Dead hedge, dead accurate, cremation.

Been doing a little dead hedging.

SAMSUNG CSCWith a little help from my friends David and Theo.

SAMSUNG CSCI’m the one with the chain saw who messes everything up with fallen trees and severed limbs then we try to make some order out of it all.

SAMSUNG CSCWe are working a long narrow strip opposite the bodgery on a bank above the river.  At times it’s rather challenging as the natural tendency of the trees is to go for a swim when they’ve been cut from their roots.  Much use of the winch required.  Some accurate felling.

SAMSUNG CSCFinished the live hedge-laying at home and had a good fire to burn the brash.

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Old wood, old trees

This log store keeps on needing filled (as they like to grammaticise in Scotland).SAMSUNG CSCAt the moment I seem to be mostly cutting and moving wood around.  The logs above are old.  From about 3 or 4 years ago cuttings.  Straight-grained and ash, but no longer use for much else than fire logs.  I’m needing to move them out of the Bodgery wood pile to make room for more recent stuff, like this ash I collected this morning at 7:20am.

SAMSUNG CSCHere it is in the wild, on the canal bank.  I had to do a 90 degree right-hand turn from a busy trunk road into a fairly narrow field gate opening, hence the early hour.

SAMSUNG CSCYou can see why one of them was taken down by contractors to the canal trust, going hollow.  You may be able to make out a shiny round label on one of the logs.  It has a number on it and shows where there is a geocache. I could see the stash between the roots.  This is going to cause a few people some consternation when they come hunting for it.  Seemed a pity that some of the good-sized straight-grained stuff was going to end up as logs or rot away.

SAMSUNG CSCMaking progress with this beech limb, the wallers can get at the repair work now.  Hope they do a lot better job than this mess, a bit further along the road:

SAMSUNG CSCRight next to this is a rather jauntily leaning beech tree, that really ought to come down before it falls on the road.  I’m finding out about closing the road for a couple of hours to take it down.

SAMSUNG CSCI guess it got a bit carried away with splitting its stem, and then the SW gales have been at it.

SAMSUNG CSCThe wood on the left is where all that action is.  The wood is gradually creeping up the moor side, you should be able to make out the stems of the silver birches climbing up the hill toward the sky-line.  Well at least it used to be all silver birches, but now things are changing a bit.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s a pretty well established oak tree (with ivy creeping up it).  And in the back ground the underwoods are starting up – small holly bush, good and green in Winter.

Ah Winter, we are on its tail end here, but my walk was peppered with hail showers.

SAMSUNG CSCI was leaning over here to get a look at yet another tree that’s fallen on top of a wall needing removed (as they might say…).  One benefit of living in a valley is that you can see what weather is coming next.

SAMSUNG CSCThe build up of the new woodland now also includes some ash, here are a couple of little saplings.

SAMSUNG CSCSee how the floor is changing as the canopy of this beech tree fills out and blocks the light.  That’s bilberry bushes retreating.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some more regeneration; an oak tree which has almost died with dead branches sticking out of its canopy.  But regeneration is coming along with lots of new growth closer in to the stem of the tree.  It almost looks like one tree behind another.  Known as a stag’s horn oak when those dead branches poke out of the top.

SAMSUNG CSCBack at the ranch, hedge laying is finished, just need to burn the brash.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd functional things like guttering, doors, electricity and drains are all coming along at the outstead.

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Ax(e) in t’leg. [NB, this post has no gruesome pictures of slight flesh wounds] (Thank Goodness – Ed)

In the 7 or so years I’ve been in this game I can’t recall any axe accidents.  Other, maybe, than a few nail shaving events, but no major catastrophes.  I was hewing today in a somewhat untutored manner, preparing the seat for the current oak bench and somehow  (well I know exactly how really) I followed through a blow into my calf – the worst damage was a hole in my fairly new working trousers (two layers).  Bit of a flesh wound too, but nothing a medium sized bandage couldn’t cope with.  Surprisingly little blood, probably my age, but my fingers still bleed like fury from tiny nicks.  Anyway, enough of that, here is the oak before I started hewing.

SAMSUNG CSCI went to Summerbridge to buy the oak butt from Nidd Valley Sawmill (there’s been a mill there since 1540). First I had to wait for a mixed load to be expertly stacked from a timber lorry.

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Just look at that perfect Yorkshire blue sky (it’s always sunshine in Yorkshire).

I sometimes wish I had something like that, but then …

I had a good old chin wag with the man in charge, mainly about the way the whole economics of the timber trade have been sadly distorted by the biomass energy fad.  He is finding it more difficult to source timber to add to his 40,000 cu foot stock.

A very small portion of 40,000 cu ft.

A very small portion of 40,000 cu ft.

He was most concerned about not tipping my rather small trailer over with the large lump of oak on board.

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Please note, the sledge NEVER made contact with my pretty 2.5 lb Kentish pattern axe – I use a wooden maul (out of shot).

I guess it weighed more than a ton(ne).  It was a challenge to open up – took about an hour.  I am more and more finding that the way to deal with awkward splits is to start them by getting the axe embedded partly into the sapwood and partly into the heartwood and sinking it until a split opens on the bark profile, and then I get the wedges in.

SAMSUNG CSCI am usually very fastidious about changing from steel to wooden wedges as soon as possible so I can hack away at crossing fibers, which latter you can see above (betwixt the axe and the steel wedge).  Immediately after I took this photo I nudged the wedge with the axe – 20 minutes on the grindstone and honing put that right again.  Riving a butt is an energetic job (Showing your softee Lancastrian roots? – Ed).

