Saturday, 24 December 2011

Veteran oak reduction

I had quite an interesting job Thursday of this week, a large veteran oak tree worthy of note in an old town charter that had fallen into a bad way, with very extensive decay in the trunk and larger limbs.

I have previously mentioned in my blog how with ancient trees I am sometimes happy to leave them to do there thing and if they are going to fall over then so be it. But with this tree I was swayed the other way due to how interesting the trees is, especially the huge circumference of the base. And with it being completely hollow with only about 3 inches of sound wood all the way around, which far exceeds what a tree can tolerate with a full crown (usually about 70%) some remedial work was definitely needed to increase the trees chances of survival.

The tree had in fact been picked out by English heritage as a tree worth saving and preserving, and whilst the works may seem quite harsh, it will in the long run benefit the tree due to the reduced weight and sail area of the crown enabling it to withstand the storms we are frequently battered with! Also with the loss of some of the trees leaf area it will hopefully put on alot more new growth in response hopefully rejuvenating the tree and giving it a few more years.

I went slightly higher than the original specification for the job as I tried to balance the requirement of reducing the weight, with cutting to growing points and leaving the tree as 'natural' looking as possible. With a couple of years worth of new growth the works will not seem as obvious and the tree will begin to self optimise and reform a new crown without the excessive weight risking the stability of the base

I plan on coming back in the summer to take some photos when its in full leaf and if i can remember maybe some more a couple of years time to see how the tree progresses. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Mobile sawmill

 I have been hunting around for a decent reasonably priced mobile sawmill for a while now and at the end of last week I found a gem, its second hand, but only a few years old with not much work under its belt. I took a gamble and brought it without going to see it as it was up in Newcastle and would have involved a 10 hour round trip, but I didn't need to worry as the machine is very tidy.

It came on Friday and unfortunately I had to work yesterday morning and then sort some firewood out so I only had a couple of hours to have a play with it, which isn't really long enough to get my head round the ins and outs.

I've got a bit of time over the next few weeks to mill some more and become a bit more proficient with the aim that I can eventually hire myself out to small woodland owners who want to add value to there timber without the added costs of haulage, as well as milling interesting pieces that I get from work. I'm also fairly sure my brother is almost more excited by the prospect than me!

Its not snowing, that's sawdust!

Like I said I didn't have that much time to play but I was able to knock out these sycamore boards fairly quickly and I think once I've had a bit more practise I should be able to cut timber at a fairly decent pace.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Large Pine tree

We dismantled a large Corsican pine today, (Pinus nigra) one of the biggest trees I've done for a while, in terms of volume of timber. It was a fairly straight forward job, although we lowered 90% of the branches off to avoid any unnecessary damage to the lawn as well as the fact that there was a septic tank not far away we wanted to avoid.

9 o'clock

11 o'clock
Once the branches were stripped off it was a simple but exhausting matter of chogging the wood down in sections onto a mat of brash we had piled up under the tree. This not only protects the lawn but also stops the logs rolling away and doing any damage. Which is pretty important when some of the lumps of wood weighed in excess of 100kg 
1 o'clock
The stem was taken down in 2 - 3ft sections till it was at a height where we could fell it in a manageable lump.

3 o'clock (had to stop for lunch and empty the truck)
Then we had to break out the big saw to ring the stem and make it possible to actually move it. This will end up as firewood at some point, but it will need seasoning for a good while. We were quite glad the customer wanted to keep the wood as it would have been quite a few loads on the old transit!
4 o'clock

good sized pile of wood

approximately 115 growth increments
 The photos don't show the extent of the lean that the tree had, or how close it was to the main road, I think if it was my tree I would have been inclined to take it down as well. It is always a shame when big trees have to be removed, but somethings aren't worth the risk. And as a small compensation the beech behind it will hopefully make a much nicer tree now it has less competition and some space to re balance itself.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

More milling

Managed to finish off the oak butt this morning  

Tools of the trade
Not the easiest of jobs then again working with big timber never is. I had to get my dad to help me stack the last 4 or so boards and we still struggled to lift them.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Oak Slabs

not much to look at

Finished work at lunch time today , so thought I'd spend the afternoon milling a big lump of oak that's been sat around up the field for years, didn't look like much with the bark half missing and the sap wood as good as gone, but I knew the heart wood would be good.

definitely looks better on the inside

And it was

Pretty hard going, as I'm pretty sure its been down about 10 years now, so isn't what you'd call green. It was also on the limit of what I can mill with my current set up. and I had to slice the sides off to get it to that. unfortunately only managed 4 boards before rain stopped play, Will have to finish it off tomorrow. Looking forward to when its seasoned and I can make something out of some 28" x 4" slabs!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Winter time

Partly from being so busy and partly from lack of inspiration I've just not felt that creative lately but with the clocks changing and it being dark when I get home from work I've found myself drawn back to the workshop this week.

