bunn (bunn) wrote,

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Green Woodworking and other rural activities

I went on a Green Woodworking course yesterday, at Cotehele.  The thing about green woodworking is that you start with chunks of fresh tree branch, and work on them before they are seasoned.   Then you add other bits of tree that you worked on last year* into tightly drilled holes, and the difference between the moisture content of the fresh tree, and the moisture content of the older dried worked bits, causes the whole thing to hold together without using nails or glue or anything like that. 

We started with a tree trunk (Ash) and ended up with a coat-peg rack thing each.  It's not an unattractive object in a rustic sort of way - though I didn't really need a coatpeg rack: in fact,  I really wanted to go on the stoolmaking workshop as I think stools are probably more useful - but unfortunately they cancelled the second stoolmaking workshop due to lack of demand :-( So it was the peg rack or wait till next year, and I'm glad I went as I learned loads and it was fun.  It was held in a huge wedding-style marquee in a field, which was a little odd, but at least we were dry and had loads of space to move about. 

The class members (only 3 of us!) all decided to take the bark off our trees. We could have made bark-on ones, which would have been quicker, but the ash wood available had been cut in the summer when the sap was running, so the bark would probably have peeled off as it dried. If you want to keep the bark on, you need wood that has been cut in the winter, I learned...

*This was the first year of running the course, so we made the bits that we would have made last year, then swapped them in for ones that the tutor had already made the previous year so they were correctly aged and dried.

The main thing was getting to use lots of exciting new tools and learning new (well, old!) techniques, and we certainly did that. 
Tools we used:
- A Fro for splitting the logs into two smooth pieces (with a wooden club for hitting the back of it)

- A sort of wooden frame thing whose name escapes me, for holding the Fro'd wood and gently moving the Fro to expand the split

- a Sideaxe for trimming off excess wood (I struggled with that a bit, sideaxe is different to a chisel and I kept moving it wrong)

- a Drawknife for taking off bark and splintery bits and making the surface nice and smooth.
I now desperately want a drawknife, and I note that Pfeil, the makers of my excellent woodchisels, make a thing called a 'drawshave' which is very similar. I'd have bought one, only they make three sorts, none of them exactly like the one I used in the class (which wasn't a Pfeil, but I do love my chisels so I'd trust the quality of the steel if I bought a Pfeil one) and I am paralysed by indecision.

- a Shaving Horse, for sitting on and holding the wood while drawknifing.  I quite fancy having one of these, but they seem to be the sort of thing you can make but not buy, so that may not happen quickly.

- a spokeshave for fining things down more (didn't like the spokeshave so much, it was a bit fiddly). 

-  carving knife (no, the wood sort, not the roast chicken sort!)  I wasn't overimpressed with the carving knives, I thought they could have been sharper and they had nasty plastic handles :-(

- hand drill - already got one of those, this one was bigger and had two gears, but to be honest I think I like mine more

- a thing like a giant pencil sharpener for reducing the width of pegs, which was rather lovely.  Wish I could remember its name.

- various hand made gauges and measures.  And, of course, a pencil!


In other news:  I finally cleaned inside my car!  (so what, you may be thinking?  Well, it hadn't been cleaned for well over a year, during which time it had been regularly filled with assorted dogs in assorted states of cleanliness, plants, sand, bags of compost and mulch, muddy boots etc.   Oh, and a fossilised chip, presumably a remnant of fish and chips munched in the car on the way home from somewhere some considerable time ago. The amount of crud I removed, I expect it to move *considerably* faster in future. And be less whiffy, with a bit of luck.

And we went to the Chilsworthy Coxpark and Latchley Village Show, held in the Chilsworthy Coxpark and Latchley Village Show Field (the rest of the year it's just a field, but it has a special sign so you know that once a year it rises to greatness).

There was an excellent falconry display, enlivened by a pair of very eager terriers on the sidelines who obviously wanted to join in. There was candyfloss, icecream with clotted cream, and a Silver Band who to my great pleasure played the Floral Dance, which is *exactly* what you want a Silver Band at a Cornish village show to be playing. Our neighbour Chris won the rhubarb and the hen's egg competitions. I felt the onions were a sad let down compared with the Monster Show Onions I remember from village shows of my youth...  

Once again I was not organised enough to have actually entered anything.  One of these years I'll remember to do an entry of some sort.  One should make some sort of token effort at least I feel...  If it wasn't for Az, I'd have entered Mollydog in the senior class of the dogshow - but Az would have hated the whole thing, so we left him at home and left Molls there as well to keep him company.   

There was a huge queue for scones, so we went home and made some instead.
Tags: arty stuff, car, carving, cornwall

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