At CAT we manage the woodlands to enhance their biodiversity and maintain a range of habitats for wildlife. We thin the trees to keep a continuous canopy, favouring certain species and removing others. This provides us with a range of sizes and species of trees that we can covert in to different products. Part of my job is developing the uses of our timber and trying to create marketable products such as rustic furniture, turnery and garden products, gaining a sustainable economic benefit along side the environmental and social functions of our lovely woodland.
When the trees are cut down, usually in the winter period when the sap is low, the wood is graded in to levels of usefulness. Small diameter straight stems for bean poles and plant supports and slightly larger stems for hedge stakes. Any other small diameter stems go to make charcoal in our retort. Medium diameter straight logs of ash, willow, beech, sycamore, lime and birch are kept for green woodworking and rustic furniture and large straight logs of oak, beech, douglas fir, western red cedar and larch for milling in to sawn timber or are split for fencing or construction. Any wood that can not be converted in to woodland products we leave for firewood. It is left in logs, or ‘in the round’, for a year then split, chopped and stacked for another year so it is very well seasoned. On site we have used a variety of different stacking methods including the rather attractive round German woodpile called a Holzhaufen.
Over the few months or so we have provided poles for some of the courses run on site, supplied Chloe and Roger with bean poles and pea sticks for the gardens and made some door knobs for the renovations in site community. I have also made a gate, a simple bench and a few items of turnery out of green wood on our pole lathe, including rounders bats, honey spoons and garden dibbers. The list of items to make is set to grow as long as I can keep escaping from the office to the bodger’s shelter!