Follow the yellow brick road…

Dr Livingston I presume!

Dr Livingston I presume?!

Sort of got a bit confused with the days and missed writing about the APF show – the UK’s largest forestry,woodland and arboricultural exhibition held on the Ragley Estate in Warwickshire (see last blog for all the photos). It only happens every other year so it’s best not to miss it (and it’s a very good day out for the forestry team). We cadged a lift with Acacia Tree Surgery and others as it is good to travel in a big mini bus and get to meet old friends – one of which was Mick Thwaites aka Dr Livingstone (he found a most suitable hat for hedge laying at the show!!!!).

Timber wolf chippers

Timber wolf chippers

Industrial log  heater

Industrial log heater

As usual there were so many woodchippers it was ridiculous -I suppose they have so many because a good percentage of the punters are tree surgeons. These are Timberwolf chippers -probably one of the best makes (we have a tractor mounted one as that saved a fortune). I think the price of one with an engine is well over £15,000 probably nearer £20,000 these days; a PTO one is about £12,000. One item I saw that was not a bad idea was the industrial log burner- saves on chipping the wood but means it needs loading more often… has potential.

What a lot of expensive kit!

What a lot of expensive kit!

Wood chip boiler

Wood chip boiler

This year there were a lot, and I mean a lot, of industrial wood chippers! Blimey is there going to be any wood left in a decade?!!!!!! Some extremely good planking wood was just split and chucked into these monsters; one wonders why people seem to have no imagination and just think wood is only fit for burning, a real shame to see.

Log splitters
Log splitters
Billets

Billets

Don’t get me wrong about firewood- there is a place for it and, when you have loads of unusable offcuts, cord wood, thinnings and damaged wood it should be utilised efficiently and, for the small-scale producer, there were plenty of innovations regarding making logs for sale to the home user.

The most cunning device of the show for me

The most cunning device of the show for me

Now occasionally you come across something that could be a very good innovation- this log chopper was pretty impressive and I can see that, if it stands the test of time, it would be an excellent machine to buy for the Wimpole Estate as it looks very safe to use and relatively simple. Just chuck a billet in (or piece of cord wood) and out come logs- no hands near saw blades and that’s got to be a good thing as there are a lot of people without thumbs and fingers because of logging saws. It works by rotating the main drum where the wood goes in and the saw blade is set in the bottom.

Well impressed with these tents

Well impressed with these tents

Another good innovation was the tree tent- one of these only costs roughly £300-£500 each, depending on the size. Not a bad idea for the ranger programme and for getting people out into the countryside. Fancy sleeping in a wood in a tent sixty foot up in the tree canopy? Shouldn’t want to go sleep walking though!

An Italian saw mill

An Italian sawmill

Woodmizer saw mill

Wood-Mizer sawmill

Been looking at getting a sawmill to convert the GOOD timber into value added products or just selling the planked timber. Trouble is… what to buy? This was was one of the main reasons for me to go to the APF show. This year there was a much better choice and range. Had a look at the Wood-Mizers but they are quite expensive and only have medium width bandsaw blades; however they are good and many people have them; I also suspect they have a very good advertising regime… Then there are some less expensive sawmills like Logosol- these however do have very narrow bandsaw blades and can only do smaller tree trunks. Oh what to do? There was an Italian bandsaw- very robust but, at  £35,000,  I had better look at some more!

Another saw mill

Another sawmill

German made Serra  saw mill

German made Serra sawmill

There was a Hudson- much like the Logosol- but then I found a German made bandsaw-this was also expensive but seemed value for money and had a very wide blade… unfortunately it still had a hefty price tag of £35,000 for the smallest one (their others are huge). One very good point about this sawmill was its ability to deal with not so good timber- timber that has big branches and knots going into the trunk. I love furniture with character and some of the best antique furniture has lovely figuring due to branches etc. If only I had the money…

Space heater

Space heater

Last year was particularly wet and, for most of the winter, we huddled up to radiators elsewhere on the estate (as Cobbs Wood Farm has no water or heating) and tried our best to dry our clothing out but, alas, every morning was the same- cold, wet chainsaw trousers and waterproofs and soggy boots… started to get trench foot it rained so much! NOT this year, we have had enough of being cold and wet. So, when I saw this space heater that uses wood ( yes wood) it ticked all the environmental boxes. Our shed could do with one of these and there  isn’t a problem installing it as we have a hot works licence to use grinders etc. So, the way this works is, you put the wood into the fire chamber and light it, ten minutes later the yellow electric fan that fits on one side blows hot air out of the other side. Basically the top section has a massive heat exchanger- just need a flue and spark arrester. Cost was normally £1500 but the show price was too darn good to miss out on ( also had free delivery). Watch this space, we will be reporting on the efficiency of this space heater…

Tuff dip

Tuffdip

Another ‘must buy’ was the Tuffdip- with so many problems with the modern treatment of softwood posts it’s high time we used sweet chestnut posts from English woods. They do last longer with the modern copper treatments but their life could be further prolonged by using the Tuffdip product. It’s bitumen based and sets rather hard unlike normal roofing bitumen paint which is much softer. This Tuffdip won’t come off and will protect the vulnerable zone just around ground level where it is wet and open to the air. The next batch of chestnut fencing we get will be treated with Tuffdip and hopefully I won’t have to replace the posts for a good 10-15 years.

