It has been pretty blustery around these parts of late. It has died down a bit now, but last week a small tree blew down during the night, blocking the little lane that runs alongside my house. At the time, my chainsaw was broken, so there was nothing much I could do about the situation. I called the authorities to let them know, and later that day the lady who owns hedgerow, from which the tree was growing, arrived, accompanied by a chap with a chainsaw.
I went to see if I could lend them a hand and, lo and behold, I realised that the chap with the chainsaw was my cousin’s husband, who lives less than a furlong away (Guernsey is a small place). I helped to throw the smaller branches over the hedge and to sweep up the debris from the road, and in return I became the proud winner of the spoils of the felling, limbing and bucking. I offered the owner some payment but she would have none of it, and Mr Chainsaw didn’t want any of the wood either, so it was all mine. I’m told that it is blackthorn and that it should turn fairly well.
With the logs and branches transported to my garden, I had an excellent reason to fix my chainsaw. I ordered the necessary part to fix it – the recoil starter was broken – and it arrived a few days later. As soon as I had fitted the part, I set about cutting the timber into smaller chunks. Most of the trunk was badly rotten, which I suppose is the reason it came down in the first place, but the branches were in pretty good shape. I picked the best bits, and I was left with a barrow load of offcuts. I’ve given these to a friend so that he can dry them out for his wood burning stove as apparently blackthorn makes excellent firewood. He does a bit of tree surgery on the side and he periodically drops by with pieces of wood for me – apple, acacia, sycamore etc. I think this makes us even now. Apart from helping a friend, this is a good way to keep him on side in case he has some nice timber to offload in the future.
The blackthorn logs are now drying in the workshop, and I melted down some candles to seal the ends and minimise cracking. I’m not sure how long to leave them, but there is enough to experiment with. There are a couple of larger pieces that I might rough turn into bowl blanks and leave to dry for a few months before turning them to their final shape. I’ve read that the best thing to do is to wrap up the blanks in the shavings so that they don’t dry too quickly. I’ll be sure to report back with the results of this windfall.
In other news, here are a few things that I have turned since my last post: A small weed pot made from walnut; a natural edge bowl made from apple; and an apple made from…
…well, I’m not too sure really. I think it might be some kind of mahogany.
Anyway, take care everybody. Goatboy out.
Blackthorn; isn’t that the traditional wood of the shillelagh?
Apparently so. And, it is where sloes come from.