Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby robin wood » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:52 am

Brian Williamson wrote:Taking things back to the TV programme, what do people think about 'cooking' wood to produce a miracle fuel with zero moisture content?

Brian.


Well if wood starts at between 75% and 150% moisture depending on species that being 150 parts by weight of water to 100 parts dry wood, then taking it down by air drying to around 18% is most of the way there and you can do it just by stacking and air drying correctly. Of course nobody bothers doing that they all sell wet wood. Also what happens when your wood comes out of the kiln into a nice moist 18% environment? are you going to vacpack it as soon as it comes out? and then are folk not going to open that vac pac until they pop it into the stove? If not it will pretty soon be back up to 18%. Then you have used fuel to dry it and double handled it in and out of the kiln. We have completely forgotten how to handle firewood in the UK and it's time we relearnt traditional air drying and stopped burning green wood.

So all in all it's a definite no from me.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Tom B » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:14 am

I use a similar thing in the bread oven... put the next (seasoned) load in to dry in the heat of the previous firing. I doubt it gets down to any were near 0% moisture, but it makes a big difference over well (2 year) air dried wood, and stays drier 3 weeks later.

It would be interesting to see how fast wood regains moisture from the air. Would it be faster that initial seasoning?

I think I have come across old references to kiln dried wood as 'white coal', sometimes being used for lead smelting when a gentler heat is required that charcoal?
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Darren » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:45 pm

robin wood wrote:
Darren wrote:What do you think of pollarding Hornbeam in woods rather than coppicing. One of my neighbours is pollarding old coppiced Hornbeam because of the deer. I think he is better cutting down to the ground and keeping the deer out.


This is an interesting question. I would ask why are you cutting the wood in the first place, what is the history and what is the overall management plan? When I was managing pollards and coppice I was at Hatfield Forest and it is an NNR with significant nature conservation interest, and a honeypot for public recreation the point that made it most important, rare and special was that it had almost unbroken management practices for 1000 years. In that case changing from coppice to pollards would be very wrong. My gut feeling is that creating pollards within a wood is an odd thing to do, better eat the deer before they eat the trees.

Hornbeam is common in ancient woodlands in the south east particularly Essex, we had several hundred hornbeam pollards and many acres of ancient hornbeam coppice at Hatfield.

I don't what the management plan is as I have nothing to do with it. It was just a passing conversation. The coppice has not been cut since WWII and is starting to collapse from the heavy high canopy. There an old furnace which goes back to roman times near by which I assume wood use the hornbeam charcoal. With that lots of brickworks which used hornbeam to fire the bricks.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Darren » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:53 pm

I was thinking the same as Robin. Unless the wood is used straight away it will go up to the ambient moisture volume. The thing I thought was odd was putting a moisture reader on the end of the log rather than splitting it and taking a reading from the middle.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Bulworthy Project » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:03 pm

The cooked wood is the same as "brown ends" (wood which has not quite made it to being charcoal). We use them in our woodburner and they are great. They do take in the moisture from the air, but this moisture is not locked in in the same way as the moisture content of green wood. They burn a lot hotter than well seasoned wood even when they have been stored in an open sided barn it the constantly moist atmosphere of North Devon.

The equipment looked a bit expensive though. A charcoal kiln is all you need. You just stop the burn early and you have a kiln full of brown ends.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:05 pm

:D Brian, I was just watching episode 2 again - and I just realized that it was you in the program that was interviewed at Westonbirt - no wonder you knew all about it! That was a pretty natty looking scythe you were using, never seen one with handles like that - adjustable? (Was surprised to see that neighbor had a large metal handled scythe out among this tools when clearing his steep bank last weekend.)
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:16 am

ToneWood wrote: That was a pretty natty looking scythe you were using, never seen one with handles like that - adjustable? (Was surprised to see that neighbor had a large metal handled scythe out among this tools when clearing his steep bank last weekend.)


Tonewood - I use one of these scythes quite a lot trying to get on top of bramble in the coppice restoration. Your neighbour's metal one is probably a 'Turk' scythe - heavier but stronger and taking the same lightweight blade. I have one of these too, which I use on the heavier infestations.

There was a long thread going a while ago ('Slovakian scythes' I think, if you want to search it) so I won't bother to go into details. Steve Tomlin and Mark Allery seem to be the main proponents of lightweight sythes on this forum. Steve has a blog - Sytherspace - that's worth a look.

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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:37 am

Bulworthy Project wrote:The cooked wood is the same as "brown ends" (wood which has not quite made it to being charcoal).


I'm not sure that'll be quite so. Brown ends can range from stuff that is 90% of the way to being charcoal to stuff that is still 90% wood. I got the impression thar their'Cooked' wood was still basically wood, and would therefore rehydrate in the same way as normal wood. I've no doubt that it would burn well, But I think that there are far too many down sides for it to be viable.

It's dirty; it will rehydrate;it requires double handling and (probably) packaging and it carries that twentieth century curse: throwing energy at a problem to try and create energy

The makers were also factually wrong. You can airdry way below 25%. In fact, at that moisture content you're likely to have your log pile rot away!

I've just now watched the third programme. Leaving aside the dubious forestry practice of (apparently) not having wedges or a hand winch to hand when carrying out that sort of work', it did point up the usual problems associated with getting an economic return from very small-scale woodland management. Cost in a tree surgeon, a tractor, a heavy horse, two days (?) felling, measuring and marking and there will be a healthy loss involved! Plus you're not likely to get three guys to come out and look at a couple of old ash stems unless you're a TV programme.

