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Archive for the ‘furniture timber’ Category

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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Here I stand before a freshly painted door (goodbye forever evil dark red stain – hello nice neutral Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell)… rested after two lovely weeks away, to find my industrious colleagues have been doing anything but resting!

It begins with a door – just one of many, painted smartly – and then I find this glorious arena, this palatial salle de vente we call our sales office has changed beyond almost all recognition…

and now a delightful avenue of golden Sweet Chestnut strips awaits our footsteps where once only mottled pinky-red carpet tiles (you know the kind) lay.

This is landmark stuff for us.

I know I should start work on the website immediately but I think I’ll celebrate with a cup of fresh coffee and a madeleine and just gaze at the floor for a little while…  and think about desks?

Sarah

P.S. I missed you!

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Deadline day dawned for students entering the competition to design and make the awards for the  Timber Trades Journal Annual award ceremony and look what we have here…  impressive design entries delivered by hand by Terry Molyneaux and his course technician Paul Flynn.

Students work hard all through the year so it is not just impressive that these designs were produced on their own time… after the end of year crits, after the assessments, after the exhibitions, after the tutors have worked themselves to the bone and after they have uttered the words “everyone go home!”

It’s not just impressive, it’s a bloomin* miracle…

and this particular miracle is testament to an, apparently, inextinguishable passion for teaching I find in Terry and Paul, there’s just no stopping them.. and, although they are partial to a mug of freshly brewed java now and then, I can assure you it’s not about the caffeine!

So well done students and tutors of the Chichester College 3D design course .. and now,in no particular order, here are your best bits!

First up, we have Harry Gamblin

Next, Richene Brown

Then, Madara Degtere

And another one from Madara Degtere

Now we have James Norman

More from James Norman

And James does it again!

Here we have James kilhams

An lastly… we have Alicja Jasinska

So there we are.. the designs are in, now let the deliberations begin!!

Don’t go away, it’s not over yet.. we’ll be back soon with a winning design..

*Sandie tells me I swear too much so I must use words like bloomin’ and flippin’ instead so you can blame her for the use of that sort of language… any complaints or comments should be sent to sandie@englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk

What’s it all this in aid of you ask? this magazine http://www.ttjonline.com/  and this is the awards page http://www.ttjonline.com/ttjawards2012/

Let Terry & Paul teach you what you need to know about design  http://www.chichester.ac.uk/Course/Art,-Design-and-Media/EDX-Dip-in-3D-Design-L3/ART156/

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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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keeps the doctor away…  that and a can of sardines.

Today I left the office (yup.. I really did) to go here…  http://www.sustainability-centre.org/

I don’t leave the office very often so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity…  which, I should add, arose mainly because we now have extra hands on deck… yeay!!

Our lovely Chris…  and here she is

… oh please don’t look at the office!!!  We are getting a make over imminently…  new floor, new desks, new storage wall… everything…  in our own wood!!! I’m so excited…

Anyway…

I scurried around the yard doing some chores…   packed the dog, a google map (hmmm I wonder where the road atlas is…  Augustus Farmer???) and a camera into the car and promptly skipped off down the A272.

I found (yes I actually found it first time) the Sustainability Centre  in between East Meon and Clanfield It’s  SO pretty round there, all rolling hills covered in forests and meadows… I can’t get over how many trees there are in Hampshire.. one section of the A272 has incredible, huge copper Beeches at the side of the road… but I digress… Sustainability Centre..

After a quick trip to the reception desk I started wandering the paths and trails until I found what I was looking for…

Hurdle making central!

Hurdle making should be an olympic sport… can you see Darren Hammerton at work here? He is leaping up and down as Hazel strips sweep through the air at a rate of knots… he uses his whole body weight to stamp down between the vertical staves until they sit tightly on top of the previous strip. Hurdles are not as flimsy and delicate as they look!

No wonder there’s not an ounce of fat on this man… he is lean (but not very mean)…  although he puts it down to sardines (!) I can see a mile off that he get’s more of a workout hurdle making than I ever have on two wheels (there are plenty who will attest to that) and this is what he does from morning ’til night! It’s very impressive.

And so are the hurdles …as are the other beautiful woodland products he makes.

 

So that’s his day.. cut the Hazel, split the Hazel, shape the Hazel, weave the hazel, jump up and down with the Hazel.

I’m afraid I’m being flippant about something that is actually very important. Darren manages coppice – Hazel and Chestnut woodlands. He uses the timber harvested from those to create these products for use in building, landscaping, gardening. And if it wasn’t used to make all these different products then the timber would be perfect for fuel at the very least.

He’s just one person and he’s doing all of that. and ‘all of that’ is growing, naturally, out of the ground

I don’t want to bore you here and now with all the reasons why I think this is a big deal but it just is. What is exciting is there is so much room for more of this kind of industry, we have so much un-managed coppice in our part of the country and perhaps it could all be as productive as Darren’s?

