Wild about Wood

Just returned from a good weekend at Kew at Castle Howard’s Wild about Wood.  Pretty busy with a joint display of turning on the pole lathe, making a stool, have a goes and three charcoal burns:

But Jane was there helping out, and so was Richard D (many thanks for sterling efforts both!)

The Friday burn turned out the usual amount of brown ends, but far too many on Saturday’s burn, emptied Sunday.  I’d closed it down too early, but the brown ends went back in and the outturn of Sunday’s burn, opened today was just two bags of charcoal and NO brown ends at all.  It was a little tricky watching the burn smoke colour and chatting to people and doing demos, sometimes all at the same time.  However, the emphasis of the weekend was education and several groups of people went away knowing much more about charcoal than they did when they came in.  A couple of people also learnt the difference between sawdust and shavings (and they were not children!)  Bit showery on Saturday, but a lovely sunny day Sunday with lots of visitors.

We camped in our classic 2nd hand de Waard dutch tent and cooked all-in-one-pot meals each night in the dutch oven.

The arboretum is really well laid out in what used to be parkland with mature oaks and chestnuts, and much more recent plantings of trees from around the world.  Lots of different oaks etc.  Here’s a sample of the trees and vistas:

The lathe was set up in a little hornbeam copse.

We also had a surprise visit from two German journeymen carpenters who were looking for work at The Arboretum.

They were wearing the traditional carpenter’s dress and were fully trained craftsmen looking for further experience by travelling. You can read more about the German journeyman system here on Robin Wood’s blog.

Fire burns hotter in the cold

Especially if you use petrol as a fire starter.  Lovely smooth hands now, and no bobbly bits on my fleece.

I took a spare length of stainless flue liner in today to improve the draught on the new bodgery stove.

The difference it makes it very noticeable.  The stove now roars.  The firebricks are steaming out the summer rain, hot enough to dry more wood and gloves round the outside.  And the added luxury of a wooden door (soak before using!).

OK, so now it stacks up like this:

1. A large stone half buried in the ground.

2. Rusty old wagon wheel.

3. Centre hole covered with the flue blank from the new RC wood burning stove.

4. Firebricks, dry walled, air ingress where they do not sit tight to the wheel.

5. Wooden door.

6. Flue liner.

7.  At the base of the flue liner an old chain to weigh down the flue.

8. Drying fire wood.

It is a really good hand warmer.  Standing with your back to it it also warms the parts other stoves are too civilised to reach. Possibly the best stove in the word.  Definitely carbon neutral.

And when accompanied by fine food it completes an abode of bliss:

Also featuring in the picture is my lunchtime work.  A new small ladle from the silver birch we took down at home.  Safely stowed in a plastic bag so it does not dry between times working on it.  I know I should have taken a photo of the fantastic crook I’ve taken it from, but then …

Being snowy it was surprisingly quite in the woods, I guess people are busy getting festive.  They certainly don’t seem to want to buy Christmas tree decs anyway.  It was rather cold:

I had rather a lot of snow shovelling to do as the NE wind had brought a lot of snow inside under the short tarp.  I spent some time doing a Winter solstice clean up.  The off cuts and failures accumulated over a year had become an unmanageable pile leaning against the  back of the sycamore tree.  In fact I had to walk round it to get into the workshop.  OK so now it’s all reduced to logs and sitting in the trailer waiting to come home for the ever hungry  RC stoves.  It’s surprising just how much there was.

The new Landy is becoming a more familiar tool.  Needs WD40 in the locks to stop them freezing up.  Back window heater is bust, needs to be fixed under the guarantee, along with a couple of other niggles.

It takes me great places though.  Look at this.  The view’s been featured before, but it’s worth it:

What a commute!