The fact that the tool-handle maker imports 90% of his ash is just appalling. That's not a direct criticism of him; but shouldn'r someone (the Forestry Commission?) be putting users like him together with woodland owners and devloping a twenty year management plan to produce the quality of ash needed?

Brian.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Bulworthy Project » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:23 pm

It seemed to be very much on the 90% wood end of brown ends to us.

We have looked at whether brown ends are a marketable product and came up against the same issue of dirt. Where the use of some wood to cook the rest of the wood can be justified if the process is efficient enough, it would be a shame to see a heavily packaged end product.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:19 pm

How do brown ends compare with charcoal for heat, etc.? (Wondering if they might be a more efficient replacement for charcoal rather than for wood.)

Thanks for scythe reference Brian, I read through that. Loved that chap's home, reminded me of Ben Law's, as featured on Grand Designs.
Brian Williamson wrote:The fact that the tool-handle maker imports 90% of his ash is just appalling. That's not a direct criticism of him; but shouldn't someone (the Forestry Commission?) be putting users like him together with woodland owners and developing a twenty year management plan to produce the quality of ash needed?
Especially with the devastating ash disease now found in Norfolk (& supposedly 50,000 trees felled to limit its spread :(). I may be wrong but I get the impression that the Forestry Commission on one hand seem to be stuck in the past/70s, obsessed with conifers (which are probably grown more cheaply/efficiently in Russia/Canada/USA/Scandinavia/... anyway) no matter how inappropriate to the location. On the other hand, they seem to be into "heavy duty" industrialized harvesting now - with bulldozer/JCB-like harvesters replacing chainsaws. Apparently woodland owners can get grants to plant trees, especially conifers, especially if adjacent to existing woods/forests - I came across the forms & score sheets used to assess applications on-line recently.

I'm not a fan of carbon credits & trading but perhaps if woodlands were given credit for absorbing C02, perhaps that would help balance the books & encourage the planting of new woodland? And perhaps additional credit for providing "carbon-neutral" wood fuel. However, I suspect if that happened, we'd probably see large fields of willow (for fast growing industrial fuel) and/or conifers - monoculture :(.

Haven't watched episode 3 yet. Somehow missed it on TV again this week (despite lack of anything else to watch) - must keep missing it on the Electronic Program Guide (which truncates the titles of TV programs - maybe they need a title that starts with "Wood" :)).
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:25 pm

[quote="Brian Williamson
I've just now watched the third programme. Leaving aside the dubious forestry practice of (apparently) not having wedges or a hand winch to hand when carrying out that sort of work', it did point up the usual problems associated with getting an economic return from very small-scale woodland management. Cost in a tree surgeon, a tractor, a heavy horse, two days (?) felling, measuring and marking and there will be a healthy loss involved! Plus you're not likely to get three guys to come out and look at a couple of old ash stems unless you're a TV programme.


Brian.[/quote]

I am glad someone else is of a similar opinion to me about this TV fluff, me and my mate have been debating the opportunity this programme has missed to fill a gap and reflect reality. Not quite the UKs version of Axmen but not far off.

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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:23 pm

Just watched episode 3. I can see what you mean but I'm glad they showed mistakes and oversights. It seems more honest - they could easily have cut those out and made the presenter seem like Mr. Perfect. It also highlights some of the problems that can be overlooked by the inexperienced. Getting the handle maker, furniture maker & "the Queen's wood turner" up to a small wood in Wales to look at a couple of felled Ash trees seemed a little unlikely :D but I guess it was done for our benefit.

Turns out my comments on forestry commission conifers & "harvesters", above, were much in line with episode 3's content. There is much to be said for efficiency but can't help thinking there must be a better ways. I'd love to do some of that horse logging . Quite likely some of my forebears were involved in such activities, I know a number of them worked with horses in different ways. Was surprised how much better the horses looked in the old footage compared to the current footage. I guess they knew how to look after horses (on Wartime Farm recently they described how a fine pair of horses won a ploughing match one day and went to the knackers yard the next :( ). They talked about how much harder it would have been without the horse - but how on earth could he have got such large logs to the road without horse or machine...block & tackle (assuming there was some way to anchor it)?
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:57 am

Best episode yet by far! Low-value timber and squirrel damage - it ought to be compulsory viewing for anyone who claims the slightest interest in trees and woodlands.

There's plenty to argue over (but that's one of the joys of something subjective like 'best woodland management practice') but they're getting right to the heart of things and are not shying away from the emotive (shooting squirrels).

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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:12 pm

Here it is on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... Episode_4/

I look forward to it - TV highlight of the week, it's just what I want to hear about & watch. I too found what the saw mill owner had to say very interesting. Was surprised he went to all that trouble for just one tree though. Good to see he is planting local ash. Didn't realize grey squirrels were so harmful.

I find it strange that the scientists still boldly predict what the climate might be like here in 2080 (like Bordeaux) as if it were fact, when they often can't tell what the weather is today, tomorrow and they certainly struggle to guess two days hence. Despite the Gaia Principle, they still seem to forget that the earth acts as a control system in the engineering sense, even the original author, Lovelock. They might be right but seems to me just as likely we'll be descending into another ice age by then or that the weather will be just be as random as it is now.
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Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Bob_Fleet » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:26 am

Lets not get into the "climate" vs "weather" predictions.
Bit like blaming the transport policy because after a long wait two buses come at once.

Hopefully though some of the panic over ash trees will settle down.
To me it is unlikely that the actual timber is the major vector and it seems a shame to burn it all if it isn't spreading the fungus.
Will help global warming though and must get some vines planted.
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