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Archive for the ‘air dried timber’ Category

Today was wonderfully warm and I was feeling too lazy to walk the dog uphill on the South Downs Way so we both settled for a stroll around the yard…

and look.

Look!!!

I mean, is that meant to be funny?!!!

It’s a jolly good job that I wasn’t planning strawberry pavlova or a fresh strawberries and cream for a dinner party this weekend… that’s all I’m saying.

Graham. Keith. Matthew.

I could’ve been warned that there would be monster trucks and digger dancing and Evel Knieval would be performing earth flattening tricks out behind the kiln dried shed*.

That’s all I’m saying.

I could’ve not gone blabbering on about being knee deep in flipping strawberries.

That is all I’m saying.

But this is life people, this is the aggrandization of the air dried yard facilities. Who wouldn’t want that??!!

It’s augmentation, it’s expatiation, expansion, enlargement, development.

In a word people… it’s progress. Just plain old fashioned progress. And when digger dancing comes to Cocking Sawmills you just don’t stand in it’s way.

Progress.

And I can tell you right here, right now, that the ‘progress’ that happened to this vast expanse of chalk downs has resulted in a surprise improvement that may or may not have been Tom’s intention…

it is now the perfect place to sunbathe.

So. if we just get a few deck chairs, a few sun loungers…  a picnic table or two and a couple of parasols dropped off over the back. Perfect.

I haven’t asked Tom yet what he’s planning for out here, but it would do very well as a small beach.

I have measured up and there is at least enough room for an olympic size swimming pool, and possibly a velodrome if we could just move the Ash over a bit.

I’m just going to go and ask Peter if we’ve got any decking in stock…

He still exists http://evelknievel.com/

Don’t tell me you’ve never gone to the Ardinlgy show just to watch the digger dancing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_81dv2V8mT0

Second only to the Olympics for world class competitors http://www.monstertruckgames.org/

Come on you lot.. get with the programme http://www.london2012.com/

Track the progress at the velodrome.. get it? track the progress…  http://www.london2012.com/venue/velodrome/

Swimming, the sport of champions  http://www.london2012.com/swimming/

Check back on our progress anytime you feel like it  www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk

*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… you can’t believe everything you read.

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It might be raining today but I know that the sun was shining whilst I was otherwise occupied on the annual Farmer-tour-de-France because in just two weeks we have a whole new crop of wild strawberries.

And before anyone jumps to any conclusions (I know I’m going to get emails about this) I wasn’t just whiling away precious time in the pursuit of strawberries, I was actually looking for a beam.

It’s not easy looking for an air dried anything… beam or boule… around here when before you reach the stock you have to eat your way through a patch of little red berries…

I say ‘have’ to, I mean obviously that’s not strictly true, there are no rules about eating berries per se, but it’s either that or march them all the way across the yard and tread them back through the office… and that ain’t happ’nin’…  not with a brand new stain free Chestnut floor thank you very much.

So you see we ‘have’ to eat the strawberries…  it’s actually essential to the smooth running of the sawmill and to the service of our treasured customers who don’t want to stand up to their knees (just a bit of exaggeration there) in our strawberry patches whilst deciding between this Elm and that Cedar of Lebanon.

So it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it… and today that somebody is me!

Talking of tough jobs,  I thought that was very nice work on the air dried Oak curves guys…  I did notice you have tagged them all and  made a really nice bay of neatly sorted and stacked boards and I think they look wonderful.

Now, if we could just get some raspberries growing along the back there behind the Oak sleepers …

Has Jamie Oliver been eating my strawberries??!! http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/wild-strawberries-vanilla-cream

Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film of the same name. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050986/

This is what wikipedia thinks about our wild strawberries.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Strawberries

Come and pick your own  http://www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk/contact_us.html before they’re all gone again..

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I oiled the new floor at the weekend ‘she says nonchalantly’…  the new floor?!

The glorious new CHESTNUT FLOOR!!!!

You better believe it..! I mean we’re having a hard time believing it ourselves and we’re standing here staring at it.

Tom will be back from summer holidays today and I’m not sure he will recognise his own office thanks to the handy-work of Philip and Steve over the weekend.

Sweet Chestnut was Tom’s choice… and I was going to say it is an under-used timber but on reflection that’s only really in comparison with Oak, otherwise Chestnut seems to be very popular these days.. we’ve machined alot lately for interior and exterior cladding and for joinery.. and of course the local Sweet Chestnut coppiced products are very close to our hearts.. anyway.. so sweet Chestnut it is, and I LOVE it!

And I really didn’t expect it to look so rich and varied in colour… but that’s probably because we did go for an ‘all inclusive’ kind of grade where the idea is to throw nothing away if you can help it.. and we can help it!

Now for office number two…

and… the new desks!!!

I think can feel an office warming party coming on…

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Sometimes in our yard you need to know where to look to find something special.

