BMF produces one of, if not the, widest range of training clubs and meels in the world. It started out from our first rudimentary turnings of a pair of British militaryu style Indian clubs and a pair of green oak Persian meels, way back in 2005. Things have evolved since then and what began as a hobby has become our main focus of work. The feedback along the way from club swingers all aroud the world has made this an enjoyable journey of love and respect. Lessens have been made, trust has been challenged but never taken, and we now find ourselves in a place where we offer a balance of quality and price as well as ethics, in this evolving world. Our artisan craftsmen are chosen for their love of working with wood – timbers from the UK and India. In the UK we use kiln dried timber as this works best for the smaller clubs we supply. The larger clubs and meels are more challenging. We decided to follow our ethics and work with an incredible charity called SCAD, who do incredible work in southern India, educating, raising living standards above the poverty line and defending workers rights. They also help us give back to the very source of nature that we take from, by planting over 200,000 trees a year. SCAD is very dear to us. As well as creating paid work, a futher 10% of production costs goes to the charity itself. When business is good, we make further donations.
I can’t say BMF is fair trade as this requires certain official certifications. I will say that our ethics are reflected in how we would like to see the world – in a more caring light – where profit is not the main driving force. The environment is close to our hearts and we try to avoid using materials that are detrimental to the world. Orders are sent in boxes and packed in paper and recycled shredded cardboard. We refuse the free plastic parcel tape offered by our box supplier and only use bio-degradable paper tape. It costs more, but we sleep better! Any plastic that may find itself into some orders are simply re-used from other deliveries to us. If you can, please keep passing these on!
So, back to timbers used. As mentioned earlier, in the UK, we use kiln-dried wood for our smaller clubs. This gives close to perfect clubs everytime. However, when it comes to the larger diameter clubs, the price of wood escalates dramatically which made us think again. Kiln dried wood also has a high impact on the carbon footprint when compared to air-dired wood. See this article that compares Kiln-dried v Air-dried. So, we choose to go back to how our predecessors produced them – from single solid pieces of air-dried logs. These are mainly from air-dried Indian walnut timber and carry many benefits:
• they are more affordable (some sell for less than half the price of kiln-dried clubs).
• single log where the wood is one whole piece (not laminated or glue layered)
• they come from sustainable timber supplies
• they carry a lower carbon footprint using only sun and wind to season.
• they are a sustainable form of income to the charities BMF supports.
• BMF additionally supports tree planting for a sustainable cycle.
• traditionalist prefer a log-based approach that is more authentic and with a better energetic connection.
• the clubs have stunning grain aesthetics – each piece is unique.
There is one downside to air-dried logs – they carry a risk of small cracks appearing. The risk can increase when clubs are quickly moved from a humid to a dry atmosphere and drying is speeded up. Usually, most of this occurs during the processing, finishing and storage in our workshop. If it happens, we fix them using various methods to stabilise the wood.
We feel this is acceptible at a cosmetic level but need to be open about it in our store. What is not acceptible is structural or excessive splitting. Please let us know if this is the case and we can work out a solution. If cosmetic, then see below how easy it is to fix.
Kiln-dried timbers for smaller clubs such as ash, beech, sapele require little aftercare. However, if you notice your clubs getting a little dry then it would be nice to nourish them with a coat of oil similar to that used originally.
Single log timber clubs benefit more by keeping them protected with a coat of oil when needed. Also, store in a cool dry space. Avoid leaving your clubs in direct sun, near to direct heat sources or storing in excessively dry areas. Clubs coated with neem/castor oil will require more regular attention. Danish oil less so. Different woods require different frequencies of re-oiling. If they feel rough to the touch, use a fine sand paper to make smoothe provide a key for the oil. Don’t over apply and wipe in the direction of the grain with a dry cloth. Allow to dry overnight before using again.
FINE CRACK REPAIRS
If hairline cracks appear, they can be easily resolved. I use Gorilla Superglue Gel. This is thick enough to stabilise as well as fill the crack. It may need one or two applications. Let it dry for 10 mins or so before either sanding or preferably skimming off any raised areas with a sharp knife. Then, refinish by applying either Danish oil or neem/castor oil (whichever was used originaly).
- Hairline cracks up to 0.5mm wide.
2. Apply super glue gel
3. Cut excess dried glue with sharp knife or sand with fine sand paper
4. Finally apply fresh coat of oil 🙂
0 TO 1mm CRACKS
For slightly wider cracks, white wood glue (dries transparent) is thick enough for holes up to 1mm thick. Wipe away excess glue. Treat as for superglue gel, but allow a longer drying time of over night at room temperature.
For cracks wider than 1mm, mix fine sawdust with wood glue and paste it into the crack. You can save sanding time by taping some clear acetate or thin plastic over the glued area so it dries beautifully smooth (the windows in plastic food packaging works well). Allow to dry for at least 24 hours or more, depending on how much glue was needed. Final finishing can be done by applying one or 2 thin coats of oil to the surrounding wood.
- Mix wood glue and sawdust into paste.
2. Apply apply to crack. Add more where necessary.
3. Dry overnight and cut away excess dried glue with sharp knife.
4. Finally apply fresh coat of oil 🙂
What is perfection?
Perfection is an illusive thought. To walk a path that is ever evolving and improving is a healthy journey to be on, but to expect perfection is a set up for disappointment. The enso circle is a perfect example of zen buddhism that expresses the understanding that perfection does not exist. It is an illusion that can torment as it is a concept beyond grasp.
Rarely do you see a complete enso circle as this is a symbol of absolute enlightenment. More often, the enso is an incomplete circle that symbolises movement and development as well as the perfection of all things. Imperfections are perfect. This is known as wabi-sabi or the beauty of imperfection. The various dimensions exposed may include: asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, weathered, without pretence (natural), subtly profound grace, freedom, and tranquility.
Drawn quickly and in one stroke, the enso is evidence of the character of its creator at that moment in time. Like an enso, the practice of Indian clubs can also be an artform. Daily practice will lead us ever closer to the perfection of our body mind spirit – in harmony with the clubs and natural world around us.