Woodworkers' workshop at Wangat

The craft of the bodger was the focus of a wood-working workshop at Wangat Lodge on the Chichester River recently.

A common meaning for bodge is to botch or mend clumsily ('that's bodgie') but a bodger was a skilled craftsman that made chair legs and braces.

The workshop was led by Roy Davi from the Blue Mountains, and attracted a dozen participants, a mix of locals and visitors from Newcastle, Sydney and beyond, Ken Rubeli reports.

Wangat proprietor Dan Lyons met Roy more than a year ago at a demonstration in the Blue Mountains featuring a simple foot-operated wood lathe of a centuries-old design, used for turning the legs of chairs, stools and benches.

Roy - who calls himself The Leura Bodger - is a retired schoolteacher who has devoted himself to promoting a craft with a long tradition in England.

Freshly cut timbers, with the wet fibres relatively soft, are spun on the wooden lathe, and shaped with hand-held tools.

"I did a workshop with Roy in the Blue Mountains," said Dan.

"I made a wooden stool that was used at the signing table at my wedding."

"From there evolved the idea to use local timbers growing at Wangat - forest oak, red ash, white mahogany and blue gum - and to invite Roy along to share his craft.

The craft of the bodger is enjoying a revival in Britain and Ireland, as an appreciation of hand-built chairs grows, following traditional designs.

At the Wangat course participants began by making a wooden mallet, and hand-carving a spoon. Some moved on to bowls and stools.

Roy taught the use of equipment he brought with him - pedal-driven pole-lathes and shave horses, and hand tools including the adze, spoke-shave, draw knife and froe.

"It goes back to the Vikings," said Roy.

"I'm now working with the same tools and the same principles as they did."

Dan says he'll be working on his forest-oak bowl for several hours yet. And he'd like to be a bodger when he grows up.