I frequent the machine shop where I know Philip can be relied upon to hike out the interesting and the unusual from boards as they are going through for machining.

Then Peter and I argue over who get’s to have whatever treasure has been unearthed…

Mine!

Philip is a bit of a Wizard of Oz… pulling levers and switches and making everything happen behind a big, sawdust covered curtain.

Not many people get to meet him, but his handy-work is evident wherever you cast your eyes in our yard… including (behind the curtain) in the machine shop.

If, like Alice,  you’ve never been through the little door behind the curtain before, take a peak at what you are missing

There’s not much we can’t ask the Wizard of Oz to do for us so this week he will be mostly (apart from doing work for customers) machining us a new Sweet Chestnut floor for the office!

Don’t you want your own personal sawmill???

I know, we’re so spoiled!

Here he is…  our Philip…  showing off the lovely brown streak in our new floor…

…and see that woven panel behind on the wall? He made that up in two minutes right in front of me one day out of waste strips…  clever huh?

A lovely old Castanea sativa at Kew  http://www.kew.org/heritage/plants/sweetchestnut.html

Someones’ on their way to Ent moot…  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3063/3079705221_018991c443_z.jpg?zz=1

Prepare to start collecting for roasting…  it’ll be Autumn before we know it…  http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Roast-Chestnuts—Holiday-Recipes-80487258

The Wizard himself in 1939 guise with Judy et al .. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032138/ and Alice in 1951 although you really should read the book..  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLIqErnQCuw

Shopping for a six head moulder? Weinig machines http://www.weinig.com or try Weinig TV! http://www.youtube.com/user/WEINIGGROUP or come and watch our Weining TV behind the curtain with the Wizard of the machine shop www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk

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 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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I know that if I’m not talking about wood I’m talking about food… (don’t worry everybody I’ve spotted the pattern)…  it’s not that food is my only frame of reference but…  

Anyway, the only reason I even mention it is this…

I mean.. what does that remind you of ??? and if you don’t say rhubarb and custard, raspberry ripple ice-cream or fruit-salad chews then, frankly, you’re just not being honest with yourself!

Now, try again… relax… empty your mind. Now what do you see???

               

Feeling hungry yet?! No? I know…  that’s just me.

Joking aside… it is wierd looking stuff isn’t it?

It’s Plane… or London Plane… or Lacewood as it’s often referred to. This stuff is fresh sawn so very saturated and raw, not at all the creamy white  colour it will be when it’s dry (hang on you wood worker people.. I’ll get to that in a  bit).

These are the same tree species that you see in those incredible avenues of giant trees on the outskirts of French villages in the Tour de France (go Cav!)… or on the very hungry Raymond Blanc’s TV series…  or famously lining the Canal du Midi and soon to be felled – supposedly…  poor Canal du Midi.

So there you are.. these boules of Plane have been sticked and, unlike most other hardwoods, after a short air drying period we are going to vacuum kiln this timber straight away.

It would be possible to air dry in the yard over a long period but it is highly likely we would end up with stick marks across the boards. With this species, as with Sycamore and other sensitive stimbers we really need to maintian the integrity of the colour by not keeping it in stick for very long because the pale cream and the extraordinary grain are the desirable qualities in this timber. The vacuum kiln should give us this. 

So the kilning should be happening any day now… and then after 2-3 weeks it will be ready for use. This is lightening speed for timber (as I write we have thunder and lightening!) and the result will be lots of sparkling new Lacewood for everybody to help themselves to…

And it really is lacey and very delicately grained… the pictures do give a hint of that in amongst that raspberry ripple…  imagine if it stayed this colour… that would be wild!

I can’t wait to see something in the fine furniture vein made of Lacewood… I know I do nag you all but one of you superstar wood workers must have pictures?

Plane tree avenue heaven http://bit.ly/IRF7wR

Plane trees also have this amazing bark that changes colour and keeps shedding so you get can gather it up and take it home… I would go to France solely to do this is…  if I didn’t have to work http://bit.ly/IjV1iy

I’m a massive TDF fan and not only because of the amazing helicopter footage of France you get to see…  if you’re not sure where to go on holiday the Tour de France will help you decide   http://www.letour.fr/us/index.html  (if you’re Graham it helps you decide not to go to France)

Food! The very hungry Frenchman  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bqwlm 

If you haven’t seen ‘Adam’s Rib’ with Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn (real life husband and wife) then the title of this post means nothing to you… but if you’re interested, it is a great film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041090/

Don’t talk to Tom about the Canal du Midi   http://www.canal-du-midi.org/fr/liens/offices_du_tourisme.aspx

Anyone who wants to see the Plane boules (or any other timber) is welcome to visit anytime http://www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk/contact_us.html  or get in touch and ask us anything you want to know…  

G-unit have measured all those boards especially so you can demand to know what stock we have and get a sensible answer without having to trek all the waydown here on the off-chance… so for more information over the phone 01730 816941 or fax 01730816875 or email sales@englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk

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