Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Week 15: Wayward Trees

What a contrast to the snow and drama of last week! This week we had two days of warm sunshine and it was a pleasure to be out on the plot on Wednesday. We were joined by 3 new people. Two are thinking of signing up for the 6 month course next year and wanted to come and see what it would entail. The third lives quite locally and is interested in short courses and maybe volunteering. It was lovely to meet them and they seemed to enjoy their visits.

We warmed up by snedding the rest of the wood felled last week then fanned out to find a tree to cut down I chose a multi-stemmed thorn. To my delight I found that I was using the axe much more effectively and getting bigger chips out. I still need to improve my accuracy but there is definitely progress! Mid afternoon though I nearly caused a nasty accident when the stem I was cutting was caught by the wind, suddenly twisted and fell in the opposite direction to the one I expected. The top branches landed on Jill who I had not realised was working behind me. Luckily she was bending down and facing away from me so the branches hit her back rather than her face which would have been badly scratched. A good lesson to pay more attention to what is going on all around me and to warn everyone in good time when a stem is getting weaker.

During a tea break I spoke to Bruce, our chairman, about learning to peen my scythe. It was during an open day for members of Coppicewood that I first tried a scythe and got the scything bug! He is hoping to organise a day when we can all go and explore his forest garden and those who have not tried it before can have a go at scything. He offered to teach me peening whilst the others try out the scythes. It is a very generous offer and I accepted quickly.

Thursday was green woodworking and I started to prepare pieces of willow for turning as spindles. I managed to get one straight enough from the pieces I had taken from home and a couple which will be good enough rounded on the shavehorse but are not quite straight enough for the lathe. I had also taken a piece of bird cherry which had broken off under the weight of snow and cleft it and shaped it as back ends or arms – exact use yet to be decided. Barbara has suggested I try to use some thorn for some of the spindles as this would be good lathe practice and she has some pieces I can cleave. That will be next week’s task.

Using figure of eight movements during sharpening avoids pitting the stone

Correct angle of the chisel on the stone

During the day on Thursday we also had a refresher course on sharpening.  We were shown how to use the oil stone to hone and edge on a smoothing chisel and how to get to the awkward surfaces of a lathe gauge.  Sharpening tools takes sometime but there is no doubt that the sharper the tool the better the result, the safer the task and the more enjoyable the job.

Words by Sue Laverack
Photos by David Hunter 

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