Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend in the woods, coppicing.

Working with wood inevitably brings an interest in the raw material in all it's variety, as part of my interest I find myself looking for opportunities to meet wood workers in a variety of disciplines.

I was very pleased to be invited to a coppicing weekend at a private wood. The wood is owned by people who make high quality chairs using traditional methods including pole lathes. There was a mix of experienced people at the weekend with a variety of skills (chair making, carving, pole lathing) and I hoped to learn some of their basic wood working techniques.

Coppicing is the process of cutting trees but leaving a stump and then allowing each stump to generate a number of new stems. The new growth continues for a number of years (depending on intended use) until the wood reaches the desired size and then it is harvested.  This weekend we were harvesting wood on previously coppiced trees

Some of the uses of coppiced wood are ship building, construction, tool handles furniture, baskets and many, many uses in between. Woodland has been coppiced for centuries and would be coppiced in a rotational sequence offering different stages of regeneration within the woodland.

I arrived at the woods to be met by a very pleasant bunch of people, they had a workshop and a kitchen making up the social area, food throughout the weekend was wonderful as was the company.

The next two images show previously coppiced stumps with new growth

This hornbeam was coppiced many years ago and has formed some wonderfully shaped new growth.

There were a number of chain saws being used to fell large boughs so the camera was put away so that I could pay attention to falling timber.

Once felled the new growth was cut in to usable lengths, the fitter of us using muscle not petrol.

Not every one was working hard as the wood was sorted and stacked.

  fresh cut stumps.

The sweet sap makes a feast for these ants.

The stumps are covered by brush as a defence for the new growth against deer.

The finished logs are stacked ready for use.

After a day of physical effort lifting heavy logs it was back to the social area for food and chat. Listening to people who have learned their skills over many years is very educational and I learned a huge amount about wood and working with it.

At the end of a wonderful evening it was off to bed... well hammock. The hammock is amazingly comfortable and offers early morning views of the wood and and it's creatures starting a new day in the sunrise.

I ate a tasty cooked breakfast and then another day of the same, work in the sunshine and the beautiful woodland... wonderful


  1. Sounds like the perfect weekend to me, and I love the picture of the stacked logs.

  2. Hiya, nice blog :-)

    As for the weekend there will be many more to come.