Anyone who follows my brothers blog - Sawdust in my socks  will know that he has a habit of buying tools, lots of tools! and as a result he's brought himself a selection of sledge hammers, all different weights and sizes, and all in need of a new handle, no prizes for guessing who'll be doing that then!

Well here's the first one, nice clean butt ash, cleft down and left to season before being carved.

 I prefer working my tool handles like this as the wood has already done its warping and twisting and I can re heave it as soon as I've finished it, as I always hate having to let it dry sufficiently.

Also got around to having a play with some walnut from a tree I cut down a couple of months back

Thinking one half of a salad server set, I love the contrast between the heart wood and sap wood. Not sure if I am 100% happy with the tooled finish, I'm hoping it'll grow on me.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sunny saturday

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, logging up a limb that had fallen out of a massive beech tree in the grounds of some customers of mine. The sun was shining and it was pretty peaceful, apart form the chainsaw of course!
phone photos - not the best!
Definitely one of the biggest beech trees I've seen in a while, got a feeling its days are somewhat numbered though, as they are not known for their longevity and this ones form does not help, it is massively off balance with a huge amount of weight leaning out to the side.

The large limb to the left is where I'd put my money on the tree failing, huge amounts of weight coming from a potentially week branch union

Remedial works could potentially rectify this, or as least pros pone the inevitable, but they would have to be quite severe and with ancient trees like this I'm frequently inclined to let them age gracefully, rather than hack them about to much. Its had a good run if its going to fail then let it and plant a new one when its gone. Especially as this one is in the middle of a field and can do no harm.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Giant Wellingtonia

A few weeks ago I got to climb a species of tree I've want to climb ever since I got into the industry. well actually I have worked on a couple of small ones, but never had the oppertunity to climb one anything like the size of this one. 

 I was climbing the tree as part of some freelance climbing work I've been doing lately. We were not doing any work to it at this stage, mearly inspecting it for any major physiological or structural defects. Which basically ment that I got to spend the morning climbing round a massive tree, always good fun!

View from the very top

 I estimate the tree to be about 120ft to the top, which definately makes it the tallest tree I've ever climbed. Especially as I could climb right to the very top and actually poke myself out of the tree, not something that most tree structures lend themselve to.

It was quite an interesting tree to climb as the branches tend to drop down from where they attach to the trunk, meaning the rope slides down the branch as you assend it.

What I find even more amazing is that this tree is only a baby compared to some of the monsters in America, some have been measured at over 300ft tall and over 50ft wide which kind of puts things in prespective. Still a pretty cool thing to be paid to do though, and definately a big tree for England!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Elwell Firemans axe

My brother brought me this from a carboot for £6, it was in fairly good shape already, but I figured with a bit of work it could look alot smarter and pretty cool on the wall of my workshop next to my ever growing collection of axes!

Sanded and oiled the handle and polished the head and sharpened the blade, good as new!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Another dead eucalyptus

Just a few photos taken of me dismantling a dead eucalyptus

It died back in the early spring, I've had to take down quite a few of these this year and must have seen dozens of other dead ones. I think the hard winter we experienced was to blame, these are after all non native trees that are used to much warmer climates 

Tying a running bowline onto the branch to pull it away from the lines

Quite a nice 'action' shot,  I made a felling cut in this branch to control the direction then as it breaks off the stump I use its momentum to fling it the other side of the fence below

close up of above photo

It was quite a windy day and as there were power lines the other side we had to use ropes to control the direction of some of the branches

nearly there!

A nice little job to finish of a busy day, the brash was staying on site so in all it only took just over an hour, not bad considering there was a fence to avoid as well as the adjacent power lines

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Yorkshire pattern Billhook restoration

This is one I did a while back and just never got around to putting it on here, although its not quite finished yet as the blade has only be roughly filled and needs alot more work to get a decent working edge on it.

I found it with some of my grandads old tools, it didn't have a handle so I didn't really have anything to work too. But from doing a little bit of research i discovered it was a Yorkshire pattern billhook, which tended to be fitted with either a very long handle, like a slashing hook, or a smaller size one that could be used either one or two handed.

Which is what I decided to go for in the end, as it seemed to be a bit more usable than the other type.

The handle is secured with rivets, having not done a great deal of hand riveting before they have not come out perfect, but they really do clamp down on the handle well, they just don't look that tidy close up. Although it does make for a nice change from doing axe handles or tools with tangs.

Just a close up of the branding, another Elwell tool, I'm getting quite a collection of these now.

The code refers to the pattern of the blade, back in the day Elwell had dozens of different patterns with each local area having a slightly different style. Areas as close as Knighton and Leominster would have had different patterns (only about 25 miles apart) To us this seems quite strange but I guess years ago people tended to stay in the same areas and as skills were passed down people got stuck in their ways and would have wanted to use the tools they were taught with, even if they were only slightly different to others