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High Praise Indeed…

We feel very humbled that we are always receiving emails, letters and calls from many customers who are delighted with their saws. Many are overwhelmed by Shane’s craftsmanship and the unrivalled performance of his tools. Again all are excited that there is once again a traditional English Saw Maker in the UK. We really do appreciate this and thank you if you are one of those people that have taken time out to do this.

Additionally of late we have also been receiving some excellent coverage and praise from some highly respected figures in the woodworking world. Last week we noticed that David Charlesworth had been saying good things again about us on his blog. (See Photo) and a few weeks ago Tom Fidgen made a super video which showed him opening a Skelton Sash Saw at his new ‘Unplugged Woodshop’ in Toronto. (If you wish to see this, you do however need to subscribe to Tom’s online site – there is some other good stuff on there too.) It’s just great for us (as small as we are!) that we are getting such positive feedback from around the world.

Thank you all!

 

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Happy New Year!

Okay, maybe it’s a week or so overdue but Happy New Year to you all!

Shane, is currently working on lots of new and exciting designs and projects for 2016, of which some will come to fruition in the forthcoming months. Hopefully available sometime in February will be our long awaited panel saw. Based on the designs of those found in the Seaton Chest it will be fully taper ground and traditionally hammer tensioned. This will be truly something unique and magnificent in the current saw market. If you follow us on Instagram many of you will have already seen our new anvil, custom made saw tensioning hammer and Shane’s home made anvil stand. If not I will attach a photo on here, all are works of art in themselves and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

It’s been a colourful start to 2016 here in the workshop, with Shane working with some exotic woods previously never worked before. With many of our customers often wanting something different or unique to everyone else we are constantly sourcing new timbers and materials for our saws. This week a long standing customer with more exotic tastes is having a set of saws bespoke made with handles in highly figured bubinga, madagascan rosewood and purpleheart, all fairly difficult woods to work. The latter is really like working concrete, and has quite a sickly aroma to it when worked. It does however look lovely when finished and never seeing it ourselves on a saw handle before we have to say (See Photo) that it’s already looking pretty spectacular. However, it did take 8 hours just to work down the grits by hand! If you’re wanting something different however, please just ask.

Best Wishes for 2016 – The Skeltons!

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Lights, Camera (Saw) Action!

Being the impulsive creature that I am, when I saw on Sunday evening that the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ was in Harrogate this Wednesday, I thought let’s go… Now seeing as currently we are both owners and custodians of enough Kenyon saws to almost rival the Seaton Chest it seemed like such a great idea, the Yorkshire Saw Maker showing  extremely rare 18th century saws by another Yorkshire maker at that day’s venue in Yorkshire!  So after a 90 minute drive in mostly torrential rain, we arrived at ‘The Grand Hall’ to yes you guessed it a rather long queue! A two and a half hour queue to be precise! I have to be honest, I don’t do queues, but as they say patience is a virtue and all that and it was. We luckily managed to get to expert John Foster’s table, who had been a carpenter in a past life, so had a good appreciation of tools and in this case handsaws. Shane sold them well and his passion for his craft and equally his admiration of the Georgian  makers was apparent. The expert loved them (even the Skelton in amongst them!) got the producer down and we were called back for some after hours filming. More waiting .. but interestingly behind the scenes, getting free cups of tea and even getting up close and personal to Fiona Bruce, as you can see! The girls thought it was great and had a little cameo appearance in the interview, I’m a little more camera shy and anyway who else would take the photos and report back?! Will we make it on to prime time TV? Well, they only pick a number of interviews so we’ll all have to wait and see. Either way it was a great experience and fun for the girls and hopefully if it makes it onto the screen it will be a really interesting and informative piece for the viewers. And as for the final valuation…I couldn’t possibly say! :D

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The Only Way Was Essex…

Take two adults, two children, a suitcase and enough saws and paraphernalia and squeeze them into a Peugeot 107 and you have … I know a miracle! No, the Skeltons setting off to The European Woodworking Show 2015. We barely stray beyond our Yorkshire boundaries, so our first ever visit to Essex and the EWS was a big exciting adventure for all of us!

