Woodland Pioneers Week 2010
Wow! A wet start on Monday didn't dampen the spirit much, then it was full steam ahead throughout a mainly sunny and fun week. Click a workshop to scroll down the page to it:
1 day workshop: Coppicing with Rebecca Oaks
Rebecca walked her students through the woods, discussing coppicing history and skills. Then everyone was set to cutting back hazel with bow saws, billhooks and axes to create stools which will grow back next year. The cut-down branches and poles would then be used for making hurdles, hedging stakes, pea sticks and more. The tree regrowth needed to be protected against browsing deer by building up dead-hedges around each stool using the unwanted brash stripped from the poles. Lets hope the deer (and rabbits) don't get in there next year. After that the new shoots should be tall enough to be above browsing range.

1 day workshop: Riven Oak Panels with Owen Jones
Owen showed how boiled lengths of split oak can be riven (split) into thinner and thinner pieces until they become very pliable when kept damp. Rectangular frames were then made in groups and the riven oak woven onto the frame to make a panel. This method of riving oak is also used by Owen during the process of making oak swill baskets.

1 day workshop: Rustic Stools with Ian Taylor and Sam Robinson
Everyone began with an oak log about 2 feet long and split it in half. They then used one half to make 4 (or 3 or 6!) legs and the other half to split, axe and adze down to make a seat. Mortice holes were drilled into the seats at the correct angle and the axed legs were inserted. Finally the legs were levelled off to result in some very beautiful pieces of rustic furniture.

1 day workshop: Treen with Paula and Twiggy
Twiggy and Paula guided everyone through the making of gypsy clothes pegs, coat hooks, gypsy flowers and tent pegs. Students used axes, draw knives and whittling knives to shape their beautiful pieces. These are great projects that can be done at home with very few tools and little time - although not as easy as they seem!

2 day workshop: Making a Shave Horse with Maurice Pyle and Peter Wood
A wide range of skills were used in the making of each shave horse: pole lathe turning to make the 4 pins (3 for the frame and one to hold the board); splitting, axing and draw-kniving the bed, arms and legs. Then all the peices were fitted together to make one of the most used tools in the green-wood-working workshop!

2 day workshop: Stick Chairs with James Mitchell
An intensive course where keeping it simple was definitely helpful if you wanted to get your chair finished. Most of the chair frames were made from rods in the round, taking advantage of interesting forks, bends and twists, while others shaped their back rests and other sections. Some seats were woven using natural cord, others had lined up small-diameter hazel rods nailed in place, others had split oak heartwood nailed to the frame. There was a gorgeous coffee table made with the same principles and a well-contoured bar stool with a made-to-measure seat!

4 day workshop: Traditional Earthburn with Brian Crawley
This method of making charcoal is the old, traditional way. Similar in principle to other methods, but more artful. It needed to be watched constantly over the 36 hour period of the burn, and that was after spending a wet day stacking the wood and covering it in turf. A couple of bucket-fulls of fire were tipped down the hole in the middle, followed by more wood and a turf lid. The burn was shut down by dowsing with just the right amount of water and then removing the turf - enough water to extinguish but not too much to dampen the charcoal. Some of the charcoal was then used to fire the Thursday night barbeque and the brown-ends (the partially burnt wood bi-product) helped to keep the hot water boiling on Friday. The last few photos are of the barrel burns that the group "played with" in their "spare" time!

Peter Wood's Final Apprenticeship Year Presentation
Peter is nearing the end of his apprenticeship and as part of his final year he presented his handywork to the crowd on Tuesday night. A great talk described how he had spent his 3 years learning, experimenting and creating. For example, he explained how he had cut down a tree and turned it into charcoal. He then made a small forge and fired it with his charcoal to create some bowl-turning chisels. Then he cut down another tree and used his newly-made chisels to turn bowls and a goblet. Very self-sufficient and sustainable. And impressive.

Camping and Chilling
What a wonderful place to pitch your tent, relax (between courses, of course!) and chat with like-minded people. This year hosted "Kath and Tony's Cafe" which was the place to be under cover in the woods where participants could get some tea, coffee, cake, laughs and chats. Thanks to all for coming and making the week a memorable experience. And thanks to Phil and Rosie for the lovely grub and Anne Kenyon for the lovely cakes.