The vintage section

The vintage section

For me, as always, the best section was the one with the vintage machines and green woodworkers; however there did not appear to be a great selection of old machines, which was a shame, but there was an old rack saw that cut some tree trunks into planks. On the other hand the green woodworking section had doubled in size.

Elm planks

Elm planks

It was here that I found some lovely planks of elm for sale. It can be quite hard to get large sizes since Dutch elm disease ravaged the British countryside so the prices can be quite high these days. This elm was going for £50-60 per cubic foot ( I only get £1.5-2.5 per foot for firewood). Of course you have to sell the planks but there is the extra investment and labour to think about with the milling (mind you if we sold logs to make more money that would incur the same costs). Lately I have used a chainsaw to plank some of the twelve-inch trunks of elm on the Wimpole Estate to make seats for stools- this has gone down well with the green woodworkers at Wimpole so maybe, if we can get a bandsaw, we’ll be able to produce a lot of elm planking to sell  instead of just chipping it up. (Just think of all the other wood we could plank too!)

What you can make if you have a saw mill

What you can make if you have a sawmill

Even a house!

Even a house!

There were some good ideas for using the oak trunks that we have at Wimpole- there were some heavy oak seats and tables but also a few timber-framed buildings (and doors); but the best thing I saw made of oak (that would help add value) were the bread boards – simple but very pleasing to the eye and easy to get into the shop.

Something fishy going on here!

Something fishy going on here!

Wooden dragonfly
Wooden dragonfly

Sean Hellman had a stall at the show and two of his items of treen caught my eye… one was a lovely carved fish and the other was a carved dragonfly ( very impressed indeed with these two).

Treen for sale

Treen for sale

The next project for the green woodworking group at Wimpole

The next project for the green woodworking group at Wimpole

Now I did see some really excellent stools and the Wimpole green woodworkers are now advised that, after completing their three-legged stools, they will be challenged to make a three or four-legged stool with stretchers, as they like. This will be the next challenge in November which will give them about two months to complete the stool for judging in January. Their challenge for October is to provide two items that are identical and can be turned or carved… we’ll see what they produce at the end of October!!!!!!!!!!!

Hedge laying at Cobbs wood farm

Hedge laying at Cobbs Wood Farm

Back to work and it’s that time of year when we start to do the hedge laying. First to be laid was the hedge we planted some ten years back around Cobbs Wood Farm. This is all part of the tidy up and I have been wondering about fencing the farm buildings so that some goats or sheep can help us keep the vegetation at bay.

But out with the guards

Out with the guards

Before we could start to hedge lay we took all the old spiral guards off the stems- made it easier to see what we were cutting but, alas, poor old Paul found another wasps nest among the hedge avenue… we dealt with that and carried on. The Timberwolf chipper comes into its own here- we couldn’t burn so close to the buildings so chipped all the lop and top back into the laid hedge.

 

Follow the yellow brick road

Follow the yellow brick road

Other jobs were to finish off the section of track where the ruts were too deep- another 60 ton was carefully spread along the track. (From a distance it does look like a yellow brick road!) This will have to be rolled later when we have finished this section.

Refrigoratring the rabbits

refrigerating the rabbits

Yet more pest control this week- so many rabbits we don’t seem to be getting anywhere at the moment. Every night we go out lamping – we usually get 30 or so which are then put into a fridge kindly donated by Jess’s parents. You have to keep the carcasses cool ( normally less than four centigrade), I then give out the rabbits to those people who are prepared to skin and butcher them. It helps to stretch the food budget for some and, I have to say, having tried a few homemade rabbit pies made by other people, it’s  a wonder more people don’t eat rabbit.

Graham Damant's lister engine which John is going to get going

Graham Damant’s Lister engine which John is going to get going

An extra job we had this week was to pick up a Lister stationary engine that I have been loaned by my father. We will get it running and have it working at the various shows we run on the estate… could use it to operate the metal-cutting hacksaw or even make an apple scratter run by the Lister engine, now that would attract a few people in the Farm! We also picked up my mother’s potter’s wheel that she was getting rid of- this could be used to let children and adults have a go at making a clay pot or two as it is treadle operated and we have plenty of Gault clay beneath our feet at Wimpole!

Plus a hacksaw and potters wheel

Plus a hacksaw and potter’s wheel

Trouble & strife

Trouble & strife

Making the blanks for the have a go at the produce fair

Making the blanks for the ‘have-a-go’ at the Produce Fair

Next show is going to be the Produce Fair held in the gardens and, for our part, we are going to bring along the pole lathes to entertain the public and sell (well try to) some treen in order to buy some more tools for the green wood working group. Will blog the Produce Fair shortly…

About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
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2 Responses to Follow the yellow brick road…

  1. graemeu says:

    Which one is ‘Trouble’
    If you’re serious about the sawmill thing, check out the ‘Lucas Mill’ and Mahoe Sawmills ‘Minimax’. the only disadvantage over a bandsaw is the wider kerf but the advantages of these types are numerous. Actually, I was slabbing some birch with a Logosol Timberjig recently and muttering about the kerf but when I thought about it realised at best it was only going to make one 1″ boards worth of difference and these saws are much better than a chainsaw job.
    Graeme

    Like

    • Sadeik says:

      John the engineer ranger on the left, big trouble😈 have thought about a lucas mill juries still out but in the meantime its a guess-a-mix with the big husqy and do up the 1900 racksaw

      Like

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