Monday, 20 October 2014

Making progress with coppicing

A good day today in the woods, yielding more than two cubic metres of split and stacked logs:


I've cleared up most of the windblow now, and have been able to move on to actual felling. So this view from a few weeks ago:

now looks like this:

There's a few nice sweet chestnuts coming down now, thudding to the ground around me as the wind blows. I've not been eating them though, I've been planting them, hoping to fill in some of the gaps left by windblown trees that didn't recover.

A few fungi are in evidence again now, as we've had some rain, such as this Fly Agaric, or Amanita Muscaria:

Geese are brightening my day up too, it's always nice to watch them fly overhead - they head out one way in the morning and head back in the afternoon. I think they're going to the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve for the day, and coming back to a lake near the wood to sleep...


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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Insulating the dormer roof

The latest stage of the gradual eco-refurbishment of our house was insulating the dormer roof. Here's a video about it, with some photos and an explanation below:

The dormer roof contained an inaccessible cavity, between the roof, the lounge ceiling and the bedroom wall (below the window). So the only way in was to make a hole in the wall...

It wasn't the easiest place to work, and I needed a head torch at all times to see what I was doing:
2014-09-28 16.58.12

Here's how the cavity looked before I started, with no insulation whatsoever against the bedroom wall:

And none over the lounge ceiling either:

Worse still, there was a completely open gap between all the joists, running from the front to the back of the house between the ground and first floor:

Consider that this space is ventilated by the soffit vents shown below, and you'll realise that the result on a windy day was cold air blowing above the lounge ceiling, making the whole downstairs of the house rather chilly!

So, the first priority was to block up these gaps - it's a warm space, with the heat from the lounge below, so doesn't need ventilating. I used 50mm Ecotherm rigid insulation boards, made of polyisocyanurate, cut to size and then glued in place. I tapped a nail into the joist each side first, so I didn't end up pushing the board too far along the gap.

Once each gap between the joists was sealed, I then put in 200mm of Knauf glass fibre insulation, made from recycled glass. I could have fitted a tiny bit more in before reaching the top of the joists, but 200mm was the closest fit available for the space I had:

Up against the bedroom wall, I used the 50mm Ecotherm insulation boards again. It was quite a laborious process, measuring the spaces, coming out of the cavity, cutting several pieces to size, going back in again, using a sharp knife to trim the boards if they didn't quite fit, then glueing round the edges to make sure they didn't move.

A typical wood saw was OK for cutting the boards, but don't expect to use it for cutting wood ever again, as it will be blunted! A sharp bushcraft knife did a great job of final trimming to fit, and remained surprisingly sharp throughout.

Here's how it looked once it was all done:

When I made the hole in the plasterboard to get through the wall, I'd enlarged it to the edges of the wood behind it at the sides and top, but not at the bottom as I wanted to keep clear of the skirting board. So once I was done I screwed in a new piece of wood there:

On the other side, I then trimmed the plasterboard back to leave a margin, and found some bits of wood to use as trim round the edge. I then added a draught-
proofing strip on the margin inside the plasterboard.

After that I cut out a plywood panel to fit the gap, and glued/screwed a 50mm insulation board on the back of it:

Finally, the plywood is held in place be a couple of bolts. I'd wondered about using hinges, but decided it wasn't worth the bother and would also have made it harder to get a tight-fitting insulation board on the back.

It just needs a lick of paint now to finish the job! Oh, and I need to do the same at the other side of the house.... well, at least just doing one side stopped the draught above the lounge ceiling!

The ground floor of the house is now much warmer - the difference was immediately noticeable! I'd strongly recommend anyone with an uninsulated cavity like this to investigate doing something similar.


Related posts:

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Windblown coppice into firewood logs

I did a day's work in the wood this week, converting all the logs I'd winched and chainsawed earlier into firewood, ready to burn in a couple of years' time.


It was an ideal time to use my Stein Arbor Trolley! I certainly wasn't filling it to the top though, as this was heavy, green wood I was moving - but it still reduced the number of trips back and forth significantly, and it's also easier pulling logs on wheels than dragging them, providing you have a fairly clear path to take.



I prefer to season the wood in long lengths, so it's easier to handle and also so that the decision about what length to cut the firewood can be postponed until I know if it's for us or for a customer. So the next step is to use a maul and then wedges to split the wood:


I've made a video about this too, if you've not already watched it:

After that, it's just a few steps to the log pile:


That's about half our firewood for a year sorted already, and there's still more windblow to cut up!

I see the weather is likely to turn properly to autumn soon, but hopefully I'll still find some drier days to carry on with the woodland work...


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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Steam powered saw mill at Bentley Wood Fair

Check out this steam traction engine powering a saw mill!

I saw it at the Bentley Wood Fair, which is always worth a visit. Didn't take any pictures this year, as I've been so many times now, but you can view some older ones here.

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Winching windblown trees

This week I carried on removing last winter's windblow. I'd already removed the easy trees, leaving these ones to be pulled out. I attached a sling to each one in turn, then hooked the winch cable into it:


At the other end was my Tirfor T516, attached to a tree with another sling:

Without too much effort, each tree was winched into a position where it could easily be cut up with the chainsaw:

A couple of them had an upturned root plate in the way, so I used this little trick I learned some years ago, propping a forked branch under the winch cable to lift the tree as well as pulling it backwards:

By the end of the day they were all out of the way:

There's still a few logs for me to clear up though...

Plenty to get on with next week, and it looks like the weather will hold!


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