Wild about Wood

Just returned from a good weekend at Kew at Castle Howard’s Wild about Wood.  Pretty busy with a joint display of turning on the pole lathe, making a stool, have a goes and three charcoal burns:

But Jane was there helping out, and so was Richard D (many thanks for sterling efforts both!)

The Friday burn turned out the usual amount of brown ends, but far too many on Saturday’s burn, emptied Sunday.  I’d closed it down too early, but the brown ends went back in and the outturn of Sunday’s burn, opened today was just two bags of charcoal and NO brown ends at all.  It was a little tricky watching the burn smoke colour and chatting to people and doing demos, sometimes all at the same time.  However, the emphasis of the weekend was education and several groups of people went away knowing much more about charcoal than they did when they came in.  A couple of people also learnt the difference between sawdust and shavings (and they were not children!)  Bit showery on Saturday, but a lovely sunny day Sunday with lots of visitors.

We camped in our classic 2nd hand de Waard dutch tent and cooked all-in-one-pot meals each night in the dutch oven.

The arboretum is really well laid out in what used to be parkland with mature oaks and chestnuts, and much more recent plantings of trees from around the world.  Lots of different oaks etc.  Here’s a sample of the trees and vistas:

The lathe was set up in a little hornbeam copse.

We also had a surprise visit from two German journeymen carpenters who were looking for work at The Arboretum.

They were wearing the traditional carpenter’s dress and were fully trained craftsmen looking for further experience by travelling. You can read more about the German journeyman system here on Robin Wood’s blog.

Advertisements

Busy, busy, busy

OK, opened the charcoal kiln:

Not a bad burn. Made 29 5 kilo sacks of top class barbecue charcoal. Quite a few ‘brown ends’ where the wood has not quite converted, but these help start the next burn. Looks like I stopped it just at the right time as there is evidence of the charcoal starting to burn at two of the inlet ports. It was quite windy during the burn so some care was required with controlling the air inlets. Very technical involving slabs of wood and socks filled with sand.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve been making a display ladder for the bowls

I borrowed the idea from Saul at Wild About Wood. His is a hurdle construction, while mine is more of a turned affair. I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep this way from visitors’ hands as they will never be able to manage handling them without dropping the bowls (from past experience!)

Just about completed the round three-legged stool

I’ll take another when it’s complete as it looks a little crooked in this one. It is true really, honest!

The ramsons are really thick now that Spring is well under way:

But still awaiting leave flush, although there are signs on the sycamores and hazels. The bluebells are just starting to flower

At least three are round my workshop.

Charcoal!

Site #1

Site #1

Here is my lovely new charcoal kiln.  Freshly delivered to Bolton Abbey Estate Yard and levelled ready for sand sealing the base to the ground.

Site #2

Site #2

Here it is the next day, moved across the yard away from the trees, which would have interfered with the airflow.  It is fairly easy to move by rolling, but needs levers to jack it up onto the ports which act alternatively as flues or air intakes.  Notice the high tech airflow dampers – recycled bricks.  I had a tonne of sand delivered for sealing down – outside and inside:

I have an extension ring, but the first burn will just be with the bottom ring, which is still six foot round and four feet high.

Top ring in the distance

Top ring in the distance

It took two trailer loads to fill.  Using the old estae forestry trailer which is on its last legs so it ended up being two and a bit, as I dare not fill it too full as the floor looked very weak!

Forgot to take a picture of the floor set up to get the draught right and a fireplace in the center

Forgot to take a picture of the floor set up to get the draught right and a fireplace in the center

So here it is ready for lighting at 6am Monday:

Bet the trees across the river will be shivvering in their boots on Monday as the smoke drifts across.

Bet the trees across the river will be shivvering in their boots on Monday as the smoke drifts across.