Friday, 1 November 2013

A little bit of time to myself, working with greenwood again

I was meant to be out with the Ranger today on my day off, but he called in his office sick, so I still fancied getting up to something on Henllys LNR.

Following on from last weekends brilliant otter holt construction with Cardiff Trail Scrubs using material thinned out from the reserve, I decided on a little me time. Firstly, I want to make sure that the wood cut down on the reserve is used to benefit the reserve. So we hope to perform any felling in stages and use the wood when needed.

Over the last few years, we have been really successful with our willow coppicing and revetment works and I keep building temporary mangers from willow to stack the willow ready to be bundled up. I decided with all the timber we had, I would make a Kentish notch device, an old tool made from wood and loops of cord or wire, which allows bundles to be stacked and tied with just one person. So, to do this I made some stakes, this involved getting my side axe out of spring, summer and autumn hibernation to spike them.
My old side axe back out in daylight
I then knocked them into the ground in a rectangle of approximately 2 foot wide by 4 foot long. I fencing stapled wire to the tops of the two 2-foot apart posts, creating two loops 4-feet apart. In theory willow stem longer than 4 foot will be held above the ground.
The posts knocked into the ground and wires looped between adjacent posts
some brush from last year as a tester

   I returned then to the harvested wood area and collected a few pieces of ash. One section I clove to create two signposts and to a longer section with a slight curve in one end, I clove it and created two similar handles to complete the Kentish notch.

I shaved down the sides to a reasonably smooth finish for the signs. Following this, I permanent markered some information and added a liberal coating of oil. In hindsight, I should have waited and borrowed a pyrography kit. Anyway, you live and learn (but then rather frustratingly you forget).

I was tempted to do it all properly with wood, but ran out of time, so drilled and nailed with aluminium clout nails (these bend if you just look at them with a mildly aggressive frown).

As you can see from the picture above, I have imitated a child's handwriting to deter vandalism, never was much good at art. Anyway, the holt looks really good still after 1-week following construction.

I wandered over to the willow coppice area, knocked in another post into ground which can be best described as homoeopathy levels of soil in water. As a result, I had to knock the post deeper into the ground than I was expecting, so had to cut the top of the post at an angle and attached the Kentish Notch Device sign.

Sign for the Kentish Notch device made from freshly split green ash wood
Finally, I checked by Woodsman's grips and they worked a treat even on this tiny bundle. I may modify these at a later date to either thicker wire or rope.

Woodsman's grips work well on this tiny bundle
All in all it makes me think how nice it would be to construct some other greenwood devices, maybe I can convince one of the schools to come along and help Henllys Church in Wales or Coed Eva???

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