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End of 2008 and start of 2009




One job before winter …


… was to build a shed for the bench saw to cope with the ever increasing Smoking Wood demands. I bought some scaffold poles off the Blacksmith as they were clearing out and constructed with Brian’s help a frame.


I then dragged my mate Drew down to put the roof on square (we’ve cocked this up in the past ) and to finish it nicely. The scaffold poles were nice and cheap but the secondhand clamps from the local scrappie were a fiver each so it doubled the cost. I was rather miffed to learn from Drew that you can buy new ones for £1.89!


The tractor amongst …


... it’s many uses also became a mobile work platform. I’ve made the shed very high so I can back the tractor in, actually you could probably back a small lorry in but better safe than sorry, eh.


Wasn't a big challenge for a talented bloke like Drew, though when we put the sides on a while after we were into the monsoon that became the Autumn and we both got very wet indeed. The woods got wetter and wetter as September became October and the working day shortened.

The next task …


…. was to get on and plank some of the spring Walnut. This was especially urgent as we had some good sales of our best stuff and the stock was looking a bit depleted. We also had the Apsley Sycamore that was too big to go on the saw. I badgered Rob into milling two sides of that and some great Cherry and we were able to get it on the saw.


Getting it on the saw …


… was one thing, cutting wide planks perfectly proved another. Despite forking out a few hundred quid earlier in the summer on the new clutch and re welding it was cutting like a pig. I suppose trying to plank hardwood with a pig is just asking for trouble but trouble we were in.


We tried new blades, tightening this and loosening that and still it dived and cut unevenly. It was back to the manual and eventually to a new set of bearings at even more cost from overseas.

Rather disappointingly the new …


… rollers didn’t help much though a new lubrication system worked well. We finally cracked it when we stopped putting new blades on and tried an old resharpened one and it was fine – the fault was in the brand new blades, a dodgy batch.


Rob appears to be milling voluntarily but I have a camera in one hand and a gun in the other.

By this time the leaves had ...


... turned and it was time for the annual stock take. The end of October marked ten years of me dabbling in the wood business, during which I have learned a lot, sweated a lot more and have broken almost as many things as Brian.


One of the things that breaks down without any help is the Landrover, as many customers have experienced. Repairs in the last year or so were getting beyond a joke and I made the decision to let the old girl go as soon as a replacement was ready.


The replacement is a bit of a ...


... stop gap in that although half the age of the Landy it's still ten years old and even more battered. It's a Nissan pick up that has served my farmer brother in law, Martin well and will give me time to find the right vehicle for the next ten years.


It's only a two seater so as I sometimes take more than one person up the track to the woods that could be a problem but I have already decided that a twin cab pick up is not the right thing as the 4 foot of pick up room is no good for planks.


Farewell ol' friend that time has come when you've peed me off breaking down once too often!

November was as miserable as ...


... ever and still wet so we kept away from the wood as much as possible. Brian was helping Mark at the sawmill and we got quite a few cube of decent Oak cut and stacked to dry. The old stuff continues to sell and we are short on seasoned 2-4" stuff.


Quite a lot of the Oak came from Christopher at Woodcott . As I was trying to get Gordon to come and move it Rob was trying to get him to move a load of Ash, so a lot of messages were getting left.


The race was on and ...


... I won much to Rob’s disgust. The thing is that the pen is mightier than money. Rob can only wave his cheque book, I can write about Gordy on the web and he doesn’t want his hundreds of loyal followers to think he’s a git.


Gordy had been talking of selling his timber trailer and in December he did just that. Actually, the old maestro also sold another trailer and bought a brand spanking new JCB 360 excavator. I'll not sure how useful he thinks this will be to me - handy perhaps for excavating walnut butts for the tap root.


More of Gordon's new toys when I see them in action but meanwhile Rob was left with moving all his trees himself. He has the means with the rather good trailer that I kerbed in the New Forest story and his skid steer that can pick up a ton.


Loading up for the last time.. what a selfish sod selling my best timber mover !

Rob assured me ...


... that moving his Ash wasn't laugh a minute. The skidsteer is ideal on a level lightly gravelled yard or smooth concrete. On a slope traction becomes a problem not helped by large lumps of wood on the front. Still, the winch on his Landy dragged him out and he got the job done.


A welcome call from Erwin ...


... in December led me to some interesting Holly. It's not the biggest seller but it has a small but dedicated fan base. Some people carve chess figures but the most impressive bits I've seen are for decking on beautifully detailed model ships.


Here's the trailer load awaiting stacking. I've just used the last of the Holly obtained 12 years ago!

Just before Christmas ...


... I bought myself a rather nice Huskie chainsaw. It's not as big as Rob's top one but frankly that one is too heavy to lift and a few hundred quid more. Mine will be powerful enough to mill about 24".


I've just ordered an Alaskan mill, so I hope to be able to get at some timber in back gardens that have previously defeated me.


I should also be able to reduce some of the unmanageable butts at the woods and get them on our saw, which will save a trip to Mark at the sawmill.


January brought a lot ...


... of good sales and new customers, including a real live House of Lords Bishop. I can exclusively reveal that contrary to a certain game they don't just move diagonally, so no need to check mate!


Throughly nice bloke actually, as are of course you all with cash in pockets. I had an email from a chap called Colin who was a regular in OAG's wood days. He described his dealings with the old man and his wildly inaccurate bathroom scales that he used to somehow work out a price. Of course this meant some people had great bargains but others were badly shortchanged.


Rob's New Year resolution ...


... was to give up doing anything for nothing. As I am the only person I have known to get anything out of him for nothing I correctly assumed it was targeted at me. Tragically I had to pay for the use of his Mini Digger and Concrete mixer to at last put a new concrete floor down in The Kiln and tidy up the hardstanding outside The Kiln and Quarry House. Many thanks to Chris and his brother Gerard for their much needed help.


Rob calls me Mr Scrooge as I don't like parting with money but I tell him I am Mr Careful in the same way as he is Mr Misunderstood rather than Mr Rudenorthernperson.


So suddenly, without any warning it was February. I have a big pile of Oak and Sweet Chestnut to collect from Surrey borders and the heavy snowfalls remind us that still a bit of winter to go but come and see us anyway.