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Old Barn Grange




Calls from Irwin about…


… trees are generally good news. More often that not he’s felled something rare or that we are short of. In this instance it was about a Beech, something I have more of than I want- you can have some cheap, e mail me for details.


Anyway I digress, although it was only Beech Irwin reckoned it was worth a look as it was very wide and appeared to have great colour. He wasn’t wrong, it was a big bugger and was spalting at the base whilst still upright.


It was definitely a Rob job...


... as I could tell at a glance Gordon’s mill couldn’t get through the 30 + inch butt. A Saturday a couple of weeks later towards the end of January was booked.


Considering it was Winter …


… we had been very lucky in November at Farleigh School and at the end of December doing a Walnut in Binley with wintry sunshine both days.


Incredibly the weather was even better with the first stirrings of Spring in the air. We rolled up at the job a couple of hours late thanks to one of Rob’s customers insisting on nailing him down to accounting for every action he was or wasn’t going to do, so half the morning had gone.


This was how Irwin had left the two trunks :

Uncut Beech

You can just about...


... see the white end seal I slapped on each end whilst Rob shot off again to price another job nearby. This waxy stuff helps reduce cracks and comes in nice plastic bottles from Craft Supplies. I’m told exterior masonry paint and in fact any old oil based paint does the job but I am a professional.

Well, actually I’m not - but that’s another story.

Looking at the trunks Rob proclaimed…


… this will only take a couple of hours. A couple of hours later we had 3 slabs off. Admittedly I’d buggered off for nearly a hour fetching my Landrover and trailer but milling takes longer than you think.


It is always enjoyable when you aren’t too knackered yet and there is plenty of coffee left in the flasks. Eventually the slabs started to pile up, in the back ground below are the first 2" thick by 32" wide ones.

The early indications are that it is a lovely bit of wood as Pinnochio proudly said to his girlfriend.

Rob milling

The owner of the wood David…


… was an extremely pleasant bloke. Friendly, interested but relaxed about the noise, mess and whether he was going to earn a fortune from the wood – he wasn’t !


But, I think he knew that. Still a lovely house in one of the nicest parts of the country and a vintage car tucked away should be enough for any man. His wife Susan had a bit more interest in getting a bowl or something made later from their wood so we left a couple of bits for this to be investigated at a later date.

The hours and the coffee passed…


… backed up with Tea, Biscuits and Mince Pies – wish all jobs were like that, so does Rob (he had more than me).


With a necessary resharpen with Robs electric grinder- this plugs in to his Landrover and frankly if you had that many teeth to sharpen I think you'd buy one, we pressed on and got to the secong log.


You'll see from the top picture that Irwin had left the right hand one at a bit of an angle to allow access to the garage until we could mill it. Plan A was to roll it level, however after several hours work we had started to wilt and after a feeble effort or two we moved to Plan B, mill the bugger where it was.



This was harder...


... and a bit riskier than we wanted as it involved struggling to keep it level until the mill bit into the wood and we were away. Once we achieved that it was easier than the first and Rob allowed me pictured below to have a go.


It's easier being the other end so I soon handed the helm back to the mill master.


Paul Milling


The light started to fade and I realised …


… that we would be struggling to finish the second butt. Rob was determined to push on. Inevitably I didn’t hold the other end level enough starting a run with the result that the saw twisted and the chain came off calling an end to the day’s milling. Rob didn’t take it as well as he did when a bit of my Yew did on it’s very first outing in October.



With a resounding for F’s sake …


... he threw his hat on the floor and it bounced over his Landrover. David was on his way out with some more Tea and made a diplomatic retreat until Rob had chilled - this usually doesn't take long.


It was an end to match how the day started but it was a very good in between bit and you can see how special the timber is. If you want to buy it all you’ll have to get half off Rob and the rest from me as that is how we worked it.


It was pitch black by the time I dropped the trailer as the woods and more than a 12 hour day by the time I got home but it were a Grand Day out as Wallace and Gromit would say.





Rob soon forgave me knackering his chain.. after one of his climber's had written off his Landrover a couple of day's later, it was hardly worth mentioning. Who'd run a business....