Back in 2007, when OBee Community Interest Company was formed, Needham Market High Street was blessed with three shops that sold old carpentry tools and there was a monthly hand tool auction behind The Limes pub. Timber framing students, teachers and volunteers congregated early on a Wednesday morning to eye up and bid for old saws, planes, augers, draw knives and other seemingly rusty and unkempt tools.
At Orchard Barn our aspiration is to use traditional methods of carpentry and construction that make best use of these old tools. However, they are often in a very poor state when they reach us. Over the years we have run sharpening sessions, but it is a specialised job requiring skill, dedication and time. More ‘Saw Doctors’ are needed! It is a dying art that needs keeping alive and encouragement to prosper. With that in mind, two years ago OBee CIC (the community group that run Orchard Barn) organised Suffolk’s first Saw Fest that aimed to demonstrate the art of saw restoration, saw setting/sharpening and ultimately best practice in handsaw use.
Since Saw Fest, volunteers have spent many happy hours and days slowly renovating old tools, but we still have a way to go. Lockdown has given us time to further assess the contents of our tool shed and to begin the process of culling those tools that are pretty attractive but sadly too far gone, and time to bring back even more of the old saws that have been donated over the years. Many bear the mark of several owners and would appear to have been handed down through generations of carpenters. Our aspiration is to breathe new life into these tools and continue to inspire future generations to love and use them