Beech ball part 2

Phew! Work is getting rather hectic.  After the holiday away in Dorset at The Ball, I had a couple of days in The Bodgery and then a day in Cumbria at Moss and Height Spring Woods helping to peel oak coppice.

I’m the softee wearing the gauntlets, my damaged finger still needs a little protection and I wasn’t sure how the tannin in the oak might affect it. It was a magical day.  A great crowd of the Coppice  Association NW (CANW) gathered with a large variety of oak peeling weapons (tools) and a couple of chainsawyers.

This Woodland Trust Woodland is oak coppice which is cut on a much longer rotation than hazel.  The wood is leased to Bill Hogarth MBE Memorial Apprenticeship Trust and managed by CANW according to a written coppice management plan.  The whole point of peeling the bark from the oak is a cash crop for the trust.  The bark is bundled up and collected in Autumn by J & FJ Baker, the only remaining tannery to use oak bark in the leather tanning industry in the UK.  The by-product is a large pile of peeled oak poles which have a beautiful surface texture and can be used for many purposes.  I’ll be using a bunch of them for a fence to complement the double oak gates I made last year for a client.

Thanks for the photos David.

Then on Friday I built a woven hazel fence in situ 

And now I check the photo there seem to be a couple of imperfections that could have been remedied – never mind though the spaces will allow the wind to be filtered through rather than blown over as often happens with the lap larch fence panels that are so popular in gardens for some reason. A hazel panel is not meant to be impenetrable, except by sheep!

On Saturday it was Otley Show, our first of the year.  A great little show with lots going on (not that I got to see anything other than the odd vintage tractor, ferret cage and marching band as they passed by). We again had a good pitch right next to the pedestrian entrance looking out towards the lake and Otley Chevin.  Busy turning and demonstrating all day, having carelessly left all the turned stock hanging up in my store-room.  Fortunately there were quite a few have-a-goers to give me some respite.  The sun even came out towards the end, but no sunburn this year. Lots of interest in my courses.

Anyway, rewind back to The Beech Ball.  There are lots of classes of craft and activities to enter, but I couldn’t afford the time or diesel to take my set up so far down South (clocked 300 odd miles on the way back).  I did enter the 1/2 hour challenge to make something saleable for a demo.

My 1/2 hour challenge item was a set of six napkin rings made from a locally scavenged cherry branch, made on the same basis as a shrink pot using an inch auger held in a newly acquired (at t’Ball) beech  screw clamp, Silky saw to cut into thirds, middle then clean up with a crooked knife and finishing touches with a straight knife.  Alas I didn’t come in the first three, James Pumfrey takes some beating with his half-hour pole lathe turned bowl.

We also got down to the Dorset Jurassic coast as it was only a couple of miles away, through exciting twisted back lanes.

Seemed like ages since we’d seen the sea, but we were at Bamborough not long ago.

On the beach here at Charmouth the ‘rocks’ are fossiliferous and there is much hunting goes on in this stuff:

We found a few small ammonites and iron pyrites.

Well lots of things went on at the Ball, check out Sean Hellman and Mark Allery’s blogs for more reports.  The food was especially delicious from The Peasant Evolution Producers’ Co-Operative.

3 thoughts on “Beech ball part 2

  1. I don’t see anybody using a drawknife in the oak peeling picture. Must have been some really hard oak.

    • Hi David!. There’s no cutting into the actual wood, just the bark is removed by splitting a length up the pole, and then kind of levering the bark off. The little short tools seem to be great for this. The sap makes the bark come off quite easily at this time of year.

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