Story chair update

Now where was I?  Keep getting interrupted by courses, stove remodelling, fitting doors, skirting boards, bees etc, etc.

Well yesterday I found I had to split out some more oak for a back panel for the chair.  The butt was not so big, but nonetheless still needed the winch to haul it onto the trailer.  It turned out to be heavily infected with something oak is prone to but which I couldn’t identify, however, the timber that isn’t rotten is a warm brown.  I’ll be making the side wings from it which need to be as light as possible to maintain the bottom heavy weighting for stability.

Here’s me doing some speed splitting – nearly as good as watching paint dry.

(Did I notice the head come off the sledge-hammer?  Really! -Ed)

Today I’ve been fitting the panels in the back.  At first I was going to have them raised with a small upstanding rebate and worked them up so using a fillister plane and a little finishing plane for the chamfer:

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Eventually I decided to go for a less formal fielding without the step as in the East Riddlesden chair:

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s a more colloquial style more fitted for an outdoor location, so here it is dry fitted:

The riven oak is producing some decent grain patterns, the storytellers will need to beware of this eye in the back of their necks!

SAMSUNG CSCNext up will be stopped chamfers to the frame and then the arms and seat, and finally attaching the back frame to the seat frame – no chair has been built like this before (Good job too – Ed)

I rebuilt the stove today as the firebox was just too big; that was what caused the flue fire.  I only need a slow fire to produce smoke in Summer to keep the midges at bay.  I decided to try keeping the smoke a bit more under control by adding a plate from scrap steel plate to join the flue to the fire bricks:

SAMSUNG CSCIt seems to work very well, with almost all the smoke going up the flue.  With the amount of firebrick in there I should be able to cook potatoes in 25 minutes.

On my commute this week a new dwelling has appeared on Silsden Moor, a splendid new shepherd’s hut:

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Veteran oak and smoke

I’ve just done the first charcoal burn of the year.  Turned out not bad.  Half the load was pre-sold and it was a good outturn 13 hefty 5 kg bags and 20 handy 2.5kg bags, or, technically, big and little bags.

One of the trickiest parts of making charcoal in a steel kiln is judging when to shut it all down by sealing out the air.  Too early and the charcoal can be smoky when burning as all the tar hasn’t been burnt away and more brown ends are produced.  Too late and you’ve burnt some of the charcoal away into the air.  One way to judge the state of the burn is to look at the smoke.

This smoke is dirty-coloured. At the start of the burn the smoke is just about white as the wood’s moisture is driven off as steam.  Then towards the end the smoke gets dirty as the built up tar burns and evaporates away.  This is the sort of smoke you don’t want to inhale.  Next comes the critical point.  The smoke starts to clear a bit.

However, if it is left too long at this stage and the smoke turns blue, then you’re loosing money as the charcoal production starts to go up the chimneys! Notice ruined Bolton Priory in the background?  What a place to work!

The final sign to heed is what is happening at the base of the air intakes.

The tar can be seen burning a pink colour here and it’s about time to shut down.

Theo and I delivered part of the bagged up out turn to Howgill Lodge caravan site and on the way we pass The Laund Oak.  This is a veteran tree that used to mark the boundary between the forests of Barden and Knaresborough.  You can see it’s a veteran from the hollow trunk, the massive girth and the dead limbs.  There is still life in it though, its buds have not burst in this photo but there will be a modest display of oak leaves shortly.

Interesting word Laund; it means a clearing in a forest where deer can graze, and the legal definition in England is an area where deer were raised, principally for hunting by the king and his cronies, and occasionally poached by us peasants on pain of severe consequences at the hands of the verderers, who enforced the king’s law in the forests.

“…yet even from the wide tracts of forest, there was something more substantial to be gained than the pleasures of the chase. They were under the charge of bailiffs, who (in each bailiwick, as it was called) had their staff of foresters, verderers regarders, agistors, and woodwards, who collected and annually accounted for the profits of waifs, agistments, pannage … for the pasturage of hogs on the acorns, etc., … hollies, and perhaps other trees, for we have the word preserved in Anglo-Saxon, hirst, a wood), the croppiugs of which formed a principal article of winter fodder for cattle as well as sheep, and was valuable, as appears from an entry in Henry Younge’s, the forester of Barden’s book, a.d , 1437 : ‘ of husset sold to the amount of IV. iiis. viiid.’ (at least fifty pounds of our money), also of bark croppings, turbery (peat turf), and bee-stock. For in the old economy of the forest, wild bee-stocks were always an object of attention, and in France, as well as in England, officers called Bigres or Bigri (a byke was a bee’s nest in Chaitcer’s day), perhaps from Apigeri (bee-keepers) were appointed specially for pursuing the bees and securing their wax and honey. And it is to be remembered that those rugged districts, now stripped of their woods, are spoken of in the Compotus of Bolton as far from destitute of timber. The manor and chase of Barden comprised three thousand two hundred and fifty-two acres. The forest of Skipton. which comprised an area of six miles by four, or fifteen thousand three hundred and sixty acres, seems to have been enclosed from very early times with a pale, a practice indeed, introduced by the Norman Lord. Here the mast bearing and bacciferous trees, particularly the Arbutus, were planted ; and herein were nourished the stag, the wild boar, the fallow deer, the roe, and the oryx (or the wild bull), which, indeed, during the winter were fed with beans, even as the few remaining deer above Bolton are fed still. There was many a ‘ toft and croft ‘ also, as they were called (i.e., a homestead with a space of clear ground around it), where sheep browsed among the brushwood and glades. And so the forest furnished support for those who dwelt in it, either by fair means or foul.” Edmund Bogg. Extract from “Two thousand miles in Wharfedale; a descriptive account of the history, antiquities, legendary lore, picturesque features, and rare architecture of the Vale of the Wharf, from Tadcaster to Cam Fell. Three hundred and twenty illustrations.”

It’s a bit quieter in the forest today, and there seem to be about as many wooden deer produced as live ones.  Here are two people, Jo and Andy,  who came on a woodland course this week.


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In the bleak mid-Winter

It’s not all that bleak:

Just what these sprouts are, uncovered by foraging Blackbirds, I’m not sure.  Definitely not bluebells, or chives which they certainly resemble.  In theory they should be Dog’s Mercury as that’s about the first woodland plant to show in Strid Wood.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled and report once they’ve put on a little more growth.

Although the plants are readying for Spring I’m still burning a bit of wood in the stove which today added a little extra something to the sun light.

Wow see that sunlight shining through the shelter – the worst is over!