If I wasn’t so decrepit I might have to consider it.. don’t laugh!! I’ve never met an unhappy coppicer…  just coppicers with sore hands and sore backs who are a bit soggy around the edges and haven’t had a holiday for.. ummm years?! Take a break you guys!!!!

So I stopped bothering Darren and asking him stupid questions. We said our goodbyes through a half made hurdle destined for Broadlands and I marched off back to the car.. dog in tow.. and made my way back to the office.

I got about 1 1/2 miles.

First of all there was a joinery shop with lovely old wooden buildings like something out of The Waltons I wanted to get a picture of… do you think that hole is for the birds or the dust extraction? I don’t care, I love it.. and I love the cobwebs..

The young ( I am old remember.. he was probably in his 30’s) guy from L Scott Joinery who came out to find out why I was skulking around his workshop was very friendly.. he turned out to be  a joiner who is a closet furniture maker… isn’t that just like all you woodworkers?

Harbouring thoughts of diversification in your own time ?  I know you’re all doing it.. I know hurdle making Darren wants to build a viking long ship… ! did I mention he was an ambitious chap??

So, it didn’t stop with ‘The Waltons’ at L Scott Joinery

Then I started hurdle spotting.

I found this sweet but sturdy village house displaying a wealth of traditional building materials and methods… I couldn’t not stop. Hurdles? check… flint wall? check… thatch? check… waney edge cladding? check.. black painted? extra points? check.. exposed timber frame? check…  shall I stop now? ok one more… handmade brick coping? check…

 

ok, I’m done now.

I did hurdle spotting all the way back to Cocking.

Conclusion? There aren’t enough of them. Same goes for coppicers… duh! That might of been one the dumbest things I have ever said..

On that note I shall go and get back to work on our stock list and website. Both thoroughly overdue.

Hey… (my Grandma used to scold me for that – hay is for horses.. ) in amongst leaflets at the Sustainability Centre I found there is going to be a WOOD FAIR at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.. are any of you people going?? I’ve never come across it before….  maybe I need to get out more?

You want to be a coppicer now don’t you? Do it! Darren started off studying at Sparsholt one of two local colleges for forestry, aroboriculture and woodmanship are http://www.plumpton.ac.uk/ near Lewes and  http://www.sparsholt.ac.uk/ near Winchester

If you’re not partial to that there book learn’n’ try one of the courses Darren runs himself with another well known coppicer Ben Law at the Sustainability Centre  http://www.sustainability-centre.org/courses_adult_detail.php?id=50

If you are desperate to have hurdles, or shakes or laths or any other lovely woodland product in your home or garden or landscape or building project just let us know and we’ll do our best to furnish you with whatever your heart desires.. or your client desire.. in wood.

Thank you for being you.

Back soon. Sarah

Not had enough yet? try this.. the website formally known as  www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk .

One of these days you’ll get a shock when you visit here and find you can check our stock without having to rely on ‘the hawaiian shirted one’ to do it for you!!!

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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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I have never smelled anything like this!

This little treat  is courtesy of our friends at Besmoke who gifted this beautiful smoked garlic in return for Oak sawdust and shavings from our machine shop… 

Now that ‘s what I call a perk of the job !!  

  

The Besmoke guys are based over near Arundel in their newly kitted out ‘smoke shop’ .

They have an incredible business smoking herbs, garlics, oils and all sorts of delicious food stuffs. Not surprisingly, people just can’t get enough of they’re smokey flavours so in turn they can never get enough of our Oak sawdust!   

Want some of that super smokey flavour for yourself?

Well, you can visit @besmokefoods if you’re on twitter or plain old www.besmoke.com if you’re not! 

Or you can get in here quick because we have a few bulbs of the georgous garlic left… LOOK.. we’re re-gifting !

First come first served I’m afraid people…

This is what the internet was invented for  http://www.bewitched.net/

Not convinced? maybe Garlic Central can help… http://www.garlic-central.com/garlic-health.html

Great website from The Garlic Farm in Newchurch on the Isle of Wight  http://thegarlicfarm.co.uk/

If you’re utterly addicted now then forget Glastonbury you need this…  http://www.garlic-festival.co.uk/

So you’re a do it yourself kind of person huh?.. ok then.. do it yourself… http://www.brookshomesmokers.co.uk/index.htm

And some ‘how to’ for you DIY-ers.. http://www.forfoodsmokers.co.uk/acatalog/Food_Smoking_FAQ.html

Good old wikipedia…  never lets you down… bit of info in here on why you would use Oak and why wood in general..  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_(cooking)

And yes…   if you need some lovely Oak sawdust we’ll turn our backs whilst you fill a bag or two from the hopper ( the scoop is hanging on the right hand side!).

Also..  I don’t like to say I told you so but…  Oak..? smoked garlic…?  answer to life the universe and everything ? I think it’s pretty clear I did tell you so. 

I don’t just make this stuff up you know*…  (thanks to Dave by the way, for keeping the dream alive!) 

Want to get your hands on that sawdust hopper? http://www.englishwoodlandstimber.co.uk/find_us.html

*of course I am making alot of this stuff up!

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