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From Tree to Timber

Posted by Andrew Groves on

Over the winter, we have been doing a little selective thinning in the woodland at home; our aim being to remove some of the scots pine and larch planted in 1942 in order to create better growing conditions for the oaks. Oaks support a higher number of species that any other woodland tree so it makes sense to us to help them out. Although we decided to favour the oaks, the conifers are far from lacking in value and it’s important to us that we find a good use for the resulting timber from woodland operations; it seems only right that something that has been standing for 75 years should have a fitting end. Some of the scots pine will warm our bodies and spirits over the winter via the wood stove, but the larch was destined to become cladding on a shepherd’s hut currently being built by friend of Miscellaneous Adventures, Dave Erasmus.

Scots Pine Glow
Scots pine, larch and oak planted in 1942 and ready for thinning.
Dave is an entrepreneur, founder of multiple businesses focused on social change, YouTube star and public speaker on subjects such as technology, social justice and intelligence. He is currently undertaking a somewhat Thoreauvian experiment, living part time in a cabin in the woods in an effort to better understand how nature and technology can combine to benefit society. We gave him a private woodcarving lesson back in late autumn and have been passing on woodland wisdom where we can ever since. We invited Dave to help us fell one of the larch trees by hand, which he did with great enthusiasm, and we then followed the tree on its journey towards becoming cladding at the local sawmill.

Larch and axe
Making the directional notch with the Scandinavian Forest Axe.

Two man saw
And making the back cut with our 4ft two man saw.

Snedding the branches by hand.
Once sliced into beautifully rich golden planks, the timber was ready to use immediately. The experience of felling a living tree by hand and seeing it into converted into a useable material in the space of a few hours gives a real connection to where timber comes from; Dave was sure to use every last bit of the tree, the limbs for firewood, the offcuts for furniture, and even the little leftover knots which he collected to give as souvenirs to friends visiting the hut. This, for me is one of the great joys of working with wood; the connection with materials and heightened value of the resources that go into making the things we consume and use in our daily lives and we’re excited and honoured to of passed this feeling on to Dave.

Wood-mizer saw mill planking up the larch.


Squaring up.

Larch cladding
The end product - straight, golden timber ready for cladding.
You can keep up to date with Dave’s woodland experiment on his YouTube channel and you can experience the feeling of making something with your bare hands from natural materials yourself on either our Woodland Woodcarving Workshops or our Axcellent Adventure throughout the year.

Dave's hut
The cladding in situ on Dave's shepherd's hut which is really starting to take shape.
With thanks to Dave Erasmus for making great use of one of our trees, we wish him the best of luck and many happy days in the woods!

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