Very basic wood questions..

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Very basic wood questions..

Postby Baggy » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:13 pm

My local woodland is being part "returned to heathland" which means that a number of silver birch and birch trees
have been chopped down, cut up and are sitting in stacks.

Leading me to wonder, how long can the wood be stacked uncovered and still be usable for cups, bowls spoons etc.?

This of course shows my ignorance on how felled trees are managed by green wood users?

I am also still unsure how someone in an office, in London can pick an arbitrary time in history to "return" my woods to.
I suppose I should be grateful he/she did not pick desert or ice age, but I hate to see so many beautiful trees chopped down :-(

Mark
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Donald Todd » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:21 pm

It's a thorny subject; the Birch would have been succeeded by Oak and other broad-leaved species which the they shelter in the early stages of the broad leaves lives. I became a bit disillusioned with "conservation" for the very reason you describe. heathland is not a "climax" ecology in most cases in this climate.
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Baggy » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:40 pm

Hi Donald

Donald Todd wrote: I became a bit disillusioned with "conservation" for the very reason you describe. heathland is not a "climax" ecology in most cases in this climate.

on to my soapbox...
The bit that makes me wonder is the amount of burning that goes on with the "conservation" how can we take a moral
high ground when rain forest is felled when our conservationists are chopping down trees for flawed reasons and
generating a lot of unneeded smoke in the process.
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Ian S » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:00 pm

Hi Baggy

Baggy wrote:....how long can the wood be stacked uncovered and still be usable for cups, bowls spoons etc.?


A similar question was asked by Celtic Eagle here.

Another thing to consider about birch is that birch is (IMO) lovely stuff to work, but it has one huge disadvantage if left like the stuff you are referring to - it rots fast. You may well find that a lot of the wood will be rotten and soft within 3 to 6 months. Birch tends to need to be (worked, if you are a green woodworker, and) dried quickly or it rots out.

how felled trees are managed by green wood users


Flippant answer is that we don't - we just grab bits as and when someone else fells a tree. Flippant yes, but I think that most of us acquire our timber from tree surgeons or similar, and we take only what we need and can use in a short time.

Serious answer appears to be that green woodworkers would probably only fell trees that they could use within a certain length of time. I suppose the equivalent is a modern carpenter only buying what he/she needs from the timber merchant to complete their current project, rather than having half a tonne of assorted lumber in the workshop/shed/garage/spare room just in case.
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Donald Todd » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:09 pm

You will hear a lot of excuses such as "decomposition generates the same amount of CO2"," Fire is a natural part of the ecology" etc. Many so called conservationists can't understand that the climate and ecology is constantly changing.
Any idea why it's called "Greenland"? The Chinese are believed to have sailed all the way round it in the 15th Century,then home around the north of Russia! They also apparently found pack ice around Tasmania! This was before the "Mini Ice Age".

There is a basic rule; Don't interfere with something you don't understand.

My philosophy is to avoid being wasteful in all aspects of life.

Back to your Birch; it will rot quite quickly, so you need to ask for some now. Some fungal infection will give nice "spalting" patterns, but it does weaken the wood.
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby robin wood » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:29 pm

Baggy wrote:I am also still unsure how someone in an office, in London can pick an arbitrary time in history to "return" my woods to.
I suppose I should be grateful he/she did not pick desert or ice age, but I hate to see so many beautiful trees chopped down :-(

Mark


The answer to how long is it useable is 2-9 months depending on size, location, what you want to use it for etc. Easy answer is cut a bit and look inside, experience tells when it is still useable and the way to get that experience is trying to use it in various states.

Now as an ex woodland manager I can maybe give some idea of how folk decide these things. Normally someone who knows a lot about the site would be involved, they would want to know the history in case there is anything of unusual importance there (was it a medieval deer park, a capability brown lanscape, a Roman charcoal coppice?) they would want to know the flora and fauna and normally would get in ecologists to check what there was of interest and rarity. Other aspects that would be considered are timber production, public amenity etc.

All these things have to be balanced up and decisions taken as to which aspects are the rarest/most important/possible to retain within given constraints. Then you draw up your plan.

