Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Chestnut Timber Frame Summer House

This is a summer house that I built last year with my partners in crime and sawmill co-owners Red and Charlie.

All the timber came from the woods that Red and Charlie manage and was either milled using our sawmill or was shaped with hand tools. All structural timbers, cladding and shingles are Sweet Chestnut and the rest is Larch. The back two frames are sawn king-post trusses with Oak pegs and the front frame is a hewn sling brace truss with Yew pegs. The timbers on this frame were shaped using axes and tidied up with a travisher. The shingles are made by radially cleaving (splitting) a 16 inch long log into segments close to the finished dimensions. We then use a drawknife to flatten the shingle and put a chamfer on the lower edge. I think this roof needed about 1800 shingles.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Carved Tree Plaques

I have been making tree name plaques for a primary school. They will be attached to the named trees with springs and should help the children to learn the different tree species and their leaves.

They are made from Oak with carved and painted lettering and a textured travished finish on the surface. There are some real Beech leaves in the upper right of the photo to give an idea of scale.
These would make a lovely house sign for tree related house name.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Green Wood Furniture

I have been busy this month experimenting with range of furniture designs - playing around with contrasting colours, faceted legs and spindles and by creating more contemporary styles using traditional techniques. These pieces are all made in my outdoor workshop in the woods using hand tools. 

The ancient techniques of green woodworking still have a lot of advantages over modern methods. I can walk into the woods, fell a tree and five minutes later be turning it into a piece of furniture. It doesn't require the capital outlay of buying in seasoned timber, nor of buying machinery or paying for electric. By using hand tools to cleave (split) and shave the wood down to its finished form, I am guaranteeing that the grain is followed and that the strength and natural curves are maintained. No metal fixings are used. Instead the furniture is held together with oak pins and wedges and by exploiting the shrinkage of the green wood onto dry tenons. Furniture made in this way should last generations. 

Two of the items below are for sale, and I have other furniture in stock.
Email p.ditchfield(at)yahoo.com to enquire.

Elm seat, Cherry legs and Ash stretchers FOR SALE £250

Elm seat, spalted Beech comb, Ash legs and splindles FOR SALE £390

Elm seat, Ash comb, legs and splindles

Monday, 24 October 2016

Spalted Beech Boards

A few months ago I became the proud co-owner of a sawmill. It is a Woodland Mills HM130 band saw mill. It is currently stationary but will be on a trailer in the not too distant future, at which point we will be able to offer mobile milling services. 

I am yet to take any photos of us using the sawmill, but here are some photos of the stunning spalted Beech that I was milling up last week. I can't wait to get some of these seasoned and start turning them into beautiful items. We will be selling air dried hardwood boards, and should have lots more of this gorgeous spalted Beech. 

Since purchasing the sawmill we have been constantly busy fulfilling orders for building structural timber and cladding in Larch. It has been great to be able to supply local builders with this fantastic building material but it has been very satisfying to start milling some hardwoods.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Cleft Chestnut Double Gates

Just finished installing these double gates. Cleft Chestnut with Oak pegs and copper nails throughout.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Ash Splint Baseball Cap

Since attending a course run by my friend Andrew Kirby, I have become addicted to making Ash splint baskets. This style of basketry has been imported from North America, where it has a long history of use by native American peoples, and was later adopted by the Shakers.

The process involves pounding a log of fresh wet Ash (Black Ash in the states) with blacksmithing hammers, until the growth rings separate. After cleaning up, cutting into uniform strips and further riving of these strips, they can then be woven into beautiful, functional baskets.

When Kirby first started making Ash splint baskets, I asked if he would make me a baseball cap out of the material. This never materialised (I wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway!), but now that I am making them myself, I thought I'd have a crack at it.

After puzzling, without success, over how to weave the peak, I decided to carve it from Lime wood (Tilia Cordata), and then bind it to the hat.

I used an adze and then gouge to hollow the piece of lime, using the outer surface of the log as the top of the peak and taking it down to a couple of growth rings thick. The end result is probably rather weak, but once bound to the hat it should be plenty strong enough.

This was my first attempt at making a round 'bottomed' basket, rather than square to round, and because of this I found it hard to control the size and keep it fitting my head. So I have actually ended up with a hat that is far to small for me (and probably most children), but I am still pleased that I have fulfilled this silly idea I had, and am pretty happy with the result.

And here are a few of the non-hat baskets that I have made.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Scarlet Tiger Moth

Found this beautiful Scarlet Tiger Moth in the meadow next to my home.