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Archive for May, 2012

 Look, I have to show you this… I’ve got butterflies!

They just flew in …  just this minute!

This is mid project… a blanket box being made by a lovely man named Andrew Poder who makes terribly intricate and clever boxes and cabinets and other daring furniture pieces.

His finished pieces are very special http://www.boxmaker.co.uk/ 

I feel quite spoiled.. like I should get everything I ask for!!! Maybe I should put fluffy bunnies on the bottom of every post I do???

This fluffy bunny was brought to you by  http://myths-made-real.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/freak-week-35-angora-rabbits.html

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One log…

     

One heart…

lets-join-it-together-with-some-lovely-little-butterfly-joints-like-Andrew-from-Wabi-Sabi-does and it will be all right….

OK, that was a dreadful wasn’t it??? I know (huge groan) look at me singing about wood joints like a fool!

Whenever I see these Wabi Sabi tables with that delicate little butterfly bridging the gap I wonder why I don’t see that clever joint more often… I have always thought it was beautiful and skillful way to address this natural tendency for centre boards to split…

I love that they’re not about decoration…  they’re not frivolous, they do a job. They neatly tie the two sides of a board (or even two separate pieces of wood) and lock the two joined parts together.

Very clever, very neat  and very pretty.

You could (as I do) take the view that instead of detracting from a board, the split or heartcrack, which might otherwise be seen as a defect or something that reduces the yield of the board, actually creates an opportunity and naturally enhances the board (and that’s not just me putting a positive slant on something as I am want to do from time to time) maintains uniqueness… keeps it’s wild, natural, living tree-ness… you know?

So are you a sympathetic, skilled and creative woodworker… are you tempted to have a go?

If you saw some of the boards out in the yard you might be tempted… it’s not just the size that’s so attractive it’s the wild grain patterns and figuring you get to keep if you could use a whole, intact board.

If you do do butterfly joints I really want to see them… please send me some pictures. I’d like to have a whole library of butterfly joints!  It’s one of my favourite things ever in furniture making… and in floormaking… I’ve seen incredible floors with huge boards stabilised with buttlerfly joints… all sizes too.. of butterflies I mean.

Here’s another Wab Sabi pic that shows exactly that kind of knots, grain swirls, brown streak, flecking  and figuring that might have to be excluded (polite timber-speak for chuck it in the firewood) in a typical project, but with the butterfly it gets to stay. Wood like this has unique features built in!

It must be the best joint every surely?

None of that hiding round corners like a dovetail.. the butterfly is brazen! it’s a proper ‘in your face, not pretending to be anything but, look at me I’m a joint…  kind of a joint. My old tutors would probably start waxing lyrical about honesty and truth in design etc… but that’s architects for you.

I love ‘brazen’…

I know other woodworkers must utilise these joints but it is definitely not commonplace… I wish it were.

American architect turned furniture maker/teacher George Nakashima used to incorporate just this kind of joint into his work. He developed a working philosophy that integrated traditional methods of woodworking from Europe, Japan, India and America.

Nakashima is a woodworking folk hero and his sensibilities and devotion to craft have influenced and opened doors for lots of creative designer/makers to view the use of wood differently. Always nice to have a bit of philospohy to work to innit?

I mean look.. this is what I’m talking about! Humongous wide boards in long lengths but with heartcrack… somebody butterfly joint it for goodness sake..!

Otherwise those tantalisingly wide boards will get ripped down (I know that is woodwork language for cutting something through the width but… so harsh) into ‘use-able’ dimensions like 27 x 100mm (1″ x 4″) or something… we don’t want that do we??

So next time you meet over a table… or sit at a table… or make a table… or choose a table for your living room…  or dance on a table in a bar… consider the butterfly effect… we love those butterflies.

Get in touch with bespoke designer/makers Andrew & Kumiko Juniper to see their diverse and extraordinary range of solid wood furniture  http://www.wabisabidesign.co.uk/index.html

George Nakashima, folk hero and furniture maker http://www.nakashimawoodworker.com/

Thinking of Google Image Searching  butterlfy joints? Already done it…  http://bit.ly/Je1CgO OMG!!!  After this an intact and clear piece of wood is just so passe darling

Repair a split using ‘Dutchman’ butterfly joints – it makes me want to go home and split my dining table in two just to have someone mend it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMcXwmoOExI&feature=related   Andrew.. are you free???

Cool video of someone fitting what I call a butterfly joint in a round  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWrkqj_lyuo

More AMAZING japanese joinery work and what a piece of wood! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THbyIHsCVEs&feature=related

Nice article about George Nakashima http://www.woodworkersinstitute.com/page.asp?p=624

If a butterfly joint flapped it’s wings in the amazon… the theory of chaos via our friends at wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect

You don’t really read all the way down here to the bottom do you? Aren’t you lovely!

I was going to just leave a little note about heartcrack but now I think I’ll put in a picture of a fluffy bunny just for you!

This fluffy bunny was brought to you by http://bunny-love-girl.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/very-fluffy-bunny.html !!

Heartcrack:

The reason for the cracking in those centre boards?  which pretty much always crack up the middle (at least for the lower part of the tree) seems to be linked to the release of tension in the drying out of the butt end.

Common sense points to so many reasons why this would be right… base of the tree is most likely wetter, most likely bears the most load/takes the most strain,  dries out faster than than the rest of the log because of the exposed endgrain… I could go on, but I won’t.  It’s only a crack afterall…  good old mother nature.

