Saturday 31 May 2008

Smoker now in use

You might remember that in an earlier post I said I'd taken a trailer load of oak sawdust to a friend who was building a smoker...

Well, Paul's been busy and it is now in use! Here he is building it:

More pictures in the rest of the post...

Here's the finished project: and here it is gently smoking away in his garden:Mmmm, sausages!

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Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group

We've been members of the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group for a while, but today was the first time we made it to one of their meetings.

There's two specific posts I've written already on tool repair and a mobile sawmill, the rest of the event follow below.

The event was held in a woodland about an hour from us, and many members were demonstrating their crafts.
More follows in the rest of the post, including a charcoal kiln and horse team...

The various demonstrations going on included making a mini coracle:
Charcoal burning (I found out quite a lot about this from several people there, as it's something I'd like to try):
and a horse team, moving logs for the mobile sawmill to process. The horses were very well trained, walking backwards, forwards and stopping on verbal commands.
There were numerous other things going on, such as basket weaving (with Alan Sage), chair making and more. One of the events was an auction of tools and various bits of woodland equipment:
I was pleased to come away with two billhooks, one of them an Elwell. Plenty of spare now for when visitors are in the wood!


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Mobile sawmill in action

At the recent meeting of the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group, we saw a demonstration of a mobile sawmill by William Wallace. You can read more about his business at

He uses a Wood-Mizer sawmill, towed by his Land Rover. The mill can lift logs up, move them around on the mill bed, and handle diameters up to 3 feet. Anyway, enough of the typing, the rest is pictures:
More pictures follow in the rest of the post...

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Tool repair with a portable forge

At the recent meeting of the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group, we saw a demonstration of tool repair by Ian Swain. You can visit his website at

The really neat thing was that he used a portable forge to heat the tang of the billhook blade until it was red hot, allowing it to burn a shape for itself in the new handle.

Here's the portable forge. The lid is only shut in transit - the blower on the top can be packed inside it. The protrusion at the back of the firebox is where the jet of air comes in from the blower.
Lighting the forge was simple - paper and wood to start:
then crank the handle to get some air into the fire:
the next step was to load it up with charcoal and keep cranking:
Only 5 minutes from lighting it was hot enough to put the billhook in:
Ian took care not to let the main blade get too hot, as that would affect the properties of the steel.

While the tang of the blade was heating up, Ian got the handle ready, fitting a metal collar onto it:
Once the tang was glowing red (hard to see in daylight), it was hammered straight:
then inserted into the handle:
this needed hammering on, and you can see the smoke from the hot metal burning into the wood:
sometimes the metal has to be reheated and put in again to burn a large enough hole to reach through the other end of the handle. Once it was through, a washer was slipped over it and Ian used a hollow centre punch to bang it down firmly:
At the request of one of the people watching, Ian finished this one off by hammering the end of the tang over while it was still hot:
although what he normally does is saw it off and then hammer it so that it "mushrooms" and grips the washer firmly:
A while later the charcoal was still hot enough to get another one in there:

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Monday 26 May 2008

On the beach

Well, it might have been a wet bank holiday weekend for some parts of the UK, but with Rye being, on average, in the sunniest corner of the country, the Saturday and Sunday were actually very good! We went down to Pett Level beach on Sunday afternoon, just to sit in the sunshine and take a few pictures:
More follows in the rest of the post, including pictures of birds, boats and an autogyro...They seem to like nesting on the cliff:
or just hanging around watching the humans down on the beach:
I like this shot, looking up at the cliff:
Birds weren't the only flying thing down there, there was an autogyro too:
and a jet ski:
and a rescue boat:
which came to give a warning to a group of boys playing on the rocks - they got taken away in the boat!

As we left there were hints of the rain due to come that night:

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Sunday 25 May 2008

Allotment produce and wildlife

We had another order for produce from the wood for use at the allotment to fulfil this weekend, so went up with the trailer and brought various stuff back. Pea sticks, tomato poles and stakes for fruit trees:
The rest of this post covers the wildlife we saw this weekend...
Meanwhile everything is growing like crazy. Some of the chestnut stools have grown 12 inches now!
The wayleave outside the wood is denser than ever:
and seems to be a good place for someone to eat their dinner:
The pond is also coming on well, getting very green now:We also some some familiar insects today, such as this Speckled Yellow moth:
and this Peacock butterfly:and a new one, a damselfly. There's a competition going on here... the first picture is by me with the Nikon, and the second is by Tracy with the Panasonic, you have to tell us which is best (ignoring colour differences, which can be evened out in post-processing)!
apparently the most obvious difference between these and dragonflies is that damselflies fold the wings back when at rest, while a dragonfly keeps them outstretched.

And finally, an unknown fly:

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