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Making a stool from green ash at the Sylva Wood Centre

Making a stool from green ash at the Sylva Wood Centre

by Angus ~ 8 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

I learnt 10 lessons in making my greenwood stool:

1. It's hard work using an axe to reduce a triangular piece of wood into a cylinder but less hard work than using a draw knife to reduce the timber down to size. With both tools, axes and draw knives, you soon learn to work with the grain and how to make the tools work for you.

2. Using a drawknife is extremely satisfying but it's "the wrist action" that matters - to avoid the blade digging into the wood.  Because you have a hand on each end of the drawknife you can't easily injure yourself, but this didn't stop one of my course-mates from digging the corner into her leg.  This created a small nick that justified getting out the first aid kit. Read more...

shave horse

A shave horse, my kingdom for a shave horse!

by Angus ~ 20 June, 2019 ~ 2 comments

"Traditional bodgers and woodworkers would have spent the first day in a new woodland making their equipment such as a shave horse "explains Adrian Dennett a supplier of wood bodgers' kit.  These are stools where the craftsman (or woman) sits at one end of the 'horse' and uses a foot-controlled lever to hold their work in place.  It's remarkable how firmly this device holds the wood in position and allows the operator safely to shave down a piece of wood.

Shave horses are mostly used for green woodwork (using unseasoned wood) to make items such as spoons, kuksas (small bowls) or chair legs.  Typically they are used to hold rougher bits of wood which are being moulded into shape using a two-handed draw knife. Read more...

What we have done with a wood of our own

What we have done with a wood of our own

by Martin ~ 26 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

One family's account of buying a their own piece of woodland in Devon.

There are many reasons why you might want to buy a piece of woodland. Perhaps you want to use it for wildlife conservation or to help you and your family strive for a better way of life and well being.   For the Turner family their decision was motivated by the latter. They wanted a place they could escape from the stresses and strain of modern life and the trappings of digital connectivity.

Martin Turner discovered woodlands.co.uk who specialise in selling parcels of woodland. Woodlands had a wide range of potential sites and after making contact, Martin was soon viewing potential locations with the local woodland manager.   The family wanted their woodland to be close enough to their home so that they could easily reach it within half an hour. Their criteria also included a light, varied and characterful piece of woodland, with good vehicle access,  the potential for the production of firewood and all of this in an area with no phone signal! Read more...

Survival in the wild with the help of a "Survival Kit"

Survival in the wild with the help of a “Survival Kit”

by Angus ~ 3 May, 2019 ~ one comment

A small tin can carry vital equipment for emergency use in a survival situation.  I spent £22 with Amazon to get Limitless Equipment's "Survival Kit Mark 1", although you could put one together yourself.

The one I bought contains these 10 items: Read more...

Learning to make a hurdle with hazel rods

Learning to make a hurdle with hazel rods

by Angus ~ 10 April, 2019 ~ one comment

Dan Watson has been making hurdles for 30 years and reckons there are over 200 hurdle-makers in the UK.  The process is physically demanding but also very skillful.  Dan now uses his own small woodland and in a single day he can make three hurdles - by contrast it took me a whole day and lots of help to get mine half finished - hurdle-making gets much quicker, and neater, with experience.

There are several skilled operations in creating a hurdle.  You start by selecting the hazel rods from hazel coppice and cut them at the base.  Next, you take these branches to your working area and trim off the side twigs being careful to cut upwards to avoid creating tears in the bark.  A base plate is needed with holes and ours had nine so that none uprights could be put into the base making a hurdle six feet wide and eventually about 4 foot high. Read more...

Bushcraft and survival skills at the Ultimate Activity Company, near Hereford

Bushcraft and survival skills at the Ultimate Activity Company, near Hereford

by Angus ~ 28 March, 2019 ~ one comment

I’ve never opened a tampon before, so my newfound friend Tamsin showed me how. Then I started unpeeling it to find it’s really just compacted cotton wool. Tampons turn out to be ideal for lighting a fire if you don’t have matches because they are really compressed cotton wool and can be lit with a small spark. I did have a fire steel in my survival kit box and just like our friendships, we were soon creating sparks and warming up.  We were at the Ultimate Activity Company’s short course on what to do in the wild when things go awry.

Andy, our trainer, with his background as a marine, explained the imaginary position we were in: on a sailing trip eight of us had moored our boat in a sheltered sea loch on the west coast of Scotland and during the night the wind riled up causing the boat to hit a rock. It sank, leaving us just enough time to get off with little more than what we stood up in (along with my survival kit in a watertight tin).   Two of the crew had gone off to get help - leaving six of us to survive outdoors, perhaps for several days. Read more...

Help - they've felled my wood

Help – they’ve felled my wood

by Angus ~ 24 January, 2019 ~ 12 comments

Arriving at our woodland after an absence of some time I was devastated to find that a whole section of it had been felled.  I hadn't given permission and it’s not what I wanted at all.  Hundred-year-old oaks and big ash trees had gone.  Oh, and there were the stumps of those beautiful beech trees which I’d loved.  To tell the truth I was quite emotional.  I cried, and then I was angry.  Then I was frustrated, knowing that whatever the explanation it wouldn’t bring back the trees.  Even if I replanted them - which of course I would - the new trees wouldn’t reach maturity in my lifetime.

The explanation turned out to be as prosaic as it was disappointing Read more...

Tracks,  a new solution for the Small Woodland Owner.

Tracks, a new solution for the Small Woodland Owner.

by Matt Marples ~ 21 June, 2018 ~ comments welcome

As a company,  we strive where possible to give a good access track into the woodlands we bring to market. In some instances,  this means just clearing a ride. However, in some cases,  the areas need more drastic action such as creating areas of “stone” tracks or rides. Normally this is due to areas holding water or ground being prone to deep rutting in winter.

We came across a new problem earlier in the year with a ride that ran in a wood that was deemed to be of particular special scientific interest. Natural England were keen that we did not bring any foreign material such as crushed concrete rubble or even local stone into the woodland. Natural England did, however, agree that the ride was unusable and unless we found a solution it would be a mess very quickly. Read more...

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