And did’t we have a lovely time, everyone was so welcoming and kind to us all and our saws met with a great reception. Like anything it’s always great to see something in its physical form, to be able to pick something up in your hands and not only admire its beauty but also be able to test out its functionality. Those who had a go with our saws were blown away by their performance and those who didn’t were still able to marvel at them and appreciate their craftsmanship. Many applauding Shane for his achievements and excited that there is a new traditional English Saw Maker back in the reins after so many years. It was all very humbling.

As well as meeting all the public of whom some had travelled from across Europe to be there, one of our highlights was meeting up and connecting with other like minded great toolmakers. We were lucky enough to be sharing the main wheat barn with the likes of Blue Spruce, Bill Carter, Oliver Sparks, Chris Vesper of Vesper Tools, David Charlesworth, Ariou Toolworks, David Baron and Lie-Nielsen to name drop a few! It was great because although we already knew some of these people, we hadn’t in person met any, so in this respect I guess EWS for us was like a pilgrimage to the Mecca for superb tools.

Set on a historic 12th century site said to have been home to the Knights of the Templar, the show’s surroundings themselves were delightful and very family friendly. Our daughters were neither stuck for something to do or eat for that matter! If you’re a woody / tool enthusiast there’s something for everyone, so put it on your ‘to go’ list, I don’t think you’d be disappointed. A biennial show, the EWS will next be on in 2017. Hope to see you there.

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Sashaying down the Skelton Catwalk this week…

…Is of course Shane’s new sash saw! A truly unique and curvy model, one customer has already named his saw ‘Marilyn’ (After the famous curvy film star!) Taking 2 1/2 months to design, drawing on elements used by the 18th century greats, the closed handle is almost a work of art in itself. Back in the 18th century, most saws were made flat bottomed to the ‘London Pattern’ However, some of Kenyon’s earlier work exhibited a double horn (dolphin handle) Shane really liked the aesthetics and challenge of this and so too has embraced this design feature in crafting his own handle. Furthermore the shape compliments its predecessors the dovetail and carcass and so fits nicely into the Skelton family of saws.

So what’s different about the Skelton Sash Saw? Firstly, the keen eyed amongst you will notice that Shane has opted for 2 bolts, once again mirroring the saws of the early 18th century. Henry Disston, was in fact the first saw maker to introduce the 3rd bolt as a gimmick and others quickly followed suit. Shane, has a strong background in not only woodwork, but also metalwork and engineering and therefore all of his saws are hand fitted to perfection. The shaft of the bolt perfectly matches the diameter of the hole in the saw plate, thus eliminating any room for movement.

Again back in the day, Henry Disston was the first person to remove the tongue on a saw, purely of course for ease of manufacture. The tongue on Shane’s sash saw is evident here for all to see and has been deftly created. Additionally he has comprehensively researched other makers in order to ensure that it is unlike any other. He has skilfully created an elegant knife point sweep to the sides of the tongue without flats. Some early 18th century saws too didn’t have any flats. The best way to describe a ‘flat’ in case you were wondering… imagine you were looking sideways on at a saw handle if you can see a tongue with a top and bottom edge this is known as a flat, as opposed to a handle where only one line is visible, as with Shane’s sash saw. The main thing to note about all of this however, is that Shane’s knife point sweep can only be created by hand.

Not only does it look good, but the new sash saw performs first class. The heavy brass back is 5/16″ x 1″ a great weight which allows for a smooth effortless cut. In conclusion the sash is another fine hand crafted saw in the Skelton portfolio and one that is certainly turning some heads on the saw catwalk!