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See the axe on the left? – that’s the one that bit me!)

Eventually I’d got the beggar split into three.

SAMSUNG CSCThe split the little one into two – so three and two makes four huh?

Anyway, I’m going to mill off the bench seat, following the split, and I’m hoping to get a slab just as good as fully riven, but with less waste – this butt is not straight-grained.

I’ve been doing lots of other things, not so exciting for others but time demanding – attending wet shows.  This is really mad – we are having our best Summer for years and yet I’ve been at 3 wet shows this Summer, bummer.  Also making hurdles.

SAMSUNG CSCThese are special order – barriers to corgi pup escape attempts.  My mate Dave Jackson, whom I met at a wet show in Leicestershire, had just fulfilled an order for 50 sheep hurdles  for an Oxfordshire sheep auction.  I bet there are not many people who are able to say that they provided sheep hurdles within the last 20 or 30 years.

SAMSUNG CSCBy request, I made a Parson Jack Russel terrier today and it immediately started chasing the peace-loving wood-loving pigs.

I just relaxed and watched the smoke rising …

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“An yll wynde that blowth no man to good, men say.” John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546

The best thing about being on holiday is that you can do a bit of work for relaxation from holidaying.  On Christmas’ Day Even a high wind blew and brought down an old ash tree that has been a creaking gate for some years (I remember a bough falling off it when I was a child about 50 years ago).

SAMSUNG CSCIt fell rather inconveniently partly into The Leeds Liverpool Canal, almost blocking the way:

SAMSUNG CSCIt looked much worse before we started clearing it out with a handy winch, all my straps and a couple of chain saws.  It was a wonder, really that the tree had managed to stand up so long, the root-ball was almost entirely rotten.

SAMSUNG CSCI’m not an expert on tree fungi, but this one has been at work on the tree for a long time, and I’m expecting the stem to be at least partly hollow.

SAMSUNG CSCMost of the wood will end up in my log store, but there maybe a chance of getting out a couple of planks with the BIG SAW and Alaskan mill.  The thinning chain saw is certainly going to need a good sharpening, even though the muddy logs that had embedded in the bottom of the canal were avoided.

 

SAMSUNG CSCI’ve brushed off the worst of the mud and the wind and rain now falling should help out a lot finishing the job.  We’re certainly going to have plenty of good ash logs for some time.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd then fortuitously our neighbour’s fence blew down too, so that’s the kindling sorted out for this Winter too.  Just a bit short of newspaper now …

 

 

Planing riven green oak

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I’m getting to the smaller components for the shepherd’s chair now.  This will be the front under-seat framing rail.  The dogs in the bench top are great for this, half the battle is holding the stuff still to plane, the other half is stance and sweat.  It was very warm yesterday, for Yorkshire, and the next two days are forecast to be hot too (read ‘too hot’).  I’ll be milling out a coupe of larger items – crest rail and seat slabs and maybe the wings .  I’m milling them on the quarter so they will be as good as riven.  The oak butt I’m getting these from has some rather large limb junctions and riving could turn out to be too wasteful.

You can see end on how the above rail follows the rays on the finished face:

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The back will be left as is because, being under the seat, it will not be seen, and the extra weight will add to my desired bottom-heavy balance to avoid tipping over.

The ray patterns are looking pretty good though:

SAMSUNG CSCThe aroma of this brown stuff is almost intoxicating, it just reminds me of whisky maturation warehouses in Scotland where I used to work.

Storyteller’s chair; part 1

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s started again.  A new storyteller’s chair, for East Riddlesden Hall.  It will be styled on a shepherd’s chair, but this time I’m building it properly with mortise and draw-bored tenons all round.  The bottoms of the legs will be way oversize again as the chair will live out-of-doors and needs to be seriously bottom-heavy.  So here’s the first back leg:

SAMSUNG CSCBit more shaving down to get the top ready for framing the back panel.  Proper quarter-riven oak.  It took Theo and me about an hour to bust open the first split.  Hedgerow-grown timber again with branches just where you don’t need ’em.  Makes splitting with wedges quite a challenge, but we did it.  I tried hauling the whole butt onto the trailer with my Lug-All hand winch, but the trailer side used as an anchor was starting to suffer.  I reckon it must weigh around a ton.  It was still heavy to pull when halved, and on rollers.

This is the other back leg I was working on today:

 

SAMSUNG CSCThe second half of the butt made a good impromptu bench.  Once I’d got rid of the bark, sap wood and pith, and shaped it up a bit, sawn off the ends, it was handy enough to carry inside the Bodgery and start some finer shaping with drawknife and scrub plane:

SAMSUNG CSCWatch this space for more heavy work in the green oak department.

Meanwhile, still a bit of room for cake stands (to customer’s spec., honest!)  This was heavy too.

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Not a stool, but a useful horse with dogs.

SAMSUNG CSCIt turns out to be a mini sawing horse designed to be held in a WorkMate vice/bench.  It is after the style of Owen Jones’.  I only supply logs to a single customer now – an old friend – and my method of making logs means that sometimes the end log of a branch is short or a bit too long.  This horse will help sort out the long ones.  The short ones are no problem, except for stacking, but they are useful for filling in spaces in the stove firebox.