0.2mm (0.007 in.), this caught my attention and as the students look on dismayed at what's needed of them Guy breezily says ' I've got a trick for that though'. Sadly we're never shown just how this piece of carpentarial voodoo is pulled off.
But the good news is if, like me, yew wood [sorry] like to find out what it really takes to do this sort of thing you can attend one of his courses in the stunning woodlands of Dorset. We may even meet there?
Here's the link to his site, the courses look like a lot of fun as you can see from the show Guy is an extremely patient man, who makes sure that no student, whatever their previous experience, is left behind.
Defiantly one of the good guys
PS if you want to watch the show or any other BBC shows but you're not in the UK here's how anonymous proxy severs will let you change your IP address so you can watch.
PPS Guy now has his own blog