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About By MJH

I guess the obvious place to start is with an introduction. My name is Martin and this site, By MJH is my attempt to bring two of my passions together. Firstly, I like to work with my hands to produce things that both look good and that are also useful; secondly, I like to write. As creating a website is an easy and cheap way to bring the two things together, here we are.

Getting Started with Wood

I first started working with wood many years ago back when I was in high school.

The woodwork classes there paved the way for me to pick it up again as a hobby after something like a ten year break while I went out to see the world and get myself set up with a house and family.

At the moment, all of my woodwork is done on decking in our back garden. I have no sophisticated workshop and very few power tools. In general, for the most part I like to work by hand and as I don’t have much of a budget, I often have to make do with what tools I have rather than going out and buying a special tool for each job.

Does the lack of specialist tools really matter? Overall I’d have to say no. While some jobs may take a little longer, the satisfaction of figuring out a way to get it done is also increased. Production time is not the driving factor in my work, enjoyment is.

My favourite timbers

Over the years I’ve worked with quite a few different types of timber. Which do I prefer? Well that’s easy, Jarrah and Forest Oak.

Why these two timbers? Well Jarrah originates from the forests in the south west of Western Australia just south of Perth where I grew up. In addition to being reasonably good to work with (Sharp tools a must) it’s exceptionally hard wearing and has a nice colour and grain.

Forest Oak is found along the east coast of Australia which is where I happen to live now. The timber has an exceptional patterned grain to it making it very good for ornamental work. While it is very beautiful, it’s also quite rare and to be honest the only reason I’ve had some of it to work with is because it grows in my back yard and a reasonable sized tree was knocked down by a storm a couple of years back.

Getting Started with Stone

Stone on the other hand was a medium that I came to a lot later. It all started when we moved to the Central Coast of New South Wales. Our house stands on the side of a steep hill that is predominantly sandstone. A few years back a storm came through and knocked down our fence.

When the fence was repaired, it was strengthened by using a core saw to bore into the sandstone and set the foundations.

Carved Sandstone Candle Holders

It was these discarded cores that I used later, after practice on some other pieces of stone to produce a set of candle holders for my brother’s wedding present.

From this beginning, I’ve been steadily trying to expand on both the size and complexity of my projects. Over time, as my skills improve and my collection of tools grows, I’d like to expand my work so as to use a wider selection of rock. For the moment though, owing to its ready availability and ease of use, I’m happy working exclusively with sandstone.

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