Green Woodworking…… Yesterday and Today
Green Woodworking is enjoying a revival now that the planting of trees is recognised as an important way of reducing global warming.
Indeed wood loving craftsmen of the past are now regarded as the first conservationists, as they harnessed the attributes of wood in a sustainable and renewable way.
Their methods not only enhanced the woodland where they lived and worked, but also created a habitat for a wealth of wildlife from birds to insects, to fungi and fauna.
The Equipment of a Woodsman
A Shave Horse
Shave horses are used to hold rough pieces of wood whilst they are being shaped using a two handed spoke shave or draw knife.
The craftsman (or woman) sits at one end of the ‘horse‘ and uses a foot lever to hold their work in place.
Shave horses are mainly used to make spoons, small bowls and chair legs.
Many courses are run in the UK where you can learn how to make shave horses and other green wood products. Here is the link to Directory of Courses which lists courses run in the UK during 2022.
A pole lathe, also called a spring pole lathe, is used for wood turning.
A cord is wrapped round the raw billet of wood. The woodsman presses the treadle which unwinds the cord, thus turning the wood.
The elasticity within the long pole acts as a return spring to reset the treadle.
The men, who used pole lathes, were called bodgers. Years ago they lived an itinerant life, setting up their lathes close to fallen trees.
The craft was particularly popular in the woodland around High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, where Windsor chairs were made.
Peter Wood, one of the UK’s leading craftsmen working with green wood, has recorded an excellent series of five videos called ‘A Beginners Guide To The Pole Lathe‘
The first video is divided into three parts…..
From 8.00 minutes to 17.30…….. Overview of the pole lathe
17 30 to 22 50…….. Hand tools
22 50 to the end……. Choosing the best wood
There is another series of videos made by Ben Orford. The first video of the series is An Introduction to Green Woodworking Part 1 Splitting a Log
The Basic Tools of a Woodsman
The basic tools you will need to take up green woodworking as a hobby are…..
Gouge for roughening up (removing excess timber from the billet)
Wide flat chisel (for smoothing cuts)
Skew chisel and other chisels as required by the work in hand
Side axe (for taking corners off billet)
A selection of green woodworking tools……
The first Windsor chairs were probably made in the early 1700s and soon became popular for several reasons……
They were light in weight, very strong, relatively cheap and the design could easily be adapted to create more sophisticated versions.
The chairs also had the royal stamp of approval as they were ordered by the King for his residence at Windsor Castle.
The seats were usually made of elm, whereas the spindles legs and arms were ash, beech or a fruitwood especially cherry.
Other products made by the bodgers were bowls, stools, spoons and walking sticks.
Books on Green Woodworking
Here are some books you may be interested in, which are all available from Amazon…….
Enjoy your Green Woodworking
You may like to read some of my other posts…
Wood Crafts – A World Of Exciting Hobbies And Opportunities
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