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Don't tell anyone I said this, but there's more to life than swords. Pens are important too. As are chisels, saws, planes…

Pencil Box in Brown Oak, Maple, Cherry, Walnut, and Resin

On my recent trip to the USA I was sitting in my friend Heidi Zimmerman’s garden when she dropped a truth bomb on my head. We have been close friends for a long time, but she doesn’t have anything I’ve made in her house. This unacceptable state of affairs had to be rectified, and we settled on a pencil box. I had complete artistic freedom, it just had to hold pencils. Oh, and a sliding top, not hinged. I’ve never made one before so I bashed out this in plywood:

It’s just butt-jointed and glued, nothing fancy. But it gave me the dimensions, and an idea about order of operations. I made the box out of brown oak (because I have tons of it. Literally. A dead tree in our garden had to come down and I had it sawn into planks, the thinner of which are about ready to be used).  I used lap dovetails at one end, and through dovetails at the other, just because. I decided to make it long enough to have a section for sharpeners and rubbers.

 

I chose a scrap of walnut for the divider because it had an ombre effect, light to dark, that I thought might tie the dark sides to the light base.

The base was a piece of maple I’ve had lying around for about five years, too small for most projects, but too nice to throw away. It was way too thick though, so I decided to leave it full thickness, and carve feet out of it when the box was assembled. Using such a pale wood should make the inside of the box lighter, making it easier to see what’s inside. 

The sliding top came from a leftover bit of cherry that I had used for experimenting with resin. I like the idea of a translucent window into the box.

I have no idea how long it all took- I did everything by hand (including sawing to thickness, stock preparation, etc.) because that’s more fun than firing up the machines. The only exception was the grooves for the lid and the base. I didn’t have the right size blade for my plough plane, and didn’t want to grind one to fit, so I slummed it with the router. I think it turned out ok!

 

Pen Tray in Pine, Brown Oak, and Leather

A while ago the philosopher and swordsman Damon Young (prof, dr, etc. Also guest on my podcast) posted a photo on Twitbook of his pen drawer. A small drawer in his writing desk with his pens in it:

They looked very sad in that crappy cardboard tray, and I couldn’t help but share a photo of mine:

But not being a total arse, I softened the sting by offering to make Damon a proper pen tray. He’s in Tasmania, and I’m in the UK, but all I needed was an accurately cut template of the inside of the drawer, and it should slide right in. Prof. Dr. Young is an accomplished writer and philosopher, but not a craftsman, as the template rudely attested. A bit gappy sir! In fact, as gappy as the plot in most Marvel movies. But I made some educated guesses, and made this:

It’s pine, with grooves routed out, spaces for the drawer handle screws (which are in huge saucers for some reason), covered in goatskin and edged in brown oak. The edges are just pinned on so if the insert was a bit too big, they could be easily popped off. The whole thing took maybe two hours, not including waiting an hour for the glue holding the leather down to go off. I posted it off to the far side of the world, and turns out if fits ok!

Now I really should get on and make the next bookcase…


Who doesn’t love Fiore’s art of arms? I mean really, it’s got everything. If you’re into medieval stuff, it’s the best-documented knightly sword, with source manuscripts dating back to the late 14th century. If you’re into any kind of unarmoured fencing, this system lays down the eternal fundamental rule: parry and strike. Then takes that idea and riffs on it with exchanges, breaks, and some very cool tricks.

I’ve been working with Fiore dei Liberi’s art of arms since first coming across a dodgy photocopy of the Pisani Dossi manuscript in the early nineties, and have been developing my interpretation and teaching classes regularly in the system since 2001. I've encapsulated my understanding and teaching method in The Complete Medieval Longsword Course.

This course bundle includes:

  • The Medieval Longsword Complete Course
  • The Medieval Dagger Course
  • Fundamentals: Footwork Course

The Longsword course is organised into nine main sections.

  1. Getting Started
  2. Basic Striking
  3. Basic Defences
  4. Counter-Remedies
  5. How to Strike
  6. The Cutting Drill, Complete
  7. Introducing Complexity
  8. Fiore’s Longsword Plays
  9. Advanced Training

The Medieval Dagger Course comprises:

  1. Foundations: theory, footwork, falling
  2. Basics: Dagger handling and joint locks
  3. The System Overview
  4. Other lines of attack
  5. The Dagger Disarm Flowdrill
  6. Completing the Base

Fundamentals: Footwork includes:

  1. Safety
  2. Grounding
  3. Controlling Measure
  4. Longsword module
  5. Rapier module
  6. Sword and Buckler module
  7. Bonus material

Together this bundle costs $600 (plus sales tax if you live in the EU). For the next week only, you can get 50% off the bundle price, so it will cost just $300 (or $60/month for five months). Just use this link: https://swordschool.teachable.com/p/complete-medieval-longsword?coupon_code=FIORESUMMERSALE

All my courses come with a 30-day money back guarantee. If you buy it but find it’s not for you, then just let me know and I’ll refund you with a couple of mouse clicks.
But I'm confident you'll love it. Why? Because so far less than one student in 400 has asked for a refund, and we get testimonials like this one from Jason:

I was living in a historical martial arts desert during the pandemic, so I started with Swordschool's free introductory class for longsword and was immediately hooked. Guy provided clear instruction with video demonstration. I was able to run a small Fiore study group working through the materials here to jump start me into using the manuscripts themselves. Guy provided that necessary bridge that I needed to into being able to interpret and work through the material first hand. And best of all, he was only an email away if I had questions. I would absolutely recommend these courses to anyone who needs a historical martial arts starting point, especially if you are trying to enter into this world of swordsmanship on your own or to challenge your interpretation of your own art or to try a new historical form. – Jason James

Interested? here's the link: https://swordschool.teachable.com/p/complete-medieval-longsword?coupon_code=FIORESUMMERSALE

 

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