Lowland heath has declined by more than 95% in the last 100 years and is one of the most endangered habitats in Europe. Secondary birch woodland on previous heathland sites has increased dramatically and is far from endangered. My only issue with this sort of heathland management is that without initiating a grazing regime it is doomed to failure.
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Baggy » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:32 pm

Donald Todd wrote: There is a basic rule; Don't interfere with something you don't understand.
My philosophy is to avoid being wasteful in all aspects of life.

Agreed

Donald Todd wrote:Back to your Birch; it will rot quite quickly, so you need to ask for some now. Some fungal infection will give nice "spalting" patterns, but it does weaken the wood.

OK, I will try and get some of the wood.

Any suggestions how to store it until I get some knives, how long will it keep?

I did say the questions will basic :-(

Mark
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby JonnyP » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:37 pm

Interesting subject..
I used to (when I lived in the area) do voluntary brashing work with this lot.. http://www.friendsofstleonardsforest.org.uk/index.html
It was mainly removing the lower branches of the forestry commissions trees in certain locations (with their permission) to let in more light for heathland plants to survive, but did also involve taking down birch trees, (no burning or chainsaws). The area used to be heathland, and I fondly remember going up there in the evenings and listening to the nightjars churring away, but its not a good place to hear nightjars now because of the trees..
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Baggy » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:46 pm

Hi Robin

robin wood wrote:Now as an ex woodland manager I can maybe give some idea of how folk decide these things. Normally someone who knows a lot about the site would be involved, they would want to know the history in case there is anything of unusual importance there (was it a medieval deer park, a capability brown lanscape, a Roman charcoal coppice?) they would want to know the flora and fauna and normally would get in ecologists to check what there was of interest and rarity. Other aspects that would be considered are timber production, public amenity etc.

All these things have to be balanced up and decisions taken as to which aspects are the rarest/most important/possible to retain within given constraints. Then you draw up your plan.

Lowland heath has declined by more than 95% in the last 100 years and is one of the most endangered habitats in Europe. Secondary birch woodland on previous heathland sites has increased dramatically and is far from endangered. My only issue with this sort of heathland management is that without initiating a grazing regime it is doomed to failure.


Thanks for that, interesting especially the last paragraph.

I am sure that what you say is correct, but the area is small, less than two acres, and surrounded by trees (presumably a source of seeds)
on three sides and a road the other. There is no grazing planned.

What annoys me most is that I walk these woods daily and have done for 18 years and there is always a "plan" that involves chopping down trees. Wardens come and go, plans come and go and sadly the tress just go. The disruption to the very old badger sett is high especially when heavy plant is used to rip trees out.

To be frank I have no faith in the people making the decisions.

Touchy subject I'm afraid

best wishes
Mark
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Donald Todd » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:50 pm

The basic rules if you want to keep it in it "Green" state are: don't break it up any more than necessary, keep it off the ground and out of the sun and wind, but allow some ventilation. Do not put it in a polythene bag, this will encourage the fungus. If you expect it may be a good few weeks or months, paint the ends of the logs; any old paint will do; I use emulsion! You will lose some wood from the ends whatever you do.
There are too many variables to give a time, but a couple of months probably if the logs are over 2 foot and un-split, I'm really guessing now. I think Robin Wood has something in "Bowl Turning".

If you want the wood to dry, split the logs in 2 for bowls, or 4 for chair legs.
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Re: Very basic wood questions..

Postby Baggy » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:09 pm

Hi Donald

Donald Todd wrote:The basic rules if you want to keep it in it "Green" state are: don't break it up any more than necessary, keep it off the ground and out of the sun and wind, but allow some ventilation. Do not put it in a polythene bag, this will encourage the fungus. If you expect it may be a good few weeks or months, paint the ends of the logs; any old paint will do; I use emulsion! You will lose some wood from the ends whatever you do. There are too many variables to give a time, but a couple of months probably if the logs are over 2 foot and un-split, I'm really guessing now. I think Robin Wood has something in "Bowl Turning".
If you want the wood to dry, split the logs in 2 for bowls, or 4 for chair legs.


Thanks again

This is what I have in mind
http://www.bushcraft.ridgeonnet.com/Kuksa%20tutorial.htm

Mark
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