Anyone who has visited one of our woodlands for sale in Devon or Cornwall will most likely have noticed, maybe even sat upon, one of the benches which are a particular feature in the woodlands that my colleague - Stuart Brooking and I, prepare for sale. Until now, we have bought in the timber for making the benches, from local sawmills - who use only locally sourced materials.
Recently though – through unfortunate circumstances in a way – we found ourselves with a ready supply of timber within our own woods, so we decided to go for a wholly DIY solution for our next batch of benches. What happened was that, following the removal of Japanese Larch in one of our woods, a stand of Western Red Cedar became suddenly exposed to the elements and this proved too much for some of them; several ‘went over’ and a few snapped off completely.
So, stage one was to fell these damaged trees and cut them to length. Again, by good fortune, this particular woodland contains a large forestry barn, so we were able to use this as our centre of operations. The task was, therefore, ‘just’ to transport the lengths of timber to the shed. A short but steep stretch of track with a particularly soft area at the lowest point plus a fully laden trailer presented a few minor operational challenges, but we got there eventually!
Having got the lengths of timber to the barn, the next stage was to slice them into the ‘blanks’ from which we construct the benches; nominally these are eight feet long, eight inches wide and four inches deep, but they were sliced up so as to minimise wastage. We hired in a mobile sawmill and operator for the day. Not only was this a very cost-effective solution, but it also meant that the timber did not have to be transported to a sawmill, processed and then brought back again. The biggest surprise was just how quickly Daniel** [the sawmill operator] got through the timber we were bringing in to him – we struggled to keep up.
The final stage was to convert the blanks into "oven-ready" benches, by cutting them into tops & legs with mitred corner joints and routering the company brand name onto the front edge of the seat. So at the end of the day we were able to stand back and admire a freshly made stack of benches ready for planting out in the woodlands.
** Mobile saw-milling by Daniel Humble-Smith of Marshwood in Dorset. Full contact details can be found in the supplier’s directory, elsewhere on this website.