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.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Cleft Chestnut Gate

Garden gate in cleft Chestnut. Fixings are Oak pegs and copper nails.

Roundwood Log Store and Gate Hurdles

Just finished making some cleft gate hurdles for my latest log store. These hurdles are of a traditional style and would have once been used around these parts for folding livestock onto fodder crops. I am using these to keep the cattle out of my log store. They are made from Chestnut which I traded with Kirby at Kirby Woodworks. In return he got some high quality Ash logs to pound and weave into Ash split baskets.

I have seasoned firewood for sale at £90 per cubic metre.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Roundwood Roofing

Our roofing job on the strawbale roundhouse is progressing well, with all the roundwood rafters on the circular part of the structure finished, and work started on the hip-roofed wing. 

The central compression ring was supported by scaffolding and bales while we fitted the rafters

Rafters notched onto roofplate
Strawworks built the bale walls and fitted the OSB roofplate and soleplate. Our rafters are then notched onto a 3x2" ring on the roofplate and birds-mouthed onto the compression ring. 

The noggins and intermediate rafters are fitted with a butt joint with angled flats to give a secure fit. This kind of roofing would be relatively simple with sawn timber, but marking up and cutting becomes much more difficult when working with natural poles. Roundwood timber framing is an evolving building style and working out scribing techniques for different joints is an exciting challenge.

These roundwood rafters will have laths laid over the top, which will then be plastered, leaving the poles visible. There will then be woollen insulation, topped by sawn rafters which will overhang the strawbale walls and then capped with a living roof.
The scaffolding support for the compression ring has now been removed - a big moment. The high number of rafters helps spread the load on such a shallow pitched roof.