Tales from the Wood

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Until I sort out a mini saw-mill of my own, I've been getting some hardwoods planked up at a local wood mill.

These planks are from a fine ash tree which we felled for the new plantation. It's been down for nearly 2 years now, so won't need too long to season.

The planks are slowly dried using the traditional stickered stack. Very simple in principle; the sawn planks are stacked under cover and spaced with wood stickers. Lots of free-moving air and a little time should do the rest.

The apocryphal rule of allowing a year of seasoning for every inch of thickness is not, I have found, particularly helpful - a moisture meter however is indispensable. This ash, for instance, is at about 30% moisture content. By June next year it should be at a useable 20%.

It's no coincidence that folklore acknowledges ash as the finest of firewoods and this is probably due to its very low initial water content. Mind you, 'low initial water content' doesn't sound quite as poetic as:

'Ashwood wet and Ashwood dry
A King may warm his slippers by'

Ash Planks 1

Ash Planks 2

Ash Planks 3

Norton's Woodyard

This is where most of my felled timber ends up; the splendid woodyard run by the Norton family.

While I was there, I picked up some fine oak logs, They've been down for a few years now, so should be partially seasoned, and they seem very sound and clear (with few checks, side-branches or knots). Unusually, I was also able to find a lovely piece of English elm.

The douglas fir I sent down to the yard 2 years ago has now returned from the local sawmill. Now 'worked up' as construction timber, it's ready to build the new drying shed.

Now that sounds like the very definition of 'neighbourhood sustainability' (and not a grant in sight!).





There's still very little sycamore thinning to be done, so I've been using up some very nice oak, which I set aside some time ago. These four vessels are in oak with steam-bent chestnut handles.

Oak & Chestnut Black Vessels

Black Ceramics, Chestnut, Oak, Sycamore and Box

A real adaptive challenge : combining ceramics with wood.

After a lot of 'on the spot' experiments, I've just completed these 4 pieces. The fastenings turned out to be relatively simple. A reinforced hole in the ceramic body and either a sprung forged-wire handle or, as with the steam-bent chestnut, a metal peg, capped with boxwood.

The boxwood has been seasoning for 3 years and is incredibly tough to work (I'm told boxwood was once used to make hair combs) so in these pieces, as it's doing an important structural job, box it has to be.


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The moth trap produced two splendid hawkmoths last night. An eyed hawkmoth (Smerinthus ocelatta) which refused to show its eyed wings for the camera, and a poplar hawkmoth (Loathoe populi). Lots of micro moths too, which I have yet to identify - and probably never will !

Eyed Hawkmoth


Wood Stack 2019

Just in time for summer seasoning: the double windrow of split timber for next winter.