Working Sweet Chestnut

discussion of the niceties of turning on a bow, bungee or pole lathe.

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Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Robin Fawcett » Mon Oct 27, 2008 10:38 am

I've spent the last 7 days in a Woodland Trust woodland at Hainault in Essex running workshops for schools, special needs and scouts.

We've been working Sweet Chestnut and much as I love it as a wood it does build up a massive amount of purple gunk on all the tool edges and the tannic acid causes all sorts of painful splits and cracks in my hands and fingers. Short of wearing gloves or barrier cream I don't think there's much I can do about the hands.

Does anyone have any good tips or ideas to clean the gunk off tool edges ? - you must clean it off or it etches right into the steel. At the moment I scrub it off with a scouring pad and washing up liquid wearing a pair of latex gloves.
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby RangerKris » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:41 pm

I was told to keep some oil spray at the ready, if you stop for tea or a chat give them a quick spray and wipe with the oil i guess oil on a rag to hand might do the trick use it i little and often. Cant hurt can it?
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Mon Oct 27, 2008 10:13 pm

one of those green scouring pads and a bit of WD40 is what i use - as for my hands, they re just black, i find making bread or pastry the best way to get them clean, otherwise you leave black finger prints on the cheese when you great it.
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Kester » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:07 pm

I found the best way to get the black off my hands was Car windscreen wipes of all things or industrial hand wipes. As others have said wd40 or possibly goose grease is a good won and traditional too.

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Tannins

Postby Robin Fawcett » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:50 am

Come on - don't any of you have any secret recipies for hand cream or barrier cream for dealing with these skin problems when working green wood at this time of year ?

Perhaps I am the only one to suffer ?
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Nicola Wood » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:37 am

No - I just spend more time sat at my computer :oops:
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby robin wood » Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:39 am

It doesn't deal with deep ingrained stains but I use a squirt of ecover washing liquid and a dollop of coffee grounds. The coffee grounds act as a scourer like the little bits you get in the extra strength swarfega, cleans your hands and they small nice too.
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Mark Allery » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:52 pm

Robin,

I tend to work birch at this time of year (I shall be felling some this afternoon for pea sticks, bean poles, faggots, besoms, charcoal, turning and firewood for the rest). So tannin is not much of an issue. I will be cleeving a few chestnut poles as well but for fence posts so I shall only use old axe heads as wedges - not enough tannin to cause me any problems.

I will ask some of the local chestnut coppicers what they do. Sigh, that means a visit to the local pub, oh the things I have to do in the interests of green wood working!

cheers

Mark
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby DickAtkinson » Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:35 pm

Robin,

I also suffer from painfull splits (known as keens in this part of the world), usually down the sides of my thumb nails, during the winter. I have not used sweet chestnut so cannot comment about that.

I suspect that dehydration *may* be a factor in my case as I drink much less water during cool weather than I do when it is warm. Protecting your hands before starting work with a barrier or skin strengthening cream would probably be a good move but, since I don't do it I can't comment on its effectiveness. I have, however, found Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream to be effective in repairing the damage after the event.

HTH

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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby RangerKris » Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:43 am

I coppice chestnet most winters and never suffer from staining or splits i know some of the people i work with suffer splitting skin on there hands and they use the nutrogena norwegian hand cream http://www.ciao.co.uk/Neutrogena_Hand_Cream_Unscented__68800 i never wear gloves will working the chainsaw i know its naughty but i have yet to find a set of gloves that let me feel the saw.
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby SeanHellman » Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:26 pm

I thought that bodgers came from the good old British working class stock, that would just wee on their hands and then rub them with salt or horse manure, how times have changed.
Joking aside, I use oxalic acid to rid myself of the blue stain that can occur with oak and chestnut especially when I had some pier props sawn up for a bed (12 x12inch), these were held together by now very rusted iron bolts which had stained the wood throughout for several feet. The application of oxalic acid totally removed the blue stain from the wood.
So if you wipe a weak solution of oxalic acid on your tools will it get rid of the blue stain ? I have not tried it, but could be worth a go to see what happens.
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Robin Fawcett » Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:08 pm

That's interesting Sean - someone recently told me that I should treat my beehive with oxalic acid as a treatment against the varroa mite.

Perhaps it's a cure-all ? let's check it out.

But I've got a feeling that you need an alkaline substance to neutralise the tannic acid in the oak & chestnut (and others ?)
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby Mark Allery » Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:55 pm

Robin,

I mentioned your question to a local chestnut coppicer. He did not know of any substance for removing the stain, other than it wearing off. But he did mention that he only used chestnut cut after mid Nov and normally left it before working up after Christmas. Apparently if the stems are cut prior to mid Nov they have too much sap in them. I guess this might also affect the amount of reaction with the tool steel,

cheers

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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby SeanHellman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:13 pm

I have just been working green oak with various cutting tools and thought I would try out my suggestion of using oxalic acid. It works a treat, removing all blue stain from my tools. I wet a tissue, and dabbed it in the white crystarl that is oxalic acid, then wiping my tools. No more blue stain.
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Re: Working Sweet Chestnut

Postby goldsmithexile » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:25 pm

IIRC you can get oxalic acid from rhubarb leaves
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