Sunday, 17 March 2013

Week 19: Thinking of pleaching

Andrew was unwell today so I went to the coppice on my own. His wife usually supplies us with cakes (she is an excellent baker!) so I took some drop scones – can’t have the troops going hungry!

With help from Rhodi who is a volunteer I snedded the tree I had felled last week. Rhodi has not been for a while but will retire soon and become a more frequent visitor which will please him and us. 

Then Barbara suggested I drop a hazel which was not very big but included several small stems which could be pleached to form new stools if I could save them. I managed to get it down and leave 5 though at the price of the stool being slightly high on one side. Maybe when the pleaching is done I will be able to tidy it up.

Hazel stump

Hazel rods left ready for pleaching
Then Barbara and I tackled a willow which was rather large for either of us to do on our own though the men would have happily done it solo. It was good for me to realise that Barbara, like me, finds she has to be realistic about her strength and stamina. After lunch she was busy cutting willow for weaving so Rhodi again came to help me sned. Just for practice I took off some larger branches with the axe.

Thursday was green woodworking and Nick, Martin and Barbara had agreed that as I couldn’t turn my spindles I should get on with making the seat frame next. Fortunately when we originally prepared the 4 pieces and laid them out on the floor I had numbered each corner so I was able to start cutting the mortices. After checking the appropriate sizes I drilled two holes for each mortice at the ends of the shorter side pieces and then had to be reminded how to chisel out the wood between them to form the oval hole. Once they were cleaned up I started to shape tenons on the ends of the long front and back rails. These are to go right through the mortices far enough to be pegged so over 4 inches of consistent oval has to be shaped on each. It is a case of marking the end with the shape in the right place and shaping it roughly leaving it oversized and then offering it up to the hole, taking a bit off, offering it up….. Bu the end of the afternoon the two which fit into one side rail were done and a good snug fit and the third was part done. I am beginning to realise that this is quite an ambitious project for the time available but I am enjoying it and am pleased with my work so far. Having practiced making round tenons over the summer whilst volunteering has certainly helped.

Words and Photos by Sue Laverack

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