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The Night After The Museum…

Armed with a Skelton 12″ Carcass saw, yesterday Shane made the journey due south to ‘The Kelham Island Museum’ in Sheffield. Housing ‘The Ken Hawley Collection’ (The largest collection of Sheffield made hand tools in the world) Shane, had been invited as a guest speaker. A truly amazing place, Kelham Island allows visitors to take a trip into the bygone age of the steel industry and Sheffield the place that is often described as the ‘City of Steel.’ A warm welcome from both the Museum and the TATHS group (with whom Shane was there primarily to meet) greeted him. It was a truly interesting and educational day all round, much was the amazement of the audience that Shane could actually create such a tool completely by hand. The Ken Hawley collection also being the largest amalgamation of saws in the world, Shane was unsurprisingly like a child in a sweet shop being guided through of some of the most finest and rarest examples. And who better to guide him, but none other than fellow guest speaker and trustee of the saws, Simon Barley, author of ‘British Saws & Saw Makers from c1660′ (Having countlessly referred to this book myself, I can categorically recommend it for all saw enthusiasts and collectors alike) A great day therefore was had by all (Thank you to all concerned and who attended) Highly recommended as a day out, even for young inquiring minds (Our 12 year old daughter, Sophie thoroughly enjoyed it too!) What is more in the coming months a Skelton Saw will be displayed and take up permanent residence there, so keep an eye out for that. So what is happening at The Skeltons the night after the museum… Well history is coming alive at our kitchen table, as Shane sits studying and drawing the only known 20″ Kenyon tenon saw of its kind in the world. Just one of the 18th century saws to be copied and created by hand as a limited edition in the future….

 

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Something Old, Something New…

Occasionally we are asked by our customers if we can do something different with their saws. This may be an adaptation, personalisation or something completely unique, such is the flexibility of a custom made tool. Modifications have recently included a 9″ blade, different sized handles or in this instance an aged appearance. Shane, thrives on a challenge and impossible just doesn’t enter his diction! The brief for this pair of saws (a dovetail and a carcass) was to make the saw look over 100 years old. Taking inspiration from pictures of the saws in ‘The Seaton Chest’ Shane set to work on accelerating the ageing process, by creating a realistic patina on both the blade and the brass. The handle too was not over polished and so therefore remains dull, in-keeping with the aged look. Quite a lengthy process, the saw took considerably longer than normal to complete. Admittedly it was initially strange to see our saws in this form. However, the customer phoned to say that the saws were better than he could ever  have imagined and to be honest we have to agree they looked great! It may catch on…

 

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Always The Finest…

Not only does Shane endeavour to make the finest handmade tools, but in so doing so he also employs the finest tools for each job. Getting him excited this week in the workshop is the arrival of a new Riffle Rasp. Handmade traditionally by ‘Auriou Toolworks in France, this knife and spoon riffle rasp will be used in the shaping of the tongue on the forthcoming sash saw. The knife end allowing for the shaping in deeper and finer cuts, whilst the spoon enables one to create a fine radius. If I was just that little more IT savvy, I would share you a link from YouTube a 10 minute video showcasing ‘Inside Auriou Toolworks’ The hand stitching is really quite remarkable.IMG_3146 (2)

From Fly Press to Good Press…

It’s quite a strange feeling walking in to W H Smiths, flicking through a magazine and seeing yourself looking back at you! At the same time you feel a little emotional and dare I say it a tad excited that you’ve reached these illustrious pages and people are saying such great things about you…we are humbled. If you haven’t seen a copy of either ‘The Woodworker..’ or ‘Furniture & Cabinetmaking’ magazine this week, a four page profile of us dominates the former  and a test review of Shane’s dovetail saw features in both! And just when you thought we’d saturated those print covered pages..we are about to turn up again next Friday in ‘Good Woodworking’ We too are interested to see what the woodworking aficionados including David Charlesworth have to say (nail biting!)

I think one thing that we need to put across is that we are just a normal nuclear family, living in an average semi-detached house with a garage that doubles as a workspace. This, I believe is what has intrigued Editors that have visited us more than anything. That Shane is creating something so great in relation to British Saw Making from nothing really. What is more the most amazing thing that anyone would witness if they were to step into our garage is that the most valuable and productive tools in the garage cost nothing to run, make no noise and yet have the ability to make something truly magnificent. They are of course, Shane’s hands.

Excitingly we are getting enquiries from around the globe now, and have indeed sent saws as far away as New Zealand. I too am now getting to grips with the world time zones! However, the four saws that Shane, has completed this week we are happy to say have stayed on UK soil and one certainly indeed is destined to be used in the making of some fine furniture.

Stay tuned for probably a bit more saw action in the future, but thanks for reading and have a good week.

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It’s a hello from Skelton Saws…

Hello and welcome to our new Skelton Saws blog, written by me (Jaq) as directed by him, the Saw Maker, Shane! (Well some of the time!) Follow us on our journey as we aim to create some of the finest saws in the world from here in our own back garden, our little piece of Yorkshire. Thanks for looking and enjoy the ride!