Come and hug a log that used to be a tree http://www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk

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It’s our Riven Laths I’m all in a lather about.

I need to know more about their use. I need to know how a lime plasterer works. I want to understand more about their fitting and fixing. About the why’s and wherefores of  this length spec thing.

Our laths are Sweet Chestnut. Really really really sweet Chestnut. I mean, look at them.. don’t they look sweet?

They’re sweet because this traditional little building material has such a fabulous story.

Wanna hear/read it? Sitting comfortably?

Right, then I’ll begin. (I loved Jackanory.. can you tell?)

Once upon a time, deep in the forests and woodlands of ancient Sussex (& Surrey, Kent & Hampshire) there existed rare individuals, men, and undoubtedly women (we’ll call them workers-of-woodland for now) – who understood, believed wholeheartedly in and lived and breathed the art of coppicing*.

*For our purposes we shall say that ‘coppicing’ is the nurturing of Sweet Chestnut saplings into maturity that can be cut back and then will shoot up and grow again year after year, time after time, providing a renewable timber source for ever and ever into infinity…

So anyway, back to the workers-of-woodland…

The more they coppiced, the more the Chestnut coppice rewarded them (the men and the women) with fresh growth to cut until, one day, they found that where they might have been tempted to just make a whole load of split rail fencing or palings or chuck it all into chunks to make amazing charcoal with everything they cut, they decided that perhaps it would be worth their while to talk to the local Plastering Fairy and ask him if the Chestnut strips that split like nobody’s business and had excellent grab on the surface (because of the intact but irregular grain) might be of some use to him and his Lime Plaster Sorcery.

So they did.

And he said;

“Yes.”

And then he said;

“Can you give me a pallet of 10,000 ft in bundles of 50 with mixed lengths of however long the Sweet Chestnut coppiced strips grow in please?”

The workers-of-woodland (a lady) said;

“Yes.. I can. The Chestnut strips will come in lengths of about 3, 3 & 1/2 and 4 of your ancient and sacred feet – that you will never change the use of even if anyone ever does invent millimetres, centimetres and metres…  and for future reference lets all call these strips ‘laths’… – have you got a purchase order number for that?”

“I have. 42” said the P.F.

And so she delivered a pallet of laths, just like these ones, and the P.F. was happy with lengths as they came…  he didn’t need fixed long lengths because every wall he plastered was different… mixed lengths meant he could waste less because he wasn’t always cutting little bits off the ends when he got to a stud or a joist…  so he managed to conserve his pennies (not metric pennies though, mind you) as well as his laths.

And so you see… that is the story (or a story) of the amazing and versatile and durable and about as sustainable and green and ecologically sound a product as there could ever be…  Hand Riven Sweet Chestnut Laths.

In 3ft, 3ft6 in or 4ft lengths…  mixed.

I think I would have liked the P.F.

NB.I. If the Plastering Fairy had asked for fixed long lengths though, the workers-of-woodland would have had to throw away at least a third of laths they produced or just stop making them altogether and make something else because it might not have been financially viable anymore… and then if the P.F. were adamant he needed the fixed long lengths the workers-of-woodland would have had to offer Oak and that isn’t coppiced, doesn’t naturally grow in these lengths but grows for tens and hundreds of years into big logs that would need be cut down into fixed length chunks to split lath from…   !!!

NB II. I do make this stuff up as I go along remember… or do I ??? Hmmmmm

Some real facts about coppicing…  not the gobbeldygook written by me.. http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/practical-guides/coppicing-an-introduction/ and more http://www.coppice.co.uk/woodland-types/chestnut/

Good old IMDB’s got the goods on Jackanory… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0177448/

Good old Google Images.. coppiced woodlands http://bit.ly/INb7WU and lath http://bit.ly/JDSwc8

Another home run for Chestnut….  Trees..  for life after oil.. http://transitionculture.org/2006/02/03/top-five-trees-for-life-beyond-oil-5-the-sweet-chestnut/

Learn to coppice.. become a woodland-worker-person… here  http://www.earthtrust.org.uk/whatson/11-09-27/Introduction_to_Coppicing.aspx?gclid=CNLtqcCS9q8CFQwjfAodHV_oGQ

and here http://www.woodlandskills.com/#/learn-coppicing/4530848900  on this pretty website

Or at Plumpton http://foodfarmingforestry.co.uk/pdf/woodnet/income-from-coppice-woodland-2012.pdf

Or Sparsholt http://forum.downsizer.net/archive/coppicing-courses-on-making-traditional-wattle-hurdles.__o_t__t_30387.html  make products from coppiced woodland

When you think coppice.. this is what you really want to see.. http://www.hampshirecoppice.org.uk/assets/Teller%20pdf/TellerApr07Draft02.pdf  groups and communities making it work.. even if this pdf is a bit out of date..

All joking aside, if you feel that the life of a coppicer might be for you and you can’t imagine anything better for your future than your days out in the woods producing Chestnuts products for sale and maintaining the land you work on for the generations to come maybe you should look into it? It’s a slow old business, the growing and harvesting of woodland products but opportunites do arise, and can be fruitful for those that are dedicated, determined and patient! The least we can do is put you in touch with someone you can talk to for advice… email me sarah@englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk and I’ll do what I can to help.

Come and see a real live pallet of Hand Riven Chestnut Laths with your own eyes www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk then come an visit us

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