Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Splitting Chestnut and some chainsaw sculpture

Friday and Saturday were both good days in the woods. On Friday I had a friend, Jodie, come to help and get some practical woodland experience - we finished filling the the rack on the right in the photo below, then built and started filling the one behind and to the left:

DSC_7039 Coppicing woodland

Saturday involved some better-sized stems than those I'd been felling a couple of weeks ago, so there was some splitting to do. I love splitting Sweet Chestnut - there's not many types of wood that you can hit with a maul and do this:
DSC_7043  splitting sweet chestnut

A couple of steel wedges finish the job:
DSC_7046 splitting sweet chestnut

Splitting the wood prior to stacking does slow down the coppicing, but it gets the wood drying quicker and saves so much time at the other end of the firewood production process that it's worth it. The logs that are too small to split are 'striped' with the chainsaw, just to break the bark and let the moisture out quicker - very easy to do whilst snedding the branches just after felling.

I also tried a bit of chainsaw sculpture, making what could be an ornamental planter to put flowers in on a patio:
DSC_7047 chainsaw carving

Definitely an experimental prototype though, I overshot with the plunge cuts and came through the bottom! I think it'll need a bigger log to work properly...
DSC_7049 chainsaw carving

By the end of Saturday I'd got a rack half full of split or striped logs:
DSC_7055 Coppicing woodland

Monday brought a nice sunny day, but I knew rain showers were on the way in the afternoon and that I had some jobs to do at home, so I got there early and fired up the chainsaw at 7:45am! By 1pm the rack of logs was full:
DSC_7096 logs in the woods

So that's two full now:
DSC_7065 coppicing in woodland

I also saved a nice straight 4m log that could be useful for building a raft for Rye Raft Race next summer... Tracy and I are both community first responders, and our local group, Rother Responders, is planning to enter the race in 2014!
DSC_7078 logs in the woods

I've actually managed to plan ahead this time as well, and have a pile of stakes ready for the next log rack:
DSC_7091 chestnut stakes

As promised by the weather forecast, the showers did come, and I then saw the strange sight of steaming logs when the sun came back out:
DSC_7070 steaming logs

Here's a couple of shots of the area I've been coppicing:
DSC_7081 coppicing in woodland

DSC_7089 coppicing in woodland

It's a surprisingly small area for the volume of wood it's yielded so far! I've even left a few chestnut stems standing to grow on and become larger trees!
DSC_7084 coppicing in woodland

That's all for now, next update in a week or so I hope...


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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Coppicing in the sunshine

I had a nice spot for lunch yesterday:

DSC_7012 oak tree

One of the advantages of the current dry weather is that we can park the car right next to where we're working, so everything's at hand and I can also sit on the back of the car when taking a break...
DSC_7017 coppicing

The coppicing work progressed steadily yesterday, still with a fair number of small stems, but some bigger ones in there too.
DSC_7025 coppicing

The area we've cut has extended round the side of the large brash pile now - we're avoiding burning brash where possible this year, to leave more for the wildlife and also save a bit of time. But it's only possible when there's a convenient place to dump it.
DSC_7029 coppicing

DSC_7033 coppicing

As a result of the larger stems I cut yesterday, the log stack has rapidly filled up:
DSC_7030 logs

DSC_7035 logs

That's about a quarter of the minimum we need to cut for our own winter heating use in 2015/16 done already! I also found a few potential sections my Dad could use for making walking sticks, so they're safely stored until his next visit:
DSC_7023 walking sticks

Looking forward to my next visit, when I'll probably need to build another log rack...


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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Early start to coppicing

We've made an early start to our coppicing for 2013/14, due to when I'm free to work in the woods over the autumn and winter. Starting cutting a little earlier than usual doesn't make much difference the trees, but they'll have a slightly higher water content. But with two years to season I'm not worried about that.

We're working in an area in Sweep Wood, coppicing a wedge-shaped piece of land that includes a route used in the past for timber extraction, barely visible in the centre of this photo:

DSC_6990 woodland

We got stuck into the cutting, though there were a lot of smaller trees to clear first - these take nearly as much time as the larger trees but don't yield much wood...
DSC_6985 coppicing

DSC_6991 coppicing

DSC_6993 coppicing

After a few hours we'd made a reasonable start, including constructing a rack to store the logs in until next summer:
DSC_7001 coppicing

Not many logs in the rack yet, but it's a start...
DSC_7002 logs stacked to season

I also discovered a rhododendron I thought I'd killed some years ago had recovered, so I made short work of it and pulled up more of the roots this time. I won't be surprised to see it back again though....
DSC_7008 destroyed rhododendron

Looking forward to getting some more working days in there while the weather is still nice!


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