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Spring into Summer 2016



With the change in Seasons ...


... the' to do' list moved from getting timber and coppicing to finding a bit more and maintenance. The first bit is obvious as I am always on the look out for the good and the extremely bloody amazing you must have a look at that timber that keeps people seeking me out with money!


Maintenance covers the boring but essential stuff like the Pick Up and Doris the tractor, but also smartening the place up to make it a more enjoyable place to spend time, and that includes the new staff and visitor centre (shed) - more of that later!


Maple is a lovely ...


... bit of timber that I should go on about more. From the same family and similar to Sycamore it's whiter and I think more interesting often having the little birds eyes and ripple sought by guitar makers and the like.


Finding it has been sporadic over the years, but I was delighted to get some close to home that Thursday Dave wasted no time in sawyering on the Timberking.


Whilst most stock is cut at the two sawmills there are benefits from doing it ourselves not least keeping the natural wainey edge that the debarker chews at Helmdon Mill.


Tuesday Dave has done a chainsaw course ...


... this not only cost me £400 course fees but also more than twice that as he went through the saws adding one to complete the fleet and ordering more chains and bars.


He has also started a spreadsheet to keep note of sprocket wear and number of sharpens etc - this could become exy but it's great having them all clean and sharp!



The saws ready for action perched on the Maple with the back one having some sexy burr !

A man wakes up in the hospital ...


... bandaged from head to foot. The doctor comes in and says, "Ah, I see you've regained consciousness. Now, you probably won't remember, but you were in a pile-up on the motorway.

You're going to be okay, you'll walk again and everything, but something happened. I'm trying to break this gently, but the bad news is your willy was chopped off in the wreck and we were unable to find it.


The good news is you've got £9,000 in insurance ...

... compensation coming and we have the technology now to build you a new willy that will work as well as your old one did - better in fact! But the thing is, it doesn't come cheap. It's £1,000 an inch.

The man perks up at this. So, the doctor says, It's for you to decide how many inches you want. But it's something you'd better discuss with your wife.


If you had a five inch one before ...


... and you decide to go for a nine incher, she might be a bit put out. But if you had a nine inch one
before, and you decide only to invest in a five incher this time, she might be very disappointed.


So it's important that she plays a role in helping you make the decision. The man agrees to talk with his wife.


So, says the doctor the next day, have you spoken with your wife?

I have, says the man. What is the decision? asks the doctor.

We're having granite worktops !

The large but awkward London Plane ...


... butt I talked about in the last blog was well worth the pain. As you can see below the burr and colour is exceptional.


Plane rapidly oxidises from the luscious pink to brown but once dry and planed will hopefully have you dear reader thrusting bank notes in my hot and sweaty for a slice - or two!



Fresh cut timber always looks it's best - within 24 hours Plane has oxidised a browner colour.


Looking at my naked body in the mirror ...


... I thought any minute now I'm going to get thrown out of IKEA.

The search for Apple wood for ...


... smoking has in the last year taken me to Kent, Surrey, Essex & Worcester. Obviously sources closer to home are better and a new contact at a leading Hampshire Orchard last spring looked promising.


A Bramley orchard was being grubbed out and for a modest fee I could take what I wanted. This sounded great until I found the catch was no chainsaws allowed. I acquired a v nice pruning saw and went over with Dave.


I know how Prostitutes must feel now ...


... on the sore wrist front as after 3 hours of sawing movements I was cream crackered. The amount of Apple acquired was not impressive. A year later I learnt that only one person is allowed to use chainsaws there and luckily it was my mate Matt who sold me the Timberking Bandsaw.


Get a Professional to do it ...


... is my advice for this task but probably not for naughty stuff unless they have protective gear and certifcates like Matt. In no time I had a Pick Up full that should keep me going for a while.



Matt & his oppo Will soon had some cut into rings which makes chunking a doddle for me!

When I was still in the Police ...


... I worked with another Sergeant called Tina Naughton. She told me that she had once been called to a break-in at the rather posh home of Lord Andrew Llloyd-Webber. Apparently he was utterly charming providing tea and cakes.


When it was time to leave he cleared it all away and washed up.


She offered to help but he stopped her saying:


"Don't dry for me Sgt Tina"

Progress on the new tea room ...


... aka the Woods Cabin was smooth and enjoyable thanks to Richard from Hampshire Wood Projects who provided the expertise to get the frame up. He also supplied the roofing slate, a side window and lush oak door!

Tuesday Dave's Son in law Shane ...


... then stepped in to do the slate roof and Sweet Chestnut Cladding & a big chunk of the difficult stuff - cheers mate! Apart from Shane and Richard lots of my friends contributed materials and expertise.



We used an entire 45 cubic foot Douglas Fir tree for the frame and roof timbers.


The weather was mostly perfect ...


... sunny summer days helped make it well worth the early starts and late finishes. As the project developed the list of helpers and contributors kept growing.


Both Daves of course put many hours in & the flooring and wall insulation came from my mate Harvey. To name a few of the others Ant, Leon, Chris, Steve, Br Bernard (Master Carver) and as they say others too many to mention.


You know who you are and of course if you need a little discount on the timber you can sod off!

Some woods are easy to identify ...


... well actually they are not because even the most common British woods like Ash and Oak can have different grain and figuring than a typical example.


Take the bit of wood below - if you pay me enough you can! What do you reckon it is?


I could tell you but where is the fun in that so if you email the correct answer I'll give you a fiver off your next purchase ... no fines if you get it wrong!



Ok, I'll give you a clue. It's British, very common and like me has interesting nuts !

Summer passed by as quickly ...


... as it always does but with the help of the Daves there has been more progress on restocking than usual which is handy as you baskets kept buying it.


As work progressed on the Cabin I realised I probably should have sorted out over hanging branches before starting building!


Ash die back fungus ...


... hasn't hit the woods yet but I'm told it's on way. The advice is to thin out smaller Ash trees to allow more mature ones to build strength that may resist it.


As there were three Ash trees near the Cabin I got the legendary tree surgeon Erwin to work his magic & having sorted the trees he did some landscaping with his digger around the Cabin - useful man to know.



There aren't many people in their 40's with the strength & agility to do this - I was pretty exhausted watching & taking the pics !


Plans for the Autumn ...


... you'll be surprised to hear involves getting more timber but I reckon we can find a bit of time to sell some to you, so get yourself down to the best timber yard in Vernham Dean soon.


We still take Euros, Bit coin and sheep in addition to £££ s and on occasions barter skills for wood.


Next edition probably ...


... the end of the year when I will be reporting on the new Kilns at Helmdon Sawmill and what we have been up to in the Autumn.