Sunday, 4 May 2014

Green Woodworking At The Great Fen

We look on as Alistair demonstrates the use of the shave horse,
 then the group have a go.
When I was younger I used to dream of living in the woods, coppicing, maybe running a charcoal kiln and green woodworking.
The dream never came to anything and my dreams have moved on. But when the Cambridgeshire Self Sufficiency Group organised a talk on green woodworking I was very keen to attend.
So on Thursday evening we headed down to Ramsey Heights Countryside Classroom, part of the ambitious Great Fen project which is reversing centuries of drainage to link and expand the last tiny areas of wild fen.
We started off in the classroom, where Alistair gave us a slide show and let us handle some of his precious tools - precious as in loved and cherished that is. He certainly was enthusiastic. Before it got too dark, we headed out to his 'den', where a glowing fire warmed us as we took the opportunity to work the pole lathe and the shave horse. The shave horse is for taking the bark and outer layers of wood from the raw branches. Apparently, as long as you keep your elbows tucked in, it's impossible to chip yourself in half while using it!

Having a go on the pole lathe.
The pole lathe is basically a foot powered lathe. Traditionally the tension is provided by a sprung pole, but for health and safety, our version used bungee cords instead.I really enjoyed using this. It was therapeutic and addictive. The little workshop in the woods really was a special place, made all the more enjoyable by the friendly bunch of people who are the Cambridgeshire Self Sufficiency Group. I'm sure there will be plenty more about this group in future blog posts.
A friendly bunch of people.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the day when my woodland is mature enough to set up my own green woodworking hideaway. I reckon another ten years should do it!

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