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Archive for the ‘woodland products’ Category

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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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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Say ‘Hello’  to Mr Dave Fry, seasoned veteran of timber haulage, sitting comfortably in his cab after a hard days hauling and smiling as always… (more…)

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If you go down to the woods today….  you won’t find a teddy bear’s picnic !

But you will find Yogi (a bit of a teddy bear!) …

 

wielding some state of the art forestry equipment and  implementing cutting-edge forestry management courtesy of English Woodland Timber’s Forest Management team. (more…)

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When I have a spare minute I like to go out in the air dried yard and wander among the log stacks…

…not only because I love to get wafts of Cedar of Lebanon perfume on the breeze and not only because there is so much incredible nature to see in our yard (we have amazing birdlife.. and hares!!)  but also because I love to see the sawn logs all stacked up, drying. (more…)

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